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there once was a diamond

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Bucky wakes up to a very, very beautiful man leaning over him, blue eyes a little tired, but kind anyways. Half of his face is covered. "Hey there," He says quietly, like he's afraid to startle him. "How we feelin'?" 

"Mm." He says eloquently, the pounding in his head intensifying when he opens his mouth. "Ow." He settles on that, because yeah, ow. He feels like he's been hit by a truck."I know you," Bucky says, finally, once he's sees the star plastered onto his chest. "You're--the guy." Bucky doesn't know why he's having such a hard time with words; he probably has a concussion.

He laughs, eyes crinkly, and looks back over to him. New York looks like it's on fire behind him. Are they even still in New York? "I suppose I am."

"Aren't you supposed to be, you know, saving the world." Bucky says, and tries to sit up, wincing pitifully when it becomes incredibly hard to breathe, the guy frowning and putting a hand behind his head, the other on his shoulder, guiding him back down.

He's still frowning. "Yeah. I just--you're alright?"

Bucky sighs, and winces at that too. "Better broken than dead." Captain America laughs. "Go, do your job." 

 

He manages to sit up, finally, a little embarrassed on how hard he's breathing. He watches, terrified, as IronMan falls from the hole in the sky. His thrusters aren't on.  But then, someone catches him, and Bucky doesn't even know the guy, but he lets out a breath of relief. 

He figures he's given himself enough time, now, and stands up, going to do a head count on the little group of civilians he had ushered to the side of the broken building.

 

"Sir," A paramedic says, and Bucky nearly corrects her to Sergeant when she sees she's in fatigues. But he doesn't. She's looking at him with a knowing eye, though. "Captain Rogers was very adamant we check you out." He blinks, surprised that he would even remember a random dude he had to tackle out of the way mid fight, and makes sure to send another paramedic over to where the people are hiding before walking to the closest ambulance.  

 

It's surreal to have to go back to work after a few weeks, sitting behind his desk in his little office looking at numbers all day like nothing happened. But he supposes that's what New York is best at.

 

 

He quietly puts in a transfer request a few months later, his unofficial therapist (read: little sister with a PhD in psychology) saying that it probably wasn't doing him any good to stay in a city that was the epicenter of his trauma. He hates when she calls it that.

"Don't call it that," He said, frowning at his cup of coffee. "Nothing...awful, happened to me."

She shrugged and put her hair back in a pony tail. "Yeah, but you were there."

He'll never tell her, but a part of him agreed, so he packs up his little apartment, and goes out to DC to start the New Year on the proverbial blank slate, where their sister branch sits in the financial district like it doesn't belong. He finds a place close enough to the city where the commute doesn't make him want to die. (He'd take the subway, but he doesn't do so well with small, enclosed spaces, not anymore.)

He gets weekends off here, which he supposes is both a perk, and a reason to get him exercising for real again, so he gets a stupidly expensive gym membership in the city, because it forces him to get up and park near the Washington Monument and go for a fucking run before work, for once.

 

So Bucky gets there, spends a few stretching on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, because his joints don't agree with him anymore, not after the war or more recently, New York, before he starts running. He always catches sunrise, and he and the guy wearing the Air-Force hoodie have gotten into a habit of nodding at each other when they cross paths, Air Force noting his Army shirt, salutes him once. Bucky hates that he doesn't hate it.

 

He's sitting in the grass drinking water after his run when Air Force comes up and plops down next to him. "Sam Wilson," He says, holding out a hand. It takes him a little by surprise, but he shakes his hand anything. 

"James Barnes." His full name feels a little foreign in his mouth.

Sam laughs and rubs a hand over his face. "You're fast, dude." 

They exchange some small talk, but not enough to make him feel uncomfortable. It's a nice constant. Something about Sam's smile is enough to get Bucky to smile, too, and after a week, they make plans to go watch the game at the nearest bar.

He tells Becca later that day that he's made a friend, per her near incessant asking, and she responds: im so glad someone finally stopped being afraid of your resting murder face!!!! :)

She has a point, but he still resents it. 

 

Sam's already started when Bucky gets there, and he only spends a few minutes stretching before putting his headphones in and getting to it. He likes when Sam's ahead of him, it makes him feel like less of an asshole, and also less likely to lap him.

It's very surprising when someone breezes past Bucky's shoulder so fast that it almost makes him trip over his own shoes. Watching the oddly familiar figure sprint past him sparks a sense of competitiveness in his chest, but he tampers it down, knowing that there's not really a chance of him catching up much less outrunning this guy. He does, however, catch up to Sam, and they share a glance that says get a load of this guy, before Bucky pulls ahead of him. He gets lapped twice, and it makes him angrier than it should, really.

 

He waits for Sam on the grass, like he always does, and when he sits down with a huff, he takes out his headphones. "What the fuck," Bucky says, and Sam laughs, putting a hand on his ribs.

"Did he 'on your left' you too?" Sam says, still out of breath, and Bucky shakes his head.

"He might've, didn't hear 'im though," He says, reaching up to turn off his headphones, suddenly conscious of how loud music is blasting through them.

"Need a medic?" The guy says, rounding the corner, and Sam rolls his eyes, but Bucky fixes him with a glare for a few seconds before he realizes who he is. "Hey," Steve says, breaking into a grin, pointing at Bucky. "I know you,"

"Do you?" Bucky asks, not being able to help the lopsided smile settle on his face. He can feel Sam's eyes boring into the back of his head.

"Yeah, you're the guy." Steve winks, and Bucky thinks he might be blushing.

"You wanna tell me what the fuck is goin' on?" Sam says, and Bucky laughs, standing up and holding a hand down to Sam, who takes it.

"Sure, Cap here broke all my ribs." Bucky says, play smacking Steve's shoulder as if they're friends, he doesn't notice how Steve winces. Caution isn't in his nature.

"It's not my fault you were standing in the middle of the road during a fucking alien invasion." Steve says, pouting a little, and Bucky rolls his eyes. Sam looks confused. "I also happened to save your life, you know." He adds, and Bucky grins again.

He looks at his watch. It's nearly eight. "I gotta go, you two should talk." He says, holding out his fist so Sam can tap it with his, giving Steve his best salute, and heading off to his car.

He hears Sam say Dude, I've never seen him smile at anyone like that before. He tries not to think about it.

("Yeah? You known him long?" Steve asks, putting his hands on his hips and watching as Bucky opens the door to his car. 

Sam shakes his head. "A few months. But he's a real cryptic motherfucker. It's almost scary.")

 

And then it becomes a thing, seeing Captain America in civvies on the same run he's taken for almost two months. They don't really talk most days, since Bucky has a habit of staying later than he should what with having to shower and change into something presentable for work. Sam tells him he's nice, though, and that Black Widow tends to pick him up in a fancy car. Isn't her name Natasha? He also tells him Steve gave him the twenty questions routine about Bucky. He doesn't dwell on it.

 

"You should ask him out," Sam says, and Bucky nearly spits out his beer. "Valentines day is in a few days, you could make it an event." He winks.

