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Elysium

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"I suppose I should congratulate you" Gallic warrior Steven Rogers glanced up from where he was cleaning his sword by the fire. A smile quirking his lips as his childhood friend and brother in arms James Barnes approached. His green tunic causing his slate eyes to spark in the low light.

"Congratulations are not needed, I did not expect to be given such an honour" James sat down next to him and smiled.

"You felled an entire Roman centurion almost entirely single handedly. You deserve your crown" Steve looked at him warmly.

"I couldn't do it without you Buck, you know this. If you were not so gifted in languages, we would have never figured out their plan. Furthermore, no archer has my back like you do, I owe you my life" Bucky laughed and looked back at the flames.

"You're not small anymore Steve, and now you're the king. Soon you will take a wife, have children and rule valiantly until your time to cross over to Elysium" Steve set his sword down in the grass next to him. The sounds of the festivities around them dying away.

“There is talk that Sharon would have you, should you be interested.” Steve studied his best friend’s face carefully, watching him take a calculated sip of his mead.

"I have no interest in taking a wife. A husband however, I would consider myself blessed" Bucky paused as he brought the chalice to his lips, turning to look at him.

"What interest would I have in living with a woman I do not love, with the promise of paradise, when you are my Elysium?" Bucky's eyes shone and a slow smile began to cross his face.

“Me?” Steve grinned and nodded, smile turning soft as he saw Bucky bite his lip, a minute tremor in his normally steady hands.

"I would have you rule at my side as my king James, if that is what you wish?" Bucky set the chalice down on a nearby rock and fully turned to him, cocky grin on his face to hide the nerves running rampant through him.

"I'm your Elysium huh?" Steve leaned on his left arm to cup Bucky's cheek with his right, bringing the seriousness back to his proposal. He had every intention of marrying Bucky Barnes, and had since they were children, his coronation just gave him the excuse to do it sooner.

"Always. Now quit stalling and say you'll have me" Bucky pursed his lips as though lost in thought. He turned back to him and smiled.

"I would have you, my king" Steve snorted and pulled the slimmer man to him, murmuring against his lips.

"Never call me that again". Bucky’s joyful laugh rang across the camp as he ran a hand through his lover’s shaggy hair. Steve tugged the long brunette tresses in a playful warning, pulling him in for another kiss…


 

Their hand-fasting ceremony was held the next day to coincide with their Beltane celebration and Steve’s coronation, and the tribe celebrated long into the night. As the familiar tunes strummed from the instruments, Bucky gently grabbed his husband's hand, pulling him to their large tent and away from the bonfire they had been dancing around.

"Take me to bed Steve" the king allowed him to lead him into their tent, wasting no time in pulling him into his arms. Bucky let his head fall back as Steve kissed down the column of his throat. The brunette untying his tunic with deft fingers. Steve stepped away and the two removed their shirts before he laid him down on the bedmat. Bucky looked up at him and smiled, the glow coming through the tent from the fire bathing them both in a golden light. Steve gazed down at his husband and felt his heart swell as he looked at him. Bucky’s toned arms resting gently above his head as he smiled up at him.

Steve wedged himself between the other man’s knees and balanced himself on his forearms, kissing him slowly. Bucky draping his arms around his broad shoulders as they kissed.

"I love you Steve" Steve lowered himself into the cradle of his husband's hips. He ran a hand through the long brown hair as Bucky held him in his arms.

"I love you too, until the end of the line" Bucky hummed at the reference to their life lines, which the old sage Margaret had claimed were entwined during their wedding.


 

The two continued kissing for a few minutes before Bucky suddenly groaned, flipping them so he was straddling the king’s hips.

“Are you going to kiss me all night, or are you going to bed your husband like a man?” Steve barked our a surprise laugh and surged up to meet him, kissing him playfully and biting his lower lip.

“As you wish” Steve flipped them back over and divested them of their remaining clothing, softening his approach once more.

“Steve, stop being so slow” Steve chuckled into his neck and pulled back.

“We get one wedding night. Let’s enjoy it properly, as opposed to fucking senselessly like it is nothing special” Bucky saw the sincerity in his eyes and felt warmth spread through his chest at the adoration in his eyes. He leaned up and kissed him chastely, spreading his legs in invitation as he pulled Steve back down to his chest.

“As you wish” the two smiled against each other’s lips as they began to move together. The celebrations outside raging long into the night.

Chapter Text

Steve furrowed his brow as his advisor, Natasha continued to point out the advancing Roman legions. He scratched his beard and looked at her.

“This is troubling” Natasha nodded gravely.

“In the years since your coronation, ten different tribes have fallen” Steve leaned back in his chair, rubbing a hand over his face and looking out the opening of the tent to where Bucky was preparing arrows with his fellow archer, Clint.

“Your husband, how is he?” Natasha’s gaze followed his and she smiled softly.

“He has adjusted to a world without sound. But he still worries for me – not unlike your husband?” her smile turned playful and Steve quirked his own lips up in response.

“Send a message to King Thor, I wish to speak to him about an alliance” Natasha nodded, bowing gracefully as she left. Clint noticing her departure and following swiftly behind her as Steve made his way over to the log Bucky sat on.

“Good morning” Steve sat next to him, grabbing an arrow and beginning to sharpen it alongside his husband.

“Good morning…” Steve trailed off and looked out at the settlement, watching his people move freely amongst one another in peace as he sighed heavily.

Bucky’s left hand made its way to the base of Steve’s skull, gently scratching his hair.

“I know what sound” Steve laughed through his nose and turned to him.

“The Romans took over the Southern border. The Dugan tribe has been lost” Bucky’s eyes flashed briefly, the only indication of the severity of what Steve had said.

“Any survivors?” Steve shook his head sadly.

“None as of yet, but hopefully the Gods have allowed some mercy” Bucky swallowed thickly and turned his attention to his arrows as he spoke softly.

“May they find eternal rest in Elysium” Steve nodded and gently bumped his shoulder. Looking back at the camp.

“We’re strong Steve. They can’t kill us all”

“You’ve heard the stories, sometimes I wonder if death would be better” Bucky shook his head and began packing the arrows away.

“No, they don’t deserve the satisfaction of killing me, I would never let them” Steve barked out a surprised laugh as Bucky winked at him playfully.

“Oh really?” Bucky slid onto the ground and leaned his back against the large trunk, tilting his head up to the sun as a few strands of hair fell from where he had it tied back. He smirked playfully and Steve felt the telltale loosening in his chest as Bucky managed once again to sooth his troubled mind.

“Oh yes, I’d look Caesar himself in the eye and say ‘no, not this day thank you, move along’” Steve laughed as he slid down to the ground next to him.

“And if he elected not to listen?” Bucky shrugged.

“He doesn’t have to listen, but I feel he would live longer if he did” Steve snorted again and Bucky elbowed him gently.

“We’ll be fine, no battle comes without loss. But that does not mean we won’t have victory” Steve sobered up again and nodded.

“I have requested Thor’s presence, I plan to offer an alliance” Bucky nodded impassively.

“And how do you feel about that?” Steve groaned and placed his face in his hands, resting his elbows on his knees.

“Thor is a warrior, if given the option he would mount an attack instead of defend,” Bucky nodded silently, watching his husband think.

“It is no secret we have clashed many a time in the last three years for that exact reason either,” Bucky nodded again and Steve turned to him.

“But I believe by having this alliance, we will both be able to sleep better at night, knowing there is another clan willing to assist in battle.” Bucky looked at him, face revealing nothing.

“And if this alliance is to be agreed upon, what if Thor chooses to attack? Do we follow?” Steve froze, he hadn’t thought of that.

“No, no I would not risk our people for the sake of a victory over Rome. If they were attacked, we would go to help defend – remove the women and children and so forth. But I will not support an unprovoked attack”

“Some would argue the very actions up to this moment would be provocation” Bucky’s voice was calm, merely stating the other side of his argument.

“We’ve yet to hear whisperings of their coming towards us. Besides, what use does Rome have for a place this far north? They would not know how to survive the winters”

“I personally believe the alliance to be wise. It gives us a better chance should they arrive, you’re smart to send for Thor” Steve felt himself let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding at his husband’s quiet approval. He gently reached over and clasped his hand softly, eyes catching Bucky’s wedding band.

“I would have you with me in that meeting, if you would?” Bucky’s smile turned soft and he gave a gentle squeeze in return.

“Of course my love, I will be there” Steve allowed himself a moment to enjoy the stillness, resting his head on Bucky’s shoulder and closing his eyes, the rhythmic sound of Bucky sharpening his blade lulling him into a gentle state of relaxation.


 

Bucky always forgot how massive Thor was. His hulking frame towering over Steve as they greeted each other at the border-line. Bucky stood to his right, prepared to extend his own arm in greeting, trying to hide his never-failing surprise when the entirety of his forearm disappeared under the King’s golden palm.

“Greetings Thor, son of Odin, King of the Asgardians” Thor nodded respectfully at Steve’s formal greeting before answering in kind.

“And to you Steve, King of the Brook Lands. I am excited to discuss your offer” Steve nodded and turned, leading the procession back towards the settlement where their people all stood, gaping at the large men and women invading their space.

“Tonight we shall hold a feast in your honour, then tomorrow we shall begin our discussions, does this suit you?” Thor nodded and clapped Steve’s shoulder with his massive hand.

“Yes, this will do nicely, my people and I thank you for your hospitality, let us prepare for an evening of joyous revelry”…


 

“Do you think he’ll even be awake in time tomorrow?” Bucky snorted as he stripped down, crawling into the bed mat beside his husband. The sound of crickets and the nearby stream the only noise in the quiet night.

“His brother Loki says such drinking is common, but only time will tell” Steve’s voice turned soft at the end as he tucked Bucky against his chest, pressing his lips to the crown of his head and holding them there for several seconds.

“You’re worried” Bucky propped himself up on his left arm and looked down at him. Steve absently twisted a finger into Bucky’s hair and sighed.

“If this alliance fails, what’s to stop the Asgardians from attacking us?” Bucky hummed and pursed his lips in thought.

“Neither tribe has ever broken our border treaty, and even if an agreement is not reached, neither of us have violated our terms. It would be foolish for him to attack us”

“Thor has attacked many foolish things”

“You cannot doubt yourself Steve, not now. Besides, as hot headed as Thor is, Loki seems able to come to agreement. And his brother’s voice is what he listens to above all else. Go in good faith” Steve looked up at him and side

“And if we’re wrong?” Bucky shrugged and laid back down, resting his head on Steve’s shoulder.

“Then I slit his throat” Steve chuckled and rested his chin on the top of his head.

“Then truly I am safe, sleep well my love” but Bucky was already gone.

Chapter Text

“We could overthrow them easily!” Steve closed his eyes in frustration as Thor yelled again, his long blonde har flying into his eyes wildly.

“I have no interest in risking the lives of my people on a senseless quest to overthrow the Roman Empire! I merely wish to try to keep them as safe as possible, for as long as possible. I would like to think you would want the same” Thor spun around furiously.

“You dare question my loyalty to my people!?”

“No! That was-“ Thor drew his weapon. Steve barely having a chance to react before both Bucky and Natasha had stepped in front of him, Natasha with a sword of her own. Bucky nothing but a cold stare.

“Put away your weapon before I am the last thing your eyes ever see” Steve suddenly remembered why he and Bucky had been so close in battle.

Bucky was terrifying.

Thor growled and Steve placed his hands up in a placating gesture, trying to disguise how nervous he was about the blade pointed against his husband’s throat.

“I apologize, I misspoke and worded poorly. I believe you love your people dearly” Thor eyes him suspiciously and slowly pulled the blade from Bucky’s throat.

“I merely meant to say, you would agree that the risk of squandering such valuable lives at a risk far too great would be unwise. This alliance would allow us time to familiarize ourselves more with their ways, learn how to beat them from the inside so that an attack would be successful in the future. While providing extra protection to our people in the interim.” Thor eyed him suspiciously for a moment before nodded and re-sheathing his blade. Steve immediately grabbed the back of Bucky’s tunic and subtly pulled him back behind him.

“Shall we continue?”…


 

“In the event of your deaths, where does this alliance stand?” everyone looked at Natasha sharply.

“With respect, not my Lords are able to guarantee you invincibility. What would you have done in the event of your deaths?” Steve and Thor shared a long look before Thor spoke firmly.

“Ultimately it would be up to Loki – as he is my second in command. But I would wish for the alliance to remain intact, even after I have entered the halls of Valhalla” Steve nodded in agreement and looked at Bucky.

“I would wish the same” both Loki and Bucky nodded and looked at each other as they spoke.

“Consider it done”.


 

Thor’s ships were nothing but tiny dots in the distance when Steve finally stepped away from the cliff and turned to where Bucky was waiting a few yards behind.

“So, how did I do?” Bucky smirked and Natasha rolled her eyes.

“You ensured the protection of our people for generations to come. I feel it is safe to refer to you as a success” Steve laughed and nodded a thank you in Natasha’s direction before turning stern.

“If either of you stand between myself and a blade again-“

“That is my job Steve, I can’t speak for James though” Bucky sent her a side eye, growling a mumbled traitor under his breath as she walked away.

“Bucky-“ Bucky held up a hand, pointing a finger at his chest.

“Don’t even pretend you wouldn’t have done the same. You’ve no right to get mad at me and you know it” Steve nodded and his shoulders slumped.

“Just – have a weapon or something next time yeah?” Bucky cocked his head to the side and smiled.

“I suppose I could manage that for you” Steve walked up to him and wrapped his arms around his waist, kissing him softly.

“Thank you.”


 

They were asleep when it happened. Bucky laying pressed up against Steve’s chest, wedding bands resting together in their entwined fingers. Breathing in unison.

Bucky heard the telltale sound of hooves and the jingling of chainmail and opened his eyes. The settlement was silent as he began to feel his heart hammering in his chest. He gently shook Steve awake and sat up, slowly grabbing for his tunic.

“Wha-Buck?” Steve became aware of the sound as well and grabbed his own tunic, sitting up quickly and storming out of the tent as he yelled firmly.

“Announce yourself!” Bucky rolled his eyes and scrambled after him as the settlement began to come alive under the hot-head’s yelling. Steve was going to wake up the whole damn camp for two kids who came back-

“Hail Caesar, Emperor of Rome!” Bucky lunged back and grabbed his bow as the Roman soldier charged his horse through the camp.

Natasha suddenly ran forward, holding Clint’s tunic to her naked form as she tried to brush her sleep disheveled hair from her face.

“He’s a scout! He must be stopped!” Bucky didn’t hesitate as he and Clint both raised their bows, firing in unison and burying two arrows deep into the soldier’s back where he fell with a straggled cry. The horse continuing on.

Several of Steve’s guards ran towards the dead man, swords drawn.

“The horse will know to return home. We’ve done nothing to prevent this.”


 

The next morning, everyone rose early. Waiting desperately to hear their king’s plan. Steve stood in front of the firepit, looking at all the eyes staring up at him hopefully. Bucky the ever-loyal presence at his side.

“As you are all aware, the Roman legions are nearly upon us. This is nothing we weren’t aware could happen. It has just happened much more quickly than we would have hoped-“ murmurs filled the crowd and a few women gasped.

“We have sent a message to the Asgardians, and should expect a small group to arrive to defend with us in the coming fortnight. In the mean time, I will send Natasha with a small group of scouts out to see if we can locate this legion, and hopefully find a way to steer it in the wrong direction. In the mean time, prepare for the instance we may need to leave Brook Land quickly and silently at any time. And be prepared to fight for our home should we need.”

The group hesitantly began to walk away, eying their king nervously as Natasha walked over.

“Clint, myself and four of our best will be ready to leave within the hour my Lord” Steve nodded and clapped her shoulder gently.

“Return safely. Your lives are more important than any information may be” she nodded and bowed quickly, extending a quick warrior’s shake to Bucky before rushing back to the others, who were already loading their horses.

Steve stepped back beside Bucky and surveyed the new bustle of energy as his tribe began to quickly pack emergency supplies and sharped weapons.

“Do you think we’ll be ready – if they come?” Bucky looked at him, normally soft gaze turned into the hard slate Steve only ever witnessed in battle.

“It is not a question of if Steve. It is a question of when” he nodded and the two looked back at the settlement.

“And all the God’s help us, we had better be ready” Steve swallowed thickly and nodded, squeezing his husband’s hand briefly before they joined the chaos, helping in any way they could.

Chapter Text

The scouts were gone for seven days. Natasha leading the group with a deftness admirable by even the strongest soldier.

They were sitting in the woods when they caught the faint light of a fire. She turned sharply to her husband, who nodded and followed her as they began to slowly creep towards it. They stood along the edge of the clearing and Natasha felt her heart crawl into her throat.

An entire Roman centurion inhabited the meadow. Laughing, drinking and sharpening their knives. Glancing over towards the back of the clearing she saw several prisoners whom she recognized as members of the Dugan clan.

“May the Gods help them” she turned to Clint and nodded to a nearby tree.

“See if you can read their lips my love, find out what they’re saying” he glanced back up from her mouth and nodded, silently climbing a nearby fir to it’s uppermost branches.

“Nothing?” she shook his head sadly and motioned with his hands.

“They’re not speaking Gaelic?” he shook his head and sent her a remorseful look.

