He’s reading the paper when his phone rings.
“ God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her…”
He shakes his head and sighs, a coupled response he can't help whenever he hears a new ringtone Bucky decided to pick for him. Bucky thinks it’s hilarious, and his brand of humor has usually ended with Steve’s ringtone being something distinctly patriotic. His sense of humor has recently evolved though, as Steve discovered one fateful morning while waiting in line at a coffee shop, when a catchy song about butts started playing from his pocket.
He glances at the caller ID and sees that it’s an unknown number. Not uncommon, and he answers with his default formal greeting, knowing that it could be almost anyone on the other end.
The line takes a moment to connect, and he frowns to himself before a voice replies.
A surging sense of relief lifts the heavy stress that had been settled simultaneously against his chest and in the pit of his stomach, and he grins and leans against the counter, feeling a little boneless.
He's had some experience with having to cope with extensive stress, and burying any worry he has about Bucky being away on an assignment sometimes works so well that he won’t even notice it’s there if he’s not paying attention. But then the slightest reminder will set him on-edge again, and he has to take the time to check himself. It’s times like this, when he hears the other’s voice that he realizes just how much he’s pushing down.
“I…” Bucky gives a short laugh. “Sorry I didn’t call earlier, we just got caught up in some stuff.”
“Everything okay?” he asks lightly, trying his hardest not to let the worry back in so easily. Not when he’s listening to Bucky’s voice, the proof that he’s okay.
“Yeah. We just have to lay low for a little while. But it shouldn’t throw us off-schedule too much.”
“How long?” Given that he’s had personal experience with having to “lay low”, he knows that doing so can entail the loss of a few hours or a few days. Or maybe in some cases, even a few weeks. He braces himself for the worst.
“Not long. Couple days, maybe.”
He lets out a breath.
“Okay. You guys have some bonding time, then.”
The laugh that answers grants him another smile, but he feels greedy for wanting it to originate in the same room as him.
“Yeah, sure. Me ‘n Sam will just kick back with a few beers and swap stories while we watch the game. No need to worry about the crazy evil guys obsessed with snakes that are trying to kill us.”
“Yeah, man, I don’t know.”
“Weird as Hell? Yeah, but all I gotta do is bring up the aliens and the killer robots and they don’t seem all that out-of-place.”
He grimaces, reminded of all the stuff they see on a regular basis. It makes Red Skull seem like any other guy he could happen upon walking down the street. Actually, he's pretty sure he’s seen weirder things on the streets of New York since he arrived in the twenty-first century. “Guess you have a point.”
“Yeah, unfortunately. Hey, speakin’ of stuff that fits right in, how are you liking your ringtone?”
“I’m not keeping it, Bucky.” He’s almost sure the other can somehow hear the smile on his face, more amused than frustrated with it all at this point.
“Aw, why not? I thought I picked a keeper this time.”
“Well, it’s better than the last one.”
“Hey, Baby Got Back is a classic. At least according to Sam.”
“I guess the eighty-year-old woman standing in front of me at Starbucks just doesn’t appreciate the classics, then.”
“Well I dunno what her problem is.”
He laughs, feeling light as he listens to Bucky’s wise-cracks and snark. The feeling is paired with a distinct sense of yearning even as he hears him speaking. His days without the other’s quips have felt so much duller, but then days without Bucky just feel a lot emptier in general. A lot harder to muddle through on his own. And his nights…
“So a couple more days, huh?” He doesn’t know if his tone belays his desperation or not, but he tries his best not to inflict that. Bucky can’t be focusing on him now, when he has his own problems to worry about.
“Shouldn’t be long.” Bucky’s reply is soft, and Steve silently curses himself, until he speaks again. “I’ve been missin’ you.”
He can’t speak for a few seconds, his mind trying to cope both with the warm feeling spreading through him and the sharp twinge of longing he feels in his chest.
“Yeah…two weeks is…”
“Longest we’ve gone in a while.”
Maybe it shouldn’t feel this way, not when they’ve gone so much longer without each other. But now, when they can spend every second attached at the hip if they want, the feeling he gets when they can’t.