"I can not," Bucky grips his beer bottle with both hands, the condensation running over his fingers. "I repeat, cannot, ask Captain America out." 

"I see you makin' googly eyes at each other." Sam says, and finishes off his own beer, slamming it on the table with a little too much gusto. "It's kind of gross." 

He tries not to think about it too much. 

 

 

Bucky gets there a bit earlier today--he tells himself it's because it's finally stopped being so damn cold in the mornings on account of it being spring now, but he knows it's really just because he wants to have a little extra time post run to sit and talk to Steve (read: make him laugh--so he's smitten, that's the way it goes).

 

Steve's running slow today, is the first thing Bucky notices. Slow enough to only lap him once. He slows down even more as they finish up, and Bucky seizes the moment, god knows how many others he'll get, and kicks up the gear, coming up beside Steve and saying on your left, before passing him. It startles a laugh out of him that Bucky can hear through his music, and then there's a hand grabbing the back of his shirt, pulling him out of his momentum, sending them both tumbling into a soft, frosty patch of grass. Bucky only squeals a little before the wind and his headphones get knocked out him. He does notice, however, that Steve hasn't let his head hit the ground, nor all of his weight crush him.

"We gotta stop meeting like this," Bucky wheezes, and Steve laughs, head dropping a little so it's almost to Bucky's collarbone before he sits back on his knees. 

He looks like he wants to say something, and Bucky almost beats him to it to say at least you didn't break any ribs, but then Sam is jogging up to them. "I want you to know," He's out of breath, Bucky loves it. "I got that on video." He brandishes his phone like a trophy, and Bucky demands that he send it to him right now, immediately

"I let you win!" Steve calls after him, Bucky flips him the bird.

 

When Bucky checks his phone during his mandatory eleven o'clock coffee break, he has five texts from an unknown number--not a string of numbers, just a blank, unknown number. It makes him think it's encrypted.

hey, it's steve

rogers

i kind of maybe got your number from JARVIS

he's stark's AI. he lives in my phone. 

i hope that's not too weird.

 

Bucky can't help but laugh.

it's a little weird. lucky you i don't mind

 

He doesn't get a response for a while, so he figures Steve's off doing Avenger-y things, and goes back to work.

 

He gets a call from said unknown number once he's home for the day. "Hey," He says, putting the phone to his ear as he unlocks his front door.

"Hi," Steve sounds off.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm--" He takes a deep breath, and then laughs. "A little nervous. You make me nervous."

Bucky blurts out a laugh, and throws his keys on the table. "C'mon Steve, don't kid, you've fought aliens."

"M'not." He says quietly, and Bucky's knees go dangerously wobbly.

"Aw, come on, you can't say things like that. It stokes my ego." Bucky says, and Steve laughs, for real this time. Bucky finds he enjoys that.

They stay on the phone while Bucky heats up left overs and halfway through his meal, talking about nothing, until he hears a beep somewhere from the other line. "I gotta go," Steve says, and Bucky nods, aware that he can't see him. "I'll uh--see you."

"Yeah." Bucky says, and pulls on the hair-tie around his wrist. "Night, Steve."

"Good night," He says back, and then the line goes dead. He doesn't like the finality of that.  

 

Steve's not there the next morning, or the one after that. He hasn't answered any of Bucky's texts either. He worries.

"Where's your boy?" Sam asks, and Bucky shrugs.

"I don't know," He answers, though begrudgingly, and just goes to work and tries not to think about it.

 

Friday morning Steve shows up again, and Bucky finds it's easier to breathe when he can look at Steve's shoulders in front of him. But then Steve goes off script, and turns so he's running up the stairs to the Lincoln Memorial, and Bucky makes a sound in the back of his throat, and finds himself following him.

"You okay?" Bucky asks, breathless once he's at the top, ripping his headphones out of his ears, and the question gets answered for him when he sees what probably used to be a black eye gracing Steve's face. "What happened," He near whispers, closing the distance between them and putting his hands on Steve's face. He flinches, hard, but doesn't move to take them away. 

"You should see the other guy," Steve says halfway to pitiful, and puts his shaking hands on Bucky's wrists. Bucky frowns, Steve sighs. He doesn't have to say anything, but Bucky realizes then, how much it really weighs on him, being Captain America and therefore indirectly responsible for fucking everything.

He makes soft, understanding sound, and thumbs over Steve's sharp cheekbones. "I know." Steve looks at him then, really, and sighs again. "You didn't answer my question, are you okay?" It almost scares him, how much he already cares.

"Yeah," He says, nodding. "Just, need to get out of my head, I guess."

"You think you can keep yourself busy til three? That's when I'm off today." Bucky says, second nature almost. Steve blinks at him. Bucky abruptly feels like he's going to throw up.  "If not, I can just call in sick and we can--"

"Buck, no." Steve says, hands tightening around his wrists. Bucky drops his hands. "I'm fine, really. Three is fine."

He smiles. "Great, so we're on for lunch. Well, late lunch. Pre dinner." He rambles, and it gets Steve to laugh.

"Are y'all done?" Sam yells from the base of the stairs, and they both erupt into a fit of giggles.

 

At three, Bucky texts him an address to meet at, and gathers his things. 

It's a tiny little Japanese restaurant, tucked up and between museums that Bucky just adores. Steve's already there when Bucky gets there, baseball cap and sunglasses on, looking like he's scoping out the place. His smile breaks when he sees Bucky. "Hi," He says, a little relieved, and follows him in. 

"I've never had sushi." Steve admits, once he's reading over the menu. Bucky gapes at him a little. "Japanese food...wasn't this popular back before...you know." He says it in clipped tones, and Bucky supposes he's never thought of that. 

"Well, it's good. But if you don't trust it like that, then you can get, like fried rice or tempura, and you can try some of mine." He says, not looking up from his menu. When he does, he gets a face full of Steve looking at him like he's made out of diamonds. Bucky clears his throat and looks back at his menu, but is very aware of Steve still staring at him.

Turns out Steve's not the biggest fan of raw fish. That's okay. He eats two plates of fried rice (no onions) and tips half of the bill. Bucky thinks he might be in love. 

 

"I'm being surveilled." Steve grits out half painfully as he walks with Bucky back to his car, donning the hat and glasses, again. 

"Why?" Bucky asks, choosing to leave out the fact that he'd already noticed.

Steve shrugs. "SHIELD thinks I'm dangerous." 

"I mean, you kind of are." Bucky says, shrugging a little, and Steve sighs. 

"I know, but I--lately I just feel wound up too tight, you know, like a spring, or something." He says, a rush of words like a river. Bucky understands. "The last thing I need is some fucking agent across the hall listening to me mull about my apartment." 

Bucky hums a little, and it's an easy decision, really. "Steve, you ever heard of Mario Kart?" 

"What the fuck is that," Steve deadpans, and Bucky laughs. 

"It's great catharsis, really, come on." They get to his car, and Bucky holds the passenger side door open.

"They're gonna tail us to your house," Steve says, making a small gesture over his shoulder where Bucky sees the two people sitting in a black SUV, pointedly staring at them. Bucky smiles and waves at them before giving them the finger, and the man in the driver seat looks away, and rolls up the window. It makes Steve laugh, though, surprised.