“Damn, that means it must be Latin. Does anyone here speak any Latin?” the company all shook their heads sadly and she growled in frustration.

“Quickly, we must return home. Hide our tracks, let us be invisible to these Roman demons.” With that, the group quickly and silently slunk back into the woods, moving as quickly as they dared.


 

“Oritur… sol… Brooklands!” Wanda looked up at Bucky with excited eyes as he nodded.

“Yes! Exactly, now what does that mean?” Wanda regained focus and stared down at the Latin with a furrowed brow.

“Well Brooklands is obviously us-“ Bucky nodded and waited patiently as she continued to figure out the transcript. Neither of them aware of the fact Steve was watching from a short distance away.

It was no secret that Bucky was good with children. Having raised his own little sisters after his parents had died of fever not long after Steve’s own mother had proven to everyone that they hadn’t needed to be adopted.

Steve remembered those days following Winnifred’s death, how the council at the time had repeatedly attempted to take little Rebecca out of Bucky’s charge, placing her with one of the other families.

“You will still see her” they had assured him “She will just be under the care of more reliable adults” Bucky had been infuriated, and had challenged anyone who dared to take her from him to a duel. One man, who’s wife desperately wanted to adopt her had taken up Bucky’s challenge.

The only reason fourteen-year old Bucky hadn’t killed him was because Rebecca had run up and grabbed him around the waist, pleading him not to.

 

Steve knew one of Bucky’s dreams had always been to be a father, and when Wanda had been the only surviving member of her clan Bucky had quickly taken her under his wing.

Steve had hoped, in a macabre way, that a child had survived the devastation of Clan Dugan, that he and Bucky would have been able to take the child in.

Sadly, it seemed as though the Gods had other plans.

 

“The sun rises on Brooklands!” Wanda looked up at Bucky excitedly and he nodded.

“Excellent, clever girl you did it!” she grinned and hugged him quickly, gathering up her books.

“Thank you James, same time tomorrow?” he smiled at her and nodded.

“I look forward to it” she grinned and ran back towards her adopted family, preparing for her daily chores. Bucky rose to his feet and looked over as Steve grinned at him.

“Do you always stare at people who are working?” Steve shrugged his shoulders and chuckled.

“Only when they’re attractive enough to stare at” Bucky barked out a laugh and advanced towards him playfully.

“Steven, I’m honoured that I have become the designated eye-candy for you” Steve snorted and looked at him.

“Who sai-“

“My Lords!” the two turned around sharply as a young boy rushed towards them, chest heaving.

“What is it Peter?” Bucky asked calmly, his voice a welcome gravel in Steve’s ears.

“The scouts, they’ve returned!” the two looked at each other quickly before rushing towards their tent, where Natasha and company would be waiting.


 

“Were we able to acquire any information?” Natasha shook her head sadly.

“No my king, no one in our party spoke Latin, and as such we could not acquire information” Steve sighed heavily as Bucky scratched the back of his head, eyes calculating.

“What if you had someone with you who spoke Latin? Do you believe there is information to be had?”

Steve glanced over sharply as Natasha nodded.

“Absolutely, we witnessed them discussing and gesturing to several maps and parchments but were unable to understand them, not even Clint was able to lip read enough to write down a transcription” Bucky pursed his lips and nodded in consideration. He opened his mouth and Steve stepped forward quickly.

“You’ve given us a lot to consider, thank you Natasha, you are dismissed” Natasha bowed respectfully and walked from the tend back towards the training ground.

“Steve…”

“Absolutely not” Bucky let out a low warning growl which Steve resolutely ignored.

“I speak five languages, including Latin. You know I am best for this”

“I will send Wanda”

“Wanda is a child! She barely knows the language herself!” Steve shook his head and Bucky sighed heavily.

“Steve, you cannot afford to be ridiculous at this time-“

“You dare insult me” Bucky froze. That was new.

“Don’t take that tone with me Steven” he warned.

“You are needed here”

“Doing what? Sharpening arrows!? Restringing bows!? You dare insult me with such things!?” Steve shook his head and walked away, heading towards the living section of their tent.

“Don’t walk away from me when I’m speaking to you. You’re willing to risk your people to prove a point!” Steve spun around, his temper getting the better of him in a way Bucky hadn’t seen before.

“Remember your place James. I am your king!” Bucky locked his jaw and the two stared at each other with unwavering glares.

“I am your husband, not your consort. And if I had’ve known marrying you would lock me away as nothing more than a trophy. I would not have said yes” Steve gasped and stepped back in shock as Bucky stormed from the tent, heading to the nearby river to clear his head.

Chapter Text

Steve watched hesitantly from a distance as Bucky continued to skip rocks along the river’s edge. He knew he was in trouble. In the three years they’d been married he’d kept Bucky from dozens of missions, and he knew that his love was getting restless.

He just couldn’t risk losing him.

“You are no spy Steve” Steve was taken out of his thoughts by Bucky’s flat tone, his husband yet to turn to him. Instead sitting down on the riverbank as the sun began to set.

“Our people have noticed your absence. They sent me to retrieve you” he tried for humour and flinched at Bucky’s reply.

“Clearly they are not my people. people. You are the king, if memory serves correctly” Steve bit his lip and slowly walked towards his husband’s back, looking down at him nervously.

“May I sit?”

“It’s your land” Steve sighed through his nose at the petty antics and sat down, close enough to feel his husband’s heat, yet not close enough to touch.

“I owe you an apology-“ Bucky snorted and Steve bit back his frustration. Bucky was allowed to be mad he reminded himself. He hadn’t given him a reason.

“Please, allow me-“

“Why don’t you trust me anymore?” Steve’s head snapped up and he stared at the side of his husband’s face in shock. Bucky resolutely looking out at the water but Steve could see the pain clear as day in his profile.

“What?”

“We took down legions together, Romans, Vikings, all fell at our feet. When you asked me to marry you I was excited, knowing that we would always be together – fight together if need be. I would be at your side ensuring the safety of not only you but the people I love. And you won’t let me. At first I thought it was because you perhaps viewed me as your wife – as a woman. But Natasha is your right-hand, seeing me as a woman would have no impact upon you. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out my error. But all I recollect is the day I missed the target-“

“Buck-“ Bucky shook his head in frustration. At the time it had been a joke, Bucky’d had an unfortunate muscle spasm at the exact moment he’d let the arrow fly, missing the target completely and hitting a nearby pheasant. They’d all laughed and Bucky’d apologized for the accidental killing and they’d all eaten the pheasant happily.

Unbeknownst to Steve, it happened around the same time he’d stopped allowing Bucky on missions.

He cringed as he began to see what Bucky had been dealing with in the last three years. This gnawing away at his abilities as a warrior, his greatest ally being the very person stopping him from what he’d always done best.

Steve needed to do some serious damage control.

“It’s not what you think-“ Bucky’s jaw clicked shut and he hugged his knees to his chest as he surveyed the area. The sunset basking him in a warm glow.

“It was one error Steve. I killed that Roman who was here just days ago. I am capable in battle. I know you cannot afford mistakes but-“

“No, what I cannot afford is to lose you!” Bucky’s gaze shot to Steve as he pressed his hands to his face.

“I am a selfish man Bucky, you know this more than anyone. And I am not proud to admit it, but I would surrender to Caesar himself if it meant keeping you safe at my side” Bucky’s jaw hung open and Steve looked over at him with pained eyes.

“Not a day passes when I am not afraid of losing you. Every day you and I were in battle under King Phillip, I prayed each moment to keep you alive – even if it meant killing me instead.”

“Steve…”

“I know you are capable, and I know you are the best. But I am a mere man and you are the only thing in this world that grants me peace in my most troubled days, you’re my-“

“I’m your Elysium” Steve nodded and ran a hand through his shaggy hair as he swallowed thickly.

“I know my words offend you. But I am so afraid of losing you I would rather you be alive and hate me, than die loving me.” Steve hung his head between his knees in shame.

Suddenly Bucky’s hand appeared in his hair, tugging gently.

“You idiot” Steve glanced back at his husband and saw him glaring at him.

“You think I don’t have the same fears?” Steve shook his head as he glared at him.

“We are men Steve. Immortality is not for us. But I would rather die honourably, than live as a prop” Steve nodded in agreement and turned to press their foreheads together.

“I’m sorry” he whispered, sliding his nose along Bucky’s face as he slowly pressed their lips together.

“I forgive you, never do it again” Steve laughed through his nose and kissed him more passionately.

“I won't, you have my word.”


 

The next night a feast was held to wish Bucky a safe journey. Steve sat in his large chair as Bucky danced around the flames with Wanda. Tomorrow at dawn he would climb onto the back of a horse and would take off alone to find out more information on the nearby Roman legions. He rested his head on his hand and watched for a while, catching his husband’s eye and smiling before beckoning him over.

“Yes?” Steve leaned forward and pulled him down gently by the hair. Bringing him in for a searing kiss.

“I believe it’s time for bed my love” Bucky’s eyes darkened and he grinned,

“If you insist.” Steve stood and pulled him flush against him, pressing their arousals together as he kissed him filthily. He laced their fingers together and led them away from the festivities towards the tent.


 

The moment the tent flap was closed the two were on each other, Steve wasted no time in picking up Bucky, who wrapped his legs around his waist and ground against him. His head fell back as Steve ran his lips up the column of Bucky’s throat. Bucky plunged a hand into his husband’s dishevelled hair and pulled his head back to kiss him, all teeth and tongue. Steve groaned low in his throat as Bucky leaned down to press his lips to the blonde’s ear.

“I want to feel you for days after I leave” Steve growled low in his throat and quickly moved them back to the bedmat, dropping him onto it and crawling over it.

“You keep saying things like that an you will get your wish” Bucky raised a playful brow.

“Promise?” Steve moved and suddenly had latched himself to the place where his neck and collar connected, worrying the skin between his teeth as Bucky let out a cry, bucking his hips up against Steve’s.

Steve untied Bucky’s tunic, the two only separating to remove it and Steve’s before taking off their leggings. Steve lowered him back onto the bed and ground their erections together.

“Don’t tease” Steve leaned down to take a nipple into his mouth as he brought a hand to Bucky’s entrance, circling it gently. Bucky’s fingers grabbing his hair and holding him to his chest, spreading his legs wide in invitation. Steve brought his other hand down to squeeze his thigh as he kissed and licked his way down his partner’s body, gently guiding him to roll onto his stomach, lifting his hips into the air and replacing his finger with his lips.

Bucky reacted as though he’d been electrocuted, a straggled cry ripping from his throat as he gripped the sheets, shoving back against him as he held his hips.

“S-Steve!” Steve hummed against his centre and Bucky punched out a breath, rolling himself back against him over and over as he slid first one finger, then two into his husband’s fluttering hole. He began to shake and Steve could feel his balls drawing up and he pulled away, biting his cheek.

“Not yet my love” Bucky groaned as Steve rolled him over, barely giving him a moment before sliding into him as he choked out in surprise. Bucky’s eyes trained onto the ceiling as they rolled back into his head. Once seated completely within him he began pressing soft kisses over his body.

Suddenly Bucky was above him, straddling him. Steve barely had time to register what was happening before his cock was once again being engulfed by Bucky's heat "mmmph, ah, Steve…" Steve gaped up at him. This wasn’t even remotely how he thought tonight would go - it was a million times better. he placed his hands on Bucky's hips, rolling up to meet him

"Oh gods, yes, my love…" Bucky moved his hips fluidly as Steve pistoned into him. Bucky splayed one hand on his husband's chest, the other reaching up and running through his own long hair as his head fell back, mouth hanging open.

"Steve, Steve, ah, shit I love you so much" Steve felt tears pricking his eyes as reality finally sank in. This could be goodbye. Tomorrow he left for a mission that he could very well die on. He may never see his face again.

"Bucky, oh gods Bucky-" he let out a sob and gazed up at the brunette's face, only to realize he was crying too. Bucky's body fell forward and he braced one hand on the mat above Steve’s head, the other grabbing the back of Steve's neck and leading him into a powerful kiss "I love you" he gasped out and lurched his body forward, using his abs to pull himself into a seating position, wrapping his arms around Bucky's waist and leading the other's over his shoulders. Bucky moaned at the angle change and panted into the blonde's ear

"Steve-" he choked, walls clenching around Steve's member and he smiled, he wasn’t even going to touch Bucky's cock. The friction of it being trapped between their bodies and Bucky's whimpers let him know damn well how close he was.

"C'mon my love… c'mon" he whispered against his neck, looking down to watch himself disappear over and over again. "C'mon Bucky, don’t fight it, c'mon just let go, I'm here, come for me" Bucky dug his nails into Steve's shoulders, letting out a feral scream and throwing his head back as he came. Steve flipped them back over so Bucky was on his back, thrusting madly to his own release as Bucky continued to tremble with overstimulation.

"Steve, Steve, honey you're so good, come inside me, c'mon Steve please I need it, let me feel you" he moaned low into Steve's ear, legs locked around Steve's waist. Steve let out a sob of frustration

"Gah, Bucky, it's so good - I'm so close but it - I can't-" he didn’t need to explain. Bucky got it, he always got it. Steve felt the warm hands slide down his back and spread his cheeks. His hips jerked as two fingers disappeared into his own ass. Bucky curled his fingers up and brushed his prostate once, twice, three times.

"There it is, c'mon my love, come to me" Steve's mouth fell open in a silent scream. His whole body going stiff as a board as the most powerful orgasm he'd ever had ripped through his body like a forest fire. Bucky curled his fingers over and over again, clenching his walls and milking him for all he was worth. Steve's arms gave out and he fell onto Bucky's chest, panting. Bucky's arms came up and curled around him, cradling him to his chest and whispering sweet nothings into his ear as his partner came down from his high.

“I love you, and I will always return to you” Steve hummed and allowed himself to fall into a secure sleep, the steady thrum of his husband’s heartbeat a welcome rhythm in the night.

Chapter Text

The dew hadn’t yet dried off the blades of grass when they awoke the next morning. Bucky making a lewd joke about how hard it would be for him to sit on the horse.

But Steve wasn’t laughing.

He, Natasha and Bucky spoke quietly in the dawn glow as he saddled the large black horse and finished checking his packs.

“Remember, you’re invisible. Just get in, get the information and leave” Bucky gave Natasha an unimpressed look.

“Who taught you that?” she smiled and shrugged.

“Some old man I suppose” he pointed at her playfully and grinned.

“Mind yourself” she laughed and glanced over at Steve before sobering up.

“I’ll leave you now, go in grace my Lord” the two exchanged a warrior handshake and she bowed gracefully before stepping away.

“Steve-“

“I got you something” Bucky cocked his head to the side and watched as Steve brought his fingers to his lips, giving one sharp whistle. Bucky followed the king’s gaze over to where a large, white wolf came lumbering over the hillside, striking blue eyes piercing the men with it’s stare as it walked over.

“Steve…”

“Her name is Kaloo, she’s been trained to protect all those precious to me” Steve gazed at his husband with loving eyes and Bucky felt his throat close up.

“She is kind, but ruthless, she is trained to kill. If I cannot be there to protect you – at least I know you’re not alone” Bucky looked up at him as tears filled his eyes.

“She’s beautiful.”

“She will follow your every move, every command. You will have no trouble from her” Bucky gently knelt down to allow Kaloo to investigate him, eyes closing slightly as she sniffed at his hand and neck before letting out a soft growl. She was as graceful as she was massive, and Bucky couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sympathy for whoever she caught in those strong jaws. He gently touched her head and smiled softly.

“I guess we shall be spending a lot of time together, won’t we?” the wolf sighed through her nose and moved to stand beside the horse, seeming to already know her position.

The two looked at the animals a brief moment before Bucky turned to Steve.

“Steve, should something happen-“ Steve grabbed his face and kissed him passionately, pulling him into his arms roughly.

“Should something happen, I will not rest until I find you and bring you home to my side – do you hear me?” Bucky nodded and laughed wetly, reaching up to cradle the back of his head.

“What a pair we make” Steve hummed and kissed him again, closing his eyes and pressing their foreheads together.

“Should something happen, and you are unable to find your way home – you wait for me James, wait for me to come get you” Bucky nodded and kissed him a third time.

“You have my word” he made a pained noise and slowly pulled out of Steve’s arms.

“I have to go” Steve clung to his hand as he walked him to the horse. He pulled Bucky in again and buried his face into his neck.

“Three years with you at my side, what am I to do while you’re gone?” Bucky laughed.

“Lead, Thor will be here in a few days, and I intend on being gone a month at most. Don’t do anything stupid” Steve laughed as Bucky affectionately cuffed the back of his head.

“How can I , you’re taking all the stupid with you” the two laughed at their old joke and Bucky mounted the horse.

“I’ll see you at months end, I love you!” Steve waved and stood staring into the moors long after the three figures had vanished into the morning fog.

“I love you…”


 

“King James!” Steve was immediately snapped out of his focus on the charts he and Thor were looking over, provided by Bucky’s last mission. His work had proved crucial to their ability to understand the Romans, and the fact that Bucky was an expert at misleading meant he was very slowly – but surely – leading the Romans away from the camp.

It still scared Steve shitless every time.

The two kings looked at each other and quickly exited the tent as a long familiar howl echoed across the moors. Steve twitched in his spot, Bucky’d been gone much longer this time, almost three months. The longest he’d been away since he had started these missions almost a year before. Thor looked at him and smirked.

