Chapter 1: part 1
Reach out for me and touch my skin. I long for your touch. Why can’t you see? Have I lost the look on my face? You used to be able to read me like an open book. I’m still here. You just have to turn the page and start a new chapter. I’ll even start a new book for you if you want to. I’ll do anything for you, just like I used to.
Worry fills your eyes when you see the dark circles under my eyes in the morning. Another sleepless night lies behind me but I can’t tell you why. I let you think it’s because of the nightmares although you must know by now that they’re mostly gone. Gone are the cries. Gone are the screams. Gone is death playing on loop in my mind. Yet sleep doesn’t find me. Or it does but I decline it every night. When nighttime comes I indulge myself in a guilty pleasure. You’re my guilty pleasure. I’d rather not sleep than miss watching you sleep. The way your eyelashes flutter close and cover those blue eyes of yours. The peaceful expression on your face. The rise and fall of your chest and I remember when I fell asleep on it, the rhythmic movement lulling me to sleep. The way your lips are slightly parted and short breaths escape. I wonder if you smell just as sweet as you used to. At night, in the darkness of your room, while I cowardly hide in the shadow in the corner, the memories come to me. Memories of you. Memories of me. Memories of us. They’re all the memories I need. I’ll gladly take this piece of my life and grow old holding it close to me. I don’t need to know where I have been or where I will go. I was with you and you’re with me now. I don’t need to know what life was like before the war. I was with you. I don’t need to know the pain that was done to me. You are here with me now. There is simply no stopping me when it comes to loving you.
Another morning is on its way. I’ll go now, my love. I’ll see you in a while.
I watch you eat your breakfast cereal and drink the last milk from your bowl. I think I always loved to watch your Adam’s apple bob up and down. You lick your lips and instinctively I lick mine as well. If I concentrate hard enough I can taste you. Everything there is to taste though it’s been forever. I long to rediscover you, every ridge and bump, the way you smell. I wonder if you still make the same little sounds and I shake the thought that maybe someone else has drawn them from you in the time we’ve been apart. The look of concern and frowns on your face are not the ones I want to see but scraping my nails against the cold hard surface of the table and the whirring of that damn arm gave away the sinful attention my mind was lavishing you with. Even when you give me that pitiful look I hate, I love you.
The drawings you make are still beautiful but then again I never doubted that. I am convinced that you are and always will be the best this world has to offer. When someone said ‘you make the world a better place’ for the first time, I’m sure they were talking about you. You can add ‘you make me want to be a better man’ to that list. God, you make my heart soar even by just sitting there. How do you do that? I wish I could just walk up to you, plop down on the coach next to you and watch you. Just like old times. You used to draw me. Would you do that now too, even looking like this? I wonder but I’m afraid to ask and more so afraid of the answer. I would pose though. Just so I could watch you stick out your tongue, the serious look on your face, the way your eyes would roam my body, the way your hand grips your pencil, the way you try to do me justice as you always said. You really did mean that in more ways than one, didn’t you? Is there anyone in this world that loves someone more than I love you? Because, sweetheart, oh do I love you. I don’t think I could stop even if I wanted to.
Maybe I should be training but I can’t bring myself to it, getting punched or punching somebody. I’ve had enough. But I just saw you exit the gym. Jesus fucking Christ, Stevie. I’m sorry I ran the moment I saw you. You’re even more beautiful than I remember and all I remember is perfection already. How can someone look like that? But I wouldn’t do you justice if I didn’t go back further back in time. Tiny feisty thing, disheveled hair that never does what you want, frail hands, short breaths, short so I could kiss the top of your head, thin so I could wrap my arms around you and protect you. I miss that so much, being able to protect you. I would do anything to keep you safe. Anything. You have me. Don’t you know that in that big heart of yours? Please reach out for me. Your touch will melt me. I’ll comply to each and every one of your demands. I guess it’s Hydra’s loss. All they needed was you as my handler and I would have destroyed the world for you. Because there is nothing that can make me stop loving you. I followed you in the jaws of death once. I’d do it again in a heartbeat because my heart beats for you. I was born just for you. There is no greater purpose to my life. You’re the picture in the bigger picture of things.
Food doesn’t interest me. The fact that you’re at the dinner table does. It takes all I have in me to face the rest of them and sit down. It shows, I know. It’s a shame that you always see me like this, awkward, uneasy, tense. I’m not like this, sweetheart. I want to boil tasteless food with you. I want to laugh at the awfulness of it and then tell you all I need is you. You’re my fuel in life. You’re it. You’re everything. Please, reach out for me. I beg you. Can’t you tell? But I guess I’m not exactly what you’d expect of a boyfriend. Trust me, I believe you when you say I’m worth it to you. I just think you deserve better. I’m sorry I’m not strong enough to tell you. Maybe later. I’ll try. I promise. I can’t deny you my love. I never will. You’re stronger than anything I have to offer. I just need to get better, to be better. For me. For you. For us. But mostly for you.