“I just…” Bucky trails off, but Steve waits and listens. “You know, things are harder when you’re not around.”
“Yeah Buck, I know.” Because it’s true for him too. It’s always been true for him, since the day Bucky Barnes became his best friend.
The sudden need to touch him, to hug Bucky to himself is so strong he bites his lip and closes his eyes, imagining it as if that will somehow make it happen immediately.
There’s a long pause between them, and Steve just listens to the silence on the other end, until Bucky lets out a long breath and speaks.
“Well, a couple more days. That ain’t so bad, right?”
Steve finds himself taking longer to answer, the moment stretching out as he thinks about how much he wishes Bucky were back now, and how he’s going to get by when he has to be gone again. When one of them is called away, and they can’t watch each other’s backs or make sure that they will come back again. It’s never a constant, a guarantee. Steve knows.
“You just make sure you come home.”
“Sir, yes sir.” Bucky’s light-hearted response puts a smile on his face again.
Then, Bucky’s voice lowers, anticipating. “And I know just what I’m gonna do the minute I get there.”
Steve can’t help the heat that creeps down his neck at that, or the way his heart beats quicker and an ache he only addresses at night, alone in their bed, starts up between his legs. It’s only a few words, but that’s all it takes. His hips shift away from the counter, suddenly uncomfortable where he’d been leaning against it.
“Arnie’s is open 24 hours, right?”
He takes a moment, crease between his brows as he works through his confusion.
“’Cause I’m gonna need my usual soon as I get back and I don’t really know what time we’re getting in.”
“Oh.” He almost wants to laugh at the misunderstanding. Bucky’s the one with most of the crude jokes and quips, and here he’d been talking about a sandwich while Steve was thinking of- “Uh…yeah, I think? I’ll check. Or I can just get you one before you get home and keep it in the fridge for you.”
Bucky’s silent for a second, and Steve wonders if the line disconnected.
“You’re amazing. I could kiss you.”
Steve laughs. “Well you can do that when you get here.”
He can tell when Bucky has a smile on his face, and just the thought of it always warms him, in a place where only things like Bucky smiling can warm him now.
“Sure. Maybe I’ll even let you do it twice.”
“Jeez, twice?” Bucky tsks. “You’re a regular harlot, Rogers.”
“Yeah well…I think we both know who to blame for that.”
“Oh sure, blame me. Don’t pretend you’re as innocent as they think.”
He grins. “Well, I think I was until you came along.”
A laugh, honest and loving, is forced out of him.
“By the time I found you, you must’ve started fights with all of Brooklyn.”
“I was six when you met me Bucky.”
“Besides, I wasn’t talking about that.”
“Oh. That.” He can imagine the skeezy smirk on Bucky’s face as he replies. “Yeah, that was me.”
“You got no shame, Barnes.” He does a terrible impression of sounding disappointed, and Bucky’s response lets him know how ineffective it is.
“Hell no, not when I had your skinny little ass in my bed.”
“Bucky...” His laugh is breathless, caught off-guard, and the corners of his eyes crinkle with amusement.
Bucky’s definitely smiling too, Steve knows, wherever he is. “What? Don’t try and tell me you didn’t like it. You loved it.”
“Stop.” But his tone is nothing like his request as he warms with Bucky’s teasing.
“Sorry, can’t. Got years of teasin’ you to make up for.”
“Well the way you’re going it won’t be long ‘til you’re all caught up.”
Bucky’s deep chuckle teases him in a different way, pulls at invisible strings in his stomach, and he bites at his lip as he feels the heat on his face spread down to his neck.
He hears another laugh, quieter this time, and he knows Bucky’s laughing to himself at a private thought that Steve’s now eager to hear, knows it’ll make him smile too. “Remember the time I gave you gin?”
He does smile to himself, but it’s at more than one memory that suddenly enters his mind. “God, which time?”
“Jeez…you were small. It was…” This part sometimes takes a minute but it’s always worth the wait when Bucky recalls something specific, a memory that sometimes ends up being something Steve himself had completely forgotten. “…your birthday.”
