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Places left behind

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“We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again, waiting for us in the mist.”

Ari Berk, Death Watch




They’re all weary and covered in dust, Natasha and Clint piloting the jet while Bruce sleeps in one of the jump seats in the back, and Steve – Steve is pacing between the cockpit and the weapons locker unable to stand still. Adrenaline still rushing in his head like the best kind of narcotic. A fight has been his drug of choice for as long as Steve can remember. That reefer stuff couldn't even touch that kind of high.

This mission had been short, twelve hours all in. A rogue HYDRA cell with an underground base smack in the middle of downtown LA. It had taken out three city blocks when the self-destruct sequence went off, but luckily they had evacuated nearly everyone in the blast radius. There had been a baby in an overturned car after the fight. Screaming its head off. Clint had held it with a practiced sort of ease as he handed it back to its frantic parents at the police cordon.

“Did you ever want kids?”

The question is out of Steve’s mouth before he can stop it. He knows how rude it is even before Natasha makes a face like she’s just swallowed a lemon, and Clint lets out a noise Steve isn’t sure is a cough or a laugh.

“Not really our scene, Cap,” he eventually says, and Steve feels both chastened and surprised.

“But you’ve bonded?” he asks, unable to stop himself.

Clint just shakes his head. “Nah, it never seemed that important,” he says, stretching his arms above his head with a popping noise in his shoulder.

Steve tries not to let it show on his face, but he’s sort of dismayed. Bonding is…important, at least it used to be. Still is to him, and once again he feels old, old-fashioned. Out of time, like Natasha would say. She doesn’t know how true it really is, with Bucky disappeared like smoke on the wind after everything that happened in D.C.

“Sorry,” he mutters.

Clint just waves him away with a smile, “no harm done, buddy,” and that’s the end of the conversation. But it sticks with Steve all through the rest of the flight, when he strips the suit and kevlar in the ready-room, pulls on his sweats on top of the tight base layer.

It’s not that he thinks Clint and Natasha should have kids, or should bond, but it’d be nice. To have kids running around. The way it had been in the tenement. It hadn’t mattered whether the kids had been yours, you’d looked after them anyway. Several pairs of eyes keeping them out of trouble - not that it had worked on him and Bucky most of the time.

It had been a family tied together with more than just blood, and maybe he’d been looking for that, at the Tower, but it’s not the same. Will probably never be the same, Steve thinks wishfully as he enters his empty dark apartment.

It still feels ridiculous living there, the opulence and luxury. There’s a cleaning service two times a week and Steve still hasn’t gotten used to it. It feels so wasteful just for him. He could clean. When he has the time. Tony had just waved away his objections like he does every time, like a 3,000 square foot apartment is nothing, like it’s the bare minimum. And Steve is getting used to it, slowly, trying to convince himself that it’s home now, even if it feels anything but.

Things don’t feel any different this time as he walks through the dark living room and into the large family bathroom. Finally stripping out of the under layers of the suit, throwing the shirt and pants into the hamper. That gets emptied on the regular too. He doesn’t even know where the washing machines in the tower are. There’s none at the apartment, or he doesn’t think there is.

He stands under the hot spray of the shower for a stretch of long, quiet moments. Letting his brain empty of the blood and carnage of the fight, adrenaline slowly seeping out of him like it’s being washed down the drain with his shampoo.

He wraps a towel around his waist, not bothering to dry himself too carefully, and crosses the hall into his bedroom, without turning on any of the lights. He doesn’t need them, can see well enough in the dark. As Steve approaches the door of the walk-in closet, there’s a sudden growl. It’s low and defensive, and Steve freezes. He’s only wearing a towel, he suddenly realizes stupidly.

“Jarvis?” he calls out.

“Yes, sir?” comes the clipped voice of the A.I over the comms system.

“Is there someone in the closet?” Steve asks, and then feels immensely stupid. Of course, there’s someone in the closet. Growl and all.

“Yes sir, there is,” Jarvis answers and Steve hears the silently judgemental ‘of course there is’ which the A.I has kindly left out.

Steve takes a deep breath, fighting his temper. “And you didn’t think to mention it?”

“It didn’t seem of great importance.” Jarvis states it like an afterthought.

Okay, Steve thinks, tightening his hold on the towel like that’s going to help. Whoever it is has clearly been able to override Jarvis’ security protocols somehow. Steve makes a mental note to message Tony as soon as he’s dealt with the intruder.