The evening is coming and I can’t help but smile. From dusk till dawn I have you to myself. All to my selfish self, my greedy self, my wanting self. You’re mine. And I can tell you don’t give others a second glance. It gives me life. It lets me breathe. It’s a silent victory. I’m yours. You chose me. You want me. You still want me. You save yourself for me. Please save yourself. I’ll make it worth your while soon. I try and remember how to do it when I’m alone in my room. I’ll remember soon. Trust me. I won’t be able to stop loving you. You light the dark path I was on and guide me home. You warm the parts of me that are cold to the touch. You awake everything in me that was laid to rest. When you close the door to your bedroom for the night I see your pleading eyes. I know what they say, what they ask. I know they invite me in. I see the want in them. I relish it. I always make sure I’m the last person you see at night. Is that torturing you? I don’t know. You probably think so when you see the slight smile on my face that you never return but it’s because I look forward to the night. You’re mine. Only mine. Soon, my love. Soon my darkness will corrupt your sweet soul because that’s how we are, even before. You were always purer than me. I’m sorry but I can’t stop loving you. It will happen. I’ll make sure of it. I promise. When I deserve you again. But please try and read my face. Love is written all over it. Can you see it? Have faith because I will never be able to stop loving you. I simply can’t. I wouldn’t know how to.
I open the door to your room like a thief in the night but there is nothing to steal. I know deep down that everything you own is already mine. Do you know everything I am is yours too? I watch you twist and turn, pain etched on your face, your fists clenching your pillow. “Bucky…” I hear you whisper my name and it’s sweeter than honey. My eyes roll back in my head and then it hits me like lightening. Dear God, I promise. I promise you now, I promise with all I have, with all I am, that tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow I will tell you. Tomorrow I will take a deep breath and show you the pieces of myself that I stitched back together like some ugly quilt that is yours to keep. People will look at it and wonder why you want something that old and ragged and ask why you don’t throw it out and get something new, something pretty. I understand them, oh I do, but I hope you will keep me anyway. I feel naked. I feel giddy. I feel free. Tomorrow will be the day.
It was supposed to be a prank. How could I know? He caught me by surprise. I had let my guard down promising myself to you.
It dawns on me now. I thought I was getting better. I let myself believe it. I truly believed I could do it on my own but I fooled myself. Look where it got me. The light you turned on shows what a failure I truly am, a creep hiding in your room at night. Even I am unwilling to believe that I could stoop so low as to watch you sleep like my life depends on it. I have longed for so much, a touch of any kind but the look in your eyes now is like a slap in the face. And I deserve it. There’s blood on my fist. There’s blood on the floor. There are spatters on the wall. There is blood trickling down Sam’s face. The stupid bucket of water meant for Steve lying by his side. I stand here watching the scene unravel in front of my eyes. This time I’m my own man but I still can’t move. I tell myself to move but nothing happens. Maybe I’m just waiting for someone to beat me to a pulp, to receive what I deserve. Bruises and broken bones and blood seeping from wounds, it’s all I’ll ever deserve.
72…73…74…75…76…77…78… I allow myself to breath again as soon as I know he’s still breathing. I close my eyes for a brief second to let relief wash over me that I didn’t take this brave and gentle man’s soul.
His voice is soft and gentle and I want to bask in it. When I look at him, his eyes are pure. They shouldn’t be looking at something like me though I want them to every minute of the day. I want them to see me and only me. I’m selfish I know but I still feel entitled to his undivided attention. I have missed him so long already.
I see his hand slowly reaching out for me. Finally. I will finally feel his skin again. Will he still feel as warm? Will his fingertips still brush my hand as softly as they used to? Will his touch still be gentle? It all comes back at once. All of it. It washes over me like a tsunami and it takes all of me to keep my footing. I embrace the force of it, the good and the bad. The more pain, the more love, the more strings that are pulled the better. I will never get enough of you. I close my eyes and feel the corners of my mouth curl upwards ever so slightly. I can feel. I feel. I finally feel. I will finally feel him again.
“Are you kidding me?” The harshness of his voice startles me. My eyes snap open and everything I saw a moment before in the face I know by heart is gone. “You’re smiling?! SMILING?” He’s seething. The blue has turned red. The pale has turned red. The smile now snarls with teeth bared. “You could have killed him, Buck, and you’re smiling?!”
