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Riptide

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riptide (ˈrɪpˌtaɪd)
noun
A stretch of turbulent water in the sea, caused by the meeting of currents or abrupt changes in depth

 

"Family, stability... The guy who wanted all that went in the ice 75 years ago. I think someone else came out."

 

 


The call comes late at night, or early in the morning, depending on your point of view. It takes Steve a few tries to locate his phone on the night stand, clumsily wiping to answer and drag the phone to his ear. The voice on the other side is tinny.

“Rogers?”

“Uhh, hu.”

“It’s Sharon. I need you to come in.”

Steve rolls onto his back, eyes still closed, listening to the static on the line.

“Do you know what time it is?”

“It’s three forty-five, just get into the black site now. We have him.”

His eyes blink open in the near darkness of his room. Steve doesn’t have to ask who she means.

At first, it had been just him and Sam. Following a breadcrumb trail of horrors through the north east and into Canada. SHIELD has been rebuilding, covert cluster cells, near-on autonomous and deadly, taking out Hydra bases and hunting turn-coat agents. The first months had been a bloodbath. Steve hadn’t been around for that. Hadn’t wanted to be.

Bucky’s trail had gone cold eight months after insight in the Saskatchewan wilderness and slowly the Avengers had started taking more and more of his time. After Sokovia it had become near on impossible to follow his self-appointed mission of finding Bucky. So he’d asked for help.

Sharon and strike team delta had, surprisingly, been more than happy to help. All of them had their own needs for revenge and retribution towards Hydra, and capturing the legendary Winter Soldier would put a feather in anyone’s cap.

He had made sure that they all knew what had happened to Bucky, had seen the chair and the five hours of footage that remained of the Winter Soldier processing guidelines. Made sure they understood it was a rescue mission.

He dresses in the dark and drives through the back roads, headlights cutting through the early morning fog.

Sharon comes to meet him at the entrance. A nondescript lobby of a water waste treatment facility in the middle of nowhere that is currently functioning as the SHIELD black site for the Northeast.

She smells flat like usual. Steve’s now gotten used to the suppressed smell of her and slowly getting used to the idea of Omegas that don’t smell like Omegas at all, who don’t want to. There are quite a few of them at SHIELD, more and more as he is finding out. Hiding in plain site.

When Sharon was still his neighbor she had a sweet, gentle omega scent but it changed after Insight. He’d asked her afterward, knowing it was rude, but he was too curious. Still new to the customs of this century.

“Sweet little nurse omegas don’t use suppressants. Might put big Alpha suitors off.”

A bitter twist to her lips and Steve had felt like there had been an insult buried somewhere in crook of her mouth and bitter words.

“Had to stop the suppressants to keep my cover. Never fucking taking undercover ops again.”

In his time an Omega would have never covered their scent, it was prized and protected. A family would celebrate children presenting as an Omega with sweet cakes and flowers, the bride-price often enough to lift families out of poverty even in his part of Brooklyn.

“You want to take them?”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth Steve knew he shouldn’t have said them. Sharon had looked at him like something disgusting on the bottom of her shoe.

“Would you like to smell like a fuck hole advertisement for all of the world, Rogers? Come on boys, here is a cunt for you to shove you knot in?”

She’d downed her shot and left and Steve had never mentioned it again, face burning with shame.

Their relationship had evened out after that to a one of mutual respect and cooperation. Sharon has become his eyes and ears within SHIELD and he trusts her as much as he trusts anyone these days.

They take the lift to the lower levels, silence hanging ominously in the closed off space. Down a long corridor and past three sets of armored security doors. To a wide window looking into a cell.

Bucky is crouched in the corner of the observation room. His body is dirty, a long wavy curtain of hair hangs over his face, but Steve can see a pair of dark alert eyes looking out above his forearm that he has rested on his knees, protecting his face.

His left shoulder is a gaping socket where the metal arm had been.

Steve fights every instinct he has to not go to him, to not stand as a shield and a barrier between him and the world.

Sharon’s words wash over him like static.

“They recovered him from the HYDRA site near the border. We think that he went there driven by some kind of homing beacon they activated. The delta strike teams had been cleaning out that area in the past month and we think it may have been some kind of a distress call. He was brought in about five hours ago.”

“What about…?”

He motions towards the missing arm.

“They took off the arm under Stark’s supervision while he was still out from the tranquilizers.”

“Tony’s here?”

“Yeah, he took the jet from New York as soon as he heard. Wanted to get the first look on the arm.”

She mutters “competitive prick” under her breath. Sharon has never liked Tony, Steve is not entirely sure why. Omegas are still rare at the top of the business world and Tony has been blazing the way for years now.

“When are they going to reattach it?”

Sharon takes a quick look at her watch.

“Stark gave an ETA of nine hours, so should not be too long now. They probably have to tranq him again, so you should probably go in now.”

Before Steve can move, she continues, eyes looking into the room and angry tilt to her mouth.

“Stark found several tracking devices in the arm, among other things. They also removed subcutaneous hormone implants when he was under.”

Steve nods, he expected as much from the Winter Soldier files.

“They pumped him full of all kinds of shit.”

Her voice is hard like flint.

“Including some seriously illegal suppressants. His system is pretty fucked as much as we could tell from the bloodwork. So, he might go into heat.”

“What?”

She looks at him then, finally taking her eyes off the man in the corner of the room.

“I wanted to talk to you about that. You’re one of the few unboned Alphas left with high-enough security clearance and good enough combat skills. We can’t have a level nine unbonded Omega running around, you know that. It’d cause a riot.”

Seeming to take his silence as an assent she continues.

“So, it’s not just because you know him.”

Steve finally gets the words out.

“Bucky’s…he’s not an Omega. Bucky’s a Beta.”

Sharon looks at him with a curious sort of pity.

“Well, the man in that room is definitely an Omega. They did a full body scan on him on arrival for the arm and a lot of bloodwork.”

“But, Bucky is a Beta.”

He repeats it as if saying it again will make it true.

“Not everyone was happy about being an Omega, even in the 30s, you know.”

There is a sharp inflection in her tone that Steve has come to recognize as stay the fuck away, and for once in his life Steve listens to the voice of reason in his head.

“What do I need to do?”

“We need you to support him, at least for now. If he goes into heat we need someone who can keep him contained.”

Steve’s head is spinning, combing through all of his memories of Bucky, trying to find some hint, some indication that what Sharon is saying is true, but nothing comes.

“Look, Sharon, I’m not really comfortable with….”

“I know. Would you prefer we try to find someone else?”

“No!”

“You don’t have to fuck him if he goes into heat, just keep him calm and in one place.”

Steve flinches at her words, nothing wanting to think them, not wanting to imagine having to do that.

“But…

“I’m not any happier about this than you are, but I’m telling you that for his sake, it will be better if he at least has someone in his corner that he has a shot at trusting. He knew you and the Alpha pheromones should help as he comes down from whatever Hydra cocktail he’s been on. Safety and all that shit.”

She sounds tense and tired and Steve lets the matter drop.

He steps into the room, surprised by how cold the air is. The Winter Soldier tenses in the corner and Steve can see him angling his body more to protect the empty socket of his missing arm. Steve tries to project as calm and comforting scent as possible.

“Hey, Buck. You’re safe, you’re at a SHIELD site. I’m going to be looking after you for a bit.”

“Handler.”

It hurts more than Steve thought it would. Even after all this time, after trying to prepare himself for this moment.

“No, it’s Steve. Remember?”

He crouches down, clearly in Bucky’s eyeline and keeping his arms loose on his sides. As non-threatening as possible.

