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"We should end this," Sam said.

Higher Up Lady and Sharon both stared at him, shocked. Bucky didn't seem to react at all.

"It's time," Sam insisted. "I don't want to do this anymore and you can't keep making me."

"What's brought this on?" Higher Up Lady said.

"I just don't see why it's necessary. I am going to carry the shield, I am going to fight for what I believe is right and protect people. Whether some people online want me to do it doesn't matter to me." He shook his head. "I get that people look up to me, I get that the shield is a symbol, but I'm a person. I'm going to do my best to protect the world while I'm on the job, but then I want to go home and live my life away from the world."

That was all true, but that wasn't the whole story.

The whole story was slightly more complicated.

*

Sam panicked. He had no other word for it.

He was in love with Bucky Barnes and he was freaking the fuck out and he had no idea who to talk to about it. Sarah thought they were already in love, Sharon had done enough to try and help, and Steve was not an option. He'd probably just laugh and then call Bucky up to tell him himself.

He'd really become more of an asshole in his old age.

Sam couldn't figure out anyone else who was close enough to him to care about listening to his woes, and had high enough security clearance that he wouldn't get into too much trouble for telling.

Except for, well...

Sam was already regretting it when he dialled the number.

By the time Rhodey joined him in his corner of the bar, Sam was already several shots in.

"You okay?" Rhodey said, ordering his own drink.

"I'm about to have a conversation with you about something I really don't want to talk to you about," Sam said, nursing his drink. "I need this to make myself do it."

"Okay," Rhodey said, sounding concerned. "Why don't we start from the beginning?"

"Please don't hate me for dragging you this."

"I can't make any promises."

Sam finished his drink, and then he started from the beginning. He gave Rhodey the PG version of what had gone down with him and Bucky - or, well, as PG as it could get when the whole world had seen Bucky give him a blow job. By the time he was finished, his words were slurring slightly and the world was starting to look a bit lopsided.

"Okay, let's see if I've got this right," Rhodey said slowly. "The whole world thinks you and Barnes are dating, including your family, but you're not?"

"Correct," Sam said, resting his forehead on the cool table.

"You and Barnes are sleeping together, you spend the night together and have breakfast together and go visit your friends and family together. But you're not dating?"

Sam peered up at him. "Well, when you put it like that..."

"Put it like a normal person, you mean?" Rhodey finished his drink and singled for another, not touching the shot Sam had gotten him. "And now you're in love with him and you worry he doesn't feel the same?"

"I know he doesn't feel the same," Sam wailed. "He only wants me for my body."

The waitress gave him an odd look, but luckily didn't seem to recognise him in the dark and simply handed Rhodey his drink and left.

It was possible that Sam was a little drunk.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

"Have you asked him?"

"I can't ask him!" Sam hissed. "What if I ask him and he says no and then we're stuck dating for who knows how long and everything just becomes terrible."

"Okay, so don't tell him."

"I can't. It wouldn't be fair to keep sleeping with him and have him think it's all casual and fun while I'm pining after him. It would be," Sam hiccuped, "under false pretences."

Rhodey squinted at him. "Have your relationships always been this messy?"

"Sorry to drag you into this. I know this is way too TMI for you."

"It's fine," Rhodey said, waiving the apology off. "I've sort of missed having to deal with a drunk friend groaning about his messy relationships. There's been a serious lack of it ever since..."

This time, Rhodey did take the shot.

"Look, this is how I see it," Rhodey said, making a face. "This whole fake-relationship thing is messing with your head. Having him be around your family, having the world watching, it's putting unfair pressure on whatever it is you've got going on and making it impossible for you to be candid about your feelings."

"You're not wrong," Sam said.

"You want my advice? Ask him out."

"But what if he says no and we're stuck pretending to be in love?"

"If he says no, you end the fake relationship, no matter what people say. It's your life, Sam. You can't let public opinions on the internet decide it for you. End it, take a break from each other, and then go back to being partners. If he says yes, well," he patted Sam on the back, "please stop making sex tapes."

Sam nodded. "You give good advice."

"I know I do."

"Wanna get super wasted so we forget we ever had this conversation?"

"Fuck yeah."

*

Sam offered Rhodey his couch afterwards, mostly because there was pretty much no way he would make it back home on his own. They struggled up the stairs together, both almost toppling each other over and killing two heroes at once, but they somehow managed to make it to Sam's door. It took Sam several tries, Rhodey complaining about how slow he was the whole time, but he finally got the door open and they stumbled inside at the same time, almost falling into a heap.

"Sam?" Bucky said.

"Jesus Christ!" Rhodey shouted, pulling his arm up, his hand out, almost as if he was aiming his repulsers, except he wasn't wearing a suit. "You really do blend into the shadows, huh?"

The world was sort of spinning, so Sam pushed past them both and collapsed into the couch.

"Why are you here?" Sam asked, closing his eyes in the hopes of making the world stop moving. "You here for a... a... a booty call?" He tried to laugh, but Bucky didn't join in.

"What's going on, Rhodes?" Bucky practically growled.

"We were just out drinking," Rhodey said, sounding amused. "And now we're going to bed. What's going on with you? You staying here?"

"He's drunk," Bucky said, sounding angry. "Too drunk for anything."

"I'm well aware of that Barnes. We both are." Rhodey said something else, but his voice lowered into a mumble and Sam couldn't quite catch it. Bucky responded with a low growl, and then went. back and fort for a while.

"I guess I'll just go," Bucky said loudly in the end.

"Noooooo," Sam protested. He cracked an eye open, trying to figure out where Bucky was standing so he could reach for him, but he was already gone.

Rhodey came to sit down next to him on the couch, shaking his head.

"See?" Sam said sadly.

"See what?"

"He said it himself; I'm too drunk for any hanky panky, which means he doesn't want to stick around and spend the night with me." He closed his eyes again. "He really only cares about me for my body."

Rhodey laughed loudly.

"What's so funny?" Sam demanded.

"Don't worry about it," he said condescendingly, patting Sam's head. "You'll figure it out."

