The idea was as stupid as it was brilliant and it was definitely not Steve’s. SHIELD had some of Bucky’s DNA on file (the old Bucky, not the stronger, faster Winter Soldier version). Robyn had a touch of Frost Giant in her system, with an extra helping of trickster god magic. And Steve had page after page of drawings of Bucky, all the data Robyn would need to conjure up a past version of James Buchanan Barnes.
“Did it work?” Steve asked anxiously, checking over his shoulder for Bucky – the Winter Soldier-Bucky – every couple of seconds.
He and Robyn were in his room, Steve pacing at the foot of his bed while Robyn stretched across the messy comforter, feet up on the pillows while her head hung down to the floor.
“I don’t know,” she said, sticking out her tongue and closing her eyes. “I pictured him right here. And yet, nothing.”
“Bucky’s going to be back from training soon.”
“He’s going to be pissed.”
“I can’t let him see the other one.”
“The other one? Jesus, can you hear yourself?”
“I just.” Steve flopped down on the end of his bed, hanging his head. “I thought he remembered. And then Loki smacks him with his staff and he forgets everything again and I –”
“He didn’t forget everything.” Robyn flipped right side up, frowning at Steve with her whole face. “He remembered that you’re important, someone to protect.”
“But all that original programming crap.” Steve sighed, shaking his head tiredly. “It’s not Bucky. It’s the Winter Soldier.”
“They’re the same thing.” Steve looked at Robyn and she sat back on her heels, shrugging lightly with her head tilted to the side. “At least, they are now. Bucky and the Soldier are two sides of the same coin. You can’t ignore one for the sake of the other. You have to love them both, or else . . .” She trailed off, eyes darkening. “You’ll lose them both.”
Steve dropped his head into his hands with a heavy sigh.
Steve definitely did not jump when Bucky materialized out of thin air, blinking into sight between one heartbeat and he next. Robyn might have screamed, falling back off the bed in a clatter of dark hair and limbs, but Steve decided he wouldn’t hold it against her.
“Oh my God,” she breathed, resting her chin on the comforter and watching Bucky moved towards Steve, brows crinkled in confusion. “I did it.”
“Stevie.” Bucky’s mouth parted, his eyes brightened with amazement and he lunged for Steve with open arms.
“Can I?” Steve almost looked back to Robyn for approval, but he was already moving forwards, heart surging like it wanted to beat through his breastbone.
He saw her shake her head from the corner of her eye, frowning slightly. “Can’t,” she said. “He’s only a projection –”
Bucky’s arms folded solidly around Steve’s neck, locking behind his back and pulling him into the biggest bear hug Steve had ever experienced. Steve forced the shock down and let himself feel the pleasure, grinning from ear to ear as he returned the hug that had been a long time coming.
“It’s good to see you, punk,” Bucky said, clapping Steve’s shoulder and grinning like nobody’s business. “How you been?”
“I stand corrected.” Robyn’s whisper was more of a high pitched squeak than anything else. Steve turned to her, watched the shock drain down all the planes of her face until it settled rather unhappily around her mouth. She blinked, staring down at her hands and standing up, brows creased in one dark line across her forehead. “I’m going to –” She stared at her hands some more. “Yeah. I’m going to go. Talk to Loki. Yes I’m –” She narrowed her eyes at Bucky and shook her head fiercely, face leaching of what little color it had left. “Yeah, okay. Okay, bye.”
She walked out of the room without another word, leaving Steve and Bucky alone together.
“You’re so big.” Bucky let go of Steve’s neck, eyes roaming up and down and all over his body. “So big and not at all like the Stevie I know.”
“I am though.” Steve wanted to go back into Bucky’s arms, to bury himself in Bucky’s chest and never ever leave. “I’m him.”
For the first time since he’d become big, Steve wished to be small again. If he was small again, then the illusion Robyn had cast would become real. The Bucky she’d brought back would stay with him and Steve wouldn’t have anything to fear anymore because his Bucky would be looking out for him.
Bucky looked at him like he knew. Steve was almost afraid he’d said all of it out loud, but he knew he hadn’t. That’s how insync they were. That’s how much they loved each other.
Bucky had gleaned all of Steve’s thoughts from one look and it was wonderful and perfect and Steve missed it so fucking much.
“There’s some things I have to tell you, Buck.” Steve rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. “And you’re not going to like most of what I have to say.”
Bucky’s face fell a little before he switched to a cocky grin, looping one arm around Steve’s shoulder. “Give it to me straight, pal. I can take whatever you give me.”
But, apparently being told you were going to become a brainwashed assassin that would attempt to kill your best friend was too much even for the great Bucky Barnes to handle.
