Steve isn’t quite sure who was responsible for this, but he would like to thank them.
It could’ve been Thor, who had given Bucky some of his aged alcohol, or Bucky himself who had put on the music, or the random playlist that had started playing the strangely swing-like song.
But whoever’s fault it was, there they were, verging on drunk, staggering around their apartment in some semblance of dancing. Bucky was laughing as he tugged Steve around and Steve couldn’t help the wide smile that broke out across his face at the wonderful sound.
“Careful, Buck, don’t wanna wreck the furniture,” he slurred slightly, pulling Bucky into his chest.
Bucky grinned. “Wouldn’t be the first time. Though it’s usually in a fight.”
Steve rolled his eyes so hard he almost fell over. Or maybe he was just a little bit more unsteady on his feet than he had thought. If he hadn’t been holding on to Bucky so tight, he might have landed on his butt.
“Careful there, Stevie boy,” Bucky said, then giggled like he had told a joke. Steve joined in because how could he do anything else?
“God, I love you,” he said, suddenly feeling completely sober, not at all like he had drunk three cups of Thor’s drink.
Bucky stopped dragging him through their dance and stared at him. He tilted his head to one side, then huffed out an incredulous laugh. “Come on, Cap, you obviously need some sleep-”
“I’m serious!” Steve exclaimed, pushing closer to Bucky but he backed away, shocked.
“Steve, come on, you’re drunk.”
“Drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thought,” Steve said, parroting something from a different decade. Bucky seems to realize it too, because there’s a flash of remembrance on his face, then realization, and then nothing at all.
“No, no, no, no. Bucky, look at me. I’m serious. I love you. Have for years. Decades.”
Bucky wriggled out of his grasp and took a few steps back. “Yeah, you’re my best friend, Stevie, you know that-”
“More than that, Buck. End of the line, end of the aisle type love,” Steve insisted, following Bucky as he tried to retreat. It was a totally different dance than what they had done a few minutes before.
“Gonna get us arrested with that type of talk, Rogers,” Bucky snapped, eyes darting around like the police were going to break down the door and take them into custody right then.
Steve froze. “Oh, Buck,” he whispered, his heart throbbing painfully. “No…”
No one had told Bucky since he had surrendered himself to Steve. He didn’t know…
“Listen to me, James Buchanan Barnes, listen to me right now. Being gay ain’t illegal anymore. People aren’t arrested for it, they do get the raw end of the deal for it still, yeah, but people can marry these days, Buck. We could go to a judge right now and you’d be stuck with me forever. Okay? It’s okay,” Steve finished, reaching out and cupping Bucky’s cheek.
Bucky doesn’t move away. He doesn’t really move at all. Just when Steve was starting to worry that Bucky wasn’t even breathing, he cleared his throat and croaked out, “You’d be safe? If I… If I told you?”
Steve wants to protest that he wouldn’t care even if he wouldn’t be safe, that it would be worth it if the risk meant that he could have Bucky, but the look on Bucky’s face stops him. He looks like he’s on the verge of tears, but also like there was a hope bubbling up inside him that he was trying to suppress.
“Yeah, Buck. Some people might judge, but fuck ‘em.”
Bucky nodded a couple times then slowly reached for Steve’s hand. “Can you say it again?” he murmured, tracing the lines on Steve’s palm.
With the hand that still rested on Bucky’s face, Steve tilted up Bucky’s chin until they were looking into each other’s eyes.
“I truly, utterly, and completely love you, Buck,” Steve said softly, trying to show how much with his words, his gaze, his touch. It must have worked because Bucky just melted. His head fell onto Steve’s shoulder, his arms came around Steve’s waist, and they didn’t move for a good long while.
Bucky sniffed as he drew away, then wiped his eyes on the fabric of his shoulder.
“I love you too, punk. Every bit of ya, when you were small and now. Always have,” Bucky muttered to the floor between their feet, missing the relief on Steve’s face. He didn’t see the weight lift off of Steve’s shoulders but he did hear Steve murmur, “Thank god.”
His head snapped up at that and took in Steve’s face. The huge, cheek-splitting grin that was on it. The tears that swam in his eyes, but didn’t fall.
“I love you,” he said as he lost himself in Steve’s eyes. Maybe he was finding himself. It was hard to tell. All he knew was that it had been a long time since he had felt this at peace.
Steve laughed joyfully, and one of the tears slipped out and slid down his cheek. “I love you, I love you so much, Buck.”
Bucky lifted a hand off of Steve’s waist and wiped off the tear. Steve’s breath caught, and Bucky leaned closer.
The first touch of their lips was light, barely there. They both pulled back, looked at each other, then came back together. It was a slow kiss, just their lips moving against one another. Them clinging to the other, terrified to pull away. Not ready to let go yet. Maybe ever.
When they stopped to take a breathing break, they rested their foreheads together and held on.
“Decades, huh?” Bucky asked softly, trying not to ruin the mood.
Steve didn’t say anything, just nodded, making Bucky’s head move too.
“Me too,” Bucky whispered, brushing a kiss against Steve’s cheek. He tilted his head just enough so that their lips connected again and the kiss that followed was more heated, more making up for lost time than the former.
Hands roamed, lips moved, tongues met. When touching got a little too much, Bucky pulled away.
“Just kissin’ tonight, punk,” Bucky whispered against Steve neck.
“Okay,” he whispered back.
They stood there together, resting their weight on one another, until Bucky broke the silence.
“You know, I wouldn’t mind marrying you one day…”
Steve froze momentarily, then huffed out a laugh and lifted his head. “Which sounds better, Mr. Rogers-Barnes or Mr. Barnes-Rogers?”
The smile that broke out on Bucky’s face hurt his jaw. “Barnes-Rogers, definitely.”