*

Rhodey's suggestion had been to ask Bucky out and then, if he said no and things got awkward, break off the public relationship and take a break. But Sam thought the reverse order was better. Rhodey had had a point about there being too many eyes on them and too much pressure. Sam didn't feel like he could ask Bucky out when they were stuck in this mess and he worried that Bucky would just say yes because he felt he had no choice. He wanted there to be a clean break so they could start over from scratch.

No cameras, no videos, no media, no news, no fake dates, no lies to his family. Just Sam asking Bucky out on a good old-fashioned date. And yeah, it would suck to tell Sarah they broke up and then try to convince her to give Bucky another chance if they got back together, but it would be worth it in the end, surely? And if not, if Bucky didn't want him, well, then, this just made things so much easier.

So Sam sat there in the office, in front of Higher Up Lady, Sharon and Bucky, and said, "We should end this."

"I think Sam's right," Sharon said, shocking everyone in the room. "It's been enough time, people are convinced they're in a solid, consensual relationship and Sam's pretty much become an icon for queer rights and equality. People are pretty supportive at this point."

"Yes, but that could all go away like that." Higher Up Lady snapped her fingers. "Especially now with all of the rumours flying around about Sam possibly cheating. You don't think people will take that and run with it as the reason they broke up? Make it all about how he can't decide and hypersexualize him once more?"

"I don't care," Sam insisted. "I'm done with all of this. I can't..."

"I'll do it," Bucky said. He was the only one who didn't look ruffled at all by this conversation. He leaned back comfortably in his chair, his legs spread wide.

"Do what?" Higher Up Lady said.

"I'll cheat," he said casually. "I'm not carrying the shield, I'm not representing anything, and people do generally tend to go kinder on white guys anyway, don't they? So I'll cheat." He turned his head to the side, meeting Sharon's eyes. "Wanna make a sex tape?"

Sharon looked startled for a few moments, her eyes flitting from Bucky to Sam.

Sam did his very best to keep his face neutral, like he cared about this just as little as Bucky did.

He'd planned to ask Bucky out after they finished this conversation, but now that he saw that Bucky was being so casual about it, doubt was setting in his mind. Bucky didn't seem to care that things were ending between them. And if he didn't care, that meant he probably never felt anything for Sam in the first place. It wasn't like Sam expected Bucky to be in love with him back, not right now, but he'd still expected something, any type of hint that maybe Bucky liked being with him and would miss him, and that he'd be open to dating. Now, there was nothing.

Meeting Bucky's eyes again, Sharon spoke carefully, "Not sure if I want to continue being branded as the slut that broke up America's super couple. Then again, it's not really me and my face is already all over the news so I can't use that cover again anyway."

"Come on, Sharon." Bucky grinned widely, his tongue sliding over his lower lip. "I'll make it worth your time. Sam can attest to how good I am at using my..."

"Enough," Higher Up Lady interrupted. Sam was glad; he wasn't sure how much more of this he could take. "I have had enough of this. This is not what my job is supposed to be." She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Know what? You might be right. It's time to end this. We can work out the logistics and..."

"Good." Sam shot to his feet. "You three do that. I'm out."

"You can't just..." she began to protest.

"I'm out," he repeated, stricter. He looked at Bucky, who still looked calm, and then Sharon, who looked amused, and swallowed. "Have fun."

Then he really was out.

*

Someone knocked on his window just after the sun set.

Sam knew it had to be Bucky, because really, who else could it be, and yet he was still shocked to see him there when he opened the window.

"You got better locks," Bucky commented, jumping inside. "I could still get in, but I figured I'd let you be useful."

"What do you want, Bucky?" Sam said tiredly, stepping away from the window so they wouldn't have to stand too close to each other.

"What do you think I want?" Bucky said, following him until he was standing right behind him, his breath hot on Sam's neck.

"Didn't you hear what I said on the meeting?" Sam said, struggling to keep his voice even when Bucky was so close.

"Yes, you want to end things," Bucky said, still sounding so damn calm and nonchalant. Like it really was no big deal. "But come on, are we really going to do that?"

Sam closed his eyes, his heart speeding up. Was this it? Was Bucky finally going to say something? Protest? Ask for more time? Show any sign that he wanted to keep being with Sam?

"Are we really going to end things without one last fuck?"

Disappointment crashed over him. He curled his hands into fists, feeling something burn behind his eyes.

"You must want to get one last one out of your system," Bucky teased, his hands landing on Sam's hips as he pressed a kiss to the back of his neck.

Sam wanted to. He really, really wanted to, but at the same time, there was nothing he wanted less. He couldn't do it. He knew that having meaningless sex, as much as it might feel good physically, would just make him feel so much worse in the morning.

Sam stepped forward, getting out of Bucky's embrace. "I don't think this is a good idea, Bucky." He moved towards the bedroom door, gesturing for Bucky to follow him out. He needed to get far away from a bed or his resolve would crack at any moment.

Bucky didn't move, still standing in the middle of the room, looking confused.

"Wait, really?"

"Really," Sam said, although he didn't sound so certain.

Bucky seemed to catch on to his hesitance, because he got moving, crowding Sam against the doorframe. He didn't try to touch him, but got so close Sam felt his breath against his cheek and the heat radiating off his skin.

"Come on, Sam," he tried to cajole him. "I'll suck your dick the way you like it. I'll even pretend to choke on it to make you feel good." He moved as if to get down on his knees, but Sam stopped him by grabbing his shoulders.

"What are you doing, Bucky?"

"I'm just trying to get you off."

"Why?"

"Because..." He wetted his lips, seemingly not finding the words.

Sam let him go, stepping out of the bedroom into the living room to get some space between them. Every time they got too close together, it felt like he couldn't think properly.

"No, hey, Sam stop," Bucky said, all the confidence and nonchalance out of his voice. "Is this about the Rhodes thing?"

"The Rhodes thing?" Sam repeated, confused.

"I know I was rude to him, but how was I supposed to react? You were clearly drunk and he had his hands all over you."