“Steve.”

Bucky says it like he is tasting the name.

“Yeah, Steve. We met on the bridge, and then on the Helicarriers.”

Bucky lifts his head slightly, his nose visible from under the crossed arm.

“The man from the bridge. I knew him.”

Steve shuffles closer, inches that feel like miles.

“That’s great buddy.”

His reaches out his hand and Bucky looks at it dubiously, won’t take it and Steve lets it fall between them. The silence stretches and then suddenly Bucky speaks.

“To the end of the line, what does it mean?”

He looks at Steve again, face still half hidden by his forearm and he has that same look in his eyes that he had on the helicarrier. That bewildered horror, and before Steve can answer:

“I know you.”

“Yeah, Buck, you do.”

Steve holds in his tears but only just.

It’s hard at first. Steve morphs between handler and friend and stranger depending on the day in the first few weeks.

Steve visits every day in those first months. Sometimes they play cards. Bucky still remembers how to play - and how to cheat - gin rummy and crazy eights. Sharon joins them once to play Texas hold’em and cleans them both out. Bucky chuckles at her when she does and it’s the first time he’s smiled since ‘44. Steve wants to cry but doesn’t.

Bucky remembers bits and pieces. Strange moments from the war and insignificant details from Brooklyn. He doesn’t remember his family or hi auntie that lived down the street from them, but he remembers Steve’s mother and Mr. Henderson, the greengrocer down the street.

He remembers Coney Island and Rockaway beach. Hot dogs and ice cream. He doesn’t remember his sisters or the street they lived on. He cries on the day he remembers his mother’s name.

He remembers Peggy and says her name like a curse and Steve has no idea why. He suddenly speaks in French the whole day after remembering Denier and is delighted when Steve can answer him.

Bucky eats as much as he does these days so he always arrives with several bags of something. A takeaway from the breakfast joint seven miles away. Five guys. Huge burritos which Bucky devours at such speed that Steve can barely get one for himself.

Bucky’s taken to hoarding food under his bed and by the time the first month is over pretty much everyone at the site is in on the scheme. Technicians and agents and even members of the strike team delta bring in food every day for Bucky. Once Steve comes in to find Bucky gobbling up a family-sized cheesecake.

Bucky is only violent once, with an Alpha doctor assigned to his team. Nearly takes the guy’s arm off before Steve gets into the room and in between them. After that the doctors don’t try to examine him at all.

He lets Steve touch him, so he collects blood samples the few times they are needed.

Bucky doesn’t smell like an Omega, he just smells like Bucky used to smell back in Brooklyn. That scent of friendship and hot summer afternoons spent on the roof of the tenement. Secretly Steve still thinks that the doctors are wrong. Feel vindicated when Bucky’s heat doesn’t come after all.

It’s been over three months, 97 days and a few hours, not that Steve is keeping track.

When he comes in this time Sharon intercepts him in the lobby and walks him into medical instead of Bucky’s holding cell. Bucky’s team of doctors are assembled in a huddle over one of the tables. The Alpha that Bucky had taken a particular dislike to lifts his head from the fray as Steve and Sharon enter.

“Ah Captain Rogers, I’m glad you’re here. We think that he’s in heat.”

Steve frowns at the man and then at Sharon, who is looking inscrutable. Steve’d been in yesterday and hadn’t smelled anything.

“But he’s not….”

The doctor finishes his thoughts for him, turning back toward the table.

“Scenting or slicking, no.”

He pulls out a set of scans, which Steve assumes to be Bucky’s insides.

“We’ve sometimes seen it in Omegas who overuse suppressants or take overdoses. You said that he was taking suppressants in the 30s?”

“Well, as far as I know. I didn’t know he was an Omega, so he must have been taking something.”

“The type of drugs they had back then weren’t properly tested or legal. After the war, a lot of the Omegas who had been drafted returned barren from the front.”

No matter how much the Army claimed to not take Omegas, that didn’t mean that they weren't part of the war machine. Steve had heard of the suppressants and dampeners they had to take but knew very little of the actual process of it.

“They block up the scent glands and most likely with such an extended period of use also his slick glands.”

The idea of Bucky slicking and mating makes his neck heat up under his collar. The doctor keeps speaking, not noticing Steve’s distraction.

“We have to try and get the glands stimulated.”

“We can do it easy enough, but...”

Steve is jolted out of his thoughts by the pointed look thrown at Sharon. Her eyes narrow in response and Steve decides that he never wants to be on the receiving end of that particular look.

“No. He’s traumatized enough as it is. We’re not making this into another medical procedure he has to endure, or tranqing him. It’s not like any of you would be able to get near him if he’s awake.”

None of the doctors look interested in trying, whether it’s the memory of Bucky’s arm or Sharon’s steely gaze Steve doesn’t know. She looks satisfied with the team’s compliance and turns to him.

“Steve, we talked about you supporting him when he was first brought in.”

“Yeah…”

He hadn’t really thought about it, maybe a little bit in an abstract sort of way, but a big part of him still hasn’t really accepted it. Part of him still thinks that even with all the science and all the scans and medical devices, the team had been wrong about Bucky’s designation. They’ve barely known him three months. Steve has known him his whole life.

He pulls Sharon to the side of the room, away from the others and their curious looks.

“But isn’t this worse than what they’re suggesting?”

Sharon lets out an angry breath, her eyes narrowing dangerously.

“You know what is worse, Steve. Being tranqed and having procedures done to you that you are not consenting to, having your bodily autonomy taken away. And I bet my ass that’s how he’d been treated by Hydra, like a thing, an object. And I’m not letting the good guys do it too.”

She makes a sweep towards the team of doctors.

“Fuking hell, Steve. You Alphas always seem to think that heat is just about getting slick and getting fucked.”

He tries not to flinch at her words.

“Being in heat isn’t just about the sex drive, it’s emotional. Scenting and nesting and feeling safe are important parts of it and I’m not having him be treated like some kind of a medical freak just because he’s done what he had to do to survive. There’s a lot of Omegas like him around.”

“Sharon….”

“Stop it, Steve. This isn’t about me.”

She won’t look at him, her gaze focused somewhere far away and Steve wonders what she is seeing, wonders of the things that made her and the parts of her that are like Peggy, hard and flinty and sharp.

“Well, it is, but not the way you think. They only started legalizing proper suppressants in the eighties and even then they were hard to get and only available to bonded Omegas.”

Suppressants were around in Steve’s day, but only distant cousins to the ones available now. They only ones who took them were desperate, the pills leaving Omegas almost always infertile and sometimes even dead. Sharon looks at him like she knows what he is thinking, it’s what makes her a good agent.

“I was in the first generation of Omegas who grew up with decent access to birth control and suppressants. Do you understand how revolutionary that is?”

He does understand, in a distant sort of way, like looking at weather patterns from space, devoid of the actual experience. But he is trying to, he wants her trust only because he has so little of it in himself in this.

“I…I do. I just don’t want to hurt him.”

Her smile is tight but genuine.

“Then don’t.”

Like it’s that easy.

Having reached an agreement they go back to the huddle of doctors whore are all looking at them with varying levels of suspicion. Steve decides to ignore their disapproval.

“So, is there a risk that he can get pregnant?”

One of the doctors shakes her head, looking down on the files laid out on the table between them.

“It’s very unlikely. The suppressants he was taking in the 30s and 40s would have most likely left him barren. The cryo-freeze process and all the drugs Hydra has been using on him would have done the rest.”

