When Steve was seventeen, normal food stopped working for him. He’d always been skinny, but after that he began to look positively starved. It didn’t matter how much he ate, or what, how healthy or greasy; he was always, always hungry.
His mother quickly caught up with what was happening and sat him down one evening to tell him about the night she had met the father Steve had never ever seen. At first Steve wanted none of it, because his parents doing the do? That was a big no-no. But she seemed really set on it, and kind of nervous, and Steve had never seen his mother nervous. So he sat quietly, and listened.
“You remember the stories I used to tell you at bedtime when you were little? Those stories about fairies, people of the night and the ones who hunt them? You used to love them so much.” Sarah sighed, wringing her hands in her lap. “You see, Steve, your father... he was something else, just like the people in those stories. He was handsome, charming. You’re a lot like him.”
Steve frowned, wondering if the endless hours working in the hospital had finally gotten to her. But she didn’t seem delirious and he refused to believe that his mother had gone crazy. “Mom, what are you saying?”
“Oh baby.” Sarah shook her head, eyes glittering. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would pass on to you.”
So. As it turned out, Steve was an incubus. Or at least part-incubus. A sex demon (even if he never ever used the word “demon” when his mother was around, he didn’t want her looking sad). Not that he could talk to anyone about his... condition. People at school already thought he was weird, with an attitude too big for his skinny body and his tendency to run head-first towards any fight he came across he thought was worth fighting. If he started telling people he was an incubus... no one would believe him, at best.
His main problem now was figuring out a way to feed. Because yeah, he was a sex demon, but he was a virgin sex demon. And a very awkward one. He had absolutely no idea how to seduce people and he didn’t really like the idea of picking up mostly-drunk people at parties or something. It seemed so... impersonal. And anyway, he didn’t have the skills.
Being around sex-driven teenagers seemed to be enough for him not to die, somehow, but Steve was starving.
And then he met Bucky Barnes.
It wasn’t like he’d never seen Bucky Barnes before. Steve knew they went to the same school and it was actually quite hard to miss him, given his tattoos and leather clothes and spiked accessories and general menacing appearance. Steve was pretty sure he’d even talked to Bucky like, once. But Bucky was a loner: no one really knew him.
And to be completely honest, at first Steve didn’t know it was Bucky that day. He just saw Zemo and his clique of bullies in the empty space behind the gym, pushing someone around. He didn’t even wait to evaluate the situation before barging in, fists flying, a war cry already out of his mouth.
The bullies startled and turned, and that was enough for the person they were bothering to knock Zemo on his ass with a well-aimed punch. They scurried away after that, cursing, and Steve found himself face to face with Bucky Barnes.
He was... tall. Broad. Long hair that looked strangely soft and icy eyes. Steve felt his hunger spike suddenly, and was grateful that Bucky was leaning down to pick up something because he knew his cheeks were flaming.
“Aw, shit.” Bucky looked at the bent cigarette he had likely dropped when Zemo came onto him, shook his head and let it drop again.
Steve glared at him: “There’s a trash can right there.” When Bucky just stared, he huffed and picked up the remains of the cigarette, taking care of putting it out completely before tossing it in the trash.
“Are you going to scold me for smoking too, Rogers?” Bucky asked, smirking. His clear amusement earned him another glare, even if Steve was a bit surprised the other boy knew his name. There was already a new cigarette between his lips, unlit.
“That’s your business. I’d appreciate if you didn’t blow smoke into my face, though. My asthma wouldn’t like it.” Steve wasn’t sure why they were still talking. He had expected Bucky to immediately brush him off like many of his classmates did when confronted with Steve’s opinions, but the other boy didn’t seem to mind Steve’s presence.
“Yeah, sounds fair.” Bucky put the cigarette back in his pocket and smirked again. “I think I should reward you for coming to my rescue,” he said, catching Steve completely off-guard.
He blinked, speechless for a long moment. “What?” he finally asked, maybe a little too sharply, eyes narrowed: was it a joke? Was Bucky mocking him? “I didn’t do it to be rewarded.”
“I know.” Still smiling, Bucky took a step forward. “But wouldn’t you like a kiss?”
Now he was positive Bucky was just messing with him. Steve squared his shoulders, glaring with all his righteous fury. “Fuck you, Barnes.”
“Only if you ask nicely.”
“You’re not funny.” With another heated glare, Steve turned around and stormed off. The worst thing was, he really wanted to kiss Bucky. That boy was beautiful and unfairly hot. But apparently, he was also a huge asshole, and Steve couldn’t stand being made fun of.
The day after, Bucky appeared beside him during lunchtime – Steve was always spending lunch sketching instead of eating, recently, because food didn’t do anything to quell his ever-present hunger anyway.
Earlier that week one of his teachers had taken him aside to talk to him about eating disorders and seeking help, and Steve had almost laughed in her face. If he told a doctor about why he wasn’t eating they would give him way more than a couple of pills and instructions to follow a good diet, he was sure. His stomach rumbled angrily.
“Hey.” Bucky plopped down on Steve’s left side, straddling the bench so he was turned towards Steve. “Sorry if I offended you yesterday, wasn’t my intention.”