“No,” I whisper, “no.” I take a step forward. “You don’t understand.”
“What don’t I understand, Buck? Why don’t you tell me?” He looks so mad and I feel like crying for the first time in… I don’t know how long actually. “Tell me why the hell you were in my room! In the middle of the night! Hiding in a fucking corner!”
His voice makes me cringe like when our teacher scratched the black board with her nails. A shiver runs down my spine. He’s asking me a question to which I have no good answer, not one he will understand anyway.
“Where is he now, Steve?” Sam asks, lying in the bed in med bay.
Steve rubs his face and sighs. “He’s been hiding in his room ever since it happened.”
Sam cocks an eyebrow. “And where exactly have you been, Steve?” He looks Steve in the eye. “You know what I mean. You know your place was with him and not here with me.
“You needed me.”
“All I have is a broken nose and a mild concussion. If he really wanted to hurt me he would have killed me with that punch. It’s a bullshit excuse, Steve. You knew something like this could happen. I know Barnes’ recovery isn’t exactly what you’d expect but it is how it is. Now get out.”
He doesn’t know how long he’s been standing in front of Bucky’s door. Too long probably but what can he say? He yelled at him. He walked away from him. He didn’t check up on him. He didn’t listen to his explanation. He left him in the cold. He left him in the dark. He did exactly what he promised he would never do.
It calms him somewhat to hear Bucky’s movements on the other side. His chair creaks. He hears him huff out a breath. A pen scratches on paper and is dropped on a surface. His clothes rustle. A zipper closes. Straps are being pulled. Steve leans his head against the door and listens to his breathing. God knows how much that used to calm him down. God knows how he longs for those breaths to fan across his neck, over his lips. Only God knows.
There are lots of things only God and Steve know. The way his fingers itch and his bones hurt from longing to touch Bucky. The way his lips tingle when he thinks about Bucky’s lips on his again. The way a fire spreads across his skin and spreads fiercely from head to toe when he sees him walking around barefoot, hair lose, lost in peaceful thoughts. The way his heart almost leaps out of his chest when he catches him looking at him, hoping against hope that he will reach out and touch him.
Steve will never forgive himself for getting lost in thoughts for so long. He will never forgive himself for waiting so long to reach out for him.
“Bucky?” Steve’s eyes widen in shock and he finds the door locked.
His heart is hammering in his chest. This cannot be happening. What exactly is happening? Who is in there?
“BUCKY!” He pounds on the door, screaming his name. “BUCK! BUCKY!”
Steve breaks down the door and lands on the floor. He gazes up at Bucky, his Bucky with a lost look on his face, tears in his eyes. He’s holding a recording device in his hands, an unknown voice saying the feared words. When Bucky’s notices Steve eyes fall upon it, he cries.
“No no no no…” Steve scrambles to his knees and rushes over to Bucky. He knows he’s out of time. Only two more to go. Two lousy words. He’s standing right in front of Bucky now and instinctively reaches out his hand. Bucky’s eyes snap towards the hand that stops mere inches from his face. He wants to lean into the touch. It’s all he ever wanted. It’s all he craved and yearned and longed for, for months now. But he can’t move. You’re a fool, Buck, he thinks to himself, the last bit of himself he still has. So he tries to fight it. His eyes blinking rapidly and desperation rages through his body. His body is convulsing. His lips forms Steve’s name but nothing comes out.
“Sweetheart, no,” Steve chokes out. Tears are streaming down his face and he closes the final inch and his fingers brush Bucky’s cheek.
It’s over. It’s over again before it started. He takes a step forward and without fear he holds Bucky’s face in his hands. He doesn’t know the mission of the winter soldier and he doesn’t care either. Without Bucky there is no Steve. Till the end of the line, right?
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
The voice comes from the little recording device in Bucky’s hand and it’s Bucky’s voice this time. What is going on? Steve’s grip on Bucky’s face tightens when Bucky’s eyes snap open and stare right into his eyes but see nothing and no-one. Bucky answers.
“Ready to comply.”
Steve is shaking Bucky frantically. How fucked up is it Bucky activates the winter soldier himself? How much has he disappointed his lover to make him do that? And Bucky himself explains it through his own words he recorded earlier.
“Your mission is to keep Steven Grant Rogers safe from harm, from yourself. You will not go near him. You will not touch him. You will not speak to him. You will hide yourself from him. You will not hurt him. You will forget him. You will,” Bucky’s voice breaks, “stop loving him.”
