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Chapter Seventeen

Backed up against the wall, Steve smiles deliberately and pulls his shirt off over his head, taking his sweet time, hyperaware of Bucky’s eyes on his body. They move unhurriedly down over his chest and stomach, taking in every curve of muscle. Steve crumples his shirt up into a ball and throws it, layup style, toward the hamper on the other side of the room. It hits the ground two feet short of its target, prompting a smothered laugh from Bucky. He peels his own shirt off, wads it up, and throws it. His lands directly on top of the hamper lid.

“Yessssssss!” He pumps one fist in the air.

Steve cocks his head to one side. He’s not taking that shit lying down. Kicking off his shoes, he pulls off his shorts and tries another shot, this time landing it on top of Bucky’s shirt.

“Ha!” he crows, looking back to Bucky with a smirk.

Bucky stares back jauntily. “What do you say we make this worth our while, baby? You wanna bet on the next shot?”

Steve arches one eyebrow. “What’d you have in mind, gorgeous?”

Bucky slaps both hands up on the wall on either side of Steve’s head and leans in close, inches away from touching his lips to the blonde’s. “If I make this shot, I get to tie you up again on the bed.”

Now both of Steve’s eyebrows rocket upwards. So Bucky liked that. Steve is intrigued by the possibilities here. He slides his index finger down the center of Bucky’s bare chest and tugs at the waistband of his shorts.

“And if you miss…” he pauses while he thinks. What does he want? Something that will drive Bucky mad. He’s stumped for a second, then it hits him. As much as Steve likes to use his hands, that’s how much Bucky likes to use his eyes. He likes to see everything. “If you miss, I get to blindfold you and have my way with you.”

Bucky’s eyes widen and his lips form a perfect, silent “O”. Fast as lightning, he’s got his shoes off and shorts in his hands. “You’re on,” he challenges, and turns to the hamper. This time he is slower, making a couple of practice motions. Then he lets the shorts fly. They soar through the air, hit the top of the hamper… then slide down over the side, taking Steve’s shorts with them and hitting the floor with a whump.

“FUCK!” yells Bucky.

Laughing triumphantly, Steve slides his hands around Bucky’s trim waist and reels him in. “Don’t worry… I’ll be gentle… until I’m not,” he teases.

“Who’s worried?” Bucky razzes back.

He tips his head in and kisses Steve softly, starting with a barely-there touching of lips and progressing to a deep, needy sliding of his tongue around Steve’s. They continue kissing and touching each other, exploring each other’s chests and backs with busy hands until Steve feels his own gigantic erection, in a bid for freedom, pushing out against his boxer briefs.

In exploratory mode, he reaches one hand down and finds Bucky’s erection, which is just as developed as his is, hard and thick against his fingers. Just to be a shit, he rubs up and down his length; that gets a low groan out of Bucky’s mouth. That sound alone makes Steve break off their kiss to put his lips directly on his ear and declare, “Shower,” in a bossy voice.

Then he pushes off the wall behind him, taking Bucky’s hand and leading him into the bathroom. While he turns on the water and leans in with a hand under the spray to check the temperature, Bucky shimmies out of his underwear and sidles up behind him, snagging him by the waistband and pushing his undies down off his hips. He nuzzles the back of Steve’s neck and slides his palms down over the cheeks of his bare butt.

“Remind me to thank Sam later,” he purrs.

Steve straightens up, wondering that in the world Bucky is talking about. “Thank Sam? For what?” he says over his shoulder.

“Well, you said you’d never work out if you didn’t go to Sam’s gym with him, right?” Bucky squeezes both cheeks in his hands.

“Yeah,” Steve admits.

“You have the sexiest ass on the planet,” Bucky whispers, and Steve smiles as he steps out of his clothes as well.

Once in the shower and wetted down, they take turns soaping each other up and rinsing off, accompanied by more kissing. As Bucky’s mouth glides over his collarbone and his fingers stroke over the length of his erection, Steve thinks he can’t possibly get any harder than he is at this moment. Bucky’s fingers tease and coax, sliding wetly over his hot skin, cupping around him and creating the exact, perfect amount of pressure. His cock is on fire, pulsing with need, sending heat to every other part of his body as well.

Bucky kisses his mouth again and growls, eyes locked onto Steve’s, “I want you.”

Something about those three little words drives Steve wild; once they make it to the bed it may be another story, but at this moment he has no intention of depriving Bucky of anything.

“You can have me,” he whispers wantonly, and feels his cock twitch with lust.

Dropping to his knees in front him, Bucky devours him in a single swallow, like a starving man devours a meal suddenly laid out in front of him. Soft, wet lips surround his cock and suck down his length, completely engulfing him. Steve gasps with the sudden sensory overload.