He goes for his shield, and then approaches the closet door again, now armed. When he’s at the door he realizes he’s still only wearing a towel. Steve shrugs, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s fought naked, but no one at the Tower really needs to know about spring of 44’ in Paris.

As soon as he turns the handle on the door, there’s another high-pitched growl, and then he smells the scent of an unwashed Omega. He knows that scent. From foxholes, and army tents, and from the cold winter of 43’.

“Bucky?” he asks, disbelieving and hopeful.

He’s answered only by another growl, this one at an even higher pitch. Steve still can’t read the sounds, or pick up the nuances of the scent. He flicks on the light and moves deeper into the closet, past the row of slacks and button-up shirts that Natasha likes to call his ‘grandpa wear’.

In the corner, there’s a – well – a pile, and in the pile sits Bucky. Dirty, disheveled and still wearing parts of his combat gear from the helicarrier. He looks awful and smells even worse this close up. He’s pulled what seems like every comforter and blanket and pillow and sheet in the apartment into the corner of the walk-in wardrobe.

He’s building a nest, Steve suddenly realizes, almost like he’s falling back on a set of instinctual behaviors.

Both Dr. Cho and Sam had warned him that Bucky might be, with a lack of anything else, routing back into the very basic habits his designation has. Dr. Cho had also mentioned in her debriefing that this type of behaviour had been observed in victims of torture throughout medical literature. Steve knows that some of the few buildings that still have nesting rooms are hospitals.

Steve puts down his shield slowly, laying it against the shelf with all his shoes. All of his things barely fill a fifth of the enormous closet.

“Hey, Buck. Do you remember me?” Steve asks, trying desperately to temper the hope flaring in his chest.

Bucky looks at him and growls, the sound tapering off into a low whine. Then Bucky wraps himself up in one of the blankets and nestles against the wall. At least he doesn’t seem scared, Steve thinks. Even if he doesn’t know who Steve is, building a nest indicates some level of safety, or familiarity.

The choice of the closet in itself is not a surprise either. All the bedrooms have windows now. That was one of the things which had been hardest for Steve to accept, to learn to live with. Nesting wasn’t the norm any longer. Those small, back-of-the-apartment bedrooms with no windows weren’t in fashion anymore. Products of a bygone era. Even when he went to see a turn-of-the-century brownstone in Brooklyn, the developer had had windows punched in for all the back bedrooms. In the end, he’d just chosen to stay at Stark Tower. None of it had felt like home anyway.

Bucky lets out a low yowl, which suddenly spurs Steve into action. First things first. Food. Bucky must need food, he thinks, almost in a daze.

He grabs a pair of sweatpants on the way to the kitchen, hobbling as he pulls them on in the hallway. The fridge, as always, is packed to the brim, and Steve looks at the cornucopia, trying to think of the best foods for Bucky right now. Something high in calories but easy to eat.

He ends up grabbing a bag of single-serving cheeses and a bunch of his own protein bars. They should work for Bucky’s metabolism too until the doctors can formulate something specifically for him. He also takes several bottles of water, piling them under his arms as he makes his way back to the bedroom.

While he’s been gone, Bucky’s somehow managed to from a mound from all the pillows and is now lying in the middle of them in a curled-up mess of blankets. Steve crouches down, shuffling slowly forward on his knees, offering his bounty with both hands. Bucky makes that noise again, that low growl. It resonates in Steve’s chest like an echo, and without realizing it he lets out a low hum in return.

It seems to be the right thing, as Bucky darts out from under the sheets to grab for the food, tearing open the packaging and downing a full water bottle in less than 10 seconds. He must have been starving, Steve worries with a frown.

While Bucky demolishes most of the cheese and several of the protein bars, Steve dials Dr. Cho’s number. She picks up on the third ring.

“Good evening Captain Rogers, what can I do for you?”

“Helen, hi, I have a bit of an issue at the moment. Bucky, do you remember, we talked about him?”

“Of course, has a new lead come up?”

“Uh, not really. He’s – he’s in my closet.”

“Excuse me?”

“He’s in my closet. I think he’s nesting.”

“What?” There’s a long silence, and then, “How did he get past Tower security? How is this possible? No, wait, you said he’s nesting?!”

“I think so, yes, most of my soft furnishings are in the closet right now.”

Steve’s words are punctuated by a high-pitched growl from within the pile of pillows.

“Wait, can you get him to make that sound again?” Helen asks.

