Sing Me Sleepy
Early mornings, cinnamon and cuddles.
The first thing that Bucky notices is the soft sunlight pouring down on his face. It goes on from there, like a pebble rolling down a street — his other senses starts picking up on his surroundings: the warmth of the sunlight, the rustle of worn bed sheets, the scent of cinnamon wafting through the almost tangible smell of dampness. His body starts waking up, his left arm numb and his eyes itching for more sleep than he can honestly afford.
But he's tired. Lately, he's been constantly tired. Working at the docks had started taking its toll on his nineteen-year old body, and he can feel the aches in his joints, the dulled aching in his knees and the soreness in his arms from hauling crates over and over. He just wants to sleep some more, just wants to return to that calming black.
A soft humming reaches his ears, and Bucky slowly opens his eyes. His gaze blurs for a moment, then he sees the off-white linen of the bedsheets and their crumpled state near his face. The space before him is empty, and there's a certain wrongness to it. It paws at Bucky's thoughts, makes him frown in sleepy consternation and it takes a moment for him to wonder why the emptiness does not sit well with him.
It's when his ears finally pick up on the soft humming that has Bucky turning slightly, the blankets crunching quietly. It's a familiar song, and he can almost hear the saxophones and the baritone of the male singer. Blues in the Night, his brain helpfully supplies even when it takes him a while to register what it is. He blinks and his eyes take in the shadowed area of the apartment, and his eyes land on Steve.
Steve, his best bud, his pal, his fella — a thin shirt covering his slender, almost painfully thin frame and too-big pants, Bucky's old ones from when he was still thirteen, hanging precariously on his hips. Blond hair shines from near the sink, as Steve busies himself.
"'Mornin'," Bucky manages to grit out, barely stopping a yawn from elongating the "o". Steve turns, and there's a smile on his lips, vivid blue eyes sparkling. A too thin face, on a too thin frame. Bucky smiles in response, regardless.
"Hey, Buck." Steve greets, and Bucky spies the knife on his right hand. The scent of cinnamon hits him again, and his stomach takes the opportunity to make itself known. He sits up, lets the sheet fall down his bare torso and he rests his shoulder against the wall, ignoring the slight dampness to it. "Hey, yourself."
He sits there, for a moment, content to watch Steve at their kitchen, the soft sunlight warming him, the chirping of the birds outside their window. He can hear faint music, most likely Mr. Williams from next door, and if Bucky could be damned to listen closely, he can even hear lil' Janet Williams singing with her eight-year old squeak.
There's the sound of burbling and Bucky, sleep-addled, allows his head to swivel back and watch Steve cut the stove light.
"Careful, Stevie." Bucky says, almost unconsciously, as Steve grabs the pot with slow, careful hands and starts pouring hot water into two mugs. Something tight and heavy sits on Bucky's chest, watching Steve holding the pot. It had been a good month, so far, now that his brain is starting to actually work. Steve had always been sickly — frail and weak; Bucky could no longer count with both hands how many times he had stayed up all night, panicking and terrified, as Steve battled cold and fever, always looking like he was about to breathe his last. His last cold had been last December, and Bucky remembers holding Steve close as he shook, like a damn dog left out in the cold. He remembers how blue Steve's lips had gone and how it felt like Bucky's heart would stop beating with how frantic, how terrified beyond belief he was.
Steve still had gotten the cough two weeks back, and he had a fever the other night but all in all, he had been alright this month. Bucky could see the recovered strength in his limbs as Steve finishes pouring the water and puts the pot back with one hand. He grabs the two mugs, steaming, and he places them on the rickety table next to him, and Bucky can see the small stack of bread next to them.
"Is that cinnamon?" He asks, out of curiousity. Cinnamon was expensive. Hell, everything was expensive. The war had taken its toll on the country, and it wasn't just money or food. It was everything. From what he could smell, it must have been a lot of it — and wasn't that somethin'? He knew they couldn't afford to buy that much cinnamon, can't even scrounge up enough to actually buy meat. Even if they had the money, nobody was selling it at that kind of quantity – everything was rationed these days.
"Mmhmm," Steve answers, wiping his hands with the washcloth. "Missus Lucy came by yesterday, sweet enough to give us some."
