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Starlight in a Crimson Glass

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God, but it feels good to finally let go.

 

There’s nothing like feeling the music pulse through his veins loudly enough to reset a heartbeat. The throng of warm, sweaty bodies thrums around him on the dance floor, moving with the bass, rolling together in rhythm with a blood-hot ocean wave. Dance partners come and go as they please, but Bucky dances with each and every willing participant, eager to be a part of a common group forgetting their troubles together under the healing energy of flashing lights and pounding music.

His hips sway with the beat as the redhead in front of him brushes his lap with the swell of her ass. Bucky smiles; he can tell already there’s nothing to it—he’s pretty sure he sees her girlfriend a few feet away dancing with that absolute bear—but it’s nice to rub bodies with another person who’s just looking to feel the song and the night and leave everything else behind.

Bucky has needed this so, so badly. His dissertation has been kicking his ass in the absolute fiercest way possible over the past two months, and this is the first time he’s been out of his apartment to do more than teach classes on campus or go to the store to buy shitty, carb-heavy food in at least four weeks. He had barely managed to drag Nat and Clint away from canoodling on the couch long enough to actually get out and have some fun tonight. Bucky is still the only one of their little group on the dance floor, of course; the two lovebirds are sitting in close quarters back at the bar and literally sharing one big double rum and coke with two individual straws like the Lady and the Tramp.

(Bucky isn’t sure which of the two is which, to be honest.)

The song changes. Bucky gives a pseudo-flirtatious wave to his dance partner as they part ways so she can return to her pretty date, but he doesn’t seek to fill the vacancy right away. He’s really feeling the new song—fuck, it’s one of Bucky’s favorites, something he shakes his hips to in the solitude of his bedroom often enough when no one else is looking—and he’s happy to enjoy the thrill of this particular beat on his own.

The DJ is about halfway through the track when Bucky starts to feel two eyes burning into his back.

He doesn’t cease his undulating motions as he turns in place and scans the room. Bucky stares over the crowd on the dance floor to find dozens of people milling about on the upper level, either making out with partners or staring down at the thrumming masses below on the floor, but he doesn’t find his devoted audience among them. He looks over everyone’s heads in Nat and Clint’s general direction, towards the at least thirty partiers clustered around the bar—and he spots him.

A pair of intense, dark eyes stare his way—and fuck. Jesus Christ and Mother Mary have mercy on his soul.

Bucky’s admirer is a tall blond man with a well-kept beard and thick, broad shoulders. Like… huge shoulders. This hunk is beefy and wide, with a built body that tapers down to an unfairly compact waistline. The guy’s dark blue dress shirt stretches over all those muscles and tucks into his jeans below a sleek leather belt and—oh, oh no—Bucky is already hit with the image of that belt coming down over his own bare ass, because goddamnit if he hasn’t been laid in a whole fucking year.

But it’s those eyes that captivate Bucky and nearly make him forget the beat and the bass. Mr. Shoulders is looking his way like he’s been observing him alone in his natural element for a while now, and Bucky knows he probably has. He wonders if this tree of a man has been able to tell that the DJ is playing one of Bucky’s favorite songs; if his passion for the rhythm has come through the way he moves his muscles.

Their gazes lock together. The edge of Mr. Shoulders’ mouth curves up as he smiles.

Bucky smiles back—and then he turns back around. His favorite song isn’t over just yet.

He loses the gorgeous new distraction for the time being and allows the beat to carry him away again. The couple of drinks already warming him from inside his veins are perfect for loosening his movements, for letting the music govern what he does with his body. It’s so easy to close his eyes.

A strong, hard body slots behind him just as the song winds down, large hands pressing over his hips. Bucky doesn’t need to turn around to know exactly whose hands they are.

The next song starts up—another great beat—and blends into the tail of the last. It carries a tamer tempo this time, but the sensual bass in Bucky’s ribcage doesn’t slow. Mr. Shoulders smells fucking amazing when he leans his chin into Bucky’s shoulder and presses his lips against the shell of his ear.