“Well, is this how you treat your love’s return?” Steve barely had a chance to process what he was saying before he took off at a maddening sprint, meeting Bucky several yards before they would hit the perimeter of the camp. Bucky let out a joyous laugh and swung down off the horse as Steve grabbed him tightly – only to abruptly stop at the hiss of pain his husband released. Steve pulled back immediately and that was when he noticed the small dark stain on his right side.

“You’re hurt!” Bucky shrugged and smiled softly.

“S’just a graze Stevie, m’fine” Steve shook his head and glanced down at Kaloo, noticing the blood on her face. He nodded and brief thanks to the wolf before grabbing him around the waist and taking the reins of the horse in this other hand as he began to lead him back towards their tent, worry etched all over his features.


 

Bucky hissed as Peggy gently pressed the salve to the wound, a cold sweat on his forehead.

“You’re lucky to have come home when you did my king, this is quite infected” Bucky rolled his head on the pillow and pointedly avoided Steve’s piercing gaze as Sharon helped the old sage to her feet and sent a longing look in Steve’s direction.

That, Bucky did catch.

“Thank you Peggy, I’m sure I can take it from here.” The woman nodded and held her niece’s hand as she was led out.

“So Sharon-“ Bucky began to drawl only to immediately find Steve kneeling on the bed mat, tenderly pulling Bucky into a seated position so he could wrap his arms around him and cradling his head to his chest.

“Never scare me like that again” Bucky went to pull back and found himself unable to, feeling the first shivers of Steve crying against him.

“Hey… hey, I’m okay. I’m here. I didn’t mean to scare you” Bucky pressed his lips to his temple and gently stroked his hair.

“I’m sorry my love. I didn’t mean to let it get that bad. The moment I got hurt I stopped following them and immediately set for home. I didn’t know it was as bad as it was” he moved his head back and gently nudged their noses together.

“Why would I do anything to risk being able to come home to you? Hmm?” he gently scratched the short hairs at the nape of his husband’s neck and shot him a sideways smile.

“Why would I ever do anything to risk losing this?” Steve let out a wet laugh and moved to kiss his forehead.

“Okay, okay I get it” Bucky let out his own laugh and Steve tugged a strand of hair playfully.

“Rest now, when you wake up, we can go over your information. But take care of yourself now” Bucky hummed a nod and Steve could see how exhausted he truly was. Bucky gently leaned back against the bed and looked up at him, the tent a cozy warm haven through the heat of the summer day.

“Stay” Steve smiled softly and lay down next to him, fully clothed. The two gazed at each other for a little while before Bucky gently lifted his hand to run his fingers through Steve’s hair, who immediately hummed into the touch.

“Missed you”

“Bed’s too big when you’re gone” he mumbled back, relaxing at the husky rumble of Bucky’s voice. Bucky sighed and relaxed into his arms, eyes drifting closed. Steve watched for a little while as he slept, taking in the little changes the last three months had inflicted on his husband. He gently took his hand in his own and laced their fingers together and kissing the knuckles gently as he whispered.

“Thank you for coming home to me, my Elysium” Bucky didn’t rouse, but let out a hum in his sleep as the corner of his lips turned up briefly.

Steve didn’t need anything else.

Chapter Text

“Don’t start this again”

“They almost killed you”

“That was months ago, I’ve already stayed too long and you know it. It trail I’ve made will have long since gone cold and they could be coming back.” Thor slammed a large hand on the table and roared out

“Then we shall fight and destroy them all!” Steve froze and looked at Bucky.

“For once I agree with Thor on this” Bucky snarled.

“You would risk your people. You would risk children in a battle you have no guarantee of winning, over something as inconsequential as me”

“You are not-“

“Compared to what’s at stake yes I am Steve! And I will go with or without your permission!” Steve balked and Bucky stood firm.

“I can lead them away, I find out their plan. My work has been paramount and speaks for itself. You need me to go. So stop pretending otherwise and let me do my job!” Steve looked at him with steely eyes and felt himself begin to shake with adrenaline.

He wouldn’t budge this time. And neither would Bucky.


 

The tension was almost unbearable as Bucky packed the last of his supplies onto the horse. Thor had already excused himself and Natasha hadn’t been far behind.

Bucky turned and reached out to his husband, the early morning light catching the silver ring on his left hand as he tried to smile.

“Steve-“ Steve jerked back, Bucky immediately aborting his movement as his eyes began to fill with tears.

“Don’t be like this”

“Then don’t go” Bucky looked at him with devastated eyes and allowed his hand to drop to his side, swallowing thickly. He turned down to Kaloo, who was waiting as always by the horse and sighed heavily.

“You know my route, I will not deviate from it” Steve gave a curt nod and refused to look at him. Bucky bit his lip and turned, desperation creeping into his voice.

“Please, don’t let me leave on these terms. You know I have to go” Steve wiped at his eyes quickly and clicked his jaw.

“Steve-“ he attempted to reach out again but Steve backed away.

“Go in grace, I will see you on your return” Steve flinched at the sniff Bucky made, a telltale sound proving his tears. He cleared his throat and spoke in a shaky voice.

“A-as you wish my king” with that he climbed up onto the horse and took off. Steve just barely having the chance to register what he’d done before the trio disappeared over the crest of the hill.

“Bucky…”


 

It was starting to snow, and still no sign of the king had been heard. Steve cried himself to sleep every night. Bucky’s heartbroken eyes haunting him. Natasha had tried to be patient, but as no one knew the true nature of their goodbye no one knew how to fully comfort the grieving king.

Until the solstice.

Steve sat in his chair watching as everyone danced and ate, the joyous occasion made no less exciting by the king’s absence.

Until a long, low howl pierced the night.

Steve was up first, running through the snow towards the sound in excitement. He had to apologize, take him up in his arms and tell him how sorry he was-

Steve skidded to a stop as his heart plummeted to his knees.


 

How Kaloo had made it this far he would never know, four arrows piercing her broad back and shoulders as she trembled on her legs. Her wheezing pants and continuous drooling a telltale sign of her inevitable demise. Steve let out a straggled sob and fell to his knees as the wolf stumbled towards him whimpering, collapsing with her head on his lap.

“Oh my girl” she wheezed against him and Steve noticed the piece of fabric caught in her teeth.

It was Roman red.

Natasha gasped and Steve quickly turned to the group.

“Quick! Get a company together, we cannot lose her trail!” Natasha took off and he gently petted her head.

“You fought valiantly my friend, thank you. Rest now” his eyes filed with tears as the wolf relaxed against him, slipping away under his gentle caresses.


 

They left immediately, the revelry of the night making way to terror under the realization of what fate had befallen their king. Steve had led the charge, Thor promising to protect his people while they were gone.

Clint and Natasha’s emotional goodbye had felt like a mockery of the very goodbye Steve had denied his husband so many months ago. He resolutely looked away and wiped his eyes as the two of them mounted their horses. Clint watching warily from his place next to Thor as they took off into the night.

“We will find him Steve” he nodded and swallowed thickly. He knew they would, he had no option.

He just didn’t know if they’d find him alive.

They were about a week into their tracing when they found it. It took all of Steve’s willpower not to collapse off his horse.

It was absolute carnage. The snow drowning in blood and Roman bodies scattered. Bucky’s horse lay dead against a nearby tree along the side of the path. Many of the fallen soldiers were covered in bite marks and Steve knew it hadn’t been solely Bucky who had done the killing. He drew his sword and yelled out into the silence.

“Bucky!” Natasha drew her own blade and began to canvass the area alongside Steve, dread already making itself at home in her heart.

“He’s not here Steve”

“He must be close”

“Steve, he’s not here” Steve swung his sword into a nearby tree as Natasha took a few steps back, tripping over a nearby branch.

“Ouch-“ she glance up and let out a horrid moan.

It wasn’t a branch.

Steve rushed over to her and she held up a hand.

“Stay back my king” the switch to his formal title made anxiety bubble in Steve’s throat and he looked at her.

“What is it? Is it him!?” Natasha didn’t have the chance to stop him as he turned the corner to look at what she’d tripped over.

“Steve wait-“ Steve let out the most guttural cry she’d ever heard as he fell to his knees. The setting sun catching the light off the silver band just as it had when Bucky had reached out to him months before when he turned him away. Steve promptly turned, vomited and passed out in the snow.

Mere feet away from Bucky’s severed left arm.

Chapter Text

“Wha-“

“Shhh, it’s just me” Steve blinked up blearily as the opening to his tent flapped closed, the small flame by his bed mat illuminating the face of his friend in the evening light.

“Bucky, y-you’re home” Bucky smiled as he sat down, gently picking up the basin of water and rubbing the tiny boy’s feverish forehead.

“Vikings aren’t that scary, we were able to push most of them back and King Philips sent us younger ones home, let the warriors finish it off” Steve nodded and coughed harshly as his friend’s brow furrowed.

“Becca said you were ill Steve, but I didn’t think it was this bad already” Steve grumbled and pressed against the soothing sensation.

“S’always bad Buck” Bucky hummed in agreement and laid down next to him. A distance between them Steve longed to close as the other boy tucked more furs around his quivering form.

“Then I’ll always have to be here to take care of you won’t I?” Steve stuck his tongue out and Bucky laughed as he did it right back, watching in concern as his lids grew heavy.

“Just rest Steven, I’ll make sure you wake up” Bucky’s left hand closed around Steve’s wrist, fingers resting against his pulse-point as the two boys drifted off to sleep.

“Night Steve”


 

“Steve?” Steve’s eyes snapped open and he lurched forward, knocking Natasha back onto her bottom. He glanced around and noticed night had fallen, and they were now several yards away from the horror.

“Where is he?” Natasha swallowed thickly.

“I’ve cleaned and wrapped it for a proper burial. But Steve, he’s not here” Steve moaned and looked around, taking in the warm fire she’d started when she’d set up camp. His eyes noticing the tiny funeral pyre off to the side. Natasha watched him for a moment before reaching into her satchel.

“I kept this for you, to give to him when we find him” she gently held out the ring which Steve gripped tightly in both hands. He removed a strap of leather from one of his coin purses and used it to tie the ring around his neck. Natasha slowly stood and walked over to where she had wrapped the limb in burlap and picked it up gently, carrying it over to Steve who held it with the reverence of a child.

Natasha quickly ignited the funeral pyre and dumped some sage and pine needles on it as Steve walked over. He stared down at the flames and felt a piece of his heart follow the package as he set it on the tiny pyre. Natasha bowed her head and spoke softly.

“May you find eternal peace in the glory of Elysium, and may you wait faithfully for the long coming return of your bearer, so that you my once again be reunited in the glory of Belanus” Steve remained silent as the fire continued to burn, the flames a reflection of the anguish within his soul.


 

“I didn’t say goodbye to him” Natasha glanced over from where she was eating part of the rabbit she had trapped, raising an eyebrow.

“When he left, I was angry and let my pride get in the way. He-he begged me to not let him leave like that, with us on bad terms, but I was too stubborn to listen. And now the gods only know what’s happened to him” Steve rubbed at his tears and glared at the fire with hands in a fist as Natasha looked at him with sad eyes.

“He knows you love him Steve, he is waiting for us to find him, and we will find him” he looked at her and shook his head.

“Want to know the worst part, this isn’t even the first time I’ve sent him off like that, with no guarantee that I would see him again.”


 

It wasn’t uncommon at all, for the warriors to find company in their male companions before going off to battle.

What was uncommon was Bucky creeping into Steve’s tent instead of one of this fellow soldiers.

“Are you awake?” Steve sat up and watched as Bucky slid through the flap, the moonlight bathing Steve’s frail chest in a pale glow. Normally Steve loved seeing him, to spend the night with him before he left.

Not tonight though.

There were rumours going around that Bucky was going to start courting Dolores with the intention of marriage, and that broke Steve’s heart more than he could bear.

“I’m not going to fuck you” he was surprised at how firm his own voice sounded as Bucky froze at the foot of the bed.

“Beg your pardon?”

“Go fuck one of your shield brothers, I don’t want to deal with the mess or aches and pains after you leave tomorrow” Steve didn’t need to see Bucky’s face to know he was wounded by the words, his hair beginning to grow in length as a symbol of his blossoming warrior status falling into his eyes as he looked around.

“You really think I only come to fuck you?” Steve hesitated at the words but forced himself to stay firm.

“Of course, you all do it. You just prefer me because I’m small like a woman” Bucky gently knelt on the end of the bed and Steve was tempted to kick him off, but refrained because he could see the conscious effort Bucky was making not to accidentally touch him.

“You truly think so little of me? You truly believe that I only come to you – my best and oldest friend – for nothing but a good lay?” Steve crossed his arms over his chest protectively and looked away sharply as his eyes filled with tears.

“Steve…?”

“Everyone knows Dolores will only lay with her spouse, and you’re not married yet-“

“So this is what this is all about, Steve, I’m not courting Dolores. The men said it as a joke because she dropped her water bucket and I offered to help her go refill it. We barely speak” Steve looked at him in shock and Bucky punched out a laugh.

“I can’t believe you were jealous of Dolores-“

“I’m not jealous, you can fuck whoever you want. I don’t care what you do with your body. You are my friend – nothing more” Bucky’s laugh immediately died in his throat and Steve watched his shoulders slump as he murmured to himself.

“Nothing more. I’m sorry Steve, I won’t come again. I did not know how much you disliked our nights together” the distain and self-loathing in Bucky’s voice made Steve sick, but he didn’t know how to backpedal.

“I apologize for all the times I forced myself upon you. I had truly only wanted to spend time with you, as it preferable to spending my last night here alone. I’ll take my leave” Bucky got up with the grace of a hundred year old man as he trudged his body back to the entrance of the tent. Steve could only watch in stunned silence as the pieces began to fall into place.

“Hopefully the gods will look upon me with favour, and I will not only return home, but win your forgiveness as well” Steve lurched forward – Bucky was leaving, for battle. And he wanted his last night to be with Steve.

And Steve had turned him away.

“Bucky – wai-“ but the brunette had already disappeared into the night.


 

Natasha sat silently as the king wiped his eyes furiously.

“I’ve such a temper, I didn’t even realize what I had done until it was too late. And I have done it to him so many times.”

“But you are together now?” Steve nodded.

“He was gone when I woke up, and after I stopped weeping, I dedicated everyday to making myself healthy. Training and tonics and the like until I became this-“ he gestured vaguely to his larger than life form and looked at her.

“He didn’t believe it was me at first, then spent weeks believing I was trying to impress another. Then the night before the two of us went into battle I went to his tent this time-“

“You’ve been together ever since” Natasha finished softly and Steve nodded.

“I don’t believe people fully realized the extent of our devotion until I became king” Natasha nodded contemplatively and looked up at the sky.

“We should sleep, we have a long way to go tomorrow” he looked at her inquisitively and she smiled.

“While you were unconscious I tracked the blood and tracks about half a mile south,”

Steve stared at her as he began to process what she was saying.

“James is alive Steve. They’ve taken him to Rome.”

Chapter Text

“I will never understand the point of such luxurious caravans” Natasha whispered as they looked through the trees at the Roman party rolling down the path.

It had taken them the better part of a month to get there, and Steve knew that with each passing day, the likelihood of finding his husband alive dwindled significantly.

“How many are there?”

“There appears to be four guards, the horseman and whomever is inside” he looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Think we can take them?” Natasha smirked darkly and twirled her dagger in her hand.

“I thought you’d never ask.”


 

Steve was almost embarrassed at how quickly it was all over.

“How are these people actually taking over everything?”

“N-no idea” Natasha grunted as she continued to suffocate the squealing Domina, Steve keeping his eyes trained on the road as the struggling behind him slowly faded.

“She dead?”

“Very much so” Steve nodded and looked back at the group of dead Romans as they suddenly heard voices coming faintly from over the hill.

Latin voices.

“Shit, there’s gotta be a centurion” Natasha looked around and suddenly turned to Steve.

“You must shut up and do as I say my king, do you understand!?” he looked at her and nodded quickly, afraid of the consequences should he fail to do so as she began dragging the body of the Domina into the woods.


 

“Help! Help me!” the Romans crested the hill at a maddening pace at the sounds of screams, coming to a stop as they took in the scene.

Guards were strewn everywhere, not a single one was alive. Chained to the back of the cart, a large slave man with shaggy hair and a beard lay kneeling, bleeding from a blow to the temple. A beautiful Roman woman tied to a nearby tree.

“Oh bless the Gods, you’ve come to save me!” the Romans immediately began to untie her and she gestured to the slave.

“Please, my slave! He was a gift!” the guards kicked him to wake him up and the man opened his eyes.

“Get up slave, your Domina calls” the man struggled to his feet as they chained him to the back of a horse, hoisting the woman onto one where she grabbed the soldier around the waste.

“Who are you, dear lady?”

“I am Natalia, from the House of Bartonus, this is my slave Steven, a Gallic warrior a gift from my husband-“

“You were headed to Dominus Pierce I assume?” Steve and Natasha shared a glance nervously.

Who was Dominus Pierce?

Natasha let out a soft giggle and ran a hand through her long red hair.

“How did you know?” the soldiers all laughed and turned to look at her.