“Oh, when I turned seventeen.” It’s there, suddenly, the time Bucky had acquired a whole bottle of dry gin, Steve still doesn’t know to this day how he’d done it, and got Steve drunk out of his mind. It’d been the first time he’d ever had alcohol, and after a few sips, just over a sickness and skinny as he was, he’d been feeling pretty good. He hadn’t felt at all good the next day, but Bucky stayed, looking guilty as hell, and took care of him.
“Yeah. I remember after a coupla drinks you were laughin’ at everything. Before that you were all serious, goin’ off about something like you’d do. And then you had another one and you couldn’t stop trying to kiss me.”
“Well, after you had a few you wouldn’t shut up. You were about to wake the whole neighborhood. I was only tryin’ to do everyone a civil service.”
“Oh, that was it huh? As I recall, you were gone for it. You always said I was a sweet talker. ‘Specially when it came to tryin’ to get you under me.”
“Buck…” He can't help the fond expression on his face, even though he knows Bucky’s completely aware of the embarrassed state he’s putting him in.
“That was one thing you didn’t fight me on. You couldn’t let a guy hassling someone go, and you never listened when I told you some asshole wasn’t worth the fight. But when I started whispering in your ear and your cheeks got all rosy…you ran out of arguments then, huh?”
He hadn’t noticed at what point Bucky’s voice started to get lower, but he likes it, he always does. It sends a shiver through him and a part of him is upset that Bucky can’t be here to finish what he’s started, but Steve knows that later when he gets the chance he’ll be thinking of this. The way his voice sounds, low and close. There’s a reason he never fought Bucky when he used to do this. The thought never entered his mind in the first place.
“Bet you’re doing it right now, aren’t you? Your face is red as cherry wine, isn’t it?”
He places a hand on the back of his neck, and feels how cool it is against his skin. Bucky would be having a field day, if he could see him now.
“I used to love getting you that way, when you were smaller. You used to get so pale sometimes.” Steve knows, he remembers. Those times he was cold or sick, sometimes both. His mother worried and so did Bucky, but he never thought anything of it. His mind was always better than his body, and if he was pale it wasn’t an issue, he wouldn’t even notice most times. But Bucky would. He’d mumble a comment about him looking paler than a ghost, whiter than a sheet, and Steve remembers that if it was the cold, he took him home to sit under every blanket he owned. And he’d always go along, because sometimes Bucky would sit there with him, and he never felt warmer than he did with Bucky right next to him, talking to him, laughing with him, getting him through the cold and the chills in the best of ways. Well, until they got a little older, and thoughts were revealed and feelings were shared…then there were certainly other ways he liked to beat the cold with Bucky…
“But it would start in your cheeks,” Bucky continues his description, and Steve hangs on to Bucky’s memory, tries to picture what he would have seen. But he can only think about what it used to look like for him, Bucky looking down at him with his tilted smile, and how it’d feel when he started to move his lips, sometimes cold or chapped or wet with liquor, but somehow always soft, on his skin, “and then when I started kissing your neck, it’d get there too.”
“Wherever else I’d put my lips too. Woulda never thought you could get that warm everywhere, way you’d always be so cold otherwise.” He pauses, and then when he speaks his tone is considering. “But you’re not now. You’re always warm. But you still get all pink, don’t you? Just the same.”
“And you’re still a sweet talker,” he replies, stomach bubbly with Bucky’s words, imaginary champagne. He gets another chuckle in return.
“Oh I ain’t even started yet.”
“Wish I was there right now, could see how you look. Hey, what do you got on Rogers?”
He huffs a laugh, flustered but amused. “Bucky…”
“See, that’s impossible. Much as I’d love to be on you-“
He laughs harder.
“-I’m not there. Not even in the general vicinity. ‘Cause you can bet if I was, I’d be there in two seconds.”
He smiles fondly, then looks down at himself. “Blue boxers. And an undershirt.”
Bucky makes a contemplative noise. “Those ones you have about ten pairs of? Light blue?”
