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I Want To Talk To Him

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Tony has had that damn phone for two weeks and it was mocking him. He threw it in the trash a couple times only to pick it out a few minutes later. He’s staring at it. Wanting it to go away. He hates it. But he can’t throw it away. Because doing so is like throwing them out. They deserve it. At least that’s what he thinks when he’s angry. But when he’s not he stares at the phone like it’s his life line. His phone a friend. But they’re not friends. Not after the war. He picks up the phone. His mind lights up with an idea. Before he knows what he’s doing, he’s dialing the number. The phone rings three times before it’s answered.
“…Tony.” Steve’s voice hitches a little.
“I want to talk to him.” Tony says flatly.
“Talk to who?”
“Barnes. I want… I need to talk to him. Put him on.” Tony all but demands.
“He’s in cryo. We can talk.”
“No. Go wake him up.” Tony says getting up and pacing. “You owe me this Steve.” Tony says as a way of reminding him. Because honestly he did. Lying to him about it for years? He deserves at least the chance to talk to the man who did it.
“I don’t think… “.
“I will fly to Wakanda if that’s what this takes, but I don’t think doing it face to face is a good idea. Wake him up.”
“How do you…” Steve cuts himself off. Tony would know where they are. “Who have you told?” Steve asks concerned
“No one, dumbass. Go wake him up. I will come over. Don’t think I won’t.”
“Fine.” Steve says getting to his feet. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“You owe me this.” Tony reminds him “You owe me a lot of things.” Steve doesn’t answer that.
“Give me a few minutes. I’ll call you back.”
“I’m calling if I don’t hear from you in one hour.”
“Okay.” Steve hangs up the phone. Tony paces his office for what feels like an eternity.
Meanwhile...
“Who was that?” Sam asks while the rest of the group listens.
“Tony.” He says softly
“He called.” Clint says half surprised. They all knew he sent the phone as it was a group decision. The letter was going either way, but they all decided.
“Yeah.”
“What’d he say?” Sam asks.
“He wants to talk to Bucky.”
“What?” Clint asks “No!”
“Why?” Sam asks “Maybe this is Tony’s way of getting answers or making peace. What’s wrong with it? He can’t hurt him. Bucky would know to hang up if it gets to him. You owe him it for not telling him.” Sam points out.
“He said that too.” Steve says looking down “And he’s right.”
“He knows where we are?” Wanda asks.
“Yeah.”
“He won’t say anything?” Clint asks
“I have a feeling he never lost us.” Steve says “No, I don’t think he will. He hates me, hates us, but I don’t think he wants us in jail for life.”
“He’s trying to get the charges dropped.” The king says walking in. “And he has known you were here the entire time. We’ve talked about it.”
“You told him?” Clint asks.
“Didn’t need too.” T’Challa smiles.
“Wait, back up.” Sam says “Charges dropped?”
“Yes.” T’Challa smiles. “He hates you, yes. But is trying to get you off with the best of intentions. Don’t want to give you false hope but he has a high probability of getting it. Mr. Stark is brilliant after all. And what brilliance can’t get you, money can.”
“He’s bribing them.” Steve says disapprovingly.
“I said no such thing.” T’Challa says disappointed. “Merely stating he’s hired the best legal team money can buy. Working all hours, doing everything he can legally, I might add. But that’s neither here nor there. I do believe we have a super soldier to wake up?”
“How’d you... “.
“I know what goes on in my kingdom, Mr. Barton and I probably monitor you more closely than Mr. Stark ever did.” If that wasn’t unnerving… “Shall we?” T’Challa smiles, genuinely. They follow him to the room where doctors are waiting.
Within a few minutes, Bucky opens his eyes with a sharp breath.
“Steve?” Bucky asks looking around “How long was I under?”
“2 weeks.” Steve says with an apologizing tone. “Tony called. He wants to talk to you.” Steve says being direct.
“Oh....What do I say?”
“You say what you think.” T’Challa says “Lying will only make your situation worse. I suggest only the truth no matter how much it hurts either of you. He deserves that, and so do you.” Bucky nods slowly as Steve dials the number.
Meanwhile...
Tony’s been pacing for 42 minutes. Looking at the clock every couple of seconds. He actually jumps when the phone rings, but answers it immediately
“Hello?” He asks hesitantly.
“Tony.” Steve says. “We’ve woken him up. He’s here.”
“I want to talk to him alone. Just to make sure you aren’t feeding him answers.”
“Tony... “.
“That’s fine.” He hears Barnes in the background and his breath catches in his throat.
“Okay. I’m going to give him the phone.” He hears some shuffling as Tony pushes down the panic. This is it.
“S…Stark?” Barnes’ voice is hesitant.