“I’m Steve,” Mr. Shoulders husks, and fuck, that voice is so heavy and deep. It’s audible even beneath the thrumming on the dance floor.

Bucky’s lips curl up in a lazy grin. He tips his head back until it’s resting on Mr. Shoulders—on Steve’s shoulder.

“Hi, Steve,” Bucky mouths over the music. He covers the hands on his hips with his own, running his fingertips over Steve’s knuckles as he not-so-subtly grinds his ass back in time with the song. “I’m Bucky!”

The lights overhead flash yellow and blue with pulsing green lasers amongst the dry ice fog. The couple next to them have abandoned all pretense of dancing in favor of shoving their tongues down each other’s throats.

Steve tightens the grip on his hips as he turns his neck, pressing a smile against the skin of Bucky’s temple.

“Bucky,” he repeats. He sounds like he’s trying the taste of the word on his tongue. “I think I like that.”

Bucky closes his eyes and lets the music pound through him. Steve turns out to be a damn good dancer, keeping the beat for both of them with the movements of his hips. He’s perfect with the way he holds Bucky nice and close without getting too terribly fresh with him—but he does let his hands wander up and down Bucky’s sides, stroking his skin through his shirt.

He’s sex and power walking around on a pair of long, strong legs. Bucky wants to climb him.

“Wanna buy me a drink, Steve?” he shouts back when the song ends.

Steve uses his hold on Bucky’s hips to turn him around in his arms, and oh, damn, his crisply trimmed beard and intense eyes are even more handsome up close.

“I was certainly hoping you’d let me,” he answers with a crooked smile.

Yeah… Bucky is already done for.

Steve leads them away from the dance floor, holding Bucky’s hand as they navigate through the sea of people and towards the bar. Bucky feels jittery with anticipation, but he tries to put on a brave front as he whispers his drink order in Steve’s ear, and he thinks he does a good job of keeping himself from sounding too nervous or excited. He even remembers to let their noses brush together when he pulls away.

A couple minutes later, Steve returns with two of the same cocktail. Bucky smiles and looks up at him through his eyelashes as he accepts his glass, making a show of wrapping his lips around the little straw.

“Thank you…” Bucky says. “...Sir.”

It’s been an absolutely crazy couple of months in his life, but there's an even crazier mood thrumming through him tonight. In the end, it’s really nothing more than a hunch and a fleeting whim that leads Bucky to tack on that last part—‘Sir’.

He’s immediately rewarded for it when Steve’s eyes flash black with a look of raw hunger. He moves in close, placing a hand on Bucky’s jean-clad hip as he leans to speak into his ear.

“Oh… You sweet thing,” he drawls, and fuck, fuck. “I just knew you’d be the type to wanna play with fire.”

The music is too loud to make much in the way of conversation, which means it’s also too loud for Steve to hear Bucky whimper pathetically. They can still make eyes as they enjoy their drinks in close quarters with each other, so they do, sharing touches and looks and hungry energy. Bucky manages to say occasional idle sentences that he doesn’t even think Steve hears, both because of the thrumming of the bass and the way Steve can’t seem to tear his eyes from Bucky’s lips as he speaks. Bucky takes advantage of their proximity, brushing a hand over Steve’s stomach or chest every now and again.

He passes his empty glass to Steve when he finishes—“Don’t go anywhere, handsome”—and excuses himself around the corner to the men’s room. Bucky quickly empties his bladder there and washes his hands, touching up his hair and his tiny bit of clear lip gloss in the mirror.

He wants to make sure he looks as fuckable as he can get tonight.

Bucky smiles in surprise when he exits and finds Steve outside the restroom area waiting for him. He looks better than ever in the dim light, shadows defining the bulging lines of his muscles even through the too-tight shirt.