One of the nurses opens a drawer pulling out an epi-pen still in its plastic wrapping.

“But as we haven’t been able to examine him bar the first body scan when he came in, so we can give you a shot before you go in.”

He injects the drugs into Steve’s arm with a practiced air; the puncture stings for a second. Once they are done Sharon leads him out of the room and takes him to one of the upper levels and shows him the room.

They prep it as best as they can. It’s private, soundproofed with an attached bathroom in one of the upper levels of the plant. It must have been some kind of a suite for an overnight guard or some such.

Steve drives back to the compound to pick up his pillows and duvets and sheets and any blankets that he’d used. Scent-marking the room as his.

Sharon buys water, juice, Gatorade and snacks from Costco down on the highway. Enough to fuel two super soldiers. She also takes out the fluorescent bulbs and procures a lamp from one of the upstairs offices. Sets a huge tub of lube on the side table and Steve blushes. Decidedly not wanting to know where she procured it at a SHIELD black site.

Steve changes in the room. Sweatpants and an old t-shirt that hasn’t been washed. He wore it to an Avengers picnic outing a few weeks ago and Sharon said it smelled happy enough.

Before he knows he’s standing outside Bucky’s room the same way he has done any other day. His trainers squeak awkwardly against the floor as he slides the door open. Somehow Sharon manages to get the route from the medical facility to the room completely empty for them. Bucky follows him, coiled and clearly ready for a fight.

Bucky circles the room twice, nose twitching slightly. Steve can see the stiffness in the way he moves now, the slight awkward angling of his hips. He sits down on the bed, pulling off his hoodie. Runs his hands over the covers, which he hopes is inviting. Slides back to lie on the pillows, curled on his side, leaving ample space for Bucky to slide into.

He knows that customarily he should be in charge, should be pushing Bucky down, taking him, but it doesn’t feel like the right thing.

It takes almost an hour, but slowly Bucky makes his way to the bed, eventually sliding his body next to Steve’s, nosing the side of his neck. Steve lets his hand settle over Bucky’s back and he can feel the heat of his skin through the long-sleeved shirt he wears.

“Buck, do you know what’s happening?”

“Heat.”

“Yeah. Has this happened before?”

He hums against Steve’s neck, nodding.

“Just gotta wait. Drugs will kick in.”

“No drugs, Buck, not this time. Gotta do it the old fashioned way.”

Bucky still against him. His back muscles suddenly coiled and tight, pulling against Steve’s hold.

“Hey, easy, easy.”

He lets go, hands loose and gentle over Bucky’s ribs, feeling his uneven breaths as he looks at Steve from under his brows.

Steve slides down, putting himself in a submissive position, looking up at Bucky, leaning his chin on Bucky’s chest until his breath evens out. Until Bucky’s hands slowly come and circle Steve’s back, the metal of his left hand cool through the cotton of Steve’s shirt.

Steve slides up his body, rucking up the fabric over Bucky’s chest until he gets to the hollow of Bucky’s throat. licking a gentle stripe over his scent glands, nosing the sensitive skin. Bucky is completely still, waiting, and Steve does it again. Slowly, ever so slowly Bucky starts to relax, angling his head to give Steve more space to explore. A concession and assent.

At first, the scent is muted. It’s the scent of Bucky he’s used to, remembers from all those years, the scent he’s been getting to know again in the past months and then suddenly it starts to change.

The glands stimulated by the heat of his mouth start to open up under his tongue and lips. He bites down, not hard, and gets a mouthful of honeyed heat. It’s still Bucky, but heady and arousing. Sweet like Coney Island spring. Decidedly an Omega scent and it makes Steve dizzy. The Alpha part of him growling and satisfied, rumbling in his chest.

Bucky grunts, not responding to the sound yet and Steve moves to the other side, giving the second set of glands the same treatment.

He doesn’t know how long it takes but suddenly Bucky starts to whine, low in his belly his nose and teeth suddenly over Steve’s scent glands in return and Steve resists the urge to roll Bucky over, to dominate and take even with all the signals Bucky is sending. Instead, he just rumbles gently in his chest, approving and tender, letting Bucky explore. Hands and lips and teeth.

They stay like that for a long time, scenting and licking each other.

Steve has never done anything like this. Back in Brooklyn, no one would have been interested in a sickly Alpha no matter how many times Bucky dragged him out to the dance halls or Automats, and after the serum, all of the few Omegas at the front were near-on unrecognizable under army-issue scent dampeners. There had been a few girls from the show, but Steve had been too terrified and still getting used to his big, then-clumsy, body.

He could have made a go of it with Peggy, another Alpha had been a comfort in his uncertainty, in his unwillingness to even think of himself worthy of an Omega. It was frowned upon but tolerated more than two Omegas carrying on.

After the ice, he’d felt so out of place and out of time in the modern world that he hadn’t even tried to dip his toe into dating, no matter how hard Natasha had tried to get him into the game, as she liked to say.

He’d liked Sharon and her gentle smell in a distant sort of way, could have maybe made it work, but she’d made it clear that her interests were not with him or with any Alpha at all.

Suddenly Bucky curls his knees into his stomach, he’s sweating and there’s an edge of pain to his scent now. Slow waves of it rolling over them. Steve runs his hands down Bucky’s back, trying to comfort, the cotton of his shirt rucking up under Steve’s palms.

“Buck. We have to open up your slick glands. It should help with the pain.”

Bucky just whines and grunts, pressing his face more into Steve’s chest. Rubbing his cheek right over Steve’s pounding heart.

“I’ll be real gentle, I promise.”

His lips over Bucky’s hair, kissing the messy strands, inhaling the sweet Omega heat of him.

“Do you trust me?”

“Okay.”

A jerky nod against his chest.

They ease the sweatpants down Bucky’s legs, still leaving him only in his sweaty t-shirt. He doesn’t really look like an Omega, muscled wide thighs and strong calves, big feet buried in the sheets. The metal arm is grasping a pillow, his eyes moving nervously over the room.

Steve turns to the side of the bed and opens up the huge jar of lube on the floor. There is no scent to it and Steve is grateful for that. He lays back down next to Bucky, Steve’s chest to his side, nudging Bucky’s bent knees open with the side of his palm.

Bucky’s half-hard, his dusky pink cock resting against his thigh. Steve loops his arm around the back of his thigh, feeling the heat radiating between Bucky’s legs. The skin feels tight and dry and Bucky hisses when Steve rubs the pads of his slicked-up fingers over the tight pucker of his asshole. There’s no natural slick and for a moment Steve feels sick. It feels wrong to do this.

His fingers slowly, mindlessly circle Bucky’s hole and he can feel the flex of his thighs, the slight spread of his knees. The tense lines in the corner of his closed eyes. The sudden way that Bucky’s hips chase him as he lightens his touch. He has to take that as consent.

He scoops more of the lube on his fingers, spreading it down the cleft Bucky’s ass, fingers teasing over Bucky’s taint. Bucky lets out a low whine at the touch and it makes Steve smile. He goes back to gently teasing the edges of Bucky’s hole, slick now from the lube and sweat.

Bucky is clenched tight but Steve manages to get the first finger in. Bucky’s eyes squeezed shut even more, mouth an unhappy line, and Steve keeps whispering sorry against the skin on his neck. Scenting, distracting.

He feels the first gland easily, engorged and puffy and most likely very sore. Bucky hisses again, his hips jerking.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry.”

He rubs his finger over the gland in a slow circle like the doctors had instructed. Steve can see Bucky’s toes clench around the sheets, his fingers flexing. The metal arm whirrs and clicks, the plates calibrating, but it doesn’t move to stop or hurt Steve.