“Because a slave like that belongs in a colosseum” Steve swallowed thickly and kept his head low, feeling a little more hope drain from him as the caravan moved forward.

Bucky’d been taken by gladiators.

By the time they’d made it to Roman territory, it was again summer. Natasha had done an amazing job at gaining their trust, and Steve –

Steve had kept his big mouth shut.

As far as they were aware, Steve spoke no Latin and would only respond to “hand gestures” made by Natasha. The two would whisper to each other in the night when no one was awake, but they’d had minimal contact, relying solely on non-verbal cues and conversations with their eyes.

“Ah finally, home sweet home Domina” Steve held back a gasp as he finally laid eyes on a Roman city.

 

There were no grass or trees, everything surrounded in cobblestone and large brick homes. The women were dressed in flimsy white gowns and the men in equally flimsy togas. Some had olive branches in their hair and Steve was reminded of the pixies from the stories he’d heard as a child.

He could feel the eyes on him as he walked, the man who did not belong and found himself desperately searching the crowd for Bucky, eyes catching on every tuft of long brown hair he saw until they approached a set of massive iron gates.

“Domina, allow the slaves to bathe you while we shave the slave’s barbaric locks” Natasha and Steve sent each other a panicked look. His long hair and beard was a symbol of his warrior status, cutting it was sacrilegious. He began to struggle against the soldiers dragging him off towards what appeared to be a large stable-like building. One of the guards struck him over the head and he stumbled as they dragged him into the building, placing him in a long line. He turned to swing at the soldier when a firm whisper came from in front of him.

“Not that I don’t empathize with you my friend, but that is a fight you will not win” Steve looked at the broad, dark shoulders in front of him as the large man turned.

“You’ve been taken as well?” the man nodded.

“My name is T’Challa, I am from Wakanda. My little sister Shuri was taken, I intend to find her and bring her home safely” Steve smirked and the man looked at him.

“You laugh, why?” Steve looked at him for a moment before whispering back.

“My name is Steve, I am from Gaul, and I’m here for my love” T’Challa snorted quietly and the two turned silently back to the line.

“I will help you my friend, if you help me” Steve squared his shoulders as the line was moved along.

“You have my word”


 

Steve stared into the water trough in disgust, his blonde hair cut short and his beard nothing but a memory. He barely had time to truly mourn the loss before he was bring dragged back through the courtyard to wear Natasha was waiting.

She looked stunning in her long emerald green dress, decorated in gold and hair washed. Except she looked positively miserable in it. Her hand came up to her mouth in shock as she took in her king’s bare appearance. He hung his head in shame, feeling the burn behind his eyes. He had always been proud of his shaggy hair, as it had proved how far he’d come in only a few short years. She walked up confidently and tilted his chin up, pretending to examine him as she whispered softly in Gallic.

“It means nothing Steve, we will grow it back” he turned away as the guards came up to her.

“What do you think Domina? Does he appear more presentable?” she cocked her head to the side and tapped Steve’s cheek.

“He definitely looks different, I’ll have to get used to it I suppose” the guards laughed and grabbed Steve again, tying his hands behind his back.

“His honour Dominus Pierce would see you now” she nodded and followed the guards, glancing over her shoulder in concern as Steve was dragged along behind her. He winked to show he was okay but kept his head down as they entered the large mansion.


 

Steve could see his reflection in the floor, he never actually thought one would be able to use the ground as a mirror but here he was. He remained kneeling at Natasha’s side, eyes glued to the floor watching the reflection of the large chair waiting the arrival of the infamous Dominus Pierce.

He willed himself to keep his head down as he heard the footsteps and watched as a large, burly man with dark hair entered, short-sword in hand and scanning the crowd. Behind him was the man Steve immediately identified as Pierce. Dressed in a long white toga with a gold chalice in his hand as he reclined back in his seat. Steve noticed a thin black girl standing next to him, posture regal despite her status and identified her in his mind as the Shuri T’Challa had mentioned, making a mental note to inform T’Challa, should he see him again.

“Dominus Natalia Bartonus, I confess you are a name I do not recognize” Natasha smiled and Steve was again impressed at how well she thought on her feet.

“My husband prefers his privacy, we tend to keep to ourselves, offing sanctuary to all Romans when needed.” Pierce nodded and turned to Steve.

“And who is this strapping man?” Steve froze as he was bodily dragged to his feet, keeping his head down.

“This is my slave Steven, from Gaul. A gift from my husband” Pierce’s brow furrowed and he looked at her.

“My legions destroyed all the Gallic tribes?” Natasha and Steve shared a look.

Bucky’s false trail. It had worked.

The Brook Lands were safe.

“Well, clearly one got away, he found him out in the moors. I was hoping to have him trained as a gladiator so that he can be an adequate protection for me in my travels. We were on our way here when we were attacked.”

“Did you see who attacked you?”

“Alas, I was asleep when the attack started, I was unable to recognize who it was” Pierce nodded and turned to Steve.

“You, slave. Eyes up. Did you see who attacked you?” Steve didn’t budge and the guard next to him punched him in the stomach.

“You will answer when spoken to!” Natasha immediately stepped forward.

“Apologies my Lord, he doesn’t speak Latin” Pierce nodded and snapped at the large man next to him.

“Brock, go fetch my translator” Brock nodded and stormed from the room and Steve trained his eyes back to the ground.


 

He didn’t look up when Brock stormed back in. He didn’t look up when the soft footsteps entered the room. He didn’t look up when Pierce spoke to the translator, demanding they ask Steve what happened on the trail.

But his head shot up at the soft voice.

“I have to ask if you know anything about the attack. But first, are you okay?” Steve snapped his eyes up and stared into familiar slate eyes.

“Bucky?”

Chapter Text

Steve numbly followed Bucky as he led him down the corridor towards the large stable house again.

“We will stay here until we are called” Steve looked at him as he showed Steve to a stall filled with straw. A small fire pit in the corner.

“This is my bed, but we can share until they move you to the Gladiator accommodations” Steve stared at him and grabbed his arm, causing him to flinch violently.

“Bucky, Bucky it’s me! It’s Steve!” Steve watched in devastation as Bucky looked at him with soft eyes, trying to calm him down.

“It’s nice to meet you Steve, but I don’t know who Bucky is” Steve’s eyes filled with tears and he let out a soft sob. The brunette immediately pulled him into his stall and set him down on the straw bed.

“I’ll send for your Domina, and fetch you some water. Just rest, please don’t cry” Steve sniffed and wiped his eyes, nodding as his husband rushed off.


 

“He doesn’t recognize me” Natasha looked at him with heartbroken eyes as they sat in the courtyard waiting for the trainers to come and assess Steve before moving him to the gladiator quarters.

“Have faith my king, he will remember you. Your life lines are entwined, he just needs a reminder. Steve nodded and watched as Bucky came back with a goblet of water.

“Here, drink this, it’ll help” Steve smiled and sipped slowly from the goblet.

“Thank you, I apologize for earlier”

“No need, coming here can be quite scary the first time” Steve nodded and Natasha turned to her other king with a hard expression.

“What is your name boy?” she flinched as Bucky knelt immediately.

“I have no name Domina, Dominus Pierce refers to me as translator or boy” Natasha hummed and glanced over at Steve before she spoke again.

“Did you have a name before?” Bucky hesitated before speaking softly

“Forgive me Domina, I do not remember”

“Then what do the other slaves call you?”

“The other slaves do not speak with me Domina, so I would not know” Steve felt his heart break. Bucky didn’t remember who he was, and he was completely alone.

He must be so afraid.

Natasha hummed and glanced at Steve.

“I will speak with your Dominus, but I wish you to stay with Steven, he will need a translator, I will not have him damaged because he did not understand a command. Is that understood?” Bucky nodded

“Yes Domina, as you wish” she gave a sad smile and nodded, walking away. Bucky turned to look at him.

“She has asked that I stay with you” Steve reached forward and gently grabbed his hand, squeezing it like he used to.

Bucky clearly didn’t understand the significance behind the gesture and smiled, squeezing back gently.

“Thank you my friend, it means more than words can say. Please, call me Steven. What is your name?” Bucky’s gaze went sad and he looked at him softly.

“I do not have one” Steve swallowed thickly and pressed forward.

“May I call you James? Then we have a way of recognizing each other?” Bucky smiled and nodded his head.

“I would like that very much”


 

The two were laying together on the straw mat, both on their backs staring at the wooden ceiling, tomorrow Steve was being moved over to the gladiator residence.

He didn’t know when he would see Bucky again.

“May I ask you a question James?” Bucky turned to him and smiled.

“Of course”

“How did you get here?” Steve pulled the biggest puppy-eyes he could manage, looking at him. He had to know what his husband went through, after he’d rode off in tense silence that fateful morning.

Bucky bit his lip and looked down at himself self-consciously.

“I don’t remember much. I know I was in the woods, that I was a scout and the Romans caught me. I just remember the pain when…” Bucky trailed off and gestured to his missing limb and smiled sadly.

“When I woke up I was here, they’d wrapped me up and told me that I was to be the translator form Dominus Pierce and his gladiators” Steve looked at him with pained eyes and swallowed down his own nausea at the fact that Bucky had never received proper medical care.

“Does it hurt my friend?” Bucky sniffed and nodded lightly, looking down in shame.

“They cut my hair and shaved my face, and when they sowed me together they gave me nothing for the pain, nothing to bite down on – I ended up passing out” Steve slowly rolled onto his side and looked at him with heartbroken eyes.

“I am so sorry my friend” Bucky smiled sadly and rolled over to his side so they were facing each other, the flame from Bucky’s small fire illuminating them. Steve could hear the noises of the night around him. The grunting of slaves making love, the laughter of ones who had stolen alcohol, the tears of others.

Through it all though, Bucky stayed silent, and no one came to his stall.

“I intend to leave this place James, and I promise I will take you with me” Bucky laughed wetly and shook his head.

“I already gave up on those dreams, but I will help you run” Steve’s eyes filled with tears at the resignation in his husband’s voice, the lack of hope he had.

Steve had been too late.

“You need to rest Steven, you need your strength for tomorrow” Steve looked at him, taking in the soft eyes and kind smile he loved so dearly.

And the complete lack of recognition in them. The tears welling up spilled over and Bucky’s face became alarmed.

“Shh Steven, don’t cry. Your Domina is a good woman, she will make sure that you are attended well. And who knows, maybe we will see each other again?” Bucky desperately attempted to comfort the man who was causing the tremendous ache in his heart. He didn’t know anything about him, other than he already cared very deeply for him. Steve wiped his eyes and smiled weakly.

“I’m sorry, it’s just been a long few months. May I ask you a question my friend?”

“Anything”

“May – may I hold you, for comfort until I fall asleep?” Bucky swallowed thickly and Steve waited with bated breath as he considered him. Suddenly Bucky gave him a soft smile and nodded, hesitantly shuffling closer.

“If it will bring you comfort” Steve nodded and slowly pulled him into his arms, letting out a shaky breath and the foreign yet familiar feeling of Bucky in his arms.

He was smaller now, slimmer. But his head still automatically fell in the same place, the arm he still had still draped across his waist as they lay there. After a few moments Bucky relaxed into his embrace and slowly drifted off to sleep. Steve pressed the lightest of kisses to his head and tightened his embrace.

“I won’t leave without you my love, don’t give up on those dreams yet.”

Chapter Text

“Move it cripple!” Steve barely had time to react before Bucky was violently pushed into his side, trying desperately to catch himself on his one arm. Steve immediately encircled his arms around him and pulled him out of the way of the three large horses that came thundering by, that gladiator Brock looking down his nose at him. Steve felt his temper flare and swatted at the horse’s rear, sending the horse rearing and Brock flying from the saddle.

“How dare you! You stupid barbarian!” Steve pushed Bucky behind him as the gladiator raised his sword. Moving forward he quickly knocked the sword out of his hand and the two began to fight. Bucky watching in terrified horror.

“What is the meaning of this!” Natasha flinched in spite of herself at Pierce’s booming tone as he entered the courtyard. Bucky immediately dropped to his knees, dragging Steve down with him as Brock also took a knee.

“Forgive my Dominus, this brat and the Gaul-“ Bucky shot his head up.

“It was my fault my Lord, I was in the way of the horse. Domina’s slave saved my life and accidentally knocked the horse in the process.” Steve gaped at Bucky wide-eyed, desperate to engage but unable to give away the fact that he spoke Latin.

Pierce rolled his eyes and walked forward, grabbing Bucky by the hair and dragging him to his feet. He let out a startled cry and Steve moved forward instinctively. Only to freeze at the sword at his throat.

“Tell the Gaul that he will be taken and prepared for his exhibition, where we will see what talents he has in the ring and if he is worthy of staying at my Ludus. Then we will deal with you” Bucky began shaking as he turned to Steve and spoke in a shaky voice.

“They’re taking you in to see how well you battle, just follow the group and don’t make any trouble. Fight like Hell in the arena. I will hopefully see you later” Steve looked at him as he sent a shaky smile. Intentionally hiding the fact that he was off to be punished and most likely beaten.

“I wish you to stay”

“I cannot, please, make no more trouble. I’ll try to find you tonight to see how it went – my friend” Steve swallowed thickly and nodded, Natasha watching the whole thing in concealed anguish as Bucky was dragged off by his hair.


 

“I found your sister” T’Challa froze at the low voice behind him at the weapons rack. He turned sharply to see the blonde Gaul from their first day standing next to him, seemingly scanning the weapons indifferently.

“Shuri-“

“She is a house slave, she is with my love. They stay by Pierce’s side at all times.” T’Challa looked at him sternly and raised an eyebrow.

“What would he need of two house slaves?” Steve levelled him a look and spoke firmly.

“Because my love is a translator, not a house slave” understanding began to dawn in T’Challa’s eyes and he looked at him.

“You speak of the cripple?” Steve’s gaze hardened and he snarled.

“I speak of my king” T’Challa nodded respectfully and extended his arm.

“My apologies, I feel that you and I will have much to discuss your majesty” Steve took his arm and shook it.

“As do I your highness.”


 

Steve walked into the arena to the chanting of the crowd. His sword was made of wood and would not cause any real damage. The idea was to showcase his skills, not to actually kill.

He scanned the crowd and sat Natasha sitting next to Pierce, her eyes immediately shooting to the right as they made eye-contact. Steve followed her gaze and felt his heart stutter.

Bucky was kneeling next to the Roman guards, in the sunlight no longer covered in fabric, Steve was finally able to see the full extent of his husband’s captivity.

And he wished he hadn’t.

The months of captivity had clearly taken their toll on Bucky, and Steve could do little more than gape at his husband in heartbroken shock.

His long hair had been sheared short like Steve’s his beard nothing but a memory. His muscle mass had all but vanished, leaving him lean and slim in a way Steve hadn’t seen in him since they were boys. There were dark bags under his eyes and his sunken cheeks told Steve everything he needed to know about how much food he was getting.

But it was his amputation that alarmed Steve the most.

Seeing it on his body, no longer covered by his toga, Steve could easily see that the arm had not been a clean cut at the time of its removal. He could also tell from the decoration of scar tissue and uneven stitching that his love had received sub-par medical care.

He must’ve been in agony.

Bucky knelt next to the guards shaking, his torn clothing and bloody and bruised appearance revealing just exactly how Pierce had “dealt” with him.

Bucky looked at him with wide eyes before looking away in shame, shakily covering the amputation.


 

Bucky wasn’t sure why the thought of Steve seeing his amputation horrified him so much, but he was terrified of how Steve would react. Of the rejection that would automatically come with it.

He quickly looked away from the gladiator’s intense gaze and moved part of his torn toga up to recover the amputation in embarrassment. Praying that the Gaul was successful enough in the ring that he would be permitted to stay.

So he could stay with Bucky.

Bucky looked up as Pierce got to his feet.

“Alright… Begin!”


 

To their credit, they had all been good fighters, but in the end it was Steve and T’Challa that remained unyielding, the other slaves all beginning to look at one another nervously as the two of them were lead out.

“The rest are disposable” Steve turned around and became overcome with horror as the Roman soldiers descended on the other slaves, the arena becoming a house of slaughter.

He tried to turn around when a shaky hand grabbed his.

“Come, I’ll clean your wounds. There is nothing to be done” Steve turned back and felt his heart swell at Bucky’s soft eyes and nervous expression. He allowed the brunette to gently lead him away from the screaming by the hand, through a tunnel and back towards the Ludus, to Steve’s new quarters.


 

Natasha stared in horror at the carnage in the arena, turning her attention to Pierce as he laughed.

“You have been in the countryside too long Natalia, you have forgotten the joy of sport” Natasha clenched her jaw and forced her voice to be even.

“I just feel it’s such a waste of able-bodied men” Pierce shrugged and smiled at her coldly.

“Caesar will soon rule the world and we will have many more” he sipped his wine, the red on his upper-lip shining almost as brightly as the blood in the now silent arena.

“We will have slaves to spare.” Natasha settled back into the seat as the severity of the situation began to unfold in front of her.

They had to get out of here.

Chapter Text

Steve looked down as Bucky deftly stitched his forearm together as he sat on his wooden bed. Steve realizing how much better his living conditions were compared to his husband’s. Bucky gently rinsed it again and patted it dry with the edge of his torn clothing before looking up at Steve with a gentle smile.