“But I was serious, you know. ‘Bout the kissing thing.”
Steve’s glare was met with a smug smirk. Was that the only expression Bucky was capable of making? He wanted to kiss that damned smirk off that stupidly pretty face. The hunger reared up its ugly head, immediately interested about the idea. Steve did his best to ignore it. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”
Bucky laughed, for some reason. “Nah. Tell you what, let’s catch up after school and then you’ll tell me your answer.” Before Steve could tell him to fuck off, he got up and strutted away. Nice ass, ten outta ten, Steve would totally like to sink his teeth into that. He shook that thoughts out of his head, blaming them on the hunger, and went back to his lonely drawing.
Once the lessons were over he had no intention of waiting around for Bucky Barnes and his stupid games. But as he was walking on his way home he heard the low rumble of a motorbike behind him, gradually slowing down.
“Are you running from me?” Bucky asked as he hopped off his bike and started pushing it so he could walk side by side with Steve – of course the asshole had a bike, and a nice one too. Steve wouldn’t expect anything less from someone like him.
“This is stalking, you know,” he huffed, staring straight ahead. “Find someone else to bother.”
“But you’re so cute when you’re angry.” And there it was: that smirk. Steve felt once again the need to wipe it off Bucky’s face, with any means necessary.
Without even thinking he stopped and turned, grabbed Bucky by the lapel of his black leather jacket – of course he was wearing a black leather jacket – and crashed their mouths together, barely avoiding the painful collision of their noses. Well, his mother always said he was the impulsive type.
Bucky went still, shocked, but quickly overcame the initial surprise and started kissing back, tattooed hand rising to touch Steve’s short hair. It was a nice kiss, even if Steve wasn’t exactly sure what to do – it wasn’t his first kiss, but he didn’t really have a vast experience to count on. After a few seconds he pulled back, and now it was his turn to smirk smugly. Then he turned around and resumed walking, leaving a slightly dazed Bucky behind.
Oh, he felt so much better.
Apparently they were boyfriends now.
Steve didn’t find out about that until the next morning, when Bucky sat down beside him during lunch hour and graced him with a swift kiss on the lips. Like it was something they just did every day.
“The fuck you think you’re doing?” Steve snapped, feeling everyone’s eyes on them and blushing accordingly. He didn’t care what they thought, but he was uncomfortable with the attention.
“You’re the one who kissed me, Stevie. I don’t get why you’re annoyed.” Shrugging like it was no big deal Bucky put his tray on the table and started nibbling on what passed for salad there. “So. How was your day?”
“We’re not doing this.” And with what he thought was a final statement Steve turned back to his sketchbook, angrily scraping his pencil on the paper. The cartoonish cat he was drawing looked a bit rough around the edges, probably because Steve was letting his irritation seep into his technique, but it didn’t look too bad. Steve was almost satisfied with it.
“You’re good,” Bucky commented, leaning over to watch. “Do you have a Tumblr blog or something like that?”
He did, of course, but it wasn’t like he was going to tell that to Bucky. So, he stayed quiet, focused on his drawing, stubbornly ignoring the annoying presence on his left. After a few seconds he heard Bucky sigh, but the other boy didn’t move away.
Sarah Rogers looked away from the stew she was slowly stirring, sensing from Steve’s tone that it was something serious. She only got more worried when Steve didn’t immediately speak up, instead looking at the floor with furrowed brows and an unhappy expression. He was getting thinner with each day that passed without him feeding, cheeks gaunt, skin so pale he almost looked like a ghost. He reminded her of some of her patients, and her heart filled with sorrow every time that comparison came to her mind. “Yes, dear?”
“Is it, uhm, I mean... Am I...” Steve dragged his eyes up to meet hers. “Addictive?”
She didn’t understand right away. But when she did her eyes widened and she let go of the wooden spoon she was using to stir the pot, turning to fully face her son. “Is this why you haven’t been eating, Steve?” she asked, worry bright and clear in her expression. “Because you’re worried about that?”
Steve furiously shook his head: “No, no. I mean, yeah, I’m kinda worried about that, too, but...” He shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Alright. Do you want to tell me what happened?”
So they sat down at the kitchen table with a bowl of stew each – even if it wouldn’t do anything for Steve it still tasted good, and his mother seemed happier that way – and he told her about Bucky.
“And now he’s weirdly focused on me,” he concluded, pushing around the last piece of meat in his bowl. Thinking about Bucky made him even hungrier, for some reason – he knew exactly the reason.
“I don’t think it has to do with you being what you are, dear,” Sarah said after thinking for a long moment. “Maybe he’s just interested in you. God knows teenagers aren’t great at expressing their emotions and intentions...”
Steve bit his tongue a moment before telling his mother that no one at school really cared about him: he was sure that wouldn’t fly well with her. In the end he just shrugged: “I dunno, mom. It just seemed a little weird to me, that’s all.”
His mom nodded soberly. “You have to eat, Steve,” she said suddenly. “Promise me you’ll try to feed. I can’t stand seeing you so thin and pale.” She looked haunted, like his condition was her fault.
