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One Day We Won’t Have to Be Scared

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"Cheer up, James," Natalia pats his thigh with the gun strapped to it on the flight back. "In a few hours you'll have Steve to kiss it all better."

She pretends like she's not just as anxious to get back to Clint, but Bucky lets it go because he's tired and she's right to mock the idea of him having someone to come home to, considering what she knows about him.

"I just wanna be told next time that the target's a robot before I watch you try and seduce it for three hours. Me and Steve worked with better intel in the 40s."

Steve would have come up with a better plan on the spot than blowing up the building they were in to make sure the robot was destroyed for good. Bucky leans his head back and closes his eyes. He can't wait to bend Steve over the nearest piece of furniture and fuck him until they both pass out from exhaustion.

He sends that over in a text the second the SHIELD jet makes its descent to land.

If you think you can... Steve types back two seconds later. He knows damn well Bucky can. It's the one thing he likes about having a version of the serum. Leaving an art auction. Be there when you get home.


Steve isn't there when Bucky gets home. It's disappointing, but not surprising. Sometimes Captain America just can't tear himself away from his throngs of admirers as fast as he wants because Steve's too polite to say when enough is enough. They want autographs and pictures and just once Bucky wishes Steve would slap away any hands going for his ass while he's busy posing and smiling. Bucky has fantasized about lying on a rooftop during public events and picking off the grabby ones with his rifle. If you wouldn't do it to a woman at a bar, you shouldn't do it to Captain America.

Bucky strips off his weapons and clothes, showers, and takes a nap. The sounds of Steve coming home don't alarm him out of sleep anymore and he expects to wake to the warmth of him curled around him or to Steve's hands and mouth on his body making a wholehearted effort—because Steve doesn't make any other kind—to eradicate the memory of that clusterfuck of a mission from his mind. Bucky wakes up alone though and the phone is ringing.

It's Natalia.

"James..." Her voice says she has something she doesn't know how to say. "There's been a... situation. Thought you would want the heads up."

Fear is a lot like blood; it soaks through everything in no time. "Something happen to Steve?" Bucky's voice is harsh. Steve's made himself a ton of enemies and Bucky just knew one of these days...

"He's here at the Tower."

That's all Bucky needs. He grabs his keys and is out the door in a heartbeat.


The second he sets foot on the subway, people look up from their iPads and smartphones and stare at him. It's not the arm—that's disguised as flesh and blood now; they've found out something they can't believe and they're shocked and foaming at the mouth for the details. They know who he is, or think they do—Howling Commando sniper, Avenger, and Captain America's 'domestic partner'—but he's not Steve or Tony Stark and they're too scared to hound him for pictures or autographs let alone whatever they're dying to know right now. Bucky's seen his own expression in the mirror these days. He's not approachable.

He catches parts of what people are whispering behind him though.

"No, that's really him. Look closer."

"They're photoshopped. Why would they leave pictures lying around to get caught?"

Bucky's blood freezes in his veins. He braces himself for someone to burst through the doors and arrest him. He should have known not even SHIELD could keep his past buried forever.


The whole team is in the lobby of Avenger's Tower.

Stark slaps him on the shoulder as Bucky walks in. "Quality scandal there, Barnes, though I expected something a little less..." He can't find the word. "All that leather I figured you for a 'tie you up and make you beg for mercy' kinda guy."

Bucky wants to hit him. He sees people begging for mercy in his nightmares all the time.

Clint walks toward him with a hand over his eyes. "Why did I click the uncensored version? Some things you can't unsee..."

"Front page of the New York Times..." Bruce looks up from his laptop. "Aside from the moral issues they raise, art critics can't stop praising the photos for what they were able to capture."

"Yeah, I think we've seen what they capture," Stark says. "I always wondered if the serum... Never would have guessed it helped the rest of him catch up." He scrubbed a hand over his face. "God, why am I even saying this?"

All Bucky can think is When did I leave a witness alive?

Natasha and Thor don't say anything.

Steve comes out of a back room where he must have been on the phone, fully dressed in the suit and a thick manilla folder in hand. He won't even look at him.

"Um..." Steve hands him the folder. "You might want to sit down."

Bucky doesn't. If it's time to face the past he can do it on his feet. He opens the folder and expects to see gruesome shots of one of his victims bleeding to death while he slips away as a black-clad shadow in the background. He doesn't expect to see Steve facedown on white sheets, hair falling into his eyes and his pants arounds his knees while Bucky holds his hips from behind with two human hands and...

Oh god.


"Why do you want to go so bad?" Steve joins him at their beat-up excuse for a table with another bowl of oatmeal—all they've had to eat for the past four days. "There won't be any girls there."

"The sign says ten cent drinks on Friday nights." That should be enough for anyone to want to go. "Besides, I wanna see what all the fuss is about."

"You seem kinda desperate to get drunk. That ten cents could go toward milk and bread, and rent's due next week."

Bucky throws the phone bill he'd been reading on the table, on top of the heating bill and the water bill and he's got a whole pile going. "That's the point, Steve. If I don't find work, next Friday night we'll be on the street. May as well have a good time while we can, right?"

The problem is no one wants to hire an eighteen year old orphan kid. All the jobs are going to men with families. Maybe he should put Steve in a dress and borrow a couple of the kids down the hall. Steve couldn't complain. The money they need is mostly for him anyway. Winter is coming and Steve will need medicine and would end up catching god knows what if they had to live out there in the cold.

Bucky runs a hand through his hair. There has to be some places he hasn't tried.

Steve looks away into his oatmeal. He thinks it's his fault they're starving after the number of times employers have laughed at him outright and told him their daughters could lift more than him.

"I haven't tried yet at the glue factory. I could-"

Bucky shakes his head. "Have you smelled that place? The fumes and smoke would kill you. Stick to your art, Steve.”


"They were going for a pretty good price on their own," Steve says like he's proud of it when they get back to the apartment. He let Bucky drive his bike home and had accepted what had to be the world's most awkward ride from Phil Coulson, who looked both crushed and excited by the whole debacle in ways Bucky didn't want to know about. Bucky made a mental note months ago never to shake the man's hand "They hit the two hundred thousand dollar mark before a guy in the crowd recognized you." Steve sets the folder on the dining room table like there's no such thing as company dropping by unexpectedly. "I think they ended up selling for more than a million."

"So this is my fault now?"

At least Steve didn't tell him they owed Stark the money. The pictures Steve has aren’t the originals—the paper is too modern. Buying back the originals did no good when someone obviously uploaded them to the internet before the auction. Bucky itches to track down the idiot who had done it and convince them with a nice cold kiss from the barrel of his .45 to come out and say the stupid things were photoshopped.

"I didn't say that." Steve is extra patient with him these days. "But no one else but you knows what I looked like before the serum. You were a little easier to spot."

"Great." Bucky kicks his rifle case out of the way that he left in the middle of the living room. There goes the idea of claiming they were faked.

Steve follows him.

"That why you're taking this so hard? Can't stand sharing the memory of skinny Steve Rogers with the rest of the world?"

Bucky gives him a look. Who wouldn't be bothered by masses of people watching them have sex? He's told his stare is ice cold now, but it doesn't work on Steve.

"Come on, Bucky. As far as I'm concerned those pictures are art. Come here. You've barely even looked at them."

Shaking his head, Bucky flops onto the couch. "You were the one who told me my appreciation for art is lacking, Steve."

Part of him wants to say that for him art has been a bloodless kill that looks like an accident, but he doesn't.


The queen at the door tells Bucky "I could kiss that mouth for hours" and lets them in for free.

Whoever owned the club had to be forking it over to the mob to keep the cops looking the other way because it's a full-on pansy party inside.