“Yeah.” Tony clears his throat. “Yeah.”
“Good to know you sound as nervous as I feel.” Barnes huffs slightly.
Tony chokes back a laugh. “Tends to happen.” Tony comments.
“They’re gone.” Barnes says “I don’t know how to prove it though.”
“You don’t need to prove it. You said it, so I believe you.”
“Really?”
“Haven’t lied to me yet. You seem to be you. Well not you, but you.”
“That didn’t make sense.” Bucky comments.
“Well, you’re not you from the 40’s. And you’re not the soldier. At least I hope not. But you’re not the same man you were before. Which makes you you, but not you. Did that help?”.
“Kind of.” Bucky says “I think I get it.”
“Great.”
“What… did you want to talk about?” Bucky asks hesitantly.
“I want to talk about you.”
“Okay. I figured.”
“Do you remember doing it?” Tony asks, no clarification needed.
“Yes.”
“Do you remember all of them?”
“Most. But your parents the most. I watched them and you a long time before I killed them.” Bucky pauses not knowing what else to say.
“What did you see?”
“Howard… hurting you. And Maria.” Bucky doesn’t know if he should have said that, but T’Challa said to be honest.
“Didn’t see that one coming.” Tony mentions and Bucky let’s out a breath.
“Does Steve know?” Bucky can’t help but ask.
“That Howard hit me?”
“Yeah.”
“No.” Tony says “He loved that man. More than he ever loved me. Why ruin both Starks for him?”
“Because he was an abusive asshole who deserved what he got.” Bucky spits out and there is silence on the other end.
“I wouldn’t go that far…” Tony mumbles “Jail would’ve suited him very fine. But…”
“I’m sorry about Maria.” Bucky says “For what it’s worth.”
“Hmm. So, you do still have feelings. I was wondering when you beat the shit out of me if you could understand why I was angry.”
“I did. I didn’t want to fight you, but I didn’t want to die.”
“I wouldn’t have killed you.” Tony mumbles.
“You blew off my arm.”
“You grabbed my arc reactor!” Tony throws back.
“The thing in your chest?”
“It used to keep me alive, before I had it removed. Long story, but My dad’s friend, who was more like a dad to me, ripped it from my chest while I was paralyzed. Nearly died. With my PTSD anxiety ridden ass you can’t blame me for panicking. Even if it wouldn’t have actually killed me.”
“Fair. I’ll tell Steve I deserved that one. That’ll be a fun conversation.”
Tony snorts. “Isn’t it always?”
“He doesn’t see that I’m different.” Bucky comments “He thinks I’m the same kid from Brooklyn. I’m not.”
“You were tortured and used as a Hydra weapon for 70 odd years. Of course you’re different! Steve is a dumb ass for assuming you’re the same.”
Bucky snorts this time. “Tell him that.”
“Next time I see him, I’ll be sure to,” Tony comments with a smile. “I’m sorry, by the way. For everything except blowing off your arm. I know it wasn’t you. I know it was Hydra. I knew it too, but I didn’t care. I saw you murder my parents. And then you were right there and Steve knew. And he didn’t tell me. And I wanted someone to pay. And… I haven’t’ told anyone this, but I probably should.” Tony says and Bucky listens calmly “I made a machine. BARF- Names not important. But is lets you relive traumatic memories. It’s supposed to eventually help you overcome them. Great for PTSD and shit, like I needed that. But I showed it off at MIT. I showed everyone the last time I saw my parents alive. How I didn’t actually say the words I should have and how they left on bad terms. And then 2 days later I’m watching a video of them being murdered with their murderer and my ex-best friend standing next to me. And all I saw was red. I know you were being brainwashed and all that shit but I was so mad. And I’m sorry for attacking you. I shouldn’t have.”
“You should have.” Bucky says “You were right to.”
“What?” Tony asks.
“Any sane person would do that exact same thing.”
“I don’t know if it was the right thing.” Tony says.
“Did it get your anger out on me?”
“Well… yeah.”
“Then it was.”
“You’re weird.” Tony says with a snort “Does that mean I’m forgiven?”
“I was never angry at you. I deserved it.”
“No, you didn’t. Okay maybe a little, but it was mostly Steve who deserved it.”
“I’ll give you that.” Bucky says “That was a dick move. You deserved to know.”
“Did you read the letter he wrote me?”
“Letter?”
“Yeah his cockamamie bullshit ‘I was right and I’m sorry you were wrong and got hurt getting in the way of doing what I know was right’. Bullshit. The accords are needed. And did he tell you that you would have been sent to an American psych center where they’d have a say in everything you do and your treatment and none of you would be fugitives from the law? The last 24 hours would be undone, and everything would go away if he signed.”
“…No.” Bucky says “He didn’t.”