It broke Steve’s heart. He reached across the table and put his hand over hers, squeezing it. “I promise, mom.”
Bucky looked kind of shocked when Steve approached him on Monday. Then he smiled: “Hey, Stevie. Looking good today.”
Like the complete idiot he was, Steve looked down at himself as if in the last second his plaid shirt and jeans had mutated in a design suit or something. He glared at Bucky, but only mildly. “Look, what’s your deal?”
“Deal?” Bucky repeated, all innocence and confusion – betrayed by the little smirk pulling at the corner of his lips. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that you obviously want something. Either from me, or you’re using me to get to someone else. Jealous boyfriend? Girlfriend?” For once in his life Steve wished he was up to date with the school gossip. “We could find… an agreement.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “An agreement?” He sounded intrigued. “What kind of agreement did you have in mind?”
“Well, last I checked you were pretty adamant about pretending to be my boyfriend. I could do that.”
“Sounds doable. And what do you want in exchange?”
Steve hadn’t expected Bucky to agree so readily. Good thing he came prepared: “My mom’s been nagging me about getting in a relationship. I just want her to stop worrying, and having a fake boyfriend will help with that.” It wasn’t the whole truth, but it was close enough that Steve didn’t feel too uncomfortable telling it.
There was a moment of silence. Then Bucky started laughing. Steve’s expression fell, replaced by a scowl, and he began to turn away. A hand on his elbow stopped him. “No, no.” Bucky shook his head, still chuckling. “I’m not laughing at you, I promise. It’s just, I’m doing this to piss off my parents. And you’re the exact opposite. It’s funny.”
…it was a little bit funny. Even if Steve would have never admitted it out loud.
“Alright,” he said, trying to look as if he knew what the hell he was doing. “Do we have a deal, then?”
Bucky grinned. “Yep.” They didn’t shake hands or anything, just stood facing each other for a few moments. Then the smirk appeared on Bucky’s lips. “Let’s seal it with a kiss, shall we? The old-fashioned way.” He cupped the back of Steve’s head with his hand, the other rising to touch his cheek, and leant down.
Their second kiss was longer, deeper, headier than the first one – mostly because Bucky knew what he was doing. Steve was surprised when his hunger didn’t flare up but instead it subsided, just a bit. When they broke apart he was blinking, a little dazed, fingers all tangled up with Bucky’s hair. Woah.
Totally unfazed, Bucky gave him a lazy salute and strolled away, throwing a smirk over his shoulder: “I’ll see you around, Stevie!”
They were boyfriends now.
That meant things changed for Steve: he didn’t spend lunchtime sitting alone and sketching anymore, for example.
“What are you drawing today?” Bucky asked as he sat on his left like he usually did these days, setting his tray down on the table. He pressed a quick kiss to Steve’s hair before shoving a fry in his mouth. He was… very open with his PDA, in a way that Steve wouldn’t have imagined given his punk looks and cocky attitude. Steve couldn’t say he minded it too much – especially because, it turned out, kisses kept him fed enough that he had stopped looking so pale and malnourished all the time.
“Trying to come up with a character design for my art class. How was your day?” And that was another thing: the small talk. The first time they had sat in silence for a whole five minutes before Steve had relented and asked if the food was any good that day.
“Eh.” Bucky shrugged. “Had a math test on first period, skipped English on third. Almost punched Zemo in the hallway.”
“Yeah? What’d he say to you this time?”
“That little goblin thought he could threaten me.” With a snort, Bucky stabbed his plastic fork through a couple of innocent fries. “He was lucky Coulson was around, but one of these days I’m gonna put ‘im in his place.”
Steve hummed, lightly shading the jaw of the character he was desperately trying to design. “Don’t get expelled,” he commented.
“Aw, are you worried about me Stevie?” Smirking, Bucky raised a hand to ruffle his hair but quickly changed trajectory when Steve gave him a warning glare, deciding to put his arm around Steve’s shoulders instead.
As always, Bucky gave the same reply: “Only if you ask nicely, sweetheart.” It was just teasing, Steve knew that, but his heart still wanted to flutter and his cheeks colored a bit.
He pushed Bucky away, eyes rolling. “Keep dreaming. Jerk.”
Under all that punk exterior, Bucky was… a pretty decent person. He was genuine, funny and even kind of charming. Steve found himself liking the guy more and more each day. There were some times he almost wished they were really dating, and not just fake-dating. Almost. Because Bucky was also a jerk.
“He looks like the incarnation of the American flag,” he commented, waving his fork in the direction of the drawing. “What’s his name? Captain Patriot?”
Steve felt his cheeks heat up with embarrassment. “Look, I couldn’t come up with anything better and I was running out of time.” And he was pretty satisfied with the result: a tall, broad, muscular man who stood proudly with a round shield on his left arm. He had colored both the uniform and the shield in red, white and blue, because it had seemed fitting at the time. Now though he could see the connection with the national flag and everything American.