"He was just helping..."

"If you'd been sober, I wouldn't have gotten in the way." Bucky swallowed, his hands curling into fists. "If you want to fuck Rhodes, you can."

It felt like a punch in the stomach. The fact that Bucky cared so little about what they had that he didn't even care if Sam fucked someone else made his entire body ache.

"You know what, maybe I will," he growled angrily. "So why don't you leave? Aren't you supposed to be fucking Sharon right now anyway?"

He immediately felt bad for saying that. Sharon had done nothing but be a good friend in all of this, she didn't deserve to have him saying her name with such vitriol.

"That's what this is?" Bucky said. "But no, you know Sharon and I were just joking around, and you wanted to end things before then. If it's about Rhodes..."

"It's not about Rhodey. For fuck's sake, Bucky, we're friends."

The flash of relief on Bucky's face confused Sam further. "So what are you really mad about then?"

Sam shook his head, calming himself. "I'm not mad at you, Bucky." That was a lie, he was mad, but not because Bucky had actually done anything wrong. Sam was the one who'd broken their unspoken agreement to keep their relationship physical, who'd raised his hopes up too high about Bucky's feelings for him.

"Yes, you are. And you always want to fuck when you're angry, except for the times I've done something really shitty."

"Bucky, that's not..."

"But I fixed it, didn't I?" Bucky said, voice suddenly weak and vulnerable. It was as if he'd turned into someone completely different. Or perhaps this was who he'd been all along, but he'd hidden it behind his cocky persona. "I haven't touched you in public without your permission, I'm learning about boundaries, I'm being careful around your family, I'm doing the best that I can. So just tell me what I did wrong so I can fix it."

Sam didn't know what to say. His chest ached and he wanted to apologise to Bucky, but he couldn't figure out what for. He just knew that something had gone wrong between them, some connection had been missed, and now Bucky was standing there looking sad and scared and Sam had no idea how he'd made that happen.

"I'm not angry with you," Sam said, and this time he meant it.

"Something's clearly wrong. Just tell me what you want and I can fix it."

"There's nothing wrong with you, Bucky. I'm just... It's just..." Sam let out a frustrated breath. "You're making it so complicated."

"I'm making it complicated? What about you?"

"What about me?"

"You're the one who's going all back and forth all the time." Bucky began pacing the floor. "I know that partly on me, I'm the one who started it and I'm the one who got these ideas in my head."

"What ideas?"

Bucky stopped pacing, avoiding Sam's eyes.

"What ideas?" he repeated.

Bucky turned to the door. "I should go."

"What? No." He grabbed Bucky's sleeve, forcing him to stop. "Look, there's clearly something going on here that I'm missing."

"I don't want to talk about it," he muttered.

"I respect that, but something's wrong and it seems like it's been wrong for a while. Now either we sit down and discuss this, or things are going to stay wrong. Bucky," he added, softer, "please, just tell me. What ideas?"

Bucky slid out of Sam's grip, but he thankfully didn't leave. Instead he went and sat down on the couch, rubbing his forehead with his metal arm. Sam sat down at the sofa table in front of him so they could be eye-level.

"The first time we got together," Bucky said carefully, "you were angry and I thought it could be a fun way to cool you off. I wanted..." He swallowed. "I wanted to make you feel good. And then we kept going and you kept fucking me when you were angry, and things just got a bit," he tapped his temple, "twisted. I got it in my head that you only wanted me when you were angry."

Sam suddenly recalled Bucky, standing in his hallway as Sam was undressing, asking him, "Are you angry?" And that hadn't been the only time.

"But then you kept wanting me even when you weren't angry, and then you kept wanting me to stay, and I got this idea that maybe there was more to it than that. Maybe you simply wanted me." Bucky's lips twisted into a sad smile. "But it's so damn hard to get a read on you and I really can't tell if you do want me or not."

"How can you say that? You're the one who keeps pulling away from me. You only want to be close when we're fucking and then you always want to make a run for it. I practically have to lie on top of you to make you stay most of the time."

"I know, okay? I know. But I'm working on... Damn it!" He punched the couch with his fist. "I'm not good at this. I don't know how to explain how I feel."

Sam swallowed. That at least meant Bucky felt something, although Sam wasn't so sure that it was a good thing.

"You do stuff like ask me to spend the night, but then you go out with Rhodes and take him back to your apartment..."

"To sleep on my couch," Sam pointed out.

"...and then you talk about ending things and now you won't even touch me! How am I supposed to interpret that, Sam? You're confusing me when one moment you want me to spend the night and make me breakfast, and the next you're kicking me to the curb."

"Okay, okay," Sam said calmly, rubbing his hand over his face. "You have a point."

"Look, I spend half my therapy sessions trying to convince myself that everyone in the world doesn't hate me. It's really hard for me to accept that someone other than Steve might give a shit about me. That I deserve to be..." He trailed off, biting his lower lip. "I just need you to tell me, Sam, please. Are you angry with me?"

"No."

"Do you hate me?"

"No, of course not."

"Then what's the problem?"

"I love you."

It just slipped out. One moment it was in Sam's head, the next it was in the air between them and there was nothing he could do to make it stop.

Bucky stared at him, his eyes wide with shock. He didn't look like he quite believed him.

Then slowly, slowly, a grin began to spread over his face.

The problem was, Sam couldn't tell if it was one of his soft smiles, or his asshole smiles, and not being able to distinguish between the two made it too hard to keep looking at it. Sam buried his face in his hands, wishing he could just disappear.

"Sam, you wanna repeat that?"

"No," Sam said stubbornly.

Bucky was silent for a long time and for a moment Sam thought he had managed to sneak out using his super spy skills.

"Is being in love with me really such bad thing?" Bucky said quietly.

Sam his head, looking up at him. Bucky sat with his arms resting on his thighs, his head hanging forward.

"I mean, I get why I might not be the first choice. I know that you can do so much better than me and that I piss you off most of the time. But there's good stuff too, isn't there? We've seen and experienced things few others have. We're good on missions together. We have great sex."