He gets a soft chuckle. “Yeah, I like those. Few weeks ago, when I pulled you into the shower ‘fore you got ‘em off? Those things are useless when they’re wet."
The counter is warming where it touches him, but it still feels a thousand times cooler than he is. If he leans forward even a little, his dick presses against the side of it, almost completely hard now, and he knows that when he hangs up he’ll be able to get himself off in about sixty seconds just thinking of this conversation.
“Could see everything.” Bucky’s silent for a few seconds. Then, “You taking a shower soon?”
“You’re terrible.” But that’s a lie, he’s funny and sexy and it makes Steve’s toes curl, to know how much he turns him on. “A deviant.”
“Mm, for you? Yeah I am. Anytime you want me to be.”
“Oh my God,” he chuckles, but still he feels himself respond, a pull in his gut and an ache in his cock. He pushes against the counter a bit, just enough to make him bite his lip as he lets himself have some pressure against it. It’s not nearly enough, but he can take care of it later, using his hand while he thinks of Bucky’s mouth, in more ways than one.
“Funny, those are three words I love hearing from you when we’re deviatin’.”
“You’re a jerk,” he replies, grinning, trying to control the strain in his voice as he moves lightly against the counter. He’s lost the battle, but then again, he knows this is one he’s never been able to win.
“Yeah I am, considering you’re probably sitting there all innocent while I have my hand down my pants."
He stops. “Really?”
Bucky laughs, as if it should have been completely obvious. It probably should have been, but Steve’s been a little too busy with his own problem to think of what Bucky’s been doing. “Yeah. Started when I heard you say my name.”
He can’t stop himself, they’re two pieces of work, and he bursts into laughter at the fact. They both can’t help themselves. Bucky responds a second later, amused. “You think that’s funny, huh?”
“Yeah,” he replies, honestly. “You’re not the only one I’m laughing at though.”
Bucky hums. “Someone else there?”
“No. No, I just…I’m uh…” he reddens as he explains. “I’ve been…against the kitchen counter…”
There’s a long silence. And when Bucky laughs, louder than Steve had been, he knows it’s at his expense. He can't help the grin on his face though, at making Bucky laugh so honestly, and feeling embarrassed and ridiculous and completely turned on all at the same time.
“Jesus, and I thought I was bad. At least I’m not the one humping the furniture.”
“Cut it out, it’s your fault.”
“Sure it is, pal. Hey, listen, no one’s making you give it to the cabinets, that’s your choice. It’s alright though, I’m sure they’re enjoying it. A little wood-on-wood, right?”
His grin stretches. “Shut up.”
He goes quiet at that, for a moment.
“Come home and I will.”
Bucky groans in his ear, and he can guess that if he’d stopped touching himself, he’s probably started up again. “Wish I could.”
“Wish you could, too…” His eyes slip shut as he tries to picture Bucky in his mind, sitting back in an old chair in some run-down apartment, Eastern Europe maybe. Pants undone, legs spread, one hand slipped away from view, but clearly moving up and down his cock. Steve bites his lip, fingers twitching. “Wanna touch you.”
Bucky lets out a heavy sigh. “Fuck, Steve.” His breath comes clear and uninhibited through the receiver, voice strained when he speaks again. “Want you to touch me.”
Steve's hips start to move against the counter again, and he groans softly in his throat.
“Quit humping the cabinets.”
His laugh is quiet, sincere, but he stops and instead turns around so he can lean back against them. He looks down at himself, noting the wet patch at the front of his boxers. It must have formed earlier, because right now he knows that if he moves his undershirt away from where it meets his boxers, he’ll get a view of the tip of his dick.
“M’not humping them, you jerk.”
Bucky’s breath hitches, and then he replies, quiet and low. “Yeah, now you’re not.”
He knows what Bucky must be doing, but he still asks, wants to be sure. “Are you…?”
“Mmhm…” The reply shoots straight to his cock and he shuts his eyes, picturing Bucky again. “Are you?”
“No…” But he slowly brings his hand to cup himself over his boxers, head dipping back at the feel of it. The palm of his hand warms from the heat of his cock, and he grasps lightly at himself through the fabric, gripping at the length.