“Hey there,” Bucky grins, swaying his hips from side-to-side—hopefully seductively—as he approaches Steve. He reaches a hand out to toy with Steve’s top button. “Fancy seeing you here—oh!”

And then Bucky is cut off by Steve pulling him into his body and turning them, pressing forward until Bucky’s back meets the wall. He wastes no time crowding himself in with all the energy of a starving man who’s just come upon an unattended feast.

“I want you to let me take you back to mine,” he husks, face only an inch from Bucky’s. “I want you to let me fuck you. I want to make you scream.” He dips his mouth, his lips barely making contact with Bucky’s neck as he trails them up towards his ear. “I don’t want you to say no, but you can. I’ll stop if you do.”

Bucky moans in shock, tipping his head back against the wall.

“Yes,” he gasps, “I want that, Sir,” and there it is—that word again.

He feels Steve grinning victorious against the shell of his ear for about two seconds before his lips are on Bucky’s, licking into his mouth, dominating every inch of him with nothing more than the touch of two tongues. The intensity steals Bucky’s breath away all over again.

“Sweet thing…” Steve growls, giving him only a second of air. “I’m going to take you apart.”

Bucky doesn’t bother to listen to the next song playing on the floor.

He’s saving the rest of his dances tonight.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Steve, as it turns out, lives by himself in an apartment only three blocks from the club. Bucky is damn glad for it; the active distraction of walking side-by-side in a sexually charged silence is one thing, but an entire cab ride spent trying to keep himself from crawling into Steve’s lap would be another.

But there’s no such obstacle—no awkward audience or social faux pas—preventing Bucky from letting himself be eaten alive now that they’re alone in Steve’s apartment.

“Fuck,” he hisses when his back hits the wall, not because it hurts when his head thumps against it, but because Steve’s teeth and tongue feel like heaven on his neck.

Steve's rumbling growl vibrates against his collarbone.

“Fuck, you taste sweet.” He scrapes his teeth lightly over the sensitive skin beneath his lips. “Can I leave marks?”

Bucky nods his head furiously; he really wants that. He imagines waking up in Steve’s bed with red and purple painting his skin for all the world to see—if Steve is the type to let him stay over and fuck him again in the morning, that is.

The two hands cupping his ass tighten their grip, and then—Jesus Christ—and then Bucky’s being hiked up several feet off the floor with his back against the wall. He instinctively wraps his legs around Steve’s waist and throws his arms in a circle around his strong neck, grasping for points of purchase. Steve gives him an approving rumble for holding on.

“Can’t wait to get you on my cock,” he rasps against Bucky’s mouth. “Gonna make you come before that, though.” Fingers dig into the crack of Bucky’s ass through the thin fabric of his tight jeans. “Gonna eat your little hole out, gonna fuck it with my fingers until you spill all over us before I even get in you.”

Bucky whimpers pathetically. He’s not going to survive the night.

“Yes, yes, want that. Please, Steve,” he begs—and then Steve’s fingers tighten in his hair.

“What did you call me?”

Bucky doesn’t get it at first—the stern tone and the hair pulling—but then it clicks. He gasps in realization of what Steve really wants to hear.

“Oh, I—Sir,” he says, correcting his error. “I want you to fuck me. Please.”

Steve grins wolfishly. “Such sweet manners you have. You’re going to be so good for me. Aren’t you, Bucky?”

Bucky moans and nods his head so hard it nearly hurts his neck.

“Yes, yes. I promise, Sir. I promise I’ll be good.”

“Yeah you will,” Steve growls. “Bet you're gonna hug my cock nice and tight.”

He’s going to explode. Bucky is actually going to explode.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Bet you’re gonna shake on it, huh? Gonna come without me even touching you?”

“Oh, fuck,” Bucky whines. “Sir, yes, yes, I can do that. I’ll do it for you.”

Steve groans long and deep at that answer. His teeth return to Bucky’s neck to suck out a constellation of brand new bruises.