“I mean, it’s good.” Bucky put his chin on the top of Steve’s head, holding him in such a way that Steve was practically plastered to his side. “I notice a bit of resemblance to a certain little punk I know, too.”
Steve rolled his eyes, but didn’t try to wiggle out of the other boy’s hold. “Whatever you say, pal.”
“Hey, wanna come to Knowhere with me?”
Steve opened one eye and sent him an unimpressed look. It was one of the rare times they were spending time together but not in the cafeteria. Instead, Steve had a free period and was trying to nap on the grass behind the football field, and Bucky… Bucky was probably skipping lesson. “Clever pun,” he commented in a flat tone.
Huffing, Bucky sat down beside him and threw some grass in his face. “It’s not a pun, dumbass. It’s a place. Kind of a club. C’mon, the Guardians are playing.”
Bucky threw more grass at him. “The Guardians of the Galaxy!”
“Never heard of them.” It was the truth, but even if Steve had known them he probably would have denied it just to rile Bucky up.
“They are a space-themed vintage band.”
“Those two things can’t possibly go together.”
“Come hear them and you’ll see.”
Steve told himself he would not be convinced. But damn, he wanted to go. It would be the first time they saw each other outside of school, and to be honest it sounded just like a date. Was Bucky asking him out on a date? He was, wasn’t he? “Uhm…” Steve had suddenly lost the ability to speak English. He blushed, tried to put words together. At last, he managed a: “When?”
“Tonight.” Bucky got back up on his feet, brushed off the stray leaves clinging to his pants. “I’ll pick you up at nine!” He smirked smugly and walked away.
“I didn’t even say yes!” Steve called after him, but the other boy just waved a hand without turning. With a sigh Steve laid back down on the grass, head on his backpack and right arm covering his eyes. So. He was going on a date. With Bucky. Okay. What could go wrong.
Someone cleared their throat right above him. “Uhm,” Bucky said, looking awkward. His cheeks were bright pink. “I don’t know your address.”
Steve just laughed at him.
When Bucky said he would pick him up, Steve hadn’t realized he meant with his bike. More than that, he hadn’t anticipated what seeing a Bucky clad in even more leather than usual would do to him. His mouth was suddenly dry, and he had to swallow and lick his lips.
Bucky took off his helmet, hair falling around his pretty face like it was a scene from a fucking romantic comedy, all mussed up from being under the helmet. “Ready to go?” The jacket he had was full of straps and zips, open enough that Steve could see a hint of collarbone under a black tank top, and his pants were practically painted on. His eyes were popping, was he… was he wearing eyeliner?
Steve wondered if he looked lame, with his jeans and shirt and beanie, but nodded anyway. At least he had opted for lenses instead of glasses.
“You look like a hipster,” Bucky said, raising a second helmet. As he was helping Steve putting it on he sneaked a kiss, and smirked. “A cute hipster tho.”
Steve blushed a bit. “Shut up.” He climbed on the bike, almost falling over because it was so high, and glared at Bucky when he dared to laugh. “I bet you fell all the time at the beginning,” he grumbled, provoking another laugh out of Bucky.
“Never been on a bike, uh? Put your arms around me and hold tight, I promise I won’t go too fast.” His smirk promised the exact opposite. They pulled away from the sidewalk and into the New York traffic, weaving around cars to get there faster. They couldn’t talk during the ride, and Steve’s focus was split between not falling off the bike and the warmth of Bucky’s back. It was nice.
He almost didn’t notice when the bike halted and the engine was turned off.
“We’re here. Steve, let go of me.” There was laughter in Bucky’s voice even as he pushed Steve’s arms down and swung off the bike. He took off his and Steve’s helmet, stashed both under the bike’s seat and finally offered a hand to help Steve get down. “Not that bad, uh?”
Steve pushed him, shoulder to shoulder. “Who gave you that license.”
“Oh, no one. I bought a fake one.”
“What?” Steve actually believed that for a single moment, before noticing that Bucky was struggling not to laugh. He pushed him again: “Stop it, jerk.”
Bucky just put one arm around his shoulders and guided him towards a wide door in the side of a building. A big neon sign was hanging just above it: KNOWHERE. Looked like that was their destination.
The inside of the club was... weird. It had some futuristic vibes, but it was also really messy, everything on top of everything else, blues and yellows mixing with metal and chrome. There was a long bar on the side and a stage where five weird-looking people were playing.
Bucky made a disappointed sound and dragged Steve closer to the stage. “Aw, they started already. Look, Steve, they are the Guardians.”
Four out of five had really complex full body makeup and not only that: the first one Steve noticed was a tall man who looked like a tree, then the one who strongly resembled a raccoon. A third man was bare chested, skin painted a weird shade of gray-green with red tattoos all over his torso and face, and the only girl’s skin was green. The last man didn’t wear any makeup, but his face was covered by a mask that could have been taken straight from Star Wars or something like that. He kept waving some sci-fi guns in the air while he was singing and dancing all around the stage.
And they were playing 80s music.
“Alright, I see what you meant with space-themes vintage band.”
Bucky grinned. “Yeah? C’mon, let’s dance.” He tried to drag Steve in some kind of dance move that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 80s movie – but Steve took a step backwards, shaking his head.
