The sun bounced from the crisp white walls as Steve rolled over to feel the space beside his bed was frigid cold from the absence. For the first night, in almost a year, Steve woke up alone. As sad as it sounded, it was quite a feat for the man.
The previous night consisted of pure heaven, two men intertwined between legs and trapped between the lips of the other and as beautiful, and tantalizing, as it was – Steve detached himself from the embrace with good reason. Tony was comfortable, God was he comfortable, but as comforting and perfect as he was, Steve knew he had to leave. Steve’s shirt was tainted in the smell of sweetness and herbs, something that he was more than sure was from Tony’s cologne. As much as he wanted to get out of bed to begin his day, he couldn’t resist the urge to pull in a deep breath of the residual essence one more time.
The bed creaked as its residence became vacant. Steve followed the hallway to the kitchen, preparing himself a cup of coffee as he mentally recapped the night.
Steve thought about the diner, the sunlight from the window beside them kissing Tony’s skin in such a way that made him glow. All that was on his mind in that moment was touching him; holding his hand, cradling his chin in his palm, kissing each of his fingertips – doing something that resulted in his hands being placed on Tony’s person was all he desired.
Though, last night, Tony made the first move by laying his head on Steve’s lap. “Get comfortable.” He whispered as the movie spoke over him. Steve did just that, leaning back into the couch as Tony burrowed himself in Steve’s thighs.
The movie was foreign, something that Natasha recommended to Steve and as much as the both men wanted to give the film their undivided attention, that just wasn’t the case. Tracing small circles on his arm, Tony looked up at Steve with so much admiration. Steve couldn’t help but to take Tony’s hand and lace their fingers together. It was seamless, each finger fitting perfectly. Tony kissed the blonde’s hand, his lips leaving warm imprints on Steve's palm. Though, the quick peck wasn’t enough for Steve, he craved more. Slowly, he leaned down and pulled the older man into a deep kiss, the taste of desire and admiration lingering on their dancing tongues.
The coffee pot beeped. Steve pushed the weight from his waist back to his feet as he tended to the hot pot. Steve didn't know why his phone was buzzing so loudly in his bedroom but he refused to leave the kitchen until he was cup in hand and three sips deep.
Tony sat up and spun around to dive back into the moment. Placing his hands on Steve’s waist, he pushed his weight into him until he was on top. Running eager fingers up his chest, Steve memorized the feel of his shirt on his fingertips. The texture of the fabric outlined the definition of his chest. There was something more than desire staining their tongues and lips as they kissed and though Steve wanted to stay for more, to learn about all the things that Tony wanted from, to do to him, to do for him, to do with him - he couldn’t. He was damaged goods and to avoid devouring the man whole with his insatiable sexual appetite, Steve pulled his lips away, hand placed on Tony’s chest.
“I can’t. I mean, we can but we shouldn’t. I’ve been basically fucking my hurt feelings away for the last nine months and as much as I want to, which I do want to, I don’t think we should. Let’s take our time with it.”
Tony smiled as Steve spoke, his body still pressed tight to the young doctor. “That’s fine. Plus Peter has bionic hearing or something and I’m not ready for that talk.”
Steve dove into his lips once more. Softly biting Tony’s bottom lip, he forced himself to pull away again. “I should be heading home before I go against my better judgment.”
Tony snorted as he leaned back to sit upright. “Well, I don’t want you doing that.” He sarcastically stated.
Steve dragged himself back to bed with cup in hand. The phone by his bedside began to vibrate again. His lungs felt constricted - It was Bucky.
“Hello?” Steve said rather breathy.
“Steve, hey, it’s Sam. Uh, I hate to do this to you, man, but Bucky is having an episode and he’s losing it. He keeps yelling for you and I don’t know what to do. He won’t stop yelling and slamming his head against the wall and throwing everything in sight.” His voice was shaky. Steve didn’t know Sam, and didn’t want to, but he knew what it was like to be afraid of the man you love.
“Tell him I’ll be there in a minute. Just tell him on my way.”
There was urgency behind each move. Steve tried to think logically, trying not to sink back into the hands of a man who he spent so long learning how to cope without. It was all a matter of will, logic, and knowing that at the end of the day Sam was sleeping beside Bucky and Steve was alone.
Slipping into his clothes from last night, Steve slipped out of the door with all that was important in hand.
Peter rubbed the inner corners of his eyes with a yawn hidden by his hands.
“Stayed up late?” Tony asked with a newspaper in one hand and a spoon in the other. It wasn’t like him to read the newspaper but since his school had went under investigation and shut down a few months prior for reasons he knew little to nothing about, details wise, it was his new habit.