“Uh,” Steve hedges, but as if on command Bucky growls again. This time even longer and louder.

“That’s interesting,” she says on the phone, but it sounds like she’s not even talking to Steve anymore. The following silence is punctuated by the sound of a tapping keyboard.

“If he’s nesting it’s very likely that he’s going to go into heat soon,” she says, and Steve can hear her reaching from something, a shuffling of papers. “The sounds he’s making are like a call. Has he tried to attack you?” she finally asks.

Steve shakes his head even though he knows Helen can’t see him. “No, he’s just been growling, and he just ate some cheese and a protein bar.”

“You fed him?” she asks, sounding surprised.

“Uh, yes,” Steve says. “He seemed hungry.” But as soon as he says it, Steve realizes that Bucky had made no requests for food or water. There had been no indication, even if he had been hungry.

“Interesting,” Helen says on the phone again, but Steve barely hears her. It feels like she’s miles away, suddenly.

Bucky’s rumbling and growling low, a continuous sound, and rolling in the sheets like he doesn’t know which way to turn to get comfortable. Steve has a sudden urge to join him, worm his way in between the blankets and sheets and Bucky’s armor and get right flush with his skin.

No one did it these days. The old-fashioned concept of a nestingmoon around Omegas’ heats. You’d get time off work, the neighbours would bring casseroles around. There’d be a new baby in less than a year’s time if all went well. Steve kind of missed it, those quiet, unspoken traditions that have all but gone now.

No one takes that kind of time anymore. Everyone is on pills and shots, and it’s great, Steve knows that much. Gives Omegas control over their bodies, autonomy. He’s not stupid or a sexist. It’s just there’s something wistful in him, looking at Bucky now. Someone who should know those traditions too, someone else besides old men and women who are as out of their time as Steve feels.

He’s jolted out of his reverie by Helen’s voice on the line.

“Captain Rogers,” she says, and then after a pause, “Steve?”

“Yes?” he replies, but he still can’t take his eyes off Bucky. The way he’s moving and looking at Steve from under the curtain of lank, dirty hair.

“I assume that you’re planning to stay with him, yes?”

“Uh, yeah,” Steve answers, unsure of how to read the tone of Helen’s voice.

She sighs into the phone. “Alright, I’ll let the medical team know to be on stand-by just in case. There’s a heat room in the medical wing if we need it. Please call me if anything changes.”

“Of course,” Steve says, even if he isn’t entirely sure what she means by things changing. Nor is there a snowball’s chance in hell that Steve would let the medical team force Bucky out of his nest and into some sterile heat room.

The idea of people coming to the apartment, into the room, their scents and sounds mingling with Bucky’s, makes him wary. Without much thought, he checks the two Glock 19 pistols Natasha had insisted he keep at the apartment. Checks the rounds and back-up clips. He hasn’t really considered them before now, but it feels good to hold them in his hands, to know that he could easily hold off several combatants from the fairly defensible position of the closet door.

With the guns and his spare clips slid into one of the cubby holes right inside the closet door, Steve goes out in search of more nest-building materials.

He’s always remembered how Bucky’s ma had admired the feather ticks Colin Murphy had bought as a courting gift to Alice from down the street. She had spoken of nothing but that for weeks, giving Bucky meaningful looks from under her brows. All of which Bucky had done his best to ignore, but Steve had seen them, had taken them to heart. All the while looking at his own meager savings, which would have never bought even a fraction of a feather tick.

“Who needs a fucking feather tick to sleep on, Steve?” Bucky’d always said, throwing an arm around his shoulders as they walked to the automat. Like it didn’t matter than Steve didn’t have a penny to his name.

After a brief search through the apartment, it becomes evident that Bucky has already stripped the bed in the guest room, but he clearly hadn’t found the fully stocked linen closet, when Steve takes a look inside. He pulls out the sheet sets, the extra pillows, a comforter and two blankets. Piling them in his arms as he totters back into the bedroom and into the closet. It’s not like he can help that his scent gets into the linen as he carries them. They’re unwieldy and slippery, and so what if Steve rubs them against himself a little?

Bucky lets out a happy little growl when Steve shows up at the door with his load. He’s stretched out among the blankets, thighs straddling a pile of pillows. At the sight of Steve coming closer, he growls again and wiggles his ass higher into the air, which Steve chooses to ignore.