“Oh my God, Buck!” he wheezes, and grips Bucky’s head in his hands. His hair is slicked back, wetted down on his head. Steve digs his fingers in and doesn’t let go. Bucky grips his thighs and hollows his cheeks, sucking Steve so hard he wants to scream with the intense pleasure of it. Bucky is moaning around his cock and bobbing his head like giving Steve the best fucking blow job he’s ever had is his main mission in life.

Steve thinks he is succeeding. He’s going to totally lose it, sooner rather than later. Bucky’s mouth flies over his hardened shaft, his lips tight and wet, until Steve is panting with need. The water beats down on them, but he pays it no attention. The only thing that matters is Bucky’s tongue lapping over him, Bucky’s mouth sucking at his head, Bucky’s hand pumping up and down his shaft.

“Oh, fuck fuck fuck!” Steve babbles. “Don’t stop.”

As if sensing Steve is close to his finish, Bucky steps it up, licking and kissing his tip, then swallowing him down again as deeply as he can. Steve clutches at the hair on top of Bucky’s head and whimpers uncontrollably. Bucky keeps his mouth locked down tight and rhythmically pulls back and drives down in just tiny increments, keeping Steve mostly sheathed within the snug confines of his mouth.

“Oh God!” Steve cries out, and his hot release comes, his body tightening up in a giant spasm.

Bucky manages all of it, only releasing him when his body calms and his fingers unclench in his hair. Steve grabs his hands and draws him back up to standing, then takes his face in his hands and kisses him thoroughly, opening his mouth and searching with his tongue for the entrance to Bucky’s. He is granted access immediately; Bucky’s tongue twists around his sensuously and his hands wrap around Steve’s waist to hold him tightly.

Steve only allows this kiss to go on for a minute, though, because he’s still completely horny, and has other plans for the brunet. He fumbles behind Bucky’s back, reaching around him to turn off the water, and they come out of the shower to quickly dry off. Bucky takes in the sight of him while they towel dry.

“Jesus, baby, you’re still hard!” he says, with a hint of wonder and a larger amount of hunger.

“So are you,” Steve replies, tossing his towel to the ground and capturing Bucky’s hand. “Come on,” he encourages him, reaches up to open the medicine chest door and seize a roll of gauze, then pulls Bucky with him into the bedroom. Bucky stops short, though, tugging back on Steve’s hand to slow him down.

“You forgot the scissors!” he reminds him, and they retreat for a second so Bucky can pluck them out of the bathroom drawer as well.

Directing Bucky to sit on the edge of the bed, Steve winds the gauze around his head a few times, then cuts it off with the scissors and tucks the end under. Bucky pats the gauze now covering his eyes and grimaces slightly, prompting a laugh from Steve.

“Lie down, gorgeous,” he commands, and Bucky obeys.

Steve practically drools as he watches Bucky get into position. His erection is massive, his cock purpled and delectable looking. He opts to straddle him on the bed first, leaning forward onto his hands and knees to kiss Bucky’s chest and make him think he’s going to go right for his cock. He’s not. Bucky’s not getting off that easy. Oh, no.

Moving over one pectoral muscle, he plants kisses along its surface till he reaches a nipple. That he sucks into his mouth, delighting in both the whine of desire it elicits from his partner and the responsive tightening of the darkened skin. He kisses it, slides his tongue around in a circle over it, and kisses the hardened nub again. It feels good in his mouth, the skin clean but still tasting like Bucky.

His fingertips rub over the second nipple, while he continues suckling the first. When he is satisfied there, he kisses down the center of his chest and fans out over his abdominals, ghosting his mouth across Bucky’s cut stomach.

“Steve, mmmmmm Steve,” Bucky groans, sliding his hands up Steve’s arms to his shoulders. “I want to see you.”

“Uh-uh,” Steve grunts, still exploring Bucky’s stomach with his tongue and lips.

Bucky’s breathing picks up its pace, his chest rising and falling more quickly as his arousal reaches dangerous levels. Steve withdraws one hand so that he can fish into the bedside table drawer for the lube. He then sits up, uncapping the bottle with a clicking sound that Bucky recognizes. His head lifts from the pillow it rests on as Steve slicks up his fingers.

“Steve,” his gravelly voice catching, “I want this blindfold off. Now.”

Steve would giggle out loud if he wasn’t so desperately horny. “Bet’s a bet,” he denies him.