Men dressed as high-class dames sing and dance on stage in black gloves and red satin dresses and rhinestones glittering in the bright lights. Bucky has to admit some of them are dolled up as pretty as any girl he's had on his arm even though their curves are all stuffing.

They're not just on stage; they're dancing with each other too, slow and wrapped in one another's arms just like men and women do. It's weird and fascinating. A small black man... woman—Bucky doesn't know which to call them—in a slinky white dress winks at him as they walk by. Bucky smiles and winks back and Steve rolls his eyes.

"I think she wants you to take her out on the floor." Steve presses close so he doesn't have to yell above the music. "Maybe she'll put her head on your shoulder and you can hold her real close." It's bitter and Steve makes a face. "Even the homos like you."

Bucky slings an arm around Steve's small shoulders. There's no need to go and get all blue. "It's all about confidence, Steve. You gotta make them think you've got something too good to miss out on by not giving you a chance. Your problem is you won't try it."

They find a table and Bucky gets them whiskey sours. Steve sips and watches the queens performing on stage, still down on himself and the work he can't find and the money they need.

"If I ever learned how to dance maybe I'd try my luck doing that. What do you suppose they pay 'em?"


It was even on the Spanish channel.

"What are they saying?" Steve hands him a sandwich and a beer and joins him on the couch.

Bucky pops the top off the bottle with his metal hand. Beer's not near strong enough for dealing with this shit. "They're going on about the social media reaction. I guess they have nothing better to talk about." They show some of the captions people on Twitter are putting on the photos and Bucky thinks about hurling knives at the giant flatscreen TV he had thought was so amazing when he bought it a month ago.

"What?" Steve knows when he's agitated.

Bucky hesitates, but it's not like Steve's going to get himself hurt anymore trying to take any of these idiots on. "They're calling you Captain Cocksucker and making dumb puns about you giving more head than HYDRA."

Steve shrugs. "I've been called a lot worse."

The reporter rambles on about how some social media sites are getting grief from parent groups for allowing users to share the uncensored photographs without age-restriction warnings—mainly something called Tumblr Bucky has never heard of. Steve stretches across him for the laptop so he can see for himself. He searches the two of them by name and Bucky doesn't want to know what comes up, except Steve's suddenly trying not to laugh.

"It looks like the user name 'sergeantsexface' is taken."

Bucky sinks into the back of the couch. "What the hell does that even mean?"

Steve's grin says he knows exactly what it means, but he's smart enough not to answer. "There's also a 'captainofyoursweetass' and a 'bionicbuttpir... uh, nevermind."

He closes the computer, struggling to keep a straight face. Bucky is overcome with the desire to find out how far he can throw it with the full force of his cybernetic arm.


Given how little they've been eating lately, it's not long before Bucky is drunk.

"When I'm famous I'm gonna buy this place," he announces, rhinestones and red satin dresses swirling together in his blurred vision.

"You mean when you're the next Clark Gable and finally realize your dream of kissing Marlene Dietrich?"

Bucky breaks into a smile just thinking about her and takes another swallow of his drink. "That's the plan." All they need is money and he could be a big movie star and Steve could put Norman Rockwell out of a job. "I'm gonna buy a ton of places like this and bribe the cops so these queens can do whatever they want."

He raises his glass to one of the dolled-up performers who happens to look their way.

Steve smiles at how drunk he is. He's had two drinks to Bucky's four and his cheeks are flushed and his hair is glowing gold in the bright lights like a halo. "And what are you gonna buy me?" Steve bats his eyes and leans into him like he's some gold-digging dame Bucky's taking out on the town.

Bucky throws an arm around him, pulling him against his cheek. "Whatever you want..." either he's too hot from the whiskey or Steve is, "baby doll."

Steve laughs, easy and finally starting to have a good time. Then he turns his head and whispers in Bucky's ear. "That guy over there's been watching us."


Steve presses tight against his back in bed that night.

"What's the matter?" Steve's arms slide around him. "You're usually more... enthusiastic when you get back from a mission." That's Steve's tactful way of saying he's used to Bucky throwing him against the nearest solid surface and attempting to fuck him through it first chance he gets. "All this talk on the internet has me missing the expression that's getting so much attention."

Steve kisses the side of his neck the way Bucky likes, but though it's warm—warm enough to melt a cold part-metal man—Bucky doesn't have much interest in responding. He sighs and twists in Steve's hold to face him in the dark.

"Not right now. Feels like everyone's watching."

"You mean you didn't check the apartment five times for surveillance devices before you went to bed like you usually do?" It's hard to glare at someone when you wish you were more in the mood to pull them on top of you, but Steve smiles like he finds Bucky's habits cute when he knows they aren't. "I have to say though," Steve can't leave well enough alone, "I never thought I'd see the day when you were upset that thousands of women across the country see you as a sex symbol."

If he meant that Tumblr thing, it was a scary look into the modern female mind Bucky can’t handle right now. They haven't stopped at 'sergeantsexface'. There's now a 'sgtthatsnotaguninmypocket' and a 'sergeantgettingthatpatrioticdick', among others.

"I know a hundred different ways to kill any one of them, Steve. That's not sexy."

Steve rolls onto his back. "I think you're bothered that people are seeing a softer side of you."

"You're a shrink now? SHIELD makes me see enough of those."

"Come on, Buck," Steve tugs his arm and pulls him closer. "How long do you plan on acting like a stepped-on cat about this?"

"For as long as I have to keep hearing about it and until they stop making up cute little internet names." He lays his head on Steve's broad chest where everything is better and sighs. "Give me a break here, Steve. The mission was a disaster and I'm trying to be happy I didn't get blown up helping to save a world that hates me."

Steve tenses at the thought of him dying again. He holds in whatever he has to say about it, but his arms come tight around him. Bucky gets comfortable and closes his eyes. He likes this better than fucking Steve sometimes because the best thing about Steve is that he would never look down on him when he gets needy.

After a few minutes of actual peace, Bucky says, "Did you know Stark thinks I tie you up and make you beg? He probably thinks I spank you or something too. He says it's the leather."

He can feel Steve rolling his eyes.

"I'd rather he not think about it at all, but that's what I mean." Bucky doesn't tell him there's no soft side to what he does. There's nothing clean about it either. After a moment Steve adds, "And, Buck... if you almost get yourself killed one more time I'm gonna start spanking you."

He's only half joking.


The guy looks like he has money. His clothes aren't frayed or worn and he's stocky like he hasn't missed many meals. A waiter comes with plates of food and tells them he's paid for it—a steak dinner for each of them and an expensive bottle of bourbon. Bucky's suspicious of what the hell this guys wants, but he's too hungry not to eat. The same goes for Steve

The guy takes that for an invitation to join them at their table.

"You fellows looked hungry." He says in a heavy German accent. which gives away that he's probably not connected to the mob, which is a relief. He tells them they can call him 'Franz' though Bucky doubts that's his real name. He doesn't say anything else, just patiently lets them eat. There's something in the way he watches them Bucky doesn't like, something calculated in the way he takes the bourbon and makes a point of keeping their glasses full. Whatever he wants, he wants them drunk.

It's hard not to wolf down the food. Bucky's afraid it's the best they'll ever eat if he doesn't run into some luck soon. Steve does a better job of remembering his manners and feels obligated to make polite conversation.

"Kind of an odd place to find yourself feeding the less fortunate. You mind my asking what brings you here? I mean, I hear sociologists like to study places like this. You kind of have that look."

Franz's smile is like an animal closing in on something it's been circling around. Opportunity. "I like to call myself an artist. You could say I... find myself intrigued by the rarest expressions of human sensuality."

