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Broken Soul Seeking Same

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Room available in 2nd floor, 2 bedroom, 1 bath walk up apartment. Room is minimally furnished with bed and dresser. I am a 31 year old male in the restaurant industry, and often work the closing shift, so if you’re a morning person, please be able to keep the apartment quiet until at least 10am. You should also be ok with nerdy movie/ game nights at the apartment a couple times a month. Must be 420 friendly. Ableists and homophobes need not apply.

$800/ month, all utilities (including internet, hulu and netflix) included.

 

Steve read over the listing several times, wondering if the place (which sounded pretty perfect) had some kind of massive catch. It was Craigslist. There had to be a catch. He groaned as he pushed himself into a sitting position on Sam’s couch, frowning at how tense his back was feeling after sleeping on it for the past 2 weeks. He needed to find a place with a real bed soon, and while Sam hadn’t said anything, Steve knew he was ready for him to get off his damn couch already.

He pulled up his e-mail app and replied to the anonymous relay address at the top of the ad.

Hi, My name is Steve and I’m replying to your ad on Craigslist for a roommate. I’m 30, and recently moved to Brooklyn for a job as a graphic artist. I make my own schedule for the most part, and have the option of working from home on some projects, and usually end up working late at night also. Something about the clock striking midnight seems to get the creative energy flowing in me. And what kind of person chooses to do anything productive before noon anyway? Crazy people. That’s what kind. Also, definitely not ableist or homophobic, cause that would make me a huge hypocrite on both points. And 420 is the only way I can get out of bed some days.

I’m currently crashing on a friends couch, I’m pretty sure in the same neighborhood as you, so If you’re interested I could meet with you and see the place anytime.

 

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Bucky was awake, technically, when his phone chirped with a new e-mail. ‘Please don’t be work’, he thought to himself as he reached for his phone, because it was his day off, dammit, and he had plans to sleep all day. He blinked a few times, as he sat up, wondering who the fuck was trying to talk to him so damn early.

Or maybe not so early, he thought, noticing that it was almost 1pm. He saw the subject of the message, ‘roommate available’ and groaned slightly. “Please don’t be weird” he mumbled to himself as he opened the e-mail. He read it 3 times, wondering what the catch with this guy was. Graphic artist, so probably into comics or gaming, so something in common. And yes, you would have to be crazy to want to do anything before noon. But what was up with that cryptic line about not being a hypocrite? Was he gay and disabled also? What was his disability? Did he smoke for pain management? It didn’t matter, really, he realized and decided he might as well meet this guy, because he probably wasn’t going to get any replies that sounded any better.

Bucky replied to the e-mail, saying he was free that afternoon if it wasn’t too short notice and gave him the address saying to come by anytime after 4 ish. He figured 3 hours should be enough time to drink coffee, and shower, and drink coffee, and make sure the place was presentable enough. He didn’t feel the need to get the place abnormally clean, but he could at least take out the garbage. It was starting to smell a little.

He was almost finished his first cup of coffee, and therefore was almost awake when his phone chirped with a reply from Steve. He had to go into the office for a design meeting that afternoon, but could come by when it was done around 6.

----------------------------------------------------

 

Steve was fidgeting slightly, no longer able to find a remotely comfortable position in the hard backed chair at the conference table. The client and art director (his boss) had been discussing the marketing plan and color pallet for a new project for what felt like hours, while ignoring his (the artist) suggestions that maybe they should figure out what they are even trying to sell first. All he knew was it had something to do with a superhero that had been created as the mascot or something for some hipster beer company, and they wanted a comic book or something. It sounded stupid as fuck, but the money was good. It seemed like the hardest part would be trying to follow the red, green and gold color palette they had apparently decided on without making it look like Christmas.

Finally, at 6:30, they were done talking about who knows what, mostly parts of the project that didn’t involve him, and Steve was surprised to see that the client had a thick folder of rough sketches, and notes and outlines of plotline ideas. He just put it in his bag to look at later, and left as quickly as he could without being too rude. He sent a quick email to Bucky, letting him know he was still coming, and would be there in 20 min.

He double checked the address against google maps before getting on his bike and started riding. He realized he was nervous as he got closer, tapping his fingers against the handlebars as he cruised down the empty bike lane. Was he really about to go meet some stranger from craigslist to discuss living together? Could that actually work? Was he crazy for doing this? He had had enough friends in Chicago who had successfully found roommates this way, but he was pretty sure this was also how people got murdered, somewhere. It’s probably a thing that has happened. He found the place easily enough, and thank the hipsters, there was a bike rack outside the building. He found the buzzer for apartment 2A, and heard a voice through the staticy speaker a few seconds later.

 

“What’s your name?” the voice asked.

“Steve” He replied, a little confused.

“Come on up” said the voice, and the door buzzed open.

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Bucky had spent most of the day watching Mel Brooks movies, and was quoting along with Dark Helmet about combing the desert when he heard the buzzer. He jumped off the couch with a burst of anxious energy, suddenly feeling nervous about this. Was he really about to chat with a stranger off craigslist about living together? Could that even work?

Normally he would just look out the window to make sure it was one of his friends before buzzing anyone in, but he didn’t know what Steve looked like, so he asked his name instead. If it was some random trying to get in the building, they hopefully wouldn’t say Steve.

He heard a knock less than a minute later, to find a skinny blond guy wearing tight jeans rolled up to just below his knees and a dark blue zip up hoodie over a button up shirt. He had a large orange messenger bag slung across his back, and Bucky’s first thought was that this guy looked like a fucking hipster. Great.

“Hi” Steve said, sounding nervous, “You’re Bucky?”

“That’s me” Bucky replied, stepping back and opening the door further. “Come on in.”

Steve followed Bucky into the living room, and immediately spotted the large rainbow flag on the wall. Bucky noticed, and was relieved to see the small smile and nod, as Steve seemed to relax slightly.

They made awkward small talk, talking about why Steve had moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, and how desperately Steve needs to get off of his friends couch, and how the room was available because Bucky’s old roommate, Clint, had moved in with his boyfriend Phil. After a quick tour of the apartment, Bucky told Steve that the room was his if he wanted it, and could move in anytime. Steve accepted almost immediately.

“Is tomorrow too soon?” Steve asked, slightly hesitant again. “Cause Sam’s couch…”

Bucky interrupted with a laugh. “That’s fine man. Couches make terrible beds.” He assured him. “I’m supposed to be working 2-10 tomorrow, so if I’m lucky I’ll be out by midnight. I’ll give you the key now so you can move in while I’m at work.”

“Sounds great.” Steve told him, “So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night, or maybe the morning after, ‘cause real bed.”

Chapter Text

Bucky stumbled into the kitchen the morning after Steve moved in, mumbling about coffee. Steve was already up, and amazingly, had a pot almost ready.

“Morning” Steve said, when he noticed Bucky slip onto the stool next to the counter, head in his hand, propped up on his elbow.

“You are awesome for making coffee” Bucky slurred, clearly struggling to fully wake up. He apparently hadn’t been joking at all about not being a morning person.

Steve flashed him a tired grin. “It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.” He said.

Bucky watched as Steve moved around the kitchen, opening doors and drawers at random to find cups and spoons and cream and sugar, and then pouring 2 cups. He couldn’t help but notice that Steve's left arm had stayed tucked in the pocket of his hoodie, while he made his coffee one handed, and acted like it was no big deal. He didn’t know how to react. He wasn’t awake enough to know how to react.

“What the hell are you doing?” Bucky finally blurted out as Steve opened the refrigerator with a couple fingers, thumb hooked around the handle of the milk jug, and then used his foot to keep the door from swinging while he put the milk on the shelf.

Steve froze for a second, and then slowly spun on his heel to face Bucky as the refrigerator shut.
“Huh? Did you want more milk?” Steve asked confused, looking cautiously at Bucky who sat glaring at him.

“Your arm?” Bucky replied, gesturing toward Steves pocket. “You’re not using it. Why not? Is this some kind of test to see what it’s like to be me?”

“To be… Huh? No. What the fuck?” Steve just stared, confused, as Bucky continued looking at him, clearly waiting for an explanation. Bucky who was missing his left arm. The same arm that Steve had been favoring that day. Suddenly it all clicked. “Do people actually do that?”

Bucky just nodded slightly, continuing to glare.

“Bucky, believe me, thats not whats whats happening here. I mean yes, you are correct that I’m not really using my left arm today, but that’s not why, not at all.”

Bucky just raised his eyebrows, arm across his chest, clearly demanding a better explanation, and Steve knew he deserved one. They hadn’t talked about it, although Steve had obviously noticed Bucky’s amputated arm, and Bucky had figured Steve had some kind of disability after his first cryptic e-mail, but It didn’t really matter, so they hadn’t ever brought it up.

“Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis” Steve finally said “3 surgery’s, 15 vertebrae fused, whole mess of nerve damage and chronic muscle spasms, and arthritis. It basically means my spine started to grow crooked when I was 11, and they have no idea why. Leading theories are that it’s some kind of disorder of the central nervous system. I have extremely limited range of motion in my torso, and almost constant pain.” Steve was relaxed and casual about it as he spoke, as if he was talking about the weather, and not running down a list of his health problems. “I’ve been having a lot of problems with my left shoulder recently. Pinched nerve or something I think, or maybe more cartilage degeneration, probably something that means more surgery. But the real answer to your question, I’m not using my arm because it hurts to move it right now, but hopefully once the meds start working and the caffeine starts to kick in, It will get better.”

The glare on Bucky’s face shifted to a slight frown.
“Shit, Man.” He finally said, “I kinda feel like an asshole now. I’m sorry.”

Steve smiled slightly, sipping at his coffee.
“It’s ok, really. You’re not an asshole.”

“I had no idea.” Bucky replied quietly, staring into his coffee for a few seconds before taking a sip. “I mean, I figured you had some kind of disability from your first email, but then when I met you, I didn’t…. Um…” He trailed off, not sure how to finish his sentence.

“You thought you guessed wrong because I don’t look disabled?” Steve guessed calmly. Bucky just nodded and blushed slightly. “It happens.” Steve told him, “kind of a lot actually. My spine and rib cage are a deformed, twisted mess, but hoodies and jackets disguise it pretty well most of the time. And it’s been almost 15 years since my spine was fused, so I’ve had a lot of time to adapt to my physical limitations.”

Steve stopped talking, and went back to drinking his coffee, trying not to stare at Bucky. He had had this conversation so many times, and had heard so many reactions to it. A lot of people were surprised that he could walk with that long of a fusion. The worst were the ones who suddenly pitied him, and insisted on carrying things for him. Sam’s reaction had been the best. They had known each other almost 6 months, before becoming roommates, from hanging out in groups with mutual friends, when they decided to go on a hiking trip. They were 3 miles up a steep trail, sitting on a cliff near the summit when Steve told him about his scoliosis. Sam had just stared, mouth hanging open a little. “You shittin’ me?” Sam asked, like he thought he was being punked or something. Steve just shook his head. “Totally serious.” he replied. “All those times we hung out and I never noticed at all. Respect, man. To go through all that and still be able to beat me up that evil, steep, terrible trail. You’re like some kind of superhero.”

Bucky took a long sip of his coffee, and sat staring at the countertop, clearly processing their conversation.
“I can’t hide that I lost my arm very well. Even with hoodies and jackets, it doesn’t take long for people to notice that the left sleeve is empty, that there’s no hand sticking out of it. I have a prosthetic, but that almost makes it worse. It’s uncomfortable with the straps across my chest, and more of a hassle to use than its worth, though, so I never wear it anymore. I assume that most people think of me as the guy with one arm when they first meet me. I’m immediately categorized as disabled. I can’t really be angry about that though, cause I do the same thing when I meet someone in a chair or on crutches or something. It’s human nature to categorize and label things, some kind of leftover instinct from when he had to label things as safe or dangerous to survive.”

Bucky paused for a second, looking up from the counter at Steve. Steve looked back at him, seeming almost relaxed as he leaned against the counter listening to Bucky.

“I forget sometimes that disabilities aren’t always obvious. I can’t really wrap my head around having to come out as disabled, even though I just saw it happen.”

Steve laughed quietly, grinning at Bucky.
“Believe it or not, it can have it’s advantages sometimes.” Steve said, “Like when you’re having a double coming out conversation. Throw out the ‘I’m gay’ first, and then while they are trying to work out how to respond, hit them with the ‘and I also have this disability and blah, blah, blah, sad story’. Worked really well on my old neighbor, guy wanted help moving some shit in his yard, and made a big deal about how his daughter was single and I looked like a nice young man. Creepy fucker just apologized and walked away, never talked to me again.”

Bucky laughed, finally looking awake and less angry. They sat in silence for a moment, finishing their coffee. Eventually, Steve put his mug down, and slowly pulled his arm out of his sweatshirt pocket, letting it dangle at his side as he slowly stretched his hand open and closed a few times. After taking a deep breath, he slowly lifted his arm forward and started moving it out to the side in a circle, when he cringed and dropped his arm back down to his side with a groan. After another deep breath, Steve carefully tucked his arm back into his pocket, closing his eyes and cringing slightly as he did.
“Not yet.” Steve said, sounding defeated.

“So, is this a regular thing for you?” Bucky asked hesitantly, gesturing toward Steve’s shoulder. “Cause I couldn’t help but notice you seem to have some practice with the one hand thing.”

“Sort of?” Steve shrugged. “Most of the muscle spasms tend to be in my upper back, and across my neck and shoulders, so when they get really bad, moving my arms just trigger more pain. It only gets this bad a couple times a month, and most of the time it only really affects the left side. I honestly don’t even notice I’m doing it sometimes, going into one hand mode as Sam would say, it's like i'm following some subconscious command, stop using arm to minimize pain”

“Damn, so If I’m understanding correctly, you have two working arms the majority of the time, but a couple times a month one of them goes off-line? Shuts down? And it can happen with either arm? And you start doing everything one handed automatically?” Bucky asked quickly, looking at Steve again instead of into his empty coffee cup.

Steve just nodded, looking amused. He wondered if Bucky realized he was making Steve sound like some kind of robot.

“Must be some serious pain if that’s your coping mechanism, or pain management plan?” Bucky asked.

“If you’re going to insist on labeling this, call it my ‘don’t let this control my life’ plan. You gotta do what you gotta do.” Steve replied, smiling slightly.
“Have you ever had cracked or bruised ribs?” Steve asked, and Bucky nodded.
“And I’m guessing you have had the wind knocked out of you before? It’s like a combination of those 2 things, the sharp stabbing pain combined with the muscles around your ribs all tensing up when you are trying to take a breath again.”

Bucky cringed slightly, as if he was trying to imagine the feeling Steve had described. “Fuck, Man.” He half mumbled, as he stood and walked across the kitchen to refill his coffee. Steve slid his empty mug across the counter toward Bucky.

 

“So what are your plans for today?” Bucky asked, refilling both of their mugs while Steve got the milk back out of the fridge.

“I have a new project that I need to start outlining, as soon as I figure out what the client actually wants. I think I’m supposed to be drawing a comic about the company’s mascot? I have no idea, just a giant folder of the clients personal notes and sketches about this character that will hopefully clear things up a little.” Steve replied “I need a little help from mary jane and a couple more hours before I can start thinking about any of that though.”

“Perfect.” Bucky announced. “I have a special friend I’d like you to meet then.”

Bucky walked past Steve into the living room and after setting his mug down on the coffee table, he went into the corner of the room and reached behind a tapestry of a large tree. Steve had followed hesitantly into the room, and stood by the couch, wondering what the hell this special friend was going to be.

“This is Puff the Magic Drag-Bong” Bucky announced proudly, holding up the most ridiculous looking glass bong Steve had ever seen. It was Barbie pink, and covered in cheap plastic rhinestones and silver beads around it’s base. A tiny feather boa was wrapped around the neck, just below the slide, and toward the top of the neck were two stickers of eyes with long lashes.

Steve didn’t know what to say. Would it be rude to laugh? It was possibly the cheesiest, gayest thing he had seen since the previous year's pride parade. It was almost painful to look at, but someone had clearly put a lot of time into painting the bong and gluing all the decorations on.

“Fucking awful right? I made it for Clint for Christmas a few years ago as a joke. I think he got me a sweater with a unicorn in front of a rainbow that year.” Bucky explained. “I apparently got a little obsessed with trying to make it the gayest thing on the planet, and Clint refused to use it. It sat in the corner ignored for a while, until I broke the slide from my other bong, and figured I might as well use this one. I discovered it's the perfect height to balance in my lap, and it hits sooo smooth. I’ve come to love this ugly whore.”

Steve finally allowed himself to laugh as he sat on the couch and took a closer look.
“So Puff the Magic Drag-Bong.” Steve said “The name definitely suits her. And I have to say I admire your dedication to glue on all those hideous beads. How many of them did you manage to glue onto your own fingers?”

“More than I will ever admit to.” Bucky told him with a grin. He had pulled a grinder with a large square base and a jar of weed out of a drawer in the table, and ground and packed the bowl before handing it off to Steve. The grinder, he noticed, fit right into a frame that appeared to be strips of wood screwed directly into the table, and seemed to hold the grinder in place so bucky could turn it one handed.

Steve took the bong, tucking it under his chin and balancing it on his thighs as the used his available right hand to light the bowl and pull up the slide. He held it in as he handed the bong back to Bucky, and then relaxed into the couch as he exhaled.

“Damn.” He said after a moment. “It’s been awhile since I smoked out of a bong. She does hit smooth.”

“Right?” Bucky replied, as he got puff positioned onto his lap. “I pretty much only smoke from bongs unless someone rolls a joint. Most other pipes are too complicated to hit one handed.”

They took a few more hits each, before melting into the couch, half watching whatever was on food network that Bucky had put on as background noise.

“Are you off today?” Steve eventually asked.

“No, unfortunately.” Bucky replied, sounding disappointed. “I’m closing tonight, so I don’t have to go in until 5. Last call at the bar is usually around 12:30, unless there’s a lot of people still spending money and we push it to 1 or 1:30. I’ll hopefully be home around 2am.”

“That's gotta suck to have no idea when your shift is going to end.” Steve said.

Bucky just laughed. “That’s life in the restaurant business, where you can never really make solid plans based on what time you’re scheduled to. Sometimes a nice little 6 hour lunch shift on the line turns into a 12 to 14hour shift because they are down a guy for dinner.”

“So what do you do, exactly, in the restaurant?” Steve asked. He had tried working as a server in college, and was struggling to think of a position he could imagine doing with 1 arm.

“I’m kinda the boss.” Bucky said grinning. “I was the sous chef for a couple of years, and a line cook before that, and since the head chef was also the owner and stuck in the office most of the, I basically ran the kitchen. Before I lost the arm. A few months after I got out of the hospital, Chef calls me to offer me a new position that he had just created. I basically do all of the office work, inventory, ordering, scheduling, server and bar cash outs and deposits. Basically Chef gets to actually cook in his kitchen while I run the place in the background.”

“That’s pretty awesome. Do you miss being in the kitchen?” Steve asked.