 

Bucky doesn’t know how much time passes before Steve finally manages to extract his mouth from his skin long enough to carry him to the bedroom. He takes the brief but much-needed reprieve to fill his lungs with new oxygen and look around Steve’s apartment for the first time—really look.

The first thing that jumps out to him is that Steve must earn a fair salary doing whatever it is he does for a living; he’d have to if he can afford these digs in this particular Brooklyn neighborhood. He’s not especially flashy with his money, but he does clearly enjoy certain finer things: the distressed leather furniture, the custom window dressings, the marble countertops. Bucky’s eye catches on several nice art prints as Steve hauls him like a caveman down the hallway.

And his bed… oh. Steve’s big King mattress must have cost a fortune if the way Bucky’s entire body sinks as it meets the sheets means anything. He wants to roll around in it for hours with Steve gnawing on his collarbones the way he is now, he wants to have his jeans and briefs ripped off the same way Steve has divested both of them of their shirts already, he wants to—well, he wants to know—

 

“Is that a Toulouse-Lautrec?”

 

The brilliant mouth ravaging Bucky’s chest freezes. Steve lifts his head, blue eyes landing on him in the subtle lamplight.

“...What?”

Bucky has never wanted to punch himself in the face more than he does in this exact moment. Here he is: lying beneath some blond, blue-eyed piece of perfection who’s carried him home from the club and told him to call him ‘Sir’ and thrown him on his big, sprawling bed to devour him whole…

...and Bucky is commenting on the art prints on his walls.

“I—s-sorry,” he stutters, but then he figures he may as well just commit to it at this point if he doesn’t want to get a judgemental sneer and a boot out the door. “It’s just, that… that print. The two girls. It’s a Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, right?”

Bucky really, really hopes he doesn’t fuck up the French too much. He’s looking enough of a fool already. 

Steve straightens his elbows and lifts up that stupidly sculpted chest, making space between their bodies. He turns his head with pinched eyebrows and looks at the wall behind him.

“Yeah, actually,” he says, and to Bucky’s relief, he just sounds confused instead of angry or something worse. “It’s, uh. My mom really loved his stuff. We used to go see all the visiting exhibits at the MoMA together.” Steve kneels back, sitting on his heels between Bucky’s legs on the mattress. He does a funny thing with his face and reaches behind his own neck to scratch at the skin there. “His works were some of her favorites.”

And the thing is that Bucky knows he shouldn’t be getting a man talking about his mother while he’s in bed about to fuck him in the ass—he knows this, he does—but he is, at the end of every day, a born and bred nerd.

“That’s so cool!” He finds himself grinning, sitting up on his elbows. “Oh, and God, I love the MoMA. I go there all the time now that I live in the city, but I never saw his work there. I honestly didn’t even know who the guy was until I saw a little exhibit at the art museum next to the planetarium where I used to work.” Bucky stops, realizing he’s fully immersed them both in a conversation about a dead French guy while they’re half-naked in Steve’s bed—but where the hell does he even go from here? “Have you, um. Have you been to the newest exhibit there? The mid-century drawings at the MoMA?”

Steve wipes his brow of sweat and shakes his head. Bucky is sure that bulge of a hard cock is probably flagging inside his jeans.

This is. This is great.

“No,” Steve answers. “I’ve heard it was there, but I haven’t made it. Really want to, though. I know Mom would have already dragged me there.”

And it hits Bucky: the fact that this man he’s trying to fuck keeps talking about his mother in the past tense. There is absolutely no reason for Bucky to ask about it further.

“Oh,” he says anyways. “So, is she… um.”

Steve averts his eyes, but his face remains otherwise stoic.

“Yeah,” he nods. “She passed away when I was eighteen.”

“Fuck,” Bucky swears before he can stop the absolutely inappropriate reaction from escaping his mouth. “That’s really… Wow.”

Well. At least that’s par for the course over the last five minutes of his life.