He tells them he's a photographer and that the two of them caught his attention. His eyes move over Steve and he goes on about the unique beauty of his delicate bone structure and how he would love to have him for a subject and capture the lines of his body. He offers a hundred dollars to photograph him—more than a month's pay at a factory job, if you were lucky.

Steve is more starved for all this buttering up about his looks than he is for the food and Bucky finds himself liking Franz that much less for it. "You wanna pay me to take my clothes off?"

Franz tops off their glasses for about the fifth time. "A little more than that." He looks at Bucky. "Your friend's a good-looking fellow, don't you agree?"

Steve lowers his eyes and that seems to be all Franz needs. He lays out his proposal. Pictures of the two of them of a 'sensual nature' for his private collection. He'll pay them a hundred dollars each.

"I'll give you a moment to consider it."

He gets up to find the bathroom and Bucky turns to Steve the minute he's out of earshot.

"That guy's a creep."

Steve takes another sip of his bourbon and chooses not to react to that. "We need the money, or at least I do. You'll find work, but... If you're not in, maybe Franz will give me fifty dollars to capture my 'unique and delicate lines'."

He has that dogged look he gets when he's determined to do something stupid because he's convinced himself it's the only right option—in this case so he can rest easy that he's pulling his weight between them. What Bucky wants to know is what kind of friend Steve takes him for if he thinks he would let Steve be alone with that guy the way Franz was looking at him. Someone has to be there to punch Franz out if he forgets how to keep his hands to himself, and a hundred dollars would be nice.

Bucky knocks back the rest of his drink in one swallow for a little courage and gives Steve a smile. "Gotta practice for when I'm a big star, right?"

How bad could a few racy pictures be? He'd be stupid not to take the money.


Fury—wisely—has no patience for the whole mess. He slides one of the pictures to Bucky across the table and thank god he has the censored versions. No one wants Nick Fury to see them having sex.

"I don't want to know what's getting you so hot in that one, Barnes, but we have a problem."

Bucky picks up the photo. It's sepia-toned and softened like all the rest so his skin looks like marble and his hair has a glow where it's fallen in loose curls onto his forehead. He's lying on his back, head lolling to one side, eyes half closed and lips slightly open. His body's arching and his head is nearly hanging off the edge of the bed like he's so blissed-out he doesn't know which way is what anymore.

Natalia takes the photo from him. "That's his o-face. It's very pretty."

Bucky folds his arms. He loves her, but he wishes she wouldn't acknowledge their past in front of Steve. It feels... like bad manners. "Do I tell people things about you?" he snaps—in Russian, because he remembers how to be a gentleman. "Like that time you begged me to take me with you on a mission so we could run away together?"

She just looks amused and makes it clear she plans on keeping the picture.

Fury ignores them and turns to Steve. "We have parent groups demanding you give up the shield."

Bucky can't believe this. "They wanna live in a world run by HYDRA too? That's what would've happened if Steve-"

"Bucky..." Steve rests a big hand on his shoulder, but the attempt to calm him is a weak one.

"You'll be expected to issue an apology," Fury goes on. "You too, Barnes. They want to hear that you regret this and how sorry you are for disappointing the American people and betraying the respect they have for you."

Bucky stares at him. "I spend decades as a traitor and I'm supposed to apologize for having sex way back in 1936?"

"Seventy-eight years, oh god," Stark grumbles, and why are there so many people in Fury's office? "And to think you two grampas basically have built-in viagra now... uh, you were saying?" he says to Fury.

"People expect a certain wholesomeness from Captain America. That extends to you, Barnes."

"The guy shacks up with a masked man in leather," Stark can't keep his mouth shut. "What part of that is wholesome?"

Fury gives Stark a beautiful glare and continues on like he isn't there. "As difficult as it may be to believe right now," he says slowly, making an effort not to lose his patience, "there are still people out there who look up to Bucky Barnes. People who had no chance of being like Cap and thought they could be you instead. They want to see a man with values they can admire. They want to believe in a simpler time."

"You realize back then me and the other guys were screwing nurses left and right..."

"James is insatiable," Natasha deadpans. She pauses to read something on her laptop. "One of your girlfriends before the war is talking to the tabloids. She says, 'I'm having trouble seeing him as a homo. He never, you know, wanted it the back way or anything.'"

And Bucky thinks he's been doing so well, going six months without thinking about shooting himself. Why isn't the press hounding Peggy Carter for her comments?

Steve finally speaks up. "Out of curiosity, sir, would we be expected to apologize if one of us was a woman taking these photos?"

"She would," Natasha and Sharon—who had been quiet the whole time—say in unison. "Meanwhile, the world would congratulate the one of you who wasn't," Natasha finishes.

Fury has heard enough. "Just make this go away the easy way, Rogers. The less people we have angry with Captain America, the less people we have to pull resources to keep an eye on."

Some of SHIELD's surveillance habits don't sit well with Steve, but he gets the idea. "Understood, sir."


Franz has a studio upstairs in a back room. It's sleazy and draped in white sheets with a bed in the center.

"You need a magazine?" He asks Bucky as he checks his equipment. "Need to look at some girls to get things going, if you know what I mean?"

Bucky shakes his head. All he has to do is think about the money... a whole hundred dollars... Besides, getting hot and bothered looking at pictures of someone else while Steve is right there seems... rude.

Franz doesn't ask Steve. They're standing shoulder-to-shoulder in their shirtsleeves while he tests his lighting, neither of them talking.

"All right. You," Franz instructs Steve while he makes a last adjustment on one of his lamps, "Stand against the wall there."

Steve goes, shoulders squared against the white background like he's waiting for the firing squad.

"Unbutton your shirt."

He yanks his tie loose and gets three buttons open before Franz stops him.

"No. Slowly," he practically purrs in his thick accent. "Make me hard with the thought of seeing just a little more..."

"Hey..." Bucky starts to get angry, but the guy wants a show and Steve does his best to give him one. He wets his lips and looks toward Bucky, nervous but determined, and takes his time with the rest of the buttons, baring his chest one inch at a time while Franz snaps away. The bright light Steve's standing under takes to him the way light does, turning his skin and hair gold. Maybe he should be the big star, the way he gets braver with each button and drinks in the camera's attention. But then, Steve doesn't get a lot of it.

He shirt's unbuttoned to the waist and Franz tells him, "Now do your friend."

Steve turns to him, tie hanging loose around his small shoulders and his nerve wavering like a candle flame. Bucky tries to reassure him with a shrug because how bad could this be? He takes his place against the wall and Franz motions Steve to stand a little to the side of him to give the camera a good view and he reaches up to start on Bucky's tie.

It's not the first time Steve has unbuttoned his shirt. Bucky needs help when he comes home drunk sometimes and he doesn't walk away from every fight he finishes for Steve unscathed. There's the fights that have nothing to do with Steve too, usually involving a girl some brute thinks he owns.

"Look up at him. Into his eyes."

Steve does and the camera flashes. His eyes are intent and very blue in the light. Bucky tilts his head, lowers his lashes, and stares back into them like they're pulling him in. If he wants to be in the movies he has to learn to be convincing when it comes to playing being infatuated.

Steve's knuckles brush his stomach on the last button and Bucky holds in the urge to shiver. Something sharp clenches in the pit of his stomach when Franz says, "Keep going. Now his belt, get his pants open."

Bucky swallows, but the guy said he wanted sensual.

Steve undoes his belt buckle with both hands and then goes for the buttons on his pants. Bucky wishes he weren't so aware that he can feel it against his dick through the cloth. All of a sudden he can't focus on anything else. He tries. He tries to think about the time he had to help Steve take a piss when he was sick.

Franz takes about a dozen pictures and smiles like things have gotten ten times more interesting.

"That's it..." he coaxes Steve over the snapping of the camera. "Keep going. Get his cock out. I want to see you touch it."