“Jesus.” Bucky sat away from him for a few minutes, looking out the window at the New York City skyline. He was sipping a beer and making a face every so often. His face was drawn, hard yet composed as he looked for traces of the world he knew in the strangeness beyond him. “Jesus Christ.” He took another sip.
“If you could just talk to him –” With each passing moment, Steve felt more and more like an asshole. In his head, this idea had sounded grand. In reality, he was hoping Robyn would waltz back in and end this Bucky projection so Steve didn’t have to watch the hope fade from his best friend’s eyes as he processed the future he had yet to experience.
After a moment, Bucky looked down at the beer in his hand, watching the frothy liquid swirl in its dark glass bottle. “I won’t remember any of this, will I?”
Steve shook his head. “Probably not.”
Bucky nodded, mouth screwing up tightly. “Typical.”
They was silence for a moment as Steve debated whether or not to throw himself out his apartment window for ever coming up with this stupid idea in the first place.
Instead of the apology Steve had been preparing he found something else leaving his mouth instead. “If you could just talk to him –”
“Sure thing, pal. Hey, I’m your past self. Nice to meet you, don’t kill Stevie, and by the way he’s the only thing you’ve got in the world.” Bucky’s voice was black with sarcasm. “Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
Steve dropped his head into his hands, kneading his palms into his temples. “You’re right.”
A few more minutes of silence passed before Bucky sighed, moving to sit down beside Steve on his bed. Steve felt the mattress dip, the heat of Bucky press into his side, and the strength of his arm as he wrapped it around Steve’s shoulder.
Steve waited for Bucky to speak. He expected some disappointed lecture, a witty deflection or two, some trash talk even. What he didn’t expect was exactly what Bucky said.
He looked up hesitantly, meeting Bucky’s careful gaze.
Bucky lowered his eyes, running the tip of his tongue over his lower lip. “Has he kissed you yet?” he asked after a moment, eyes flashing back up to Steve.
Bucky was kissing him before he could finish. He sucked the words right out of his mouth, gnawing on his lips with a dirty, hungry passion.
Steve gasped and Bucky used the opportunity to thrust his tongue into Steve’s mouth, licking his teeth, his gums, anything and everything inside his mouth.
Steve moaned before he could help himself.
“I’ve only got one shot at this, right?” Bucky swung Steve around, pulling him into his lap like he was a little bit again, hooking his arms around the back of Steve’s neck, and bringing him down hard. “One night to kiss the love of my life at a time when it really matters.”
“Buck –” Steve tried to pull back, to stop, to say something, but Bucky wasn’t having any of it.
“I’m sorry I never said it and I’m sorry you won’t hear it again for a while.” Bucky released him, resting his forward solidly against Steve’s. “But I love you, Stevie. Always have, always will.”
More kissing. It faded from harsh to gentle and back to harsh, their violent passion building and ebbing as emotion rose between them. Steve was moaning again, louder than he would have liked, too loud for the small confines of his apartment. He was dimly aware of the sound of floorboards creaking and wondered if Robyn had come back to check up on him. He prayed that Robyn wouldn’t open the door so she wouldn’t have the mental image of Captain America making out with his best friend burned into her eyeballs, but then Bucky moved Steve so his back was up against Bucky’s front and Steve was lost.
“I’ll talk to Soldier-boy tomorrow. If I’m still around,” Bucky said between kisses. “Right now you and I have some business to attend to . . .”
“Bucky!” Steve moaned. “Oh God.”
Between one fluttering heartbeat and the next, the door crashed open and Steve came face-to-face with the other Bucky – the Winter Solider Bucky – and the knife he held pointed in his metal fist.
Steve’s darkened eyes flashed open as the knife scraped against the end of his nose, shining dully in the dark. “Whoa!” he breathed.
He tried to move, but Bucky refused to let go, hooking his chin around Steve’s shoulder and locking him in place.
“Release him,” the Solider growled, terrifying and deadly and oh my fucking god he almost caught them having sex. Steve burned with embarrassment, flushing rose from red to toe in the darkness.
“Easy, Solider.” Bucky’s voice was calm, relaxed, something Steve would never have been able to managed given the state he was in. “You must be . . . well, me.”
“You were hurting him.” The Solider barked, moving the knife until it was away from Steve’s nose tip and aimed squarely at Bucky’s. “Release him now so I may hurt you.”
“I wasn’t hurting him. Was I, Steve?” Bucky’s voice was too sly as he moved his hand to Steve’s chest, pinching his nipples lightly. Steve moaned and the Winter Solider stiffened, but in confusion instead of anger.
“If you weren’t hurting him . . .” Bucky’s – the Soldier’s – voice was confused, tripping down a scale running from hurt to angry to downright insulted.