"We can close the blinds." He says with a wink, and Steve still eyes the passenger seat warily before getting into his comparatively tiny Mazda. 

 

It takes Steve all of thirty seconds to understand the game, and before they know it, they're on their sixth grand prix, and the sun is gone. 

"You're cheating!" Steve squeals as Bucky hits him with a blue shell, and reaches out to shove his shoulder. 

"Perfectly legal." Bucky laughs and speeds past his Princess Peach across the finish line, coming in first. 

"You're terrible. I hate this game." Steve mopes, and Bucky can't stop laughing now. 

"Now you know how it feels every damn morning." Bucky counters, and Steve throws a couch pillow at him. He checks his watch and frowns. 

"I should go." Steve says, finally, and Bucky can't help but be disappointed. 

You could stay, he thinks. "Okay," He says. 

 

-

"Captain Rogers," An agent says, as Steve's walking out of the training room at the compound, and his shoulders drop. 

"Yes?" He asks, confused, wiping the sweat off his face with a towel. 

"Agent Coulson would like to see you, sir." He says, swallowing a little nervously when Steve comes up to him, towering six inches taller. "He's in y-your office." 

Steve can't help but laugh. "Calm down, kid, I'm not gonna bite." Steve says, and eyes his badge for good measure. The issue date is from this year, which means he can't have been working with them for a long time. 

"Sorry, sir." He says, and Steve pats his shoulder before walking past him and finding the row of offices that are there just for show more than anything else. For instances like this, he supposes. 

He gets to his office, and sure enough, Coulson is standing there in all of his suited glory, eyeing a few photographs Steve has on his desk. "Phil," Steve announces himself, and can't help but grin when he sees him startle. 

"Captain," Coulson greets formally, turning to face Steve, unbuttoning his suit jacket as if he fixes to sit down. Steve doesn't plan on being here for that long. He crosses his arms. 

"Why are you here?" 

Phil clears his throat and re-buttons his jacket. "We've noticed that you've made...a friend." 

Steve snorts. "By we, do you mean the agents you've tacked onto my tail? And the one that lives across the hall from me? Scrubs don't suit her, Phil, should'a gave her something smart to wear like a pantsuit, I reckon she'd feel more herself in that." 

Coulson sighs a little, and puts a hand to his temple. "Look, Captain, we just ask for a little more discretion. The more you get seen in public, the easier of a target you become. Not to mention the easier target your friend, Sergeant Barnes, becomes." 

"Did you run background on him? That's gross, Phil." Steve frowns, and can't help but feel a little disappointed that he hadn't discovered his military background on his own. 

"Of course we did background on him, Steve." He doesn't know where it comes from when he corrects him to Captain

Steve sighs. "Listen, son, my team members are great, but there's only so much avenger I can handle. If that bothers you, then fucking find a way to deal with it. Collect bottle caps, or something. Keep your nose out of my personal life." Steve feels dangerous, and he thinks back to what Bucky said to him the day before, well I mean, you are. Coulson is fixing him with a look that reveals nothing.

Steve deflates. "Sorry. I'll be more conspicuous. But can you at least make the tail a little less obvious? Think he noticed. Also, please don't bug his apartment. That's just weird." 

He turns on his heels to leave. "This conversation isn't over!" Coulson yells after him.

"Yes it is!" 

-

 

Steve brings him lunch to work a few times, well, doesn't personally, as that would cause a riot in the tiny little accounting firm, but there's always flowers and a cute note that makes Bucky feel like he's floating. 

"You ever gonna tell us who you're dating?" Karen from down the hall asks, steeping a tea bag obsessively in her mug. "Whoever it is, I want to send them a thank you card for finally getting you to smile."

"Nope," Bucky says, popping the p happily and taking his coffee back to his office. 

 

 

Bucky's a little drunk. Well, maybe more than a little, they went to a bar with Sam and some of his friends, Steve having to half sneak in through the back. Steve's manhandling him into his apartment, throwing the keys on the counter and turning the light on. Bucky knows he should be cooperating, but he can't help but just go limp under Steve's hands, shoving his own up under Steve's pullover, despite his incessant wiggling away from him. 

"Buck, come on, you need to sit down." Steve says, laughing a little when Bucky whines against his collarbone. "Alright," Steve says, and then he's crouching, and holding Bucky over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes. He can't help the squeal laugh that comes out of him, arms going noodley around Steve's waist, cheek pressed into the warm line of his back. The victory is short lived, because he's being all but thrown onto his couch unceremoniously, and then Steve's gone into the kitchen. 

"Steve," Bucky whines, head falling back against the couch. "Steeeeeve," He calls again when he doesn't suddenly materialize in front of him. 

"I'm coming," Steve answers, laughing, and Bucky thinks yeah, I'd like you to be, but he doesn't say it, thank God. He comes back, finally, holding a glass full of water. It even has a straw in it. Bucky smiles. 

"You're so sweet, come here." He holds out a hand and catches Steve's belt loop, tugging towards him a little. "C'meere," 

"Jesus Christ Barnes, you're a handsy motherfucker." Steve laughs, sitting on the couch next to him, careful not to spill any of the water. He puts it on the coffee table. 

"Am not." Bucky says, even though he's up in Steve's personal space, again, and is pushing up the sweater he's wearing despite it being the middle of summer. "You're warm." He says, categorically, and Steve laughs as if he's wrong, but lets him pull the sweater off anyways, messing up his hair, so he's just in that stupidly tight cotton shirt. 

"You are," Steve says, pulling him closer and giving him a kiss anyways. 

"I just," Bucky starts, gets cut off by his own treacherous yawn; Steve smiles. "I just like you." His hands are up under Steve's shirt, again, slotted against his ribcage like they belong there. 

Steve's face goes all soft, and he trails his knuckles down Bucky's cheek. Bucky feels like he's a second away from getting his hand kissed. It makes him stupid. "I...should go." Steve says, finally, and Bucky whines, for real this time. 

"Why," He bemoans into Steve's neck. "You could stay. I want you to stay." Steve's hands go tight on his waist for a second, and then they're gone. Bucky very nearly cries. 

"I don't want--I don't want you to feel like--" Steve's having trouble getting a sentence out, Bucky sits back up, and just looks at him. He's blushing. 

"My god, Rogers, you're not taking advantage of me." Bucky says finally, once he gets the gist, and can't help but laugh. He puts his hands on Steve's face, smushing his cheeks up a little; there's less of him like that. "You don't even gotta sleep in my bed. Can banish you to the couch if it makes you feel better." 

Steve frowns a little at that, and Bucky kisses his nose. "I just want you to stay, okay? If you don't wanna, you don't have to. I'll survive." He puts his hands on his knees, and leans over to grab the cup of water. The straw is pink and silicon--Bruce got one for everyone, and Steve in turn gave one to Bucky, something about saving the planet. Bucky likes Bruce, he also supposes he likes the planet. Maybe he'll actually listen to Bruce when he talks about how bad eating meat is. The Hulk is fun, too.