"Steve..." Bucky wants to say this isn't worth it, but he'd rather Steve touch his dick for money than choke on fumes in a glue factory.

Steve's jaw is set and his small hand curls around the length of him, drawing Bucky out of the cotton of his underwear. Bucky sucks in a breath.

"Stroke him like you stroke yourself."

Steve laughs faintly in a tickle of breath on bare skin where Bucky's shirt is open. "I've got a lot of practice doing that," he mutters under his breath.

Bucky's heard his muffled groans in the dark. He's tried to ignore them because it's only right, but Steve's hand tightens on his dick and Bucky hears them in the back of his mind now, though the only thing Steve probably wants to stroke at the moment is the money. His fist slides up and down and Bucky closes his eyes. It's a mistake because it starts to feel good and he's getting hard in Steve's warm, tight grip. He forces his eyes open and curls both hands into the sheets behind him as if that could brace him to fight it somehow.

Franz loves it. "Look at him resisting. Get on your knees and use your mouth. Let's see him try not to like that."

Bucky's eyes fix on Franz over Steve's head, angry. He's not about to let this creep order Steve around like a whore.

Franz just smiles and pats what has to be a wad of cash in his coat pocket. "You boys want to eat tomorrow night?"

At that moment, Bucky would feel better about knocking Franz out and robbing him, but Steve slides to the floor, bony knees bumping. He looks up at Bucky and his eyes are intent and full of... something.

"Oh come on, Buck," Steve's hand is on his like he wants to keep him from leaving. "Just pretend I'm Evie or whatever her name was last week. You didn't try very hard not to like when she did it. I watched."

He... Bucky doesn't know what to do with that information any more than he knows what to do with the fact that his dick twitches with the tickle of Steve's breath on his stomach and he forgets he was about to say that no one told Evie to suck him or starve.

The hand on his hip hesitantly drifts down and closes around the base of his cock. Bucky shuts his eyes. His hand goes to Steve's hair, absently stroking the silky blonde strands. The other cups Steve's cheek like he needs him to know he'd never hurt him, but at the same time Bucky wants...

Behind his eyes, the flash goes off and Bucky hears Franz say, "Oh that's beautiful..."

Bucky blinks and Steve's smiling in a way Bucky's not sure Steve is aware of. He's still looking up at him, hungry for something more than the money. His lips close on the head of Bucky's dick and Bucky can't quite hold in the sound he makes. It does something to Steve. His tongue strokes wet over far-too sensitive skin and Bucky's not made of stone here though he's about as hard.

Hand still wrapped around him, Steve pulls back enough to breathe out, "Bet you liked it when Evie did that."

Bucky's mind is too fogged for him to answer. Why's he picking on Evie? She...

Steve's mouth is on him again, and this time he just goes for it same as he throws himself into all those fights he gets into, only now Bucky feels like he's the one staggering with the way Steve's lips slide and pull at the length of him and the way his blond head is bobbing. When Steve said watched, he must have meant studied with that super memory of his. Bucky leans his head back and it's the way Steve's eyes never leave his face that brings Bucky too close to the edge too fast. He bites his lip against the urge to come and the urge to panic that this is stupidly brave morally upright Steve
and pushes at Steve's shoulders.

"Stop," he pants.

It hurts when Steve pulls off him, one last slide of wetness before the loss of pressure and heat.

"What?" Franz taunts in his heavy German accent. He's captured every moment of Bucky's struggle. "I can see your balls are bursting to come in his mouth. I bet you'd be the first."

Bucky's glare is hot with murder. "Shut up," he snarls through his ragged breathing.


Somewhere along the way, Steve has become a natural at being on television.

"I don't think a hero is someone who never disappoints the people who look up to him or her," he tells one of the big time morning talk show hosts Bucky doesn't know by name. The guy doesn't waste any time cutting straight to asking about the pictures. Steve's wearing the uniform, sitting with his shoulders straight, glowing gold in the bright lights and too full of conviction to be put off balance. "In my opinion, a hero is someone who stands up for others, especially when there's nothing in it for them."

The audience likes that judging by their applause and Steve smiles. The host is disappointed. He wanted the honor of making Captain America squirm.

"In fact," Steve tells the audience, "That's exactly how I met Bucky."

Bucky rolls his eyes at the TV. "Not this story, Steve..."

"I want to hear it," Natasha leans against him on the couch with her legs folded under her.

Sitting on Bucky's other side, Sam gets up. "I've heard it five times. I'm going to the bathroom."

"Tell us more about that," the host prompts Steve, like Steve isn't going to tell them anyway.

Steve gets a dopey look on his face.

"Well it was back in 1930, when we were twelve. I was walking to school minding my own business and these three guys decided that if I wanted to cross their turf, I had to pay a two cent toll."

The audience laughs, charmed by this guy talking about pennies like they count as real money and Steve just smiles and lets them before he goes on.

"I tell them I'm not giving them anything and next thing I know they're punching the snot out of me, telling me they can keep it up all day until I know I'm beat because they've got nothing better to do. That's when Bucky walks up. He says 'I'll say' and starts taking on all three of them."

That gets a big "awww" from the girls, but Steve's not done.

"You should have seen him. He had on this blue striped shirt and these pants that were too big for him and his hair's a mess, but he struts up like this," Steve gets up from his chair and demonstrates, "and goes on to tell these thugs how they make him nauseas. I have to say, he was pretty dashing. But," he's back to being Captain America again, "my point is, what's really important is that we should admire someone for how they treat others, not for what they do in their personal lives. I think Bucky and I are both fortunate to live in a time when this is just embarrassing, rather than criminal. Back in our day people were dragged off to asylums or used for target practice by the Nazis for this sort of thing."

Steve gets roaring applause for that one. The host is all smiles and then he closes in.

"What are the chances of getting Sergeant Barnes on the show?"

"None," Bucky snaps. Sam comes back into the room and he and Natalia shake their heads.

The audience cheers for this disaster to happen and Steve gives them his most staunchly upright Captain America face,

"He's been recovering from some difficult things this year. I think we just need to respect his privacy right now. But in time, I'm sure there's a good possibility."

The audience takes that for a promise and the host goes on to talk about how Steve's an artist and the astonishing quality of the photos and how the gay community would laud them as a rare vintage treasure capturing the beauty of same-sex eroticism even if they featured ordinary guys instead of two famous war heroes. Bucky gets up and stops listening, because he's told Steve he doesn't want to talk to the media and he's angry.


Franz makes him sit on the edge of the bed with Steve straddling his lap. Bucky's pants hang open and his cock's still hard and Steve can't seem to stop looking there as Bucky slowly peels Steve's suspenders and then his shirt off his shoulders for the camera. Franz captures Steve with it fallen down around his hips before it drops to the floor in a rumpled white heap at Bucky's feet.

Steve is cold without it, arms covered in goosebumps and his are nipples hard, pink like his mouth. Bucky's drunk enough to think about licking one just to make him squirm a little because it would serve him right.

"Get his pants down."

Bucky hesitates. Nobody has to take their clothes off in the movies, but they've gone this far... He unbuckles Steve's belt and pushes his pants and underwear off his hips. He has to lift him up to get them lower and the camera gets him with one hand splayed over Steve's ass to balance him, his other hand fisted in wool and cotton, tugging the material down Steve's thighs.

Franz can't tear his eyes from Steve's bare ass. Bucky wants to poke them out. "Round like ripe fruit," he marvels. "I could just touch it..."

"Well you're not gonna," Bucky snaps over Steve's shoulder.

Smirking like he finds that funny, Franz tosses him a bottle of oil. It looks expensive. "You know how to get him ready?"

Bucky freezes. Ready for what? He wants to blame the bourbon for making him stupid. He didn't really think...

