Steve stares at the little square packet in right hand, and the sheaf of papers with his name all over them in his left.
“SHIELD,” he mutters. “Welp, it’s a great name for a condom company, gotta give ‘em that.” Steve aims a bashful smile her way. This is his first big break. He’d always wanted to be an actor, and after a couple of commercials, (“I’m lovin’ it,” he’d said, a mega-watt smile aimed at the camera), he was finally getting a speaking part.
That it’s more about his face and his body and less about his actual acting skills is a bummer, but not the end of the world. Steve still plans to give it his best shot. After all, you never know where you’ll land an amazing gig.
Across the desk, Maria Hill, Director of Casting for SHIELD’s new commercial campaign grins. “Oh, the boys are going to eat. You. Up.”
Squirming in his seat, Steve colors. “They haven’t so far.” He looks up when she stills.
“You’re gay?” she says, her face incredulous.
“Yeah,” Steve says, sitting up taller. “That a problem?”
Maria bursts out laughing. “Maybe for you, but honey, you’re gonna sell a million condoms, easy.”
Still chuckling, she taps something into her phone before turning her attention back to Steve.
“It’s a standard contract,” she says, gesturing to the papers. We have you for six spots shot over the next three days, with an option for six more if they hit. If they do hit, you’ll be on an accelerated pay schedule, as illustrated in exhibit C. Costuming and script remain at our discretion at all times. Any of that a problem for you?”
Shaking his head, Steve says “No, ma’am,” and Hill laughs again.
“Have your lawyer looks those over and get them back to us by five. We have the studio space starting at seven tomorrow. We’ll expect you to be showered, but no product – no hair gel, face cream, no deodorant. Hair and make up will take care of you. Your costar is sensitive to smells, and everything has to be cleared through him before it goes on you, understood?”
Steve nods. “Who’s my coworker?”
Shrugging, Hill smiles. “Sorry, sport, not ‘til you sign the contract.”
With a sigh, Steve gets ups and offers his hand. “I guess I’ll see you in the morning then?”
“Only if I get those contracts back by five. Don’t dick me around on this, Rogers. I’ve got two other guys who’ve already signed, just waiting for my call. You’re our first pick, but I won’t lose any sleep if you don’t do this.”
Nodding, Steve smiles and shakes her hand. “I appreciate this opportunity,” he says. “I won’t let you down.”
The next morning, Steve showers. He’d scoured the soap aisle the night before, looking for something fragrance free in deference to his coworker. He finally found it in a plain white bar of soap that made his skin feel like it was tight all over.
Better safe than sorry, he thought to himself, as he dressed and made his way to the studio.
Once there, he found himself in hair, then make up. Wardrobe for the first shoot was a pair of army-green boxer briefs, a white tank that was two sizes two small and a pair of dog tags.
“Geez,” he said to the wardrobe girl. “I think you got the size wrong?”
Standing back, she eyes him up and down, her gaze unflinching. “No,” she says, her tone light. I think I got it exactly right.” She smiles and as he leaves the dressing room, he hears her yell “Go get ‘em, tiger!”
The thing is…the thing is, he’s feeling very un-tigerlike. He’s feeling downright naked, his feet cold on the bare cement floor, and he’s nervous. He hasn’t even met his costar yet.
When he gets to the set, he’s relieved to see there’s at least a couple of space heaters, warming the place up. There’s a man in navy blue boxer briefs with his back to Steve, talking to the camera guy. A third man joins the two of them, gesticulating before turning to point at the set.
“Here goes nothin’,” he says to himself, and walks toward the trio.
The director notices Steve first, and yells out to him.
“Rogers! Get’cher ass over here,” he says, waving at Steve.
The brunet turns and oh, oh, God, Steve is so fucking fucked.
His costar looks to be none other than Jamie Barnes, action hero supreme, openly gay, and the star of more masturbatory fantasies than is right or proper, even for a sixteen year-old boy. The thighs on this man. The thighs.
Steve can feel the blush that starts at tops of his cheeks and is steadily crawling down his throat. “Fuck,” he breathes, then forces his feet to carry him to where the three men are standing.
“Barnes,” the director says. “This is Steve Rogers. New talent, but we expect big things.”
Big things, Steve thinks. Oh god, no, don’t think about his dick. Don’t think about your dick. Just…stop thinking about dicks!
“Rogers,” Barnes says, raking his eyes over Steve in a way that makes him feel positively naked.