"Buck, 'course I wanna." Steve says, letting his head fall back for a second. 

"I can tell," Bucky says, and pinches his nipple, too hard to feel good, where it's poking obscenely through his ridiculous shirt. Steve squirms and grabs his wrist. 

"Keep that up, Buck, I swear to god I'm goin' home." Steve says sternly, and Bucky bites back the whimper before nodding, suddenly feeling ten times as drunk and needy as he was before. 

"No," He says, and pouts until Steve kisses him. "Steve, stay." He says, finishing off the glass of water and putting it back on the coffee table, nearly falling off the couch in the process. He would've brained himself on the corner if not for Steve's hands holding him up. "Please," 

"Yeah, yeah. Keep your hands to yourself." Steve laughs, kissing him again for good measure before herding him into the bedroom. 

 

Bucky wakes up plastered to Steve's back. Who woulda thought, Captain America is a little spoon. He very quickly realizes that he feels warm enough to crawl out of his skin, but tucks his face against Steve's shoulder blade anyways. 

"Mornin," Steve says, and Bucky groans. Steve laughs and rolls over, so Bucky's face is in his chest instead. This way he can get a mouth on Steve's collarbone, so, he can't complain. "You up for a run?" Bucky bites him, hard.

"Fuck. You." Bucky says, tilting his head up so he can nose under Steve's jaw. "Yeah, I'm tryin'." He mumbles, almost to himself. Steve goes ramrod straight then, Bucky fears he's stopped breathing. He pulls back, and leans on his elbow. "Why'd you always get all weird--" He asks, and then backpedals. "Fuck, I'm sorry, that was insensitive and gross. You don't have to tell me if--you know," He makes a vague hand gesture. "Whatever. I'm sorry, Christ,"

"Buck," Steve laughs a little, pressing his thumb to Bucky's bottom lip to get him to stop talking. "It's nothing like that," He says quietly, and then rolls onto his back to stare at the ceiling. Bucky follows suit, their shoulders touching. "I just don't want to hurt you." Bucky has the feeling that there's an again unsaid in there. 

"You won't," Bucky says quietly, and Steve sighs. 

"It's not--you don't--" He holds his hands up and looks at them for a while. "I'm still getting used to...my new body and I--I've killed people with my bare hands and--." 

"So have I." Bucky interrupts, and Steve turns to look at him so fast he might've gotten whiplash. "You're not going to hurt me." He says quietly, turning once more so he can look down at Steve's sleep creased face, and touch his cheek softly. "I promise." 

"It's not your promise to make." Steve says quietly, like all the fight has gone out of him. Bucky kisses him, morning breath be damned. 

"Well I'm makin' it anyways." 

 

Bucky can't do much but scroll through his phone while waiting for Steve to get out of the shower.

yo where are you

oh cap wasnt here either

oooooh you got laid. ignore me. bye!

 

Bucky laughs, sends a winky emoji, and tosses his phone off the bed. When Steve does finish up in his shower, he comes out with the towel wrapped loosely around his hips. "Buck," He says, and Bucky looks over at him, not being able to stop the grin. "S'there a reason your towels are tiny?" 

He's right, really, the pathetic yellow excuse for a towel bunched in one hand, revealing a very savory strip of Steve's thigh. Bucky shrugs. "You're just, you know, large." 

Steve smiles at him then, open and happy, and Bucky stretches out languidly on the bed. "Come 'ere." Bucky says, and Steve, for once, listens. He's still holding onto the towel, though, finally letting go when he's on his stomach next to him.

"Hi," Bucky says, feeling all of his useful thoughts promptly zip out of his brain all at once. Steve's skin is all pink and a little blotchy from the shower, probably warm to the touch. He tests this theory and puts a hand on his back. Warm to the touch, indeed. 

"Hi," Steve parrots back, smiling and leaning forward to touch their foreheads together. Bucky decides he loves him like this. "You're very naked," He says, and Bucky laughs. 

"That a problem?" He means it. 

Steve says no, angling his head so they can kiss; a soft, chaste thing. "I'm just thinking, we shouldn't have bothered with a shower." 

Bucky tilts his head and finds purchase on the back of Steve's neck, pulling him a little until he gets the hint and fits himself on top of him, towel hanging on by a thread. "No? You gonna make a mess outta me, Rogers?" He asks, and it's visible, the way Steve's chest hitches. 

He touches Bucky's cheek with his knuckles again, soft like he's going to break. "If you'll let me." 

He grins, wolfish. "Hell yeah I'll let you," 

 

They don't get much done for the rest of the weekend.

 

"What are these from?" Bucky asks, quietly, running his fingers over the stretch marks that run across the back of his shoulders. It's around ten in the morning, probably, the light coming in through the window making everything look golden. 

"My skin couldn't keep up with all the...muscle." Steve says quietly, his throat feeling a little tight, suddenly, and hears Bucky hum before kissing his shoulder and sitting up. Steve rolls onto his back to look at him as he turns so the light catches his side just right. He lifts his arm over his head, and then Steve sees the thin, but present scar that goes from just under his third rib to his hip. Steve mostly can't believe he hadn't noticed it before.

"You showed me yours," Bucky offers, and Steve just looks at him as he lets his arm fall. "We got a little blown up." 

Steve laughs without meaning to, really. "How do you get a little blown up?" Bucky shrugs and lets Steve pull him down on top of him. They're both laughing now. "Thank you."

"For what?" Bucky asks, not bothering to move from where his face is smushed against Steve's neck. He just shrugs, and they leave it at that.

-

 

"I broke my nose a few times, when I was younger." Steve says, putting the call on speaker and setting it on the counter. They've just gotten back from a minor disturbance--well, however minor it can be having had required both his and Tony's presence as well as a SWAT team. He called Bucky as soon as the jet touched back down. His nose won't stop bleeding. 

"How'd you manage that?" Bucky asks, sounding lax, like he's spent the last hour sitting in a bathtub. 

Steve laughs a little and wipes his nose with the back of his hand, smearing blood across his gloves. "I don't like bullies. Never have." 

Bucky snorts out a laugh; Steve strips down out of his suit into sweats with practiced ease. "So you decided it would be a good idea to wage a war on injustice with your tiny asthmatic body?" 

That hits Steve in a weird place as he finds a towel and presses it to his face. "Nobody else was doin' it." 

"I wish I knew you, before." Bucky says, quietly, like it's a confession meant for someone holier than Steve to hear.

"So do I." He whispers back. 

Bucky clears his throat. "You back yet?" Steve desperately wants to know what he's doing.

Steve shakes his head. "Not yet." Bucky makes a soft disapproving sound, and he wishes they were on video call. "What are you doing?" 

"Nothing interesting." He says, and Steve huffs. "Missin' you." He says, quietly, and Steve abruptly sits down, as if his knees decided they were done for the day. 

"Yeah." He's very aware of how his voice is shaking. "You should get some rest. I'm gonna go find something to get my nose to stop bleeding." 

"You should ask one of the girls for a tampon, works like a charm." Bucky says as if it's normal, Steve chuckles. "Don't laugh at me." 