“Eh, sometimes.” Bucky shrugged “I don’t miss the heat, and burns, and fire in my face while working saute, but I do kind of miss the feelings of being in the weeds with my whole crew suffering along side me, and that feeling of accomplishment when you finally make it through that final push of a dinner rush and clear the board.”

Steve just looked slightly confused. “The weeds?”

Bucky just laughed again. “Kitchen lingo, sorry. We kind of speak a different language in a sense. Kind of like a spoken shorthand. Probably sounds like people yelling random words sometimes to outsiders. Hot behind. Door. Swing. Heard. 10 top. How long? Backayou. 1 reggae all day. Runner. 86...” Bucky trailed off laughing harder again.

“In the weeds means that the restaurant is full, we have a waiting list or line at the door of people waiting for tables, and the ticket machine never seems to stop printing new orders. The board, or the clip thing on the wall where we stick the order ticket after pulling them off the printer, is full so new tickets are just piling up next to the printer, and every available bit of grill or flat top or burner space down the whole line is full, so it's like 100 degrees back there, at least. It's a little like being in hell, but there's kind of an adrenaline rush and excitement about it in a way, with kind of a ‘go team, let's fucking rock this out and clear the damn board’ banter the whole time, among mumbled swearing, and the occasional whine of ‘make it stop’.” Bucky smiled slightly, remembering.

“It almost sounds like you’re talking about going to war, not cooking food.” Steve joked.

“Well, the kitchen does have some similarities to the military.” Bucky shrugged. “There’s a definite hierarchy and ranking system, from Executive or Head Chef, then Sous Chef, and line cooks and so on down to culinary school interns. The official term for the cooks in a restaurant kitchen is the brigade. Everyone has a specific job. Its also very formal at times, calling ‘heard’ to mean that you understood what chef wants, and you are about to do it, and ‘Yes Chef’ being the only acceptable reply most of the time.” He stopped talking and reached for his coffee, taking a long sip. “I’m not totally out of the craziness of the rush. All the office work usually only takes a couple hours a day, so most of the time I’m out on the restaurant floor talking to customers, or at the host stand, or helping servers, or in the kitchen at the food window helping expo, making sure things go to the right table. There's still a couple guys on the line now who I worked with before, so that camaraderie and familiar shit talking is still there, and they still call me Chef, so it’s alright.”

Bucky stared across the room, with a dumb smirk on his face. Steve couldn’t tell if he was remembering something happy, or if he was just really fucking high. Their attention drifted back to the TV, where something really dramatic was going on involving cupcakes. Neither of them really cared, but watched for a few minutes anyway.

Steve sat up with a slight groan and drained the last sip of his coffee. After rolling his neck in an attempt to stretch a little, he pulled his left arm out of his pocket again, just as hesitantly as he had in the kitchen earlier. This time however, he cringed far less while moving his arm in a slow circle, and settled back with his arm stretched out across the back of the couch instead of in his lap again.

“Back online?” Bucky asked, gesturing toward Steve’s arm.

“Almost” Steve said with a smile “Still a few minor glitches, but they should work themselves out soon enough.”

They stayed sprawled out on the couch for the next couple hours, making random comments about whatever baking competition was on TV, until Bucky finally stood to shower and get to work, and Steve starting going through his clients sketches.

Chapter Text

It was about 10:30 when Steve heard the door open from his spot on the couch, snapping him out of a daydream. He had papers spread across the room, there were stacks on nearly every available surface as he attempted to make some sense of the giant folder Lukas “call me Loki” had given him. Luckily things were actually making some sense, and he had filled about a dozen pages in his sketchbook of his own ideas and interpretations.

“Hello?” Steve called out, standing up and heading out of the living room. It was too early for Bucky to be back from work, and he hadn’t been warned about any friends who tended to let themselves in.

He came around the corner to find Bucky with his arm thrown around a large guy with a bowler hat and mustache. He looked pale, and was clearly being supported.

“Straight to bed? Or do you think you might need to puke again?” Mustache man was asking Bucky quietly.

“Bed.” Bucky replied “and pills”

Mustache guy just nodded and began to gently guide Bucky in the direction of his bedroom.

Bucky hesitated, looking over at Steve. “Don’t worry about me Stevie, I’ll be fine.” He slurred.

 

About 10 minutes later, the man emerged from Bucky’s room and looked at Steve with a tired smile, like he had been through this before.

“You must be the new roommate.” He said, extending a hand toward Steve “I’m Tim Dugan, but everyone usually calls me Dum Dum”

“Steve” He replied, shaking Dum Dum’s hand. “Is he drunk?”

“Haha, no.” Dum Dum replied “Bucky hasn’t had a drink since the accident. He basically has a migraine. I should let him explain the whole thing, but he had a traumatic brain injury from the accident that still gives him some trouble occasionally. He had his pills, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s already asleep. He should be fine in the morning.”

Steve just nodded. “Thanks for getting him home. I assume I’ll be seeing you around?”

“No problem, and yeah, you probably will. I’ve been taking care of his dumb ass for over 10 years, and I don’t expect him to stop needing to be rescued anytime soon.” Dum Dum explained affectionately. “I gotta get back to the restaurant, but If he asks, he got the produce and seafood orders done on time.”

 

Bucky was sitting on the couch when Steve came out of his room the next morning, staring at a full mug of coffee on the table.
“Morning.” Steve mumbled as he passed through the room heading for coffee of his own, and eventually sat on the couch next to Bucky, half zoned out himself.
Neither of them spoke as they sat sipping at their coffees, staring at nothing.

“So I’m guessing Dugan told you I’m kinda crazy.” Bucky finally stated flatly, still staring at the mug.

“Not how I would summarize our conversation” Steve replied. “All he said was it was like a migraine, last night, and that you had some kind of brain injury. Basically said it was your story to tell, not his.”

Bucky just nodded.

 

“I was also supposed to tell you that you got the produce and seafood orders in on time.”

Bucky sighed, and looked up at Steve. He smiled weakly before slowly standing, wobbling slightly.
“I’m going to tell you how I died.” Bucky said, “But I need more coffee first.”

A few minutes later, they both had full coffee cups and were back on the couch. Bucky leaned back and took a deep breath before launching into his story.

“It was almost 5 years ago, and I don’t actually remember any of it. I was leaving work, supposed to go home and shower and then meet up with Dugan at the bar. Last thing I remember was getting into my car. Next thing I remember was almost 2 months later, waking up in rehab with my arm gone, and my sister Becky asking If I know her.

I just know what everyone told me. Drunk driver ran a red light, t-boning my Honda Civic with his huge Ford F-250, hitting the driver's side. I was trapped in the crushed car. My arm was completely crushed with most of the bones nearly shattered, collapsed lung, broken ribs, and a really hard hit to the head. Took almost an hour with the jaws of life to get me out. They said I was conscious and screaming about my arm when rescue crews arrived, but passed out pretty soon after that. I technically died for 5 minutes in the ambulance from blood loss, but I guess they were able to start a transfusion almost immediately once we got to the hospital and got me back. They tried to save my arm, but had to amputate it 2 days later. I was in a coma for 6 weeks.
I couldn’t remember anything for about a week after I woke up. They had to tell me what my name was, and where I was and introduce me to my sister and parents every morning. Then one day Dum Dum comes to visit and starts yelling, going off on me for being a moron for going and getting myself killed. He was always calling me a moron for something, especially when he caught me bandaging cuts or burns at work, and something just clicked in my brain. I remembered him, and then slowly started remembering everything again, except for the accident.”

Bucky stopped talking, looking at Steve as if he was waiting for some kind of reaction. Steve didn’t know what to say.

“I’m glad you got a second chance.” Steve said, hesitantly, reaching out to put a hand on Bucky’s knee. It felt like such a generic response that he was sure Bucky had heard a hundred times before.

Bucky just smiled at him, putting his hand on Steve’s. “Don’t think too hard, Stevie, no one ever knows what to say when I tell them. You should understand that.”

“Haha, yeah. What was your reaction to me? ‘Shit, man?’” Steve reminded him. “So what’s it like to have your brain wiped?”

“Really confusing, mostly.” Bucky admitted, taking Steve’s hand more firmly into his, “But people keep telling me I’m probably lucky to not remember the accident itself, but it's still disconcerting to have to trust other people's memories to know what happened. But as far as remembering my life and family and friends, that was just weird and confusing. All the memories I had of people and my life were kind of like a dream. super vague, and it doesn’t make sense if you think about it too much. I kept confusing reality with fantasy, thought Star Trek was a real documentary. Dugan spent a day with me in the hospital flipping through the tv channels trying to explain what was real and what was fantasy. I’m still surprised at how much patience he had when it came to Ancient Aliens. I still can’t trust the history channel.”

Steve laughed out loud at that. “I’m not saying it’s Aliens, but…”. He quoted.

“Don’t worry, It took several hours, but I’ve given up on that one.” Bucky told him. “I still have some memory issues, and get confused when I’m tired or stressed, but my brain is mostly back online now.”

“Is that what happened last night?” Steve asked.

“Yeah, that was part of it, along with a headache.” Bucky explained. “We’ve been a little short staffed, and had a super busy couple days, so I’ve been kinda stressed and working a lot of extra hours. I had a headache, and some trouble concentrating on what I was doing most of the day, and things just kinda went downhill fast. Dugan found me in the walk in, trying to make a produce order list, and I didn’t believe him when he said I had already submitted the order hours before. I had carrots on my list 5 times. By the time he convinced me to go sit down in my office, I was dizzy and nauseous, and Dugan was dragging me to his car to bring me home instead.”

“So your brain is kinda like my arms then? Normally works fine, but goes offline a little sometimes?” Steve asked.

“I guess you could put it that way.” Bucky agreed. “We make a great pair. Couple of glitchy androids.”

Steve adjusted on the couch so he was sitting closer to Bucky, and gently tugged on Bucky’s hand, pulling him closer. Bucky leaned back, resting his head against Steve’s shoulder, and relaxed with a sigh as Steve put an arm around him.

“So how’s the head today?” Steve asked, once they were settled together.

“Better.” Bucky admitted “Confusion is gone, and headache is almost gone. Balance is still feeling a little off, but that should be ok soon too. Just need to rest a little more.”

“Good to hear.” Steve told him, “Do you have to work today, or can we just stay here and watch movies for a while?”

“I had texts from 3 different people this morning insisting that I take today off, so movies sound good.” Bucky told him. “Do you have to work today?”

“Later, yeah.” Steve replied. “I’ve got enough of an idea of what this client actually wants to go start some sketches and rough storyboards, but I wasn’t planning on going to the office till at least 4. I have 24 hour access to the building, so I can work whenever I want to.”

“It’s settled then.” Bucky decided. “We’re staying right here until 4.”

Bucky fell asleep 10 minutes into The Fifth Element.

-------------

Steve made it to his work area at Triskelion Design a little after 5, and found that he had the office to himself. Most people worked normal 9-5 hours, but there were a couple others in the illustration department that preferred the night hours as well. He also realized that it was Sunday, not that it mattered to him.

He pulled out his sketchbook and pens and pencils, and laid them out on the drafting table. One of the perks to working in the office was the adjustable table and chair that allowed him to change the angle and height of the table, and change from sitting to standing if he got too stiff in the same position. Once he had spotify running and his phone connected to the speakers, he was ready to get to work.

Once he had gotten all the sketches from Lukas somewhat organized, he realized that this project wasn’t as cheesy as he had originally thought. Bifrost Brewery, started by a couple of brothers named Thomas and Lukas Odinson who also owned a bar and restaurant in Brooklyn called Asgardia. The whole business had a Norse God theme, referencing Igdrasil, the tree of life, along with the gods Odin, the all father, Thor and his warriors, and Loki, the trickster. All of the stories in the folder seemed to be based off of actual community projects that had been completed by the the staff and regulars of the restaurant, including an empty lot that they had turned into a community garden, and a playground that had been built. Tom and Lukas’ stories generally involved Thor and his warriors doing the heavy lifting, while Loki sat back, hid tools, and generally got in the way. Steve got the impression that Tom and Lukas even dressed up as Thor and Loki, and the line cooks would often dress up also as Sif and the warriors three for some of these events. The comics were supposed to be part of the marketing campaign for the launch of the Midgard Foundation, which the brothers hoped would allow them to organize larger community projects.

He had several pages of character design sketches for Thor and Loki that he wanted to turn into full color character reference sheets to show Lukas, along with a sample page of the playground story to give him an idea of the art style he had in mind. He quickly found himself lost into the art, in a world where a couple of Norse Gods had adopted a Brooklyn neighborhood.

He had been working for a couple hours, coloring Thor’s cape red, when he caught himself wondering if Bucky would like it. 45 minutes later, he was putting the final touches on Mjolnir and caught himself wondering what Bucky doing. It was almost 9, and he had just returned to his desk after getting a cup of coffee, when his phone dinged with a text from Bucky.

BB- how late are you working? Clint is here playing video games and we’re about to order pizza.

SR- Probably another hour or so. Save some pizza for me.

Steve took a long sip of his coffee, and got back to work, pushing all thoughts of Bucky out of his mind, and focusing on Loki instead. He finished his sketch in non-photo blue and had inked all the lines when he decided it was time to call it a night, and was on his way back to the apartment by 10:30.

 

Bucky and Clint were sprawled across the couch holding Wii controllers and swearing at each other when Steve walked in, in the middle of a round of Mario Party. There was an empty pizza box open on the table, and several soda cans spread across the table with puff right in the middle. .

“There's another pizza in the kitchen” Bucky announced distractedly once he noticed Steve standing in the corner. “We’re almost done this round.”

Steve wandered into the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with a few slices of pizza on a plate and a can of soda. The blond guy Steve assumed was Clint was bragging about having won, but Bucky just yelled at him to move over and make room for Steve on the Couch. Bucky moved toward the center, making room for Steve on his left side.

“So Steve” Bucky said, once he was sitting, “Meet Clint, my former roommate who left me to live with his boyfriend.”

“I guess that makes you my replacement.” Clint said, extending his hand. “Good to meet you, man.”

“You too. Trouble in paradise already?” Steve asked, shaking Clints hand. He noticed the bright purple hearing aid, and what he was pretty sure was some kind of implant on the side of his head, and caught himself staring slightly.

“Nah, still paradise, but Phil is gone on a business trip and I was bored at home without him.” Clint explained. “And this works pretty well in small groups like this” he said pointing to his ear “But I do better lip reading in larger crowds. Individual voices get too muffled when there's more that a couple people talking in a room.”

Steve just nodded. “I’ll do my best to remember that.”

“Alright.” Bucky said as he sat forward looking for something on the table. “Steve is here, so we can light up this blunt now. And Clint! Get the man a controller.”

It was past midnight when Clint threw his controller down on the table and stood up, announcing that he was heading home to bed.

Steve and Bucky just waved from the couch, not quite motivated to get up themselves yet. They had also tossed their controllers onto the table, and Bucky and leaned into Steve's side again. Without thinking, Steve put his arm around Bucky’s shoulders, pulling him closer so Bucky’s left side and arm stump were pressed against Steve's right. They sat in silence for almost 20 minutes, before Bucky got up somewhat abruptly, saying he was going to bed before he fell asleep on Steve, Again.

Chapter Text

Steve and Bucky slipped into a routine over the next couple weeks, catching up over coffee around noon, and lazing around on the couch for a few hours while they mentally prepared themselves for work and the real world. Bucky would often bring home dinner from the restaurant, or occasionally Steve would do his best to cook something, usually pasta. Some nights Clint would come by to play video games and raid their fridge. It was almost domestic if you squinted.

Bucky’s hours at the restaurant had finally slowed down once Scott, the new front of house manager was trained and on the schedule full time. Steve was surprised to find him already home watching tv at 10 one night.

“Everything okay?” Steve asked as he came into the living room and set down his portfolio.

“Yeah.” Bucky replied “New manager is finally ready to close on his own, so I can finally cut back my hours and only have to close a couple nights a week now, instead of every night.”

“That's great, I have to admit you were looking pretty burned out the last couple days.” Steve replied, sitting on the couch next to him.

“You call it quits early tonight?” Bucky asked as he shifted on the couch to move closer to Steve, leaning against his shoulder and hooking a leg over Steve’s knee.

“Not really” Steve answered with a sigh, putting an arm around Bucky automatically. “I didn’t have much work left to do for right now, just some final touch-ups and last minute sketches to finish before my meeting with the client tomorrow. I’ve already shown him a couple character designs that he liked, but now he wants to see more, of all of the characters, and more storyboard sketches.”

“You ready?” Bucky asked, lifting his head slightly to look at Steve.

“I think so?” Steve replied. “I mean yeah, I should be, but I’m still kinda nervous. My ex Tony would probably be lecturing me to stop overthinking it about now, but I’ve put so much work in, and it could all be for nothing if the client doesn’t like it.”

“Would it help if you let me see and I told you how awesome they are?” Bucky asked.

Steve laughed at that. “Probably not” he answered, grinning, “But I’ll let you see them anyway if you get off me.”

 

Bucky groaned, and then slowly moved just enough to let Steve get up and grab the portfolio. He unzipped it before sitting back down, leaving the portfolio closed.

“So this project is kind of weird.” Steve began to explain “My clients are 2 brothers who run a restaurant and brewery, Asgardia and Bifrost. They have this whole Norse God theme going on, and some kind of community service foundation that…”

“Wait.. seriously?” Bucky interrupted “Is Tom having you draw his Thor and Loki comic?”

Steve just shot a confused look at Bucky, and opened up the portfolio to the full color character model of Thor with his flowing red cape, wielding a large hammer.

“You know Tom?” Steve finally asked, still half staring at Bucky.

“I do” Bucky answered with a smile. “Though I usually call him Chef. I work at Asgardia. Tom is the chef who managed to keep me in the busines.”

“Huh, that's cool.” Steve said, once his brain finally registered what Bucky had told him. “So how has it been 2 weeks and I didn’t even know the name of your restaurant?”

“Same reason I didn’t know until now that you work for Triskellion Designworks. We don’t talk about work very much.” Bucky explained.

Steve was confused again “I don’t remember telling you I work for Triskellion…”

“You didn’t, but I know Tom.” Bucky explained. “Your boss is Phil Coulson, right?”

Steve just nodded.

“That’s Clint’s Phil, by the way, and one of Tom's close friends. Tom never uses anyone but Triskellion for all of our design work, event posters, table tents, menus, print ads, all of it.”

Steve was just nodding again. “So Clint, your ex-roommate, who is always here smoking our weed and eating all our food, is dating Coulson? Mister spinach salad for lunch everyday, and wears a suit while everyone else is in jeans and t-shirts?”

Bucky was laughing again. “Yeah, kinda weird right? They seem like a terrible match on paper, but somehow they just work. I can’t really explain it, but apparently Phil can handle the walking disaster that is Clint.”

“I’ll have to take your word on that.”

“So these are really awesome.” Bucky said, changing the subject back to Steve’s portfolio. He was slowly flipping through, smile growing larger as he went as he looked through the dozen or so drawings of Thor and Loki in several different positions, along with Sif and the warriors three. There was a completed page of Thor and the Warriors building a playground while Loki did his best to be as unhelpful as possible. “Tom is going to love these” Bucky finally said when he got to the end.