"You're going to fuck him." Franz's eyes slither over Steve's ass again and he smiles to himself. "Someone needs to."

To hell I am, Bucky wants to yell. At the same time he wants to say well it sure as fuck isn't gonna be you, pal. Steve's face falls at the flash of anger, but he's quick to hide it behind a brave mask. Well not a mask, because it's Steve.

"Come on, Bucky," he leans closer to whisper so Franz can't hear. "This shouldn't be so hard for you the way you've been trying to find work so you can provide for us like I'm your girl."

That isn't fair. Using the word 'hard' isn't helping right now and what's bad about not wanting Steve to choke to death in a glue factory? He is like a girl if he has to go and take everything wrong. But the way Steve's looking at him says this isn't about the glue factory. Bucky swallows. Does he really want the money this bad? He'll end up hurting Steve either way so he may as well do what he wants.

Bucky cocks his head and gives Steve a slow smile and a wink. "You wanna be my girl, Steve? I like to take them dancing first."

"You bought me drinks..."

He did, and right now Bucky wishes he'd had a couple more because he's never heard that flirtatious tone from Steve before and it sends a tingle through his cock.

"You've been all the way with a girl?" Franz interrupts. Bucky nods. More than a few times. "It won't be the same. He won't be all wet for you. Take the oil, slide your fingers inside him."

Bucky looks at the bottle and tells himself that if Steve can put his tongue on his dick he can slip an oiled finger up his ass.

But when he does it, it's more like touching a girl than Franz says. His fingers trail from the small of Steve's back into the cleft of his ass and when he slides it inside, Steve clenches his jaw to hold in a whimper. Bucky's afraid he's hurt him, because the ring of muscle he pushes past is tighter than any girl, but Steve's hips roll on their own like it feels good and the motion doesn't help when Bucky's already hard. It doesn't help that he likes how easily Steve slides on his slick finger either and how hot he is inside.

He grabs the back of Steve's neck and pulls him tighter against him. This must feel good because when he pushes a another finger into him, opening him wider, Steve grinds down harder and Bucky can feel Steve's cock stiffening against his stomach, the head leaving a damp spot on his skin where he rubs against him. The panic and the confusion leaves Bucky then because he stops caring.

It takes a while for him to realize Franz has stopped taking pictures. The pervert just wants to watch.


Bucky jerks off remembering it all in the shower, but can't even do that in peace because Steve keeps banging on the door.

"Are you ever coming out of there? I'd kind of like to use the bathroom..."

Bucky ignores him. Captain American can just stand in the hallway and hold it until he comes, which Bucky does, all over the tile. He cleans it off and feels a little less petty but mostly unsatisfied.

Steve looks worried when he steps out of the bathroom. "What were you doing in there for so long?" He thinks Bucky's gotten lost in his other memories again, but Steve takes another look and then he's hurt. "You couldn't wait for me?"

Bucky shoulders past him with a pointed, "The pictures got me thinking about the old you. I miss that guy right now."

Steve isn't stupid. He knows a dig when he hears one and he knows why Bucky's mad. He goes into the bathroom and comes out two minutes later armed with a purpose and geared-up for the confrontation. It's worse with him in the uniform.

"I miss the old you sometimes too. You know? When I didn't have to show people my sketchbook so they could see you smile or when no one would be surprised to see you actually using the kitchen knives for cooking? When you actually liked being touched..."

Bucky stops where Steve is following him into the kitchen. "You don't think I like it when you touch me?" It hurts because sometimes that's the only thing that helps.

"I don't think it's the same thing. My point is, you don't let people get to know you anymore."

What was he trying to say? That all this fuss about the pictures was somehow his fault because he wasn't smiling and posing and letting strangers grab his ass in front of the cameras? "I'm not going on TV, Steve."

"I think it'd be good for you." Bucky ignores that and Steve shrugs and says, "It's your choice, but before I forget..." He disappears into the bedroom and comes out carrying a brown stuffed animal dressed in blue. "Darcy found this on top of her grandfather's closet. He passed away about a month ago and she thought you might want it."

Steve hands him the toy. It's a teddy bear dressed up like Bucky during the war, in fatigues and a blue coat with all the right insignias sewn on. The thing even carries a tiny colt in a tiny vinyl holster.

"It's a Bucky Bear. They produced them late in the war—among other things. I guess kids were attached to the idea of being Captain America's best friend. Darcy wanted to give it to you herself, but she wasn't sure how you'd react."

Now Bucky feels like shit knowing that a dish like Darcy Lewis is afraid of him. He's even madder at Steve for throwing it in his face on purpose to make his point. He takes the Bucky Bear that someone had cuddled while he was out masked and killing and goes into the bedroom because he'd rather suffer through his mission paperwork than talk to Steve anymore tonight.


Steve gets on all fours on the bed, his pants around his knees and his shoes still on. He throws Bucky a look over his shoulder that makes the room hotter and Bucky's had a few more swigs of bourbon, but he gets now that Steve has been teasing him on purpose this whole time.

"Get behind him," Franz says. Bucky does, the cheap mattress creaking under his weight. He's aching hard by this point, his shirt hanging open and his pants sliding off his hips. If he weren't, he would think harder about what it means that Steve wants him hot under the collar for him.

"Put the oil on your cock. Unless you want to hurt him."

Pushing his sleeves up, Bucky gets more of it on his palm. He put so much on Steve it glistens on the back of his thigh like he's dripping wet for him. Bucky wraps a slick hand around himself and he can see the pink of Steve's asshole where his legs are slightly spread. Anticipation of what it'll feel like curls tight in his balls, but he is afraid of hurting him.

"Watch him," Franz tells Steve. His is, his eyes following the glide of Bucky's hand on his cock. Steve wets his lips like he's fascinated. The camera captures it all and Franz keeps talking. "I'm almost afraid he's going to break you in half, you look so frail."

Bucky laughs. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about. "Steve's tougher than that." His voice is thick. "Aren't you, Steve? You gotta show him."

Franz waits. Bucky steadies Steve with a hand on his hip. He's so small... He slides inside him as carefully as he can, watching him for a sign of pain Steve might stubbornly try to hide. Steve lets out a gasp though and his back arches on its own where he's on hands and knees. The motion pulls Bucky deeper and it feels too good. He can't not move.

Before long he's grabbing Steve by the hips with both hands and thrusting and babbling.

"You gonna show him, Stevie? Show him you can take it..." He's panting hot on the back of Steve's neck, trying not to bruise him where his fingers clench hard. "Come on, show me you can take it... I know you can take it all. Oh god..." Steve's so tight he's going to cry.

He bites the back of Steve's shoulder, but not too hard. Steve's narrow hips grind back against him and he spreads his knees wider, letting Bucky push him facedown to the mattress so he can thrust deeper. That's all Steve needs, someone to want him. Someone to want him bad enough they forget the other man in the room snapping pictures like crazy.


Steve goes out of town for a couple days to meet with some senators in the Capital. It's been ten months since Bucky's had his own mind back. He's thrown out all of SHIELD's heavy psychiatric meds and is starting to feel like he survived for a reason, but Steve still won't leave him for too long without company.

Sam reports for babysitting duty at 17:00 sharp. They barbeque steaks on the patio and turn the game on and get out the beer and the cards.

"He's trying to tell me I'm closed off," Bucky says as he shuffles the deck. They're half drunk and Sam has gone from rants about how he'd like to drop Stark off a cliff, to how he thinks Sharon feels the same but what if it's all in his head? to asking Bucky how the hell someone ends up so 'butthurt' over their boyfriend giving them a teddy bear. "He says I don't like being touched. How could he say that?"