"You speakin' from experience, Buck?" The towel he's holding is halfway soaked; he's just wondering why the serum hasn't kicked in and clotted the tear yet.

"Mhm, it's dry as fuck in--" He cuts off, and clears his throat. "You know, the desert." 

"Yeah Buck, I know. Go to sleep." Steve throws away the towel and ventures out to find Natasha, even though he doesn't think he's ever seen her bleed--at all. "I--I'll see you soon." 

"Yeah, you better."

 

 

He's been in New York for a week now, and he can feel the warmth draining form his body the longer he's there. 

He's sitting at the kitchen counter, half glaring at a bowl of cereal, running through the checklist of things that remind him what year it is in his head (internet exists, being gay isn't illegal in the US, the Stark of the hour is Tony, not Howard--that point is always a reality check: it makes Steve painfully remember the helicarrier, when he put an hand on Tony's arm to stop him from leaving and Tony reacted as if he'd been burned. Steve figures it out, later, after Bruce yells at him a little, and nearly throws up in a nondescript hallway before finding Tony and apologizing profusely), when Tony walks into the kitchen. Speak of the devil.

It's gotten better since then, Tony doesn't try and break his wrist when he touches him, he even gave him a hug, once.

"What did the cereal ever do to you?" He asks, and it pulls Steve out of his head. He laughs a little, and halfheartedly puts a spoon in the now all but dissolved corn flakes. "Until when are you staying?" His head is in the fridge, Steve grins. 

"Not much longer, hopefully." He says, and Tony pops back out with a loaf of bread cradled in his arm like a baby. 

"You gettin' separation anxiety already?" He says it like it's not a question, and as if Tony can spend more than a few days without Pepper without devolving into skin wrapped around an anxiety attack. Maybe that's what makes him qualified to ask. Steve just shrugs. 

"Maybe. I just--miss him, I guess." Steve admits out loud for the first time, and gets up to pour the cereal down the drain, feeling suddenly very guilty about wasting food. 

Tony makes an uncharacteristic noise of delight, and jabs at Steve's side. "You're sprung. He doesn't have a problem with the whole subzero thing, then?" 

If he had made that same comment even a few months before, Steve thinks he would have broken something. But now he just shakes his head. "He thinks I'm warm." He says it like its a secret, Tony stops in the midst of making his sandwich, and then looks at him with a crazy smile.

"Oh so you're soulmates." He says, and Steve half wants to smack him. "Hey, I've been meaning to ask," Steve looks at him expectantly and watches in horror as the grin unfurls on his face. "Do you two fondue?" 

 

 

Steve gets back to DC and forgoes his apartment completely, finding himself knocking on Bucky's door. It opens to reveal him very sleep rumpled, his shirt so big it hangs off one shoulder, and Steve realizes that it's late. He apologizes, but Bucky just rolls his eyes, says something about getting him a key and pulls him into the bedroom. 

"You alright?" He asks, putting the back of his hand to Steve's forehead. "You feel like you've got a fever." 

He laughs a little and pulls him closer, taking a deep breath against Bucky's chest, his hands splayed over his back under his shirt, like he's trying to maximize surface area contact. (It shocks Bucky, sometimes, how Steve can make himself tiny despite the size of him). "I can't get fevers." 

Bucky hums as if unconvinced, but turns off the light anyways.

 

 

"Whaddya mean you're gonna stop eating meat?" Steve asks, half mumbled into the mattress where he's lying face down. Bucky is sitting across his lower back. 

"I mean exactly that. Becca's been vegetarian for ages, and I did some research on that stuff Bruce was talking about--turns out he has a point." He says, pressing his thumbs into Steve's rhomboids. 

He huffs out a laugh and turns his head so he's facing the window. His eyes are closed, and he looks the most relaxed Bucky's ever seen him, despite the fact that he argued like hell when Bucky had offered to rub out the spot in his back that had been bothering him for a while. "But you love meat." 

Bucky rolls his eyes and presses down especially hard; Steve doesn't even flinch. "Yeah well, I'm just gonna have to make do." Steve hums back at him. "At least I'll have one source of all American, USDA approved Prime Beef." 

"Yeah? What's that?"  Bucky just squeezes Steve's shoulders, and he squawks out a laugh. "I don't think any of what they did to me was USDA approved." 

-

"Why did you drag me along, remind me?" Bucky asks, pulling the hoodie over his head. It's nearly one in the morning in the middle of October.

Steve shrugs and pulls his own hood up; he's wearing those dumb fake glasses again that make him look breathtaking. Wanda is walking ahead of them, her hair tucked under a beanie as if she isn't the most beautiful girl in a ten mile radius. "Wanda needed something, she didn't want to come alone...and neither did I. You were on the way." Steve says, and Bucky can't even be angry. He sticks his tongue out at Steve and catches up to Wanda, leaving him to trail behind them. 

They end up walking through the snack aisle hand in hand; she makes a few of the Halloween decorations float and follow them around, Bucky puts a little witch's hat over her beanie. "You two are children." Steve says from behind them, putting his phone in his pocket after taking some pictures, smiling all the same. 

She buys three boxes of Cookies and Cream poptarts--Bucky understands. He smiles at her as she rings them out through the self checkout lane, while Steve stands behind them looking like he's on duty. 

"Jesus, Steve, at ease." Bucky says and pokes him in the side. "You're definitely gonna get caught if you stand there looking like a righteous motherfucker." 

Steve blinks, incredulous. "Do you want me to slouch?" 

Bucky grins at him. "No, just do something uncharacteristic." He says, and Steve blinks at him again before smiling, taking a step towards him and kissing him hard enough that his back hits the displays next to the cash register. 

He's a little breathless when Steve pulls away, giving him an award winning smile. "Like that?" Bucky socks him in the shoulder. It's only later, when they're in the car, that Steve reveals the three packs of gum.  

 

Steve's in New York on Halloween, much to both of their dismay. Bucky won't tell him what he's dressing up as, but Sam sends him a picture around midnight of him posing in a doorway pointing to the mouse ears on his head. He's not wearing a shirt. Steve thinks he's having an asthma attack. 

He saves it and sends it back to Bucky, ?

i'm a mouse, duh!!!!

 

 

It's on TV, when the Scarlet Witch accidentally blows half of a building to hell. "It wasn't her fault." Bucky says, immediately, and Sam just clenches his jaw. "It wasn't her fucking fault."

He's met her all of once, but they hit it off right away, leaving Steve standing in the WalMart like a third wheel. "They're not gonna make it look like that."  Sam says, quietly, and a reluctant part of him agrees. He texts Steve, though he knows it won't get an answer. hope you're alrightgive wanda a hug for me. 

 

That night, his window gets shoved open so hard it almost breaks off it's tracks, and Bucky has a hand on his gun in less than a second, line drawn tight until he recognizes the shoulders that push in through it. The shield falls to the floor, loudly. 

"Jesus, Steve, I almost shot you." Bucky exhales, and puts the gun back on the night stand. "What the fuck, you have a key," He turns the light on, and sees Steve crumple against the wall, and falls to the floor. His lip is bleeding. 