He lets out a breath, and his hand moves up at the suggestion. He only hesitates for a moment, that feeling of newness, of realizing that this is something he hasn’t yet done before with Bucky giving him pause. Then he’s slipping his hand into his boxers, and stroking over himself. He lets out a gasp, and hears a low moan from the receiver.
“Where are you?” The husky pitch of Bucky’s voice makes him grip himself tighter, and he bucks up into his hand.
“In the kitchen still…” his reply is slow as he works himself, the wetness from the tip of his cock moving down over the rest of it along with his hand, slicking himself up. “…leaning back against the counter.”
Bucky groans down the line. “Then that’s where we’ll fuck when I get back.”
His mouth falls open. “Bucky…”
“Goddamn I bet you look good…wanna run my hands all over you.”
He hears nothing but the sound of Bucky’s voice. His own breathing and the sound of skin against skin from below are drowned out as he focuses on what the other is saying, the warm, low timbre of his voice.
“When I get back…I’ll push you against that counter. Get my lips on your neck ‘til you’re hot all over. Move my hands all over your chest and your waist and your ass. Jesus, your ass…”
“Buck.” It’s the only word his mind is bothered to come up with, caught up in the images Bucky is giving him.
“Always loved it. Always been perfect. Back when it could fit in both my hands just right or…fuck, the way it is now…can’t ever stop starin’ at it in that uniform you wear.”
That knowledge has a groan getting caught up in his throat, and he bites and his lip, his grip getting tighter.
Bucky speaks up again, “Christ, I need to touch you. Need to kiss you everywhere. I wanna be on my knees right now, for you. Want my mouth on you.”
Oh. “Oh, fuck.”
A little laugh answers him, soft and full of amusement. “Always love it when you swear. You talk so filthy sometimes…when I’m back I’ll make you say nothin’ but swears…promise. And my name…you like sayin’ that too, huh? When we’re all worked up.”
His hand moves faster, and his toes curl against the floor. He’s hot everywhere, on fire, and he needs to be touched, needs Bucky’s hands on him.
“Fuck, Steve…” Bucky groans in his ear, loud and hot and he feels it go all the way through him. “Fuck…”
Waves of pleasure grow with each sound he hears from Bucky, heady and addicting. They reach his ear and go straight to his cock, hot and hard and wet in his hand.
Suddenly Bucky gasps, and then “I want you in me.”
A loud, quick moan escapes him before he’s biting his lip so hard it hurts.
“Use your fingers,” he manages, breathy. He slows his hand as images of Bucky, fingers disappearing into himself, filter into his mind. The thought is enough to put him on the edge, and he breathes out slowly and stops his hand, wanting to let go with Bucky.
Bucky laughs, short and rough. “Ain’t quite the same…”
“Pretend they're mine.”
The only sound he hears for a moment is rustling, and then there’s silence, until a soft wet ‘pop’ sounds, and he has to hold his breath as he realizes Bucky’d been sucking on his fingers. He bites his lip at the perfect vision in his mind.
He knows that he’ll probably go straight down, they're both eager, and he decides to help with the “pretend” part by telling Bucky where he’d put his fingers.
“Go slow…” he starts. “Trail your fingers down your chest.”
A soft groan answers him, before Bucky laughs a little. “Gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting this outta you.”
“Just thought I’d tell you what I’d do, if I was there.”
“Want you here.”
Bucky’s voice is practically a plea when it answers his. “What next?”
He inhales a shaky breath as he grips himself tighter, and he doesn’t think he could be any harder, he's so close to coming apart but the thought of coming before Bucky enters his mind and makes him grip the base of his cock and still his movements until Bucky has fingers in himself.
“Keep going…down your stomach. Stop right above your navel and press a little bit.”
“Because that’s where I’d stop to kiss you.”
Bucky sounds so amused, but kind of delighted, a breathy laugh before he replies. “Sap.”
“You love it.”
He grins. “Trace around your navel and move down…I’d kiss you from there all the way down you know.”