Bucky’s grin curled in a way that made Steve’s heart stop. “Buck –” He tried to move, tried to do something before the wicked sparkle in Bucky’s eyes became something real, but he was too slow. Bucky shoved a hand between Steve’s legs, parting them easily and rubbing over the crotch of his pants with a devilishly smug smile.
“I was making him feel good.”
Steve gasped, unable to pull away. His eyes slipped shut and he turned his face into Bucky’s chest, flushing from head to toe. “Buck –” Was he speaking words? No, it sounded more like incoherent sounds. A random jumble of syllables halfway between pain and pleasure.
His eyes opened enough to find the Soldier’s. His eyes were wide, grey-blue, and fierce, skimming down Steve’s chest to where Bucky was rubbing him gently.
Steve closed his eyes again as Bucky laughed, low and rumbly right into Steve’s ear. “Shit, you’ve got a lot to learn, Soldier.”
“Learn?” Steve’s voice cracked. Heat poured into him from the crown of his head down to his toes. He fidgeted, biting his lip hard enough to draw blood.
Bucky laughed, rubbing his hand harder into Steve’s skin. “Yeah, Stevie. When I’m gone, this is the guy you’ll be left with.” He nodded to the Solider who was standing at the foot of the bed with wide eyes, knife forgotten in his open palm. “I got to show him the ropes, right?”
“What – God! – ropes?” This was entirely new territory for Steve. Not that he didn’t like it. No, he liked it a lot. He liked it too much, in fact . . .
Steve cracked his eyes open long enough to watch Bucky extend a hand for his other self. He couldn’t see Bucky’s face, but he knew just what his expression would look like; three parts mischief and one part deadly seductive magic. The Solider looked at the hand Bucky held out, narrowing his eyes while a faint flush crept up his neck.
“You don’t –” Steve tried to move, to push Bucky’s hand off him and reassure the Solider that he didn’t have to, God, he’d only just gotten comfortable around him. Sex had to the be the farthest thing from his mind . . .
But the Solider moved forward, taking Bucky’s outstretched hand with his metal one, squeezing softly around the digits.
“What?” Steve’s chest was tight. He blinked, watching with his heart in his mouth as Bucky moved his hand to Steve’s chest.
“You can touch him.” Bucky released the Soldier’s hand and Steve watched in amazement as it moved lowered, sliding down and down and . . .
“Oh w –” Steve gasped. There were two hands on him, through his clothes, rubbing and kneading and drawing wave after wave of heat down from the crown of his head. “Buck –”
“What a virgin.” Bucky was laughing at him – the fucking jerk – laughing at him while he rubbed his cock and tipped his head back to plant hard, delicious kisses into the skin of his neck. “You look so good right now, Stevie.”
“He feels this?” The Soldier was rubbing harder, moving Bucky’s hand aside to pull at the zipper of Steve’s pants and yank them down. “And this?”
“Oh he feels that alright.” Bucky laughed, tugging at Steve’s earlobe with his teeth. “Mind fetching that knife for me?”
“What?” Steve’s eyes snapped open and he struggled, fighting against the pleasure flowing languidly through his system.
“Relax, Steve.” Bucky let him sit up just far enough so he could push him back down, grinning when Steve’s back bounced against the mattress and lay flat, ready for Bucky and the Solider.
He turned to the Soldier and tried to take the knife from his palm. The Soldier stared at him and refused to let go of the knife, still rubbing a hand along the outside of Steve’s boxer shorts.
“Fine, you can do it then.” He jerked his chin towards Steve’s shirt. “Get him out of it.”
“I don’t think that’s –” Steve tried sitting up again but the Soldier’s arm moved from his cock to his chest, flattening against his abs and pushing him back down into the pillows. There was a fluttering sound, a slight pressure, and then Steve’s shirt was gone, flying into the darkness across the room.
Steve frowned, but not for long. The Solider bent and caught his lips, stabbing the knife deep into the wooden headboard. He moved his free hand along the bare planes of Steve’s chest, tracing and retracing the muscles while he claimed Steve’s lips with a fierce pleasure.
“That’s it.” Bucky was carding his fingers through Steve’s hair, stroking Steve through his shorts with increasing intensity. “I think he’s starting to get the hang of it, don’t you, Stevie?”
Steve answered with a broken moan. This was so not what he’d had in mind when he’d envisioned a night with past Bucky. It wasn’t bad – in fact it was really, really great – but it was just so far from what Steve had expected that he felt each moment that he was dreaming and he would soon wake up to a Bucky that couldn’t remember him and a cold and empty bed.
But his bed wasn’t empty then. And Steve decided he was going to try and enjoy the moment, however fleeting it was.