"Sorry," He mumbles, and Bucky gets out of bed, coming to kneel in front of him and pull his helmet off. Steve smiles at him. "Just got back." He mumbles, grabbing Bucky's shoulders and nosing up against his neck. "Missed you," 

"How did you get here though, I doubt you took the metro." Bucky frets. 

"Jumped outta the jet before they could catch me." He says it like it's a game, and Bucky's heart stops. 

"Steve," Bucky nearly hisses when he sees the bruise that's creeping up his neck out of the back of his uniform. "Are you alright? You should be in a hospital, Jesus fucking Christ," 

"M'okay." He says, Bucky doesn't believe him. He's trying to find a zipper, or something to get his ridiculous get up off of him. "Just a few broken ribs." 

Bucky snorts. "A few broken ribs, he says." He gets his arms up under Steve's armpits and has him standing again, bearing most of all his weight. 

"They'll be fine in a few days." Steve says, and lets Bucky drag him into the bathroom, sitting him on the edge of the bath tub. "What're we doing in here? I wanna go to bed." 

"You're going to take a shower. You smell like gasoline." Bucky says, finally finding a zipper and undoing it, lifting the thick material up and over Steve's head. He winces a little when he raises his arms. Bucky feels categorically terrible about it.

"Jesus," He hisses when he sees the smattering of bruises all over Steve's torso, already turning yellow. Steve puts his hands on his lower back. "Should put you in an ice bath," Bucky mumbles, mostly to himself, leaning over him to turn the shower on. 

"No ice." Steve says fiercely, pressing his face into Bucky's hip. 

"No ice," Bucky agrees and pulls a very reluctant Steve onto his feet, undoing his tactical belt and throwing in the corner. An inhaler skids out across his tile, and Bucky just stares at it for a while, and then goes for his pants. He frowns again when he sees the bruise on Steve's thigh, but doesn't comment on it, just urges Steve under the warm spray of water. 

"You, too." Steve says, grabbing Bucky's wrist when he tries to get out of the bathroom. The shower curtain is wide open, soaking his floor. There's steam coming off Steve where the water hits him.

"No," Bucky shakes his head, and Steve's eyes go a little panicky. "I gotta go find you a towel that's not the size of a napkin." He says, and Steve inhales deeply, and then nods, letting go of Bucky's wrist and closing the shower curtain. 

Bucky finds his nicest towel and puts it in the dryer for a few minutes, just until he hears the water cut off--he guesses some habits are hard to kick. He goes back and hands it to Steve, who wipes his face dry first, and then wraps it around his hips. "Feel better?" 

Steve makes a soft sound and steps out. He's still a little damp, but at least the bruises don't look so terrible against his pink skin, some of the smaller ones already gone. 

Back in the room, Bucky finds him a pair of sweats that cut off well above his ankles, and does his best to shut the window, drawing the blinds and ignoring the shield on the floor. He thinks Steve's already asleep when he gets back in bed after turning the light off, but then Steve's pulling him close; he smiles. "Thank you," Steve says quietly, earnestly. 

"For?" 

Bucky feels him shrug more than anything else. "Being here." 

 

Bucky has great plans of making Steve breakfast, but there's a knock on his front door that cuts all of it in half. It startles both of them, and Steve makes a pained sound as he sits up. 

"Stay here," Bucky says, leaning across him to grab his gun again, and approaches the door cautiously. He looks through the peep hole and frowns. Natasha is standing in his hallway in her tactical gear, looking bored. "What do you want?"

He asks it through the door. "I need Steve." She says bluntly, and Bucky sighs. 

"So do I. Go away." 

It's then that Steve lumbers out of the bedroom, one of Bucky's hoodies pulled over his head. It looks good on him. "S'okay, Buck." He says, quietly, and Bucky doesn't know why he kisses him with an urgency he's never felt before. Steve smiles. "What was that for?" 

Bucky shrugs. "Felt necessary." He says, and Steve smiles at him again, kissing his forehead before eyeing his gun with a look that says put that away. He puts it into the waistband of his sweats, and Steve opens the door, chain still on. 

"Romanoff,"

"Captain," It feels rehearsed, but there's no tension to it. 

"You missed debrief." Natasha says, and Steve sighs. There's the part of Bucky that hasn't stopped intruding on his thoughts since he enlisted that makes him want to smack Steve upside the head for being so stupid. 

"Give me a second," He sighs and closes the door, and without as much as a glance at Bucky, goes back to the room and comes back with his uniform balled up under one arm, and his shield in the other. He opens the door, really this time, and Natasha grins at him. 

"You're not going to change?" 

"No," Steve says simply, ignoring the fact that the sweatshirt says lifeguard on it, and that he's not wearing shoes. "I'll see you later, Buck." He says, and Bucky feels indignant, suddenly. 

"Hey," He says, stepping into the hallway, shouldering past Natasha and pulling Steve in by the neckline of his hoodie to kiss him. "Where are your manners, Rogers." He says, and Steve laughs a little, out of breath. 

"Sorry," He says, and Bucky kisses him again. Natasha clears her throat.

"Alright, I get it. Go, or someone else will come and knock on my door like the fucking po-lice." Bucky says, rolling his eyes and letting Steve go, albeit reluctantly. 

"At least I knocked." Natasha says, and well yeah, at least she did.

"I will see you later," Steve says, and Bucky winks at him. 

-

"Why didn't you come get me earlier." He's grumpy, but he figures she'll forgive him. 

She shrugs, her face unreadable. "We all need moments with our people."

-

Steve sends him a picture later, of him all rumpled in Bucky's clothing, holding his gear to his chest, walking behind Natasha.

these will never see the light of day, but i figured you'd enjoy 

sad, could've written a great article, called it 'captain america's walk of shame'

ain't no shame here, Buck

 

 

Bucky's making pasta when Steve gets there, actually using his key instead of coming in through the window like an animal.

"Smells good," He says, walking into the kitchen. He's taken his shoes off, Bucky notices. He doesn't know why that makes him feel some type of way. Steve drops his chin onto Bucky's shoulder and kisses his neck. 

"How was debrief?" Bucky asks, giving the sauce on the pan a stir. Steve groans a little. "That bad?" 

"S'just--Fury gave me an earful. Tony just looked at me like he was proud, or something." 

"Proud of you for skipping out? Sounds like a real stand-up guy." Bucky laughs, and turns off the timer on the stove. He picks up the pot and turns to strain it over the sink, Steve moves with him like a unit. He dumps the bare pasta into the pan to let it finish cooking. 

"He's alright." Steve says, and Bucky feels him smile. His hands are under Bucky's shirt, and he can't help but laugh a little. 

"You're handsy when you're tired, you know that?" He says, and adds garlic and salt. 

"I just like you," Steve echoes back to him, and Bucky smiles, turning his head as an invitation for a kiss, which Steve picks up on easily. He hums a little, and Bucky very unwillingly has to detach himself in order to get plates. 

"I already ate," Steve says quietly, and Bucky makes a noise. 

"Wow," He says, glaring at the pasta as if it's it's fault. "I can't believe you'd betray me like that," Steve laughs and follows him to the table. "Just stab me in the back, Steve, it would hurt less." He spears a meatball angrily. 