Slowly, so slowly, thick, viscous slick starts to slide over his finger as he works on the gland and Bucky lets out a shuddering breath. He moves to the next one and repeats. Works around the tight passage, rubbing each gland in turn, his hand and wrist now covered in Bucky’s slick. It’s thick and clotted, smelling sour, but the relief on Bucky’s face is palpable. His head is thrown back over Steve’s other arm, his eyes closed and mouth open, huffing breaths escaping on each circle of Steve’s finger.

His cock aches and Steve hates himself for it. He lets Bucky nuzzle against his neck, scent him. Knows that Bucky will be able to smell his arousal, but he hopes that he will also smell safe, comforting, some scent memory left behind.

When he moves to withdraw his finger Bucky jerks and grabs his wrist in distress. The metal is warm on Steve’s wrist, almost like skin, and Bucky’s eyes are wide and luminous, looking Steve in the eye for the first time.

“Please don’t stop.”

With dawning horror, Steve begins to understand that this pain would have most likely been Bucky’s heat experience since he can recall. The suppressants of their era and whatever Hydra had been pumping him with would have been the cause of this, and today might be the first time Bucky have experienced any kind of relief.

He thinks of Sharon’s words. About comfort and closeness. Knows that he would give Bucky anything that is in his power to give, and steal the rest. So he slides Bucky closer to his body, cradling him and slides his fingers back over the cleft of his ass, circling over the slick hole, it feels loose, clenching slightly under his fingers. Bucky shivers at the touch.

“One finger or do you want more?”

Bucky considers this quietly for a moment. His breath is hot and distracting against Steve's neck, his cock now hard against his belly, its wet, red tip peeking from the foreskin.

“Two.”

Steve doesn’t question the request, just eases two fingers against Bucky’s rim, works them inside. Sliding over the glands and gently grazing over Bucky’s prostate. The touch makes him arch into Steve’s fingers, against his body almost as if Steve is really fucking him. Slowly the sour smell starts to fade, overpowered by the honeyed smell of Bucky’s heat as more and more slick slides out, over Steve’s hand and down Bucky’s thighs.

His fingers and hand, even down his forearm, are sticky and wet, the gloopy mess over the inside of Bucky’s thighs and butt.

“Bucky, do you want to shower?”

Steve prays that he wants to, prays that he gets a chance to jack off, just to take the edge off his persistent arousal.

“No.”

Bucky wiggles closer, clenching around the fingers in his ass, rubbing his face against Steve’s neck. He’s making contented huffing noises, his hips working languidly against Steve’s hand. It’s the first time Steve has seen Bucky’s body lax and not twisted in pain. So, no matter how much his balls and knot ache, he can’t leave, can’t take this away from Bucky. Especially after how painful it had been in the beginning and how much it must have taken from Bucky to trust him. He runs a comforting hand over Bucky’s back and shoulders.

“Alright.”

Bucky hoists his leg higher against Steve’s side, rutting against Steve’s stomach, the hard length of his cock smearing slick over Steve’s shirt. His voice is slurring.

“Feels so good.”

Steve curls his fingers, fucking into that spot he knows feels good, and then suddenly Bucky is coming. He makes a surprised huh noise and then his eyes close and he paints both of their t-shirts in the hot, white stripes of his come. His ass clenches around Steve’s fingers for a long time as Bucky rides the tremors, his knees tight around Steve’s body.

Steve keeps his fingers in Bucky’s ass, but shoves his other hand in his sweatpants, palming his aching knot, needing the release desperately. His nose is buried in Bucky’s neck, he inhales the scent of contented Omega arousal, the tangy scent of Bucky’s come on his shirt.

He jerks himself hard and fast, coming in desperate spurts into his underwear. Bucky moans against him, loudly sniffing the air and the musky scent of Alpha come. When he finishes and opens his eyes Bucky is watching him, eyes curious.

He grabs Steve’s hand, covered in his spunk, and takes it to his face, sniffing and then his pointy little tongue sneaks out, lapping up the come. Takes Steve’s fingers into his mouth, sucking the middle and ring fingers, tongue wrapping around the digits, lapping the thin wedge of skin in between.

Steve can feel his cock twitch again, the heady combination of Omega heat and Bucky’s warm mouth around his fingers, inviting and lush, and the recovery period of a teenager given to him by the serum.

“You gonna knot me Alpha?”

There is a strange, almost-there tilt of Brooklyn in his voice. Hot breath against Steve’s palm. It’s an invitation and a plea rolled into one. Steve can now smell the full-on heat scent of Bucky and it smells so much like home that he wants to weep. It’s nothing like he’s ever smelled it before but part of him knows it, deep in his bones. Knows it belongs to him.

Mine.

So he ignores the question.

“Come on, shower.”

The bathroom is decent size with a shower, just enough space for both of them. Steve turns the water as hot as they can both stand. Sharon had stocked the bathroom with a variety of unscented shampoos and soaps, and a massive pile of towels.

He finally gets a good look at Bucky. He’s huge now, wide shoulders and thick, muscly thighs. The vivid red scars around the socket of the metal arm stand up against the paleness of his skin, and without thinking Steve bends to kiss them. The metal has a strange ozone taste to it and Bucky freezes at the touch and Steve jerks back.

“Sorry…”

“It’s okay.”

“No one ever touched it, if it wasn’t to repair it. Or if they…”

His lips clamp shut and tension suddenly strumming over his back. Steve picks up a washcloth and wets it under the spray, lathering it with soap. He makes special care to wash the arm, running the cloth over the scars and following it with his lips. Bucky hums deep in his chest and Steve can hear it even through the pounding of the water.

Running the cloth over the swell of Bucky’s ass and down his thighs. He can’t resist sneaking a finger down the cleft, tickling that wet furl. Bucky moans at the touch. Pushing back and spreading his legs in a clear invitation which Steve can’t refuse. Falling onto his knees and licking that pink hole. Bucky keens at the touch of his tongue, pushing back against Steve’s face.

Steve eats him out, licks past and over that tender rim, one hand holding Bucky’s ass apart and the other rolling his balls and the base of his cock.

Bucky chants his name. Steve Steve Steve. Like he knows it now, knows who he is.

Bucky comes with a long, deep whine. His hole contracting and trembling against Steve’s mouth and tongue.

Steve gets out of the shower, not letting the water wash away the slick from around his mouth and nose, breathing in the scent of Bucky, wanting to rub it into his skin.

Bucky leaves the bathroom while Steve is still drying himself off not bothering with towels. He slides himself into the bed, on his hands and knees, ass in the air and pink hole on display like a homing target through the open bathroom door.

“Alpha. Alpha! Knot me.”

He’s growling now, looking back over his shoulder, face half covered by a curtain of wet hair, dripping water all over the sheets.

It’s not that Steve doesn’t want to. Quite the opposite, his cock aches with the need to be inside, to claim Bucky as his own, but this is not about him, it’s about helping Bucky through his heat. They haven’t discussed anything, and Steve doesn’t even know if Bucky has ever knotted with anyone before.

He climbs behind Bucky on the bed, running his hands over Bucky’s thighs and ass, dipping his thumb into that slick, tender hole, making him hum appreciatively, push back against Steve’s hand. He gets up to three fingers until Bucky is no longer happy to accept the compromise.