“Mr. Barnes,” Steve says, offering his hand.
Barnes laughs, a big, booming thing with his head thrown back. It makes Steve duck his head and blush a little more.
“Call me Bucky,” he says, throwing out his hand. “Don’t worry – this is gonna be pie and cake,” he says, his voice dropping low, like they’re buddies already.
Steve takes his hand, and his grip is warm and firm. It makes Steve’s heart stutter a little.
“Hey,” Barnes says. “Why don’t you guys give us a few minutes to get acquainted. If we’re gonna be all over each other for the cameras, maybe we should have a cup ‘a coffee first, huh?”
The director and cameraman both nod and leave the two of them alone. Steve feeling one hundred percent like the newbie he actually is.
“Coffee?” Bucky asks, and Steve demurs.
“I don’t think you want me breathing coffee breath all over you,” he says and Bucky grins. “Don’t sweat it – they got toothbrushes, mouthwash, all of that over in the staging area. Cream and sugar?” he asks, and pours Steve a cup.
“Black is fine, thanks.”
Barnes – Bucky! – hands Steve the cup and before he knows it, the two of them are chatting away like old pals. It goes miles toward putting Steve at ease. He’s almost forgotten that he and Bucky are standing there, half naked, about to shoot what’s meant to be the world’s sexiest condom advertisement.
A PA comes out and yells “Fifteen minutes, everyone,” and it all comes rushing back to him – the fact that he’s about to get up close and personal with Jamie Barnes, action star and gorgeous and God, why does he have to be nice, too?
“Hey,” Bucky says, reaching out, but not touching. “Nothin’ to be nervous about. We’re both pros here. It’s gonna be a closed set, so only the folks who need to be here are gonna be watching, and even then, they’re just here to guide the scene. Everything that happens, that’s up to us. We’re gonna do great,” he says, his voice soft and low and soothing. “You’re gonna be great, Stevie. I promise. We’re gonna make you a big star.”
Steve coughs up a nervous laugh, thrilling a little at the nickname. He feels calmer despite himself. “Yeah, okay,” he says, and looks for a trash can for his coffee cup. “Just gonna,” he says, shrugging toward the trash.
“We got this,” Bucky says, winking at Steve. A moment later, the pair of them are hip to hip at the sink, fresh toothbrushes in their mouths.
It’s funny, Steve thinks. It’s damn near impossible to feel intimidated by someone when you’re spitting next to them.
After they close the set, Steve and Bucky do a walkthrough a couple of times. The script calls for them to get right up in each other’s space, mouth’s a fraction of an inch from touching, bodies pressed together, with a vintage “I want you!” Uncle Sam poster in the background.
“Listen,” Bucky says, moving close into Steve’s personal space. “Don’t be nervous – just go with what you’re feeling. I’m gonna be putting my hands all over you and you should do the same. We ain’t shootin porn here, but it ain’t that far off. You get carried away, that’s gonna be okay with me, alright?”
Steve nods and smiles.
“Alright,” Bucky says. “Anything that’s off the table for you? Anywhere you don’t want me touching?”
“I – no,” Steve says, blinking.
“Anything doesn’t sit right with you, you let us know. Don’t be afraid to cut scene, alright?”
“Yeah,” Steve says. “Yeah.”
As the lights dim, the director calls for action. Steve finds himself pushed up against a tile wall, fog machine pumping in steam and Bucky leaning into him, one hand on his hip, the other at his jaw, holding him steady. Steve can taste his breath, and the intimate position spikes a thrill ow want through him.
They hold the pose for a few beats, letting the still photographer get their shots in, before Bucky makes a show of pressing all the way against Steve. His thigh slots between Steve’s legs and Steve can’t help his shaky exhale.
“Jesus,” Bucky says, running his nose along Steve’s jaw. “You smell fucking amazing.”
Steve slides his hands down Bucky’s ribs, resting them on his hips. It should look like he’s pulling Bucky in closer, but in reality, his hands are hardly touching Bucky.
“Gonna put my mouth on you,” Bucky says, and Steve braces for it. A moment later, he feels the soft press of Bucky’s mouth against his throat. It’s thrilling which he expected, but also dry, which he didn’t.
“Steve,” Bucky breathes. “Come on, you gotta get in this with me.”