"You want me to eat?" 

Bucky scoffs. "No, I just made an entire box of pasta for myself." He's being petulant, he knows. Steve laughs a little and gets up, and comes back with a plate. 

He pops a whole meatball in his mouth, and smiles. "Happy?" 

Bucky grins back at him, and kicks his shin, mostly happy about the fact that Steve's willingly eating veggie meatballs without complaints. "Yeah." 

 

 

 

Bucky makes somewhat impromptu plans to go back to New York for Thanksgiving, figuring it's about time he go see his sister. He tells Steve, and he gets all quiet and weird until Bucky just sighs and tells him he's welcome to come, too. 

 

"You," Becca seethes, and hits him with a wooden spoon. "Could have told me," Hits him again. "You were dating Captain America." Final hit, Bucky laughs. He supposes he deserves it, giving her no more information than the fact he was bringing his boyfriend to Thanksgiving dinner at her house and then showing up with Steve. 

"It's not exactly public," She smacks him again and demands to know how long they've been dating, so he tells her bout six months, I don't know, and she smacks him again. 

"Is he nice?" She asks, softening, finally. 

"He's real nice," Bucky says, turning away to grab a tray of food so she doesn't see him blushing. "Now please be normal." He says before walking out into the dining room, where Steve is sitting, despite his best efforts to try and help. 

 

"Sorry it's not more of an event," Becca says, sitting down with the mashed potatoes and shrugging. "It's just me and Buck, now, and I didn't think it would be fair for all of my friends to overwhelm you the first time we met." Bucky gets a little spark in his chest there, feeling suddenly overcome by how much he loves his little sister. "Also, sorry there's no turkey. I'm not big on murder." 

Steve laughs then, and then they're all smiling.

 

Bucky's halfway through the story about Steve breaking into his apartment when he catches Becca looking at him with a face he hasn't seen in years. The last time he got it was when he finally decided to go to therapy post honorable-discharge. "What?" She shrugs. "What, you weird motherfucker?"

"You just look happy, Buck." She says, and Bucky really wasn't expecting that. He steals a glance to the kitchen, where Steve is getting them another bottle of wine. "You've been permanently scowling since you got back from Iraq. It's a damn welcome sight." 

He throws a balled up napkin at her, because if he thinks about it too much he'll cry. "Stop that, yell at me about something." 

She scrunches up her nose a bit, but Bucky still catches how wet her eyes look. "You need to cut your hair." 

"What's wrong with his hair?" Steve asks defensively, coming back, and Bucky smiles at him. 

 

Becca takes a step back and Steve puts a hand on her elbow to save her from running into him, and she jumps nearly out of her skin, dropping the wine glass onto the floor. It shatters in slow motion.  "Jesus, I'm sorry--your hand was just cold, fuck," She stammers, looking at him like she's seeing him for the first time. 

"No, I'm sorry--" He starts, yanking his hand back. 

"What broke?" Bucky asks, stepping into the kitchen with the broom at the ready. They seem nonplussed, but Steve can't help but be extra conscious of when he's standing too close--even to Bucky. 

He eventually notices, though, because when they get back to the tower--they're staying on Steve's unofficial floor per his insistence--he grabs the back of Steve's sweater as he walks by, and pulls him closer. 

"What's wrong?" Bucky asks, looking up at him with a frown. Steve's arms are still crossed. Bucky asks it again, half sing song this time. Steve manages a smile. 

He shrugs. "I made Becca drop a glass--" 

"She's just a clumsy fuck," Bucky says, waving it off and putting his hands on Steve's forearms, prying them off of his chest and fitting himself there instead. "You haven't touched me in hours, Steve, I need attention or I'll die. Or freeze." He says emphatically, and it still floors him every time. His hands are up the back of Steve's shirt. 

"You act like I'm hot," Steve says, laughing a little, but still throwing his arms around Bucky's shoulders. The lights haven't turned on yet. 

"First of all, you are. Second of all, you're like a portable heater. I love it." Bucky mumbles, his nose cold against his jaw. Steve doesn't say anything back, feeling the need to cry, suddenly. Or break something. Feelings are complicated. "Come on, I wanna find out what that remote by the bathtub does." He says, poking Steve in the chest as if his emotional stability isn't hanging on by a thread; but then again, Steve supposes that's why they work so well. 

 

Steve hasn't fallen asleep yet, but Bucky's fast asleep on the opposite side of the bed. He can't stop thinking about the conversation he and Becca had had once they got a second of time alone.

"He's very touchy, it took a while to get used to." Steve says, laughing a little, and looks up to find Becca looking at him funny. "What?" 

She shakes her head, and pushes some carrots around her plate. "He always has been, but when he got back, you know, from the war or whatever, it took him months of therapy to just be okay with shaking someone's hand again. So it's really...I don't know, just nice, I guess, that he's comfortable enough with you to not even think twice about it." She shrugs. "Don't fuck it up." She points her fork accusingly at him, and he manages a laugh. 

He feels his throat close up anyways. "I don't plan on it." 

Steve turns over and sidles up against Bucky's back, pulling him close. "Hm? You okay?" He hums sleepily, and Steve feels suddenly terrible for waking him up. 

"More than." He says quietly, and Bucky finds his hand over his stomach and laces their fingers together. "Buck," He says, feeling overwhelmed. 

"Yeah?" He answers, still sleepy. 

"I--" He has to stop and swallow past the lump in his throat. "I've been cold to the touch ever since I got out of the ice." Steve rushes. "They ran a bunch of tests, my internal temperature is fine it's just--a side effect, I guess, of nosediving into a glacier." 

Bucky stays quiet for a while, and finally just presses back against Steve's chest. "Cold never bothered me anyways." 

That's familiar for some reason, and it takes Steve a second. "Is that from a movie?" 

Bucky devolves into a fit of giggles them, his cheek smushed against his forearm. "M'sorry, it's fucking three am, baby. M'just saying, I haven't even noticed, and if I had, I wouldn't care. Alright? Sleep now."

Steve laughs a little, and tries not to think about that fact that this is only the second time Bucky's ever called him that. Part of him hopes it sticks.

 

 

"How come we never stay at your place?" Bucky asks once they land in DC. "I've never even been in there." 

Steve laughs and grabs both of their bags. "I told you, it's wired to high hell." 

Bucky shrugs and bumps into his shoulder. "We might as well give them something to listen to, don't you think?" 

Steve stops walking. "God, Buck, that's filthy." 

He just shrugs, looking over his shoulder as he walks away. "Don't pretend like you don't like it!" 

 

 

It's been snowing enough that it's been pushed up on the sidewalks into a big grey slush. Bucky tucks his nose into his scarf and sighs as he runs up the steps to his building. His living room is warm when he gets there, and there's a cinnamon broom by his door that was not there when he left in the morning.

"Baby," He says, taking his boots off at the door and winces a little at his wet socks. "Did you buy a cinnamon broom?" He asks, though it's kind of self explanatory, and hangs his coat up. 