Sam gets himself another beer and hands it to Bucky so he can pop the top off for him. "This going to turn into you telling me more details about your sex life than I need? All I wanna know is do I need to clean the table before I eat here?"

Bucky shakes his head. Oversharing stuff like that is definitely a modern thing. "He used to be this tall, Sam." He shows him with his hand. "Ninety pounds, soaking wet. I could pick him up and carry him under one arm. I never thought he'd be telling me I need a softer public image." Bucky raked his fingers through his messy hair. "He must want people to stop wondering what he's doing with me."

"You want to know what I think?" They've forgotten all about their poker game. Nobody will play Bucky for money anyway because they always lose.

"You're gonna tell me anyway."

Sam nods, takes a long drink, and sets his beer down. "I think you get your life back after decades of being nothing but a metal arm and a gun and you're still trying to be nothing but a metal arm and a gun. You think Steve's okay with that?"

Before Bucky can say anything, his phone chimes with a text from Steve. Someone on Tumblr has set up a fake question and answer blog called 'ask-the-pornographicpatriots' where a fake him is apparently going into graphic detail about how he likes it when the rest of the Avengers watch and the private shows Tony has paid them to put on at Stark Tower. Bucky may be a little drunk, but it's fucking unbelievable that he would be the one facing legal consequences if he looked up this blog and typed in, "I just have one question: you want it point blank or long range?"


Bucky's half sure he just blacked out from coming so hard, but he remembers how much heavier he is than Steve and rolls off him where he's plastered to his sweaty back. Franz's lamps are so bright Bucky flinches. God he's drunk.

Beside him, Steve's chest is heaving and he's struggling to catch his breath, but he's not wheezing and he has a stunned look on his face to go with the streaks of drying come on the bed that said he liked what they just did.

Franz takes a few photographs of them sprawled sweaty and flushed in the rumpled sheets, then tells them, "Take the rest of your clothes off."

For what now? Bucky wants to say, but he does it because why not? The last part was fun and Steve's having fun. Bucky struggles out of his twisted shirt and shoes and pants and when he and Steve are both sitting there naked, Steve's gold skin too flushed for goosebumps now and Bucky's cock shiny and slick still, Steve turns to Franz and says, "Now what?"

Franz looks at Bucky. "Now it's your turn."

Bucky goes cold and Steve looks away, and for once the courage leaves him.

"Oh come on," Franz coaxes. "I can see how he is. Don't you get tired of him bossing you around, thinking of you as something he has to look after and protect?" Steve lowers his eyes. He does. "Don't you want to show him who's in charge for once?"

The look on Steve's face is a mixture of hesitation and guilt.

"Tell him to get on his back."

Wetting his lips, Steve turns to him. "Well...?"

It's only fair, Bucky tells himself and lies back on the sheets damp with Steve's sweat and come.

"Now spread his legs..."

Steve's hands are cold and too warm at the same time as he pulls his thighs apart. Franz instructs Steve to give him the bottle of oil and says, "Make him get himself ready for your cock while you watch."

Steve doesn't seem to know what to do so he hands Bucky the bottle to do it or not. Bucky takes it and thinks that thinking about Steve with his pink lips around his hard cock will remind him that it's only right, but he can feel it still just like he can feel the tightness of Steve's body squeezing him and next thing Bucky knows the camera captures him with slick figures trailing along the inside of his thigh. Steve's eyes go big when he pushes one inside himself and he swallows like his throat's dry.

"Put more," Steve tells him, and at first Bucky thinks it's because Steve doesn't want to hurt him either. He knows Steve doesn't, but Bucky pushes in another wet finger like he did to Steve and Steve's hand wanders to his own cock while he watches and he's kneeling there between Bucky's open thighs, stroking himself.

"Not so little everywhere, are we?" Franz remarks and it's true. Steve is hard again and his cock is thick and seems huge in comparison to the rest of him. Bucky wants to get his hand around it and he's not so sure it won't break him in half. "I bet he'll moan like a whore the second you stick it in him."

Bucky turns his head away, but can't hide the fact that he's hard again too and that the heat and fascination in Steve's eyes has him grinding against his own fingers.

It hurts when Steve gets inside him, but the pleasure is worse when Franz makes Steve lift his legs around his waist and tells him, "Fuck him hard and make him come for you. Tell him he's so pretty when he does what you say."

Steve still looks afraid to and that's not what Bucky wants. He runs his tongue over his lips and looks up at Steve through his lashes. "Think I'm pretty, Steve...? Is that what you want? To give it to me good?"

That cuts through the hesitation and Steve lets out a heavy breath. His hands fist in the sheets and his body raises up with his knees spread. Just like that, he's moving and it's amazing the way he's moving, his hips pumping and his narrow chest heaving.

The pleasure's a little like lightning cutting through Bucky's body and in the back of his mind he hears one of the nuns at the orphanage warning it's God smiting him even though Bucky never believed in any of that. He rolls his head to one side.

"He likes it," Franz won't shut up so Bucky can forget he's there. "I bet he'd let you do anything you wanted."

Steve looks down into Bucky's eyes like he's scared to hope for that much. "Would you?"

Bucky's too busy biting his lip and clawing at the sheets to answer, but when he comes in a flash of white light and the flash of the camera, he looks up at Steve thrusting and panting above him like he'll never get the chance again, not scrawny and useless like everybody else sees, just smaller—maybe because he shines so much brighter than anyone else—and all Bucky can think is Steve is perfect.


Bucky chews on what Sam said until Steve gets back, and because he has a history of being an idiot for Steve he agrees to appear at the next Avengers media event.

"It kills me to admit this," he tells Stark at SHIELD a few hours beforehand, "but I need all the help I can get. I have no clue how to talk to the press."

Taking that for a given, Stark looks him over. "Well since you seem to have lost a personality along with an arm there's no hope of working that angle."

Offended, Steve slides an arm around Bucky's waist. "Bucky has a personality. He's pretty cuddly once you get to know him."

Bucky tries not to laugh. Stark doesn't get it and isn't impressed. He's just jealous no one produced an Iron Man teddy bear. "Umm, we're talking people who don't have the Cold War boogie man completely whipped here."

Clint brings an imaginary whip down and makes a sound effect to go with it. Bucky looks to Steve for a translation of what the hell they're trying to say, but Steve shrugs and doesn't understand either.

Stark lets it go. "Seriously, Barnes. You've got all the looks. You've got the tall, dark, and tortured emosexycool thing down, but what are you going for here? Throngs of women throwing their panties at Cap's bad boy boytoy or are we still trying to play the 'man from a simpler time' crap despite the fact that you two are about seventy years ahead of most guys in trying out prostate stimu-" Bucky folds his arms and Stark sighs. "Or you could plot to kill them the whole time like you are now and, you know, be yourself. I still can't believe Captain America made the prehistoric equivalent of a sex tape."

"You know what? Nevermind," Bucky says. "I think I liked your dad better. He basically ignored me."

"Now I'm hurt, Rogers. You didn't tell me Barnes and I had so much in common."


It takes Steve longer to catch his breath this time and Bucky's a little worried about the way his heart is pounding. Steve must be out of it because he's lying facedown on Bucky's outstretched arm, fingers trailing in the sticky mess drying in the dark hair on Bucky's chest like he can't believe he made Bucky do that. But Bucky's getting cold and he wants to put his clothes back on.

He sits up and Steve comes back to his senses and drags himself up with him.

"You can pay us now," Bucky says to Franz.

Franz shakes his head. "Not yet. One more thing."

Bucky stiffens. What does he mean one more thing? They've done enough.

"Kiss him."

He's talking to Steve, but after everything else Bucky doesn't know why Franz asking for that angers him. Steve turns to him, cheeks and lips flushed and his eyes still bright and glazed over. "Can I?"