“Can’t dance for shit,” he explained. The last thing he wanted was to make a fool of himself in a public place. And in front of his fake-boyfriend and probably-crush, too.
“C’mon, no one’s looking at you,” Bucky said, like he was reading his mind.
Well, you are, Steve was about to reply, but then Bucky smirked and added:
“Don’t tell me Steve Rogers is scared of a little innocent dancin’?”
Was that a challenge? Steve narrowed his eyes at him, knowing deep down he had already lost that battle. “Don’t go crying when I break your toes during that little innocent dancin’,” he retorted, but stepped closer. His confidence bled out of him almost instantly and he looked at the people around them, trying to understand how he was supposed to move.
Bucky grabbed his hands, smiling, something fond and gentle in his eyes, just as the girl started singing Cherry Bomb. “Relax, Stevie. I’m sure you won’t hurt me too bad.”
Steve didn’t know what time it was when Bucky took him back home, but he knew that he was tired and happy and that his skin was still buzzing because of that beer Bucky bought him. He couldn’t stop humming Hooked on a feeling, that song was just stuck in his brain.
“Did you have fun?” Bucky asked as Steve climbed off the bike and gave back the helmet.
“Yeah.” He gave the other boy a bright grin. A thought made his smile dim, just a little. Not a stray thought, but something he’d been stuck on since that morning. “Bucky... was this a date? Like, I mean... a real date.”
A few moments of silence followed; Steve blushed, cursing himself. Maybe he got it all wrong, after all. He almost jumped back when Bucky kissed him.
“Took you long enough, uh?” The other boy smirked. “And here I thought you were smart.”
Steve blushed even more. “Shut up jerk, it’s not like you ever told me or anything.” When Bucky just kept smirking, he knew exactly how to wipe that off his pretty lips.
And just like that, they were boyfriends... for real this time.
Things didn’t really change, except that now they regularly saw each other outside of school. They went on dates – little things, like going for coffee and a cupcake or make out sessions in the park. Bucky had even decided to stop smoking for him, after Steve had an asthma attack just for kissing him after he had smoked.
“You look happy, dear,” his mother told him one morning when Steve was going out to school and she had just come home from a night shift. “Healthy. That boy is good for you.”
“Yeah.” Steve smiled, feeling pleased. “Yeah, he is.”
“Hey, d’you wanna come to my house after school? My parents won’t be home.”
Steve’s heart was suddenly hammering in his chest, so hard he thought for a moment it would explode and leave him in a million pieces.
“We could watch some Netflix,” Bucky continued. “Even study, if you want to do that. What do you think?”
“Sounds good,” Steve said, doing his best to look normal and not like he was about to have an asthma attack just because he thought Bucky was proposing sex.
Bucky smiled, completely oblivious to his boyfriend’s internal conflict, and gave him a soft kiss: “Good.”
Later that afternoon, as he climbed on Bucky’s bike and wrapped his arms around the other boy, Steve began to wonder if what he was doing really was that good. He was feeding from Bucky, even if it was in a simple, innocent way. His mother had told him that there were no side effects or anything, but he always avoided thinking too much about it because it made his head hurt and his stomach knot.
But he was so afraid of telling Bucky the truth. He had let that thing go way too far and now he was terrified of losing him. But at the same time, he couldn't keep Bucky in the dark for much longer. Incubi mainly fed off sex, and having sex with Bucky felt like crossing a major line.
“Steve? Did you fall asleep or something?” They had stopped in front of a brownstone, and Bucky was turning his head to look at him, eyes glinting with amusement.
“Maybe I just like cuddling you,” Steve replied, cheeks warm, but untangled his arms and began to climb down from the bike.
Bucky chuckled, passing a hand through his helmet-mussed hair to comb them into apparent order. “We can do that inside. Come on.”
The house was bigger than Steve’s, but had less than a homey feeling. Bucky gave him a quick tour – living room, kitchen, two bathrooms, a studio, the doors of his parents’ and sister’s room, and eventually his room.
“Woah.” Steve looked around, taking in the room with a grin on his face. There were Star Wars posters on the walls, Star Trek action figures, scale models of spaceships and planets lined up on the shelves and a library full of science fiction novels and movies. “Bucky Barnes, you are a huge nerd.”
“Shut up.” Bucky pushed him, cheeks flaming. “I just like space, okay?”
“I couldn’t tell.”
“Oh, shut up.” This time when Bucky tried to push him Steve was ready and grabbed his jacket; they both fell onto the bed. Bucky smiled at him. “You little punk,” he murmured fondly, and Steve shut him up with a kiss.
After a while he pushed Bucky away. “You promised Netflix?” he asked, still a bit breathless because of the kiss. “I mean, I’m supposed to do that English assignment, but I can do that later.”
Bucky stole another brief kiss before rolling to his feet, grabbing Steve’s hand and pulling him up. “Let’s go to the couch,” he proposed. “We’ll be more comfortable there.”