Okay, so Sam was apparently an asshole. "You've really thought about this?" he had to ask. Because if Bucky had thought about this, that meant...

That meant he might feel something for Sam too.

He got off the sofa table and closed the few steps to the couch. When Bucky still wouldn't look up at him, he sat down next to him, leaning over to grab his hands.

"Bucky, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"For what?"

"For being a dick. For being an idiot. For being the worst kissing-boyfriend on the planet. Bucky, of course it's not a bad thing to be in love with you. It's the best thing. You're right, about all the things you said, and there are million more wonderful things about you that make me love you." He leaned into Bucky's side, stroking the back of his hands. "You're great with my family. We have mutual friends who love us both. You're getting pretty decent at making breakfast."

Bucky snorted weakly.

"I want to be with you, Bucky. The whole point with ending things today was so that we could start over and I could ask you on a real date."

"Really?" Bucky said, voice heart-achingly hopeful.

"Yes." Sam pressed his forehead to Bucky's temple, closing his eyes and breathing him in. "I'm sorry. I understand why my words and actions have been confusing; me kissing you and fucking you while talking about hating you and being mad at you all the time. I didn't mean it."

"No, I know. You've already said that."

"But I should've been more clear. I was just playing around and joking. I thought you liked it."

"I know. I did like it, I'm not saying you should stop. It's just..." He squeezed Sam's hands tightly between his. "I get in my head sometimes, and I start to wonder if you really meant it. If I just imagined you wanting me, both for sex and for something more."

"So let me be clear, then." Sam cupped Bucky's chin and turned his head so he could meet his eyes. "I love you."

This time when Bucky smiled, it was so obviously genuine that Sam couldn't believed he'd missed it before. He looked happy, his eyes so bright they were almost shinning, and Sam couldn't help but smile back at him.

"Do you want to do this?" Sam asked. "Do you want to be my committed kissing-boyfriend who you regularly engage in consensual sexual acts with?"

Bucky laughed. "Sam, I've wanted to do this since the first time I blew you and you basically pulled my hair out. I just never thought..." He stroked Sam's forehead, down to his cheek, watching him with such big, reverent eyes. Like he couldn't quite believe that Sam was there. "I thought I might be able to trick you into liking me, at most. Never this."

"You didn't trick me into anything," Sam said. "You don't have to do anything to make me want to be with you." He remembered all the times that Bucky got him off, and how he seemed so unwilling, to let Sam do the same for him. He'd never given it much thought, but now he couldn't believe he'd missed it. He was so mad at himself for being blind. "Bucky, I told you, I've got a million reasons to love you. Even if we never had sex again..."

"Hey, no one's saying that."

"Even if we never had sex again," Sam repeated insistently, "I want to be with you."

Bucky nodded, seemingly starting to accept that, even if he looked like he still didn't quite believe it. "I want to be with you too."

Sam waited a few beats, but Bucky didn't say anything else. He tried not to be disappointed. He hadn't expected Bucky to say he was in love with him back, not right away, but he'd still hoped, just a little bit.

"You think you could see yourself falling in love with me as well?" he had to ask. Just to know that there was something to look forward to in the future.

"Of course," Bucky said passionately. "Of course, Sam. I want to... I'm just not good at talking about... I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Sam assured him, happy about Bucky's reassurance. Knowing that Bucky might say it one day was enough. "You don't have to say it now." He stroked Bucky's cheek. "Take all the time you need."

Bucky leaned forward and kissed him, soft and unhurried. Sam slid his fingers into his hair, scratching his scalp, which made him shudder.

"Bucky?" Sam whispered.

"Yeah?"

"Wanna go on a date with me?"

Bucky smiled against his lips. "Yeah. But don't expect me to put out on the first date. I'm not that kind of guy."

Sam laughed, leaning back so he could meet Bucky's eyes. He felt so deliriously happy in that moment that he didn't know where to put it all. He settled on scratching Bucky's head again.

"Okay," Sam said. "You're right. We should probably spend some more time talking before we jump into having sex again."

Bucky frowned. "No, I was just joking."

"You know I'm right Bucky."

He pouted, but didn't disagree. "Okay, so now what? You want me to leave?"

"If you ask me that one more time I'll never speak to you again," Sam warned. "Of course I don't want you to leave. I'm going to get us some snacks from the kitchen and then we are going to watch something stupid on TV until we fall asleep. Okay?"

Bucky nodded, and so Sam did just that. He got some snacks and drinks, turned on the television, and sat down on the couch next to Bucky. A few minutes into watching some reality show that really made him question why he kept putting his life on the line for these people, he could tell that Bucky was staring at him from the corner of his eyes. Bucky's hands were twitching in his lap, but he wasn't saying anything.

"What is it, Bucky?" Sam prompted. "Spit it out."

"Can you... Eh..." He scratched the back of his neck.

"Want me to touch you?"

"Doesn't have to be sex, maybe just..."

"Come here."

Bucky immediately kicked his shoes off, pulled his feet up on the couch and then laid down with his head on Sam's lap. Sam placed his hand on his hair, scratching his scalp lightly, and Bucky basically purred. Sam laughed.

"You are adorable," he said.

"I am not," Bucky argued half-heartedly. "I am The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier is not adorable."

"Maybe not, but my kissing-boyfriend sure is."

Bucky let out a deep sigh against his leg. "There is one problem with us dating, though."

Sam felt panic flare in his chest as he frantically tried to figure out what the problem could possibly be. Then he realized, and groaned loudly. "We're going to have to tell Steve that he was right."

"Well it's either that, or I pack my bags and go to Russia and we never see each other again."

Sam lifted his hand out of BUcky's hair. "Well, it was nice knowing you, Bucky."

Bucky laughed. "Okay, there is one other option."

"What's that?"

*

"I don't want to say 'I told you so'," Steve said gleefully.

"And yet here we are," Sam muttered.

"But I did tell you, didn't I?"

"Yes, Steve, you were right," Bucky said.

"I can't believe I finally got you to say that," Sam laughed. "Only took about a century."