He’s still straddling him, so while Bucky pouts and moans, with his knee he nudges one of his legs. “Spread ‘em,” he tells his lover, and steps his legs over to one side so Bucky has space to comply. He does so without complaint, though Steve knows this part is going to be tough for him. He kneels inside Bucky's legs and pulls them up on top of his and around him.

With cool fingers, he searches until he finds Bucky’s entrance. He doesn’t breach him yet, just circles his fingers around his hole, massaging and stimulating him. Bucky’s breaths are raspy before Steve even penetrates him with a finger, and once Steve does, pushing in slowly, Bucky makes soft keening cries. He uses two fingers, scissoring and plunging in and out to prepare his lover for what he really wants to penetrate him with.

Even after the fantastic blow job he got in the shower, Steve is still rock hard, fully aroused and determined to get what he wants. And what he wants is to be inside Bucky, thrusting until they both lose control, until they both cry and moan and beg.

“Steve,” Bucky’s voice calls to him. “Steve, fuck me. Now,” he pleads, and Steve realizes he’s more than ready to receive what he’s going to give him.

He removes his fingers and quickly slicks up his shaft, then lines up. Fuck, the head of his cock against Bucky’s hole feels so indecently good, he can’t help a low grunt from escaping. He waits and wants Bucky to notice that he’s waiting, pressed up against him. That doesn’t take long.

“Baby, come on,” Bucky entreats him.

His head is up, turned in Steve’s direction even though he can’t see him. But Steve can see Bucky. With his head up, his six pack is pulled taut and stands out against his chest muscles. It’s awe-inspiring and so erotic, Steve licks his lips in appreciation of it. Bucky reaches down with his hands, searching for Steve’s hands but not finding any, because Steve still has one hand on his cock, directing it, and the other out of reach. He pushes against Bucky’s entrance again, not enough to penetrate that ring of muscle, and slides his other hand up Bucky’s thigh to grasp one of his hands. Bucky clings to him eagerly.

“You’re so beautiful,” Steve tells him. “I’m gonna fuck you so hard.”

Bucky just groans and drops his head back down. Steve pushes past the barrier, sliding his cock all the way in, driving in as deeply as he can in one smooth stroke.

Bucky moans in a decidedly slutty way. “Oh God, yes!”

Steve fucks into him, slow but deep, and his cock is so hard, it’s easy to thrust in completely, till his pelvis is flush against Bucky’s ass. He finds Bucky’s prostrate right away and rocks against it over and over. The sounds Bucky produces…oh shit, the sounds…every time he impales himself inside that tight, soft channel, Bucky makes a noise like he’s about to orgasm as hard as he can, like he’s never felt this good ever.

Taking it all in and delighting in it, Steve uses it to fuel his own arousal. He speeds up, knowing he is close, knowing it won’t take much more before he’s yelling Bucky’s name. And Bucky’s already there, shouting out something that could be Steve’s name over and over, or just random syllables his brain is generating. Either way, it’s sexy as hell, knowing Bucky has already lost his self-control.

In order to get a better grip on his legs, Steve lets go of Bucky’s hand. He hikes Bucky’s hips higher up on his legs and fucks into him with even more brute force. He’s sweating now and can feel the sheen on his chest and back. One bead trickles down the middle of his back, annoying and fabulous at the same time. Bucky looks red-faced and sweaty too, and his cock is leaking so much, Steve thinks he might possibly have come already.

That is, until Bucky really does come, hot and heavy, white ropes shooting up his stomach and chest without even being touched, by his own hand or Steve’s. He cries out loudly when it happens, head thrown back on the pillow. Steve takes in gulps of air and continues his barrage, but it only takes a few more strokes before he sees stars behind his eyes and empties himself into his partner, feeling like a whole year’s supply must have just been ejected in force.

Waves of pleasure crash over him as he comes and comes and comes, and he does scream out Bucky’s name once or twice (or thirty times, give or take a few). He’s weak-kneed when his orgasm finally winds down and his body relaxes. Bucky is panting below him, with that fucked out look that Steve loves, minus the unfocused, black eyes, which he can’t see. He lets his softening cock slip from Bucky’s body and leans in, reaching up to pull the blindfold from Bucky’s head and kiss him gently.

“Ahhhhhh,” Bucky breathes, and smiles at him. “That’s better. I hate that fucking blindfold.” He grins again and shakes his head while Steve chuckles.

“I know.” Steve admits and collapses down onto his elbows around his head, kissing him once more. Then he makes a serious face. “But we’re not out of gauze yet.”

--

In the days immediately following the bombshell of Pierce’s arrest, information trickles in slowly. There is no immediate change in Bucky’s status—he has to be patient and wait for the bureaucratic wheels to start turning. Tony shares the news that the BFI is re-opening the investigation into the fire that killed Brock. That gets things going more rapidly. Bruce calls Bucky a few days later to tell him they are all being re-interviewed by another Fire Marshall, and Bucky gets the same call.