"Wow," it was the only thing Bucky can say. Nobody did that these days — sharing, being a kind neighbour, all that about the American pride and shit — the war didn't let up on anyone. Missus Lucy Jenkins was as nice as dames can get, and she always greeted him when he bumped into her on his way to work, but Stevie was her favorite — something Bucky can't fault her for. Stevie was everyone's favorite, Bucky's included. "That's really nice, Steve."
"Yeah," he answers back, and Steve smiles at him, hip resting against the table. "So you gonna get up?"
At his words, Bucky grins, feeling completely awake now. "I don't know, pal. Still think I'm counting sheep."
Bucky nods, smiling. "You wanna try and wake me up?"
The suggestion is not lost on Steve, and a delectable red paints his pale cheeks. Bucky smiles wider; flustered Steve Rogers is Bucky's favorite Steve Rogers.
"I don't know, Buck. Food might grow cold."
"Food's already cold, might as well get this over with, pal."
Steve sighs, long-suffering, but Bucky sees through the act. He ducks his head and looks at Steve past the hair that's fallen down his brow. He knows how he looks, especially when he just woke. Bucky's no prissy git, he's not the type to act like some pompous ass — considering his circumstances — but he's aware that he looks good, and that people like his face. He knows how to look them in the eye, knows how to look atthem and knows how to make them look at him back, and Steve's no different.
He doesn't like using it on Steve, on his best fella, but he's still a little cold, and his chest is still tight with how wrong it is to have Steve so far from him.
Steve flushes some more, and the scarlet look really suits him, but a stubborn gleam glows in his eyes and, for how small and thin he is, he imposingly crosses his slender arms across his chest. "I know that face. Don't think you can make me, Buck."
Bucky lets a chuckle pass his lips, and he raises a hand to scratch at his neck, feigning the innocent look he used to give his mother back when he was seven. "Damn, you got me, Steve. I guess I can't pull you into bed with me, right?"
"Nope," Steve grins. Bucky averts his gaze and allows himself to look nonchalant.
"Yup, can't do it. That's probably because you're afraid, but I get it. It's no problem, Steve."
Steve frowns. "Excuse me?"
Bucky shrugs. "Afraid. You're afraid, I get it. You're afraid to get tricked by me, so you don't even try. Don't worry, I won't judge ya."
Arms falling to sides, Bucky wants to smile as the spitfire starts to gather warmth in Steve's blue, blue eyes. "Are you saying that I'm afraid of you, Barnes?"
"If the shoe fits…"
He doesn't even finish his sentence before Steve is stalking towards him, surprisingly intimidating with his stature, his blue eyes determined. Steve's not even a second away from him that Bucky jumps and grabs him, careful to not hold him too tight, and he's pulling Steve into bed with him, startled squeak and all.
He laughs, the warmth of Steve's body pressed against his, and the way he struggles against Bucky.
"And Rogers falls for it everytime!" Bucky exclaims, pretending to sound like those mustached villains in the films they sometimes sneak in to watch. "What shall our dashing hero do?"
"Buck, let go!" Steve says, his voice annoyed, but Bucky sees the smile pulling at his lips and he changes his grasp on Steve, letting go of his arms and settling them on his small hips. He's basically in Bucky's lap, pants itchy against Bucky's belly, and he can smell the cinnamon sticking to Steve's skin.
"Nope, not letting you go, no siree." Bucky sings, and Steve doesn't react to how bad Bucky's breath smells right now, and simply pushes at Bucky's shoulders to get away — but he's not really getting away, and Bucky can barely feel the push of Steve's hands, and instead feels his wrists resting on the slope where his neck meets shoulder, small fingers resting on his nape. There's a small smile on Steve's lips, and although there's still some of the fire in his eyes, it's alight with amusement.
"Damn, Buck," Steve says, voice low, blue eyes soft. "You got me."
It's hard, Bucky admits. It's hard to ignore the rightness settling on his chest, replacing that unwanted weight, with Steve resting on his lap. It's always been that way between them, for so long Bucky can't even recall a time where it wasn't — can't put a single memory to when Steve was unwanted, unneeded — and Bucky was not in the position to disagree.
It felt right, it felt good. To have Steve here, close, close enough for Bucky to count the freckles on his cheeks, close enough to count the specks of green in his blue eyes, those green dots that has always amazed Bucky.
Steve is quiet, and his own eyes are pensive, contemplative as he returns Bucky's gaze.
"I got you?" Bucky asks, voice just as low, and he honestly can't help the huskiness that makes itself known, the want and desire in it.