"You were right that Sam and I should just date for real," Bucky went on. "Sam's super in love with me."

"And you're in love with me too," Sam felt it necessary to point out. He hadn't actually said it yet, but Sam knew now. He just knew.

"And we just can't keep our hands off each other." Bucky grinned at Sam, his eyes sparkling. "Can we sweetheart?"

Sam shifted closer to Bucky. "No, unfortunately we can't, honeybee."

"What's happening?" Steve said worriedly.

"He's just so damn pretty," Bucky said, his eyes stuck on Sam. His hand moved to Sam's knee, stroking up his thigh.

"So handsome," Sam said, leaning in closer to Bucky, getting into kissing-distance. "And those damn lips. You got any idea what he can do with those lips?"

"I know what you're doing and it's not funny," Steve said.

"Why don't we show Steve what I mean?" Sam suggested.

Bucky kissed him hard, wrapping his arms around him until they were plastered against each other. He pulled Sam off the seat so his hands could travel down and grab his ass, making Sam moan into the kiss.

Despite this being very fun, Sam started to worry that it wasn't going to work when Steve didn't say anything else. He didn't actually want to get off in front of Steve and a gaggle of pensioners staring at them through the window.

"It's not hard to do good with my lips when I've got a pretty cock like yours to suck on," Bucky said.

"Okay, enough!" Steve exclaimed, sounding horrified.

Sam and Bucky immediately stopped kissing, giving each other a triumphant grin before they separated.

Steve sat with his head turned, his eyes squeezed closed and his hands pressed to his ears, mumbling, "Lalalalalala."

"It's okay, Steve, we're decent," Sam promised him.

Steve put his hands down, opening his eyes. "You win, okay? I won't brag or say I was right or make any comments on your relationship from now on, and you don't touch each other in front of me ever again. Deal?"

"Deal," Sam agreed, feeling victorious.

Steve relaxed back in his seat, regarding them thoughtfully. "Still, I am glad this worked out for you two." Then, softer, he added, "I hope you'll find as much happiness as I did with Peggy."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Know what...?"

Bucky grabbed his hand, making him stop mid-sentence.

"Yeah," Bucky said to Steve, voice soft and warm. "I hope so too."

*

"When are we making the sex tape, then?" Sharon said, peering at Bucky over her sunglasses.

"I know you're joking, but you're really triggering my jealous-response here," Sam warned her, slinging his arm over the back of Bucky's chair. "You should stop before I do something stupid."

"No, keep going, I want to see what he does," Bucky told her.

"I take it you guys finally figured out you were in love, huh?"

"You knew?" Sam asked.

"Everyone knew. I literally just got at text from Rhodey asking if you guys had talked it out yet or if he should keep worrying about Bucky killing him in his sleep in a fit of jealousy."

"Tell him to keep worrying," Bucky muttered.

"So now what?" she questioned. "Still want to have a big public break-up?" She winked at Bucky. "Should I change into my favourite lace underwear?"

"Sharon," Sam warned, his arm sliding down to rest on Bucky's shoulders.

"We don't want any more PR stuff," Bucky explained to her. "No outings where paparazzi will take our pictures, no 'leaked' stories, no one stalking Sam's family on social media. We won't break up publicly, but we won't keep dating publicly either. You got what you wanted, now we want to be left alone to figure this thing out our own way."

"I got to tell you, Bucky," Sharon said, "this efficient, serious version of you is really turning me on."

Sam shifted his chair so he was thigh-to-thigh with Bucky, his arm so tight around his shoulders his hand was resting on Bucky's chest. "Sharon."

"Too bad I won't get a taste of the lips that brought down Captain America," she said wistfully.

"Maybe you still could." Bucky grinned cheekily.

"Bucky." Sam was basically in his lap at this point.

"Sorry, sorry," Bucky said, not sounding sorry at all at having Sam so close to him.

"You guys are adorable." Sharon shook her head fondly. "I'm so glad I got you two together through my elaborate scheme."

"Ha ha," Sam said joylessly. "You do not get to take credit for this any more than Steve does. There was no elaborate scheme."

She pushed the sunglasses back up her nose and leaned forward to whisper, "Wasn't there?"

*

Bucky was kissing Sam's neck, making it hard to focus.

"Come on, Bucky," Sam protested half-heartedly, trying to push him away so he could read off the card. "We're supposed to be learning how to communicate, not have sex."

"We can communicate about sex," Bucky suggested.

Sam squinted at the cards they'd spread over the living room floor, gifts from Bucky's therapist to help them learn how to communicate better. They'd gone through a few of them already, some more successfully than others, and he was getting tired too. It was late, they'd spent all day on a mission, and Bucky was so warm lying on the floor next to him.

"Come on, we've been on five dates," Bucky said.

"Don't think going back-to-school-shopping with my nephews counts."

"It definitely counts. Surely, we've gotten to the hooking up stage of dating?"

Bucky slid his hand up Sam's thigh and kissed him behind his ear, and really, that was the last of his resolve.

Sam threw the card to the side and kissed Bucky harshly on the lips, pressing him down on his back on the floor with Sam hands braced on either side of his head.

"Now, this is much more fun," Bucky said, smiling into the kiss.

"You're such an ass-" Sam stopped himself, pulling back. "Sorry."

"You can say it. I do think it's fun," Bucky assured him.

Sam still hesitated. He didn't want to end up inadvertently hurting Bucky with his words again.

"Sam, come on," he whined, lifting his head to kiss Sam's throat. "We haven't had sex in ages, I want it. Let me take care of you. Let me..."

"No," Sam said strictly. "None of that. What do you want?

"You know how I want it."

"Tell me how you want it exactly. Communicate with me."

Bucky rolled his eyes, but he complied. "I want you to fuck me so hard I won't be able to walk in the morning, if you're capable of that."

"Okay," Sam said calmly, not rising to the bait. "And?"

Bucky swallowed, looking less cocky. "I want you to say... stuff. Dirty things."

"And then?"

"Then I want you to finish."

"And then?"