Bucky expects Steve to shoot him an offended look for his complete lack of social skills, but he doesn’t. Steve actually—Steve laughs, and it’s a real fucking laugh, lighting up his whole countenance.

Bucky finds himself smiling despite the conversation.

“...What?” he asks, grinning at Steve and his shaking chest.

“Nothing,” Steve answers, still smiling. “It’s just… I don’t remember the last time I told someone about her and they didn’t give a knee-jerk answer of ‘I’m so sorry.’

“I—shit,” Bucky fumbles, pressing his face into his palm. “I know, that was so rude of me, my ma would’a fuckin’—ah, shit, there I go again, fuck. I’m such a fuckin’ mess, I just—I get nervous, but I really am so sor—”

“No!” Steve interrupts quickly. “Don’t say it, please, I… I know people are just being nice, but it honestly gets so tiring to hear.” Bucky watches through the gaps between his fingers as Steve’s shoulders fall when he lets out a long breath, and for a moment, he thinks Steve might be just as nervous around this conversation as he is. “I was just laughing because… I don’t know.” He smiles again, this time more crookedly, rolling his eyes at himself. “I guess I had a feeling about you from the first time I heard you say my name.”

There’s still a breath of a chuckle in Steve’s voice. Bucky winces, but he takes his hand out of his face, smiling cautiously.

“...You had a feeling that I was an insensitive asshole who’s too awkward for niceties?”

Steve guffaws and shakes his head. His eyes burn fond and blue even in the dark.

“Nah,” he grins. “Not that kind of feeling at all.”

There’s a while where they sit on Steve’s bed and just sort of… look at each other. Both of their erections are clearly long gone, but not in a way Bucky would describe as particularly regrettable. Steve is kneeling between his legs in nothing but a pair of blue jeans, staring down at him with an unreadable expression on his face.

“Tell me, Bucky,” he says after a long silence. His lips quirk up. “Do you like red wine?”

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

An hour ago, Bucky was getting ground into a wall in the back of a bass-thumping dance club about to get his brains fucked backwards out of his skull by a man he was more than ready to call ‘Sir’ for the rest of the night.

Now, Bucky is climbing up a staircase with a freshly uncorked bottle in one hand and two stemmed wine glasses—the fancy wide-bowl sort—in the other. He’s following Steve, who’s hauling a large, folded blanket and two fluffy throw pillows.

Bucky has no idea what the hell is happening.

Steve pushes open a door when they get to the top and the night air comes rushing in. It’s warm, at least; June at midnight isn’t a half-bad thing to feel on his face. It’s not until he follows Steve through the doorway that he realizes he’s been led to the rooftop of the apartment building.

“What are we doing out here?” he asks, although the words almost don’t make it out of his mouth. He’s too distracted by the gorgeous Brooklyn skyline entering his vision.

Instead of answering with words, Steve walks to a particular spot on the center of the rooftop and nods at the contents of Bucky’s hands, pointing to a relatively even-looking patch on the ground as he gestures for Bucky to set the bottle and glasses down. He unfolds the large blanket and grabs two of the corners, handing Bucky the other two.

“You must like stars, right?” Steve asks, working out the shape of the open comforter. “Said you worked at a planetarium.”

Bucky follows Steve’s lead spreading out the thick blanket until it’s smooth and square on the floor of the rooftop. He looks down once it’s there, then up at Steve, bewildered.

“Um, yeah,” he answers. “I mean, that was when I was in undergrad, but I…”

Bucky trails off. Steve smiles, picking up for him.

“Undergrad, huh?” he repeats with sincere interest. “And what do you do now?”

Bucky runs a nervous hand through his hair.

God… What is it about this guy that makes him sweat just hearing his voice—even when he’s not doing anything especially sexy?

“I’m actually getting my doctorate at NYU,” he answers, chewing on his bottom lip. “In, um… In astronomy? Funny enough.”