Jerking, Steve tightens his fingers on Bucky’s hips, then presses his cheek against Bucky’s, before nuzzling at his jawline. He runs his hand up Bucky’s back, pulling him in closer, before lacing his fingers into Bucky’s hair and tightening them, pulling his head back and pressing dry lips to his Adam’s apple.
Bucky shivers in his arms and it goes straight to Steve’s cock. He scrapes his fingernails down Bucky’s back and Bucky lets out a gasp before rolling his hips into Steve’s.
Steve lets out a soft moan, tilting his head back because god, he’s hard and Bucky is too and it’s too much, it’s oh – God – Bucky’s got his mouth on Steve’s throat, hot and wet, a low growl rumbling through his chest and Steve thinks he just – did he just whimper?
“Cut! Cut!” Bucky yells, pushing hard away from Steve. “God fucking dammit.”
He doesn’t say anything else, just strides out of the room, leaving Steve and his quickly softening cock bewildered.
“Everyone take twenty,” the director yells, and the PA comes running over to Steve with a robe. Thank god for small miracles.
“C’mon,” the PA says, tugging on Steve’s sleeve. “Go back to your dressing room. I”ll bring you a cup of coffee.”
“Yeah,” Steve says, his heart sinking. “Yeah, thanks.”
When he gets back to his dressing room, he texts his agent.
SGR: Pretty sure I just got canned. I’m so sorry, Nat.
Another few minutes go by, and there’s a soft knock at his door.
“Come in,” he says. His back is to the door and he’s halfway back into his jeans, a white button down hanging off of his shoulders.
“Rogers, look, I”m sorry, man.”
Steve looks up, startled to see Bucky there. He’s in jeans, bare feet and a soft blue button down shirt that’s a close enough match for his eyes that they’re all but glowing.
It’s not fair, Steve thinks to himself, because great. Not bad enough he lost all sense of professionalism and molested the guy, now he’s come to fire Steve himself. In person. Jesus.
“Look, Bucky -”
“Please, let me -”
Steve pauses. “Go ahead,” he says.
“I talked to Hill and she’s talking to your agent. They’re gonna pay out your full contract, the extension included.”
Steve goggles at that - he’s not sure what the standard practice is, but this seems overly generous by any measure. Maybe Nat had that written into his contract? Either way, Steve could give a damn about the money. The opportunity loss is what’s killing him. (Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely true. The money is definitely going to hold him over for a few months, and but not getting to work with Bucky? That’s going to hurt.)
“They don’t need to do that,” Steve says. “I don’t need to get paid for not working. I can get by on my own.”
Bucky looks up at him finally, eyes soft and contrite. “Yeah, but you don’t have to. Take the damn money, punk. It’s the least they can do.”
Feeling his stubborn pride kick in, Steve shakes his head. He blew it. He fucking blew it. Who knows when he’s going to get a chance like this again. And yeah, some people might snub their noses at it, calling it soft core porn for the masses, but the campaign would have opened so many doors for him. So many. Damn.
Shaking his head, Steve turns to finish dressing.
“Look,” Bucky says, and Steve holds himself still. He deserves a dressing down, he knows that. Doesn’t mean it’s going to go down easy, though.
“Look,” Bucky says again. “I asked my agent to file an ethics complaint with the Union. I don’t know what will happen with it, but, I just thought you should know.”
Breathing deep, Steve lets out a shaking breath. So that’s it then. That’s the end of his career, as it were. It’s - it’s fucking terrible and it’s all Steve can do to stop himself from crying. He’s wanted this his whole life. Steeling himself, Steve turns to face Bucky.
“I’m so sorry,” he says. “I never meant for this to happen. I never wanted you to feel uncomfortable. I just - I got carried away. I’m really sorry.”
Bucky draws back and looks at him, a puzzled look on his face. “You got nothin’ to be sorry, about, pal. I’m the one who got carried away.”
Now it’s Steve’s turn to look puzzled. “What are you talking about? God, I got -” Steve closes his eyes. “I’m the one who got hard,” he bites out.
“Who are you filing the ethics complaint about?” Steve asks.
“Me, what d’ya think? I’m gonna do one on you?”
Steve looks incredulous. “Why would you turn yourself in?”
“Well I can’t fire myself from SHIELD, and I gotta do something. I can’t just go around molesting actors. I ain’t like that. Not ever gonna be like that. Christ, my Ma would be so embarrassed of me right now.”
Cocking an eyebrow, Steve looks at Bucky. “But she’s A-OK with you doing a bunch of racy condom ads?”