The device drops from Bucky’s hands. He comes out of his trance like state. He didn’t turn himself in the old winter soldier but Steve doesn’t know if that’s better because now the love of his life looks him right in the eye, pain and hurt in them, but steps back. Steve follows him, stepping forward only to have Bucky step away from him again. It’s like they dance their own dance of despair, of finding and losing, of coming and leaving, of protecting and hurting. It’s only when Bucky hits the wall that he executes his self-imposed mission. His left hand hits Steve in the chest with an unexpected and determined force pushing him back and he brushes past him.
“Bucky, no. Please no. Don’t do this to me, to us.” He grabs his arm making him stop. “Please, come back to me. Don’t leave. Just don’t.”
He lets out a relieved sigh when Bucky takes his wrist but the grip is too tight. Before he knows it Bucky has turned him around and presses his chest to his back holding him in a headlock. Steve tries to grip Bucky’s arm trying to break free but to no avail. He doesn’t even know if he wants to break free. It’s the first time since he found him that he’s felt his skin on his. His tears fall on the sleeves of Bucky’s shirt and he slips into unconsciousness. While his body slumps against Bucky’s, the latter holds him upright. His own tears draw wet streaks in Steve’s hair and with calculated moves he places Steve on his bed, like a sleeping beauty. He grabs his backpack that he prepared filled with food, clothes, money. He’s leaving as a civilian, the only mission to carry out is leaving Steve, is dying inside. But when he prepared for this, he couldn’t find it in his heart to leave Steve with nothing.
When Steve wakes up, he stays in Bucky’s bed, curled up in a ball in bed sheets that still smell like him. He doesn’t want to look around the room. He doesn’t want to see the device that turned his lover into a stranger. He doesn’t understand where he got the recording of a handler activating the triggers. He doesn’t want to see the notebooks he left on his desk.
When the sun sets and darkness covers the world, Steve sees a little light. It illuminates a picture frame. How he finds the strength to walk over he doesn’t know but his heart constricts in his chest when he notices the picture of Bucky and him in the army, arms slung over each other’s shoulders, cheeks pressed against each other’s, toothy smiles. Next to it there’s a notepad.
I can’t leave you without telling why I was in your room that night. I wasn’t just there that night. I was there every night. I’m sorry. You asked me why. Here’s why.
To watch you sleep.
To try and work up the courage to touch you.
To chase our memories that come back slowly.
To keep the nightmares at bay.
To make me feel safe like you always made me feel when you were close.
To feel want.
To own my love for you again.
Because being close feels like you chase away my demons.
To be close to you because we’ve been apart for too long.
Because I long to share that bed with you.
Because I want to love you in that bed.
Because you’re the hope to my despair.
Because I love you.
Because I can’t stop loving you.
Because I’m with you till the end of the line.
I ask only one thing of you. Please don’t forget me. If you do it’ll be like I never existed, like we never existed. No matter what happened, I feel like we deserve to be remembered, that we mattered. At least you always mattered to me. Tell Sam I’m sorry.
Chapter 2: part 2
After a stupid incident that Bucky took very personal, he made a terrible decision. But Steve will do anything to find Bucky again.
First posted on Tumblr.
Yesterday. I should have told him yesterday. I should have told him the day before and the day before that. I should have told him every day. Maybe he couldn’t have handled it but at least he would have known. I should have reached out for him. He would have known how much I want him. How much I need him. How much I love him. How much he truly is.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will find you and if tomorrow doesn’t let me find you then I will look for you the day after and the day after that. I will look for you until my bones turn to dust, however long that takes, and when I find you I will never let you go. You and I, baby, we are. That’s all we are. Together we are. Without you there is no me.
Steve clenches his teeth and balls his fists. His body is tense, his mood shifts from hurt to angry to determination but Steve doesn’t have a plan. He has never been a man with a plan. He has never been a sensible man. He is not the waiting type, diving in headfirst and hoping for the best. His best hope now is that Bucky’s programming wears down. He isn’t getting wiped. He isn’t getting new orders. Maybe he’ll find little bits of himself back if he’s given time, like in Bucharest, Steve thinks. So he heads out on a manhunt and packs only one bag, traveling light and fast.
He’s been searching for Bucky for weeks now and every time he’s close, he seems to slip through his fingers. The first time he finds him, he is simply grocery shopping somewhere in Sweden. He sees Steve and Steve can tell he fights the urge to come to him, even fights the smile threatening to make its way onto his face.
The next time he sees Bucky, he’s in England. Steve catches him off guard.
He turns around, a smile on his face. “Yeah?”
It hurts Steve to see Bucky’s face contort in pain, like his Bucky is trying to claw his way out of the winter soldier but it is too soon. He turns around and takes off so fast Steve has no idea where to look.