“There, all better. I don’t think it’ll scar” Steve smiled at him and gently rested his hand on top of Bucky’s

“Thank you James” the two looked at each other for a minute before Bucky shot his gaze away, nervous confusion in his eyes.

“You shouldn’t start fights with Brock-“ Steve gently grabbed Bucky’s face, guiding him back to look at him.

“They beat you” Bucky looked down and shrugged self consciously.

“It is nothing unusual, I’m slow and more of a liability than asset. It’s not your fault” Steve gently guided him off the floor, sitting him on the bed next to him and turning to face him fully, using the light of the candle to assess his injuries.

“May I look?” Bucky suddenly shot up, hand covering his stump as he began to quickly head towards the door.

“I have to go” he stumbled over his words as he fled out the door.

“James!”…


 

Bucky curled into himself on this straw mat as he wept silently. The mat felt so cold now without Steve’s presence next to him. Bucky looked over at the flames of his small fire and let out a quiet sob.

Steve was magnetic, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d looked at someone and felt safe. Steve was slowly making himself at home in every nook and cranny of Bucky’s mind and it terrified him. He tried to tell himself that it was because Steve was being kind to him, when no one else was.

But maybe Steve did care for him more. Maybe he wasn’t repulsed by Bucky’s missing arm, or scars, or malnourished state.

Maybe Steve could love him.

Bucky felt a small spark of hope bloom in his chest as he rested his head on his arm. He could make himself lovable to Steve. He could be more than his injuries.

Bucky curled around the fire and slowly fell asleep, dreaming of Steve.


 

“Morning” Steve looked over from where he was training and watched as Bucky walked over, soft smile on his face. Steve grinned and set down the mock sword as he turned to him, fighting every fiber of his being which longed to take him up in his arms.

“Good morning my friend, did you sleep well?” Bucky nodded, wanting so badly to say that he would’ve slept better beside him.

“As well as could be imagined, my fire went out during the night so I was a little colder than I would’ve liked” Bucky chuckled softly and Steve felt the warmth of his laugh wash over him.

“Then you should sleep with me. It’s much warmer where I sleep, and the gladiators are sneaking slaves in to fuck constantly. No harm in me brining a friend in to share warmth, especially with winter almost upon us” Bucky blushed and wrapped his arm around his waist self-consciously.

“Thank you Steven, I really appreciate that” Steve smiled and caught a glance of a nearby quiver, and idea blossoming in his head as he picked it up and sat on a nearby bench. Intentionally messing up the quiver as he looked over at Bucky.

“Stop, you’re doing it wrong” Steve bit his lip to keep from smiling as Bucky reached over him.

“Here, hold that like this…”


 

“Hello gentlemen” Bucky looked up at Natasha walked over to them, immediately bowing his head in respect.

“Greetings, Domina, what can we do for you?” Natasha looked at Bucky before glancing to Steve.

“We have a problem Steve” Bucky’s head snapped up and he gaped.

“Y-you speak Latin?” Steve looked at him with apologetic eyes before glancing at Natasha.

“What happened?” Natasha ignored Bucky’s shocked babbling as she turned to her king.

“You’re in the arena tomorrow. Against lions” Steve balked and Bucky shot his head over.

“We need to leave tonight” Steve looked over at Bucky and grabbed his hand.

“Come with us James, come with me” Bucky jerked away and his eyes filled with tears.

“What? No I can’t leave! He’d kill me” Natasha looked at him with sympathetic eyes.

“We could offer you protection” Bucky’s eyes filled with tears and he shook his head.

“No, no I can’t” with that, Bucky took off out of the courtyard and Steve felt his heart shatter.


 

Bucky curled up on his straw mat as tears streamed down his face – again. Steve and Natalia would be long gone by now. And he’d be alone.

Again.

He hadn’t even bothered to say goodbye. Bucky curled into himself in the cold night as he cried. He should know better, he thought to himself in frustration. There was no way a slave like Steven could be as docile as to never receive any punishment, and yet he had no scars.

His Domina was too noble, Steve was no slave, he was a consort.

Bucky had never stood a chance.

He curled into the fetal position to try to keep some warmth before forcing himself to close his eyes. He needed to be able to function tomorrow when he woke up and Steve was gone.

Who could love him now anyway?


 

“Steve…”

“No, this is my choice Natasha, I will not forsake him” Natasha looked at her king nervously and bit her lip. He sighed heavily and stood.

“Go home, you’ve done more than enough” he clasped her shoulder and she gasped.

“My king-“

“No, you have been more than helpful, go home, tend to our people, ensure Thor is honouring the agreement. We will return eventually” she looked at him hard

“And if you don’t?” Steve gave her a sad smile.

“Then know I was at peace with my love” Natasha looked at him with tear-filled eyes.

“As you wish my lord, I will make the proper arrangements and leave tomorrow” Steve pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Bucky was walking silently through the Gladiator padlock, keeping his head down and ignoring the jeers as he headed towards the Ludus. Shuri had offered to show him how to prepare food with one hand, so maybe he could be moved to the kitchens and away from the other slaves, who were increasingly losing their patience with him.

He was almost at the courtyard when a calloused hand enclosed gently around his wrist.

“You would let me walk into a lion’s den without the benefit of a good-luck?” Bucky gaped and spun around, eyes wide as he took Steve in.

“Y-you’re here?” Steve nodded kindly and ran his thumb over the inside of Bucky’s wrist.

“Of course, I am here with a purpose” Bucky eyed him warily but kept his wrist in Steve’s hold.

“And what would that purpose be?” Steve stared at him for a long time, Bucky growing increasingly warm under his gaze.

“I have come for my love, to bring them back home”  Bucky swallowed thickly. So there was someone.

He steeled himself and looked at him.

“I will help you, find your love I mean” Steve smiled sadly and felt his eyes fill with tears. He still had no clue.

“Thank you” he turned to the gate to lead him into the colosseum and Bucky yelled out quickly.

“Don’t let them draw blood. Choose the shield. They starve them, they won’t have enough energy to last long. Just wait them out and don’t let them get a taste of you” Steve nodded and clasped his shoulder.

“Thank you my friend, you are very special to me” Steve cringed inwardly as the awful goodbye he had to settle for before turning back to the gate, he took a steadying breath and stepped out, making a beeline for the weapons rack where the large, circular shield Bucky had mentioned hung proudly and unused.


 

Bucky clung to the bars of the gate to the arena, eyes fixed on the Gaul as he was circled by the two large beasts.

“Hey! I’ve been wai—” he flung a hand up to silence Shuri and looked back into the arena. She glanced over and looked back at him.

“Is this the Gaul you’ve been talking about?” Bucky nodded, gasping as Steve managed to push a lion back with the shield in a manner that was much too close for Bucky’s liking.

Shuri glanced at him and felt her heart melt.

“You care for him don’t you?” Bucky pointedly looked away from her as he spoke softly.

“It is inconsequential, he came for his love” Shuri gently placed her hand on his back as she turned to watch the fight, offering the only support she could.


 

Steve was exhausted, he’d been circling them for hours, and they seemed to have no intention of “wearing out”. He glanced back over at the gate where Bucky and Shuri were still standing, making a mental note to bring both of them back to the barracks with him. Steve looked down at the metal shield in his hand and began to rack his brain. He had to keep his distance, but he had to kill the lions.

“Gods bless me, make this work in my favour” with that, Steve tossed the shield like a giant discuss, the metal ricocheting off the nearby wall and off one lion’s head, downing it instantly. The other lion froze and looked at him with wild eyes and Steve prepared to throw the shield again.

“I’m sorry creature, but only one of us can leave this arena.”


 

Bucky watched with wide eyes as Steve slowly re-entered the holding area, the soldiers escorting the next poor gladiator into the ring.

“Steve!” Steve smiled, opening his arms immediately for the brunette to fall into.

“You did it! That was amazing!” Steve continued to hold him even after Bucky let go, not too proud to admit that he was still quite shaken.

“Thank you for your advice James, it was crucial in my survival” Bucky looked away bashfully, reminding himself that Steve had another and turned back to Shuri.

“This is Shuri, she is my closest companion” Shuri snorted as she walked up.

“Your name is James? How did you never tell me?” Bucky gently grabbed Steve by the wrist as he led him down the padlock.

“Because I didn’t have one until Steve got here.”


 

“Ask her to stay” Bucky looked at Steve in confusion, but stopped Shuri from leaving.

“Tell her that I can speak Latin, but that she must be silent about it. As I have something important for her to see” Bucky nodded and turned to Shuri.

“Steve can speak Latin – but you cannot tell a soul!” Shuri gaped.

“Are you joking?! If they find out that he’s been lying – and that we knew – we’re all dead! Absolutely not!” She turned to storm out when Steve immediately lunged forward.

“Please, I am with T’Challa” Shuri froze mid-step as Bucky looked at him.

“You know of T’Challa?” Steve nodded, noticing Shuri had yet to turn around.

“Please, wait here, I can prove it and explain everything.”


 

“Shuri…?” Shuri turned at the familiar voice, tears already streaming down her face as she ran to him.

“Brother!” T’Challa let out his own tearful laugh as she ran into his arms, sobbing against his broad chest. T’Challa enclosed himself around her as he whispered soothingly into her ear in Xhosa.

“You found me, I knew you would! I knew you’d come for me!” Steve turned away from the exchange to catch Bucky’s eye, hoping maybe some form of memory had returned to him.

What he saw broke his heart even more.

Bucky was looking at them what could only be described as longing, hand gripping his shoulder in a macabre imitation of an embrace. His body curled in on itself in a defeated stance as loneliness poured from him in waves.

T’Challa pulled away from Shuri and sent a confused looked at the other two men. Steve immediately running interference.

“James is a friend, he has no recollection of his life before here. I intend on bringing him with us when we escape” understanding dawned in T’Challa’s eyes and he extended his hand to Bucky.

“Then I owe you a great debt, for keeping my sister safe” Bucky shyly took the hand as Shuri grinned.

“I did nothing” he murmured, Shuri’s eyes igniting.

“He lies, brother what is the plan? When can we leave? What-“ T’Challa laughed and hugged her again.

“Hush now, Steve and I are working on it, the fewer people who know the better. We will come get you when it is time, meanwhile, you keep your head down, cause no problems and stay safe alright?” Shuri nodded and hugged him tightly again as Steve gazed at his husband’s broken form, wanting nothing more than to hug him as well.


 

It took months of planning, and Steve and T’Challa had both had their share of time in the colosseum as a result. But finally, one spring night they were able to put their plan into motion.

“We will leave tonight” Steve murmured into Bucky’s ear as he passed him in the courtyard, where Bucky was furiously trying to keep up with the other slaves as he scrubbed the cobblestone.

“I’ll come fetch you from your room, T’Challa will get Shuri” Bucky nodded and widened his knees in a hope of maintaining balance as he scrubbed. Excitement beginning to build up in him at the idea that they would soon be free.

Only to be squashed by the reminder that he would soon meet Steve’s love.


 

“Slow! Pathetic! Worthless! Cripple!” Bucky moved his arm to protect his head as blow after blow was delivered. The kick in the ribs made it hard to breathe, and he knew his nose was broken. But his tears weren’t for the pain, they were for his lost opportunity.

He’d never keep up with the others with his injuries, he wouldn’t be able to escape.

“Alright Brock, that’s enough thank you” Pierce murmured, getting up from his chaise and walking towards him.

“You are so important to me as my translator – such an asset” he gently carded his hand through Bucky’s blood-caked hair as the younger man trembled beneath him.

“So why can’t you just scrub a floor like everyone else huh?” Bucky sniffed, the build up of blood in his nose making it an excruciating feat.

“I-I-I’m s-s-sorry D-Dominus” Pierce sighed and leaned back on his heels.

“I know you are, you always are. Take him back to the stalls, he’ll be useless today.”


 

It was well past midnight when Steve crept into the slave housing. Ignoring the looks he’d come to get used to from the others over the fact that he’d chosen the crippled slave. He gently opened the stall, expecting to see Bucky sitting up and waiting for him as they’d agreed, only to be shocked at the fact that he appeared to be asleep, back to him.

“James, James what are you doing, we have to go!” Bucky didn’t move but his voice whispered back sadly.

“Go without me, I will only slow you down” Steve growled in frustration and reached for him.

“Now is not the time for self-pity, we need to-“ he froze and the yelp of pain that escaped Bucky as he grabbed his arm. Concern a heavy ball in the pit of Steve’s stomach as he immediately dropped to his knees, rolling Bucky over tenderly as his eyes took in the horror before him.

Bucky’s right eye was swollen shut, the left one not much better as he coughed up at Steve. His nose was obviously broken and blood was caked to his face and in his hair, his lip split and swollen. From the few tears in his toga Steve could see the vicious bruises splattered along the alabaster skin and new there was definitely internal damage as well.

Bucky would be recovering for weeks.

If he even recovered at all.

Steve felt himself slip as he took his husband in, forgetting the role he’d come to master over the last several months.

“Darling, what have they done to you!?” If Bucky noticed the endearment, it didn’t show, coughing lightly and wincing at the action’s affect on his ribs. Steve fluttered his hands around Bucky, unsure of where to touch.

“I was too slow, couldn’t finish all my chores. So the others had to do more work. Dominus was disappointed” Steve swallowed his own tears and looked down at him as tears slid down Bucky’s cheeks.

“J-just go Steve. Find your love and the others and get out of here. I can cover for you” Steve let out a shaky breath and leaned down to press his lips to Bucky’s forehead, holding them there for several long moments.

Just like he used to.

“I’ll come back for you, I swear it” Bucky held his sobs in as he nodded. Closing his eyes against the anguish.

"Go in grace, may the Gods be with you” Steve sniffed and rushed from the building, heading for T’Challa and Shuri.


 

In his straw mat, Bucky cried himself to sleep as his last hope faded into the darkness.

Chapter Text

Steve hoisted Shuri over the wall and turned to T’Challa.

“And you are sure about this my friend?” Steve nodded and looked back at the barracks.

“He would not leave me, I cannot abandon him, not when he needs me most” T’Challa gripped his forearm firmly and smiled sadly.

“In my culture, our God Baste is said to protect those during our times of trial, may Baste protect you both, and hopefully someday we shall meet again” Steve smiled warmly and shook his hand.

“Thank you my friend, may the Gods grant you safe journey to Wakanda” with that T’Challa climbed the wall and landed next to his waiting sister, grabbing her by the hand and leading her into the darkness.

Steve waited until they were gone from sight before going back to the slave padlock.

His love needed him, and he wouldn’t let him down.


 

Bucky awoke to the feeling of a damp cloth running across his hair. He let out a soft moan only to be quietly shushed.

“Shh, hush now, it’s only me” Bucky hummed in confusion and tried to open his eyes, a nearly impossible feat with how swollen they were.

“S-Steve” Steve smiled, taking the hand that was hesitantly reaching out for him.

“Yes James, I’m here” he gently entwined their fingers and dropped the cloth into the basin.

“Y-you should-“

“I’m right where I should be James, rest now I’ll attend you okay?” Bucky gripped his hand tightly as he began to drift back to sleep.

“You came back for me” Steve sighed heavily as Bucky slipped back out of consciousness, tears sliding down his face. He gently brushed his short locks and returned to wiping the blood from his face.

“I’ll always come for you my love.”


 

“How are you feeling?” Bucky glanced up at the soft voice behind him, turning hesitantly to look at Steve.

“I am well thank you, on the mend” Steve watched with sad eyes as Bucky began to quickly limp away. Bucky has drifted in and out of consciousness for two days, only awake long enough for Steve to force some water and bread into him. However, on day three when Steve had to leave for the day for training, he’d been shocked to find Bucky around and moving, slowly but surely. No matter how hard Steve tried, he just couldn’t seem to find him after that for about a week and a half. Today was different though, Bucky was washing linens in the fountain in the courtyard where he trained.

Steve watched him shuffle a few steps before catching up to him in three long strides.

“Why are you avoiding me?” Bucky swallowed thickly and stared at the ground as Steve gently grabbed his wrist. Steve could feel him shaking and his heart broke at how unsure he was.

“James-“

“You should’ve just left me” Steve felt his blood run cold at the whispered admission.

“No, absolutely not. I would not leave you here!” Bucky turned to look at him with tear-filled eyes.

“What about your wife? What is she to do now that she is out there without you hmm? Now what is she to do, go back to Wakanda when she should be back in Gaul with you!? She is alone, and you are here with me!” tears began to slide down Bucky’s cheek as he focused his gaze back to the ground. Steve gaped at him in confusion and shook his head.

“James, I-I have no wife, I don’t understand” Bucky looked at him with betrayed eyes as he spat out coldly.

“Your love remember? The one you were captured for?! How can you be so cold as to act as though you do not remember your love?!” Steve froze at his mistake.

“James-“

“Leave me” Steve could do nothing but watch as Bucky limped away quickly, ignoring the laughter from the other slaves.


 

“May I come in?” Bucky glanced up at his stall door to see Steve standing on the other side, he glanced back down at the toga he was mending by firelight and shrugged noncommittally.

“Do as you wish” Steve swallowed thickly and slowly made his way into the stall, sitting down on the straw mat next to him.

“You need new bedding James, bugs will begin to fester due to the blood and age of this straw” Bucky shrugged and turned back to his mending.