They ended up watching Supernatural cuddled up on the couch, Steve’s back pressed against Bucky’s chest with his head nestled under the other boy’s chin. He couldn’t really focus on the show though, he was too worried about if and how he should tell Bucky what he was. He had to tell him.
“Who’s your favorite?” Bucky asked after some time, while the Winchester brothers were killing some random demons. “Dean or Sam?”
Steve hummed thoughtfully. “Sam looks kinda like you.” He turned enough to give Bucky a smirk, then raised his hand and lightly tugged a dark lock. “It’s probably the hair.”
Bucky laughed and they resumed watching in silence.
When the episode was over Steve cleared his throat. “Do you… believe in that kind of stuff?”
“No, like… demons. Things outside of the ordinary. Supernatural things.” Steve felt glad that he was turned towards the tv, because he wasn’t sure what expression he was making in that moment. His question might’ve come out a little too intense anyway.
For a few long moments Bucky was silent. “I do,” he eventually said. “I do believe there are things we can’t explain. I mean, humans can’t possibly be the only intelligent beings in the universe, can they?” Of course Bucky believed in aliens.
Steve nodded, but didn’t say anything else. He made an affirmative sound when Bucky asked if he wanted to watch something else instead.
They were ignoring whatever-it-was that was streaming on the tv, instead making out one on top of the other on the couch, when the front door opened.
“Buck, it’s me,” shouted a young female voice. “I’m home early!”
Bucky shot up, narrowly avoiding hitting his head against Steve’s, surprise and maybe panic crossing his expression. Steve rose too, slower, and met the wide eyes of a young woman who looked a lot like Bucky.
“Oh, uhm, hi,” he said awkwardly, knowing in that split-seconds that his hair was disheveled and his lips were bitten red – and he was pretty sure his right hand was under Bucky’s shirt. One hell of a first impression he was making on who was probably Bucky’s older sister.
“Hey Becca.” Bucky grinned, seemingly not caring that his sister was seeing them in that state. “This is my boyfriend Steve. Steve, this is my sister Rebecca.”
Rebecca looked at him… strangely. She gave Steve a smile, but it looked a bit forced, then turned back to Bucky: “James… come help me in the kitchen, please.”
“Yes. Right now.”
Huffing, Bucky got up. Then leant down to drop a quick kiss on Steve’s lips. “Wait for me, yeah?”
Steve kind of wanted to run, but he nodded anyway. “Okay.” He watched Bucky and his sister disappear in the kitchen, Rebecca closing the door behind them – but not before sending another weird look in his direction.
He knew eavesdropping was bad. He knew he shouldn’t do that. At first he didn’t. But then he heard something that sounded awfully close to an angry shout and he jumped to his feet, already halfway to the door before he realized how bad that would make him look if he was caught.
When they had first began to fake-date, Bucky’s reason was to annoy his family. What if they were homophobic? His sister didn’t look like the violent type, but…
“I don’t see what’s the problem,” Bucky was saying, voice firm but with an undercurrent of irritation. “He’s not hurting me. He’s never going to hurt me.”
“That’s not-” Rebecca sounded way more worked up. “That’s not what I meant at all! I’m thinking about his safety too, not only yours! Did you tell him at least?”
Bucky was suspiciously quiet.
“Really, Bucky? You didn’t even give him the choice?”
“Well, it’s not like he told me anything, either,” snapped Bucky, raising his voice. “Look, I was going to tell him. Just, I never found the right moment, that’s it. But I’m going to tell him.”
Steve’s head was spinning. What was happening in there? What the hell were they talking about?
“That’s great Bucky, really great.” Rebecca sighed audibly. “How do you think dad will react when he finds out you’ve been going out with an incubus?”
Steve jumped back, stifling a horrified gasp. How could she know? Wait, did that mean that Bucky knew?
“Oh, come on, his mother’s human. He’s like, only half-incubus! And hunters don’t kill anymore.”
“No Bucky, we don’t kill anymore! There are still some families that go out hunting, and an incubus who seduced a hunter? That’s fair game in their eyes.”
“He did not seduce me. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have that kind of powers.”
Everything was falling apart around Steve, and he could barely grasp the pieces. Bucky had always known. Bucky was a hunter. Steve wasn’t sure what being a hunter meant but judging from the stories his mother used to tell him hunters were usually bad news.
Shock and betrayal battled in his chest, together with the strong urge to push the kitchen door open and yell at Bucky. He knew he’d been keeping secrets too, but... Bucky had known from the beginning that Steve was an incubus. He probably had known how vulnerable Steve had been, how starved. That had given him an unfair advantage, hadn’t it?
Angry tears pushed in his eyes and he knew he needed to get away from that house. Not because he felt he was in danger or anything like that; he just needed to get away. So he quickly collected his things, not caring if he was being rude, and slipped out.
The door closing must have alerted them of his attempted escape, because Steve barely managed to walk to the end of the street before Bucky was running after him:
Steve paused, gripping the straps of his backpack tight enough that his knuckles were white, and turned around to glare. “Don’t get closer,” he warned. “Because right now I want to punch you really hard.”