As he steps closer, Steve catches another whiff of Bucky’s unwashed body. It’s not that he minds the smell. There’s something familiar and comforting about it, a reminder of times gone by. The tight press of their bodies in a trench, in a foxhole and in a cold, cold tent at the western front. That muted, flat scent of army-issue suppressants that had always lingered in the back of Steve’s throat if he spent any significant time with Bucky. He hadn’t even realised how much he’d missed it, not until he woke up seventy years in the future.

It’s missing now, replaced by something sweet and subtle, and that’s familiar too in a way. That low lingering scent of Bucky’s heat he’d been able to catch every time he came back to school or returned to their little apartment after a season spent at his parents’ place. Steve had never asked, had never offered to go with him. Had known he’d got nothing to offer, nothing but early widowhood and a family left behind. He didn’t want that for anyone, least of all Bucky.

It’s not that he never thought about it. In secret. One of those fantasies that you never could shake. Bucky pregnant. Fat and happy and with a tiny waddle to his step. The way he’d look in the last few months of pregnancy.

Those memories ache less now, with the low-crouched form of Bucky so near. He must be so uncomfortable in all the kevlar and leather, Steve thinks. Craning his head to get a look from under all the sheets and blankets. Steve isn’t sure if he could even get Bucky out from there, if he wasn’t willing to come out on his own, so at first he tries asking.

“How about a nice shower, Buck?” Trying to put a gentle cadence to his voice.

Bucky just gives him a considering look from under his brows. He seems happy enough to keep eating the bits of cheeses, but doesn’t seem too interested in following Steve, even when he makes a show of leaving with the rest of the food.

Steve doesn’t have the heart to actually take the food away. He just sighs and gives the bag of cheese back to Bucky, and returns to the kitchen to look for a better lure. After a brief moment of consideration, he grabs a box of chocolate chip cookies from the cupboard and heads back to his bedroom.

They don’t work either.

Bucky does eye the box in Steve’s hand speculatively, but doesn’t move from the corner he’s wedged himself into. Steve leaves the opened box of cookies out for Bucky and returns to the kitchen.

Strawberries, sliced white bread, and the leftover Thai food all face the same fate.

After exhausting pretty much everything his fridge and cupboards have to offer, Steve picks up his phone. He’s never dialed the number for the office corps that had been programmed into his phone as soon as he moved into the Tower before, but now he doesn’t even hesitate.

“Good afternoon Captain Rogers, how can I help–,” The woman hasn’t even finished speaking when Steve is already barking out orders.

“Bring me Peanut Butter Cups, and Hershey’s kisses. Several bags!”

“Of course, Captain Rogers, when do you–”


He puts the phone down and returns his attention to Bucky.

It feels like only minutes have passed when the door chime goes off with an annoying tinkle. Steve tells himself for the nth time to get it changed.

“Jarvis, let them in,” Steve says, eyeing the ceiling. He’s not going to leave Bucky, not for a second.

The front door opens with a faint click, and after a few moments, he hears the male voice from somewhere in the living area. “Captain Rogers, sir?”

As soon as the door to the bedroom opens, the hairs on the back of Steve’s neck stand up on end and a deep growl rips its way out of his throat. Standing at the door is a slight young man in a rumpled sports jacket and a yellow tie. Probably one of the exchangeable Stark Industry interns that litter the lower office floors of the Tower.

“Captain Rogers?” he squeaks, looking bewildered.

None of that matters now. Steve growls again, low and dangerous.

“Ah–, sir?” the intern stutters again.

Steve can smell the rival Alpha in the room as he rises from his crouch to meet the challenge. Turning to cover the doorway to the walk-in closet with his body. The intern yelps then, and throws a huge bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups into the air as he rushes out the door. Silvery Hershey’s kisses rain all over the carpet from a bag that must have ripped as the intern threw it in his panic. Faintly, Steve hears the front door opening and closing with a bang, but none of that matters. All that matters is that his rival is gone.

He picks up a silvery kiss as he turns back to Bucky, offering the fallen candy to him, but Bucky’s already half-out of the mess of blanket and sheets, sniffing the air, his nostrils flaring.

Steve smiles; after all those many failed attempts of coaxing Bucky to emerge from his makeshift nest, he’s finally following Steve into the bathroom. The chocolate must have done the trick.

In the bathroom, however, Bucky refuses to get undressed. He whines and eyes the bathroom door suspiciously every time Steve suggests removing an item of clothing. He’s even still wearing his combat boots. It takes Steve a moment to understand Bucky’s concern, from the shift in his stance and the shy pitch of his whine, as he paces across the width of the bathroom.