Pivoting around with grace and speed of the Winter Soldier, he manhandles Steve onto his back and slides over him, straddling his hips. Bucky’s as strong as he is, the metal arm heavy over Steve’s chest as Bucky holds him down, sliding Steve’s aching cock into his body with low groan of pleasure. Undulating his hips, working Steve’s cock inside of him, slow, inch by inch.

Steve can’t help the sounds he’s making, growls and moans, no longer fighting against Bucky’s hold, letting him fuck and use Steve’s body as he wishes. Sliding his arms over Bucky’s thighs in encouragement, in awe of the slack look of pleasure on his face, the tight slick heat of his hole over Steve’s cock.

Steve can feel his knot swelling and he tries to lift Bucky off, to stop them tying, but Bucky just holds him down with the metal arm, grinding his ass into Steve’s pelvis, keeping him securely inside Bucky’s tight channel. Steve groans, throwing his head back when the knot finally pops and locks them together. The sweet ache of finally coming inside an Omega.

Bucky’s breathing hard through his nose, shock and surprise evident on his face, and Steve can feel the sudden tension in his body, the rigid thighs against his sides. The high, pained whine as Bucky tries to pull off. Steve tries to calm him, rumbling in his chest and gentle hands over Bucky’s hips, but Bucky just keeps pulling, pained little whines out of his mouth. Steve rolls them over roughly, hands over Bucky’s ass and hips to hold him in place. Sinking Bucky into the sheets below him, and pushing Bucky’s legs higher and wider, gentling his hands again down Bucky’s thighs.

“It’s okay, just relax. Easy, easy.”

Licking and sucking over Bucky’s scent glands, over his collarbones and the swell of his chest. A gentle bite on a nipple, hard and pink like a tiny rosebud. Bucky growls and whines, his feet flexing in the air. Steve can feel the tight, fast contractions of his channel milking Steve’s knot and tries to keep his head clear among the spikes of pleasure shooting up his spine.

Sliding his hands where they are joined, fingertips sliding gently over the rim of the stretched-out hole and slick taint, trying to get Bucky to relax.

“Shh, just relax into it, don’t fight it.”

Eventually, Bucky’s breathing eases, ribs working like bellows, the contractions slowing to a gentle roll, gripping Steve’s knot like a fist. Bucky angles his face and then they are kissing. At first just a hesitant touch of lips, but slowly hotter, deeper, dirtier. Tongues licking into each other’s mouths.

Steve wonders then if Bucky had been a virgin. Shame and lust and possessive pride swirling in his head like the best kind of cocktail. Breathing in Bucky’s scent.

They stay in the room for two days, fucking and sleeping and eating. Wrapped in sheets and blankets and knotted together so deeply that Steve doesn’t know where he ends and Bucky begins. There isn’t an inch of Bucky’s body that Steve doesn’t touch, rumbling his satisfaction into Bucky’s skin like a sacred book he could never put into words.

The end comes early in the morning with an unwelcome call. The light from the window is still hazy and dewy, pushing through the light office curtains. It takes Steve a moment to find his phone among the rubble on the floor. Not wanting to lean away from the heavy weight of Bucky’s body over his side.

It’s Natasha.

“Time to suit up, Cap.”

She sounds breathless, like she’s already running through the maze that is the basement loading area and weapon’s cache.

“I’ll be right there. Will leave the black site in five.”

He touches Bucky’s naked back, the skin still hot and sweaty from the blankets and sleep. Crouches down by the bed once he’s dressed, kissing the ball of Bucky’s flesh shoulder, speaking into the skin even if Bucky can’t hear him in sleep.

“I’ll be back soon.”

It’s a promise and an assurance, but not one he will ultimately be able to keep.

The mission turns into a complete shit-show and it’s more than twelve days later when they all finally limp off the quinjet into the compound. All of them worse for wear and Sam clutching a broken arm to his chest. Natasha takes him to medical with a weary air.

There is a message from Sharon waiting for him on his phone when he finally manages to turn it back on. They had been on a comms blackout for most of the time out in Algeria.

<Get to site as soon as u r back.>

The message in itself is innocent but something in her wording makes Steve’s gut clench unpleasantly. He dresses in a set of civilian clothing, not bothering to take the time to shower or shave.

The roads are empty at this time of the morning and Steve makes good time. Sharon meets him in the parking lot, her face is thunderous, eyes narrow as she looks at him through the window of his car as he pulls into a spot near the door. He’s barely out of the car, scenting the strong waft of unhappiness she’s projecting.

“What’s happened?”

Sharon clicks her throat, looking just past his shoulder into the distance.

“So it seems that no one in the medical team actually took into account the serum. In both you and Bucky.”

Steve doesn’t really know what she means, most doctors don’t really know how to work with or around the serum and enhancements it has given him. Tony had to start a completely new medical tech R&D department just to kit out the compound with enough tech to get Steve though just the basic care he might need. He thinks that maybe he makes an inquiring nose and then Sharon is looking right at him. Her eyes are hard and cold and for a moment the flat scent of her disturbs him more than usual.

“Steve, he’s pregnant.”

For a brief moment he doesn’t really understand what she’s said. He hears the words but they just don’t make sense.

“What?”

Sharon pinches the bridge of her nose, eyes closed and face closed off. Steve feels the helplessness in his stomach like a coiled snake, rolling up until he can’t breathe. He’d never even thought to ask if the contraceptives were designed for his metabolism. Didn’t even think that the serum would have healed Bucky. He should have known, should have thought. Why hadn’t he thought of this?

Sharon is talking again, her voice is controlled, tight, the same way she talks about ops.

“...so, when you left, he refused to leave the room. After about five days it became pretty apparent that he was nesting. Finally, after two days of cajoling, he let me take a blood sample.”

“Does he know?”

He sounds terse even to his own ears and he doesn’t mean to. None of this is Sharon’s fault.

“Of course he knows, what do you take me for?”

There is an edge to her voice, a judgment she is passing and finding Steve wanting.

“Yeah, sorry, of course.”

They must only stand there not looking at each other for only a few moments but it feels like decades, time like treacle around him and Steve can only try and think how he could have stopped this, how he could have let something like this happen to Bucky.

Bucky, god, Bucky. He’d left Bucky alone after his heat. Left him to come down on his own and find out about his pregnancy, what Steve had done to him, alone.

“Can I see him?”

“Yeah, I think it would be good if you did.”

Rather than taking the lift down to the containment level as Steve is used to, Sharon walks him through the complex to the heat room. The offices and meeting rooms near it have been emptied and Steve notices a few additional observation cameras on the walls as well as a few state of the art motion detectors.

He picks up the scent not two meters from the door. It’s Bucky, heady and familiar, but different somehow. Ripe like late fall apples and roasted pumpkins straight from the oven. Sharon knocks on the door and Steve can hear Bucky’s voice calling them in. Steve wonders if Bucky can smell him too, scent his distress from afar.

He’s curled against the headboard of the bed, wrapped in several of the duvets and blankets Steve had brought over from his room in the compound. He recognizes the cheery blue pattern. Vaguely remembers the guidelines on nesting Omegas. Don’t make them move, try to keep them warm. Lots of food, the Alpha should remain nearby. It’s not like he could fail Bucky in a more comprehensive manner than he already has.

Bucky shrugs off the blankets as soon as he sees Steve by the door, clambering out of the bed, coming to the stand by the window. He’s wearing a long-sleeved henley and sweatpants, feet bare on the thin, office carpet.

Bucky licks his lips, body curled in on himself, almost as if he’s trying to make himself smaller. Posture uncertain in a way that he has never been, even during the weeks and weeks of his confinement to a single cell in the basement level.

“She told you, yeah?”