“Hey, it’s clean work. Or it was,” Bucky says, eyeing the ground.
Daring a couple of steps closer, Steve gets within reaching distance of Bucky. “I didn’t feel molested, Barnes. Did you feel molested?”
Wary, Bucky eyes him. “You didn’t?”
Chancing a smile, Steve says “No.”
A soft, hopeful smile falls across Bucky’s face. “I didn’t feel molested,” he says, coming closer to Steve. “I felt…good.”
“Yeah?” Steve asks, and he reaches out for Bucky’s hand.
“Yeah,” Bucky says. He laces his fingers with Steve’s and pulls. “It felt really good,” he says, before tipping his head the half-inch he needs to reach Steve’s mouth. He doesn’t go all the way though, he halts just before his lips reach Steve’s waiting for the go ahead. Steve tips his head forward and for one perfect, heart-stopping moment, he’s kissing Bucky Barnes.
It’s a soft kiss, a tender kiss. It was everything Steve could have wanted in a first kiss. Bucky tastes of mint and Steve’s surprised, when he draws back, to find that he’s been holding his breath.
Bucky chases his mouth, then leans his forehead against Steve’s.
“That was,” Bucky says.
“Perfect,” Steve finishes.
The pair grin into one another’s eyes before diving back in for another kiss.
A few minutes later find them on the small couch in Steve’s dressing room. Steve’s sitting and Bucky’s in his lap, rolling his hips and kissing. The Navy boxer briefs have a single dark, damp spot and each time Steve’s hand passes over it, his mouth aches to taste it.
He’s pulling Bucky up, trying to get him on his knees so that Steve can finally get his mouth on him, when there’s a sharp knock at the door.
“Rogers,” the PA calls, opening the door as she speaks. “They’re shutting down for the day. You need to call your - oh!
Steve looks over Bucky’s shoulder as Bucky tries to bury his face in Steve’s neck.
The PA laughs, a pretty, surprised sound. “Call your agent,” she says. “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow after all.”
She closes the door behind her, and Steve and Bucky burst into laughter.
“Wanna get out of here?” Bucky asks.
“Yeah,” Steve answers. “But I really should call my agent.”
“I got this,” Bucky says. He pulls out his cell phone and dials from his position in Steve’s lap.
“Nat? Hey, it’s Bucky. About Rogers,” he says, and smiles into Steve’s eyes. “He’s even better than you said. I got a little handsy, though, you should talk to SHIELD and make sure he gets his bonus. Harassment by the talent and all.”
“Don’t listen to him, Nat,” Steve yells. “He’s a big fat liar!” Steve throws his arms around Bucky and hugs him close, before tickling his ribs and watching him squirm away.
“Idiots,” Nat says, her voice barely audible on the phone. “My clients are all idiots.”
One year later:
“Morning, handsome,” Bucky says, yawning and scratching his belly.
“Ugh, you again?” Steve says, his face showing disgust before he breaks into a grin. “Sleep good, baby?” he asks, pulling Bucky into a hug before passing him a cup of coffee.
“Great,” he says, smiling and kissing Steve’s cheek.
“Proofs came,” Steve replies, passing a folder over to Bucky.
He opens the folder and the proofs for the latest SHIELD ad spill out. It’s a fun campaign, showing Steve and Bucky in the sun and surf, the two of them grinning, laughing, and playing in the water. There are a couple of steamier shots, the two of them rolling in the sand, but the overall tone of this shoot was fun in the sun, and the pair of them are the epitome of happiness.
“This is the one,” Bucky says, tapping his finger against the proof. It shows Steve laughing, his mouth stretched into a wide smile, looking straight at the camera as Bucky looks up at him with nothing but love on his face. There’s a spray of water, perfect droplets illuminated by the sun, caught mid-air by the camera, and the pair of them are incandescent in their happiness.
Steve looks over Bucky’s shoulder, rests his chin there. “That’s the one you pick? You sap.”
Bucky shrugs. I”m the sap?” he asks, gesturing at the wall at their entryway. On it are framed photos from each of their shoots: They pose as cowboys, as superheroes, as lumberjacks and rock stars. In every one of them, the two of them shine, Steve looking at Bucky with naked adoration, Bucky looking at Steve with open love. Whether the photo was meant to convey happiness, sex, mystery - it doesn’t matter. What matters is their joy in each other, the way it shines bright, for everyone to see.