“Only get new bedding if you complete your work” Steve nodded and looked down at the filthy mat. Bucky couldn’t sleep here.

“Come sleep in the barracks with me tonight” Bucky didn’t look up.

“I need to finish this mending by dawn, or else I’ll be punished again” his voice trembled as he spoke, illustrating the fear in his voice at being beaten again. He waited a moment as he watched his husband pull himself together.

“Bring them, I’ll help you mend them” Bucky looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“You can sew?” Steve nodded and smiled softly.

“My love taught me” Bucky’s lip quirked up and he began to gather the fabrics up and Steve helped him stand, extinguished the flame and gently led him from the padlock, back towards his barracks.


 

“So tell me about your love” Steve looked over at Bucky as he spoke quietly, never looking up from his sewing and smiled.

“What would you like to know?” Bucky bit his lip and furrowed his brow as he steeled himself. He didn’t want to know about her, but if he took Steve away from his love, the least he could do was listen to her.

“What’s she like, how did you meet, your courtship or whatever” Steve couldn’t decide if he wanted to laugh or cry at old Bucky sass slipped through. Steve grabbed another toga from the pile and began to sew as a grin split his face, reminded of the night he’d proposed so many years before.

"Well, to begin with, my love is not a she, but a heBucky’s eyes snapped over to his in barely concealed surprise as Steve laughed in excitement.

He got to tell Bucky how he fell in love with him, what he loved about him. And all that without Bucky constantly begging him to show up.

“Get comfortable James, this is a long tale” Bucky laughed and pivoted himself on the bed to face Steve, eyes seeming genuinely interested.

“Well, go on then…”


 

“… And when he laughs, he throws his head back in joyous rapture and I swear the stars dance in his eyes…” Steve watched as Bucky watched in rapture, slowly stopping his work as he listened to Steve. His eyes were beginning to  well up and sparkle as Steve spoke. Looking at him in wonder as Steve continued.

“He sounds amazing” Steve smiled and laid the garments down.

“I haven’t even gotten to the best part!” Bucky’s eyes shone as he leaned forward, eager to hear more about the amazing man which had stolen the gladiator’s heart.

Chapter Text

Steve talked for hours, and by the time he’d gotten to the end of it, they’d long since finished Bucky’s work and were laying side by side in bed, the fire a warm presence at Bucky’s back.

“Without him, I would not be who I am now” Bucky looked up at him and smiled.

“W-what happened? How did he get here?” Steve’s eyes filled with tears and Bucky felt his heart break.

“He was captured on a scouting mission. I hadn’t even said goodbye to him, I was being stubborn” Bucky looked at him as a rogue tear made it’s way down his cheek.

“I sent him away so coldly, and that’s the last memory of me he has” a sob escaped Steve’s throat before he could help himself and he stared at his husband. His husband who had no idea who he was. His husband who had spent years alone in Rome with no recollection of how he came to be there, of anyone who may be looking for him.

It was devastating.

“But you will find him Steven, and bring him home to you” the voice was soft, but Bucky held so much conviction that Steve struggled to hold in his secret. Even when he barely knew him, Bucky held more faith in his abilities than he did himself.

“I will, and you will come with us James” Bucky swallowed thickly and gave him a sad smile.

“No one is looking for me Steve. I am not wanted, no one wishes for a broken doll” Steve gaped as a tear slid down Bucky’s face.

“No one is coming for me” Steve reached out and gripped the side of his neck firmly, giving him a gentle shake.

“You listen here, and listen well. You so loved, and there is someone looking for you,” Bucky stared at him and Steve could see the hope warring in his eyes as he pressed on

“And they will not rest until they find you, and bring you home safe at their side. They count the mere seconds until they can have you back in their arms again and would face Caesar himself for you. You are cherished, and your love longs for the day to hold you again. And they will hold you again, by the grace of all the Gods of this world” Bucky sniffed and wiped at his eyes.

“H-how do you know?” Steve stared at him and felt his own tear sliding down his cheek.

“Because you are their Elysium” Bucky let out a wet laugh and pressed his forehead to Steve’s, pressing his closed fist against his bare chest.

“Thank you Steve” Steve could do nothing more than nod at the whispered thanks, bringing one hand up to cradle the back of his husband’s head and closing his eyes against the temptation to kiss him. Bucky let out a soft noise and relaxed against him. The two silently holding each other in the night.


 

Steve had decided early on that he hated Brock, he just hated him more as the year progressed.

“Anthony! Did you hear the news!” the slave blacksmith, a man Steve had come to know as Tony, looked up hesitantly from where he was hammering out the dents in Steve’s shield – his decided weapon of choice. Tony’s wife, Pepper had come to stand behind her husband with terrified eyes. Steve watching the exchange hesitantly.

He wasn’t the biggest fan of Tony and Pepper either, with the way they treated Bucky. However, there was something about the heartache in Tony’s eyes, and the fear in Pepper’s that made his heart hurt.

“N-no my lord, I have not” Brock let out a laugh that Steve hated and turned his gaze on Pepper.

“It’s my birthday, and Dominus said I could treat myself to any spice in the rack. I’ve chosen Pepper” the euphemism did nothing to hide the ice cold reality of his words and Pepper let out a sob, Tony immediately falling to his knees and desperately grabbing at Brock’s feet.

“Please, please my lord, not my wife! Take any but my wife I beg of you!” Brock let out a laugh and gave Tony a firm kick in the side before strutting off.

“Your begging means nothing to me Anthony, enjoy your day lovely Pepper, I will see you this evening” Brock strutted off with a grin as Pepper fell to her knees beside her husband, sobbing hysterically.

“Please, please no!”


 

“Brock will have Pepper tonight” Bucky froze mid-stitch and turned to him.

“What?” Steve sighed and swallowed the lump in his throat.

“It’s ‘his birthday’ so Dominus allowed him to bed one of the slaves. He chose Pepper” Bucky’s eyes filled with horror and concern.

“But Pepper is so fragile. And she is with her husband – why would he-“ Steve looked at him with sad eyes.

“You can break a man with more than a sword James. Watching your love hurt is enough to kill a man” Bucky furrowed his brow and his eyes filled with tears.

“He cannot be allowed to take her, it isn’t right” Steve sighed heavily.

“But what can we do?” Steve watched the gears in Bucky’s had turn as he stared down at the fabric.

“Gods help me, I don’t know”


 

Bucky knew he was weak. He knew he would never stand a chance.

He also knew he couldn’t let Brock have Pepper.

He lay on his mat with the piece of kindling in his hand, listening to Tony desperately try to comfort Pepper as their time together began to dwindle. She let out a terrified gasp as the padlock door opened and Bucky tightened his grip on the piece of wood. He had one shot.

“Oh Pepper! Time to go!” Tony clung to his wife as she screamed, Brock and one of the other gladiators, a man named Jack laughing as they began to tug them apart.

Bucky took a deep breath and charged out of his stall, cracking Brock over the head, splitting the piece of kindling as he quickly turned to the couple.

“Run!”


 

Steve watched as Brock and Jack left the barracks. He took a deep breath and felt his eyes fill with tears. He couldn’t imagine the horror going through the couple and suddenly his head snapped up.

What was he doing? They were going to take Pepper! If it was Bucky they were going for, Steve would pray someone would help him. He had no business sitting idly by.

The consequences would be severe.

But he had to try.

Steve raced out of the barracks, hoping he’d reach the padlock in time.

 

However, by the time Steve had made it there, Pepper and Tony were running the other way, towards the unattended gate. He hesitated in confusion.

Where were Brock and Jack then?

Suddenly a straggled cry erupted from the padlock and Steve’s heart plummeted.

He knew that voice anywhere.

“Bucky!”


 

“Always. In. My. Way!” Bucky desperately tried to crawl away, looking at the other slaves for help. Why would no one help him?

He locked eyes with one of them and spit out a mouthful of blood.

“p-please” tears fell from the other slaves eyes, but they rolled over in bed. Bucky watched the fleeing backs of Tony and Pepper and forced himself to smile.

They got away.

Bucky reached for a nearby fire log as Jack grabbed his ankle.

“Ah-ah, no you don’t, stupid little-“ the taunt was cut off with a horrid choking sound and someone in the padlock shrieked. Bucky rolled over and stared up in shock.

“S-Steve?”


 

Steve knew the moment he charged into the padlock that at least one person would be dying. As long as it wasn’t Bucky he didn’t care.

He rounded the corner and watched as Bucky desperately reached for a piece of wood. Jack came up behind him and grabbed his ankle, laughing maniacally. Steve froze and immediately lunged for the closest weapon he could find.

It happened to be the pitchfork used to re-hay the slave beds.

Steve charged forward two steps with the pitchfork in his hands before he thrust it forward with all the strength he could muster. Right through Jack’s back and protruding out his chest.

One of the nearby slave girls shrieked and Steve noticed one run from the padlock in passing. But he didn’t have time to worry about them. He had to deal with Brock.

Steve rounded on Brock and yanked the fork from Jack’s spluttering form, standing over Bucky as he spoke in a low growl.

“Leave now” Brock looked down at his dead friend and let out an anguished cry.

“I’ll kill you for this!” Brock charged at Steve who dropped the pitchfork, bringing his arms up in a block to try to force them both back a few steps and safely away from Bucky.


 

Blow after blow the men delivered, neither stopping until long after guards had arrived and evacuated the padlock. Steve was sitting on top of Brock’s chest, repeatedly punching him in the face as Brock tightened his hold on the blonde’s throat, Steve’s face going red from lack of oxygen.

“That’s enough!” both gladiators froze at the infuriated voice surrounding them and looked up.

Dominus Pierce glared them down with disgust on his face, and fury in his eyes.

This was bad.

Chapter Text

“You know Steven, when your Domina asked for you to stay I was so excited, and over these past two years you have proven yourself to be quite the champion,” Steve didn’t budge from where he was kneeling on the floor, hands bound behind him. He knew he could easily take both Pierce and Brock, but Bucky wouldn’t stand a chance.

He glanced over at his love and felt his heart break. Bucky was kneeling next to the soldiers and shaking, blood still caked to his face as Pierce wouldn’t let him clean up. He was terrified for Steve.

“As already mentioned, my translator here, is worth much more alive than dead – so while I would love to have his pretty little head removed-“ Steve froze as Bucky let out a soft whimper.

“-It would be against my best interests. However, gladiators die in combat all the time, and since you so clearly have a thirst for blood and costed me one of my best fighters. I feel it appropriate to give you your wish” Bucky began pleading, struggling to stand as the guard held him down with a laugh.

“The two of you embarrassed me, and you know how I feel about that. But I’ll let you have your fun. Tomorrow, you will be my main event, a fight to the death” Brock let out a surprised shout and a sob ripped loose from Bucky the likes of which Steve had never heard. He stared unmoving at Pierce’s smug face and refrained from saying anything, refusing to give him the satisfaction of the terror running through his body.

“I am not unkind, Brock, pick a slave of your choice tonight – Steven, I assume I already know your choice, unless you would prefer something less damaged” the soldier laughed and pushed Bucky to the floor, placing his foot square on his back.

“N-no Dominus” he murmured softly, never removing his eyes from Bucky’s prone form as he was hoisted up unceremoniously.

“Perfect, we will go clean him up, Brock, go take your pick. I will gift you both your last night in a room in my Ludus, as it will be the last night one of you has – if not both” Pierce chuckled darkly and walked from the room, Bucky being dragged after him.


 

Steve glanced around the room at the luxurious curtains and gold detailing, and for a moment he was almost reminded of their tent at home. He sat on the soft bed and ran a hand through his cropped hair. Tonight could very well be his last night with Bucky, and Bucky still had no clue who they were to each other.

He knew he’d been making headway, that Bucky had begun to suffer through migraines in silence, and that he often caught him looking at Steve when he though he wasn’t paying attention. Steve could feel how close he was to breaking through.

It just hadn’t happened yet.

He looked up at the sound of the door opening and watched as they shoved Bucky into the room. He’d been decorated for the event. Like some prize.

His hair was cut, and he was freshly shaven. Dressed in a silver toga with silver bangles decorating his arm. He looked up as Steve slowly stood and watched him shuffle in. he was clearly wearing makeup to hide the fact that he’d been beaten, and Steve could smell the perfume on him. It was ridiculous.

“James…” Bucky slowly walked up to him and stopped right in front of him, eyes overflowing with tears as he whispered softly.

“Why didn’t you run when you had the chance?” Steve heard the desperate waiver in his voice and snatched him into his arms, burying his face into Bucky’s neck as they embraced.

“I could never leave you” Bucky let out a sob and pressed even closer, clinging to Steve with his arm.

“The have me done up like some stupid prostitute” Steve chuckled lightly and pressed his lips to the top if his head.

“We have a bath, if you wish to wash it off” Bucky nodded and made it a few steps before turning back to him.

“Join me” Steve could smell the hesitance behind the loaded statement, and felt his body warm at the implications.

“Of course.”


 

Steve gently ran the loofah over Bucky’s back, gentle around the scar tissue of his shoulder. Bucky pressed back against him gently and Steve slowly began to press kisses over the back of his neck and shoulders. Bucky let out a soft moan before going rigid, turning to look at him with wide eyes.

“Steve?” Steve looked into his husband’s eyes and saw the confusion there. It didn’t feel wrong, but Bucky felt that it should. Steve gently raised his other hand out of the water to cup Bucky’s face.

“I love you” he murmured, watching Bucky’s face contort at the familiarity of the statement. He didn’t give him time to dissect it though. He didn’t have the time.

He gently leaned in and pressed his lips to Bucky’s, feeling his eyes burn at the familiarity of it. Bucky gasped, allowing Steve to slide his tongue past Bucky's as he moaned softly. Steve pulled Bucky so he was straddling his thighs.

"I love you. I love you James" Bucky whimpered and wasted no time dipping his head back down, running his hands through Steve's hair as the blonde's hands gently massaged his hips and thighs.

"S-Steve…" Bucky stuttered out a breath as Steve's hand slipped through the water, lightly tickling Bucky’s balls.

"oh fuck" Steve pulled him in for another kiss and Bucky pulled away.

“Is this what you truly want?” Steve looked up at him and saw the concern, the love in Bucky’s eyes. He gently brought his hands back up to frame his face as Bucky looked down at him.

"There is nothing I want more. If you would have me" Bucky laughed breathlessly against his neck and pulled him back up for another kiss.

"I would have you" Steve slipped a finger into Bucky's welcoming hole and Bucky arched his back, throwing his head as he fucked himself onto Steve's hand, the sun setting behind them over the city…

Chapter Text

“S-Steve, please…” Bucky gasped into his mouth as Steve continued to slide his hand up Bucky’s thigh, fingers grazing under the fabric of the toga.

Honestly, Steve wasn’t entirely sure why they’d even bothered redressing after the bath. But the tray of food in the corner probably had something to do with it. He squeezed the inner part of his thigh and Bucky moaned as he finally enclosed his hand around his weeping cock, spreading his legs wider and propping himself on his one arm as he kissed Steve deeply.

“Tell me what you want” Steve breathed, his own cock aching as he continued to ignore it. He wanted his love to enjoy tonight, it wasn’t about him. Bucky thrust up into his hand and dropped his head to Steve’s shoulder, watching the fabric rustle with Steve’s movements.

“Wanna make you feel good too” Steve let out a low moan and his eyes fluttered closed. God he’d missed that voice.

“Y-yeah, yeah my love, do it” he let go of Bucky and watched with bated breath as the smaller man slid to his knees in front of him, hiking up the toga and swallowing him down. Steve let out a strangled cry and dropped his hand into Bucky’s short hair, causing Bucky to moan around him.

“Ah, fuck, James” Steve watched as Bucky took him down over and over, burying his nose into the little hairs at the base of him. Steve closed his eyes as his abdominal muscles began contracting.

“Wait, w-wait stop, stop stop” Bucky pulled up and Steve hoisted him into his lap, pressing gentle kisses to his lips and face as he looked at him.

“Want to feel you” Bucky bit his lip and nodded, pressing his lips to his again before standing up and slowly untying the toga, letting the fabric dance down his body before fluttering to the floor. Steve took a moment to just stare at his husband, memorizing him.

Some scars Steve recognized, some were foreign to him, but so much of his love was the same. The wide, lust-blown eyes, the kiss swollen lips, the affectionate way he cocked his head just so as he watched Steve watch him. For a moment, Steve was brought back to Gaul, sitting on their bed watching his husband strip for him like any other night. The familiarity brought an ache into his chest and he gently reached up to rest his hands on his hips, rubbing gentle circles with his thumbs in a way he knew Bucky liked. The brunette placed his hand onto Steve’s shoulders and balanced himself as he climbed into his lap, the two sharing another kiss as Steve ran his hands up his back as they moved languidly against one another.

Steve rolled them back and propped himself over him, looking down at him gently. Bucky’s arm lay leisurely over his head and Steve felt the haunted memories of their wedding night. Steve ran a hand through his hair and Bucky’s eyes fluttered closed.

“I love you” Bucky looked up at him with tears in his eyes.

“And I love you” Steve felt his eyes fill with tears and Bucky spread his legs invitingly, Steve leaning into the cradle of his body.


 

Kissing Steve was everything Bucky had imagined it would be and more, yet he couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of Déjà vu, that they’d been here before.