Steve retrieves his shield from the closet, placing it in front of the door like a makeshift barricade. It’s really not going to stop someone from forcing the door open, but just the presence of the shield seems to calm Bucky down.

He still won’t undress himself, but he doesn’t seem to mind Steve unbuckling the straps and will helpfully turn and show Steve where all the fastenings are. Steve gives him a chocolate with each opened buckle and tries to ignore the way Bucky licks his fingers, like he’s chasing the flavor of the candy.

It takes almost ten minutes to strip Bucky of his full armor and all of his weapons. Steve stops counting the number of knives after he reaches fourteen and just piles all them on the counter. When Steve gets to his BDUs, Bucky growls happily and pushes his ass into Steve’s hands, his palms flat on the counter. Steve can hear some of knives scattering into the sink.

The fabric is stiff and dirty. Steve tries to say something, anything, but his mouth is refusing to form words. The only thing that comes out is a low hum that Bucky responds to with that low trembling growl. Fumbling, Steve tries to get the pants off Bucky as fast as possible, avoiding touching the warm skin of Bucky’s thighs.

When he’s finally naked and all the kevlar and his rumpled BDUs are in a heap on the floor, Steve can see how emaciated and bruised Bucky’s body is. Healing cuts line his flesh forearm and his feet and shins are covered in bruises. The skin around the vivid scarring where the metal arm connects to his shoulder and chest seems raw and flaky. Steve wants to fuss and touch and take care, but he restrains himself. Distracting his wandering hands and mind by getting the bath ready. The tub is huge, probably large enough for both of them.

It takes a bit more luring to get Bucky into the bath, but as soon as he seems to realize the water is hot he slides right in like an eel. A slippery and smelly eel, but he seems happy enough, lapping the water with his hands.

He still keeps growling, looking at Steve from the corner of his eye as Steve tries to get the shampoos and soaps and things lined up on the side of the tub for Bucky to use. He doesn’t seem very interested in the bottles, just shifting restlessly in the water, feet kicking out against the side of the bath.

For a moment, Steve worries for the metal arm, but if it survived the Potomac, a normal bath shouldn't pose a problem.

Not knowing what else to do, Steve flicks open a few of the bottles, letting Bucky sniff them. He seems more interested in running his nose over Steve’s fingers and the upside of his wrist. The nearly-there touch tickles, but Steve tries to remain still, letting Bucky do what he pleases. The scent of him mellowing out in the steam of the bathroom.

Eventually, Steve just picks up one of the shampoos. It’s his and already half-empty. No use wasting a new bottle, he thinks. Bucky probably won’t mind too much if they smell the same. He ignores the tightening in his gut at the thought of Bucky smelling like him.

Bucky eyes the shower attachment suspiciously when Steve turns it on, but happily lets Steve wet his hair as soon as Steve lets him feel the warm water.

Steve pours some of the shampoo into his hands and starts to lather Bucky’s hair. It’s oily and gritty, but turns smooth under his hands after a few washes and rinses. Bucky’s closed his eyes, resting his head on Steve’s hands, and the look on his face makes Steve smile. The relaxed slope of his jaw and slightly parted mouth, tongue peeking from between his teeth.

Steve picks up a soap and his washcloth, wetting both in the water and working the soap up to a lather. He hums under his breath, the familiar smells of him mixing with Bucky’s. He runs the cloth over Bucky’s shoulders and over the back of his neck, careful of the scarring, and suddenly Bucky’s purring. It’s cracked and stuttering, but unmistakably a purr, and Steve wants nothing more than to scent him and press his teeth marks onto Bucky’s skin, but he doesn’t do anything of the sort. Just carries on lathering Bucky’s back.

Then, as quick as a flash, Bucky’s suddenly on all fours, pressing his ass into Steve’s hand still holding the washcloth. Rubbing and purring like there’s no tomorrow.

“Bucky! Bucky – wait a sec, let’s just –,” Steve yelps, but Bucky lets out a noise unlike anything Steve’s heard before, a low vibrating whine, and anything and everything Steve was going to say just stops.

Bucky’s going into heat. Intellectually Steve knows this, he knows he should call the medical team, call Dr. Cho, should get Bucky isolated into a heat room, but his hands refuse to reach for his phone resting on the vanity. Instead, they slide over Bucky’s skin, washing between his legs and over his exposed hole, admiring the way Bucky’s presenting, pushing back into his touch.