"Yeah," Steve answers, poking his head out of the kitchen. There's flour on his apron. "I'm making cookies." He announces, and Bucky laughs, stripping his socks off and throwing them in the general direction of the laundry room. 

"Give a guy a key and he thinks he can just buy decorative shit," He mumbles, and smushes his face against Steve's back. It feels very reverse deja vu. "What next? You gon' get me a tree?"

"It'd be a start, though we don't have any ornaments, or actually, anything decorative at all. Not even pictures." Steve rolls the dough out angrily. "Who doesn't have pictures?"

"There's that picture of us on the fridge." Bucky supplies, and Steve turns to look at it. Bucky's on his shoulders trying to put new curtains up (courtesy of Bruce, who decided Bucky's couch was prime real estate and set up camp there for his whole stay in DC, despite the various hotels that had all but begged him to stay there instead). 

"I guess that counts." 

"I'll get some Christmas lights if it'll make you happy." He says, and kisses his jaw. "Need help?" 

"Yeah, you wanna make the trees or the snowmen?" Steve asks, and gestures at the little molds that look so thin even Bucky could break them. 

"Trees, definitely." 

 

There are little packages dotting Bucky's counters--one for his boss, one for his break room, one for Natasha, one for Sam, even one for the Agent across the hall from Steve, all done up with a little bow, and a note that says happy holidays

"When did you get all...homey." Bucky asks, running his fingers through Steve's hair--it's longer now, darker, too, so if he doesn't have it styled he could almost have bangs. He also hasn't shaved in a few days, so Bucky runs his fingers over the stubble, too. "You should grow a beard." He adds, somewhat offhandedly, and Steve laughs a little. 

Steve shrugs and nearly dislodges Bucky from his lap, and sloshing wine all over his chest. "Guess that's what happens when you feel at home." He puts his chin on Bucky's shoulder. He doesn't say it, but Bucky knows that now that the Accords have been ratified, though amended by both Steve and Rhodes and the full force of Stark's lawyers, he has much more downtime. Bucky can't complain, really, because though Steve gets antsy, sometimes, it's led to them being able to spend more time together. Maybe it's selfish. Whatever. 

He notices Steve's own shoes at the door next to his, and their scarves looped around the same hook, and then thinks about the fact that Steve hasn't gone to his own apartment for more than a few hours in the past month and abruptly wants to cry. 

"Steve," He says, urgently, and leans forward to put his wine glass down so he can turn and grab his face with both hands. 

"You alright, Buck?" 

"Shut up," Bucky pouts and squishes his cheeks together. "I'm trying to tell you I love you and be all dramatic and you had to go a ruin it with your...mouth." 

Steve beams at him, even though his face is still all smushed up. If it isn't the cutest thing Bucky's ever seen, on God. "Permission to speak?" 

"Granted." He drops his hands, Steve finds them with his own. 

"I love you, too." He says, and Bucky smiles despite himself. "You are the best thing that's happened to me since--." 

"You discovered the Internet?" 

"Yeah, babe, since the internet." He smiles and brings a hand up to touch Bucky's face--funny how even months later it still makes him feel like goop. "Since sliced bread, too." He adds, and pulls him in for a kiss. 

"I'm serious 'bout that beard, though." 

"Yeah? Maybe it'll be your Christmas present." He says, tilting his head to the side and stretching a little. God, Bucky loves him so much he could scream. 

 

 

 

Bucky's having a crisis. 

Partly because Pepper and the PR team have finally agreed that it would be a good time to go public with their relationship after months of laying tactful easter eggs, mostly because Steve's fallen asleep in a sunbeam like a bonafide kitten. 

He's spread out on the couch with one arm over his head, face tilted up towards the where the sun is coming through the window like a fucking sunflower. He's also in one of Bucky's shirts--a white henley that has all of the buttons pupped open, and is rucked up to just under his belly button. Bucky puts his knuckles in his mouth and bites down so he doesn't actually scream when Steve shifts and makes a little sleep sound. 

He takes about a thousand pictures, and paces around the apartment for a solid ten more minutes before he decides that being more than half an hour late to a meeting is in poor taste. Still, he doesn't have the heart to wake him, so he just makes Sam call him, instead. 

"Shit," Steve mumbles, and Bucky pokes his head back into the living room, where he's sitting up now, rubbing his eyes. "We're late. Why didn't you wake me up?" He asks, looking up at Bucky. 

"How the fuck am I supposed to wake you up when you're the cutest thing I've ever seen?" He asks, a little mad for no reason, walking into the living room again and grabbing Steve's face. "I can't believe you fell asleep in the sun, God, you really are old." 

"Hey," Steve frowns a little, grabbing Bucky's wrists and standing up. "You can't insult me after you called me cute, s'not fair." 

"Nah, it's not fair that you just--" Steve kisses him just to get him to stop talking. "Yeah. Okay. Let's go." 

 

 

The meeting is quite painless, though it involves a few interns talking Steve through how to make an Instagram account. Bucky knows he's just playing half dumb, but it's endearing, anyways. Once he's all ready to go, complete with the verified check mark--compliments of Pepper being really important, he supposes, Bucky makes his account public, after scrubbing all the embarrassing content, of course, and he posts one of the pictures he took of Steve earlier. 

"What do I caption it?" He asks, and the room of teenagers plus three just look at him. "Guys, if you don't give me guidance I'm going to make it stupid." 

Steve just smiles at him, Pepper rolls her eyes and goes back to typing. One of the interns clears their throat. "I think you should make it as authentic as possible, sir." She smiles at them both. 

"And PG, please." Pepper adds, not looking up from her computer, Steve laughs. 

Bucky sighs dramatically and thinks about it for another minute before typing out when in doubt, check nearest ray of sunshine for your 95 year old boyfriend. He tags Steve's shiny new account, steverogers_ca , and posts it quickly, feeling out of breath. 

"Now you gotta post something cute of me, ba---Steve." He catches himself before he gets the full word out, but Pepper just glances up at him with a smile. 

He watches as Steve gets the notification for the tag, and his eyes narrow as he reads the caption. "I'm posting the picture of you in the tub." He says immediately, and Bucky's eyes widen. 

"Don't you dare." 

Steve grins at him. "Try and stop me." Bucky has no real intention of stopping him, because it's a funny picture, really--he's sitting in the bathtub completely covered in pink bubbles, glass of wine in one hand, rubber ducky in the other--but he makes a grab for Steve's phone anyways. He's too slow, and nearly half across the table when Steve posts it, his own phone dinging on the table. It's captioned simply Diva. 

"You two are worse than teenagers, you know that?" Pepper says, shutting her laptop. She's smiling, still. "Now, I'll send you the details for the few interviews that you guys have agreed with, and we'll handle everything else from there. You can post whatever you want as long as it's not...explicit." 

Steve winces at that. "Enjoy your out-ness." She says, gives them a wink, and walks away, heels clicking on the tile. He doesn't know why that makes the backs of his eyes burn a little, but when he looks at Steve, he gets reassured that the feeling is mutual. 

"Come on," Steve stands up and holds his hand out to Bucky. "I wanna kiss you in public."