Peter lets out another yawn. “Gwen got drunk last night.”
“Thank God I’m not a tattle tell.” Tony mumbled as Peter continued with his story.
“Debbie left her uptown with no way home. She was freakin’ out about it so she asked some friends for a few bucks to call a cab. Stayed up talking to her while she was in the cab, crying like a maniac and the guy was trying to keep her calm but she was scared he was going to rape her. Then we talked some when she got home. Calmed her down some more and listened while she puked a few times, that wasn’t my choice though. ”
Tony placed the paper beside his cereal bowl. “You’re a pretty good boyfriend.”
Peter snorted. “Thanks. Phil taught me mostly everything I know...”
“Well excuse the hell out of me.” Tony laughed as he scooped a few Fruit Loops onto his spoon. “Guess I'm just the scum of the Earth, then?”
Peter shrugged. It was true that Tony was quite a fail at boyfriends. Over the years, during him and Pepper’s marriage, Tony still carried out relationships like he normally would. There were men, men who he wanted to latch onto and make something with but it never worked. After a few weeks or months with them, he grew bored and tired. Tony would never admit it but he was a man who was never satisfied, never willing to settle for someone who didn’t meet his standards and, regardless of what he says, he wanted as many men as he could get his hands unto. It wasn’t until his 39th birthday that he decided to spend some times alone with himself.
“I remember the few guys you brought home.” Peter croaked.
“You were like 5.”
“I know for a fact I’ve never seen the same guy twice. You never stayed with one person and you weren’t nice to any of them. You didn’t care about them. Or even loved them. Be honest with yourself, dad, you and I both know you’re a shitty boyfriend.”
“Language, Bambi.” Tony continued to eat as he thought.
“Steve is the only one that stands a chance.”
Tony smirked as he thought about Steve. “I don’t know about him.”
Last night after walking Steve to the curb and kissing one more time for the night, Tony spent the remainder of the night on the couch recounting his story. It was more than evident that Steve wasn’t ready for another long term relationship. After spending however long taking care of Bucky, Steve wanted to come home after a long day and be taken care of himself. For some reason, to Tony, this was unsettling. Not because he didn’t want to do such but because he was old. That night he looked at his skin, staring at the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth, the bags, the sagging muscle on his neck and his skin, the gross blotchy, sun kissed blemishes, wear and tear that was his old, disgusting skin. Tony didn’t want to get old and Steve spent the latter half of their relationship cleaning up after him. It was unsettling, and ultimately unfair.
Peter squinted at his father. “What does that mean? Mom gave me this whole speech about accepting and getting to know this guy and you’re unsure about him? Dad, please stop whatever you’re doing to yourself. I don't have time for speeches if you're not serious about him. I don’t know if you’re afraid to be with someone or what but you’re gonna end up alone like Uncle Jarvis.”
“Jarvis is a pretentious snob who wouldn’t know a good thing even if his anti-virus gave him a pop-up with a gigantic thumbs up flashing at him a million times.” Tony hated talking down about Peter’s beloved uncle but it was true.
“You’re missing the point, dad.”
“Well, my point, Peter, is that I don’t know if someone like Steve wants to deal with someone like me.”
Peter pinched his lips together, a condescending smile reaching over his slim face. “You mean old?”
Tony was hushed, eating the rest of his cereal with the newspaper blocking his blank face.
“You’re old and he’s like 16 and a half but who cares? If you like the way his breath smells in the morning, what does it matter?”
“That’s not how love works.” Tony tried not to get frustrated with his ignorant son. “He’s like that shiny guy in that vampire movie Gwen and your mom love so much and I’m the weird girl. I’m going to get old and die and he’ll basically be forever young. It’s like he’s Anna Nicole and I’m the old, dead husband. I don’t want to be with someone who makes me feel that way, alright? I don't want to force someone to be with me for the few years i have left when he has his whole life ahead of him. Is that good enough for you?” The two were silent. "Jesus, kid. You’re turning into your mother, you know."
Peter stared at his father’s sad eyes. It was obvious how much he was hurting, how much it all meant to him and, shockingly, he had nothing to say. Pouring a bowl of cereal himself, Peter ate his breakfast in peace.
“You’re not sick anymore, you know?” His voice was low, sad and sympathetic. “You can actually let someone in now.”
Tony sighed heavily as he covered some of his face with one hand. “I know.” Tony lied.
Peter was looking away as he nodded. Tony excused himself from the table.
Air was trapped inside of Steve’s still constricted lungs as he reached Sam’s door. There was commotion inside, glasses breaking and shattering against walls and floors. Sam was trying to calm Bucky, his voice flat and sympathetic. “James, look at me.” Sam was afraid, scared of the man who was before him and as much as Steve didn’t want to be, so was he.
