Steve and Bucky were just lying in bed together, bodies close. Bucky finally felt comfortable enough with his metal arm to have it slung over Steve’s shoulder. Steve had one arm cushioning Bucky’s head and the other draped on his hip, his hand gently touching the small of Bucky’s back. Their foreheads were almost touching, their breath intermingling as it went in and out.
It was peaceful and wonderful and Steve was at the brink of sleeping when Bucky suddenly turned his head and sneezed. The sound completely broke the sleepy atmosphere, and something about just… The sound didn’t sound like a sneeze to Steve. Maybe it was because he had been almost asleep. Maybe because it was unexpected.
But the next thing he knew, he was off the bed, completely detached from Bucky’s side, and having trouble breathing.
“Steve?” Bucky asked confusedly, looking around, not understanding what had happened.
“Steve!” he shouted when he saw him, leaping from bed and crouching next to him.
“Hey, breathe with me Stevie, in and out, just like we used to. Slow your breaths, that’s it, just listen to me and keep breathing. This ain’t much different to when you were smaller, c’mon Steve.”
And slowly, the tight feeling in his chest eased and he could take deeper breaths. Listening to Bucky’s voice helped, made him be able to center. It reminded him of newspaper stuffed into scuffed up shoes and a smaller body and talks like this one when his asthma would act up.
He finally could look up at Buck from the ball he had curled into. Bucky’s face was strained with tension and worry, but as Steve kept eye contact, he seemed to relax.
“Hey, there ya are, Stevie,” he murmured, moving closer and stroking Steve’s cheek. His Brooklyn accent seemed to come out more during times of stress, especially when that stress involved Steve. Which was often, now that Steve thought about it.
Steve laughed softly as his breathing got back to normal. He still felt shaky and a little weak, but his body was recovering quickly. Whether that was from the effects of the super serum or Bucky’s reassurances, Steve wasn’t sure, but he liked to think it was because of Bucky.
“Thanks, jerk,” he said quietly, putting a hand on Bucky’s knee.
Bucky’s face tightened as he said, “You scared me there, punk.”
“Nothin’ new there, though, right?” Steve mumbled, staggering to his feet. Bucky’s hands were on his waist in an instant to steady him as he swayed slightly.
“Whoa there, Stevie, you need to relax. You okay with coming back to bed?” Bucky asked hesitantly.
Steve nodded and started to walk to the bed, Bucky there to spot him all the way. They both sat on the edge of it, Steve staring straight ahead while Bucky looked at him.
“Kinda pathetic, isn’t it?” Steve murmured. “Captain America, reduced to a mess from one unexpected sound.”
There was silence from Bucky’s side of the mattress before he said, “No. That’s a bullshit double standard, Steven Grant Rogers, and I’m kinda getting sick of it.”
Steve whipped his head around, surprised. But then, Bucky had always challenged Steve since they had been little. Since they had first met on the school yard when Steve had tried (and failed) to rescue Bucky from some bullies. They weren’t impressed by a twig swinging it’s little branches at them, and laid him flat. Buck had stepped in, scared the bullies into heading for the hills, and then patched Steve up while lecturing him about how he shouldn’t have stuck his neck out. Even after the serum, Bucky had told him that he wasn’t following Captain America, but Steve Rogers, the little kid from Brooklyn that had never been able to back out of fight.
By now, Steve realized he really should have learned that Bucky would always surprise him.
“-just cause you’re Captain America, hero of the nation, doesn’t mean that you aren’t also Steve Rogers, war veteran with his share of mental issues. You need to take care of yourself and stop thinking that you need to be perfect all the time. Got it? Steve?” Bucky finished. Steve missed the beginning but what he caught made him smile and gather Bucky close.
“Yeah, I hear ya, Buck,” he murmured into Bucky’s neck before pressing a kiss there.
“Well, don’t you forget it then,” Bucky muttered before kissing first Steve’s cheek and catching his lips in a gentle kiss. Steve responded enthusiastically, sliding closer til they were even closer than before all this had started.
Bucky leaned back just enough to ask, “I thought you were ready for sleep. You sure you wanna do this?”
They both knew that wasn’t just asking if Steve needed the extra sleeping hours. Steve appreciated the sentiment, but he definitely wanted to continue.
“Thank you, Buck,” he started against Bucky’s cheek. He wasn’t just thanking him for asking. It was for everything else too. Bucky seemed to realize this and he leaned forward to press a kiss on Steve’s forehead. Steve finished his sentence, his voice going lower into a growl, “…but the last thing I wanna do right now is sleep.”