He said, almost shyly, "Then I want you to hold me and tell me that you love me."

Sam smiled, giving him a kiss as a reward. "That sounds great."

"What about you, Sam? What do you want?"

"All of that, obviously. But also to fuck your throat so hard you'll cry."

Bucky's pupils widened and he nodded eagerly. "Yes. Do that."

"And..."

"And?" he pushed.

"I want to finish on you," Sam admitted. "I want to sort of mark you."

"Fuck, that's hot," Bucky groaned, kissing him again. "I should've thought of that."

"Bedroom?" Sam suggested, already panting.

Bucky cupped him through his pants. "Why not here?"

"I want to try something when I fuck your throat. If that's okay with you?"

"If that's okay with me?" he laughed, pushing Sam off so he could get up. "Trust me, everything's okay with me."

He got Bucky naked the moment they made it into the bedroom and then got him to sink to his knees, mostly because he looked so damn hot like that. He pushed Sam's pants down and quickly swallowed him down, making Sam curse, his fingers curled into his hair.

"Fuck, Bucky, your mouth," he groaned, letting Bucky set his own pace for now. "I'll never get tired of it."

Bucky whined from the back of his throat, taking him even deeper. When his nose touched Sam's pelvis, he stopped, swallowing around him.

"You do this on purpose, don't you? Showing off?" Sam grabbed his hair tighter and pulled him back, giving him room to breathe. Bucky wiped some saliva off his lips. "Trying to show me that you're better at this than anyone else."

"I can't help that your past partners have all been duds," he said casually, jerking Sam off while he spoke.

It would be so easy to just disappear into this, to let Bucky jerk him and suck him to completion then and there, but that wasn't what they'd agreed on. He'd promised Bucky a proper fucking and he was going to give it to him.

"Oh, I don't know," Sam said, feeding his cock back into his mouth. "There was one who was pretty good at taking me down his throat. And he was more humble about it too." He pulled back out, and then pushed back in, Bucky letting him without much of a resistance. They'd done this enough times by now that Sam knew Bucky's limits, knew when he could push and make him gag, and when it was time to pull off and let him breathe. "He wasn't a braggy asshole like you."

He let up, letting Bucky take a few breaths.

"That all you got?" Bucky grinned at him, his lips red and puffy and his pupils blown wide. He looked like he was on the edge, and yet his voice was still completely calm and collected. "And here I was, thinking you were going to make me cry. Maybe I should call this ex of yours and let him try it out."

Sam growled. "Get on the bed. On your back, your head hanging off the side."

Bucky quickly complied, lying down with his head dangling over the side of the bed upside-down. He was hard, but he didn't try to touch himself or do something to relieve himself, awaiting Sam's instructions. Sam came to stand right before him, his dick at a perfect height with his mouth.

"Okay?" Sam said, stroking his head.

"Fuck, yeah."

"You want me to stop, tap my thigh." Sam leaned down to kiss him on his swollen lips. "Got it?"

"Yes, I get it, Sam, just do it."

Sam nodded, straightening up again. He took hold of his own cock and fed it back into Bucky's mouth. He went carefully this time, since this was uncharted territory, keeping track of Bucky's reaction. Slowly, slowly, he pushed inside his throat.

"Bucky, your throat is so tight," he moaned loudly.

Bucky whined, his hand finally going down to touch his own hardness.

Sam made it all the way inside and then stopped, panting harshly.

"Fuck, Bucky, I can see it." He slid a finger over the prominent bulge in Bucky's throat. That was his cock, inside of Bucky, choking him. "You have no idea how good you look. If there was ever anything worth recording, this is it."

Bucky let out a small noise, closer to discomfort than pleasure, and Sam pulled back. Bucky dragged in a sharp breath, spit sliding down his face.

"Okay if I go again?" Sam asked, dying to get back into that tight heat.

"Yes," Bucky said, hoarse for once. "Just keep... Fuck, Sam, just keep talking."

"Oh, you want me to talk?" Sam teased, carefully pushing his cock into his mouth again. "You want me to tell you all about how fucking good you feel? Because damn it, Bucky, you feel amazing. It's like your throat was made for this. It fits so perfectly around my cock."

Bucky hummed around his dick, making Sam's hips stutter forward that last inch.

"Fuck! Now you're just trying to make me come early, huh? You dick." He pulled back and slid back in again, harsher and faster this time, staring the bulge in Bucky's throat as it disappeared and reappeared again. "No, I won't come. Not until I'm in your ass and I've got you begging me to fuck you harder. But until then," he leaned forward, bracing his hands on the bed on either side of Bucky's head, "I'm going to make you choke on it."

He fucked into Bucky's throat and watched the bulge in his throat. He couldn't help but touch it again, pressing down his fingers.

Bucky tapped him on the thigh and Sam immediately slid out, falling to his knees next to his head. Bucky coughed, gasping for breath.

Sam helped him roll over so he was on his stomach, watched him spit onto the ground.

"You okay?" Sam asked worriedly. "Too harsh?"

"I'm good," Bucky said, his breathing evening out. "Just got a bit much in the end."

"I shouldn't have..."

"No, I could take it," Bucky interrupted him, wiping his chin with the back of his hand. "Really, it was so fucking hot. But I just got worried it might go further and that I couldn't take."

"I wouldn't have pressed it further than that," Sam assured him. "But I should've made it clear before we started."

Bucky nodded, his eyes lowering. "Was it good?" he asked, almost shyly.

"Good? Bucky, it was great. You were great. This was something out of my wildest fantasies, I can't believe you let me do that." Sam grabbed his head and kissed him. "You are going to be the death of me. If I could, I'd live inside of your throat forever and never move."

Bucky laughed into the kiss. "Sadly, you did promise to fuck me until I couldn't walk."

"Yes," Sam said, kissing him again. "So very sad that I get to fuck your perfect, gorgeous ass. You are so cruel to me, Bucky."

"The worst," Bucky agreed.