“Sam! It’s me!” Steve hollered as he knocked. His eyes were scanning the block littered with nosey pedestrians and worried neighbors. Sam rushed to the door, pulling the man inside before shutting and locking it. “What happened?” Steve inquired with his lips pressed tightly together.
Bucky smashed more glasses into the wall.
“We were walking home from the diner and I don’t know, I think a tire blew out and he stopped breathing. I tried to get him to walk home, talking to him but I never seen him get this bad." Steve has. "The waitress saw and called the police and I told her not to and just,” He paused to look back at the crazed man. There were grunts and yells echoing down the hall. “When he came in he kept saying your name. He was talking to himself and kept asking for you. I didn’t know what else to do so I called you.”
Steve tightened his jaw, rolling his shoulders as he headed towards the kitchen.
“Bucky.” His voice cooed. If he hadn’t learned much of anything from the online forums, he learned that tension wasn’t the key. Take away all frustration, they would advise. Be calm, and patient, be sweet and gentle. They are trapped inside their own mind and they need you more than you know. Steve raised his hands, placing them on the counter as he looked at the enraged person Steve once considered his best friend. Bucky’s hair was blocking his face, something that resonated danger.
“You need to get out of my life.” Bucky’s voice was hard, hoarse from yelling and screaming yet still filled with anger Steve’s never seen before. Steve felt his lips twitch.
Sam stepped through the threshold with his hands by his sides. “I thought you wanted him here?”
A hysterical laughter that bellowed from deep within his loins came from Bucky's lungs. “You’re serious? Why would I want him here, Sam? I told you he ruined my life. He’s the reason why I lose my fucking mind when someone pops fucking popcorn.” Another glass smashed into the wall. “He’s the reason why kids laugh at me and call me names. He’s the reason why my own fucking mother won’t answer my phone calls. Why would I want him here, Sam? What makes you think I wanted you here? I got rid of you for a reason. I got rid of you so I can let go of this regret yet you still appear as if the message wasn't clear enough for you.”
Steve wished that they’d been here before. He wished he heard these words before, except, he hadn’t. The words were fresh, leaving new scars over the old ones as he mentally tried to pull himself together.
“Why are you still here?" Bucky yelled as his hair drapped over his face.
Steve sighed deeply, his legs weak under his weight. It was easy to walk away, bite his tongue and keep the peace but there was a pain. His heart pounded against his ribcage, his lungs collapsing into the pit of his stomach and as much as he wanted to walk away, his feet were cemented to the ground beneath him. The pain was almost unbearable. His heartbeat was rigid before it became stronger and beat faster. His woe became rage. Redness clouding his sight as sweat seeped from his pores.
Steve had never been here before, and he was glad that he finally arrived.
“Fuck you!” Steve yelled out, the words cutting his tongue. “I’ve done nothing but take care of you. You want to be angry and break shit, blame everyone else for you problems,” Grabbing a glass cup, he threw it against the wall as hard as he could, “let’s go, then!” Steve saw red, his heart racing faster than before, pumping acid as his lungs worked twice as hard to catch up with the rest of him. “You want to blame me for your unit being invaded? For your mother being a close-minded homophobe who will abandon her own son before learning to accept him for who he is? For your Army brothers dying by the hand of Al Queda? You want to blame me for giving up everything to be there for you? I tried walking away from my internship four times, what did you say, Bucky?” Steve wasn’t expecting an answer; all he wanted was to be heard. “I took care of your when your country left you to rot in the desert with one arm and three dead brothers. I was there when the car horns was too much to handle, when the Fourth of July made you sweat and shiver in fear. I was there for you every fucking step of the way and this is what I get?” Another glass, another shatter against the wall. “I’m the enemy, here? I beg to fucking differ.”
Sam placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder. Bucky’s eyes were locked onto Steve’s reddening face. “I think you should go.” Sam stated lowly, Bucky turning his back to the pair as he stared out the window that looked over the yard of the neighbor.
"You said until the end of the line. And you know what? This is it." Steve turned to leave, fast approaching the door until the moment caught up with him. This was it, their finl farewell and goodbye yet even through his rage and anger, steve felt like it was only right to take the high road.
“Do me a favor.” Steve thought about his words, eyes glued to the floor before slightly looking over his shoulder, looking at nothing in particular. The warmth of their glares burning a hole into the side of his face and an even bigger hole into his heart, the tension in his chest grow tighter. “Take care of yourself.”
He slammed the door behind him.