“He doesn’t talk much.” Bucky pulled Steve’s pants off all the way, tugging at the waistband of his shorts with a devilish smile. “Can’t, really. He’s so damn sensitive, know what I mean? I mean, the softest touch and he lights up like a Christmas tree. Makes it fun though to rile him up though.”
“Stevie.” The Soldier was moaning into his mouth, sucking his bottom lip and gnawing on it softly, dragging his tongue across Steve’s teeth, and coaxing his mouth open. “Steve. Doll. Baby. Baby doll.”
“That’s it.” Steve’s shorts off and Bucky was hovering over his cock, kissing the inside of his thighs while he worked his mouth inwards. “You’re starting to remember.”
“Our pet names.” The Soldier pulled back, resting his forehead against Steve’s. He moved his hands lowered, pulling at Steve’s chest, scratching at the muscles and skin. “We had so many for him.”
“He likes it.” Bucky kissed the base of Steve’s cock, nuzzling his face into it softly. “He’ll never admit it, but he likes the names. He likes being taken care of this way.”
“He likes us.” The Soldier moved, throwing his legs over Steve so he could straddle him, bending to cup Steve’s face in his hands, kissing his forehead, cheeks, eyelids, nose, and lips. “He likes being with us.”
“He does.” Bucky began working at Steve’s cock more feverishly, stroking his hand across it while he took the tip in his mouth.
“Jes–” Steve tried to say. The Solider took his lips then released them. “us. Fuck – ing Christ.”
“I’m going to take care of you, baby doll.” The Solider was close, too close, moving forward until he was all Steve could see, hear, taste, and think. “We’re going to take care of you.”
Steve wasn’t sure how they got him on his stomach. The Solider must’ve held him while Bucky flipped him over, stroking his hands up and down Steve’s back. They’d fought for a moment over who would do him.
“Let me, pal.” Bucky growled, dipping down to claim Steve’s lips, pulling back to suck a chunk of Steve’s neck between his teeth. “You’ve got the rest of your life with him. I’m only gonna be here this one night.”
The Solider shut up after that, sliding under Steve so they were pressed chest-to-chest. Everything in between the moment when Steve first realized they were actually going to go through with this and when Bucky actually moved into him, was a bit of a blur. There was a little bit of lube, a little more kissing, and a lot more sweet talk that got dirtier and dirtier they closer they all got.
“Say something, Stevie.” Bucky said once he was in. “Lemme hear you.”
“Baby, baby, baby.” The Solider was right there, marking his territory on Steve’s shoulder as surely as Bucky did on his neck. “You close?”
“Fuck.” Steve’s voice was pained, strained with the pleasure he felt all over his body. He had been undone, pulled apart and strung back together with stars and galaxies for his insides and fireworks and sparklers for a brain.
“Love you, Steve.” Bucky folded over his back, kissing the back of his neck and thrusting in time with Steve’s rapid heartbeat. “I really do. And I’m gonna make sure that tin Solider loves you too.”
“Breathe, doll.” The Soldier bit down hard and that was it, Steve was gone.
Maybe he cried a little when he came and if he did neither Bucky nor the Solider said anything about it. Bucky thrusted through Steve’s orgasm straight into one of his own and then they both helped bring the Solider to and around that pleasant white edge.
When they were done, they relaxed in bed together. Steve was in the middle, flanked by a Bucky on either side. They took turns kissing him, tracing their hands idly across his skin like it’s their own.
Bucky broke the silence, taking a deep breath before he spoke like he was working up all his courage.
“He gets up early.”
“Steve gets up early. If you want to make breakfast for him, you’ll have to wait until after he gets back from a run.”
“Why would I –?”
“He’s allergic to blueberries.” Bucky’s voice softened. “At least he was. Doubt he’s allergic to anything now. Still, I don’t like ‘em, so I don’t think you will.”
They continued talking over Steve’s head until he fell asleep, bringing up old painful memories alongside the good.
When he woke, there was only one Bucky beside him. He blinked, rubbing his eyes as a full body blush chase any lingering sleep out of his system.
“So.” He cleared his throat, sitting up and rubbing the back of his neck while keeping the covers folded modestly around him. “That really happened then.”
But the Soldier’s eyes were warm and he folded his hand around the back of Steve’s neck, drawing him in for a kiss that reignited all the fireworks and sparklers going on in Steve’s brain.
“I remember.” Bucky said when they pulled away, flattening his palms on Steve’s cheeks and pressing his lips very gently against Steve’s eyelids. “And I love you and promise I will never forget you again.”
Steve smiled. “Glad to hear it.”
Past-Bucky’s words danced around the edge of his mind and the smile widened.
I’m sorry I never said it and I’m sorry you won’t hear it again for a while. But I love you, Stevie. Always have, always will.
Apparently, Steve didn't have to wait that long to hear it again after all.