“And Lukas?” Steve asked, sounding nervous again.

“Lukas is an asshole.” Bucky replied quickly “Don’t worry about what he thinks. This was all Toms ideas and I can’t believe he’s finally going through with it. Jane must have finally convinced him.”

“So you didn’t know about it? I thought you basically ran the place.” Steve asked.

“I basically run the restaurant.” Bucky clarified. “This is more to do with the Midgar foundation and community projects that Jane, Tom's wife, handles. I knew he had ideas about a comic, and he’s spent the last year doodling Thor and Loki everywhere, but shit, this is awesome. He's probably going to hug you when he sees these.”

“So do you know Natasha then? She’s a web coder for Triskellion.” Steve asked, changing the subject again. “I kinda got the job through her. Her boyfriend Sam was my roommate in College at UIC, and still my best friend.”

“Not really.” Bucky answered “We’ve met a couple times when she was updating our website, but it was just business.”

Steve just nodded again, and began playing with the zipper on his portfolio, staring off across the room. Bucky reached over and put his hand on Steve's shoulder, squeezing it gently. “You gotta relax man, your drawings are awesome, I swear.”

Steve groaned in an attempt at agreement, and nodded again.

--------

Bucky was right. Tom did hug Steve after reviewing the drawings.
“Wonderful work!” He exclaimed, slapping Steve on the back “You have brought my dream to life! My Jane will love it as well.”

“Thanks.” Steve replied, trying to back away from Tom before the man could hit him again. “I’m glad to hear you liked it.”

Tom just reached out and hugged him, messing up his plan. Well, wasn’t the first time he had given himself anxiety over nothing. Finally Tom released him and they sat at the conference table at the Triskelion office with coffee. Tom explained his vision for the comic and the Midgar foundation, talking about all the community projects and fundraising events that they were hoping to be able to plan soon, along with a website.

He was excited about it all, like Steve's art had ignited some kind of renewed energy and drive. Some of Tom's ideas sounded a little crazy, but his excitement was contagious. By the end of the meeting, Steve’s work load had nearly doubled with all the ideas for the website they had come up with, and now he needed create all the art for the site, and a logo for the foundation, as well as a poster for a fundraiser night at the bar. It was looking like a lot of time working with Natasha, hashing out the websites design and layout while she wrote the code.

Steve had enough time until his next meeting with Tom to take the rest of the day off, but he had ideas that he needed to get on paper before they were forgotten, so he went to his desk and spent almost 4 hours sketching. Tom’s energy had gotten him excited for the project, and he lost track of time, sitting in the same position the entire time he was drawing without getting up to stretch at all.

He stood and slowly stretched his arms over his head, and took a deep breath. His breath caught slightly as his muscles tensed up against his expanding ribcage. Gritting his teeth, he pulled on his jacket and swung his bag over his head and across his shoulders. It was raining out, and windy as Steve got on his bike to ride home. He couldn't feel his hands by the time he reached the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, and his back had tightened up and was beginning to spasm well before he got to the apartment. He felt like he was being stabbed in the back with each movement. He blocked it all out, focusing on his feet on the pedals, pumping in rhythm as he rode home.

Bucky found him standing frozen just inside the door, bag at his feet. His eyes were closed as he breathed shallowly, frowning as a spasm made his shoulder twitch.

“You alright?” Bucky asked, reaching out to take Steve's hand in his.
Steve opened his eyes and looked past Bucky, staring off in a daze.
“The weather is horrible.” Steve replied flatly.
“Ok” Bucky said, squeezing his hand slightly. “What do you need?”

Steve just continued to stare, breath catching as he visibly tensed up and spasmed again. He was shivering slightly.

“I have to make it stop” Steve eventually stuttered “The spasms. And shivering”.

“Wet clothes.” Bucky directed “take them off.”

Steve just nodded, allowing Bucky to lead him through the apartment.

Steve took his hand back from Bucky once they were in his room, and unzipped his jacket, trying not to to cringe as he took it off and dropped it onto the floor. He was halfway through unbuttoning his shirt when he froze again, eyes closed as he held his breath again.
“I know it hurts Stevie, but you gotta get those clothes off. It’s how to make the shivering stop. I’m not so good with buttons, but I can help with the rest.” Bucky encouraged him, half whispering. He wasn’t sure how much Steve was hearing, but at least he was going along with Bucky’s orders.

Steve let out a shaky breath, undid the last few buttons, and dropped his arms in defeat. He was shivering still, almost violently. as he allowed Bucky remove his shirts and pants and then climbed into bed. He layed on his back, eyes pinched shut as he tried to focus on his breathing, muscles around his ribs and shoulder blades twitching painfully.

He felt the bed dip and opened his eyes to see Bucky climbing under the covers with him, also stripped down to his boxers.

“What are you doing?” Steve asked, sounding dazed.

“I’m taking care of you, Stevie. Gotta get you warm.” Bucky was surprised at how relieved he was to hear the question, that Steve wasn’t fully checked out.

Steve didn’t react as Bucky slid up next to him, gently pressing up against his side and taking Steves hand in his, squeezing it gently. They laid together in silence, Steve's eyes closed as he took slow shallow breaths, occasionally twitching and trembling slightly as the muscles in his back continued to tense and spasm. Bucky sat up slightly, shifting so he could look at Steve, still holding on to his hand, that Steve was occasionally squeezing as what appeared to be the worst spasms hit.

Bucky just watched as Steve apparently fought the pain. His face stayed calm, almost blank, as his breathing slowly evened out, the shivering stopped, and finally the twitching. Finally, Steve took a deep breath, held it for a few seconds, and let it out slowly, visibly relaxing. He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at Bucky.

“Hi.” Steve said, sounding slightly embarrassed, smiling slightly.
“Hi.” Bucky grinned back “I almost feel like I should be saying welcome back.”
Steve just sighed, and shrugged his shoulders the tiniest bit.
“Not entirely wrong, I guess.” he said

“So, you ok now?” Bucky asked, sounding a little hesitant.

“I’m a lot closer to ok now than I was 20 minutes ago.” Steve replied, “Thanks, by the way, you didn’t have to do that.”

“I know, and I’m sure you could have gotten through that on your own, but you don’t have to.” Bucky said casually.

“Yeah.” Steve replied, sounding defeated.

“I have a feeling you will get a chance to repay the favor someday.” sounding almost as defeated as Steve. “So. How else can I help you?”

“It’s fine, Bucky, really. I can take care of myself from here.” Steve insisted.

“Wrong answer, Stevie.” Bucky replied, shaking his head “What do you need?”

Steve sighed, turning his head to glare directly a Bucky. “Fine.” he relented, “ Icy Hot, the jar on top of the dresser.”

Bucky was off the bed almost immediately in search of the jar, and Steve slowly rolled onto his side and pushed himself into a sitting position with his legs hanging off.

“I had to learn how to get out of bed again, when I was in the hospital. I almost passed out the first time they made me actually sit up fully after being flat on my back for 4 days, half of it in the ICU. Next day, they make me stand up, and move a couple steps to sit in a chair. I told them I was going to puke, but they kept saying it would pass and just breathe. I puked on a nurse.” Steve smiled up at Bucky, laughing slightly now. “Like all over the poor woman, I imagine she ran for a shower after leaving my room.”

Bucky just looked at him confused for a moment, and eventually burst out laughing. “Shit, man.” He replied, once he could talk. “Was she at least one of the evil nurses?”

“No!” Steve exclaimed. “She was one of the best ones, but that's not even the worst part. One of her daughters was actually in my class at school at the time, so I didn’t just puke on a nice nurse, I puked on Emily’s mom.” He was trying not to laugh again. “It really shouldn't be funny. I don’t even know what made me think of that just now.” He tensed up slightly again, taking a slow deep breath again.

“Laughing is supposed to be good for healing, right?” Bucky suggested.

“I guess” Steve agreed “But right now laughing hurts.”

Bucky frowned slightly, and held up the Icy Hot. “So how do you want to do this?”

“Uhh, I should be ok on my stomach for a little bit. I can’t arch my back at all though, so it’s going to be kind of awkward.” He stood and turned around, lazily making the bed and adjusting pillows before laying down again on top of the duvet. He had a pillow diagonally under his chest, chin resting on the top edge, after some shifting around, he finally seemed to get comfortable with the left arm half under the pillow, and the right down at his side.
Bucky eventually climbed up onto the bed next to him, and kneeled at his side.
“Is it ok if I sit on your legs? Like straddling you?” He asked. “I think I’ll be able to balance the best that way. “

“That should be fine” Steve answered. “Told you it's a mess back there.” He felt the mattress shift as Bucky swung his leg over and gently sat on Steve’s legs.

Bucky realized that he was staring at Steve's back and scars, and the way his ribcage and shoulder blade protruded sharply on the right, and was almost sunken in on the left, with a wide faded scar, easily over a foot long running down the center. Bucky reached out and touched the center of Steve's back, gently stroking a finger down along the scar.

“You can touch me you know, I won’t break.” Steve encouraged.

“I am touching you.” Bucky answered. “You can’t feel that?”

“Nope.” Steve answered, “Nerve damage. You seem to have found the spot where I have no feeling on the skin. You can agree with me and find it weird if you want.”

“Haha, a few spots on my stump are the same way, it’s definitely weird.” Bucky agreed “So where do you want this stuff?”

“Basically everywhere, but the worst is along the right side, kind of between my spine and shoulder blade.” Steve answered. “Want help with the jar?”

“Yeah, hold the bottom.” Bucky answered, nudging at Steve's right hand with the jar. Steve turned his hand slightly and grabbed the jar to hold it steady as bucky twisted off the top. It was the same way Steve helped Bucky open jars in the kitchen sometimes. Bucky tossed the cap aside, and dug into the jar scooping a generous amount of the paste into his hands.
“It’s going to be cold.” Bucky warned, immediately smearing it across Steve's shoulders and then down across his back. Steve gasped slightly at the cold and then relaxed under Bucky’s hand, as he rubbed and massaged the Icy hot into his tense muscles. He was nearly asleep when there was a knock at the front door, and then the door was opening.

“Bucky?” Clint called across the apartment.

“I forgot he was coming over” Bucky apologized.

“It’s fine” Steve told him, “he can come in here”

“Back in Steve’s room!” Bucky called back to Clint, and shifted off of Steve so he was sitting on the bed next to him when Clint came to the door.

“Oh, Sorry..” He apologized “I didn’t mean to interrupt… uh… I should go.”

“It’s fine Clint, you're not interrupting anything.” Steve told him, “we were done anyway.”

Clint just raised an eyebrow, obviously confused.

“I was helping him rub Icy Hot into his back” Bucky explained, holding up the jar.

“That explains why his shirt is off, but not why you're both almost naked.” Clint replied, eyeing the clothes all over the floor.

Steve had sat up also, and turned to sit next to Bucky. “I got caught in the rain, and took off all my clothes because they were soaking wet. Can’t explain him though.” He told Clint, nudging Bucky with his elbow.

“Go pick out a movie, or something, Clint. We’ll be out in a minute.” Bucky told him. “And no Dog Cops!”

Chapter Text

Bucky came out to the living room first, dressed again in Jeans and a hoodie, and found Clint sprawled out in the armchair, flipping through netflix.
“Is this the part where you try to convince me that nothing is going on with you two?” Clint asked, raising his eyebrows at Bucky.

“Yes Clint, It is.” Bucky replied as he collapsed onto the couch. “He had some bad pain today and I was helping him take care of it. Nothing is going on.”

“Whatever you say, man. “ Clint replied, not sounding convinced.

Clint didn’t say a word when Steve came out of his room in a hoodie and pajama pants, and practically sat in Bucky’s lap, pressed up against his left side with one leg draped over Bucky’s knee.

“So where are we on the bowl packing and pizza ordering?” Steve asked, oblivious to the way Clint was raising his eyebrows again at Bucky.

“I ordered a couple pizzas on my way here that should be delivered any time now, and I have papers if you want me to roll a couple joints.” Clint told him.

“And that’s why we keep you around.” Bucky said, tossing his weed jar over.

 

Bucky was reaching for his 4th slice of pizza when he noticed Steve was still only halfway through his first.
“You ok?” he whispered, gesturing at Steve's plate.
Steve just shook his head slightly.
“Not much of an appetite.” He said “I forgot to eat lunch so I know I should be hungry, but I just can’t right now. Happens with the pain sometimes.”
“I understand. I can’t eat when I have a headache, makes me kind of nauseous when I try. Food will still be here later if you want, or tomorrow.”
Steve just nodded, setting his plate down on the table.

They were half way through Clint’s second movie choice of Princess Bride when Steve fell asleep with his head on Bucky’s shoulder. He was slumped down in an awkward position that didn’t look comfortable at all.

“Hey.” Bucky said quietly, tapping him on the knee. “Wake up Stevie.”
“What happened?” Steve asked groggily as he lifted his head and looked around.
“You fell asleep on me, and it looked like a really bad position for your neck. Don’t want you hurting any more than you already are.”
Steve didn’t reply, just sat up and moved away from Bucky slightly.
“I’m going to bed.” Steve announced, and stood and walked out of the room.

Bucky jumped up and followed him toward his bedroom.
“This isn’t what I meant Steve.” Bucky called to him.
“I know, but it’s been a long day and I’m tired. I’m going to go fall asleep in my bed instead of a different painful position on the couch. Good night.” He went into his room and shut the door.
Bucky stood and stared at the closed door for a moment before turning back and heading into the living room.

Clint stopped the movie and sat up in the arm chair to look at Bucky.
“Alright, Buttercup. Whats going on here? Or are you Wesely? Are you both Wesely? Has Steve ever said ‘As you wish.’?”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Bucky asked, looking back at Clint.
“I’m talking about walking in to find you too nearly naked, him practically sitting in your lap, and how you two can’t seem to be in the same room without touching each other. And why does Steve going to bed early leave you looking like a kicked puppy.”

“Because he was out in the cold rain, and shivering, and it triggered muscle spasms, so I helped him get his wet clothes off and…”
“I understand why Steve was in his briefs, but unless I missed part of the story, you didn’t have wet clothes.” Clint interrupted.
“Because body heat, you know, skin to skin to help warm people up…”
“In the arctic maybe, if your dying from hypothermia, but it’s late March in Brooklyn. It wasn’t that serious.”
“He was kind of shut down, in a daze and shaking and having trouble breathing. I may have overreacted.”
“And taken off your clothes to save his life.” Clint clarified.
“And I took off my clothes. Ok? Can we move on now?” Bucky pleaded.
“We can, for tonight anyway.” Clint grinned. “Any explanation for the couch cuddling then? Because I can’t remember the last time I was here and you two weren’t playing octopus.”

“Playing octopus?” Bucky asked. “What is that even supposed to mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean” Clint replied, sounding exasperated “Anytime you guys are on the couch together, at least one of you has an arm or leg hooked around the other. You are always touching each other.”

Bucky sat quietly, staring at the R.O.U.S on the paused screen. He realized he couldn’t really argue against Clint here, because now that he was thinking about it, he realized it was true. They were always touching each other, or leaning against each other, or wrapping arms around each other.

“I told him the whole story about the accident, losing my arm, the coma, and the forgetting. He had already told me his about the surgeries and fusions, and chronic pain. I know that our experiences are not the same, and that his 20 year experience with an unexplainable condition, that has become progressively worse doesn’t compare to my life changing in an instant and losing a limb, but somehow we understand each other. We both drew the short straw in life, and shit happened that sucks, but somehow we’re carrying on. It’s just kind of a physical comfort and support thing.”

Clint almost looked sad at Bucky’s explanation. He realized that he had never shared his story with Bucky in all the years they had been friends. Bucky was missing an arm, Clint was deaf, there was no need for further explanation or discussion.
“I was born almost completely deaf, so while I may have also drawn a short straw, I never had my hearing in the first place, so I had nothing to lose, I don’t really know what I’m missing. I went to a school for the deaf, and sign language was my native language. I knew I was different than most people, but all my friends could talk with their hands like me so it was fine.

“I was 10 when I got my cochlear implant. Thing is hardwired to my brain, and I can hear. Don’t know how, but it works. I’ve been told that it’s not the same as how you hear, but It’s all I know, and after 10 years of silence, my ‘not as good as the real thing’ hearing was amazing. I was able to learn how to speak, and I truly learned English, what the words sounded like instead of just how the word looked on paper or how people's lips moved to say them.

“I’ve spent the last 20 years seeing specialists to make sure my implant is working properly, and to upgrade components. A lot of speech therapy when I was young also. I almost feel guilty about it, but things are just getting better and better for me with the technology, and I’m sorry that it’s not quite the same for you with prosthetic arms, or for Steve with pain management. I don’t try to hide my implant, so people know I’m deaf almost immediately, I’m instantly disabled to everyone, but I never really felt that way, I never really struggled with it.”

“Really Clint? Just because it didn’t feel like a struggle doesn’t mean you didn't go through things that most people wouldn’t understand. There doesn’t have to be pain and trauma for it to qualify, or whatever you're trying to say there. I know that you prefer to have close captions on, and read lips more than listen in crowds, and that you pace around signing when you are stressed out the way most people mumble to themselves, and prefer to sign with people instead of speaking whenever you get the opportunity. It doesn’t feel like a struggle now because you’ve been taught from birth how to adapt and cope, and that’s a good thing. Don’t feel guilty.”

Clint just nodded. “I’ll work on that. So you and Steve really aren’t fucking? Seriously?”

“Way to change the subject. Really, we’re not fucking.” Bucky replied, starting to get annoyed with Clint.

“So you’ve bonded over drawing the short straw in life, and it's turned you into a couple of clingy octopi? Octopuses? 2 Octopus.” Clint suggested.

“Sort of? You know I haven't really dated anyone since the accident, and to be honest, it’s nice to have someone touch me that isn’t a doctor or physical therapist. And he sits on my left, where people tend to ignore, and try not to stare, filling up the empty space where my arm should be, and I can almost pretend my arm is just wrapped around behind him. He’s safe somehow.” Bucky answered.

“I can understand that I think, but not fully, because my body has never been manipulated by doctors and therapists the way yours have. I guess physical touch doesn’t have the same connections for me. And “haven't really dated” is the biggest understatement of the century. Are you nervous about losing your one armed sex virginity?”

Bucky looked down at the floor and blushed slightly, giving Clint his answer.

“You, Bucky Barnes, are in love with Steve Rogers, and you want to fuck him.” Clint announced, as he stood up from the chair. “And speaking of fucking people, I need to get home to Phil. Have a good night.”

 

Steve woke up early the next morning, and decided to head into the office and get an early start. If he was honest though, all he really wanted to do was stay in bed hiding all day. He was still feeling a little tense and sore, and he was exhausted despite going to bed earlier than normal, but life had to go on. At least the sun was out, he thought as a got on his bike and started riding into Manhattan and his office.

He grabbed a coffee from the cart in the lobby, and headed toward his desk, feeling out of place walking past his co-workers, (a couple of whom seemed confused about who he even was), and quietly got to work with his headphones in. After a couple hours, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, and turned around to find Coulson standing at his desk.

