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Faded (but not gone)

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Bucky watched numbly as the needle slipped in Steve fingers, his hands covered in the deep red of Bucky’s blood. He’d given up telling Steve not to bother, that the deep gash on his side would heal well enough with the hurried dressing Bucky had applied himself before stumbling home. He wasn’t entirely sure if his abandonment of the argument was a sign of the accurate assessment of his injuries or just an indication that he had lost a lot of blood and the effort of arguing was too much.

Either way, Bucky was pretty sure by the tightness of Steve’s mouth that he was probably thinking of how many times Bucky had been alone bleeding somewhere, relying on his enhanced body to keep him alive, conditioned to ignore the pain. Whatever horrible images Steve was imagining were probably close enough to the truth that Bucky lay his head back on the pillow rather than watch the worry play across Steve’s face. He didn’t have the energy to point out that sometimes Steve was no better, not when he was pretty sure that was another argument he would never win.

Steve muttered apologies, biting the inside of his cheek in frustration as he slipped again. He could see the panic that had hit Steve when Bucky had crawled through the window dripping blood onto the rich timber floor of the bedroom still clinging to him. Things had been quiet for the last month, Bucky had only been out half-heartedly following a lead on a Hydra agent. He had been trailing the agent for three days to see if he would lead them to anyone else with no results. Tonight Bucky had decided to try a more direct approach when a lucky stab with a knife found its way through Bucky’s body armour before he put the agent down.

Bucky couldn’t help wondering if the last several months living at the Avenger Tower had made him soft. Though this was hardly the first lucky jab he had been on the receiving end of in the last 70 years. Bucky could feel Steve’s fingers gently calm as the flow of blood stopped, his stitches now sure and steady. The rhythm of Steve’s movements strangely soothing as Bucky felt himself slowly slip towards sleep. Exhaustion and blood loss catching up with him now that he was back on safe ground.

He was out well before Steve finished dressing the wound.

It was almost light when Bucky woke. He looked around confused for a while before he closed his eyes again. He was in Steve’s apartment at Avenger Tower. He was barefoot and wearing only a light pair of track pants with an obnoxious Stark Industries logo emblazoned on them. His fingers slipped beneath the pillow, feeling the cold steel of a blade he had no need of here, but took comfort from anyway. The coldness of it in stark contrast to the heat he could feel at his back.

Bucky opened his eyes again, and looked over his shoulder to see Steve asleep beside him. The idiot still had blood on his shirt, like he had fallen asleep watching over Bucky before he thought to get changed. The corner of Bucky’s mouth twitched. A long time ago in another life, he’d have a smart quip about Rogers playing nurse, but Bucky’s not that man anymore. Neither is Steve.

Bucky ran his fingers over the wound on his side, feeling Steve’s careful stiches. It was tender but well on the way to healing. Hell if he’d let Steve know it was twice as good as it would have been without the stiches though. So maybe some things never change.

The loose fitting pants rode low on his hips as Bucky rolled onto his back. Probably Steve’s then, which made sense. Technically this was Steve’s apartment, though the one Bucky kept across the river he almost never used and most of his things were here. Bucky always made a point of throwing out all the Stark and Iron Man clothing that kept appearing. It somehow always made its way back though, because Stark was an annoying, egotistical prick. Bucky had eventually let Stark upgrade his arm, though he had glared the whole time and threatened to kill Tony more than once, which somehow ended up with Tony deciding he liked Bucky. He still thought Stark was a prick, just a useful one he was willing to put up with.

Bucky watched as Steve opened his eyes. Didn’t say anything as Steve immediately looked down to the gash running along Bucky’s right ribs. He hesitantly lifted a hand to trace fingers over the wound, looking torn between being satisfied it was okay and pissed that it was there at all. It really wasn’t that serious, a few days it would be like it had never happened.

Bucky sometimes hated that. He sometimes felt like his body should carry the scars of all that had happened to him. Sometimes he was glad it didn’t. His missing arm reminder enough of everything that had been taken, of the damage that could never be undone. He sometimes thought he should hate his metal arm, but never did. What would be the point? He was the Winter Soldier, the past could never be undone, but at least now the future could be of his own choosing.

