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Bucky thought about Steve sometimes.

There wasn't much to think about. There was nothing to consider. Yes, he loved Steve. He always would; there was no escaping that.

But Steve wanting to "try again" simply wasn't an option, because Bucky knew what "trying again" meant. It meant things would be okay for a while— Steve would kiss him, and hold him, and make him feel like maybe, finally, this could work. And then Steve would get on the next flight, go on the next mission, and leave. Maybe Bucky would be okay on that particular day, but maybe he wouldn't— maybe he'd need Steve to stay. But that didn't matter; Steve's plan wouldn't change. He'd leave Bucky behind just like he always did. "Trying again" only meant that Bucky would get hurt.

Steve's actions weren't malicious; Bucky knew he never meant any harm. Steve never thought of it as abandoning Bucky, he just thought he was going on with his life— taking care of his responsibilities, his duties. And Steve was happy like that; he threw himself into his work, and the kind of relationship he had with Bucky was enough for him. It had always been enough for Steve, but it was never, ever enough for Bucky.

Steve was his best friend, and if he kept it that way— if he didn't allow himself to form those unreturned attachments, those unfulfilled expectations that Bucky would be the most important piece of Steve's life, then it worked. They worked. Bucky had accepted it years ago.

But Bucky still thought about him.

Hidden by the hot spray of the shower, he'd try to remember what Steve's hands felt like on his skin, all those years ago— back before whatever switch had tripped, whatever had changed in his brain that made Steve's fingers feel like roaches crawling across his body the last time they had tried. He tried to remember when Steve's hands still lit him up, when they sent ten thousand watts straight to his bloodstream, filling him with need and lust and desire.

He tried to remember Steve's full lips against his own, in all their ways— timid at first, back when Steve was small and they had to jump through excuse after excuse to touch because neither of them could accept the reality of what they were feeling. And later, when they were rough, desperate to get at Bucky and make up for lost time. And then after that, when they were comfortable. Gentle. Loving.

He tried to remember how Steve's lips felt against his skin— Steve's stubbled cheek rubbing against his shoulder, and then, later, against the tender skin on his inner thigh.

He tried to remember how Steve's thick fingers felt intertwined with his own, reassuring him, and, later, pinning him down against a bedroll in their tent. He remembered how they felt, calloused and strong, when they gripped around Bucky's twitching cock. He remembered how he felt when he was stretched around Steve, full of him and still taking more. As much as Steve could give him.

Steve had always been attracted to men, something Bucky had known about him probably before Steve knew himself. Bucky was on the opposite end of the spectrum— he usually preferred women, which was a blessing, back then. He went out dancing, flirted, fucked— he had a reputation as the local heartbreaker, which worked in their favor. No one was ever suspicious about two young men living together when one had a trail of women chasing after him.

But god, living with Steve had been tempting. He knew how Steve looked at him, and it only gave Bucky permission to stare right back.

They used to kiss, "for practice," even when Bucky didn't need practice anymore— he wanted to teach Steve, he'd said, so Steve would be ready. They'd kiss, and fall into bed, rut against each other until they were both panting and gasping and throbbing— but then they'd stop. They never did too much, never took it too far. They wouldn't come together, because, according to their unspoken rules, if they didn't finish, then it wasn't real— they were just practicing.

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