“Hi, sir” Steve greeted him, removing his earbuds.

“So what’s going on?” Phil asked, trying to sound casual.

“Several things, working on a storyboard sketch for the playground story today, and I have some ideas for the foundation logo I want to get a little more finalized, and I…” Steve reported.

“That's not what I’m asking.” Phil interrupted, frowning slightly “You’re here working before noon, hell, before 5pm, and Clint mentioned you had a bit of a rough time last night.”

“That’s true.” Steve replied, “I'm fine now though, really. Just had ideas I wanted to get to work on.”

“Ok.” Phil said, obviously deciding to accept Steves explanation for now. “Just as long as you’re not avoiding anything.”

Steve just watched him walk off, confused about what Phil thought he was avoiding. What did he know?

Steve put his earbuds back in and tried to get back to work, but found himself zoning out at a blank spot on the page instead. So maybe he was avoiding Bucky, but not like that. He was avoiding the conversation he suspected Bucky would want to have, and he was sick of having, the looks of pity, and reminders that he could ask for help. People generally looked at him differently after seeing how damaged he actually was.

He jerked out of his fantasy when his phone dinged with a text, interrupting his music. It was Sam. Steve should have expected it.

SW- Hey man, I’ve barely seen you since you moved out. Meet me for a drink after work?

Steve groaned slightly, he did agree that it had been way too long since he had seen Sam, but he also knew that Sam knew, and was going to make him talk about it.

SR - Sure, usual dive around 7? I’m guessing Phil told Nat who told you?

SW - 7 is good, and I know what ‘fine’ means Rogers.

SR - see you then

 

“You know fine can actually mean fine, Wilson.” Steve said, sliding onto the bar stool next to Sam.

“Uh huh. “ Sam nodded, humoring him, and waved to the bartender. “Whisky?” he asked Steve, who just nodded in defeat. Whisky meant real talk.

They sat silently as the bartender poured two glasses of whisky, neat, and they took a couple small sips each.

“So how long were you ignoring the pain this time?” Sam finally asked.

“About a day” Steve mumbled.

“Steve…” Sam almost groaned, giving him a side eyed glare.

“Ok, closer to 3 days.” Steve admitted.

Sam just nodded like he had already known the answer. “I wish you had let me help, you know I could have adjusted my schedule and fit you in for treatment.”

“I think you like shocking me a little too much sometimes, and I can’t ask you to do that.” Steve replied, sounding slightly exasperated.

“You make it sound like torture, it’s mild electrical stimulation, not shock therapy, and you admitted it helps.” Sam said, trying to be patient. “And you can ask. It’s my job.”

Steve just nodded, staring into his glass. It was the same conversation ever since Sam had graduated and gotten his physical therapy licence. Steve knew that he was right, and that the massage and ultrasound and T.E.N.S treatments that Sam could do would help with the muscle spasms, but he didn’t like being his best friends patient.

“So apparently your roommate was pretty freaked out when you went into zombie mode last night.” Sam said after a moment, breaking the silence again.

“Bucky?” Steve asked, seemingly surprised. “He insisted on helping. Undressed me like I was a helpless little kid.”

“No offense, but I’ve seen you when it gets bad, with the blank stares and shaking, and barely breathing, and honestly, helpless little kid isn’t a bad description.” Sam offered.

“Maybe.” Steve admitted, “But It doesn’t mean I have to like it. I let him help, ok? I let him rub icy hot into my back. Clint walked in to find him sitting on my legs, straddling me while I’m on my stomach trying not to moan the whole time. He thought we were fucking.”

“Just over 2 weeks, I think I’m proud of you buddy.” Sam replied grinning.

“We’re not fucking.” Steve told him, glaring slightly.

“Not what I meant, but interesting.” Sam shot back. “2 weeks and you’ve already let him see you with your shirt off. Took nearly 6 months before you even mentioned the whole fusion and surgery deal to me, and another 6 months of sharing a dorm room before I ever saw the scar.”

“It’s different with him, I can’t really explain.” Steve answered. He finished his whisky in one sip and gestured to the bartender for a refill.

“Try?” Sam asked, as the bartender poured them each a second drink.

“I just feel like he gets it, like for real. Like he actually knows, not like how you know from seeing my xrays and reading my file. Having my life altering event planned out in advance didn’t make it easier to accept. It may have made it harder almost. I had a couple months to wait for it, while I played Varsity baseball and wondered if I would ever play again after. I played the last game of the season like it was my last game ever, because no one really knew” He paused to take another sip of his drink. “I was still angry about it when I met you, because of how unfair it all is, to have this thing slowly breaking me and no one has any idea why it happens. Just shitty luck.”

“You don’t seem so angry about it anymore.” Sam commented.

“Tony helped with that, of all people” Steve began to explain. “Remember when he blew up his lab and almost died from the shrapnel in his chest?.” Sam nodded, remembering talking Steve down from a panic attack while Tony was in surgery.

“He went all weird and spiritual after that, dragging me with him to meditation sessions, and yoga, and Tai Chi. Tony of course was bored with all of it after a week or two, but I liked it. It helped me relax, and eased up the muscle tension way better than any painkillers could, and eventually I realized being angry was just a waste of energy, and that it wouldn’t change anything. I still think it sucks, and it's totally unfair, but it's the situation, and it's not going to change, so I’m carrying on. And meditating. And trying to do yoga.”

Sam stared for a moment, looking slightly concerned. “And If it's actually helping with pain, yoga is great, especially for your core strength and balance. I’m worried though that you are trying to meditate it out of existence, and try to act like you’re not in pain, because that's not dealing with it, man. That’s avoiding.”

“Maybe it is,” Steve agreed, “but I’m not sure how else to carry on. You may see it as avoiding, but It’s working well enough. I’m not that pissed off emo-kid avoiding life because it might hurt too much anymore.”

“So last night, that was this plan working?” Sam asked.

“I said it works well enough, never called it perfect.” Steve argued. “And I’ll take that.” He finished the rest of his drink and set the glass down loudly, staring off at the wall behind the bar.

Sam just nodded, sipping at his drink. He wanted to argue that there was more that Steve could try, new drugs that would help with the nerve damage pain, or different physical therapy treatments, but Steve had made it clear the conversation was over.

“So, am I going to get to meet Bucky anytime soon?” Sam eventually asked, trying to break the tension a little.

“Yeah, I think you’ll like him.” Steve answered “You and Natasha should come over for a movie night or something. I’ll find out what night Bucky is free and let you know.”

“Sounds great.” Sam agreed “and I’m sure Nat will be down too.”

-------------

It was nearly midnight when Steve got home. He was a little drunk, and slumped against the wall struggling to take of his shoes when he noticed Bucky standing just inside the living room.
“You weren’t here this morning.” He stated
“No” Steve replied, finally standing up and looking at Bucky, having finally managed to get his shoes off. “I went into work early, had to meet with some people about project stuff.”

“Not what I heard.” Bucky mumbled, turning back into the room and collapsing on the couch.

Steve followed him to the couch and sat down clumsily, sighing.

“It’s fine that you fell asleep on me.” Bucky said quietly, staring at the TV. “I don’t mind it. I’m not mad at you for it.”

“I know that, Bucky. I mean, I never thought you were mad.” Steve told him, sounding slightly hurt. “And I don’t mind either, that you’ve fallen asleep on me. Almost feels right, somehow.”

“So the lying to me, and ignoring me all day, after you abruptly go to bed and barely talk to me last night. What was I supposed to think?” He asked, looking up at Steve.

Steve shifted on the couch, turning so his back was to the arm rest and he was facing Bucky. “You can think that I’m kind of an asshole sometimes, and I’m much better at avoiding this shit than dealing with it most of the time. I’m usually really good at lying about it, and pretending its not getting bad for 3 days until it just breaks me and I can’t.” Steve looked down at the couch cushion, playing with a loose thread in his fingers. “I’m broken, Buck. They keep putting me back together with rods and pins and screws, but they can’t really fix me. It's been nearly 18 years and nothing has gotten better.”

“Stevie…” Bucky nearly whispered, shifting closer to Steve and grabbing his hand. “Is that really what you think? That you’re broken and can pretend the pain away?”

“Yes?” Steve answered, “Or no, I don’t know. But I’m drunk, and I’m tired, and Phil and Sam both made me talk already today, so I’m all set with everyone playing therapist for a while.”

Bucky opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but closed it and nodded instead. “Ok” he said after a moment, squeezing Steve's hand “Sorry I pushed. So do you want to go to bed, or watch Futurama with me?”

“I could go for some Futurama.” He answered smiling, and pulling at Bucky’s hand slightly. Bucky leaned into Steve’s side, smiling as he thought of Steve’s right shoulder as ‘his spot’.
He had no idea how many episodes had played when Bucky woke up, to find that Steve had fallen asleep also, and woke him up to send him to bed.

Chapter Text

Bucky was the first to wake up and stumble into the kitchen to make coffee. He wasn’t surprised knowing that Steve had been a little drunk the night before and was probably sleeping in that morning. By 1pm, Bucky had finished 2 cups of coffee and a bowl of cereal, and there was still no sign of life from Steve.

“Stevie?” Bucky called, knocking on his bedroom door. “You alive in there?”
There was no answer, so Bucky slowly opened the door and stuck his head in. “Steve?” he called again.

Steve just looked over at the door, appearing to have been awake already.
“You planning on getting out of bed today?” Bucky asked, coming a little further into the room.
“Don’t know yet.” Steve mumbled, continuing to stare at the ceiling.
“You planning on staring at the ceiling all day then? I don’t think there’s anything interesting up there.”
Steve didn’t respond, just sighed and closed his eyes, and seemed to be ignoring the fact that Bucky was climbing on the bed and laying down next to him.
“Huh, I was wrong.” Bucky announced a moment later. “There's a crack in the ceiling that kinda looks like a lightning bolt. Was Voldemort here? Did the ceiling save you from an unforgivable curse? Or was it just your standard petrificus totalus?”

Steve just groaned, looking away from Bucky.

“It’s ok to say his name you know, Voldemort, it takes away his power and transfers it to Dumbledore's Army. Only way to get Batman to save the day. The hippogriffs need the name power to light the bat signal, wrong kind of power will light up the beacon in Forks instead of Gotham, and that will just lead to way too many vampires running around. Last thing we need is all that glitter drawing out Satan and Saddam from Hell. All they will do is try to convince us to blame Canada until everything is super, and all the queers are going to start singing with Puppets. Neil Patrick Harris may be god of the Gays, but even he can’t take down all the death eaters. Or maybe it's a crack in time. You haven't heard anything about a prisoner zero, have you? Do we need to call the doctor? Or maybe Torchwood would be a better option…”

“Oh my god, you are annoying.” Steve huffed, looking slightly in Bucky’s direction. “Just shut up already.”

“I’m just trying to work out a plan here, but you’re obviously not interested. Seriously though, what’s up?” Bucky asked, clearly trying to be more serious.

Not surprisingly, Steve didn’t answer.

“Are you hungover? Need some coffee and Advil?” Bucky tried.

“No, just don’t want to.” Steve mumbled.

“Did you really just say no to coffee?” Bucky asked “Damn, this is more serious than I thought”

“Don’t want anything.” Steve said, sounding defeated.

“Just want to stare at the ceiling all day.” Bucky stated. “Didn’t get enough of that in the hospital?”

Steve almost laughed, quickly turning it into a sigh. “Apparently I didn’t.” he answered.

“I see that.” Bucky replied. “Avoiding something then? Come on, Stevie, talk to me, what are we doing here.”

“I just don’t want to deal with it all, because it’s exhausting, and it never stops.” Steve answered.

“Deal with what, Steve. What never stops?” Bucky asked.

“The pain.” Steve practically whispered. “It never really goes away. Something always hurts, between my back, or shoulders, or hip, it never stops. It hasn’t for almost 18 years, and I’m tired Bucky.”

“So what hurts right now?” Bucky asked.

“Nothing.” Steve answered, staring back at the ceiling.

“Nothing? That’s great then, isn’t it?” Bucky asked, confused.

“It never lasts.” Steve explained, voice flat. “As soon as I move, it’s all over. Something will pop, or tense up, or a nerve will send a jolt of sharp pain, and it will be back. I’t won’t be too bad if I’m lucky, but I promise it won’t feel good, and it will just be there, in the background, poking every so often so I can’t fully ignore it, jolting and spasming while I carry on.”

“So we’re staring at a crack in the ceiling, because it’s keeping the pokey jolty things away.” Bucky summarized. “How much longer are you going to hide from them?”

“Probably about 5 more minutes.” Steve answered. “I have to pee.”

Bucky laughed out loud, making the bed shake slightly. Steve was grinning as Bucky sat up and moved toward the edge of the bed.

“Ok then.” Bucky announced, apparently having come up with a plan, “I’m going to go make more coffee and pack Puff. She helps with the pokey things, right?”

“Yeah, she makes them softer.” Steve answered.

“Good. So whenever your need to pee wins out, come on out to the living room and we will avoid our problems by watching the worst daytime TV we can find, and eating junk food, like normal people.”

 

------------
Bucky was sitting in his office, staring at the spreadsheet on his screen when Dum Dum walked in, snapping Bucky back to attention. It was end of the month inventory day and, Dum Dum had finished the liquor bottle count, and all that was left was the data entry on Bucky’s end.

“Good day off yesterday?” Dum Dum asked, dropping his count on top of the pile.
“Yeah, nothing too exciting. I spent most of the day on the couch with Steve watching Disney movies and eating way too much junk food.”
“Disney?” Dum Dum questioned. “Since when are you that into Disney Movies?”
“It was what Steve wanted, Aladdin and Little Mermaid, and he had a rough morning so I went with it.” Bucky explained “And I don’t hate Disney, it’s just not normally my first choice.”
“Uh huh.” Dum Dum replied, clearly not buying it. “If that’s the story you want to go with…”

Bucky just shot him a confused look and changed the subject.
“So how’s it going out front?” He asked “Are we starting to fill up at all?”
“Slow start so far, Clint had 4 people sitting at the bar last I saw, and I think we have only have 2 or 3 tables sat for dinner so far.”
Bucky just nodded. It was pretty dead, but it was also barely 5pm, so it was still early enough for a dinner rush to happen.
“Alright” Bucky replied with a sigh, “You know where to find me if I need to come out on the floor.”

About an hour later, Bucky was finally finished entering all his inventory numbers, and was making his way through the restaurant checking in with everyone. After finding that the bar and dining room were just over half full, the kitchen was having no problem keeping up with the slow pace of a weeknight dinner, and there were no problem customers for him to take care of, he went over to the bar to talk to Clint. He tended to hang out in the corner by the bar when it was slow, just watching. He could see the front door and host stand, the kitchen door, and half the dining room, but he was generally out of the servers way.

“So how’s your boy doing?” Clint asked with a grin, coming over to Bucky’s corner after he finished making a couple drinks.
“He’s not my boy.” Bucky answered. “And he’s better today. He’s at the office working on Tom’s Thor project tonight.”
“I heard Tom is really excited about it so far. So he’s really drawing a comic book about us?” Clint asked.
“Yeah, and from what I’ve seen so far it's going to be great. He’s doing a story about that playground we built last summer for the first one.” Bucky told him.

Bucky looked toward the door to see a large group walking in and sighed.
“I should probably go help with that.” Bucky said, looking toward the door. “I’ll talk to you later”

Aside from the one large group of 12, the night was pretty uneventful and Bucky was on his way home by 11pm, happy that Scott was there to close that night. He had texted Steve a little earlier, letting him know that he could bring dinner home if Steve wasn’t working too late that night, and caught himself grinning when he got a reply saying Steve was also finishing up his work and would be heading home soon as well.

He beat Steve home, and was in the middle of reheating the chicken and pasta he had gotten Sif to make for him, when Steve walked through the door. He hung his jacket and bag by the door, and walked into the kitchen as Bucky was plating the pasta.
“Hey, how was work?” Steve asked, sliding in close next to Bucky to check out what was for dinner.
“Not bad” Bucky replied, smiling, “I got my inventory done for the month, and dinner was pretty uneventful. It’s always nice to get through a shift without having to listen to any customers complain. How was your day?”

“It was good, I have 3 logo ideas for the Midgard foundation ready to show Tom, and the storyboard sketches for the playground story is done.” Steve answered.

“Awesome. Tom has been telling everyone who will listen about how great your drawings are.” Bucky told him, picking up his plate “Enough work talk though, let’s eat.”

They settled onto the couch, watching the late show as they ate.

Steve had put his plate on the coffee table, and sank back into the couch when his phone buzzed with a text.

SW- So when are we hanging out? You promised I get to meet Bucky.

“What’s your schedule this week?” Steve asked, looking up from his phone toward Bucky.

“Thursday off, and Sunday I’m stuck working brunch so I should be out by 4 at the absolute latest.” Bucky replied. “Why?”

“Sam and Nat want to hang out and meet you. How about we invite them over for dinner on Sunday?” Steve asked.

“Sunday is already game night with Clint and Dum Dum, and maybe Phil, sorry I forgot to tell you, but they are welcome to join us.” Bucky replied. “They’re coming over around 5.”

“Sounds good to me, I’ll invite them to join us then.” Steve said, looking back to his phone.

SR- How’s Sunday night around 5 for you guys? Were having a few people over for a board game night, and you guys are more then welcome to join.

SW- Works for us, see you then!

Steve put his phone down and leaned back on the couch close to Bucky again, smiling as Bucky curled up against him and hooked a leg over his knee. Steve put his arm around Bucky’s shoulders, and began playing with his long hair. He grinned again as Bucky sighed, relaxing further into Steve.

“How did I get so lucky?” Bucky asked, words slightly muffled into Steve's Shoulder.
“What do you mean?” Steve asked, looking down at him.
Bucky shifted slightly to look up at Steve. “I posted that ad on Craigslist just hoping to find someone who wasn’t crazy and would pay rent on time, and I got you. I lucked out and found perfection.”

Steve just laughed. “I’m not perfect, far from it, and you know that.” He replied, sounding slightly embarrassed.
“I think you are.” Bucky answered “You like my nerdy movies and games, you understand how terrible mornings are, and you help me without pitying me. Most people see the missing arm, and make assumptions about what I can’t do, and help too much. You never did that, and I think that makes you pretty perfect.”
“I could say the same about you.” Steve replied “I know all about assumptions and people trying to be overly supportive. Do you know how many people are surprised I’m not in a wheelchair when they hear about my fusion? I’ll never understand that.”
“You can walk normal?” Bucky joked, “That’s amazing!”
“You’re such a dork.” Steve said, bopping him gently on the head.
“Yeah, but you love me for it.” Bucky replied, slightly hesitant.
“I do” Steve replied, barely above a whisper.

They sat quietly, not sure how to continue the conversation after that confession. After an awkward moment, Bucky shifted his position to face Steve, and impulsively leaned in and pressed his lips to Steve’s before pulling away. Before he could get too far away though, Steve’s hand was on his lower back, pulling him close again and kissing him back. It started out slow and chaste, both of them testing it out, but before long Bucky was shifting again, pulling himself upright and into Steve’s lap with his hand on his shoulder. Steve grabbed Bucky’s hips with both hands, holding him in his lap somewhat possessively and kissing him again more deeply this time, running his tongue along Bucky’s lower lip.