Steve can just nod mechanically and Bucky shrinks back into himself even more. Steve wants to make it better, but he can’t. Reaching out but not touching, letting his arm fall uselessly between them. Instead, he tries to explain, find words that he doesn’t have.

“I’m so, so sorry Bucky. This was not my intention at all. The doctors gave me a contraceptive shot which was supposed to stop this from happening.”

He has to stop, palm his eyes and try and control the hitching in his breath.

“The serum just burns through everything.”

For a moment he hates it. Would give it all back, all the abilities and the health, to not to have hurt Bucky this way. He’d take the pain and the disability back in a heartbeat. Would take back his crooked spine and the lack of color in the world.

“The doctors thought you were barren.”

He breathes it out, trying to justify his own failings. Bucky just nods, looking away.

“Don’t worry about it Steve. I’ll take care of it.”

He sounds defeated. Part of Steve wants to ask if Bucky is sure, wants to tell him that Steve would look after him, after them, but this isn’t his choice. Isn’t his place to make demands.

He wants to reach over, to offer comfort, to crawl into that bed with Bucky and never let him go. He wants and wants and wants, and that’s what got him to this place. What got Bucky hurt. So instead he just turns around and walks away. Walks past Sharon’s cold gaze and the endless hallways and the parking lot bathed in sunshine.

He stops at a rest area on the highway and cries, holding onto the steering wheel so hard that the leather squeaks and cracks under his fingers and palms.

He doesn’t go back to the site after that. He means to, but then there is another mission, another charity event, another military intervention. So he doesn’t.

When Sharon doesn’t call he assumes that Bucky doesn’t want to see him, doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore. It aches in him like a flesh wound but he understands. He throws himself into the Avengers more than ever, the responsibility like a barrier and armor around him sealing any cracks in his facade. Plasters the showgirl smile on his face in front of the press and even his friends. The only difference is that they believe it less than the press does.

He tries not to think about it, but he can't help it, especially late at night, alone in his room, the bed feeling empty in a way it has never done before. Somehow memories of nights in the field; bundled up in pup tents, cold to the bone, soaked in the mud of the European theater come unbidden to his dreams. Him and Bucky, their backs against each other, breaths like ghosts in the air. It had been the best comfort he’d ever had, and now he wakes up with the ghost feeling of Bucky’s warmth against his back.

Steve hadn’t lied when he’d told Tony that he no longer saw himself having a family. He’d put it behind him a long time ago, at first in Brooklyn. No one wanted a sickly Alpha, he could barely pop a knot even in a rut and no family would want their Omega breeding with a runt like him. He’d hoped for a family but had never thought he would have the chance for one.

Choosing Peggy would have meant never having children and he was ready for that, would have accepted it, even when there would have been other options like adoption or fostering.

With the Avengers the wish had properly started to fade. It just never seemed that his life would have space for a family. He thought that he had made his peace with it, but now he dreams about Bucky. Bucky fat and happy and nested in Steve’s bed. Holding a little bundle against his chest and looking at Steve with adoration shining in his eyes. Dreams of a tiny, shuffling baby lying between them, scents mingling in a way that only a family will provide.

He knows that none of it is real but the dreams stay in his head even during his waking hours. He can’t seem to shake them, seeing Bucky from the corner of his eye at breakfast or brushing his teeth at night.

Wanda knows. She looks at him with her dark, endless eyes filled with pity across the table in the conference room. Steve is grateful when she says nothing.

Natasha tries too in her own way. She asks after Bucky, after Sharon and the SHIELD initiative, tries to wheedle information from him. Steve tries to avoid the questions at first, vague answers and glossing over details, until she asks him outright what happened. He’s always been a terrible liar.

Maybe it’s easier once Natasha knows. She never judges, her eyes remain open, accepting even if sometimes Steve wonders if they are just a mask to hide her true feelings. She touches his shoulder once he’s finished, has confessed to her like he would to a priest. She doesn’t offer platitudes or forgiveness, just her presence which comforts Steve more than he would have ever imagined.

It’s been four months, twenty-five weeks, 126 days.

It’s not like he’s consciously avoided the black site. He just hasn’t had any business there. No reasons to go. Not that he’s tried to find reasons. Wouldn’t be there now if Tony hadn’t badgered him to be a glorified errand boy.

Nothing’s changed on the outside when he arrives on a rainy afternoon and he wonders if Bucky is even here anymore. The aim was always to get him integrated into a normal life. Maybe get him to work for SHIELD eventually. In the early days Steve had imagined, had fantasized, him joining the Avengers, fighting together again side by side.

He goes down to the shooting range by accident, trying to find the junior agent who Tony wants to use at the Tower for some sort of field testing. The long corridor is filled with agents and support staff, the air thick with gunpowder and the steady beat of the rounds of a 9mm.

Bucky’s there. Jeans and a soft red henley. Long hair pulled back into a bun. He still holds the rifle like a professional. Deadly and accurate as each of the soft taps of the bullets find their target. The lift of his arms makes the fabric of the henley pull against his stomach, the round bump of it. The clear-as-day four-month baby bump.

He looks good, healthy. Glowing. Wasn’t that what everyone always said.

He can see few of the Alphas standing by him, not too close but close enough, bodies angled protectively, maybe without conscious thought. Steve’s growling before he even realizes what he’s doing. Staring at them, puffing up his chest, ready for a challenge. Ready to walk down there and forcibly remove them from anywhere near his mate.

But Sharon is suddenly behind him, hand on his elbow like a steel vice. Her voice is equally hard and steady.

“Why are you here, Rogers?”

Her flat scent is like a bucketful of cold water over him. Bucky is not his mate, not his to keep or to protect. He watches helplessly as one of the Alphas takes the rifle and Bucky corrects his grip with a professional touch, his bump brushing against the agent’s side. The words are trapped in his throat, the horrible realization of how much he has missed.

“I… I needed…”

“Haven’t you done enough damage? Just leave him be.”

The icy sheen of her tone makes the breath catch like a long ago asthma he’d almost forgotten. Her scent displeased and sour.

“I never meant for this to happen, the shot wasn’t supposed to fail.”

“Well, it did.”

“I thought he was… I thought he wasn’t going to keep…”

He makes a helpless hand motion towards Bucky. Watching the long lines of his body as he leans against the wall, watching the agents with a proprietary air like any good teacher. Steve’s jolted out of his reverie again by Sharon, she’s standing closer now, almost flush with his side. Voice cool and calm, almost curious.

“You thought he was going to have a termination?”

“Yes…”

Saying it hurts. Thinking about it had hurt all these months, not because he had wanted to take away Bucky’s choice, but because he couldn’t be there. Couldn’t offer support, couldn’t salvage the friendship that he had just gotten back.

Sharon is still holding his elbow. Her hands are cool against his skin, nails tiny pinpricks where she is holding on too tight. The only place where her nerves are showing.

“Well it’s not really your call, is it? Bucky wants to keep the baby and me and the rest of the team are more than happy to support him in that. I think that Stark has bought half of Babies R Us for him already.”

“Wait, what?”

He wonders if Tony’s done this on purpose. A fake errand to get him right here, looking at Bucky across the hall. The other Alphas sniffing around him, ready to offer the things that Steve had been too stupid to provide. It would be exactly the kind of dick move Tony would pull, graceless and lacking in any kind of emotional finesse.

“You didn’t ask him to give up the baby?”

“What?! Of course not! Jesus, Sharon…”

She’s turning him to face her, forcing his gaze away from Bucky. Steve goes but not willingly, looking into her eyes that have softened, the lines around them suddenly relaxed a fraction.