Bucky inhales sharply. “Yeah…”
“Move your fingers over the hair that goes down to your dick.”
“Love it when you say ‘dick’…”
Bucky laughs, then groans.
“Are you still using your other hand on yourself?”
“Good. ‘Cause if I could I’d be sucking you right now.”
“Fuck, Steve.” He squeezes himself again, mind dizzy with Bucky’s noises as he imagines him stroking himself.
He releases a breath, then lets his hand move slowly, up, then down. “Put one in.”
Bucky’s breathing changes as he works one finger into himself, a little stuttered, interrupted by gasps or groans.
Then, Bucky says “Steve…” And his eyes drift shut again.
He squeezes at the tip, twists his hand as he comes down, imagining that it’s his finger in Bucky, and he’s kneeling before him, touching himself as he moves it in and out. Bucky’s never flushed as much as him, but he knows he’s dusted pink right now, his chest and his neck and his cheeks. He imagines the light sheen of sweat along his hairline, the trail of saliva from his fingers reflecting a path down to where his finger is disappearing in and out of him.
“You look so good…”
Bucky laughs, strained. “How do you know what I look like right now?”
“Always look good,” he replies, still distracted in his own mind with his own perfect images, and the feeling of his hand working his cock. He’s so hard, and hot, and it’s so good, better than it is when it’s just him and their empty room, alone aside from thoughts of Bucky. Now he can hear him panting, groaning over the phone, and he hadn’t realized how much he’d needed it, how it makes it so much more real.
“Who’s the sweet talker now?” Bucky’s voice is low, gravely, and Steve can feel his reaction to it in his entire body, tight like a wound string.
“Learned from the best.”
Bucky doesn’t reply to that, and although part of Steve wishes he would, wants to hear him speak again, the moan he gets instead as Bucky fingers himself more than makes up for it. He wants more of the same, to save in his mind for later, when he’s alone again and needs these sounds for the images that will play in his mind.
“Add another one,” he says, a low suggestion, and Bucky groans a little “Yeah” before his breathing hitches as Steve imagines him working another finger in to join the first.
Steve is so close now, that build peaking as he works himself faster, threatening to spill out all over his hand. But he still doesn’t know where Bucky is, and he knows that he has to wait for him, wants to come with him.
“How close?” he asks, and hears a slight gasp over the phone at the same time.
“Close…fuck…I’m close. Steve…”
“God…” he gasps low, on the edge. He hears Bucky’s voice again, a low moan, and that image of him strewn out, damp with sweat as he pumps his own long fingers into himself and works his hard blushed cock sends him over. He comes with Bucky’s unsteady breaths in his ear, lip between his teeth as he feels himself stain his shirt and stomach. He pants softly into the phone after, leaning back against the counter with his heart beating quick in his chest.
“Buck,” he says, and that breath catches before a moan chases it. He closes his eyes as he imagines the scene at the other end, Bucky coming apart, spending himself all over his hand and stomach and heaving chest.
His face feels hot, his whole body still buzzing with sex.
“Well,” he states after a moment, and gets a laugh in response. “That…” was unexpected, was amazing, left him shaky and wanting Bucky even more, “…was something.”
Bucky laughs harder, and Steve smiles, embarrassed. “That’s one way to put it.” He hears a long sigh. “I’m a mess.”
Steve looks down at himself as he pulls his hand out of his shorts. He grimaces. “You’re not alone.”
“Yeah? Well I’m naked on top of it all.” Bucky pauses a beat, then continues, tone considering. “I think Sam would hate me forever if he walked in here right now.”
Steve laughs. “I don’t think you’re wrong about that. Will he be back soon?”
“Should be,” Bucky replies, but Steve doesn’t hear any sounds of movement from his end. “Gotta say, I didn’t know that was gonna happen when I called.”
“Then you’re just as surprised as I am,” he replies, going over to the sink to rinse himself off.