He tangled a hand into Steve’s blonde hair, praying with every kiss that this would not be his only night with Steve, that they would be able to spend more nights together. He didn’t know what happened to Steve’s lover, but after two years together without so much as a whisper of them, Bucky decided he wanted to be selfish. He wanted to be able to pull him close, whisper sweet nothings into his ear and make love to him.

He gazed up at Steve and pressed his lips to his ear.

“Make love to me Steve, I want to feel you” Steve let out a long, low moan and hiked Bucky’s legs around his waist, pressing himself against Bucky’s fluttering entrance. The two gasped and moaned together as Steve slowly bottomed out into his husband.

Steve could feel his eyes burning with tears, burying his face into Bucky’s neck as he began thrusting gently into the welcoming heat. Bucky clinging to him and making those little sounds Steve had missed so much.

Bucky clung to his shoulders, moving with him in perfect unison. Steve sucked a mark into the juncture between Bucky’s neck and shoulder, so no matter what happened, Bucky would have something to remember this night, to remember him even if he didn’t make it out of the arena. Bucky’s nails dug into his shoulder and he punched out a breath.

“S-Steve, Steve I’m so close” Steve leaned back and kissed him again. Bringing one hand down to stroke Bucky’s weeping member, Bucky jerked into his hand and gasped into his mouth.

“Y-yes, like that, Steve!” Bucky jerked forward clinging to Steve with his arm as his orgasm tore through his body. His walls clenching tightly around Steve bringing him over the edge as well, spilling into Bucky’s body before collapsing against his chest. The two let out breathless laughs as they caught their breath, Bucky gently running his hand through his hair as Steve pressed soft kisses to his chest.

“I don’t want to fall asleep and lose a moment with you” Steve murmured and looked up at him with sad eyes. Bucky gave a soft smile and kissed between the blue eyes.

“You need rest, sleep for a short while and I will wake you up se we have more time to be together – I swear it” Steve tightened his grip on Bucky and allowed himself to close his eyes.

“Only a short while”


 

Steve smiled and the two looked at each other softly.

"I love you" Bucky grabbed Steve’s hand in his own and looked at them intently. They were laying in the bed stark naked, bodies entwined as they spoke quietly to each other, Bucky tried to ignore the fact that it was getting lighter and lighter out the window and pressed himself closer to the gladiator's body. Steve pressed his lips to the crown of Bucky’s head for several minutes as the brunette let out a contented hum, closing his eyes and smiling.

"Now it is you that needs rest my love" Bucky shook his head and rested his head on Steve’s chest, listening to his heartbeat.

"And miss even a moment I get to spend with you, not a chance" Steve smiled sadly and wrapped his arm around him, kissing the top of his head repeatedly.

“I love your heartbeat” Steve’s heart melted, remembering the first time Bucky had said that to him, after he’d recovered from fever when he was still small. Bucky pressed his lips to the underside of Steve's jaw and sighed.

Suddenly, the door slid open and Bucky flinched, burying his face into Steve’s chest to hide his tears.

"Keep your eyes closed, it's like they're not even here" he whispered, content with his fantasy. Unfortunately, it ended as the cool voice of the guard broke through the room

"Tell the slave it is time, get dressed" Bucky pressed his lips to Steve's continuously kissing him as he pulled away, crawling towards him on the bed and smiling, watching Steve slip his tunic back on. Bucky suddenly grabbed the neck of his tunic and pulled him back to him, tears sliding down his face as he kissed him desperately. The guard looking away as Bucky pressed his lips to Steve's again, whispering softly.

"I love you" Steve closed his eyes and returned the soft presses lovingly, realizing that his husband had truly fallen in love with him all over again.

"And I love you" he turned and began walking to the guard, eyes going cold.

"Steve?" he turned back to Bucky and cocked his head to the side affectionately: Bucky was sitting cross legged in the middle of the bed, hair slightly mussed and the blanket bunched up around his hips, protecting his modesty.

"Kill him Steve, kill him and escape with me"

Steve looked at his husband and smiled.

"My love, I assure you, there is no other option" Bucky sent him a watery smile and nodded

"I'll be watching"

With that, Steve took a deep breath and headed back to the barracks, there was something he needed to do first.

Chapter Text

Bucky looked at the blonde inquisitively: his gaze was focused as he stood at the gate, he was dressed in the traditional brown leather tunic, holding a sword and the shield. He looked up and caught Bucky’s gaze.

"James, come here! I must speak with you quickly!” Bucky rushed down to him quickly, ignoring the looks from the guards. The moment Bucky was in arms reach, Steve grabbed him and pulled him into his arms, kissing him passionately. Bucky gaped at him and Steve framed his face.

“Steve?”

“James, it’s you. It’s always been you-“ Bucky shook his head in disbelief.

“I know you can’t remember, but you’re name is James Barnes, Bucky. You are the love of my life, we’ve been married for ten years and when you went missing four years ago I searched for you until I found you here. I had hoped your memory would return, but we’ve run out of time for me to be delicate-“ Steve pulled back and clasped Bucky’s hand in both of his.

"When I walk out into that arena, there is a chance I shall never come out, I know this, and while I do not wish it, it is a reality of which I must submit.-“ Bucky looked at him and felt a sudden pain in his heart which he struggled to control, chest beginning to heave as his head pounded.

“I don’t understa-“ Steve suddenly pressed a small, cool object into Bucky’s hand.

"If I die, at the moment of my death, you must run, as far as you can. Once you get to Gaul, they will find you and return you to the Brook Lands will you will be safe” Bucky closed his eyes and Steve pressed his lips to the crown of his head for several minutes. The roar of the crowd became deafening, the announcer beginning the introductions and fanfare. Steve finally pulled away and steeled his expression, his eyes still looking afraid and desperate.

"My only regret is that I didn’t find you sooner my love. That I didn’t get more time with you. I love you Bucky Barnes and you will always have my heart, now please, go” Bucky gaped at the gladiator as he stepped out into the arena.


 

Brock swung down against Steve’s shield again, knocking him back several steps, the blonde barely having time to raise and swing his own sword. Bucky brought his hand up to his mouth, suddenly remembering the small object Steve had pressed into his hand. He looked down and was suddenly hit with a severe migraine as he stared down at the small silver ring in his palm.

“I know this ring…”


 

Bucky smiled softly as he gently clasped Steve’s hands in his own, the blonde blushing and smiling at their hands as Peggy looked at them happily.

“Please join hands. As your hands are joined, so your lives, Holding each other, Caressing each other, Supporting each other, Loving each other-“ Peggy shakily tied the deep blue ribbon around joined hands Bucky hummed and cocked his head to the side.

“What? Bucky smirked and glanced up at Steve, finally catching his eyes.

“Matches your eyes” Steve chuckled and tightened his grip on Bucky’s hands, stepping closer. Peggy turned to Bucky and smiled.

“James, repeat after me…” Bucky locked eyes with Steve as he began reciting his vows.

“I, James, promise you, Steven, that I will be your husband, from this day forward, to love and respect you, to support and to hold you, to make you laugh and to be there when you cry, to softly kiss you when you are hurting, and to be your companion and your friend, on this journey that we will now make together, until my breath leaves my body and I cross into Elysium.” Steve looked at him with wet eyes and breathed a laugh.

“Now you, my king” Steve looked over at him with tears in his eyes and grinned.

“James, Bucky, my light and my life, I hereby promise you, that I will be your husband, from this day forward, to love and respect you, to support and to hold you, to make you laugh and to be there when you cry, to softly kiss you when you are hurting, and to be your companion and your friend, on this journey that we will now make together, until my breath leaves my body and I cross into Elysium.” Bucky let out a breathless laugh and stepped right up to him, pressing their foreheads together and breathing deeply.

“I now announce to you, people of the Brook Lands, your kings! Whom are now bound to each other for eternity!” the two unclasped their hands as the ribbon was lifted off them, still entwined.


 

The stab wound in Steve's abdomen bled profusely as he sat very still, the sword in his hand shaking in his quickly weakening grip. He glanced down at his own wedding ring, still firmly on his hand and squeezed his eyes shut. As he remembered their own private ring exchange that night after their hand-fasting.

“Wait! One moment” Bucky looked back at him with sparkling slate eyes as Steve pulled him back. The sounds of the Beltane echoing ahead of them in the glow of the large bonfire.

“What?” Steve gently held his hands in his own and bit his lip nervously.

“Steve?” he opened his hand and Bucky stared at the two silver rings in his hand.

“I had them forged, so even when apart, we will always be bound” Bucky looked down at the metal circle. He framed Steve’s face in his hands and kissed him gently.

“Thank you my love, to be bound to you is all I want”


 

Bucky froze as his eyes filled with tears, everything clicking into place as he was suddenly slammed with memory after memory.

“Steve… Oh Gods, Steve!” Bucky ran towards the gate to the arena as Steve staggered again, his vision getting spotty from blood loss. Just as Brock whipped around, the butt of his sword hitting Steve in the head before he had a chance to react. Bucky pressed his face against the bars of the gate as he screamed.

"Steve, get up! You have get up! Stevie please! wake up!" tears streamed down his face and he let out a sob, watching Steve’s head sluggishly roll towards him from where he lay in the dirt, barely holding the shield to protect him.

"Stevie, move! Please!"


 

Steve struggled to stand, head swimming as he tried to focus

"Stevie, move! Please!" he only just registered Bucky's faded voice when his ribs were shattered by Brock’s enraged kick. He felt himself come back into the moment at the nickname.

“B-Bucky?”

“Move Steve!” Steve immediately followed the shrieked command and grabbed at Brock, but it was too late. Another swift kick in the ribs had Steve spitting blood and looking down at the ground as he began crawling towards the gate where Bucky was now reaching his arm through the bars, tears streaming down his face.

“Come here, come here my love. You need to stand!” the voice felt like a herald of angels in his ears and he smiled gently, Bucky returning it sadly. Brock watched the exchange and let out a harsh laugh.

"Please savage, do not keep fighting, we both know you will not win, let us not hold onto such wishful thinking" Brock moved so he was hovering over Steve, who was lying on his stomach. Brock kicked him and he flopped over onto his back, chest heaving as he struggled to breath. Bucky screamed and shoved himself against the gate, struggling to lift it with his arm. Steve’s head lulled to the side where he saw Bucky staring at him.

“Steve, Steve please, I just got you back” Steve smiled and he extended his left hand out across the dirt towards him, shield falling out of his right hand and falling to the side.


 

Brock laughed and placed his foot on Steve’s chest, stepping down against the cracked bones and stab wounds as he dangled the sword above Steve’s head, waiting for Pierce and the arena. Not that it mattered, Steve was going to die anyway. Brock barked a laugh as he looked down at the Gaul, taunting him.

"After I kill you, I shall make your Bucky clean and prepare your body for burial, upon which time I shall tie you to a pole and watch you burn. then I shall kill him as well. Will he cry for you Steve, as I drive this blade into your skull? Will he sob out your name as I personally deliver you to the gates of Elysium?" Steve let out a whimper and slammed his eyes shut against the onslaught of horrible thoughts, turning back to watch Bucky stare at him as everything began to slow down. Bucky stuck his hand out to him again and Steve heaved a breath as he extended his hand. He tuned out Brock’s taunts and the cheering of the crowds, homing in on the voice of his husband.


 

He was dying. Steve was dying and there was nothing he could do about it. Bucky yanked at the bars again and looked at him.

“I love you Steve, until the end of the line. Our souls are entwined, do not enter Elysium without me at your side” Steve smiled and his eyes drifted closed as the roar from the arena cued him to Pierce’s decision. He looked over at Bucky again and smiled gently.

“You are my Elysium” Brock raised his hands over his head, gripping the sword firmly and letting out a loud cry as Steve closed his eyes. Brock brought the blade down and everyone went silent

"Steve!"

Chapter Text

“Shh, easy my love” Steve moaned slowly as he shifted, throbbing pain through his body. The cool wetness washing over his face as he slowly blinked his eyes open.

“B-Buck?” he looked up at the brunette in confusion as Bucky let out a sob.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! Forgive me my love!” Steve pulled him into his arms as he sobbed whole heartedly. Steve cradled him and pressed kisses over his head.

“No, forgive me, I should never have sent you off like that, I never should have let you go like this! I should have found you sooner” Bucky shook his head and kissed him gently yet passionately.

“I love you, I love you so much” Steve looked around in puzzlement and looked at him.

“Bucky, what happened? How am I here?” Bucky looked down softly and that was when Steve noticed the chains around his ankles.

“What is it?” Bucky looked at him with tear-filled eyes.

“I am so glad you’re awake, that I could say goodbye to you properly. It’s my last night” Steve began to get a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and he rubbed the back of his husband’s neck.

“What did you do?”


 

Bucky gripped the gate in a panic as Brock lifted the sword. He watched Pierce’s thumb turn down and his vision whited out. Bucky heaved the gate open and rushed the arena, grabbing up Steve’s discarded sword and swinging blindly at Brock. He fell to his knees next to his husband’s unconscious form and glanced over to prepare for Brock’s incoming strike, bracing his body over Steve’s.

At the resounding silence Bucky glanced up and felt himself gasp as Brock’s lifeless eyes stared back at him, his body laying several feet away from his head. He shot his head up and met Pierce’s furious gaze.

“Seize him!”


 

Steve stared at him in shock.

“Y-you beheaded him!?” Bucky closed his eyes as a blush filled his cheeks.

“It wasn’t intentional, I just needed to save you” Steve pulled him back into his arms and peppered kisses all over his face as Bucky murmured sadly.

“I’m to be executed at dawn” Steve’s eyes filled with tears and he pressed his forehead to Bucky’s.

“Then I will die with you” Bucky started shaking his head and Steve gripped his face tightly.

“N-no, no Steve-“ Steve pressed their foreheads together and nuzzled their noses.

“I lost you once, I’ll not do it again” tears filled his eyes and he pressed himself impossibly closer.

“Don’t make me live without you again” tears streamed down Bucky’s face, Steve giving him a gentle shake.

“You and I, we shall enter Elysium together, as we have always intended. Then we will spend eternity together, with no fear and no pain” Bucky gave a wet smile and kissed him passionately.

“If you wish it” Steve laughed and hugged him, kissing his neck as they rocked back and forth. Both hiding their tears of terror from the other.

“There is nothing I want more, I love you”

“I love you”


 

Bucky sat still as Steve gently ran his lips and hands over his scar tissue as they lay on the straw mat. Steve noticed the pained expression and turned his face up to his.

“Does it hurt?”

“Sometimes, not as much anymore” Bucky sighed as Steve ran a hand through the short hair.

“Do you remember what happened?” Bucky sighed

“Not completely, I was on my way home when I realized I was being followed so I veered off back towards where the Dugan clan used to be – but they cut me off. We tried to fight back but they killed the horse. They went to kill Kaloo and I got in the way and killed one of the soldiers, but it left me exposed and…” Bucky choked off and Steve felt his heart break.

“You must’ve been so afraid my love” Bucky nuzzled into his chest and breathed deeply.

“I just kept thinking, if I could just hold on, you’d be there soon. and here you are” Steve smiled and gazed into his eyes.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner. But the moment I realized what happened I swear I never stopped searching” Bucky smiled and cupped his cheek.

“You found me, like you promised” Steve cradled him close and the two entwined themselves as they talked long into the night.


 

They hadn’t slept at all when the sound of the key in the lock jangled at dawn, Bucky was laying calmly but Steve could feel the tremor in his body, as he always did when he was scared.

“I will not let you go alone my love. Don’t be afraid” Bucky gave him a watery smile.

“Then we will cross to Elysium together” Steve nodded.

“And it will be beautiful, and there will be no pain, and your arm will return. And we will hunt and fish and dance as we always have.” Bucky nodded and tightened his grip on Steve as the door finally swung open, the guards storming in as Steve suddenly locked his arm around his waist.

“Move Gaul!” they kicked at Steve but he wouldn’t let go, Bucky clinging just as tightly. The guards began to pry them apart and Bucky threw himself at Steve, kissing him roughly before he was dragged off and towards the door.

“I love you!” Steve snapped, punching one of the guards and knocking him unconscious as he charged back toward Bucky, a brawl between the remaining four men breaking out.


 

“Alright, that’s quite enough now” the men all froze mid fight as Pierce walked into the room, face unimpressed. He tsked to himself as the guards took the free moment to grab Bucky and subdue Steve.

“You know boy, I had so much love for you. Yes, you were slow, but you translated like no one I had ever met. I brought you into my home, you met some of Rome’s greatest dignitaries, you helped shape history. And you betrayed me” Pierce looked at him and Bucky kept his face impassive, the old Bucky beginning to shine through as his memories came back.

“This will hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you” Pierce then turned to Steve with an annoyed face.

“If you don’t smarten up, my hand will be forced on you as well” Steve locked eyes with him before spitting in his face. The guards gasped and Bucky snorted.

“Always so hotheaded” Steve smirked at the murmured sentence and Pierce sighed heavily as he wiped the saliva from his face.

“Your Domina isn’t going to like this”


 

The roar of the crowd was deafening as Steve and Bucky were marched out into the arena, the two both hesitating at the sight of the stone block, basket and executioner with a large axe. The guards knocked Steve to his knees as they forced Bucky onto the block, his head resting to perfectly land in the basket. Steve struggled against the grip and Bucky turned his head to look at him, shooting him a soft smile.