He’s nervous for the interview, giving Steve a shaky hug before reporting for it. Afterwards though, he tells Steve he felt it went well and that he was completely honest about everything. They would have to trust in the system not to let them down again. They spend nerve-wracking days with no new information, but by the following week, Tony calls them both in for a meeting in his office, bright and early on a shift day.

“Do you think it’s good news?”

They are walking to the station, Steve in his blue uniform and Bucky in shorts and a Dr. Who t-shirt. It’s Steve’s favorite. Bucky thinks so because it’s got Daleks on it, but really it’s because the shirt is old and has been washed so many times it is slightly small on him, and pulls tight over his chest and back muscles, showcasing his amazing body. They both are nervous, but Steve takes Bucky’s hand to comfort him.

“Yes,” he insists. “I think it’s good news.” He rubs his thumb over the back of his hand lovingly, and Bucky gives him a thankful smile.

Tony’s face is unreadable as they file in and sit down in the cramped space. He leans back in his chair.

“So, how’s it going?” he asks carelessly.

Steve makes a clucking noise and Bucky groans and puts his head in his hands.

“Tony, if you don’t skip the small talk, Buck here is going to vomit all over your desk,” Steve jokes, and Tony chuckles.

“I’d prefer no vomiting, so I guess we can get right to it.” The corner of his mouth lifts. “Your suspension has been rescinded. You can return to work next scheduled shift.”

Bucky and Steve both smile and breathe out giant sighs of relief. Steve lands one hand on his shoulder, squeezing it. Tony stands up and leans over his desk to shake Bucky’s hand.

“Welcome back, Bucky. We’ve missed you.”

“What happened?” Bucky looks a bit dazed, shaking his hand distractedly.

Tony sits back down. “Brock’s death was ruled accidental by the second Fire Marshall, no fault of yours.” He rubs his goatee. “One Jasper Sitwell has been formally reprimanded for his management of the fire.”

Steve and Bucky exchange glances and Steve inquires, “And what about Bucky’s record?”

Tony lifts his hands and lets them fall back to his lap. “Expunged completely.”

Steve closes his eyes. Suddenly the world seems a much brighter place, and the knot of worry he didn’t realize he’d been carrying around with him is gone. It’s the best outcome they could have hoped for. The news spreads before they can blink, thanks to Darcy, and there’s a party-like atmosphere at the station for the entire day. Bucky doesn’t get to stay today, but receives congratulatory texts and calls from every person on their crew within ten minutes of their meeting.

As for Pierce, Maria wasn’t able to share right away, while the investigation was still ongoing, so they have to wait to get the juicy details. Pierce had initially denied everything, of course, but when faced with the evidence against him, pled guilty in order to get a reduced sentence.

After his plea bargain was completed, Maria could tell them everything. How Pietro had figured out that Brock’s brother and a few other men in their ring were performing the thefts, storing the goods in Pierce’s properties, then using his contacts to sell stuff off and share the profits. How the NYPD sent in undercover agents to get enough evidence on Brock’s brother breaking his parole to make him freak out when confronted. He couldn’t wait to turn on Pierce, who he claimed was the mastermind, and treated him like an inferior whenever Brock wasn’t around.

“Gosh, that’s so hard to believe,” joked Bucky.

Maria went on to say Pierce had started using another empty building he owned after the first one burned. This one required his key card for entry, plus there was a bank across the street with camera surveillance. Those cameras captured him entering and exiting the building on numerous occasions, so there was no way he could claim he didn’t know what was going on. According to Phil, that’s when the man’s bravado crumbled. Rather than face a lengthy trial and possible lengthier sentence, he pled down.

“I don’t care how much time he serves,” Bucky had proclaimed. “As long as he gets what’s coming to him and is out of the FDNY for good.”

Steve had squeezed his hand and agreed with him. The bastard had lost his position of power over them; that was what was important. So Bucky returned to work, and Steve felt like he wanted to sing and dance all damned day long. Finally, they were a whole crew again and Steve got his partner back. It was the first shift they actually worked together as something other than friends, and if Steve had any worries about it being weird or awkward, they very rapidly dissipated into the wind.

He and Bucky fall into a natural rhythm, and it feels to Steve like they have been partners for years, not months. His co-workers are awesome about it, as always. The “Welcome Bucky” banner makes its second appearance, strung up across the bay. Darcy falls on Bucky’s neck when he arrives in the morning, she’s so thrilled to see him.