It's quiet and hesitant. He leans up, his hands curling around Bucky's upper arms, but it's Bucky who leans in. His hand wraps around the back of Steve's neck and he strokes Steve's jaw with his thumb and kisses him the way he should be kissed all the time. Steve thinks no one wants him, but Bucky's other hand runs down his back and the bumps of his spine and smooths over his hip while Franz goes to town with the camera because he wants Steve to know that isn't true, that he wants him, even if it doesn't count for much.


"You look nervous." Steve finds him in the fancy dressing room of SHIELD's PR wing where they've sent him to change into dark jeans and a silky black shirt. They've styled his hair into shiny waves and put makeup on him. Bucky hates it because he's had enough transformations for one lifetime.

"Kinda feels dishonest, going out there and trying to be likeable when I'm hiding everything I've done."

"Remember when you wanted to be a movie star?" Bucky laughs and Steve says more seriously, "But I understand. Sometimes I feel like a fraud in my own body. Whenever I lead a battle part of me's afraid people can see right through me to the ninety-pound weakling and that they'll laugh when I try to give orders."

Steve's so dumb he would still think that. "They've seen the pictures now, Steve. They're not laughing." Not unless you counted the giggles of teenage girls behind their computer screens coming up with names like 'captainhung' and 'americasalutesyou'. Maybe this whole mess has been good for Steve in that respect, showing him the modern world has plenty of girls who would have adored him ninety pounds and sickly.

Bucky finishes buttoning his shirt and runs a hand through his product-sticky hair. Steve watches him.

"You gonna start pacing?"

Is that what he looks like? Some kind of caged animal? "Just feels like being interrogated, knowing there's people out there looking for any excuse to tear me apart."


Steve looks heartbroken for him because he never forgets what Bucky's been through, but he can't pull him close into a hug or a kiss without wrinkling him or smearing his makeup. He decides on shoving him against the wall instead and his hands are on Bucky's belt and he's unzipping the jeans Bucky just put on. Steve opens the bottom buttons on his shirt to get it out of the way and then sinks to his knees.

It feels a little like a strategic attack because they only have a few minutes. Steve presses a few hot kisses to Bucky's stomach, licks the skin with its faint scars where he knows he's sensitive and wraps a hand around Bucky's dick, squeezing and stroking him until he's hard in Steve's fist. His wet mouth swallows him down then and Steve kneads his balls with one hand and takes him in deep. Bucky rocks his hips and clenches a metal fist in Steve's hair, It feels so good when he comes he has to be careful he doesn't tear a handful of it from Steve's scalp.

Steve pushes his tongue into the slit of his cock and licks him clean. He pulls off him with a wet sound like he's sucking candy and then he's wiping his mouth. "Feel better?"

Bucky nods and manages to say as he catches his breath, "You know, for someone who likes to talk about standing up you're good at being on your knees."

Steve laughs and gets to his feet. "How long you've been working on that one?" Bucky just stands there and smiles at him until Steve hits him on the shoulder. "Straighten up, soldier."

Right. Bucky fixes his clothes and tucks himself back in, his cock still tingling, wanting more. He slaps Steve on the ass as Steve turns to go.

"You've lucky I've got someplace to be."

Steve jumps and looks back at him. Bucky winks and glances toward the red velvet couch with its high curved arms that he'd like to bend him over. All Steve can do is grin.

"Even that sounds like a threat."


It's over and they gather their clothes and put them on, looking at anything but each other, drunk and dizzy and spent.

Franz turns the camera off and Bucky feels both relieved and empty.

"You boys want a cigarette?"

Bucky shakes his head. "I don't smoke." He gestures to Steve without turning to him. "He's got asthma."

"Isn't that sweet," Franz snickers, like it means something.


It's just him and Clint and Thor this time. Stark has rich guy business, Natalia is away on a mission, Bruce has a project, and Steve has a meeting with SHIELD higher-ups.

There's too many cameras as the three of them walk out and the bright lights and glare of flash after flash are blinding. Bucky doesn't know where to look so he keeps his anxiety under control by making note of every possible path of escape.

The reporters don't have much interest in Clint. He's told them off more than a few times. You would think that a god from another world would get all the attention, but they only have stupid questions for Thor like "We hear Pop-Tarts wants to feature you in an ad; what would the people of Asgard think of that?" and "Are there any wedding plans for you and Doctor Foster?" One idiot has to ask him, "Are you reluctant to follow Captain America in battle after this sex scandal?"

Thor looks puzzled by that. "This is Midgardian nonsense. I am pleased to learn your beloved captain was a great lover even as a puny man. Though perhaps not so puny everywhere, eh Soldier of Winter?!"

He slaps the table and laughs like thunder. The room goes quiet. Captain America is too sacred to talk about the size of his dick on TV.

The reporters turn their questions on Bucky, which are just as stupid.

"You were caught on film in an intimate embrace with the Black Widow after a battle several months ago. There was speculation the two of you were an item. Was she a cover?"

"Has your sexuality caused problems with team dynamics?"

"Did Captain America struggle with revealing his sexuality out of a need to preserve his all-American image?"

"How did you convince Captain America to take those photos?"

They're questions they would never ask Steve and they don't push for news of wedding plans. Bucky's answers are short, awkward, and inadequate. "The Black Widow is a friend," "I'd say it's more like personalities causing problems with team dynamic," "Steve's not afraid to be who he is," and, "I didn't."

They wait for more, but he doesn't elaborate. In closing they want to know whether Bucky has anything to say to the youth of America about the pictures.

Bucky's tempted to say "Yes. They're none of your business" but he thinks about what Fury said about people looking up to him and the 'Bucky Bear' on his side of the bed made for kids to sleep with and the thing in particular the photos reveal that feels too... sacred to be splashed all over the internet for someone's entertainment. He remembers being scared, not of feeling something for Steve exactly or in the same way he was scared the first time on the battlefield when the bullets started flying and people he knew by name started getting hit, but scared he'd have to live hiding something that would cut him off from everyone else. Which he knows is how he's been living since he got his life back.

He might not be Steve, but he knows how heavy guilt and shame are and he wants a world where no one has to live like that just for wanting somebody.

"Um..." Bucky begins nervously, running a hand through his hair. The room strains to hear now that they realize they might get more than a couple words this time. "We only took those pictures because we were starving and needed the money. That's how bad we had it. No one got hurt, so I got nothing to apologize for. But..." he swallows, "that's not the way you find out you're in love with someone and that's why I wish these pictures would go away."


They leave with the bourbon and the money, a hundred dollars each. Bucky holds onto his share with one hand in hs pocket as they walk home in the dark passing the bottle between them.

"We've never talking about this again," He breaks the silence that's been stretching since they got out of that sleazy back room.

Steve grabs the bottle from him and takes a swig. "I've got nothing to say."

That's good, because they're going to eat well for a month and not be out on the street and they're better off leaving it at that. They're both walking stiffly though, and Bucky doesn't know about Steve, but his ass is sore and the constant reminder is bad enough.

Footsteps echo heavy behind them and three shadows fall in their path on the pavement. He and Steve turn at the same time. Some guys have been following them. They must have looked like easy targets, both of them drunk.

One of the guys pulls a knife. "Just give us what's in your pockets and neither of you punks gets hurt."

Steve cocks his head and gives them a good looking over, like he's bigger and they're nothing, because both are true. He pulls a couple of gum wrappers from his coat pocket and throws them on the ground.

"I think that's being generous."