After several minutes of making out like teenagers, exploring each others mouths with their tongues and running hands over backs and chests, Bucky pulled back again.
“Clint is going to give me so much shit when he finds out about this” he announced, slightly out of breath. “He already accused me of wanting to fuck you, and I don’t think he believed me when I said we weren’t.”
Steve laughed slightly. “And do you? Want to fuck me?” he asked with a grin.
“Maybe?” Bucky replied, blushing slightly. “I mean uh, I haven’t since…” He trailed off embarrassed, looking toward his left and waving his stump in explanation.
“And there’s nothing wrong with that. You had to learn how to be you again, on your own.” Steve said, smiling encouragingly at Bucky. “We don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for. I’m not going to push you. Though I’ll admit I’ve wanted to kiss you since the day we met.”
Bucky kissed Steve chastely on the lips again, and leaned forward to bury his face into the crook of his neck and shoulder with a sigh. “I’ve wanted to kiss you too, but I didn’t want to mess things up” Bucky replied. Steve felt him relax again as he began running his fingers through Bucky’s hair again.
“Come to bed with me?” Steve whispered into Bucky’s ear. “Just to sleep. We don’t have to do anything, but I don’t want to sleep alone anymore.”
Bucky nodded into Steve’s shoulder before climbing out of his lap and standing, hand extended to pull Steve off the couch, and led him into Steve’s bedroom.

 

Bucky was the first to wake the next morning, feeling slightly confused, yet more rested than he had in years. There was a warm weight across his stomach, pinning him down slightly, and he wasn’t in his own bed, but that was all ok. After a moment, he was awake enough to remember the night before, and kissing Steve, and looked over to see him still peacefully sleeping at his left side. He pulled his arm out from under the blankets, and gently stroked his hand, hoping to wake him up. Instead, Steve just rolled over onto Bucky, holding on tighter and using him as a pillow.

“Hey, Stevie.” Bucky said quietly into his ear, “wake up babe.”
Steve shifted slightly with a moan, and after a moment opened his eyes, seeming surprised to find himself half on top of Bucky.
“Good morning.” Steve half mumbled, voice sounding rough as he looked up at Bucky.
“Sleep well?” Bucky asked, smiling at him.
Steve just nodded, and shifted again to press even closer into Bucky’s side, gently running his hand down his ribs. “You’re comfy, don’t want to get up yet.” he mumbled.
“Fine with me, I have today off anyway.” Bucky answered, wrapping his arm around Steve and kissing the top of his head.

They spent the next half hour in bed, just holding each other and slowly exploring each others bodies with gentle touches and kisses. Eventually, Steve’s stomach growled loudly, ruining the mood.
“I think it’s breakfast time.” Bucky announced with a laugh.
“It’s almost noon,” Steve pointed out, glancing over at the clock, “I think most people would say it’s lunch time.”
“Let’s go to the diner down the block, they serve breakfast all day.” Bucky suggested.
Steve nodded in agreement as his stomach growled again.

 

“Ugh, I’m so full” Bucky groaned as he poked at the last half pancake on his plate.
Steve just grinned and reached across the table to snag it off Bucky’s plate, shoving it into his mouth in one bite. His cheeks were puffed out, and he was still grinning as he struggled to chew.
“How do you still have room?” Bucky asked incredulously, having already watched Steve put away a massive omelet with toast and potatoes on the side.
Steve just shrugged as he finally managed to swallow the pancake.
“I don’t know, I’ve always had a fast metabolism. My mom used to force me to drink protein shakes all the time to try to get me to gain weight, but It never really did much.” Steve explained.
“So you're just one of those obnoxious people who can eat whatever and never get fat?” Bucky asked, sounding slightly annoyed.
“Yup.” Steve answered. “People kept telling me that it wouldn’t last, and that once I turn 30 it would all change, but I’m 30 now and still skinny without ever working out.”
“You don’t think riding your bike every day counts as a workout? You’ve gotta be doing at least 10 miles a day.” Bucky argued
Steve just shrugged again “Maybe.” He answered. “I’ve been riding everywhere for years, here and in Chicago, so I don’t really think of it as a workout, just my mode of transportation.”
“Now you’re even more annoying, working out everyday and thinking of it as nothing.” Bucky replied.

Their conversation was ended by their server coming to clear plates and leaving them the check, which Bucky snatched up before Steve could even glance at it.
“My idea, I got this one.” He said, heading over to the cashier.
Steve waited by the door, and took Bucky’s hand in his as soon as they were outside.
“Thanks for breakfast” Steve said, leaning in for a quick kiss before they started walking back to the apartment.
“So what now?” Bucky asked as they walked. “Any plans for the afternoon?”
“Yeah, I gotta go to work for a little bit today” Steve answered sounding disappointed. “I have a few more things to finish before I meet with Tom and Natasha tomorrow to go over the website design. Tom insisted on having us come to the restaurant and making it a lunch meeting, so maybe I’ll get to see you in boss mode tomorrow.”
“Possibly.” Bucky replied “What time is your meeting?”
“Two-thirty.” Steve answered, “kind of a late lunch”
“Sort of” Bucky answered, “But it’s past our usual lunch rush when the restaurant is generally pretty dead. You’re more likely to see me stuck at my desk behind the mountain of paperwork I’ve been avoiding than in boss mode.”
“That doesn’t sound fun.” Steve replied. “I think I’m going to head into work now and get it over with, so I should be back home by 10 tonight. It will totally confuse Phil to see me at my desk before dark too, so that's a fun bonus.”
“That’s smart.” Bucky replied, “Good strategy. I may not let you leave if you wait too long.”

Chapter Text

Steve and Natasha walked into Asgardia the next afternoon to see Tom coming out of the kitchen with a tray loaded with food, grinning when he saw them.
“Friends!” He called to them, “your timing is perfect! Follow me and we will eat while we talk.”

He led them to a table in the corner with a dark red curtain around it for privacy, and began unloading plate after plate of food from the tray he was carrying. It looked like he had just gone down the restaraunt line and randomly assembled a feast of slider burgers, pita bread and dip, grilled sandwiches, caprese salad with bright red tomatoes, a basket of chicken wings, and fries among a few other things.

“Sit down, eat, we will get to business after” Thor told them, gesturing toward the table. “Bucky and Clint will be joining us soon.”

“Gladly, Tom, this all looks amazing, as usual.” Natasha said, picking up half a sandwich as she slid into a chair.

“Yeah, wow.” Steve said, staring at the heaping plates in the table in front of him, “I mean, Thanks, Tom.” He sat down next to Natasha, unable to decide what to try first when Bucky slipped through the curtain and sat down at the head of the table next to Steve.

“What have we got today Tom?” Bucky asked, eyeing the spread. “I see you made enough food to feed an army again.”

“I made enough to feed my whole staff today.” Tom replied “You know Sif and the boys are back there waiting for us to finish so they can eat the leftovers.”

Bucky just shook his head, grabbing half a panini off the table.
“You could just leave half in the kitchen for them in the first place.”
“Ah, it’s better this way.” Tom scoffed “Can’t have them thinking I’m spoiling them, can I?”

Steve smiled as he loaded up his plate with a little bit of everything, listening to Bucky and Tom’s conversation. It was clear that it was an argument that they had had many times before, and Steve noticed that they sounded like family as they argued.

“So this is really good.” Bucky announced, holding up half a sandwich. “What is it, pulled pork, muenster, caramelized onion and roasted tomato? Can we put it on the menu?”

“You guessed it all correctly” Tom replied. “That was my idea, make it next weeks lunch special to see how it does.”

About 20 minutes later, Clint had joined the group, and everyone had eaten their fill from Tom's lunch meeting banquet (which Steve had learned was fairly normal for when Tom hosted meetings at the restaurant), Sif and a couple of other cooks and slipped in and happily cleared the remainder of the food back to the kitchen, where they were happily taking care of the leftovers.

“Shall we get to business?” Tom asked, snapping everyone out the food comas they were all slipping into. “Ok, then” he continued once everyone appeared to be sitting up and awake again, “Jane and I have a date set for the first fundraising event for our next project with the now official Midgard Foundation.”

“What makes it official?” Clint asked, half raising his hand.

“We have a logo now! And business cards, and a website!” Tom explained excitedly, and Clint just nodded in response, looking sorry to have asked.

“Technically you have a URL and server space, it just says coming soon right now.” Natasha corrected, already sounding slightly exasperated.

“But soon! It will be a website soon with Steve's wonderful art!” Tom exclaimed, still overly excited about the whole thing.

“Ok, so this event. The one that’s supposed to be in 3 weeks, let’s get back to that.” Bucky interrupted, trying to get Tom back on track. “What’s the marketing plan?”

“Facebook, instagram and twitter accounts have been set up for the foundation with Steve's art as headers, for the foundation, as well as individual accounts for the Thor, Loki, and Jane characters.” Natasha replied, getting to business. “We can use the profiles to promote the event, and simultaneously introduce the characters.”

“Sounds good, I assume were doing a poster also?” Steve asked, looking up from the sketchbook he had pulled out. He was sketching, as he usually did during meetings like, and had a pretty detailed drawing of Thor in an apron, holding a spatula.

Natasha just nodded.

“OK, so I’ll make sure to design digital versions as well for all the social media platforms.” Steve said, nodding. “I’m not sure I’m clear on the whole Idea though. Can you summarize the project and fundraiser?” He asked, looking toward Tom.

“Of course!” Tom replied. “We are building a community kitchen. I want a space that will be available to everyone and offer cooking classes, community dinners, and a place people can rent out for personal projects that may be too big for a home kitchen.”

“Personal projects?” Steve asked?

“Yeah, to help people launch a business for example, or to make food to sell at a farmers market. Say you are a baker, and someone orders 1000 cupcakes. You could rent out the kitchen to bake them, and be able to work more efficiently than a home kitchen. It would also meet health code requirements as a production space for meals on wheels type programs.” Tom explained.

“That sounds pretty cool.” Steve replied “And the fundraiser?” He asked.

“Standard fixed menu fundraiser” Bucky replied, handing a stack of notes over to Steve. “All profits from select special items will go toward the purchase of the kitchen. This is the food and drink menu Clint and I came up with.”

“There will also be a cover at the door, which will all go to the foundation and a couple local bands and a dj will be playing that night. “ Clint continued.

They continued talking about the event plans for a while, and Steve had several pages of sketches for poster ideas by the time Clint and Bucky left, and Tom, Natasha and Steve moved on to the website design. They worked out the details for a donation page, calendar of upcoming events, and a forum where people could share news of other events going on the community.

“I don’t want to ignore other groups in Brooklyn who are also doing good work for the community” Tom had explained, “and people should have a place to ask for help if they need it, even if the Midgard Foundation can’t help, someone else may be able to.”

They were talking about the comic, both as a web version and a printed book that would double as the foundation newsletter, when Bucky came back into the room.
“Hey chef, sorry to interrupt, but it’s 5:30, and were starting to fill up for dinner.” he announced. “I think Sif would appreciate your help on the line soon too. We have a 15-top on the books for 6:00”

They all looked up at Bucky, surprised to have been talking for 3 hours.

“I think Steve and I definitely have enough information here to get started.” Natasha said, standing and gathering her notes. “We’ll be in touch as soon as we have something solid to show you.”

“Of course, sorry to have kept you so long.” Thor apologized, standing as well. “Bucky is right, I really should be getting to my crew.”

“Have a great night.” Steve said, waving awkwardly as Tom left the room.

Steve and Natasha were almost out the door, when Bucky called to them from the bar area.
“Hold on a sec!” he yelled, and came over to them. “I need to borrow him for a moment.” He said, grabbing Steve’s arm and dragging him away from the exit.

Natasha just shook her head and smiled, “You better not keep me waiting too long, Rogers!” she called to them.

Bucky led him through a door near the bar marked ‘employees only’ and down a hall to a small office, where he shut the door. He let go of Steves arm, and pressed his palm to the center of Steve’s chest instead, forcing him backwards until he was sitting on the edge of the desk.
“Hi.” He finally said, stepping close between Steve’s legs and smiling. “It was killing me to have to sit next to you and be professional like that.”

Steve grinned, spreading his legs wider and putting an arm around Bucky’s waist.
“Oh yeah?” He replied “And what are you going to do about it now?”

Bucky replied by grabbing the back of Steves neck and pulling him close for a kiss. Steve instantly responded, opening his mouth into the kiss and pulling Bucky’s hips into his and grinding like they were in high school.

After a moment, Bucky pulled back, breaking contact and leaving Steve nearly gasping.

“I need to get back to work, and I don't think we want to keep Natasha waiting any longer” Bucky said, managing to sound casual despite his swollen lips.

“Yeah… no, i want to stay on her good side.” Steve managed to reply. “I guess I’ll see you at home later then”

Bucky walked Steve back to the door, pointedly ignoring Clint and Dum Dum who were making lewd gestures from behind the bar as they walked by, and to Natasha who was standing with her arms crossed, grinning at them.

Chapter Text

“Come on guys” Bucky called out with a sigh, “I thought you were supposed to be warriors here, now get it together.”
There was a new guy on the egg station, some kid fresh out of culinary school who had yet to work with Bucky. Eggman just rolled his eyes, and turned back to the omelet in the single pan he had on the range.
“How many omelets do you have all day?” Bucky asked the kid, struggling to keep his cool.
“Uh....” Eggman turned around, studying the tickets for a moment. “3 omelets.” He answered.
“Exactly. 3 omelets on the board, as well as 5 mixed plates looking for 3 scramblers and 2 easy’s. So what the hell are you doing with a single pan and and empty flat top? Pour on some of that egg mix and grab another pan, and get it working!” Bucky yelled through the pass. The other 2 cooks looked up from their pancakes,and sausage, and fruit plates with a smirk of agreement. The kid was awful, and he had no idea.

Bucky watched through the pass window from the expo station with his arm across his chest, and wishing he had a second arm to cross so he would look appropriately threatening. Eggman looked nervous as he set another pan on the range top and turned on the gas.
“Heard.” He eventually mumbled.
“I didn’t quite hear that.” Bucky called back.
“HEARD”. Eggman repeatedly, louder that time, voice shaking slightly.
“That should have been Heard, Chef” Bucky corrected. “Now don’t make me come back there and do a better job with one arm than you seem capable of doing with 2.”
“Yes, Chef.” Egg man replied, sounding appropriately terrified.

“Chef!” Another cook called from the line, placing several smoothies into the window, next to the yogurt parfaits and oatmeal plates that were still waiting on eggs. “Table 3 is ready to sell. And so is 117. Minute out on 120.”

“Heard.” Bucky replied, pulled the smoothies on at a time on the tray, and called “Runner.”

He nearly laughed when a 17 year old busboy leapt to his side, ready to take the tray, also looking slightly terrified. “Where to, Chef?” He asked

It was a busy service, with the kitchen in the weeds for most of it. Clint had run past for more Orange Juice and Bloody Mary Mix at least 3 times, and Buckys voice was getting hoarse from nearly yelling all morning, directing the show.

“Eggman!” Bucky yelled, again “How long on a greek for 27. These Benny’s are about to die.” The guy in the middle, who had put the 2 plates of Eggs Benedict in the window nearly 5 minutes before looked over hopefully.
“Plating now, Chef.” Eggman replied, and for a moment, Bucky didn’t hate the kid. At least he was making 2-3 items at a time now instead of 1. It was some progress at least.

Bucky stood back for a moment, watching as the guys on the line scrambled to put out the final plates. The board was only a few tickets from cleared, and Brunch was finally over so no new ones would be coming in. Or at least there shouldn’t be anymore. They looked tired, which wasn’t surprising considering the restaurant had just been unusually busy for a Sunday Brunch and they had gotten slapped. Rolled on. Put through hell with the never ending special requests.

“Hey” Bucky said quietly, nudging the bus boy who had been standing nearby, ready to run the next order out to the dining room. “Get a round of waters for the line.”

The kid ran off with a nod and started filling cups with ice water and straws. Bucky smiled at him was he stepped back to the window, remembering how there was nothing better than being handed a cold drink at the end of service. The guys had fought hard that morning.

“Good push guys, Keep it going.” Bucky encouraged “Just a few more plates and we’re clear.”

He spotted a complete ticket, all four plates needed to serve a table, and began pulling the plates down onto a tray, adding bits of fruit or herbs to garnish the plate, and wiping the edges of the plate clean. The busboy had returned with 3 cups of water, and Bucky sent him off again to deliver the food.

Later on, once the final diners had received their food, the cooks would walk off the line for a break, waters in hand as they headed to the back alley. They would sit on milk crates, or lean against the wall doing absolutely nothing besides smoking a cigarette. And they would talk shit, about eachother, and the servers, and the customers with their damn Sauce on the Side requests making things more complicated. And then 10 short minutes later, they would be back inside, eating left over bacon, and the plates of pancakes and french toast that would inevitably be left in the window, an extra someone had made by accident, while they cleaned up, and got ready to prep for the next day, when they would do it all over again.

“You miss it, don’t you.” Clint stated, leaning up against the counter next to Bucky.
“Huh?” Bucky questioned, snapping out of his day dream. He had been standing in the corner of the kitchen staring off at the empty line. He was tired, and his head hurt.
“You miss being back there.” Clint repeated.
Bucky sighed, lifting his hand to his forehead. He groaned slightly (‘because fuck, his head was starting to feel like a migraine was coming.)
“Yeah, I miss it. It’s just not the same from this side. And hanging out with Sif and the guys at night, making some plates one handed with them while it’s super slow is fun, but I couldn’t do it for real. I would slow them down way too much.”
Clint just nodded, not responding for a moment because he wasn’t sure what to say.
“They still look up to you, you know.” Clint reminded him. “You're still their leader even if you can’t be there with them. Sif may be their sous chef now, but you were hers and that still means something.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Bucky mumbled in agreement, slumping down further into his hand.

“You alright?” Clint asked, sounding concerned.
“Yeah, headache.” Bucky told him.
“Eat some bacon.” Clint suggested, reaching for the pan in the window. “And drink some orange juice. And then go home.”
“Home?” Bucky questioned. “No, I’m fine. And besides, I still need too…”
“Nope. You don’t need too.” Clint interrupted. “Tom and Sif will be in soon to get set up for dinner, and Scott will be here soon too, he can run all the reports and close out the servers when he gets here. You need to go take a nap, or go fuck Steve, I don’t care, just go be horizontal for a while before you ruin yourself for game night.”

Bucky was about to protest, when Scott walked through the door.
“Good, Scott, you're here.” Clint said, before Bucky could get a word in. “Bucky’s gotta duck out early to take care of some things, so you can take care of brunch reports, right?”
“Yeah.” Scott replied, caught off guard. “Of course, Go. I’ll be here taking care of things, so you can be somewhere else, also taking care of things.” He trailed off, and then stood looking at them for a moment. “Alright then.” He eventually said, and took off to the office.

Bucky and Clint struggled not to laugh. Scott was a good guy, and was generally good at his job, but his awkwardness never ceased to be amusing to them.