Bucky purrs, moving restlessly and sloshing the bathwater all over the floor and all over Steve’s sweatpants. Steve doesn’t care, barely feels the wetness soaking his pants.

It takes him a moment to realize that he’s growling too. Low and rumbling and so different from Bucky. Steve isn’t sure if he’s ever made that kind of sound before, to anyone. Bucky seems to like it though. Rocking back and forth against Steve’s hand that’s still holding the washcloth.

Bucky’s pressing his ass just above the water line, exposing his pink, swollen hole to the air and Steve’s hungry gaze. Even with the water, Steve can see the viscous slick gathering in the furl.

Without thinking, Steve presses his thumb against that tight furl. Bucky moans, insistently pushing back into the touch, arching and wiggling until the tip of Steve’s thumb is sliding inside. Bucky’s insides are hot and wet, clenching tight around the tip of Steve’s finger. He’s letting out low noises, moans and growls, and Steve can see his toes digging into the bottom of the tub through the murky bathwater.

He pushes his thumb deeper, feeling the rhythmic contractions of Bucky’s channel trying to milk him like he would a knot. With a low groan, he’s pressing the rest of his fingers down and over Bucky’s plump taint until they’re flush with the root of his balls. Which are tight and drawn up, close to climax.

Steve works his thumb in and out, not completely sure what he’s going to do, but Bucky’s pressing back against him, water sloshing around him as he moves. The noises coming out of his mouth are near-on pornographic, but in the end, Bucky makes almost no noise when he comes. His hole just clenching tight around Steve’s finger, trying to lock him in like a knot, his hips jerking, back back back, spine arched like a cat.

He lets out a shuddering little whine when Steve pulls his thumb out, his hole even more swollen now, plump, ready for an Alpha’s cock.

Steve’s cock, his traitorous mind supplies helpfully.

He picks up the washcloth again, washing between Bucky’s legs, getting him clean and drinking in the little huffed whines Bucky lets out every time Steve runs the cloth over his hole. He ends up washing Bucky’s whole body again, from feet to fingertips. Shushing and humming at him when Bucky gets restless, rubbing his swollen hole with the pads of his fingers when Bucky moves to present again.

It’s somehow calming, the act of washing, the pure scent of Bucky suddenly wafting in the room among the steam from the hot bathwater.

When he does eventually get up off the floor, Steve notices the wet fabric of his sweatpants clinging to his thighs. He hadn't even registered the discomfort. Bucky growls as soon as he moves away, but Steve just shushes him and goes for a towel. It gives him a moment to think, to not be looking at Bucky like he belongs to Steve already.

Bucky had never asked, and Steve had never offered. That’s how it’d always been. It wasn’t like Alphas and Omegas couldn’t be friends. Maybe it hadn’t been so common, maybe they’d gotten some queer looks in the bars and dance halls, but Steve hadn’t minded. Bucky was his best friend, and that had been enough. It’s not that Steve hadn’t wanted more; oh, he had, with the fervor of those truly in love, but he’d had nothing to offer Bucky, and it would have been unfair to his only friend to ask something like that, to put those expectations on him.

Bucky is already rising from the bath when Steve turns, water and soap suds running down his body. Even with the scars and the bruises and the almost-healed cuts, he’s the most beautiful thing Steve has ever seen.

Half-panicked, Steve reaches into the hamper for some clothing. Even dirty clothes are better than no clothes on Bucky right now. The scent of his heat mixing up with Steve’s shampoo and soap. He only turns away for a second, but when he turns back Bucky is gone, and the door of the bathroom is left ajar.

Steve finds him in the hall carrying three of the five sofa cushions towards Steve’s bedroom. He’s still stark naked. Stark naked and smiling, and the expression is so heartbreaking that Steve can’t make himself say anything to disrupt it. Quietly, he just follows Bucky back into the bedroom and into the walk-in closet, watching as Bucky fusses and arranges the cushions to his liking.

Once he’s seemingly happy with the nest, Bucky rolls himself onto his belly, working his knees under himself, and then he’s presenting. It’s almost a bit clumsy. Bucky’s too big to make it look graceful, but the way he’s looking at Steve over his shoulder, the shy stuttering purr, nearly makes Steve cry. This is not familiar, it’s not the way Bucky used to be with him, and Steve realizes that he’s okay with it. He is okay with this new Bucky that’s filling his closet with his scent and his low, asking purr.