Steve halts halfway through placing the two pillows he’d brought at the head of the blanket like it’s a bed. He stares up at Bucky, first with awe on his face, then with a wide, crooked smile.

“You gotta be shittin’ me,” he swears with a belly laugh. “Well, fuck… My whole romantic plan just got that much better.”

Bucky finds himself blushing furiously.

“You have a romantic plan?” he asks, trying and failing not to sound like a twitterpated junior high kid.

“Sure do.” Steve settles his ass on the blanket and pats the spot next to him. “Came up with it about five minutes ago when I was staring down at you shirtless in my bed.”

The quip makes Bucky loosen up with a laugh. He takes Steve’s signal to sit down, plopping next to him on the blanket before crossing his legs. He looks on as Steve opens the bottle of wine and pours two glasses of deep crimson liquid.

“Care to share this plan with me?” he grins. “I mean… assuming I’m the one you’re romancing here.”

Steve smirks with dark eyes as he hands Bucky a drink.

“I think you can assume that, yeah,” he says, then clinks the rims of their glasses together.

Bucky hadn’t been lying when he’d told Steve he enjoys red wine—he does—he just doesn’t exactly drink it often. Fruit and spice erupt on his tongue as he takes his first sip. It’s rich without being too sweet, exceedingly drinkable.

“Well?” he asks after a while of mutually comfortable silence spent enjoying their drinks. “What’s this grand plan?”

Steve takes another sip of his own wine, smiling as he sets down the glass.

“I thought maybe it could be romantic if we sat on my rooftop with a nice shiraz and stared up at the stars,” and oh my God, Steve is so damn cute. He’s—he’s suddenly no longer just a perfect hunk, but a perfect specimen of a human being.

Even so, Bucky can’t help it. He barks out a laugh.

“You wanna go stargazing in Brooklyn?” he says, waving up at the sky. “You’re lucky if you get to see the damn North Star with all the light from the city!”

Steve chuckles, looking at Bucky with a face full of oddly tender fondness.

“Well, if you must know, my original plan was to entertain you by making up facts about all the stars we can’t see up there… But now,” he gives Bucky an almost predatory grin, “now I think I found myself a tour guide.”

Bucky snorts. “You really wanna stare up at stars you can’t even see?”

“That’s the idea,” Steve nods. “And let me tell you, I was going to be so charming with my descriptions, too. Trust me. But now I’m kinda thinking I could hold my favorite astronomer’s hand while he tells me all about those stars himself.”

Bucky blushes again at the mention of hand holding—this is so not how he saw this night going—but he doesn’t let himself get too distracted by the cheesiness. He looks from Steve’s face up at the cloudy night sky and suddenly sees what Steve must see: an empty canvas, a storybook filled with inviting blank pages.

He doesn’t know much of anything about this man in front of him. Bucky only knows he wants to find out more.

“Okay,” he finally says, agreeing to the admitted silliness of the idea. “Okay, Steve…?”

Bucky puts his hand out with his palm up, pointing the ends of his fingers at Steve in a gesture for him to complete the sentence.

“Rogers,” Steve smiles. He surprises Bucky by taking his hand in his own and turning it over, pressing a kiss to the knuckles. “And I’m on this romantic rooftop date with Bucky…?”

“It’s James, technically,” Bucky says. “James Buchanan Barnes. But it’s just been Bucky since I was a little kid.”

Steve gives him another one of those deadly handsome smiles, sweet and crooked all at the same time.

“Alright, Bucky Barnes.” He tears his eyes from Bucky, staring up at the lamp-lit sky. “Why don’t you tell me what I’m not looking at tonight?”

A thought hits Bucky as he takes another sip of his drink. He smiles to himself.

“I will,” he promises. “But first, you have to tell me about this wine we’re drinking. It’s pretty amazing.” He grins coquettishly. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you planned all this out and got the nice stuff just for me.”