“Bucky,” she squeaks. “We’re so happy you’re back!”

Bucky hugs her in return. “It’s good to be back, Darce.”

Later in the morning, Sam, Thor, Steve and Bucky are in the bay, inspecting equipment with the garage doors open to the sun, when some visitors approach. Steve and Bucky are the first to see them, as Thor and Sam are behind one of the pumper engines. Betsy and Nick are walking up the driveway; Nick has the leash of Sweetpea in his hand, while Betsy has weaned herself down to a cane.

“Betsy! Nick!” Steve calls out to them, grinning. He knows Betsy will ask again about him and Bucky, and can’t wait to tell her. Nick sticks out a hand, which Bucky grasps firmly.

“Nick, thank you,” he says sincerely.

“Anytime,” Nick insists genially. “Tony filled me in on all the latest. About time that asshat Pierce got caught.”

Steve is busy giving Betsy a hug, leaning down to her level.

“Steve, you look wonderful, honey,” Betsy tells him. “Anything… new?”

Grinning like a loon, Steve’s eyes flick to Bucky and back. “Yes.”

Bucky, watching these proceedings, smiles unsurely. “What?” he asks, and Betsy laughs with glee.

“It finally happened?”

Steve nods and a thrill races through him. It finally happened.

Bucky looks from Betsy to Steve. “What finally happened?”

Steve feels himself redden a little in the cheeks. Bucky never knew about the conversation in the back of the ambulance.

“You mean us?” He points to himself and Steve, and looks back to Betsy. “You knew?”

Betsy shrugs nonchalantly. “Women know things,” she states, making Steve laugh and Bucky scratch his head.

Just then, Thor and Sam approach from the interior of the bay, having heard voices carrying inside. They turn the corner around Engine One; Sam, seeing Sweetpea for the first time, stops in his tracks and stares. Sweetpea, seeing new people, makes a menacing growling sound. Steve and Bucky aren’t fooled this time, but Sam jumps in place.

“Holy shit!” he yells out, much to everyone else’s amusement. Even Thor is nonplussed, and reaches a hand down in front of her to submit for inspection.

“What a beautiful animal!” he compliments her. Sweetpea sniffs his hand wheezily, while Betsy beams.

Steve puts a hand on Sam’s arm. “You can relax, Sam. She’s friendly.”

“Sweetpea the friendly giant?” he replies dubiously, but does relax a little in his spot.

When greetings have all been exchanged, they go inside to visit with Tony and Darcy. Natasha and Clint miss out, off on a run in the MIDI. Betsy takes Steve’s arm and pats it before they go in.

“I’m glad for you two, honey,” she tells him.

If Steve was a cookie, he would be warm and gooey on the inside. “I’m glad too, Betsy.”

--

Epilogue

It is four months later, cool and colorful October, and autumn is upon them. The air has turned cold, but Steve and Bucky’s relationship hasn’t cooled in the slightest degree. They have just returned from a Rangers hockey game with Sam and Natasha. Steve unlocks the door to the house and they are both attacked by Strider, who jumps and dances around them excitedly.

Bucky is staying the night, as usual. What’s not usual is the subject Steve wants to talk about. He’s thought about it countless times, and now he’s going to do it. After Strider makes his trip outside and they have retired to the bedroom, Steve sits down next to Bucky on the bed as he is taking off his shoes.

“So, Buck,” he starts tentatively. “Have you thought about not renewing your apartment lease for another year?”

Bucky’s movement stills and he looks at Steve questioningly.

“You told me your lease was up in October, remember?” Steve reminds him.

A slow smile makes its way across Bucky’s face. “Yeah, I do.”

Steve is less nervous about this than he thought he’d be. In fact, he’s never been more sure that this is right. He just hopes Bucky agrees with him.

“I mean,” Steve adds, “We spend so much time here anyway, it seems a shame to pay rent at another place.”

Bucky’s smile gets wider, white teeth showing. “Steve,” he says, his voice a combination of surprise and pleasure. “Are you asking me to move in with you?”

Steve shakes his head. “No.” He pauses, searching Bucky’s face. “I’m asking you to marry me.”

While Bucky stares at him with a stunned expression, Steve drops to one knee in front of him and pulls out the ring he had made, a simple platinum band, from his pocket. “I love you,” he declares, and now the butterflies have taken flight. His stomach and chest flutter crazily. “Would you do me the honor of marrying me?”

He holds the ring up and finds Bucky’s eyes. They hold all of the love Steve feels in his own heart, and his shock gives way to another expression. He opens his mouth and utters the one word that changes both of their lives from that moment on.

“Yes.”