“This is where you say “Thank you, Clint’ and then go get your jacket from your office, and do nothing else while you are in there, and go home.” Clint demanded once Scott was gone.

“Fine” Bucky said with a sigh. “Thank you, Clint.” and then he went to his office, grabbed his jacket, and went home.

--------------------------

Steve was laying back on the couch, sketchbook rested on his knee as he lazily drew rough ideas for the poster layout he needed to design. While he had taken various graphic design classes in school, he was really more of an illustrator, and struggled with typography. The number of words he had to fit into this poster was getting annoying. He had scribbled out the page and was about to rip it out of the book when he heard the door to the apartment. He heard fabric rusting as Bucky took off his shoes and jacket, and set the sketchbook and pencil down on the floor.

 

“Hey Babe” Steve called out in greeting as Bucky came into the room. His hair was out of its usual messy bun and hanging down in his face. He looked exhausted, eyes glassy as he shuffled toward Steve and let himself fall down, half catching himself with a hand near Steve's shoulder before plastering himself on top of him, face smushed into his neck with a groan.

“Ugh.. Buck.” Steve grunted as he suddenly took all of Bucky’s weight on top of him. “Whats up?” He asked concerned when Bucky didn’t move.

Bucky just mumbled something incoherent into his neck.

“I can’t understand you like that babe” Steve told him, reaching down to gently brush the hair out of Bucky’s face. “What's wrong?” he asked again.

Bucky groaned again, and then lifted his head slightly toward Steve
“Brunch is the worst invention ever and my head hurts.” He said, and burrowed his head back into Steve's neck.

Steve just sighed, resigned to the idea that Bucky was having a bad day, and he would now be taking care of him. Something bigger was bothering him, but Steve wasn't sure exactly what. He was fine with it, happy almost that Bucky had had come to him for comfort, but he had been planning on getting other things done. Steve just stroked his hair for a moment, other hand resting on Buckys back, and felt him relax slightly at the touch.

“What do need?” Steve asked. “Food? Water? Pills? A nap?” He kind of felt like he was dealing with a cranky child.

“Tylenol” Bucky mumbled.

“Ok” Steve replied, “I can get it for you, but you gotta move and let me up.”

Bucky pushed himself up off Steve, balancing on his knees and hand for a moment so Steve could slip out from underneath him and then flopped back down onto the couch with another groan.

Quickly, Steve went to the bathroom and took a couple pills from the bottle and then went into the kitchen to fill up a glass of water. He also grabbed a handful of cookies out of a bakery box on his way back to Bucky, guessing he hadn’t eaten much that day. He set the pills and water and cookies down on the coffee table and sat on the edge of the couch, nudging Bucky who was still sprawled face down.

“You gotta sit up a sec.” he explained gently stroking Bucky’s back. With yet another groan (making Steve wonder slightly if he was playing it up for attention) Bucky turned and sat up slightly, somewhat wedged against the back corner of the couch, and upright just enough to be able to drink water. He took the pills from Steve, popping them into his mouth, and reached again to take the water to chase them down.

“And a cookie?” Steve asked hopefully, holding one out to him.
“Ugh, no, I can’t right now.” He whined, turning away from the cookie.
“Come on, just a bite. You need something in your stomach with that Tylenol.” Steve pleaded.
Glaring, Bucky snatched the cookie out of Steves hand and took a small bite. He slowly ate the whole thing, grimacing slightly as he chewed and swallowed. Steve understood the slight nausea that Bucky was fighting back.

“Smoke a little?” Steve suggested, remembering the half a joint that should still be on the table somewhere. “Joint?”

Bucky just nodded, sitting up the slightest bit more as Steve managed to find the joint and a lighter. He lit it, taking a hit to get it cherried and passed it to Bucky. Bucky took a few small hits and passed it back. It wasn’t long before they finished it, and smothered the remaining sparks into the ashtray.

Bucky looked up at Steve, appearing slightly less tortured now that the weed was taking effect.
“Take a nap with me?” He asked shyly.
“Of course.” Steve answered with a sad smile. “Do you want to stay here, or go to the bed?”
“Here.” Bucky replied, “and this off, first.” He demanded, tugging at his tie and the collar of his button down shirt.
“Let me get that for you” he offered, reaching up to loosen Bucky’s tie. Bucky just dropped his his hand to allow Steve access, surrendering. Steve made quick work of the buttons, and knot, and was soon pulling the tie up and over his head, and pushing the shirt back off of Bucky’s shoulders leaving him in a t-shirt.

He tossed the shirt and tie onto the chair, and laid back onto the couch again, reaching up to gently pull Bucky down next to him. Bucky snuggled in next to Steve, wedged slightly against the back of the couch, with his arm across stomach and head on his chest. They shifted slightly, getting comfortable, and it wasn’t long before Bucky’s breathing evened out and he was asleep.

Steve picked the TV remote, and flipped to the history channel with the volume turned down low, and started watching a WWII documentary on the Nazi’s secret scientific research, as he drifted in and out of sleep.

 

------------------

Steve had been asleep for over an hour when his phone vibrated loudly on the coffee table with a text from Clint, jolting him awake.
Clint- Hows Bucky feeling? We still on for game night?
Steve- Not sure, he's been asleep for a few hours. I’ll find out and let you know.
Clint- NO! Don't wake him up! We can reschedule.
Steve- I was about to wake him up anyway. He’s on top of me and I have to pee.
Clint- of course he is.

Steve put his phone back on the table, and began stroking his fingers through Buckys hair, and ran a thumb along his ear, making Bucky shiver slightly and curl further into Steve's chest and shoulder with a soft moan. Steve laughed softly leaned down, struggling to bend enough to press a gentle kiss to Bucky’s forehead, and only just managing. Between his fused spine, and the way Bucky was pinning him down, he could really only move his left arm, which luckily was the side the table was on.

He stroked at Bucky’s ear, making him twitch again as he used his nail, barely scratching. He then pinched Bucky’s earlobe, and laughed when Bucky’s eyes shot open, instantly glaring at him.

 

“Did you just pinch me?” Bucky asked, confused.
Steve just shrugged his shoulder, raising an eyebrow and grinning.
Bucky just shook his head and continued to glare at Steve.
“You’re such a punk sometimes.” Bucky said, face softening.
“Whatever, jerk.” Steve replied. “Now get up here so I can kiss you.”

Bucky shifted onto his stomach, and further onto Steve, and grabbed his shoulder to pull himself up to eye level. He smiled at Steve for a moment, hovering over him, his loose hair forming a curtain around both of their faces, and then ducked down to press his lips to Steve’s. He kissed him deliberately for a long moment, and then abruptly popped his head back up, leaving Steve gasping.

“Is that what you woke me up for?” Bucky asked with a grin.
“I had other reasons as well.” Steve answered, a bit flustered. “Clint texted about game night, and I need you to let me up so I can pee. Soon.”

Bucky continued staring at Steve, grinning a way that made him nervous. Without warning, Bucky dropped his head and hand his mouth on Steve’s again, more aggressive this time with biting and sucking on Steve's lip. Steve moaned into the kiss, tightening his grip on Bucky's hips. Bucky shifted again, as he teased at Steve's lower lip with his tongue, and ground his hips sharply into Steves.

Steve gasped, throwing his head back and then cringed slightly as Bucky continued to writhe on top of him, putting pressure on his stomach.
“Bucky……” He grunted. “Stop.”
Bucky pulled back immediately, looking down at Steve again.
“What, babe? What did I do?” Bucky asked, worried.
“Gonna make me pee my pants if you do that again.” He answered, smiling. “So time out. And let me up.”
Bucky lifted himself onto his hands and knees, and moved to sit at Steve’s feet, laughing as Steve scrambled off the couch and ran for the bathroom.

Steve was back quickly, and sat down on the couch. Bucky leaned in slightly, like he was ready to tackle him back down on to the couch, when Steve held up his hand.
“Hold on.” Steve said with a warning. “Were still on time out.”
Bucky leaned back again with a huff, slouching into the corner of the couch and glared again.
“How’s your head, for real.” He Steve questioned. “I’m guessing you’re feeling better, but are you still up for 4 more people and game night in a couple hours.”
Bucky just nodded, looking down at the couch cushion and running a finger along a seam.
“You’re going to have to be more convincing, babe.” Steve told him, putting a hand on Bucky’s knee. “No one is going to be mad if you want to cancel cause your head hurts too much. They get it. They’d prefer you taking care of yourself.”
“Ha.” Bucky replied, with a short laugh. “You’re one to talk. You know people get it when your back hurts too.” he accused. “The ones you let know about it anyway.” It annoyed Bucky, a little bit, that Steve could hide his disability most of the time. He knew it didn’t make it any easier to deal with, but you couldn’t hide a missing limb the same way, and avoid the assumptions.

Steve just sighed in defeat. “You’re right.” He admitted. “I’m equally stubborn and keep secrets about my pain.” he looked almost apologetic, smiling softly at Bucky. “But that’s not the point. I’m just saying, we can play Munchkin another time and have a quiet night with just the two of us instead if you want. We can go to bed at 9 o’clock like we’re 100 year old men if you want.”

Bucky nodded again, looking at Steve this time. “Movie night with everyone, and reschedule Munchkin.” Bucky announced after a long moment. He figured he could sleep during the movie if his headache didn’t go away. It was better, but not gone.

“Sounds good.” Steve replied, recognising the out that Bucky was giving himself incase he needed it. “Let Clint know, and I’ll tell Sam.” He reached for his phone, and started typing out the message when he paused and looked over at Bucky, who was still sitting in a bit of a daze. “And then timeout can be over.” He said with a smirk, laughing as Bucky suddenly scrambled to pull his phone from his pocket.

Steve finished his text first, telling Sam and Natasha to come over in an hour or so, and tossed his phone back onto the table. “We have an hour till they will be here.” Steve announced, eyeing Bucky as he finished his own text and put his own phone on the table. Steve was ready for it this time when bucky shoved him back down onto the couch, collapsing onto his side and then rolling onto his back as Bucky climbed into his lap straddling his hips, hand pressed on Steve’s chest.

Steve rested his hands on Bucky’s waist, slipping his fingers under Bucky’s shirt and gently stroking along his ribs, making him arch is back and gasp, grinding into his hips into Steve's and adding friction to their already hard cocks.
“Shirt off?” He asked through a gasp as Bucky ground his hips sharply again, fingers on the hem of Bucky’s shirt.

Bucky stilled a moment, hesitating as he looked at Steve, and then nodded. Despite the number of times Steve had touched Bucky’s left shoulder and stump through a shirt, he hadn’t actually seen it yet. Steve lifted the shirt up, and Bucky leaned forward slightly with his arm up to make it easier for Steve to remove it.

Steve looked back and forth between Bucky’s eyes and left side, hand hovering over the biggest scar, asking permission. Bucky just nodded, and leaned forward slightly, making it easier for Steve to see. The shoulder was still fully intact, though not muscled the same as the right, and the stump was a few inches long tapered to a rounded cone shape, with a think pink scar running from his collarbone and down the outside of the stump. It curled around underneath, leaving a groove like in a peach, and puckered slightly near his armpit. There was a cross hatched mess of scars around his shoulder and across his chest, from where the metal and glass bits from the car had cut in, trapping him. Steves eyes darted across bucky’s chest and shoulder, as he ran a thumb over some of the thickest scars. It wasn’t long before he was looking back at Bucky’s eyes with a soft smile, and grabbing Bucky by the back of the neck, pulling him closer.

Bucky moved his hand to balance better, planting it on the couch next to Steve’s head as he leaned down to kiss Steve. Steve lifted his hips, attempting to arch up into Bucky as he grabbed Bucky’s hip and helped him balance as the kiss deepened. They tugged at each other until they were pressed together again, desperately clinging to each other as they kissed.

Suddenly, Bucky sat up, pulling away from Steve and leaving him gasping in confusion.

“Sorry.” Bucky said with a grin. “Super quick time out.” He leaned over to the table and grabbed his phone. “Im setting a timer for 15 minutes before everyone gets here, so nobody gets a free show tonight. We have 37 minutes.”
He tossed his phone back onto the table, and grinned back down at Steve, who was staring up at him, still breathing heavy with swollen lips and blown pupils.
“I love you, jerk.” Steve said, still staring up with at Bucky with a dopey grin.
“I love you too, punk” Bucky said, smiling back, looking equally wrecked. “So how about we do something about this?” He suggested, palming Steve’s groin.

Steve groaned, pushing his hips up into Bucky’s hand, encouraging him. Bucky slid his hand up to the button of Steve's pants, fingering at the fabric around the hole, struggling to open it. Steve reached down, holding the brass button in place so that bucky could pull off the loop.
“Harder from this angle” Bucky mumbled as he pulled the zipper down.

“Down” Bucky demanded tugging at the waist of steves pants from one side, and glanced at Steve's hand, signalling he should help. Bucky had grabbed the waistband of Steve’s boxers briefs as well, causing his cock to flop onto his stomach once the fabric was no longer restraining it.

Bucky looked down appreciatively, pushing Steve's shirt up off his stomach, and then ran a single finger up the underside of his cock, making him gasp as he jerked his hips. He was about to grab Steve's full cock in his fist, when Steve nudged his hand away, going for Bucky’s own fly.
“You too” Steve insisted. “Gotta take care of both of us.” He smoothly had Bucky’s pants open, and waistband of his boxers pulled down, and it was Bucky’s turn to gasp as Steve took Buckys cock in hand. It was already shiny with precome, and Steve grinned as he felt it twitch in his hand as he stroked rhythmically, circling his thumb over the tip.

Bucky reached out to grab Steve's shoulder, throwing his head back in a moan, and tried to pull Steve closer.
“Too far away.” away Bucky moaned, hips twitching as Steve began playing with his balls.

Letting go of Bucky’s cock for a moment, Steve sat up against the edge of the couch, planting his hands down by his hip to slide backfurther, and pulled his pants further down in the process. Bucky scooted forward, straddling Steves legs so their cocks and stomachs were nearly touching.

Steve grabbed both of their cocks in one hand, squeezing them together as he stroked. Bucky grabbed Steve by the back of the neck, pulling him into a rough kiss as he continued to writhe in Steve’s lap. They were both gasping as Steve increased the speed, squeezing more firmly with each stroke. Steve pulled his hand away, placing it on Bucky’s lower back and pulling him closer, bucking his hips again as there cocks ground together, trapped between their stomachs.

Bucky tightened his grip across Steve's shoulders, pulling him even closer as he kissed along Steve's neck, sucking slightly behind his ear and tracing patterns with his tongue. Steve threw back his head with a groan, hips twitching again. After a moment of teasing, Steve felt Bucky's teeth on his neck, biting down ever so gently as he thrust his hips again, cock grinding against Steves.

Steve tensed up with a gasp, and then moaned as he came, trembling and twitching as he shot warm stick come between their stomachs. Bucky wasn’t far behind, thrusting again as Steve grabbed his ass, moaning and bucking as he added to the mess on their stomachs.

They sat together, Steve leaning against the arm of the couch with Bucky slumped in his lap, head resting on Steve's shoulder, arms loosely draped around each other, until the alarm on Bucky’s phone went off, reminding them that company was coming.

Chapter Text

Steve and Bucky had cleaned up and changed clothes, and were back on the couch by the time Clint and Phil arrived.

“Is it safe?” Clint called out through the door he had cautiously opened the slightest bit. “Is everyone decent?”

“Yes Clint, you missed out on naked time.” Bucky yelled back. Steve blushed slightly.

“Hi Sir, Clint.” Steve greeted awkwardly as Clint and Phil came into the room with chips and soda.

“Hi Guys.” Phil replied, waving slightly. “You know, Steve, just because I’m technically your boss doesn’t mean you have to call me Sir. Even at work.”

Steve just nodded, still looking uncomfortable. Phil knew what they had been up too, he had to know. Somehow Phil knew everything, and he didn’t think he could blame it all on Clint.

“So, head still hurting?” Clint asked Bucky, as he and Phil squeezed into the smaller second couch, slightly entwined and looking surprisingly like they belonged like that. Steve had now seen, but still wasn’t ready to believe.

“Yeah.” Bucky answered with a sigh “Better than it was at work earlier though. I’m good for movie watching.”

Bucky knew it wasn’t worth lying about, not to Clint at least who knew him too well after the years they had been roommates. He was glad, however, to be getting the inevitable conversation out of the way before Sam and Natasha arrived.

“Ok.” Clint replied with a quick nod, letting Bucky know the conversation wasn’t actually over.

There was a knock at the door, forcing a change in topic, and Steve looked slightly relieved as he got up to let Sam and Nat in. They had also brought snacks, passing over a bag of cheese and crackers, and cookies as they entered the apartment. Steve slipped into the kitchen to put the cheese in the fridge while they took off shoes and coats.

“Everyone” Steve announced, “This is my best friend Sam, and his girlfriend Natasha.” Natasha just smirked as Steve introduced them to everyone, forgetting that Natasha already knew everyone. Sam, however, did not and greeted everyone with a polite handshake as Steve went around the room.

Bucky actually stood for the introduction and extending his hand, fighting back a grin when he heard the word boyfriend before his name. Steve got a little nervous when he noticed that Sam and Bucky were glaring at each other, holding onto each others hands in a tight grip. Sam broke first with a sharp laugh and wide grin as he pulled his hand back.
“So you’re the reason I’ve barely seen my best friend in months.” he said, accusingly.
“Thats right.” Bucky answered, grinning back. “And you’re not getting him back.”
“I figured that” Sam said with a shrug. “Just try to share a little more?”
“I’ll think about it.” Bucky replied.

And then they were hugging. Steve stood in the corner, still nervous about his best friend and boyfriend meeting, and had no idea how to react.
“Relax, Steve.” Natasha said “I don’t think they are going to kill each other. Not tonight, at least.”

Phil was the one who broke the tension in the end, telling everyone to sit down and get comfortable so they could decide on a movie. Before everyone was sitting though, Clint was on his feet and dragging Steve to the kitchen to organize snacks.

“So, how’s he really doing?” Clint asked quietly once they were in the kitchen.
“I don’t know.” Steve admitted with a sigh. He had pulled out a knife and was starting to cut the cheese Natasha had brought, arranging the slices on a plate while Clint opened up packages of crackers and dip.
“He came home and basically collapsed on top of me on the couch mumbling about how much he hates brunch and that his head hurt. I got him to eat a cookie and take a few tylenol before he fell asleep, but he didn’t say much else.”
“Sounds about right.” Clint said with a nod and a frown. “I had to practically force him to leave as soon as brunch was over. He protested of course, but….” he trailed off, not needing to finish the explanation.
“It’s more than just a headache, isn’t it.” Steve stated, putting down the knife. “Did something else happen this morning?”
‘No?” Clint replied, slightly hesitant, “or maybe? He doesn’t tell me much either, but I don't think he’s always coping as well as he claims. He’s awesome at his new job, and I know he’s legitimately happy to still be working in the restaurant, but I think he misses cooking on the line more than he will admit, and i know it can’t be easy for him to have to stand back and watch some days.”
Steve just nodded in understanding, remembering how excited he had been when he was talking about being a sous chef and leading his team of cooks through a busy dinner service.
“I had a feeling it was something like that” Steve said after a moment, sounding sad.
“Try to get him to talk later?” Clint suggested. “Hopefully before he starts trying to ignore it again and goes back to being fine.”
“Yeah, I’ll try.” Steve replied, picking up the plate of cheese and crackers as Clint followed with chips and dip back into the living room.