Steve gives him a strangely heavy look that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the conversation. It’s not a bad or uncomfortable expression—not by any means—but it’s almost as if Bucky has said something Steve didn’t expect to hear.

“Maybe,” Steve says quietly. He locks eyes with Bucky, sending a warm shiver down his spine. “Or maybe I’d just hoped to meet someone like you tonight.”

And there Steve goes again—the second time he’s said something to that effect. He holds Bucky’s eyes for so long that it soon becomes difficult to breathe.

“Um, so,” Bucky says, breaking the moment and eye contact for want of new air in his lungs. He holds up his purple-filled glass. “The wine? I know stars, not grapes, Steve.” He tries to flash him a winning smile, but he knows it probably comes off looking dorky. “You’ll have to educate me.”

“Ah,” Steve nods, chuckling. He reaches for the bottle and turns the label to show Bucky the print and logo. “Well, this is a shiraz, like I said. This particular shiraz is from Barossa Valley in South Australia, where they grow the best of that grape variety.” He shrugs. “In my opinion, at least.”

“Wow.” Bucky would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little bit impressed—and maybe turned on. “Sounds like you know your stuff.”

“I know just enough to be dangerous. Here.” Steve sets the bottle off to the side once more, out of the way. “Pick up your glass and swirl it around. Hold it up to a light while you do it.”

Bucky laughs, but he does as instructed. He just barely manages to bite his tongue before he answers the direction with ‘yes, Sir.’

“What exactly am I looking for?” he asks.

Steve smiles, doing the same with his own glass and swirling the contents around. “Legs.”

“Legs?”

“Yep. Look here.” Steve points to the lines dripping down the inside of Bucky’s glass. “That’s what these are called. The longer they are, the more body the wine has.”

Bucky can’t help but snicker. “Wow… Legs, body. I’m starting to think you’re really into wine.”

His crappy joke at least earns him a laugh.

“Maybe,” Steve smirks. He lowers his glass from his face, raising his eyebrows as he looks Bucky over with a heat not unlike what he’d given off back at the club. “Or maybe I’m just into anything with long legs and a nice body. Or anyone.”

It’s another cheesy line, but even after the filth Steve has whispered into his ears tonight, this particular compliment sends Bucky’s cheeks blazing.

“Okay, so our wine has nice legs,” he says, trying to change the subject before he starts stuttering again. “Aren’t I supposed to, like... sip it and spit?”

Steve laughs again, a rich, deep sound. 

“Only if you’re trying to avoid getting tipsy. I’m not planning on going anywhere else tonight.” He reaches out with his free hand to cover Bucky’s, rubbing a thumb lightly over his knuckles. “And I was kind of hoping you’d keep me company for at least a while longer.”

Bucky smiles shyly, looking down at their joined fingers.

It’s nice.

“Um, yeah,” he says. “I think I can make that work.”

 

Steve actually does proceed to teach Bucky the basics of wine tasting after a little more flirting. It turns out to be a lot easier and feels far less snobby than Bucky had thought it would. They end up finishing their first glass over the next ten minutes. Steve pours them another.

“Alright, professor,” Steve says, laying back and settling his head against his pillow while Bucky does the same with his own. Their parallel gazes face the sky. “Tell me what I see behind all these clouds and city lights.”

Bucky’s eyes roll of his own accord. He hates how cute this whole thing is.

Goddamn this guy.

“Let me get my bearings,” he says, closing his eyes and picturing the map of the universe above the Earth. It’s the same thing he does every night alone in his bed before he falls asleep. “Okay, so it’s Summer. There’s actually something called the ‘Summer Triangle,’ which we get from Vega, Deneb, and Altair.” Bucky points to three spots above them without opening his eyes. “They’re really big and bright, but they’re also a good starting point for trying to find other stars and constellations…”

 

It feels funny, at first, speaking to the images carved into the backs of his eyelids, but Bucky grows to really like it. He can hear the love in his own voice when he talks about Cygnus, about being able to see the bands of the Milky Way in the sky. Steve stops him every now and again to ask questions, and they’re good questions, actually. Bucky finds he likes talking to Steve about stars about a thousand times more than he likes talking to the undergrad students he teaches.