“Oh.” Bucky stopped a dozen feet away. He looked down and away, chewing his bottom lip. “You’ve heard all that?” When Steve nodded, he made a guilty face, but his eyebrows were furrowed. “Well. I guess we both had secrets.”
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” The only reason why Steve wasn’t shouting yet was that they were standing in the middle of the street. “Didn’t you hear your sister? At least my secret wasn’t a dangerous one!”
Bucky’s frown intensified. “Not dangerous?” he repeated, a hint of incredulity bleeding in his words. “Do you even know what incubi can do to people?”
“But you knew from the start! You knew what you were getting into! I had no idea that your family fucking hunts people like me!” Realization hit him and he groaned, raising a hand to cover his eyes for a moment. “Fuck, that’s why you were so insistent in the first place. All you wanted was to fuck an incubus so you could... I don’t know, feel like a rebel or something.” He wasn’t sure how that made him feel. Disappointed, for sure, hurt, too; kind of sad maybe.
He shook his head, eyes burning once again, and turned away. The fact that Bucky didn’t call him back or tried to reach him hurt more than everything else.
His mother took one look at him and instantly knew something was deeply wrong. The first thing she did wasn’t to ask what had happened; instead she walked up to him and gave him a tight hug. And that was when Steve finally broke down into tears.
Between sobs he managed to tell her everything he had discovered that afternoon, and even tried to describe what he was feeling in that moment.
“Are you in danger?” Sarah asked, because she was a practical woman and if the answer was going to be yes… well. She would do whatever was needed to protect her only child, even moving halfway through the country.
But Steve shook his head. “His sister said their family doesn’t hunt anymore.” He sniffled, rubbed his eyes with his sleeve. “Is it okay to be angry?” he asked then, voice quiet. “Even if I didn’t tell him what I am? I feel so guilty, but I also feel like he owed me the truth, and I know it’s not fair but… he should have told me. He knew and he should’ve told me.”
Sarah resisted the urge to sigh. “It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling, dear,” she promised. “As long as you give him the same right. Maybe it sounds like a terrible idea right now, but when you’re both calmer you should talk. Decide what you want to do.” She wasn’t stupid, she could see clear as the sun that Steve cared about that boy. And she was pretty sure the affection was reciprocated. “Just… think about it, alright? In the meantime, I’ll call the school, let them know you won’t be in tomorrow.”
Steve seemed surprised, before hugging her again. “Thanks mom.” He went to his room right after, to have some time alone to think and try to define his muddled feelings.
On Monday he went back to school, bracing himself for a confrontation; but Bucky wasn’t there. It threw him off-kilter, because now he didn’t know what to do.
Bucky’s absence made him realize how much time they’d been spending together. He’d sat alone for most of his scholastic life before meeting Bucky and it never really bothered him, but now he felt so awkward and exposed. He tried to sketch but he kept getting distracted, and in the end he just mindlessly scrolled Tumblr until the bell rang and classes started again.
The next day was the same. No Bucky, a lonely lunch hour, inability to focus. Basically, a miserable day.
By Wednesday Bucky was back in school, but he didn’t approach Steve. He barely even looked at him; instead he had gone back to lurking on the edges, sucking on that stupid cigarettes and generally being a menacing presence in the background.
Steve… didn’t try to talk to him. He felt it was only right that Bucky had to be the one to go to him. He didn’t want to be the first to apologize. All Steve did was glare at Bucky from the other side of the cafeteria, waiting for the other boy to look up – but that rarely happened, and when it did Bucky was quick to look away.
They hadn’t officially broken up, but Steve was pretty sure they weren’t boyfriends anymore.
And after one week he began feeling hungry again. He had almost forgotten what the hunger felt like, and now it hit him with renewed strength. Steve was prepared to get used to it, just like he had done before, and promised his mom he would try to feed… somehow. He wouldn’t let it get bad like last time.
He could go to some parties, talk to people, do his best to be less awkward than his usual self. Maybe even hook up with someone – even if the idea made his stomach go up in knots with anxiety. He didn’t want to do that. But neither did he want to starve.
The solution came in the form of an anxious-looking Rebecca Barnes knocking on the front door of his apartment.
“Hear me out,” she said as soon as Steve opened the door with a scowl. “I’m sorry for what happened with my stupid brother, but I’m not sorry at all that you found out the truth about our family.” She waited for a moment, maybe to see if Steve would say anything; when he didn’t she sighed and continued: “I’m pretty sure that mom already talked with your mother, but you should know that neither of you are in any danger from us or from other hunters. I mean, dad was pissed, but he got over it pretty quickly.”
Steve just stared at her for a long moment. Hearing about Bucky and the reason of their argument only fueled his irritation. “Are you done?” he snapped, instantly regretting it because Rebecca didn’t deserve to be treated like that.
“No.” Rolling her eyes, Rebecca rummaged around in her bag and grabbed some pages that look like they were ripped from a notebook. “Take these, Bucky’s been working on it but couldn’t figure out how to get them to you in a way that didn’t involve any talking or discussion of feelings.” She shoved them at Steve, who took them more due to surprise than anything else.