Bucky and Nat were sitting close on the couch, laughing about something. It seemed they had quickly crossed the line from work acquaintances to actual friends, and Steve wasn’t sure how he felt about it. Sam and Phil were chatting about something in the opposite corner, Phil looking relaxed on the couch while Sam sat perched on the arm. Steve just glanced around, feeling unsure about his work life and personal life merging like this. Clint, noticing his hesitation, gave him a smile and encouraging nudge further into the room.

It wasn’t long before they were all settled into the living room again, snack plates dispersed evenly, and the debate over what movie to watch had begun. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for them to agree on watching Goonies. They had all grown up with the movie, and it was hard to resist a classic.

They started out all squished into the couches, Clint and Phil back on the smaller one, and Steve, Bucky, Sam and Natasha shoulder to shoulder on the larger.

By the time they found the treasure map in the attic, Bucky had shifted half into Steve's lap, resting his head on his shoulder. When Chunk found the freezer of ice cream, Sam moved to the floor, leaning against the couch at Natashas feet while she absentmindedly stroked his hair. Bucky, who had fallen asleep on Steve, again, woke briefly when the Goonies are trying to solve one eyed Willies piano puzzle, and shifted again so his head was in Steve's lap and his feet were in Natashas. She didn’t seem to mind, and rested an arm on his legs. Clint got up up no less than 10 times to grab another handful of snacks, half of which he fed to Phil while Steve tried not to watch, because weird. That was his boss, over there.

When the movie ended, after the Goonies found One Eyed Willies treasure and watched the ship sail out to sea, everyone quietly got up to go home, taking care to not wake Bucky. Phil and Clint were the first to leave, with a wave and a quiet “see you later”.

Sam and Natasha lingered a bit longer, reassuring Steve that the change in plans had been fine. They had still gotten to meet Bucky, and there would be other chances to hang out. Sam knew enough to understand the situation, and that despite his protests, Bucky really needed the rest.
“Lunch this week?” Steve asked Sam as they headed toward the door.
“Sounds good. I’ll let you know when I’m free.” Sam replied with a nod, and then quietly slipped out the door.

Steve sat for a few minutes in silence, running his fingers through Bucky’s hair as he stared at the TV. It was still frozen on the lists of costume and makeup crew members where they had paused the movie at the middle of the end credits. He knew that Bucky would probably complain about it but figured he should probably try to get him to eat a few crackers, since as far as he knew a cookie hours before was all he had eaten that day.

“Hey Buck.” Steve said softly, poking at his shoulder “Wake up Babe.”
Bucky just moaned, and after a moment and a few more pokes, opened his eyes. He sat up slowly, glancing around confused.
“Where’d e’rone go?” he mumbled.
“They all went home when the movie ended.” Steve explained.
Bucky sighed loudly, leaning back against the couch and glared at Steve.
“You didn’t have to make em go ‘cause of me.” He complained.
“I didn’t, they decided to leave on their own.” Steve told him.

Bucky’s face relaxed slightly as he stared across the room, trying to come up with another complaint. He couldn’t deal with the way Steve was looking at him, with a sad smile. It was almost pity, but not quite. Steve understood too well to pity him.

“Hungry?” Steve asked after a moment, pulling Bucky back to reality.
“I think so.” Bucky said, slightly hesitantly, and noticed the almost relieved look on Steve's face when he took a cracker and piece of cheese from the plate he was holding. He ate it slowly, and sighed, releasing the tension he hadn’t noticed he was carrying when it didn’t make him feel sick, and then cleaned the plate.

While Bucky ate, Steve got up and pulled Puff down from a shelf, and went to work grinding up some weed and packing a bowl. Bucky just nodded in approval as he ate and watched. They didn’t speak until they had taken a few hits each and were relaxed together on the couch.

“So, Clint mentioned you had a rough morning at work?” Steve began, hoping to get Bucky to open up a little more.

“Yeah, the new kid sucks.” Bucky replied with a groan. “Straight out of culinary school and completely useless.”

Steve laughed slightly. “How did he manage to graduate if he’s useless?” He asked, sounding confused.

“It’s how they all are. School is good for learning knife skills and some food science and recipe basics, but it's all about taking your time and making your dish pretty for a grade. They don’t teach you how to be fast and efficient, and make a dish exactly the same over and over again.” Bucky explained, beginning to rant. “But they all think they know everything, cause they have this degree, and a lot of kids graduate and then come into the kitchen thinking they are ready to run the place.”

Steve just nodded, starting to understand Bucky’s frustration.
“Did you go to school?” he asked.

“Nope.” Bucky replied with a grin. “School of hard knocks for me, babe.”

Steve looked confused again.

“I started working as a dishwasher when i was 15, and slowly worked my way up from the bottom, learning as I went from all the chefs and line cooks who kinda took me under their wing. You either take the fast track through school, or the slightly slower way and learn as you go.” Bucky told him “In the long run, it doesn’t make a difference, but there’s still discrimination in some kitchens, and chefs out there who won’t hire anyone without a degree. You just have to work a little harder to find chef’s who don’t care, and are willing to teach a little.”

“My field is kind of the same. Art school doesn’t create talent, but people still get fixated on that magical degree.” Steve told him. “ I did go to school, and I still learn from people who didn’t all the time.”

“So work sucked because new kid is worthless and school is stupid?” Steve summarized, trying to get back to the topic.

“Kinda?” Bucky answered, groaning again. “Before I would have been back on the line next to him, helping him out and kinda guiding him through service, and showing him how to do things faster, but I can’t do that now. I ended up kinda yelling at him instead, and I felt a little bit useless.”

Steve just put his arm around Bucky, and Bucky leaned in a little closer.
“Do you know how hard it is to watch someone suck at doing something you love, but can't do anymore?” Bucky asked quietly after a moment.

“Yeah, I do.” Steve answered, thinking back to his high school days. “I played baseball before my first surgery, made varsity as a Sophomore. I’ve tried to play again since, but I can’t rotate my upper body enough to get a good swing anymore, and the range of motion in my shoulder is to limited now to be able to throw with any force, so I gave it up completely. Seemed easier to not do it at all than to not be as good anymore.”

“Do you regret giving it up?” Bucky asked.

“A little, sometimes.” Steve admitted. “But when I tried to pIay again, and realized I would never bet as good as I used to be, I would get angry about it, and that just made everything worse. I started drawing more instead though. Found something else I could still be good at.”

Bucky leaned further into Steve, staying quiet. He stared off across the room as he ran his finger over a speck of paint on Steve’s jeans. It was a long moment before either of them spoke again.
“You never seem angry now.” Bucky stated.

“Heh, not really.” Steve agreed. “Not the way I used to be.”
Bucky just looked at him, like he was asking to hear more.
“I was a super moody emo kid when I met Sam, kind of the weird art school stereotype. I was pissed at the world all the time, avoiding social situations ‘cause I was convinced people would be staring at my back, even though Sam was always telling me it’s not as obvious as I believed, especially with the oversized shirts I was always wearing. I spent most of my free time in the painting studio, working on some messy, violent feeling abstracts that I would call self portraits.”

Bucky just raised an eyebrow.
“I can’t imagine you being all angry and emo.” He admitted.
“I’m sure Sam would be happy to tell you all about it.” Steve replied with sigh.
“Seriously though, how are you not more angry all the time? I can tell how often you are hurting. You’re not as good at hiding it as you think you are.”

Steve just stayed still for a long moment, gaze turned back on the end credits still displayed on the screen.

“It’s kind of hard to explain, but even though technically I’m in pain all the time, I’m not actually feeling it all the time, its like its on mute or something.” Steve sighed and furrowed his eyebrows, “Or like…” He struggled to find the words. “It’s like when there's a fan on. It’s making noise, and you hear it, but not really. It’s just there.” Steve looked up hopefully at Bucky.

“I think I understand.” Bucky said, reassuring. “If you start listening to the fan to hard, it’s all you hear, but it's easy to let it be white noise and forget.”

“Yeah.” Steve replied “It takes too much energy to notice it too much, and then have to deal with it, so I try to let it just be like, white pain, i guess you could call it. But when it gets bad though, it can be really bad, like someone threw a stick into the fan and its clattering around, and it's almost impossible to hear anything else. And that does make me angry. Sam would say that I silently fume. I put all my mental energy and anger into building a wall around my feelings. And then I shut down and freeze up, and get tense and the spasms get too bad, and well, you saw.”

“Yeah, I did.” Bucky confirms with a nod. He sat up and turned toward Steve, legs across his lap. Smiling softly, Bucky reached out to Steve, gently cupping the back of his neck and pulling him close into a quick but gentle kiss before pulling away again.

“I wasn’t angry at the kid for sucking.” Bucky stated after looking at Steve “You learn to expect that from interns after a while. It's kind of a make it or break it situation when you get on the line for the first time, and not everyone belongs in a restaurant. The worst is watching kids figure that out, and it's frustrating for everyone, but i wasn’t mad at him exactly.” Bucky stopped talking, and twined his fingers with Steves in his lap, looking down at their hands. Steve gently squeezed Bucky’s hand, waiting for him to continue.

“Sometimes I let myself believe that I’ve fully adapted to having one arm, because I’ve learned how to tie my shoes and put up my hair and cook for myself, but then I encounter a closed door while i'm holding a glass of water, and realize how difficult the most random things still are sometimes. Therapists keep telling me not to dwell on what I can't do, and focus on finding a different way to still be able to do something, but it's not always that easy.”

Bucky relaxed into Steve's touch, sighing as Steve rubbed his lower back in slow, rhythmic circles.

“I think I do the wall thing too, in my head.” Bucky continued. “Trying to convince myself that it's not worth getting mad, but I still get mad. And I think it's what makes me get headaches sometimes too, because of how anger can affect hormone and adrenaline levels and stress and all that when you’re holding it in. Sometimes I just want to scream about how unfair it is.”

“Awww, Buck.” Steve said quietly as he tightened his arm around Bucky, pulling him closer to his chest. “You can yell at me about all the stupid doorknobs and jars anytime you need.”

“And buttons.” Bucky added, voice muffled in Steve’s shoulder. “Especially the ones on shirt cuffs.”

“And buttons” Steve repeated. “Can't forget about those.”

“And you can yell too, if you need.” Bucky told him, lifting his head to look at Steve again. “If the stabby things get too intense. Or if you need icy hot and a massage, I can do that, anytime.”

Steve just looked at Bucky for a long moment with a shaky smile, before leaning down to press a kiss to his lips. Bucky relaxed further into Steve's embrace as he opened his mouth just enough to deepen the kiss. Tongues stroking lips and tongues in a familiar, safe dance. Steves lips were swollen when he pulled away, looking again into Bucky’s eyes.

“I love you, punk” Bucky whispered.
“Love you too, jerk” Steve replied. “You're allowed to have bad days and get upset sometimes, don't let anyone tell you different. None if it’s going to scare me away, ‘cause i'm here with you till the end of the line if you will let me.”
“Same here Stevie, you sappy little shit, for good days and bad, till the end of the line.” Bucky replied with a grin.

They stayed on the couch, wrapped in each other with matching goofy smiles for a while until Bucky broke the silence with a yawn. It was barely 10 pm, but they quickly decided to go to bed early, and hope that tomorrow would be better.

Chapter Text

Steve was the first to wake, rolling over to look at Bucky who was sprawled on his back, face turned toward Steve. Propping himself up on his elbow, he reached over to brush Bucky’s hair out of his face, laughing as he scrunched his nose up at the touch. Bucky didn’t wake up as Steve tucked his hair behind his ear, and ran a finger down his cheek and neck, and Steve began to wonder how deep of a sleeper he actually was. He ran his hand down Bucky’s chest, to his stomach, and slipped a hand under his t-shirt, gently running a thumb around his belly button.

Bucky moaned softly, as he spread his legs slightly and arched his back, and then sighed, relaxing back onto the mattress, still sound asleep. Steve laughed to himself, and pulled up Bucky’s t-shirt, sliding down the bed so he could begin kissing Bucky’s stomach. He started at his sternum, making his way down Bucky’s torso with soft kisses. His mouth was against Bucky’s hipbone when he felt Bucky’s hand in his hair, fingers rubbing against his scalp. He looked up at Bucky with a shy grin, to find Bucky staring back at him.

“Well don’t stop now.” Bucky groaned, voice rough.

Steve nuzzled back into Bucky’s hip, continuing to lick and kiss across his stomach, before pausing with a finger under the waistband of Bucky’s boxers, looking up at him. Bucky just nodded, looking a little desperate and lifted his hips so that Steve could pull off his boxers and toss them to the floor, exposing his half hard cock. Bucky spread his legs further as he shifted up on the bed, and Steve moved so he was kneeling down between Bucky’s legs.

Steve took Bucky’s cock in one hand, stroking gently, putting more pressure on the underside with his thumb. It wasn’t long until Bucky was fully hard and moaning. Without warning, Steve took Bucky’s dick into his mouth, and Bucky tensed up, fighting the urge to thrust his hips as Steve pressed his tongue against his shaft. Bucky moaned loudly, gripping the bedsheets in a fist as Steve licked and sucked, holding him down with a hand on each hip as Bucky writhed at the touch.

Steve slid a hand off of Bucky’s hip, and cupped his balls, squeezing gently. Bucky gasped, and lifted his head to look down at Steve.

“Stevie, no,” Bucky groaned. “Too much... “

Steve paused, looking up and making eye contact.

“I told you, it’s been a while.” Bucky explained, cheeks flushing “It’s good, but I’m not gonna last more than 2 seconds if you keep touching me like that.”

Steve smiled up at him, and moved his hand to loosely grip Bucky’s thigh instead, taking his cock back into his mouth after Bucky let his head fall back to the pillow and thrust his hip up in invitation.

It wasn’t long before Bucky was breathing hard, moaning as he arched up into Steve’s mouth. He gasped loudly as Steve flicked his tongue across his tip.

“I’m so close…” he said, releasing the sheet from his grip to touch Steve’s face in warning.

Steve ignored him however, and took his entire cock into his mouth, sucking hard as Bucky writhed on the bed. He moved his his hand off Bucky’s thigh, and grabbed his balls again, squeezing sharply, and Bucky was coming with a shout. Bucky gripped the sheets again, arching his back as Steve swallowed every drop, and then collapsed onto the bed again with a sigh.

Steve released Bucky’s softening cock from his lips, and wiped his mouth as he crawled back up next to Bucky, boxers tented and damp. He slid them off, tossing them to the floor with Bucky’s, and slid up against his left side, throwing a leg across Bucky’s hips and rutting against him. He was so close.

Steve had his face buried into Bucky’s neck, and was starting to breathe harder when Bucky reached across and grabbed his dick, squeezing as he stroked, and soon Steve was gasping loudly and tensing up against Bucky, hips twitching as he shot cum on both their shirts.

Once Steve caught his breath, Bucky nudged him away from where he was sprawled on top of him.
“Don’t wanna move yet,” Steve moaned.
“I know,” Bucky replied, “but we’re going to be stuck together if we don’t at least take our shirts off.”

Steve sat up with a groan and pulled off his shirt, tossing it onto the floor with his and Bucky’s Boxers. Bucky followed suit, and soon they were curled together back on the bed, bare chests pressed together, with over an hour until either of them had to get up.

 

Not much changed between Steve and Bucky in the weeks after their first kiss, aside from sharing a bed (usually Steve’s) and making out while they sort of watched TV. Steve planned his work schedule around Bucky’s as often as possible, and most mornings were spent lazily cuddling in bed while they argued over whose turn it was to get up and make the coffee. Clint, unsurprisingly, made a big deal about congratulating them on finally figuring out they were dating, arguing that they had been together for months already, even if they didn’t realize it. Steve and Bucky reluctantly agreed that he was probably right.

After long hours of planning meetings, Steve and Natasha finished all the coding and art for the Midgard foundation's website, and had handed it off to Darcy, the intern Jane hired to handle the Social Media pages and website updates. Darcy and Bucky made a good team, and began cross-posting information about the foundation and upcoming fundraiser to the Asgardia and Bifrost Brewery pages, and and it wasn’t long before they were flooded with suggestions for future projects, questions on how to volunteer, and comments from people looking forward to the bands playing at the fundraiser.

Darcy also worked closely with Steve, after looking at a draft of the comic he was drawing and declaring the dialog to be awful, and managed to rewrite the story without Steve having to redraw any of the art. Tíðendi, as Tom wanted to call the comic/newsletter based on the old norse word for news and events, was nearly done as well, and they were waiting for the final proof to come back from the printer.

 

It was a Tuesday night in April when Bucky came home to find Steve laying on the floor in the living room. He was on his back with his knees bent and eyes shut tight.

“You okay, Babe?” Bucky asked, looking down at his boyfriend.

“Ehh, not really.” Steve replied with a groan, looking up at Bucky. “Hurts,” he explained quietly.

“Where?” Bucky asked, kneeling on the floor near his head, his knees gently pressed against Steve’s shoulder.

“The usual” Steve replied, and Bucky just nodded in understanding as he ran his fingers through Steve’s hair. They both hated that Steve had a usual type of pain, when the muscles over his right rib cage would tense up between his spine and shoulder blade, accompanied by pokey stabby feelings. The usual meant it was painful for Steve to take a deep breath, or sometimes to breath at all, and Bucky knew Steve was in a lot of pain to end up on the floor.

“I was trying to stretch, but it wasn’t helping at all.” Steve explained, gasping slightly as he spoke. “This seems to be the least painful position right now.”

“I can go get the Icy Hot if you think it will help.” Bucky offered, and Steve nodded. Bucky stood and went to the bedroom, returning with the jar of Icy Hot and a small glass bottle with a rubber top.

“Dugan gave me this for you to try.” Bucky told Steve, holding up the bottle. “It’s a tincture, a syrupy reduction of pot leaves that still has all the good THC in it. He said it tastes kind of like honey, and you just have to put a drop of it in your mouth for it to work.”

Steve grinned slightly, realizing it meant he could get high and hopefully relieve the spasms without the deep breath required to take a hit.
“That sounds pretty awesome.” He said.

Bucky kneeled back down on the floor next to Steve and untwisted the bottle, holding it between his knees, and then filled up the glass dropper by squeezing the rubber top.

“Open your mouth, babe,” Bucky instructed, and Steve complied, allowing Bucky to squeeze the sticky substance onto his tongue.

After a few minutes, Steve's breathing evened out, and he was able to flip onto his stomach while Bucky helped him arrange the pillows under his chest and hips. He fell asleep while Bucky massaged Icyhot into his spasming muscles.

Taking care of each other had also become part of their routine, as Bucky began to notice sooner when Steve was trying to ignore his pain, and Steve began prompting Bucky to vent his frustrations when he started to get stressed. They encouraged each other to try to eat and drink water on the days when the pain was killing their appetites.