“But you don’t want to be a part of it?”

“No! I just didn’t want to pressure him, make him feel like he had to. That he couldn’t make his own choices.”

Her posture seems to finally relax. She’s shaking her head like Steve’s an idiot.

“Fuck, Steve. You gotta talk to him.”

Maybe she says his name a tad too loud for super soldier hearing, or maybe it’s just Steve’s scent finally making it across the hallway. Bucky freezes when he spots them by the entrance. Steve's heart breaks again when his eyes move over to Sharon, looking for reassurance. She waves for him to come over but it takes him a minute to push away from the wall, to compose himself.

He says goodbye to the team he’s been teaching and makes his way down the corridor gracefully weaving through the throng of people, most of whom turn to look. They are not even subtle about it. Bucky seems to have sensed the curious looks as much he avoided meeting them.

“I guess we should go talk somewhere a bit more private.”

They take the elevator up without Sharon, walking down that familiar boring-gray corridor. The door is locked and Bucky fishes out a key from his jeans’ pocket.

There are more things in the room now, a lived-in feel from the last time. A table with some books and a slim laptop, a chest of drawers and a bookcase in the corner. Strange looking plant on top of the chest of drawers and Steve wonders where it’s from. A lot of the furniture looks like it’s been salvaged from offices and meeting rooms.

Steve’s duvet and blanket are still on the bed, clearly rumpled up from where Bucky got up that morning.

Bucky sits down on the bed, looking at him expectantly, metal hand splayed over his belly almost as if on instinct and Steve’s heart hurts that he feels like he needs to protect himself. He doesn’t offer Steve a seat or say anything, clearly waiting for him to start.

He doesn’t know where to start, the whole conversation suddenly feeling too enormous, his eyes flicking around the room, looking for a touchstone. There is an open gift box on the bed. The colorful teddy bear-themed wrapping paper torn and ripped. Steve can spot bright fabrics and some kind of a giraffe shaped toy in a box.

Bucky sees him looking and pulls the gift to him, his shoulders relaxing a fraction as he rummages through the items.

“It’s from the delta strike team who captured me. They did a collection within the combat units.”

He takes out the little giraffe, rotating it between his palms.

“I think it’s for teething.”

Steve’s throat feels tight, his voice strangled and he manages to choke out the words.

“That’s really nice of them.”

Bucky smiles, lopsided and small, but genuine.

“Yeah, Sharon and Stark and everyone here has been really generous and helpful.”

Steve feels irrationally angry that all of these other people who have been providing and taking care of Bucky. Have been there for him while Steve hasn’t.

“It’s not like back in the day…I don’t have to hide it which is nice.”

Steve isn’t sure if he is talking about the pregnancy or his designation. Maybe both.

“I just want you to know that I don’t expect anything from you. I know this isn’t what you signed up for and you were just helping me out. I’m thinking of moving to New York. Stark offered us a floor to live on in that gaudy tower of his and I’m gonna take it. So, we’ll be alright, you don’t have to worry.”

He sounds so earnest, like the only thing that Steve is here for is to make sure that Bucky has a roof over his head, like he is here out of obligation. It hurts, piles up with the others in his chest, a compound fracture of pain over his heart.

On the edge of the mirror, pushed into the frame is a small black and white picture. Hazy and unfocused. It’s hard to make out but Steve knows exactly what it is. He runs his fingers over it, the tiny squiggle of his child.

“That’s not…I just didn’t think that I could ever have this.”

“Have what?”

“A family.”

“Steve...”

Bucky sighs out his name on an exhale. Hand reaching out, fingers grazing the edge of Steve’s sleeve, but Steve isn’t ready for that. Not yet.

“I know, I know, it’s not your responsibility to give that to me...”

“That’s not what...”

“Please let me finish. I gave up on the idea of a family a long time ago, the hope for it I guess. I don’t really know how to do this.”

Bucky reaches out again, stubbornly, his fingers now catching the sleeve tightly, tugging on the fabric.

“What do you want to do?”

“I’d like to be involved, if you’ll let me? I know I haven’t been very good in the past few months but I’ll try, I’ll be better.”

He takes a long breath, steels himself to continue, to ask for this.

“I’d like to try, with you. If you’ll have me. Being together, properly.”

Bucky is quiet for a long time, looking down to his lap and the hope in Steve’s chest starts to die. Finally, after what feels like decades but in reality is only a few seconds, Bucky looks up, eyes bright with moisture.

“Is it…is that something you might want? With me?”

It breaks Steve’s heart anew how unsure Bucky sounds, how uncertain he is of his own welcome, uncertain of the things he has to offer. Steve crouches down by the bed, shaking hands reaching out for Bucky’s own. His fingers, both metal and flesh and cool between Steve’s hands.

“Yeah Buck, so much.”

Their fingers entwine as if by their own volition and the hungry touch of Bucky’s skin against his sparks something deep in his gut, an involuntary rumble in his chest. Bucky smiles at the sound. It’s old fashioned to vocalize this way, to be this possessive, but Steve hopes that maybe Bucky remembers.

“Will you stay?”

The words rush out even before Bucky has stopped talking.

“Yes! Yeah, of course I’ll stay. I’ll stay anywhere with you.”

And Bucky leans down, breath ghosting over Steve’s lips, their noses touching and Steve can feel Bucky’s sharp, little inhale. Then they’re kissing. It’s hesitant at first, almost innocent, Bucky’s lips moving over his gently, exploring, getting to know the terrain of him again.

Steve lets him, surrendering to the feeling. It’s like coming home. Coming in from the cold. He sighs at the feel the shy sweep of a tongue on his bottom lip, opening up to it. Bucky takes it as an invitation to deepen the kiss, licking into Steve’s mouth, his breath hot and sour on Steve’s tongue.

Steve rumbles again, nipping on Bucky’s lips as he laughs into the kiss. Eventually, Steve has to pull away, try to rein himself in. Slowly kissing up and over Bucky’s cheek and temple with closed, tender lips.

Bucky smiles at him, almost shy and so unlike anything Steve has ever known from him, so unlike that cocky Brooklyn boy, but that’s okay. Both of them have changed, become different people in the all the years stretched in between.

“I’ll stay forever if you let me.”

Bucky’s face is filled with wonder, the corners of his eyes crinkling like the thinnest of papers. He leans in for another kiss and Steve forgets the cramping in his legs from the awkward position. Forgets until they go numb.

Later Bucky gets them dinner from the SHIELD canteen while Steve waits in the room, nervously jangling his knees while he sits on the edge of the bed. He comes back with supersoldier portions of fries, seven chicken kievs, a huge salad bowl drenched in dressing and a whole pie.

Everything is packed into a plastic box and Bucky unloads the food with a practiced air. Steve makes sure that Bucky gets most of the chicken kievs, covertly shifting them from his plate to Bucky’s when he goes to refill his glass. Bucky narrows his eyes, clearly pointing out that he’s got Steve’s number all right, but he doesn’t give the chicken back.

They end up watching Mythbusters on Bucky’s laptop. Stretched out on the bed, their socked feet touching. Bucky seems to greatly enjoy watching things get blow up. In the evening he borrows Bucky’s toothbrush and a pair of sweatpants for sleeping.

It’s strangely easy crawling into bed with Bucky, it feels like something familiar, almost mundane. Burying his nose into the back of Bucky’s neck, inhaling the scent. Cataloging the change of it, deeper and muskier.