The pages were filled with Bucky’s messy writing, full of question points and arrows and crossed out sentences. Steve squinted, trying to read it: there were multiple lists of weird stuff like herbs and animals' parts – what the hell was a water shrew? – and a considerable number of quotes from books that sounded like New Age bullshit. Compendium of Basic Food Enchantment, what the hell?
“That’s the research, this is the important part.” Rebecca pointed at the last page, at a… recipe. A really weird and mildly creepy recipe involving plants Steve was pretty sure were dangerous, some kind of ant and sea cucumbers. “I know a witch that could whip it up for you for a decent price.”
“What?” Steve scanned the page again, but it kept making no sense. “What’s this?”
“An alternative to feeding on sex. Think of it as a vegan diet for incubi: it’s probably gross and not even close to satisfying, but it will keep you alive and healthy.”
Rebecca gave him a smile that looked awfully close to her brother’s smirk. “Yeah. Let me know if you want the contact for that witch, alright?” She lightly patted his shoulder and turned around, disappearing down the stairs just as suddenly as she’d appeared.
Looking down at the pages that could make his life so much better, all that Steve was feeling was… rejection.
Bucky looked utterly shocked and quite alarmed when Steve marched up to him with the deepest scowl known to man and slammed the pages on the table in front of him.
“If this is your way of saying we’re breaking up, you could at least say so to my face.” Steve was barely able to hide the hurt in his voice – he’d believed their relationship could be fixed somehow. Clearly, Bucky disagreed.
“What?” The other boy sounded really confused. He looked down at the pages and then back up at Steve, eyes wide. “How did you get these?”
Steve glared. “You sent your sister to my house, how else? She gave them to me, explained what they are.” He picked them up again, careful not to ruin them despite his anger, and crossed his arms. “Fuck you Bucky, I deserve a proper break-up.” He was being dramatic, he knew, but... well. He felt like being dramatic was the best way to avoid showing his real emotions.
“I thought you hated me,” Bucky said, suddenly, freezing Steve in place. He ran a hand through his long hair, picking nervously at a lock that wouldn’t stay tucked behind his ear. “I mean, you weren’t talking to me anymore, and you literally told me to stay away or you would punch me. Not to mention that you glare at me all the time now, it’s not even funny.”
It was Steve’s turn to say “what?” in a dumbfounded tone.
Bucky shrugged, somewhat helplessly. “But I noticed...” He looked around, lowered his voice. “I noticed you getting thinner. Getting hungry again. And I thought, maybe I can help. My house’s full of books and diaries, there must be something there. So I looked, and...” He shrugged again, gesturing at the pages in Steve’s hand. “I had both my parents checking it, they say it could work.”
Struggling to find the words, Steve swallowed and licked his lips. “We need to talk about this,” he finally said, and knew it was the right thing to do when Bucky’s eyes sparkled with something really close to relief and maybe hope. “In private. Come to my house after school?”
Bucky nodded, gave him a half-smile that was almost a smirk, but way more tentative. “Yeah, okay. I’ll see you later?” It still sounded like a question.
“I’ll see you later.” Steve lingered another moment, then turned and stiffly walked away.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that I knew you weren’t human.” It was weird, having Bucky in his room, sat on his bed right beside him. Talking.
“Did you know from the start?”
“You mean when you rescued me from Zemo and his lackeys?” Bucky shook his head. “Nah, I knew long before that. Pretty sure I knew at the same time you knew.”
“Hunters have some kind of sixth sense,” he tried to explain. “It’s genetic, I think. I can’t really describe it, but one day I noticed you and you were different. I couldn’t figure out what you were at first, ‘cause I’ve never seen an incubus before.” Bucky shrugged, picking at a thread on his torn jeans. “I meant to tell you, I just had to find the right way.”
Steve sighed. He knew they had to talk it out, even if it was so hard. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I’m an incubus,” he began, slowly, and one by one the words tumbled out of his mouth: “I was afraid you’d think I was crazy. Or worse, that you’d believe me and... I don’t know, run away screaming.” He took a deep breath, bracing himself. “But it’s not fair that I was feeding on you like that.”
Silence fell between them, awkward and heavy. Steve knew they couldn't pick up from where they had been before, but the awkwardness was new and unwanted.
At last, Bucky cleared his throat: “So... you’ll try the potion?”
Steve wanted to scream. “Yeah,” he said instead. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Bucky nodded a couple of time, eyes darting up to Steve’s face for a moment before skittering away once more. “I’d like to stay friends.” There was a certain detachment in his serious, almost solemn tone. Almost as if they were discussing business. “If that’s alright with you.”
“Yeah, okay. Friends.” Steve could do friends, sure. No problem whatsoever. It was what Bucky wanted after all.
They lasted three days.
“Pretty sure friends aren’t supposed to kiss each other,” Steve joked, but offered no resistance at all when Bucky pushed his chin up and kissed him in the middle of the cafeteria; actually, he kissed back.
Bucky began to mumble something awfully similar to an apology, and Steve just had to kiss him harder so he would shut up. The other boy didn’t try to speak again.