"You got me." Steve answers, letting the corners of his lips quirk up in a small genuine smile. That was Steve in a nutshell — spitfire and honest, hardheaded and with a heart too big for this world — and goddamn it if Bucky doesn't feel every bit as lucky as he does now to have this wonderful, wonderful human being in his arms.
"And you got me," and he'll deny, he'll always deny what he said, the words he chose, how sickeningly trite and cheesy they were, but he can't deny the light in Steve's eyes, that flush of red that makes his freckles disappear, that pleased hum that he thinks Bucky can't hear, that thrum of joy in his veins — and he can't deny that shared rightness between them, that as much as he is Bucky Barnes, he is only Bucky Barnes when Steve Rogers is in the equation.
And that Steve Rogers is Steve Rogers when Bucky Barnes is added into the mix.
He doesn't wait, doesn't want to wait, and he angles his head and kisses Steve. It's soft, unhurried, but just as genuine and heartfelt as their heated kisses. Something warm, pleasant (and Bucky will deny how it sometimes make his eyes sting) settles and his hold on Steve tightens, enough that their chests are against each other, strong enough to not let go, but not enough to hurt Steve. His nose rubs against Steve's, and Bucky feels a smile against his lips as Steve's arms tighten around his neck, and for some reason — or for no reason at all — Bucky smiles back, eyes opening to see the bright skies in Steve's blue-green eyes.
They're silent, only the faintest sound of lips moving against each other, the occasional hum, the gentle laughter that escapes Steve's lips as Bucky drags the growing hair on his jaw against Steve's neck.
Time trickles by, or maybe even runs past them, but Bucky doesn't care. He doesn't.
There's a war outside their small, cold walk up. The crates by the docks wait to be hauled. There's still a world out there, wanting to take a piece out of them, but Bucky doesn't care. He doesn't. All he cares for is Steve.
Wonderful, wonderful Steve, with his soft, flaxen hair; Steve, with his sky-lit, honest eyes; with his ever-smiling lips and with a pure heart that Bucky sometimes still can't believe exists.
"You got anywhere to be, sweetheart?" He kids, pulling away a little. Steve grins, nose scrunched up, and he smiles, answering.
"I do, in fact. Gotta help the boys fightin' out there, need to stock up on food down by the station. Probably help an old lady cross the street, that kinda thing."
Then Steve laughs at himself, at his own joke but Bucky can't help but pull him closer — knowing, without a doubt, that no matter how many times Steve jokes about himself, he's the best person Bucky knows. He's the most honest, most polite, most something (something warm, something pleasant) that he knows, and Steve may have joked about helping with the rationing, but Bucky knows that Steve goes to help as much as he can, even if he tries to lie to Bucky that he's spent the entire day at the apartment.
And honestly, for how many times he's told Steve to go easy on himself, to just relax and let other people do the bigger jobs for a change, Bucky can't get angry at how much Steve puts others before himself, at how much Steve wants to help, to be a good guy, to do the right thing — and can Bucky really be angry over that?
He shakes his head at Steve's joke, and lets his forehead rest against Steve's, eyes half-lidded, noses touching, lips almost kissing, warm breath fanning. Steve says something, something low and soft and Bucky doesn't catch it but he feels the warmth grow inside anyway, as Steve pulls him closer, a song playing from his closed lips.
This amazing, amazing person and Bucky sometimes still can't believe he exists, can't believe Steve Rogers exists, in this shitty world, in this hard and difficult world, with his kind smile and his soft eyes and his too-big heart.
And Bucky can only close his eyes and let Steve take the reins, rocking lightly, let himself go and be content with Steve's nearness, his own fortitude, forged in face of so many battles, so many nights spent shivering, coughing and pushing through, managing to fight for one more day. His wonderful, amazing, courageous Steve.
It's true, there's a war out there. The American forces had lost their last consolidation on Corregidor, the Japanese are attacking from the west, and Nazi Germany was gaining on Russia. People are dying, food growing lesser and lesser and there's more corpses coming home than there are soldiers leaving. It's a shitstorm.
But here, holding Steve and being held by him, Blues in the Night humming from his lips; in this cold walk-up with a kind neighbour, its old crispy sheets, its damp walls and its clanky pipes; in this early morning moment, cinnamon wafting in the air, Steve's warmth breathing life into him — in this little place they carved out for themselves, Bucky feels safe, feels at peace, feels happy.