He tracks him down in a little village in Italy next where he finds him looking at some movie poster at a bus stop of two men holding hands.
“It’s okay now, you know?” Steve says and Bucky turns and looks at him. “To hold hands and all. We- we can do that now.” Bucky smiles a little and Steve reaches out for his hand. His fingers brush Bucky’s knuckles but the man pulls back his hand abruptly like he has just burnt it. Bucky blinks rapidly, his shoulders tense. His nervous reaction is starting to draw attention and that’s the last thing Steve wants. So he sighs, takes out Bucky’s notebooks from his backpack and leaves them on the bench. “For you.”
At night Steve thinks about how he always had wanted to hold Bucky’s hand in public. Bucky had held his hand once in a park before the war while they were sitting at a picnic table, rubbing his big thumb in his small palm.
“What the hell are you two doing?” some friend had asked, shock evident in his voice.
“I’m telling his fortune,” Bucky had answered without batting an eye. “Want me to tell yours too?”
Bucky had been convincing enough because the guy didn’t want to have his fortune told but he was curious about Steve’s and Steve was happy because Bucky was tracing lines in his hand a while longer. Steve chuckles at the memory because Bucky had taken his sweet time talking about never-ending true love, the future he saw for Steve and his loved one, the white picket fence, the lazy afternoons spent together and the hot sex at night. Bucky had been so unabashedly graphic he even made that friend blush while Steve was rock hard under the table. The sun had never felt warmer than that day and the memory keeps Steve warm tonight.
Bucky hasn’t left town but he’s able to avoid Steve nonetheless. All Steve sees of him are shadows. Sometimes he follows him; sometimes he knows Bucky is watching him. But it doesn’t matter really. He’s found Bucky and he will not let him go. He’ll just follow him, live in his shadow, in the dust he leaves in his wake when he takes the roads less travelled.
By now it’s been weeks and weeks since the incident at the tower and Steve’s patience is wearing thin. He knows deep down that what he just did is selfish but cornering Bucky seemed like a good idea a few moments ago. So here they are, in some abandoned building, Bucky hunched down behind a low wall and Steve sitting against it kicking at little rocks. Whatever Steve says, Bucky’s doesn’t want to listen to him. He’s resorted to putting his fingers in his ears, which reminds Steve of Bucky as a child. Whenever he didn’t want to hear anything, he put his fingers in his ears and sulked in a corner but he was so curious and in the end his curiosity always won. So Steve takes a paper from his backpack and starts drawing. He has time. Bucky is trapped. He won’t fight because he can’t hurt Steve. Right now that comes in handy.
A little paper plane falls down at Bucky’s feet. He looks at it like it’s the weirdest thing he’s ever seen and kicks it with his booth to see if it isn’t a trap. Steve is right, curiosity wins. He slowly picks up the plane and notices odd lines on it. He unfolds the plane and his breath hitches. Steve and him look at him from the drawing. They’re smiling, the cherry tree where they first kissed in the background but his hair is long and Steve is big, past and present entwined. Memories come flooding back. Memories of stolen kisses behind diners and trees, of tender touches while walking. Memories of pretending to be drunk so he could sling his arm over Steve at the bar. Memories of whispering ‘honey, I’m home’ after returning from a day’s work at the docks and Steve playfully swatting his chest. Memories of Steve cradling his face in his bony cold hands whispering ‘I love you’ over and over again until he had no more air left in his lungs, day after day, night after night. Steve told him every day. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Bucky’s heart starts beating rapidly, his mind roars in protest. His hands start shaking and just when they start to lose grip on the paper, he grabs it tight almost wrinkling it. He wants to let go and every time he almost does. It’s exhausting, the pushing and the pulling, the fight between being told not to and wanting. Trying to steady his breathing he closes his eyes but even in darkness he still sees Steve. He sees blond hair and soft pink lips. He sees blue eyes he still drowns in and the way his fingers grip a pencil. His darling Steve. His beautiful Steve. His sweet Steve. While he used to try and hang on to the memories, he now tries to shake them from his mind but they won’t go away. This time no-one is beating them out of him. He’s rocking back and forth looking at the drawing.
“I have a mission. I have a mission. I have a mission. I have to carry out my mission,” Bucky whispers.
“No, you don’t.” A soft voice floats over the little wall.
“I have a mission. I have to keep you safe. I- I- I have to stop loving you,” he croaks like the words are cutting his throat. Bucky hits his head against the wall trying to still the voice that whispers ‘you love him’, that says ‘you want him’, that says ‘go to him’.