Steve knows what’s going to happen, can feel it in his gut, and he doesn’t have the heart to fight it, more importantly, doesn’t want to fight it. This is Bucky – Bucky who’s asking for him, and no matter what or how much he may remember, Steve is never going to say ‘no’ to him, not now, not ever.

He knows he’s got an unopened pack of condoms in the bathroom drawer somewhere. A not-so-jokey present from Natasha last Christmas. They’ve probably gotten buried under all the boxes of gauze and antiseptic wipes and butterfly tape, but eventually Steve manages to find the pack. It says ‘Trojan’ in blocky letters at the top, and Steve suddenly remembers the brand from the war. There’d been some funny-looking advertisements, he thinks.

He puts the condoms into one of the cubby holes, two down from the Glocks, as Bucky watches him with avid eyes. Steve pushes down the wet sweatpants and tosses them into the corner near the door.

He knows he’s blushing, suddenly feeling bereft in this body. The perfect body that Bucky hadn't known, hadn’t recognized. He wonders what Bucky sees in him now; is he just seeing a powerful Alpha, or did he seek out Steve’s apartment because there’s something in him that remembers? Steve prays, prays for the latter as he drops down to his knees and crawls over the sheets and pillows and blankets to Bucky, running his nose over his side and up his back until they’re pressed together and Steve’s nose is wedged into Bucky’s neck.

He smells heavenly. Gentle and spicy and so much like home Steve can’t help but lick the curve of his shoulder, the soft crease of his neck. Bucky arches under him, giving him more room. Steve kisses over the scars and the acrid metal where his arm begins. It’s all Bucky now, a part of him, and Steve loves it too just because of that.

Then Bucky moves, turning among the sheets and presenting his ass to Steve. Knees spreading wide on the plush cover that was on Steve’s bed. He purrs and rocks back into Steve’s hands, still cradling his hips.

It’s not like he would have been allowed to indulge in the more instinctual Omega behaviors while under HYDRA’s control, Steve thinks dazedly, running his hands up and over Bucky’s back and then down the swell of his ass, humming low and approving. He wants Bucky to know Steve likes what he sees. Loves it, really.

The sound seems to work, making Bucky almost preen, wiggling his ass enticingly. This time, Steve doesn’t ignore it.

He’s never done something like this before, not that he’s done anything really, but he’s seen plenty of it in porn. So he spreads Bucky’s cheeks with his hands and runs his tongue over the cleft. Bucky tastes musky and kind of sweet, but it’s nothing compared to the noise Bucky makes. A high little wail as he presses his ass almost desperately back into Steve’s face.

It’s easier than Steve thought it would be, natural and languid to run his tongue over the divot of Bucky’s anus. To seal his lips over it and press his tongue back and forth until Bucky relaxes enough to let him in. He can hear the low calibrations of the metal arm as Bucky fists his hands into the pillows, the way he hugs them under his chest and presses his face into the fabric to muffle the sounds. He doesn’t want Bucky to hide, and he coos and rumbles until Bucky lifts his face away, looking at Steve reproachfully.

Steve smiles, grins almost, and returns to his task of eating Bucky out. He wants Bucky to know this, to remember this pleasure even if he remembers nothing else.

Steve’s own arousal seems almost secondary now. The distant ache of his dick and the knot at the base. He’d be happy with just this, with his mouth on Bucky, with the taste of his heat and arousal sparking on Steve’s tongue. The way the rim of his hole clenches and trembles against Steve’s lips.

Eventually Bucky starts to twitch and move. His legs kicking restlessly, hips bucking in Steve’s hold. The noises he’s making suddenly edged with desperation. The scent of his heat suddenly spikes, and Steve growls without even meaning to. The noise makes Bucky flatten his chest against the cushions, pushing his ass back with increasing desperation.

With trembling hands, Steve reaches into the cubbyhole and fumbles a condom out of the pack. His fingers are slippery but he somehow gets the foil pack open. He’s about to roll the condom over the head of his dick when Bucky snaps it out of his hand and throws it to the opposite end of the room, looking at Steve unhappily.

“Bucky!” Steve admonishes. “Come on, let me just get it on.”

He grabs another one from the back and rips it open, rolling it down his shaft and over the bump where his knot is already threatening to pop. It’s a bit of a tight fit. Steve desperately hopes it doesn’t tear.