Bucky wiggles into him, pressing tighter and tighter into Steve's embrace, the press of Bucky’s ass against his dick, the slow grind easing it right in-between Bucky’s butt cheeks. Steve runs his palms up Bucky’s arms, over his chest, mapping his body until Steve's hands come to hover over the bump.

“Can I…?”

“Yeah, yeah you can.”

Bucky’s hand comes over his, pushing Steve’s palm into Bucky’s stomach. It’s warm to the touch even through the shirt and Steve wonders if Bucky, like him, runs hot. Steve becomes bolder, stroking his hand over the swell of his belly and Bucky shivers at the touch. Wiggling and rubbing against him. Whining deep in his belly until Steve shushes him.

Steve pushes his fingers under the hem of Bucky’s t-shirt, kissing and nipping the soft, hidden skin at his hairline, nosing the loose strands of hair, escaped from Bucky’s ponytail. The skin of his belly is smooth and hot, a trail of coarse hair running up to his bellybutton. Bucky smothers a giggle into the pillows when Steve tickles that trail of hair. He runs his fingers under the waistband of Bucky’s sleep pants, feeling the cotton as his hands roam over the heated skin of Bucky’s hips and thighs and ass.

Bucky spreads his legs when Steve’s fingers wander over the dip of his tailbone. Encouraged he slides down, pressing in between those tight ass cheeks. Bucky is so wet, Steve’s fingers sliding over his hole, the muscle contracting wildly under his fingers.

“Oh fuck, Steve.”

“Shh, I’ve got you.”

It’s so easy to slide Bucky’s pajama pants down to his thighs, to pull his own cock out from the borrowed sweatpants. Press the eager, wet tip of himself between Bucky’s cheeks, feeling the furled edges of Bucky’s hole tremble. To slide into Bucky’s body with hands possessively splayed over his belly.

Mine.

“Yours.”

Bucky is nearly sobbing and it takes Steve a moment to realize that he had said it out loud.

He fucks into Bucky slow and steady. Long even strokes until Bucky is moaning, gasping his name like a mantra, like a prayer.

They stay like that the whole night, tied together, the steady beat of Bucky’s heart, the pounding of his blood, around Steve. Steve’s flesh and the beat of his own heart inside Bucky. One and the same, breathing in sync.

In the morning Steve leaves Bucky to sleep with a kiss once again, but this time with a note and a will to come back. He has work to do.

There is an empty flat in the compound. Southwest corner, facing the woodland. Tony’s contractors work quickly and efficiently, installing the new kitchen and bathrooms. He’d given Steve a sly look when he’d asked, smirking and quipping over his workbench “finally bringing the baby daddy home, right?” and Steve had given him the finger.

He doesn’t furnish the nursery, it feels too much, something they should do together.

Then he goes to Tiffany’s because that’s what you are supposed to do.

That’s what you did in Red Hook if you got an Omega the family way. Well, no one went to Tiffany’s but to Mr. Goldstein’s pawn shop, but Pepper tells him that Tiffany’s is the place nowadays.

The sales lady is very discreet, takes him into a back room and shows him the selection of rings. Gives him time to choose, to feel the metal in his hand and allows him time to wonder what they will look like.

The ring he buys is a simple polished metal band with ‘till the end of the line engraved on the underside and a small diamond hidden right inside the ‘o’. So that Bucky can carry it forever, a hidden secret for just the two of them.

Bucky seems bemused when Steve comes to pick him up. He’s already waiting in the foyer when Steve parks out front. Jeans and a dark gray henley, a parka thrown over everything against the cool Upstate fall weather. Bucky watches the wet roads and scarlet colors of the trees through the windscreen, eyes tracking the lonely houses on the side of the road as they drive.

The compound is set within a hundred acres of private woodland owned by the Stark Foundation, and Bucky lifts his eyebrow as if to say Steve, really? when he spots the giant A on the side of the building as they come up the drive. Steve can just shrug self-consciously, it’s not like the design of the compound was done or approved by him.

He half-expects the other Avengers to lie in wait but he only catches a brief glimpse of Wanda’s back on their way through the myriad of hallways and conference rooms. Steve wonders for a brief moment if he has her to thank for their privacy.

Finally, Bucky walks through the open plan living and dining room into the bright kitchen that looks over the woodland.

“Jesus buddy, it’s always all or nothin’ with you, isn’t it?”

Steve can just shrug and smile, it’s not like Bucky is wrong. When he turns around Steve is down on one knee, a small box cradled in his hands and a look of utter hopelessness on his face.

“Oh jesus, Stevie. You didn’t have to do all this!”

“That’s not a ‘yes’.”

“Of course it’s a ‘yes’ you stupid punk.”

Steve springs up from the floor and pulls Bucky into a kiss that lasts and lasts, and when it ends Steve slides the ring into Bucky’s right ring finger under the warm rays of the late fall sunshine bathing the room.

It’s all surprisingly easy after that. Moving Bucky into the compound and all the Avengers petting his belly like he isn’t the world’s most notorious assassin over breakfast. Bucky seems to tolerate the attention with relatively good humor. They decorate the nursery in yellow and gray and Tony orders them the best baby furniture money can buy despite Steve’s objections.

They sleep curled into each other on Steve’s large bed that no longer feels so large at all, until one night when Bucky shakes him awake and they make their way to the medical wing through the quiet, dark hallways of the compound.

It takes fourteen hours and twenty-seven minutes.

There is a long queue of Avengers in the hall when Steve finally pops out of the room to get food.

Nine burritos, supersoldier-sized tub of guacamole, tacos, and hot sauce and chips had been the order from the depths of the bed that Bucky had nestled himself into.

He looks at the eager faces of his friends and teammates and thrusts out the post-it note where he had written everything down.

“Okay, whoever gets this to me the fastest gets to come and in and say ‘hi.’ Everyone else gets to wait.”

Natasha grabs the note faster than lightning with Clint not far behind. He’s never seen a group of Avengers scramble quite so quickly.

Natasha is back first, of course. She’s already in the room with Bucky by the time Tony hops down the corridor with a humongous Chipotle bag chanting “Superbaby, superbaby!”

He’s so heartbroken that Steve lets him come in, but only if he promises to be quiet.

Natasha is crouched by the bed, murmuring something softly in Russian with Bucky smiling down against the little bundle resting against his chest.

Their daughter is looking at the world with a suspicious, dark blue eyes, only the top of her head, and its mop of dark brown hair, visible from the gap in Bucky’s collar where she’s nestled inside his shirt.

Eventually, everyone ends up coming into the room and helping themselves to burritos and tacos, and in Clint’s case an obscene amount of hot sauce. Steve still makes sure that Bucky gets a lion’s share of the food, growling threateningly towards Tony as he tries to take the last of the beef tacos.

To Steve’s surprise, it’s Wanda who cleans up all the bags and ushers everyone out of the room as soon as Bucky starts to look edgy, pushing Tony out of the door with a slight flash of red and ignoring the plaintive “Come on, one more picture!”.

Steve listens for a while as everyone makes their way down the corridor and the room becomes blissfully quiet again, except for the snuffling breaths of the baby that Steve already adores beyond measure.

“You alright?”

Bucky looks at him with the kind of love that Steve has only ever dreamed of.

“Yeah.”

Steve smiles in return and climbs into the bed, hoping that he is able to convey even a fraction of the love that he feels on his face, convey all the things he has no words for. Slowly, settling himself next to Bucky. Feeling his daughter’s soft, fragile body under his hands, still securely settled against Bucky’s chest.

“Yeah, Steve, we’re all okay now.”