The face of the guy wielding the knife goes thunderous that the little guy isn't squeaking in fear like he wanted. He grabs Steve by the front of his coat. "Hey, you little punk, I said-"

That's as far as he gets. Bucky swings a fist right at the guy's face. He lets go of Steve with a snarl of pain, staggering back and holding his bleeding nose, his knife clattering in a silver flash. A second guy bends to pick it up, but Bucky grabs onto Steve for balance where the ground feels like it's tilting and drives his knee into the guy's stomach the second he straightens. He doubles over and at some point the third guy slams a fist into Bucky's jaw and Steve's swinging the bottle of bourbon at his head.

The guy is smart enough to run rather than get it smashed over his skull. His friends slink off with him back the way they came. Bucky's more dizzy than hurt and stops to lean against the side of a building in the shadows until he can register up from down again and trust his legs not to buckle. He rubs the corner of his jaw. It wasn't a good hit, but it might bruise a little.

He blinks and Steve is in front of him. Bucky takes his hand away and is about to shrug it off and say the idiot couldn't land a real punch if he tried when Steve puts his hands on his shoulders.

His eyes are on him and then Steve's pulling himself up on tiptoe. The press of his mouth on Bucky's is warmer than anything. His hands go to Steve's waist and then one hand is in Steve's hair. But even as Bucky feels the terror of the world permanently narrowing to the small man he's holding onto, he scrambles for the better part of himself and pushes Steve away, slowly so the kiss lasts a little longer.

"You gotta forget about this, Steve," he says gently, because Steve's just confused and lonely, and maybe the right thing for Bucky to do is help him find a nice girl or something.


"You wanna stop for pancakes at IHOP?" Steve asks on the drive home. "Thor likes the red velvet."

Staring out of the passenger side window, Bucky shakes his head. "Not unless you want to."

Steve keeps driving. "Did you mean what you said tonight?"

About being in love with him since the night they took the pictures? Hasn't he ever told Steve that? "We're talking about it now?" Bucky doesn't know why he pretends to be annoyed. It's better than all the things he really doesn't want to talk about.

"At the time, I figured you were taking pity on me. You weren't exactly picky about who you slept with back then."

Compared to Steve, no one was, but Bucky doesn't take offense that Steve just called him easy. "I thought you were just desperate."

Steve shrugs that off. "You know I don't blame you for being upset about this. I don't like it either. I've just been trying to make the best of it."

He doesn't have to tell Bucky that. Steve wouldn't let parent groups and some talk on the internet get the better of him. "You'd think we'd have some rights or something."

"We might, though something tells me the damage is done. But I think when people start to see you as a person they have more of a conscience about what they do and say about you." Steve gives him a sly smile. "How 'bout you come to our next public fundraiser? I'd pay to see you holding somebody else's baby."

"No." It's sharp because Bucky draws the line at holding babies.

Steve laughs and Avengers Tower looms lit-up ahead of them in the distance. "You wanna spar for a while and work off some frustration?"

Bucky snorts. "You know where that leads."

"Now what's wrong with that?" The look Steve gives him manages to be innocent and dirty at the same time. The night's cold, but it warms Bucky up a lot.

"Nothing. Just may as well skip the sparring part."

Steve grins at him and accelerates past the tower and, contrary to popular belief, he doesn't drive like an old man. Bucky just hopes they don't have to stop and fight alien creatures—or robots—jumping out of a portal somewhere and waste the whole night in medical and SHIELD briefings. That's how their lives go now.

There aren't any alien creatures and Bucky shoves Steve against the door the minute they get inside the apartment. He's kissing Steve hard, one hand going straight to Steve's cock through his jeans. Steve has a hand tangled in his hair and the other is fondling Bucky's ass. Stark can talk about him tying Steve up and spanking him all he wants, but Bucky fists a metal hand in Steve's shirt and rips it open. As poor as they grew up, ruining clothes kind of does it for him.

He sucks and bites a path down Steve's neck toward the skin he's exposed while he gets Steve's pants open. Steve knows where he's going and slides his big hands under the tight material of Bucky's shirt, over his back and sides and around to his stomach, sending a couple buttons flying. It's good, but Bucky pulls back.

"Hey..." He doesn't want to disappear behind the mask and the gun and he doesn't want the Steve he fought, killed, and died for to disappear behind the stars and stripes either. "You know I love you, right?"

Steve's whole face is overjoyed like he's been waiting to hear it. He runs a hand through Bucky's hair and looks into his eyes. "I love you too, Buck, and I have for a long time. Now get back to what you were doing."

Bucky salutes and drops to his knees.

He grabs the bottle of lubricant Steve left as some sort of passive-aggressive hint on the entry table when Bucky wasn't feeling very amorous, licks and noses Steve's thighs and teases and sucks his balls before he gets his lips and tongue on Steve's thick cock and sucks him for real. He takes his time slipping his fingers inside him while he does it, stroking the right spot so he'll be more than ready after. Strong hands pull his hair the way Bucky likes and Steve thrusts against his fingers and into the heat of his mouth. He pants Bucky's name and comes in hot salty spurts down his throat.

The second Bucky gets to his feet, he steers Steve around to face the wall with his metal hand, yanking his pants open and getting a slick hand around himself. Bucky sheathes his cock all the way inside Steve in one easy thrust and fucks him hard right off, one hand on the wall, his metal arm around Steve's stomach pulling Steve tight to him. Sweat shines on Steve's gold skin and his head's hanging where he's bent forward. He loves it. Loves being wanted, loves that Bucky knows he can take it. It's like Bucky saying he believes in him.

Steve's shaky and out of breath afterward, but that doesn't hold him back because nothing ever has. Steve hauls him into the bedroom, pushes him so Bucky's sprawled on the bed, and pulls the rest of his clothes off. He climbs on top of him, sinks onto his cock, and lifts and grinds his muscular body like he should have done every day when he was small and as Bucky comes lying there looking up at him, metal fingers bruising Steve's hip where he clutches tight, he still thinks Steve is perfect.

They clean themselves off and crawl naked under the covers together. Steve wraps an arm around him and pulls Bucky close against his side, leans in for a few lazy kisses, then has the nerve to grab the laptop from the nightstand.

"What do you suppose they're saying now?"

He goes to Tumblr since he can't stay away from it. There's already picture sets of Bucky from the press event, with thousands of notes—whatever that means—and lots of people who 'can't with him' and 'HIS FACE!' in particular. People are yelling at other people for reposting Franz's photographs because they're 'supporting and glorifying sexual coercion and iffy consent' and there's lots of discussion about how Franz took advantage of them and a whole flurry of young women have decided "he's too precious" and that they want to hug him and keep him for a pet—right after they're done having a field day with Thor's puny man moment and creating accounts with the name 'notsopunyeverywhere'.

Steve absently plays with his hair and keeps scrolling, fascinated. "Some people are debating whether or not you had 'sex hair' tonight. They're comparing it with the other photos."

Bucky rolls his eyes. "Don't these kids have anything better to do? Why don't they go out and work a couple of jobs like we did?"

"Side effects of a better world, Buck."

Enough is enough. Bucky grabs the computer from Steve, photographs himself with the camera, and goes over to that Twitter place and starts typing. Steve watches him with the look of a guy witnessing the creation of a monster.

"What are you doing? SHIELD's not going to let you have a Twitter account."

"Stark has one. I want these people to know I'm watching."

Bucky finishes. He's now James Barnes (official) and he sends out the picture he just took in his first tweet with the message, "That's my sex hair."

In two minutes he has thousands of followers. Steve scrolls through them until Bucky gets bored and bites the side of his neck.

"You gonna read that all night? Because I wasn't done with you and it's my turn now."

Steve's face lights up and the computer becomes a lot less interesting.

After Bucky falls asleep a couple hours later, he dreams Franz was really the Red Skull in another body and that he built a time machine and planned to use the pictures in a plot to prevent Steve from ever becoming Cap. Bucky shakes Steve awake in the dark because it doesn't seem that far-fetched anymore.