He sounds like the Bucky Steve found on Zola’s table, tortured, trying to keep himself together, fighting against the brainwashing. Come on, Bucky, Steve thinks, come back to me. Just a little more, sweetheart.
“But the question is, do you want to stop loving me? Because I still love you.” Steve is met with silence but the words bounce off the walls straight into Bucky’s heart and mind. “Bucky? What do you want, sweetheart?”
Bucky gasps and twists like he’s being tortured. Love, he wants it. He craves it. Mission, mission, mission. You have a mission, he thinks, even though he has fought it since the day it started.
“I can’t fail.” Bucky is full on crying now, his tears drowning Steve’s heart. “You don’t understand. If I fail, there will be hell to pay. The chair, the pain, cryo.”
“Sweetheart, no! No-one is going to hurt you. There is no chair anymore, no cryo. There will be no pain.”
Bucky’s brows furrow. No punishment? No pain? He blinks frantically, shakes his head, squints his eyes and the storm raging inside him slowly subsides.
“You know what will happen when you forget about this mission? I’m going to come over there and hold you in my arms. I’m going to say I love you over and over again. We’re going to go home together and live our lives like we were meant to do. And if you’re not ready for all of that, then I’ll wait until you are ready. And if you’ll never be ready, then I’m still going to be there. It’s you, Bucky, it’s always been you. It will always be you.”
Bucky feels like his head is going to explode any minute. Everything hurts. “I don’t want to hurt anymore. I’m done hurting,” he all but whispers.
“Then don’t hurt anymore, Bucky. I’ll tend to all your wounds. I’ll put band-aids on your cuts. I’ll sing a lullaby if you can’t sleep. I’ll hold you when you’re afraid. I’ll scare the monsters away when they haunt you. I’ll fight off anyone that threatens you. I’ll massage your scars when they hurt when it’s raining because I know they do. I’ll make you hot cocoa with marshmallows when the snow falls. I’ll act like a clown when you’re feeling blue. I’ll draw colorful things when all you see is black. I’ll wrap my arms around you when you’re cold. I’ll laugh with you when you’re happy. I’ll dance with you when you hear a song you love. I’ll love you if you let me.”
Steve hears Bucky slowly and repeatedly banging his head against the little wall separating them. They’re both becoming desperate. Steve thinks how ironic it is that he can easily punch his way through a brick wall but can’t get through to his lover. While he keeps listening to the rhythmic thuds his gaze drifts outside where nightfall has set in. He leans back against the wall thinking about all the nights they spent under the stars. Bucky loved the chilly nights just because he could wrap Steve in his arms and swing his leg over him, trapping him in his embrace. Steve can still remember how warm Bucky’s face felt against his neck and cheeks. The gentle way Bucky rubbed his thumbs over his hands and arms. How he seemed to want to crawl in under Steve’s skin the more time past. He playfully chastised Bucky that he couldn’t see the stars if he tucked him under his arm like that. While Steve wanted to quietly look at the stars, Bucky kept rambling on about stars and planets, and their own constellation. He drew it on Steve’s back.
“What are you doing, Bucky?”
“I’m drawing our very own constellation.”
“What does it look like?”
“It’s beautiful. Just like you.”
“You’re such a hopeless romantic,” Steve sighed smiling. “Will you draw it for me? So I can see?”
“One day.” Bucky kept drawing on his back. “But it’ll have to be a very special day,” he teased.
“How special?” Steve pretended to be annoyed.
Bucky looked Steve in the eye, his thumb stroking his cheek. “I don’t know yet, but it will be special. Just you wait and see.” He kissed him lazily.
Steve felt special. Bucky made him feel special. He pulled Bucky roughly to him.
“Always so impatient,” Bucky chuckled but didn’t stop him anyway, “Take your time for once.”
“Nah.” Steve kissed him roughly, passionately, already unbuttoning Bucky shirt and undoing his belt. “You never know when we might run out of time, you and I.”
Bucky had stilled. “We’re together till the end of the line. Our stars will last for eternity.”
Steve used to think Bucky was such a sap with all his stories about love and fate and destiny. So he would have none of it, always raced to the finish line.
“Sweetheart,” Bucky tried, “hold on a sec, will you?” But all of Bucky’s words were drowned out by Steve’s lips on his. His resolve crumbled under the fervent touches of his lover and he knew he couldn’t say no to him. He could never say no to Steve.
Steve smiles at the memory. If he ever has the chance again, he will savor every moment with Bucky. He will take it slow. Anything Bucky wants. He’ll make up for his past mistakes. He looks at the stars again wondering if Bucky sees them too.