Bucky reached down and lightly pressed Steve’s hand against his side, the wound that would soon be gone beneath their fingers. They were both so much more than they had once been, shaped and remade by choices they had made, and the choices that had been made for them.

Bucky entwined his fingers with Steve’s and slowly guided Steve’s hand across the plane of his ribs. He felt Steve take a shaky breath as he pressed Steve’s fingertips to the point of his lower rib, where a bullet had once entered, clipping the bone before passing through, that one had taken a week to heal. Their hands followed the line where a blade had cut into Bucky’s abdomen, traced three broken ribs that had happened in Beirut. Gravel rash all up his left side from being dragged by a vehicle he attacked using nothing but his arm, another bullet wound, three more stabbings. He closed his eyes briefly as their fingers trailed down his sternum, remembering the red room experiments that had left him cut open.

The marks were all now long gone, but it sometimes felt like they were still there, underneath the skin. They both carried scars that couldn’t been seen.

Bucky lifted his other hand to Steve’s side tracing first one, then all three memories of the bullet holes he had put into Captain America on the Carrier. The guilt still palpable. Steve reached up and gently turned Bucky’s head with his hand till Bucky looked at him. Steve shook his head slightly, but said nothing. He didn’t have to. Bucky knew Steve didn’t blame him, quite the opposite. Steve always was an idiot though.

Sometimes Bucky wondered if he had put himself in more danger than necessary because he was too much of a coward to just end it all himself. Sometimes he wonders if that was what Steve had been doing before the Winter Soldier turned up in his apartment six months ago.

Bucky watched Steve as they both lay in silence. Steve’s fingers had begun wandering on their own, blue eyes serious, as if he could find all the past injuries on his own. As if he could feel out that phantom pain beneath Bucky’s skin and understand it.

Bucky sometimes wasn’t sure, but he thinks he was in love with Steve back before the war. Knows for sure that during their time with the Howling Commandos, when some of those invisible scars had already been made, that he felt more than he should.

Somehow, against all the odds, they were both still here. More than that, now Bucky was able to reach out and press his fingertips into Steve’s skin. Feel the flow of muscle beneath them, the gentle hitch in Steve’s breath when Bucky swiped a thumb across the jut of hip bone. He could wrap his fingers around that slender waist and pull Steve closer so that he could ghost his lips along Steve’s collar bone. Can feel all the pain and anguish drift to the side as he is lost in the enticing taste of Steve’s skin on his tongue. Can’t help but smirk as Steve moans and digs his fingers into Bucky’s hip. Their movements slow and lazy, like they have all the time in the world.

Every touch felt like it made Bucky a little more human, while at the same time felt like it would break him apart. After decades as a nothing more than a weapon for others to wield, sometimes even the barest touch set his synapses ablaze. The tantalising sensation as Steve ran his fingers from Bucky’s hip up his spine making Bucky arch into Steve. His mouth seeking out Steve’s and demanding more.

Mindful of the stiches, Steve held Bucky in place though, forcing a slow pace as he traced patterns on Bucky’s back, fingers drifting lower to knead at his ass, rolling his hips to press his hardening cock into Bucky’s, all at an agonisingly sensual tempo that left Bucky aching.

Bucky let Steve do as he wanted, content to soak up each stroke, each press of lips to skin, every sweep of tongue leaving trails of goose bumps in the coolness of the early morning. He couldn’t help smiling at the thought of taking more next time though, of drawing out every glorious noise he could from Steve and making him beg. But not right now when Steve would only protest.

Right now, Bucky let himself be rolled onto his back, his cock freed all too easily as Steve pushed down the loose pants. Bucky gripped the sheets in his metal hand as Steve leaned down and ran his tongue along the length of Bucky, pressing at the vein on the underside of his cock. He closed his eyes, let himself be lost in the feel of it, unhurried, like there was not a single other thing in the world except the warmth of Steve’s mouth and the press of his fingers into Bucky’s skin.

Dawn brightened the city skyline out the window but Bucky and Steve didn’t notice, lost in each other for the moment, in this future they never thought they’d see.