Sam helped manoeuvre him so he was lying comfortably against the pillows with Sam between his legs, kissing his thighs. Bucky hardness was leaking all over his stomach but when Bucky tried to reach for it, Sam pushed his hand away.

"You're coming with me inside of you," he said. "Understand?"

"Yes," Bucky whined.

"Tell me, how much prep do you want?"

"None. Just do it. I need you."

Sam gave him an unimpressed look. "Bucky."

"I like it when it hurts a bit," Bucky said.

"I know. But there's a difference between it hurting a bit and fucking someone dry."

"Fine," Bucky groaned, dropping his head back on his pillow. "Two fingers."

Sam conceded. He slicked up two fingers and pushed one in to the knuckle without preamble. He curled his finger, looking for the spot that he was now familiar with, and could see straight away when he found it by the way Bucky's eyes rolled back into his head. It was beautiful, seeing Bucky like this, lying on his back, his skin flushed with pleasure, placing such immense trust in Sam's hands.

"Come on, Sam," Bucky pushed, spreading his legs wider. "Can't you go faster?"

Sam narrowed his eyes, but complied, pushing two fingers inside and spreading them wide. He wanted to fuck Bucky like this, with him on his back, so he could look him in the eyes while he was doing it. But Bucky wanted it hard, and he knew he'd get better purchase if he fucked Bucky from behind.

Sam pulled his fingers out, pouring lube on his aching cock. "On your hands and knees," he commanded.

Bucky quickly rolled over, getting up on his hands and knees. Then, carefully, as if afraid to get admonished for it, he lowered his front half so his face was smushed to the pillow and his ass was sticking out.

"You want it like this?" Sam said, stroking down Bucky's ass. It really was a glorious ass.

"Yes," Bucky breathed. "Come on, get inside of me."

"So impatient," Sam mused. He grabbed his own cock and positioned the tip at Bucky's entrance, but didn't push inside. Partly to fuck with Bucky, but mostly because he was leaking all over this hand and if he went too fast he was going to finish the moment he was inside of him, and that was no fun.

"Am I impatient, or are you just slow?" Bucky teased.

"Maybe I like to take a moment to take in what's happening. Really live in it, you know?"

"I'll show you..."

Sam pushed inside in one quick stroke, making Bucky break off mid-sentence. He bit into the pillows, groaning loudly, his legs shaking. Sam stopped with his hips to Bucky's ass, really taking a moment to take it all in. Bucky made a noise of protest, pushing his hips back to try and get him to move again.

"You're so fucking tight." Sam pulled back and then pushed back inside just as roughly, forcing Bucky's body forward over the sheets until he was almost hitting the headboard. "You're killing me."

"Funny," Bucky said breathlessly. "I can barely feel a thing."

Sam knew that wasn't true because Bucky's body was shaking underneath him, but it still got him going.

He'd show him. This time, he'd show him.

He braced his right foot on the bed and pushed in at a new angle. Bucky clawed at the sheets, basically sobbing into the pillow. Seemed Sam had hit the right spot.

He leaned forward, grabbing Bucky by the hair.

"Trust me," Sam said. "You're going to feel it now."

He fucked Bucky hard and fast, pushing him up against the headboard, filling the room with the sound of skin slapping against skin and Bucky's broken moans. It was fast and brutal, Sam's fingers digging bruises into Bucky's hips as he shoved in and out of him, and Bucky seemed to love every second of it.

"Yes, yes, like that," Bucky moaned. "Sam."

And fuck, the way Bucky said his name. Sam could hardly take it.The sight of this man, who he knew could break him in two, folded over and taking everything Sam was giving him. Begging him for more. The heat surrounding Sam's cock, the warm skin under his hands. Sam could only last for so long.

"Bucky, I'm going to finish."

"Yes, do it," Bucky said eagerly. "I want it, Sam."

He pulled out, flipping Bucky over so he was on his back, and then came all over his stomach and his chest.

He sat back and took a few moments to catch his breath, his whole body sizzling with pleasure.

"Can I...?" Bucky said, his hand coming down to touch his own cock, which was still hard. "Please, Sam, I'm so close, I need..."

Sam pushed Bucky's hand away and slid down his body, taking him into his mouth while he pushed three fingers inside of him. The fingers slid in easily into his stretched-out hole and he quickly found his prostate again, pressing up against him as he took his length as deep as he could take him.

"Fuck, Sam!" Bucky's hips stuttered forward and he came down Sam's throat.

Sam swallowed as best as he could, but he was already out of breath and panting, so most of it ended up sliding down his chin. He wiped it off with the back of his hand and then climbed back up Bucky's body, lying down next to him, boneless.

Bucky slid his fingers over the mess on his chest, and then sucked the same fingers into his mouth. Sam buried his face against Bucky's shoulder, groaning loudly.

"Jesus, Bucky, you're killing me here."

"You liked that?"

"Liked it? I loved it. It was incredible." He kissed Bucky's shoulder, over his chest, and wrapped his arm around his stomach, despite the mess there. "You were incredible." He kissed up Bucky's neck, to his cheek, then placed a peck on his lips. "I love you so much."

Bucky relaxed into his embrace, turning his head to kiss Sam on the shoulder. "Yeah?"

Sam smiled at him. He loved Bucky like this, comfortable and happy, looking at Sam with such trust and adoration.

"You have no idea how much I love you, Bucky."

Bucky stroked Sam's arm where it was wrapped around his stomach. "I've got some idea."

They laid there in comfortable silence for a while and Sam started to nod off, his forehead pressed against Bucky's shoulder. Then, suddenly, he felt Bucky shifting.

"I'm just going to get cleaned up," Bucky said to Sam's noise of distress.

"No," Sam protested, his arm tightening around Bucky. "Keep it there for a while longer."

Bucky chuckled like an asshole. "Is this why you like biting me so much? Because you like to mark me?"

"You like it when I bite you," Sam said defensively. "Besides, it's moot anyway because you heal so quickly."

"I suppose. But I really should get up."

Sam protested again, throwing his leg over him to keep him still. That was when he felt it. Bucky was hard. Again.