“It’s written in the stars, you know? You and I, Bucky. It’s written in those stars you like so much. Just look outside. Look at those stars. You always said our story is written in them. The world has changed, Bucky. We have changed. There’s no denying that. But the stars, baby, those stars you love so much, they haven’t changed. Our story is still there. Our destiny is written there. You said we were destined to be together and we are, sweetheart. It’s all I’ve ever seen you draw. You connected the stars and told me the same tale over and over again. Remember that, Bucky? Are you looking at the stars, sweetheart? Please, look at them. I’m begging you.” He all but whispers the last words but he’s met with silence. It weighs him down, making his shoulders slump. Seconds pass. Minutes pass. He’s lost track of time. “The stars, Bucky. You said they’d always guide you home to me. Please, come home to me.”
When he opens his eyes, he wonders how long that paper plane has being lying at his feet. His hands shake as he unfolds it and the tears brimming his eyes make everything blurry. He furiously wipes his face with the back of his sleeve. It must be but he can’t believe it is. There it is, seventy years too late or maybe just right. He knows this is it, Bucky’s star constellation. He’s memorized it all those years ago and god, it is beautiful. He can almost feel Bucky’s warm fingers drawing on his back. Bucky always said he couldn’t draw but this is the most simple, the most pure, the most graceful drawing Steve has ever seen. He never would have thought lines and dots would bring him to his knees but they do. When a shadow falls upon the paper Steve turns around.
Right there, right in front of him, Bucky stands. Steve scrambles to his feet and takes a step forward. Bucky wants to take a step back but he squeezes his eyes shut and steadies his breathing. He trembles but stays put. Steve’s knuckles softly brush Bucky’s cheekbone. His other hand gently touches his hand that’s hanging by his side. He slides over the back of Bucky’s hand, over the palm and back again. He smiles when Bucky visibly relaxes. Today is indeed a very special day.
“Talk to me,” Bucky whispers, his eyes closed. “Touch me.”
“I missed you.” Steve slides his hands up over Bucky’s arms. “I miss the warmth of your skin on my hands. Do you remember how you used to warm my hands in that crummy apartment?”
“I want to see what you’re hiding underneath this shirt.”
Steve pulls on Bucky’s shirt and Bucky chuckles, keeping his eyes shut but biting his lip in amusement.
“I want to feel every muscle in your body, touch every inch of your skin.” His fingers trace the lines of the muscles in his upper arms.
He takes a step closer and Bucky feels Steve’s breath caress his face.
“I want to feel how warm you are and I want to know when you’re cold so I can take care of you like you always took care of me. Do you remember that too?”
Bucky nods again.
Steve’s fingertips find their way to Bucky’s neck, his jaw, and they cup his face, thumbs stroking his cheekbones. Bucky leans into the touch; a soft sigh escaping his slightly parted lips. He swallows hard when Steve’s thumb touches his lips.
“I want to find out if your lips are as soft as I remember, if you still taste as sweet. Because damn, sweetheart, you tasted so sweet. You are so beautiful.”
“Kiss me. Please, kiss me,” Bucky breathes out.
Steve reaches out for Bucky and closes the small gap between them. The kiss is chaste, lips barely touching, breathing in each other. Steve gently rubs his nose against Bucky’s. Bucky smiles against Steve’s lips, eyes still closed.
“You call that a kiss, Stevie? I remember you were a better kisser than that,” he teases. He feels Steve grin against his lips when they find his again. A content sigh escapes Bucky’s lips and Steve’s tongue slides over them. It’s been decades since Bucky kissed Steve and now he’s here. “Am I dreaming, sweetheart? Are you real?”
He gets his answer when Steve tightens his grip, trapping him in his embrace. He slumps against Steve, their bodies touching wherever they can.
Steve’s skin is tingling, prickling and crackling with electricity. His tongue teases Bucky’s mouth.
Bucky parts his lips while he grabs two fistfuls of Steve shirt, his left tearing the seams. Steve nips his bottom lip and it grounds him. That’s his anchor. Steve’s fingers dig into Bucky’s back. It’s still a gentle touch but Bucky knows when Steve holds back. Steve was always a passionate one but privacy was sparse back then and walls were thin. He feels Steve erratic heartbeat, his labored breath, the way he squeezes his eyes shut to steady himself those few seconds their lips aren’t connected.
“It’s okay, sweetheart. It’s okay. Just let go,” Bucky says. Steve’s kisses become greedy, needy and Bucky eagerly responds. It’s been enough. Life has been cruel enough. People have been cruel enough. They’ve waited long enough.