 


Steve and Sam were sitting at the bar at Asgardia one night, chatting with Clint, as they had started doing on the bars slower nights, when Natasha came rushing in clutching a large envelope.

“It came!” she announced, handing the envelope over to Steve “The courier showed up about 15 minutes after you left.”

Steve held the manila envelope out, grinning down at it.

“Someone go get Bucky.” Steve requested, sitting back down and setting the envelope down on the bar in front of him. He stared at it anxiously while Clint went down the hall to Bucky’s office (where Bucky was trying to finish a stack of paperwork, and wasn’t supposed to be disturbed), and returned with Bucky close behind him.

“That’s it?” Bucky asked, sounding almost as excited as Steve as he leaned against the back side of the bar across from him.

Steve looked up at Bucky, grinning even bigger than before, and nodded. He flipped the envelope over and carefully undid the brass clasp and opened the envelope, and after a nervous pause, slid the first issue of Tíðendi. He held it in his hands and stared down at the cover in a daze, at the image of Thor in a waving red cape and tool belt, carpenter's hammer held high as he stood at the top of the jungle gym. Sif, The Warriors Three, and neighborhood children hung or sat on various sections of the structure. It matched the posters that were already hanging, and shared across the various social media platforms for the restaurant, brewery, and foundation.

Steve felt Bucky’s hand on his, pulling him from his daze, and looked up at him again. Sam quickly snatched the comic out of Steve's hands, holding it safe as Bucky pulled Steve forward into a kiss across the bar.

They were both blushing when they broke the kiss and glanced around, as if they had forgotten where they were for a moment, and that Bucky was working. The only guests were regulars, and gave them a thumbs up, and then came over to sneak a peek at the comic.

Everyone huddled around as Steve carefully turned the pages, after Clint had wiped down and dried the section the bar the book was placed on, commenting on favorite panels as they went. Once they got to the end, Bucky produced a plexiglass display frame from behind the bar, handing it toward Steve.

“This is from me and Clint.” Bucky explained, “We figured you would want your first ever comic to stay in mint condition.”

Steve just laughed, surprised the idea of buying a case for it never occurred to him.
“I do,” he agreed, taking the frame from Bucky, “Thanks, guys.”

Clint, deciding a toast was in order, poured a round of shots for Natasha, Sam and Steve, and juice for him and Bucky, while Steve carefully put the comic into the case.

“To Steve Rogers, and an amazing first issue of Tíðendi!” Bucky cheered.
“And to a successful fundraiser!” Clint added.
“And to many more adventures of Thor and Loki to come!” Sam called out.
“Skål!” They all cheered, clinking glasses together before drinking.

The regulars down the bar joined in on the cheer, raising their glasses in the toast. Steve was now officially a published comic artist, and a week away from his first book being distributed at the fundraiser.

Chapter Text

The week leading up to the fundraiser at Asgardia went quickly, and Steve and Bucky barely saw each other awake. The weather was warming up as spring finally arrived, and the last remaining piles of grey snow finally melted away.

Bucky was forced to work extra hours as business increased. Happy hour on the patio became a thing again and the dinner rush started earlier. In addition to the last minute plans and arrangements that needed to be taken care of before the fundraiser, he was interviewing servers and cooks for the summer, and extra security to handle the crowds that came along with the live bands they were planning.

Steve found himself working a schedule that was closer to standard office hours, often going into the office before noon for meetings. In addition to starting on the next comic featuring the community garden, and continuing to create new art for Darcy to use on social media, Steve had been added to a couple smaller projects where small illustration pieces were needed.

--------------------------------------

Steve groaned slightly as he felt the bed dip next to him, and woke to Bucky crawling into bed next to him. He glanced over at the clock to see that it was nearly 3am.
“Hi, babe,” Steve mumbled.
“Sorry.” Bucky apologized, curling up against Steve and throwing his arm across his waist. “Go back to sleep.”
“Miss you,” Steve mumbled, pulling Bucky closer and kissing the side of his head.
It was less than a minute before his breathing slowed again, and Steve was once again asleep.

 

Bucky stumbled into the kitchen a little after 11 the next morning, hoping that Steve had left some coffee. He didn’t even care if it was still hot, just as long as it was caffeinated. He paused just inside the kitchen, surprised to see Steve standing at the stove. It smelled like bacon.

“You’re home,” Bucky announced sounding surprised. He had gotten used to Steve being at work already by the time he woke up.

“And I’m making breakfast,” Steve announced, keeping his attention on the eggs in the pan in front of him. “Coffee is fresh.”

“Fuck, I love you,” Bucky blurted, coming up behind Steve and putting his arm around his waist, and pressing his chest against Steve’s back. He pressed a kiss to Steve's shoulder, stayed there for a long moment, just standing close.
“I missed you too.”

“I love you too,” Steve replied with a grin, “but unless you want burnt eggs you're going to have to let go of me for a moment.”

Bucky sighed, and then pulled away reluctantly, heading toward the coffee maker. He filled his mug, and then topped off Steve's before sitting at the table. He watched as Steve loaded 2 plates with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fruit, grinning as a plate was set down in front of him.

“I was starting to think I was going to have to come wake you up,” Steve told Bucky as he sat at the table and began eating. They barely spoke until they were done, and Bucky cleared the table, piling the dirty plates into the sink, insisting that they could be washed later. He turned away from the sink, and toward Steve who was now leaning against the counter next to him, and moved in for a kiss without warning.

Steve gasped slightly in surprise, and then relaxed into the kiss, opening his mouth slightly and grabbing Bucky's ass through his thin boxers as he pulled him closer. Bucky shifted his hips, grinding gently into Steve's with a moan.

“Thanks for breakfast,” Bucky panted, having pulled away slightly.

Steve could only smile back at him in response.

“Do you have time for me to thank you properly?” Bucky asked, running a finger across Steve's stomach and making him squirm slightly, “or do you have a meeting to run off to?”

“Not till later” Steve said, voice shaking as Bucky’s fingers dipped into the waistband of Steve's pajama pants.

“Perfect,” Bucky declared, pulling his hand out from Steve’s pants and grabbing his hand instead, dragging him to the bedroom.

“On the bed,” Bucky demanded, “and clothes off.”

Steve nodded, and slipped off his boxers and pants simultaneously, smoothly stepping out of them as they pooled around his ankles.

“Someone's demanding today,” he commented with a smirk, pulling his shirt off over his head.

Bucky paused in the middle of taking off his own boxers, looking slightly worried. “Is that ok? I mean I can…”

“It’s fine.” Steve interrupted, “It’s good, I'm just a little surprised is all. Now please don’t stop stripping.” He smiled at Bucky reassuringly as he settled back against the pillows.

Bucky grinned back, and and turned slightly to the side as he slowly slid his boxers down, presenting his ass to Steve as he bent over and stepped out of them. He noticed Steve was breathing slightly heavier by the time he had tossed his t-shirt across the room and was climbing onto the bed.

“Do you want me to make you feel good, Stevie?” He ran a finger gently along Steve's thigh as he asked.

Steve nodded quickly, breath catching slightly at the touch.

“Are you going to be good for me, and let me take care of you, and make you feel good?” He reached between Steve's legs, and gently stroked his fingertips over Steve's balls, and then up his dick.

Steve bucked his hips and moaned.
“Yes. Please Buck.. please.” he begged

“Please what?”

“Fuck me, please babe. Missed you.”

“I will Stevie, but you gotta be patient. Gotta get you ready first.”

Bucky moved off the bed, and quickly grabbed the bottle of lube and a condom from the nightstand, and Steve reached out with a whine, protesting the distance.

“I'm not going anywhere, Stevie” Bucky assured him, getting back onto the bed. “Just lay back and relax.”

Steve did as he was told, adjusting a couple of the pillows against the headboard and under his hips. He spread his legs as Bucky settled between them placing the lube next to Steve's hip and put his hand near Steve’s shoulder, leaning over him. He dropped his head and kissed Steve hard, grinding his hips into Steve's, rubbing their cocks together. Steve moaned and put a hand on Bucky’s back, pulling him in closer.

“Nuh-uh, Stevie,” Bucky told him, glancing at Steve's hand, “You don't have to do anything, babe. I’m taking care of you right now.”

Steve sighed, and moved his hand, gripping the blankets at his side instead as Bucky moved down Steve's torso, kissing along his chest and stomach before settling back on his his knees between Steve's legs.

Bucky picked up the bottle of lube and flicked the top off with his thumb and squeezed a generous amount of lube onto his fingers. He dropped the bottle back on the bed, and reached down to run a finger over Steve’s hole.

Steve gasped as Bucky circled his finger over the rim, and then relaxed into the bed with a sigh. He grabbed at the sheets with white knuckles, hips occasionally rocking up as Bucky slowly worked him open, with one and then two, and finally three fingers inside. He begged between moans, mumbled cries of please, and yes and fuck me.

“I want you to do something for me,” Bucky asked, stilling his fingers and causing Steve to look betrayed for a moment.

“Sure, Buck.” Steve groaned, “Whaddaya need?”

“Play with your nipple for me.” Bucky instructed “Whichever one you like best. Pinch it, or pull it, whatever you like. I want you to show me what feels good.”

Steve just nodded, and grabbed his left boob, gripping his whole pec with splayed fingers before focusing on the nipple, circling the edge with a fingertip. He gasped as Bucky pressed deeper with his fingers, precome dripping from his hard dick.

“Good Stevie, you're opening up so good for me babe.” Bucky encouraged. “Think you’re ready?”

“Yes!” Steve cried out “Please Buck, im ready, I need you inside me.”

“Ok, babe.” He replied calmly, picking the condom from on the bed. “You good on your back like that?”

Steve just nodded, taking the condom from Bucky’s hand and tearing it open. Bucky didn’t say anything when Steve grabbed Bucky’s dick and rolled on the condom and then settled back on the bed, legs spread wider. Steve took a deep breath as Bucky lined his swollen dick up to Steve's hole and slowly pressed in, and let it out with a moan once Bucky paused.

“Your doing so good Stevie,” Bucky encouraged, beginning to thrust in slowly.

“More, Buck,” Steve begged. “Fuck me harder. You’re not going to hurt me, promise.”

Bucky smiled with a nod, and sped up his hips, pressing deeper and harder with each movement.

Steve shifted, wrapping his legs tightly around Bucky’s hips and pulling them closer together, crying out when the new angle caused Bucky to brush over his prostate.

Bucky leaned in closer, moving his hand nearer to Steve's head and leaning down so their chests were touching, Steve's twitching dick now trapped between their stomachs.

“Gonna come.” Steve cried, grabbing at Bucky’s shoulder.

“Come for me whenever you want babe.” Bucky encouraged, he angled his hips slightly, and thrust hard into Steve, who cried out, clenching tight around Bucky as he came. Bucky moaned loudly as he came a moment later, throwing back his head as he arched into Steve, and then collapsed on top of him.

They lay together panting, clinging to each other as they caught their breath, sticky with sweat and come.

“I should cook breakfast more often.” Steve stated after a moment.

“I have no objections to that idea.” Bucky agreed.

 

--------------------------------------

 

Steve sat nervously at the table Jane and Tom and set up for him near front entrance. He had a stack of comics and sharpies ready to sign copies for anyone who made a donation to the Midgard Foundation. He had been skeptical about the idea, doubting that many people would actually want signed copies, but Tom was adamant about it.

“Look at all the people who have asked how to get a copy!” Tom had exclaimed, pointing to the comments of the facebook post where they had shown a sneak peak of the first issue. It wasn’t long before Bucky and Clint had joined in, and Steve found himself agreeing to the plan.

It had already been a long day, and the fundraiser hadn’t even began. Steve had an early start in the triskelion design works offices, working with Natasha to send out a final round of reminder e-mails about the event that they had coordinated with Darcy, and finalizing the web version of the comic to go live the following morning.

Asgardia, which had stayed closed during their normal lunch hours to set up, had looked like an unorganized mess when Steve arrived late in the afternoon. Bucky was standing near the stage with a clipboard, already looking stressed as he watched the bands load in their gear and begin sound checks. The DJ hadn’t arrived yet, and the lights were only half hung. He was directing Scott on how to re-arrange the dining room tables to make more space when Steve came up behind him, and reached around to replace the clipboard in his hand with a cup of coffee.

“Hey! What are you… oh. Thanks babe.” Bucky exclaimed, expression shifting from annoyed to relieved as he turned to see Steve.

“It’s going to be fine, Buck. Your plans are solid for tonight, and you still have over 2 hours till anyone is going to start to arrive.” Steve assured him, not even needing to ask how Bucky was doing.

Bucky just nodded, not looking totally convinced, eyes wide as he glanced around at the chaos. He sighed heavily, before leaning into Steve slightly and resting his head on Steve’s shoulder for a moment. Steve pulled him in for a quick kiss, before asking what he could do to help.

The hours flew by as Steve wrote out the drink and appetizer specials on a chalkboard for Clint, acted as a stand in for the lighting guys to check that the lights were set up correctly, and reassured Bucky no less than 3 times that everything was going to be fine. 30 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open, Tom came out of the kitchen with a large plate of sandwiches and demanded that everyone take a break and eat something.

 

He was reluctant to admit it, but Tom had been right, and Steve's autograph table had been a success. He quickly ran through all 150 copies, and could see several 10 and 20 dollar bills that people had shoved into the donation jar. Several people seemed convinced that Steve would be a famous artist someday, and drunkenly promised to keep his first ever book safe for when it's worth hundreds of dollars, or more.

Clint and Dugan were busy all night at the bar, `the bands and DJ kept everyone's energy levels high, and Jane and Darcy found themselves overwhelmed with people offering their help on future projects and suggesting ideas for how the foundation could help. Not surprising, Tom and Lukas were the highlight of the evening, when they came on to the stage dressed as Thor and Loki to thank everyone for their support. They had new updated costumes to match the ones Steve had drawn, and everyone was surprised that Tom had managed to keep them a secret.

The final band was starting their set when Bucky sat down heavily next to Steve behind the autograph table.

Steve looked up from the sketch he was working on of Thor chasing Loki through a garden, demanding his shovel back that a guest had asked for. Someone offered $40 bucks for a sketch after he ran out of books, and the requests and payments had kept coming all evening.

“We did it,” Bucky announced sounding exhausted.

Steve smiled at him, setting down his pencil and moving his chair closer to Bucky’s and putting an arm around him.

“You did it,” Steve corrected, “and it was great.”

Bucky opened his mouth like he wanted to argue, but sighed instead and dropped his head onto Steve’s shoulder. “Yeah.” He agreed.

They sat together for a moment as the band continued to play, sleepily listening.
“You didn’t have to keep working like that.” Bucky stated, looking toward the sketch Steve had abandoned.

“I know,” Steve said with a shrug, “but it was kinda fun and people looked really excited by the finished versions. Gave me some good ideas for future books too.”

After a couple more songs, a girl hesitantly came up to the table, looking at Steve and Bucky who were both half asleep by that point.
“Um, Hi?” she asked, “Sorry, but is my sketch done?”

Steve blushed as he nudged Bucky awake and sat up.
“Hi, and sorry, but not quite,” Steve admitted turning the sketch book toward her. “I was planning on a few more background details.”

She looked down at the page and grinned immediately. “Oh my god, it’s perfect!” she squealed, “I love it! You don’t have to add anymore. Really.”

Steve hesitated for a minute before signing the drawing and carefully tearing out the page to hand over.
“Thank you so much!” she exclaimed, gripping the drawing toward her chest “and I’m sorry for interrupting before, you two looked super cute and comfy.”

“He’s my favorite pillow.” Bucky told her, still slumped down in his chair.

Steve just shrugged with a smile, winking back at Bucky.

“I should leave so you can be cute with him again, cause you both look super happy together, and that’s awesome,” the girl said quickly, blushing slightly. She then abruptly turned around and disappeared into the crowd.

Steve watched her leave, and sat back down next to Bucky, grinning the whole time.

“I think you got your first fan,” Bucky said with a laugh, pulling Steve close again.

 

Clint was the one who found them soon after the band finished, sleeping behind the table in a corner. After calling their names, kicking their feet and poking them each in the shoulder and chest failed to wake them, he carefully leaned in and grabbed an earlobe between each thumb and forefinger. He quickly pinched and pulled on their ears, and jumped back out of the way as Steve and Bucky simultaneously shot awake and sat up, looking confused. Clint was leaning back against the wall and laughing when they realized what happened.

“Shows over, boys,” Clint said. “Go home.”

Bucky just nodded as he stood, remembering that he had scheduled a late crew till 3am to clean up, and that he could be done.

“Thanks Clint” Bucky said, reaching out his hand “Good job tonight. Everything seemed to go smoothly.”

Clint grabbed Bucky’s hand pulling his friend into a hug. “You did great with everything too buddy, I just did my job.” He pulled out of the embrace and leaned into speak quietly into Bucky’s ear.

“Good job with him too” Clint whispered, eyes flicking toward Steve. “It’s been good to see you happy again. I think he is too.”

Bucky stood and watched Clint go in a daze, and flinched slightly when Steve put a hand on his shoulder.

“You ready to go babe?” Steve asked, holding out Bucky’s jacket.

“Yeah, Stevie,” Bucky replied as he put his arm through the sleeve and allowed Steve to adjust it over Buckys shoulder and stump. “Let’s go home.”

 

------------------------------------------

“Hey Stevie,” Bucky whispered “you awake?”

“MMmmfg… m’sleepin’ Buck” Steve mumbled, shifting slightly next to Bucky.

“Stevie!” Bucky whispered again, more insistent.

“What's wrong, babe,” Steve replied, sounding minimally more awake.

“I love you, Stevie,” Bucky said, grabbing Steve’s hand “needed to make you know that.”

“I know, Bucky,” Steve whispered back, squeezing bucky’s hand in return “you tell me all the time, and I love you too.”

“Everyone was right tonight, about you,” Bucky continued, “you make me so happy, and I can’t imagine my life without you anymore, and it’s important that you remind me if I ever forget. You can’t let me ever forget you Stevie, promise me.”

“Oh, Bucky” Steve reached out “come here Babe.” Steve pulled him closer. “I love you too. So fucking much, and I can't imagine what i would do if I ever lost you.”

Bucky sighed with relief, and snuggled in closer to Steve, relaxing as Steve stroked his back.
“Are you really worried that you will forget again?” he asked gently.

Bucky just nodded and looked up at Steve in silence for a long moment.
“Doctors said it might happen when i get older, increased chances of ending up with early onset dementia…” he trailed off, burying his face back into Steve’s shoulder.

“Well,” Steve said, after another long pause, “We’ll just have to make sure I have a lot of good stories to help you remember, cause I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

“Really?” Bucky asked, “you're gonna be with me till the end of the line then?”

“Yeah, Buck,” Steve replied with a laugh, “till the end of the line.”

“Stop laughing at me, punk” Bucky said with a yawn.

“To to sleep, jerk” Steve replied.

Bucky leaned in close, kissing Steve soft and slow, before settling in to Steve’s right side, filling in the gap where his arm used to be, and drifted off to sleep.