Their bottle of wine slowly drains the longer Bucky talks. Mapping the sky in their minds soon turns into lying on their sides, facing each other on the blanket.

Bucky continues to babble on about places in the universe they can’t see glimmering above them. Steve continues to ask his questions.

“So… Steve Rogers,” Bucky says eventually, smiling. “You said earlier you had a feeling about me the first time you heard me say your name.” He plays with the collar of Steve’s shirt, half to flirt and half just to feel close to the warmth of Steve’s skin. “What kinda feeling was it?”

Steve smiles back softly. He scoots in closer, settling a gentle hand over the curve of Bucky’s waist.

“The feeling that you were a really genuine person,” he answers. “The kind of person I want to share my night with.” Steve’s mouth quirks up mischievously, and then his hand wanders down to Bucky’s backside. He gives it a playful squeeze. “Even if this peach of an ass distracted me from any nobler intentions at first.”

Bucky’s dorky laughing fills the air. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t a little bit disappointed that he hasn’t already been fucked through that big King mattress downstairs in Steve’s apartment, but it’s really hard to regret it when Steve is looking at him like the sound of his laughter could cure world hunger.

“You know, I just realized,” Bucky says. “I already told you what I do, but you never told me.” He gives Steve a teasing grin. “When you’re not being a connoisseur of South Australian wines, that is.”

Steve chuckles. His hand moves, brushing a piece of hair away from Bucky’s forehead.

“Well, my usual answer for that question when I’m trying to get into someone’s pants is to tell them I’m an artist.”

“So I suppose you should tell me you’re an artist, then,” Bucky smirks, “or else I’ll be insulted you’re not looking to put me on my back again.”

Steve tosses his head backwards, laughing with his whole gut.

“Well, I did go to art school,” he says once he catches his breath. “Got my degree an’ all that. But I do corporate graphic design now.”

“So, still an artist,” Bucky says, “but, you know. With rent money.”

Steve rolls his eyes with a smile. “Guilty. You hit the nail on the head.”

Maybe it’s the wine; maybe it’s the company. Bucky feels looser than he had back at the club with the wonder of dancing smoothing out his stresses. He lets his fingertips wander, tracing circles over Steve’s shoulders.

“I like art,” he says idly.

Steve gently takes Bucky’s hand in his own. He places tiny kisses against each fingertip, making eye contact the entire time.

“Well,” he breathes, “maybe you could be my date to go see this new exhibit I heard about at the MoMA.” He grins, pressing one last, slow kiss to the center of Bucky’s palm. “If you’d be interested in seeing something more than once, that is.”

The light of the city shines off Steve’s eyes. Bucky’s heart slows in his chest.

“I think that could be arranged,” he answers. “I’m certainly interested in seeing someone more than once.” He let’s a smile grow over his face, creeping up to the edges of his eyes. “Maybe even three times, if you’re really lucky.”

Steve laughs again. He draws Bucky closer with a hand around his waist.

“Sounds like a first date to me,” he whispers.

“Mm, no.” Bucky leans his forehead against Steve’s, but their lips don’t touch—not yet. “Sounds like a second date.”

A glimmer appears in Steve’s eyes. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Bucky nods. “Don’t you remember?” He gestures to the rooftop around them, to the night sky above. “On our first date, you took me out to see the stars.”

Instead of answering, Steve only smiles. Bucky can almost spot a blush under the moonlight.

 

It doesn’t matter that they can’t see the sparkling pieces of the universe beyond the clouds or the light of the city. It doesn’t matter that, in a few hours, the sun will rise, that the sky will fill with the light of a different day.

Somewhere beyond the brightness of the atmosphere, stars still shine for them.