Steve’s hands move painstakingly slow because he doesn’t want to ruin this. He wouldn’t have dreamt of holding him so soon, let alone kiss him. God, he’s kissing him. It’s him his fingers are feeling. His hands explore the hard muscles of his back. He drops his head in the crook of Bucky’s neck and bites his lip. He holds his breath when he dares to venture even lower and let his fingertips slide over Bucky’s ass. He grabs it just for a second, afraid it might all be too overwhelming, holding back a groan. He kisses his way back to Bucky’s mouth. The peaceful look on Bucky’s face while he tilts his head to the side, giving him perfect access to his neck is enough to make Steve drop to his knees and thank the heaven’s above for creating such a perfect human being.
Bucky cards his hands through Steve’s hair and lazily kisses him again when Steve’s hands make their way back up over his hips.
Steve feels the hard planes of his lover’s stomach, committing every single muscle to memory and ends his journey over his pecs and onto his shoulders. The muscles in his fingers are tense, they hurt from want. Everything about Bucky screams slow and fast to Steve, soft and hard, gentle and rough. He doesn’t know what he wants first but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is Bucky. One hand rests on Bucky’s lower back keeping him close while he keeps kissing him. He gets lost in the moment and kisses him hard, impatient as Bucky always called him, before he regains some of his senses and goes slow again, nipping Bucky’s lip, sliding his lips over his, pressing their foreheads together to catch his breath. Bucky is following his lead and Steve wants to make it good for him, even if it’s kissing like two teenagers. Shivers run down Steve’s spine when his other hand finds itself in Bucky’s long hair. Fuck, he’s wanted to do that for so long. It’s such a hot look on him along with the scruff on his face making his lips all red and tingly when they kiss his jawline. His nails lightly scratch his head and Bucky hums. Steve has to fight the urge to jerk his hips forward when he hears that sound and tries to steady his breathing.
It amuses Bucky, even though he’s still getting used to any kind of touch, just because he realizes how much restraint Steve is showing. All because he wants him. He wants him. And being wanted is a great feeling. You’re a silly dog, James Barnes, Bucky thinks. How did you ever think you could stop loving this man?
He slides his hands up over Steve’s rock hard chest feeling the drum of his heart under his hands and keeps them there for a second just to make sure he’s really there, alive and breathing. He rests his hands on his neck before they encounter his beard. Bucky saw it before, following him in the shadows, but now his hands stop and his thumbs trace the outlines of his bearded jawline. His fingers follow the short hairs. They feel soft under his fingers. For a second Bucky feels Steve’s lips smile against his and he smiles too. He doesn’t know if he ever kissed Steve’s smile before but it feels good. It’s like kissing happiness itself. But he’s becoming greedy too and kisses Steve hard. His hands card themselves through Steve’s longer hair. It’s not like he’s never done that. Steve’s hair wasn’t that short on top when they were younger but now he can tug it at the back too. He can keep his lips close. He can guide him wherever Bucky wants him to be. The thought sends a shiver down his spine, making all his blood rush down. So he does just that, grabbing Steve’s hair at the nape of his neck and at the top of his head exposing his neck, and pushes him against the wall. Steve chases his lips but he has nowhere to go when Bucky starts placing sloppy kisses from his ear down to his collar bone and up again biting his neck rather harshly making Steve hiss and push his hips forward in an idle attempt to be close to Bucky more than to chase friction and pleasure.
A low, long grunt from Steve is all Bucky needs to break down the last remainders of the triggers. He’s still addicted, he thinks. Pulling those sounds from Steve and he’s the one doing it. He’s the only one that can and god, does it make him feel good. He remembers all the different sounds Steve can make. He bites his neck again and Steve hisses loudly again. That’s one. He kisses his neck. A low rumble in his chest. That’s two. He ventures down and nips at his collarbone. A sharp breath is sucked in. That’s three. He hears Steve whisper his name and he smiles against his skin, digging his fingers into his hips. They jerk forward while he groans. That’s four. His thumbs slide over his nipples. “Fuck!” he swears. That’s five. Bucky feels bold, on top of the world. He grinds his hips against Steve’s. “Oh Jesus Christ, Bucky,” he moans. That’s six. Six is definitely Bucky’s favorite sound. No-one says his name more beautifully than Steve.
While Steve’s panting, trying not to squeeze Bucky too hard, Bucky takes in that beautiful face, the beard, the longer hair. He’ll definitely be carding his hands through it while singing his hallelujahs when he gets him all to himself. No more waiting till tomorrow. No more waiting at all. We’re done waiting, Bucky thinks.
“Take me home, Stevie. Take me home. It’s time to fulfill our destiny.”