“I’ll wait for you” Steve smiled in spite of himself and nodded as his tears fell from his face.

“You won’t wait long my love, just close your eyes. I will meet you at Elysium” Bucky nodded and looked at him one more time.

“I love you” Steve smiled and cocked his head to the side.

“I love you too” Bucky turned his head and closed his eyes, his entire body relaxing as Steve watched with  anguished eyes.

“I’m here my love, I’m right behind you” The axe came up, the metal glinting in the sunlight as he looked at his husband, the soft breeze in the arena ruffling his hair as they waited for Pierce to give the signal. Steve sniffed and kept his eyes on his love, it was going to be impossibly hard to watch, but he owed him that much.

“I’m right behind you my love” Pierce turned his thumb down and the crowd roared in excitement as the axe came down. At the same time a quick blur of movement caught Steve’s eye as the guard next to him jerked, letting out a choked sound. Steve glanced over as the executioner stopped, the guard landing hard, a wooden arrow protruding from his chest. Steve and Bucky looked at each other in shock.

It was a Brook Land arrow.

Chapter Text

It was pandemonium, spectators storming out of the arena in droves as arrow after arrow flew into the colosseum. Steve took the moment so grab a sword, yanking Bucky behind him.

“I need eyes Buck!” Bucky placed his hand squarely on Steve’s back as he scanned the area, eyes finally landing on the lion’s den.

“There!” the two rushed towards the gate were Bucky yanked the door open, three angry lions charging into the arena as the two ran down the corridor to where there would be an exit.

“What just happened?!”

Clint cackled as he sat on the high wall of the colosseum, shooting down at a rapid speed. Next to him, Shuri stood guard with a shield to cover the deaf man as Natasha, T’Challa, Thor and countless other warriors from Asgard, Wakanda and the Brook Lands flooded the colosseum.

“For the King!” the warriors all cried in unison as they charged towards the legions of Romans headed to attack the intruders.

“Did you miss me my friend?” Steve let out a relieved laugh as Thor turned the corner, T’Challa right behind him with a grin.

“Your majesties” T’Challa barked out a laugh as they guided the men out of the colosseum. Steve grabbed Bucky’s hand as they rushed out the corridor through the courtyard towards the gates.


 

“That’s enough now” the four kings turned around to see Pierce standing at the gate out of the courtyard, between them and their freedom. Not only that, he was surrounded by guards, at least twenty. T’Challa glanced at them and locked his jaw.

“We cannot take them all” he whispered and suddenly Bucky let out a low growl.

“We don’t need to, we only need to get him” Steve looked at his husband and handed him the sword.

“He’s yours, we’ll handle the others” Bucky gave a curt nod and swung the blade deftly in his hand, causing the others to forget for a moment that Bucky had lost one arm. The three kings stood behind them and Thor let out a booming laugh.

“Is that the best you can do!?” Pierce laughed and extended his hand.

“Kill them all” suddenly the soldiers swarmed forward as the four men charged back.

It was freedom, or death.


 

Natasha, Shuri and Clint turned the corner to watch the fight in shock before Natasha quickly turned to Shuri.

“Go, find Wanda and get ready on the other side, prepare the horses and send the others in retreat” Shuri nodded and rushed off as Natasha turned to her husband, who looked at her with a smirk.

“Are you ready my love?” Clint grabbed her face and gave her a quick kiss, brushing her long red hair back.

“Give him hell my little spider” she laughed and pulled the daggers from her belt as Clint took off to find a higher perch.

Natasha charged in after the men, quickly making work of soldier after soldier as she rushed to where the others were.

Steve shot a quick glance over at Bucky and felt his heart swell as he handled the sword. It was as though nothing had changed, the two on the battlefield together as always as they were. T’Challa and Thor handled their own remarkably well and Natasha was picking up the strays in her typical way. The occasional arrow flying his notice that Clint wasn’t far behind. He watched in barely controlled excitement as the amount of guards between Pierce and Bucky slowly but surely declined.

And from the look on his face, Pierce had noticed too.


 

Pierce turned to his closest guard and grabbed his shoulder.

“Fetch us horses, we’re leaving here!” the soldier nodded and quickly charged towards the stables. He began to slowly back away when he caught the eyes of his translator – his translator who was actually a king. The two locked eyes and Bucky gave him a dangerous smirk, running his sword through the Roman he was fighting as he began to quickly stalk over with murder in his eyes. Steve covering his back seamlessly as he charged forward.

He only had eyes for Pierce.

“Stay back! I own you!” Bucky kicked him square in the chest and pointed the sword at his throat/

“No, I am a king, I own you” he brought the blade down in a swing only to be knocked to the side as the guard returned with two horses, Steve just narrowly grabbing his husband before he was trampled. Pierce let out a mocking laugh as they charged away.

“We live to fight another day I suppose!” Bucky let out a scream of frustration as he charged after Pierce’s retreating form as Steve grabbed him around the waist.

“Buck, we gotta go!” Bucky fought against his arms and cried out in frustration.

“No! I have to get him, Steve let go. I need him dead!” Steve closed his eyes at the desperate anguish in his voice.

“We’ll get him, we’ll kill him my love I promise. But now we need to go!” Bucky let out an agonized groan as he finally allowed Steve to drag him towards the gate, where Wanda and Shuri were waiting with eight steeds. Wanda gasped at the sigh of her kings but kept her composure as they all mounted and raced off into the night, Clint and Natasha tailing them.


 

Steve watched as Wanda threw her arms around Bucky, crying into his shoulder. The years away had developed her from a pale girl with dark eyes to a full-figured woman. But the way she clung and sobbed into the older man’s chest reminded everyone of the fact that so much had been lost when Bucky’s been taken. He gently kissed the top of her head and murmured comforting words into her ear as they embraced.

Once he finally managed to calm her down, Natasha sent them all off to sleep, her and Clint taking first watch. Steve gently grabbed his hand and led him a little bit away from the group, pulling him against his chest as they shared the saddlebag as a pillow. Steve watched him quietly for several moments before framing his face.

“I’m so glad to have you back in my arms as you should be” Bucky gave him a soft smile and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

“The Gods have truly smiled on us, letting me return to you” Steve closed his eyes as utter contentment radiated from him. Bucky stroked his hair and watched him, finally recognizing his husband, and all the years that had been added to him.

“Thank you, for finding me my love. Rest now you deserve it” Steve pulled him closer and tucked his head under his chin, smiling as Bucky tightened his grip on him.

“Stay with me?” Bucky kissed his forehead and nodded.

“Till the end of the line” Bucky sighed as he closed his eyes, the sweet smell of the woods reminding him of home and his re-found freedom. Soon they’d be back home and safe.

And Bucky would have Pierce’s head.

Chapter Text

Steve watched as Bucky sharpened his sword again, for the fourth time in just as many days. He remembered the look of barely concealed horror on Wanda’s face when Bucky had explained that he intended on slicing Pierce in half in one swing.

Steve was familiar with Bucky’s darkness in battle, Bucky wasn’t proud of it, but it was needed in order for him to be able to fight properly. He sat down next to him and watched as he rhythmically moved along the blade.

“Hey” Bucky shot him a soft smile and set the sword down.

“Hey” Steve looked into his troubled eyes and gently clasped the side of his neck.

“We will find him my love, and you will have your revenge” Bucky’s eyes filled with tears and he rubbed at them in frustration.

“He took my life Steve, he took everything from me. I can’t let him get away” Steve looked at him and stroked his thumb across his cheek, wiping the tears away.

“He didn’t take anything from you Bucky. You are alive and you are with me, and soon we will be home. He is the one who lost, not us” Bucky looked at him for a long moment and leaned forward to press his forehead against Steve’s as he sighed deeply.

“I need him dead Steve” Steve swallowed thickly and nodded, stroking the short brown hair.

“Then we will have him dead.”


 

“We had tried to get back to Wakanda, when we were stopped by Natasha-“

“It was terrifying, we thought for sure she would kill us-“ T’Challa rolled his eyes at Shuri’s interruption and glared at her.

“Are you finished interrupting?” she stuck her tongue out and he tickled her playfully before turning back to the group.

“Natasha began calling to us and explained who she was and asked us about you, when we told her that you had stayed behind for James, she said she was going to turn back to form a rescue party and could guarantee us safe passage to Wakanda-“

“But we wanted to help, James protected me so much, and Steve was such a good man, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him” Steve smiled gratefully and they nodded.

“Now we will go find Pierce, and you James, his head shall be yours” Thor spoke sternly, locking eyes with the Gallic king. Bucky nodded and felt Steve’s hand squeeze his reassuringly.

“Thank you Thor, I will not fail again”


 

It was late by the time the scouts had returned, but the look of dark excitement in Natasha’s eyes told him everything he needed to know. They’d found him.

“He’s by the river, just this side of Roman territory. We will have to act fast or else he will be lost forever.” Bucky leapt to his feet and rushed to get his sword.

“Then let’s not waste a moment” Steve gently grabbed his hand and pulled him back down.

“We must rest, we will leave at dawn, he won’t get far my love, we will have him”

“No!” Bucky lurched away from him and stared at him with wild eyes.

“You cannot ask me to wait any longer – you don’t know what it was like, what he did to me, and yet you ask me again and again to wait” the rest of the company slowly moved away, granting the two men privacy as Bucky began crying.

“Bucky…” Steve looked at him with heartbroken eyes as Bucky pounded his fist against his chest.

“Four years! Four years I lay there, beaten and broken and believing I had nothing, that no one cared. And now I have a chance for my revenge and you won’t let me! Why won’t you let me find peace?!” Steve gently wrapped his arms around him and swayed them lightly.

“I know my love, and I will never forgive myself for it. But you will have your revenge. But won’t you be able to savour it if you are well rested and have your strength?” Bucky buried his face into his chest as he sniffed, gripping Steve’s tunic tightly.

“I lost everything! I lost my memories, my home, my arm. Why do you keep asking me to wait!?” Steve pressed his lips to the top of Bucky’s head and he tightened his grip on his husband as he trembled in heartache.

“I want you to relish in his anguish, that’s why I say wait. You will have him by sundown tomorrow my love, this I swear to you. Now please, let us rest” Bucky wiped at his eyes in frustration and reluctantly followed Steve to their bed mat.

“Promise me Steve, promise me I will have him” Steve nodded as he rubbed his back soothingly, tucking his head into the crook of his neck.

“You will, Gods as my witness, we will see him dead today.”


 

“This is embarrassing Steve, they’re so easy” Steve couldn’t help but snort as Natasha made quick work of the scout.

“Maybe you’re just that gifted” she rolled her eyes as she wiped her daggers off, moving back to stand on his other side.

“Flatterer-“

“We need to kill all of them” the group looked at Bucky hesitantly and he cleared his throat

“Any survivor heightens the risk of them being able to track us back to the Brook Lands. I won’t risk our people over revenge” Steve felt his heart swell at Bucky’s leadership, he wanted his revenge of course. But he wasn’t going to risk his people over it.

“We have missed you my king” Wanda whispered softly and Bucky shot her a soft smile. Steve squared his shoulders and turned to look at the company.

“Well, shall we?”


 

“He’s getting away!” Steve turned around as he sliced into another soldier. Bucky impaling another as Pierce rushed for a horse, Bucky tearing after him blindly as Natasha tried desperately to keep up, trying her best to watch his back. Steve rushed up behind them and grabbed Clint’s bow and arrow, bringing it up and aiming for Pierce’s lower back.

The older man’s laughter quickly turned into a pained gasp as the arrow hit it’s mark, successfully knocking him off the horse and paralyzing him so he couldn’t run. Steve came up to Bucky’s side as he leaned down and grabbed Pierce’s own sword, Steve watching with protective eyes as he watched his husband circle the choking man.

“There’s no point in struggling, I will have your head, just as I had Brock’s” Pierce eyed him and choked out a laugh.

“You, a pointless crippled slave. You do not scare me, I am an agent of Caesar, you are nothing” Bucky cocked his head to the side, spinning the blade in his hand as he looked down at him with a dark smile.

“Where is your Caesar, won’t he save you then?” Pierce’s laughter died in his throat.

“I’ve destroyed your Ludus, I’ve killed your men-“ Bucky gestured with the blade to the carnage which had originally been the Roman camp and Pierce swallowed thickly.

“You truly think so little of me?”

“I do not dignify slaves-“

“He is no slave!” Steve snapped sharply, unable to hold his tongue at the insult directed at his king. Bucky shot him a soft smile before turning back to Pierce, who was now looking in horrified confusion as he began to realize that the two had probably known each other a long time.

“You’ve met Steve, he is my husband. Natasha, his right hand-“ Pierce let out a horrified gasp as Natasha waved mockingly.

“And me, I am no slave. I am a king” Bucky brought the blade up and placed his foot squarely on his chest, a macabre impersonation of Brock just weeks before.

“Any last words?”

“Hail Caesar” Pierce closed his eyes as Bucky swung the blade down, shrill cry echoing through the field.

Chapter Text

“Thank you again, all of you” Steve and Bucky took turns shaking hands with Thor, Loki, T’Challa and Shuri. Both heading back to their kingdoms.

“Your people have missed you. Find peace with them, you all deserve it” Loki gave Bucky a pointed look and he nodded, allowing Steve to wrap his arm around him as they climbed into their ships, the Wakandans heading back towards the south.

“I will eternally be in their debt” Bucky looked at Steve with a raised eyebrow.

“How so? We have fulfilled our ends of the treaties” Steve looked at him and pulled him into his arms.

“If not for them, I would not have been able to find you. It is a debt I shall never be able to repay” Bucky smiled softly and pressed their foreheads together.

“Thank you, for finding me my love” Steve pressed a soft kiss to his lips and smiled, eyes bright.

“There was no other option, now, let’s go home yes?” Bucky nodded his head, eyes nervous but excited. Steve grabbed his hand and led him towards the tribe, pausing as Bucky hesitated at the perimeter.

“Steve, what if-“ Steve had barely had the chance to turn to him when an excited cry erupted through the tribe.

“It’s King James, he’s returned to us!” Bucky watched in awe as the entire tribe began filing out of their tents and stopping in their daily duties, all standing at the entrance waiting. Women were crying, men were waving ecstatically, and the children old enough to remember Bucky were jumping up and down in excitement.

Steve looked over at him and smiled tenderly

“So my love, are we ready to go home?” Bucky swallowed thickly and looked at him.

“If I say no?” Steve shrugged and relaxed his stance.

“Then we wait here until you are” Bucky nodded and wiped quickly at his eyes before grabbing his husband’s hand again.

“They all waited?”

“They are loyal to their king, the majority of them tried to join the hunt for you in the first place. You are that adored James, let’s go home okay?” Bucky gave him a wet smile and nodded.

“My arm?”

“We still have you, arm or no arm. Just as we have Clint, hearing or not. We love you James, and you love us. The rest we will figure out as we go along” Bucky pulled him in for a quick kiss.

“Let’s go”


 

The party was still going on as Steve led Bucky back to their tent. He sat on the bed mat and watched as his love reacquainted himself with their home.

“I dreamed about this place, but I couldn’t remember what it was” Steve felt his heart swell as Bucky tenderly fingered their hand-fasting ribbon.

“Peggy?”

“She has passed on to Elysium, Sharon holds her place now” Bucky nodded and turned back to Steve with an inquisitive expression.

“And there was never anyone else? I ask not for judgement” Steve beckoned him over with a raised hand cradled the back of his head as Bucky straddled his hips.

“No, I could not even bear to look at another, it has only ever been you” Bucky smiled and ran his hand through Steve’s hair.

“Me either, I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I knew I loved someone, that I ached for them in every way. It only dissipated when I met you again” Steve hummed a laugh as he ran his lips along his husband’s jawline.

“We will always find each other Buck, it is our destiny” Bucky nodded and kissed him passionately, the two beginning to slowly move together.

“Till the end of the line” Steve hummed again and gripped his husband’s thighs gently as he guided his hips against his. Bucky gasped into his mouth as he gripped his hair.

“Take me Steve” Steve let out a low groan and rolled them onto the bed, showering him in kisses as they went.

“As you wish”


 

When Bucky woke up the next morning, he could hear the hustle and bustle of the tribe going about their day, the chickens, the laughter of children, the sound of the nearby brook bubbling by. The heat from the mid-morning sun warming their tent comfortably and Steve’s arms wrapped tightly around them. Steve pressed a kiss to Bucky’s back between his shoulder blades and murmured softly.

“Good morning” Bucky pressed back against him happily and rolled over.

“It truly is” Steve smiled and brushed his hair back, both of them regrowing their beards and hair over the course of their journey home.

“They can wait for us a little longer my love, let us lay here for a while” Steve nodded and sighed in contentment.

“I could die now and be happy, for I am finally home with you” Steve smiled and tightened his grip on him lethargically.

“As long as I am with you, I am at home. You are my Elysium” Bucky pressed their foreheads together as he whispered softly.

“And you are mine” Steve felt his eyes fill with tears as Bucky murmured the phrase for the very first time. Steve kissed him gently and guided him to lay against him in the way he fit perfectly. The two sliding their eyes closed and falling back to sleep.

Finally free.