Sam tried not to feel self-conscious about that. He knew Bucky had a short refractory period and this had happened a few times before. Bucky never seemed to expect Sam to do anything about it, so Sam normally just let it go, but now he couldn't help it.

"I'm sorry," Sam said, lifting his leg off him.

"What for?" Bucky questioned.

"I didn't do it good enough. I didn't do it the way we agreed on," he said guiltily.

"I said I wanted you to fuck me hard until you finished."

"Yeah, but you didn't finish. I pulled out too son."

"I did finish in your mouth," Bucky reminded him. "Which I'm not complaining about."

Sam bit his lower lip hard. They'd just had such a good time, he hated to bring his own insecurities into it and ruin the moment. "Never mind."

"Come on, Sam," Bucky said, stroking his forehead. "Communicate with me."

He actually sounded serious when he said it, so Sam decided to let it out. "Am I enough? You keep asking me to fuck you harder, to go faster, and I just worry sometimes that it's not enough. That you need someone stronger or if someone else in addition to me. Like Sharon."

"Sharon?"

"You're telling me you don't think her strap game is on point?"

Bucky snorted. "Sam, come on. Of course I don't want anyone else. You're amazing."

"But you're still..."

"This has nothing to do with you." He gestured at his erection. "Or, well, it has everything to do with you, obviously I'm hard because of you. But it's not because you weren't good enough. Sam, you were perfect. You always give me what I need."

"But..."

"There's more to getting me off than how likely you are to break me in half when you fuck me. I like it rough and somewhat painful, yes, but I need more than that for it to be great." He shifted around, nosing up Sam's neck. "It's the way you smell, the way you feel, the way you look at me, the noises you make when you're inside of me. And your voice, Sam. You have no idea what your voice does to me."

"Show me," Sam said breathlessly.

Bucky lifted his head. "What?"

Sam took Bucky's hand and wrapped it around his erection. "Show me."

Bucky's head fell back down again, his mouth open in a quiet moan as he tightened his grip on his dick and began stroking himself. Sam got up on his forearms so he could look down on Bucky properly.

"You're so beautiful," Sam said reverently, watching the way his stomach muscles tightened and his hand slid over the velvety skin of his dick. He slid his finger over the mess on Bucky's stomach and chest, up his throat, and pressed his fingers to Bucky's lips.

Bucky sucked in his fingers eagerly.

"You know, one day Bucky, I'm going to fuck you like you fucked me," Sam promised him. "Just as slow and careful."

"I like..."

"I know, you like it rough. And I'll give it to you, don't worry. But every once in a while, I want to take care of you, baby."

Bucky's hips stuttered upwards at the nickname.

Sam grinned. "Every once in a while, I am going to want to lay you out on your stomach and eat you out until you're crying, sweetheart."

Bucky closed his eyes, his hand speeding up.

"Then I'm going to fuck you open with my fingers, slowly, slowly, until you forget what it feels like not to be full of me. Until you're writhing and begging me for it. Then, and only then, will I turn you over on your back and push inside of you." He kissed Bucky's cheek, the tip of his nose. "I'm going to look you right in the eyes as I enter you. I want to see it. The moment you feel me all the way inside of you, filling you up. I bet it'll be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life."

"Sam," Bucky groaned.

"Yes, babe?"

"I need more."

"I know," Sam said soothingly. "I know." He put all his weight on his right hand hand and lifted his left one, pressing his forearm to Bucky's throat.

"Yes," Bucky said desperately.

"Tap me when it's too much."

He bore down, letting the arm on Bucky's throat take more of his weight, pushing down more and more until Bucky's free hand tapped him on the shoulder. He stopped, staying right where he was, not pushing further or letting up.

"I want to take care of you sometimes, Bucky. I want to fuck you gently and kiss you all over and make you feel warm and safe." He kissed the corner of his mouth. "But sometimes, Bucky, I just want to destroy you."

Bucky came with a loud shout, his back arching off the bed. He came all over his own chest and stomach, adding to the mess Sam had made earlier.

Sam got his arm off Bucky's throat and he gasped for air, his chest expanding.

"Good?" Sam said once Bucky had caught his breath.

Bucky nodded, speechless.

Sam rested his head on Bucky's chest, hugging him tightly again. "I love you."

Bucky cleared his throat. "How could you ever think I'd want anyone else? When I've got someone as amazing as you?"

"I guess it doesn't hurt to hear it every once in a while," Sam said.

"Sam, I..." Bucky stopped. Sam felt him take a deep breath. "You're the most important person in my life. Even if the sex was terrible..."

"Hey!"

"...I would still choose being with you over being with anyone else. I want you, and not just because you're super hot."

"Although, I am super hot," Sam said, getting sleepy.

"You have no idea."

Sam hummed happily, closing his eyes. "You can tell me all about it in the morning."

"Whose ego needs stroking now, huh?"

"Shut up," he muttered, already half-asleep. "And if anything else needs stroking again, don't wake me up. I'll take care of that in the morning as well. Now don't you dare move."

*

Bucky remained Sam's pillow all night, but had to protest in the morning. Sam relented and let him go to take a shower while he prepared breakfast for them.

"I basically had to scrape it all off," Bucky said, coming out of the shower wearing Sam's sweatpants and nothing else. "You're a lot filthier than I thought you were, Sam."

Sam felt his face heat up. He was glad he was standing over the stove, his back to Bucky, so he couldn't see his embarrassment. "Fine, I won't do it again," he muttered.

"No, you better do it again," Bucky said, wrapping his arms around him from behind. "I just got off in the shower at the memory of it."

Sam's dick twitched at the image of that, and of course Bucky immediately had to notice. He slid his hands down to Sam's hips.

"You should've joined me," he said, kissing Sam's neck.

"Breakfast first," Sam insisted. "Then I might let you blow me."

"Oh, you might?"

"If you behave, I might even come on your face."

Bucky laughed. "You are a dirty, dirty man."

"Now, is that how you speak to the man you love?"

"Yes." Bucky smiled against his skin. "That's exactly how I speak to the man I love."