“Not sayin’ that I didn’t enjoy it,” Bucky says, giving a familiar satisfied sigh that lets Steve know he’s stretching. He imagines Sam walking in on him right now and he has to hold in a laugh. He also imagines Bucky not caring, greeting him with a grin on his face and a sarcastic salute. “Maybe we should make this a regular thing when one of us is away on long missions.”
Steve makes a contemplative noise, because while that sounds like a really good idea, it also sounds like it won’t be as easy as Bucky’s making it out to be. “What about whoever’s on the mission with us? You and I can’t just sneak away whenever.”
“Hm, guess that’s true…” Bucky chuckles. “I can already imagine you tryin’ to explain that one to Nat or Sam.”
He reddens a little just at the thought, thankful not for the first time during this phone call that Bucky can’t see him. “And what are you gonna tell Sam when he comes walking through the door?”
“Kiss my ass,” Bucky drawls, and Steve can imagine the grin on his face.
“I’ll go hit the showers, don’t worry. I won’t hurt your pal’s delicate sensibilities,” Bucky sasses. Steve shakes his head.
“Y’know, you two are gonna get along one of these days, and you’re gonna be sorry if he sees you right now.” His hand clean, he tosses away the paper towel, deciding to hold off on changing until after he’s hung up.
“Hey now, when you an’ me were with the guys back during the war we had to see each other stark naked all the time. Only brings you closer.”
“Alright Buck, sure. But I don’t think I ever saw them lounging around after gettin’ off with their significant other.”
“Wait, you- Oh…yeah, guess you weren’t there the time me and Gabe found Monty with that French broad in that wine cellar in Bordeaux. Think you were in a meeting.”
Steve laughs softly, surprised he’s only learning this story now. “Glad I missed that.”
Bucky makes a noise of disagreement. “He owed us some favors for a while after that. I think you missed out.” The hiss of a shower suddenly starts up in the background. “I’ll take your advice this time. But only ‘cause you’re so worried about it.”
“That’s very considerate of you, Buck,” he says, sincerity entirely fake. Bucky picks up on it and rolls with it like he always does.
“I know it is. I’m a considerate fella. First I get you off and then I clean up before your friend gets back.”
He smiles at the teasing. “You’re just a stand up guy. You should get a reward.”
“Yeah, I should actually. I’m thinkin’ about a-“
“Aw no,” Steve hears someone shout, and he looks at the phone, frowning. “No, I was gone for a whole hour. I called dibs for when I got back and you coulda…what the hell!?”
He knows Bucky has to have a Cheshire grin on his face, and Steve isn’t sure whether he should feel worse for Sam walking in on something that’s partly his fault or for biting his lip to keep himself from laughing. Bucky really doesn’t need the encouragement.
“Hey Sam, you’re just in time to talk to Steve.”
He does laugh then, not strong enough to hold it in.
“I don’t want to go anywhere near you or that phone. That’s gross, man.”
“Steve, you should see him, he’s covering his eyes.”
“’CAUSE IT’S NASTY! And don’t think I’m not mad at you too, Steve!” Sam shouts so he can hear him clearly, even though Steve’s pretty sure he knows he doesn’t need to. “When I get back we’re gonna have a talk.”
A door slams, and then Bucky’s laughing along with him. After a few seconds there's a tear in his eye and he wipes it away, before sobering and giving a sigh.
“I feel bad.”
“He’ll get over it,” Bucky says, and then there's silence that stretches long enough for Steve to know what's coming. Bucky's voice is quiet when he speaks again. “We’re in a safe house outside a village in western Belarus. There’s not much hot water."
“I’ll let you go." His tone isn't regretful, he knows they have to hang up sometime, but he still feels a small pit of loss in his stomach.
“Yeah.” Bucky replies. “Be home in 72 hours, tops.”
“Alright. I’ll get to Arnie’s and have your usual ready for you. Don’t be late.”
“I won’t,” Bucky says, and Steve lets himself picture a soft smile. “Hey. I love you.”
His own lips tilt upward, familiar warmth moving through his chest. He’s thankful that for now, Bucky is safe and close to coming home to him, and while thousands of miles might be separating them again, now they're only one call away.
“Yeah. Love you too.”