Bucky whines, high and unhappy, and turns away. Pulling several sheets and a pair of blankets around himself, pressing his body into the corner, whimpering dejectedly, while looking at Steve, sad and hunched over. He’s hidden his ass into the sheets, no longer presenting.

Steve knows how it’s probably coming across to Bucky’s mind. His Alpha not wanting to breed him, like he’s not good enough.

“Come on, Buck, you don’t want to get pregnant, do you?” As he says it, Steve realizes that he means it as a question, and Bucky whines, high and hopeful, in return.

This is how it used to be, Steve remembers. You bonded and from the first heat you had a baby, if all went well. That’s how things were back then. It’s not the way things are now; Natasha and Clint had made that clear enough for him.

Slowly, telegraphing his movements, he pulls the condom off and throws it to the opposite end of the room near where Bucky threw the first one. Bucky inches towards him with a shy little purr, the sheets sliding down around him, and Steve realizes he doesn’t mind at all. Even if there won’t be casseroles from the neighbours or hand-me-downs from the family down the street. It’s just him and Bucky, and there’ll be a baby in less than a year’s time if all goes well.

It feels strangely right, heady and like home when nothing has in years. Steve crawls back into the nest and rolls Bucky onto his side. Hands guiding Bucky’s top knee up and into his chest. The motion stretches his butt cheeks apart as Steve straddles his other thigh. His wet cockhead sliding into the cleft, catching on the rim of Bucky’s swollen hole.

He remembers seeing it somewhere, this position. It’s supposedly easy for inexperienced Alphas, which Steve most certainly is, he thinks wryly. It’s meant to be easy for knotting.

Bucky’s hair is still wet, fanning around his head on one of Steve’s throw pillows. His mouth is open, the pink tip of his tongue pressing into that plush lower lip. He’s making little “ah, ah” noises as if trying to get Steve to hurry. It makes Steve smile, makes him want to sweep Bucky into a hug and never let go.

Instead, he nudges the head of his cock lower, pressing inside Bucky oh-so-gently, and it’s easy, so easy. Bucky growls and moans as Steve bottoms out, gritting his teeth and trying not to blow his load in the first four seconds.

It takes him a while to find the rhythm. Bucky’s too impatient, flexing and trying to get him to move. The tight clench of his body making Steve light-headed, but they get there in the end. Steve can’t help but watch the slow drag of his own cock out of Bucky’s wet hole, the swollen rim greedily clutching at his flesh.

His hands grabble at Bucky’s lower back, at the edge of his hip.

“Buck, Bucky, I’m gonna –,” and he doesn’t get the words out, pressing into the hilt, and he feels his knot swelling, locking him in for the first time. He comes, mouth open and eyes squeezed shut, his whole pelvis thrumming with pleasure as he empties himself into Bucky’s hot, wet channel.

When it’s all over, he looks down at Bucky, feels the press of his foot against Steve’s shoulder. The restless way he’s moving, trying to grind on Steve’s cock, his own dick still hard and ass contracting around Steve’s knot.

Steve leans down, still drunk on his own orgasm and the heady scent of Bucky’s heat around them. Mouthing and biting Bucky’s shoulder as he takes Bucky’s cock in hand. It doesn’t take long; a few tight pulls and Bucky is coming too. Growling and whining and clenching around Steve’s knot for longer than Steve would think possible. Panting into the cushions. His eyes closed and mouth open.

Steve wants to reach over and kiss him, but doesn’t. Wants to bite and claim, but doesn’t. He doesn’t seek the back of Bucky’s neck with his teeth and bond them. It doesn’t feel right there and then. He wants to Bucky to want it too, to understand what’s happening outside of the frenzy of his heat. Instead, Steve presses his mouth to the sweaty crease of Bucky’s arm, smelling the sweet, satisfied scent of him. Pressing his lips into the hot skin.

He falls asleep like that. Face pressed into Bucky’s shoulder blade and Bucky’s knee against his sternum. Knot still locked deep in Bucky’s ass. The press of his hand on Bucky’s belly, imagining himself inside, locked up and safe. It’s not comfortable for either of them, Steve is pretty sure, but neither one of them seem to care.

He doesn’t know how long it’s been when he wakes up to a hand pushing at his cheek, fingers insistently poking the side of his ear.

“Steve,” a voice says with just a hint of a happy Omega purr. “Steve, go get me more food.” The Brooklyn accent is thick, heavy in a way that very few had, even back in the 30s.

Steve breathes in the scent of Bucky, the scent of home, and open his eyes.