Tony snorts “Figured.”
“What were the accords? Steve said something about ‘dangerous’ ‘control us’ ‘not good’ 'people with agendas'.”
“Yeah, well if he fucking read them he’d know what they are and that we’d get to revise them before signing anything official.”
“Wow.”
“But enough Steve bashing” Tony says. “I really want you to be happy with him.”
“And what if I’m not?”
“Then you do what’s best for you, no matter the outcome for Steve. Be selfish. You deserve that. I have another question.”
“Sure.”
“Why’d you kill my mom?” Tony’s asks, voice tight.
“She was a witness and it was the ideal time to strike. He had the serum, he was driving with no other cars on the road. She was with him, unfortunately, but to the soldier she was just a casualty. It didn’t matter.”
Tony nods. “You would have killed me if I was in the car.” It wasn’t a question but Bucky answers anyway.
“Yes.”
“Is he still there?”
“Yes. But… only with the words. I can block him out now.”
“Is it like… two people in your head? You and him?”
“…Yeah.” Bucky says softly.
“No one knows that, do they?”
“No.”
“You should tell them. It could significantly help with your treatment. Medicine, therapy and in time it could be just you.”
“I don’t want to,” Bucky whispers.
“Why?”
“I’m scared,” Bucky says, barely above a whisper.
“Of doctors? Or is it because of the problem itself?”
“Both…and of Steve.”
“Embarrassed?”
“Yeah.”
“I’d tell you there’s no need to be, but you won’t listen, so I’m not going to. What I am going to tell you is that it’d be best if you did it anyway. I know what that’s like. It’s exactly like when I told exactly zero people I had PSTD. I’m not an idiot. I know I have it. People know I have it, they just ignore it. But people like you… or like who you’re supposed to be, I guess. Cause let’s be real, no one really knows you anymore. Which I’m not saying to be harsh.”
“I find the truth refreshing.”
“Me too. But as I was saying, they like you so they’ll help. They won’t ignore you, especially Steve. He’ll want to help as much as he can. He may be overprotective of his friends, save me, but he cares about you. He wants you to get better.”
“I want you to get better.” The words surprise both men.
“Thanks… I guess? I want you better. If I feel you deserve the hate, I will only hate you when I know it’s you. But I dunno, I kind of like you. Which is weird. I expected this to be very awkward.”
“That makes two of us. I don’t know why everyone seems to hate you,” Bucky says earnestly. “Honestly, you’re a lot better than like all of them here. The girl, the red one, she’s… bitter and mean and rude.”
“Wanda. You get used to it.”
“From what I gathered, you’ve done nothing wrong.”
Tony laughs. “That’s a first.”
“That someone doesn’t blame you for something that isn’t your fault?”
“That’s scary accurate,” Tony comments.
“From my training I’ve learned to pick up small details. They seem to blame you for everything, but I don’t see how the accords were your fault.”
“They weren’t,” Tony says with a snort. “I can make a lot of things disappear. I’m great with the media. I know my way around it and how to stop rumors before they even start. What I can’t make disappear are documents the United Nations wanted, gone. That’s very far above me. But I agreed with them, so instantly it’s my fault.”
“They’re assholes,” Bucky says.
“Tell me about it.”
“So, why are you trying to get them off on their charges?” Bucky asks.
“How do you know that?”
“T’Challa told them, and in turn told me.”
“Hmm… honestly? I don’t know why I’m doing it.”
“You miss them.”
“Not them. I think I miss the idea of them. Of what we once should have been. But even then, it wasn’t right. I wasn’t on the same level as them.”
“That’s rough.”
“Eh, nothing compared to 70 years of torture and brainwashing.”
“It wasn’t like that completely.”
“What was it like?”
“I was under for most of it,” Bucky says. “I was woken up for almost 1 month and half or less per year. So, I wasn’t really awake and being tortured. They tortured me yes, and brainwashed me, yes. But that was only for a year or so? I’m not really sure how long. But after that, unless they worked on my brain, it wasn’t torture. It was nothing.”
“I was tortured.” Tony doesn’t know why he says that.
“You were?”
“They forced my head under water and just before I passed out they would pull me out, but only long enough for me to breathe before I’d be under again. They did that multiple times. I refused to build terrorists weapons.”
“What happened?”
“Gave in and told em I would.”
“You didn’t.” It’s not a question.
“No,” Tony smiles. “I didn’t. Built the armor, blew em all to hell.”
“Good.”
“I thought so too.”
“How’s the guy that fell out of the sky?” Bucky asks.
“Rhodey.” Tony’s sighs.
“That’s his name?”
“You probably know him as James or Colonel Rhodes, even though that’s now a former title.”
“Yeah.”
“Paralyzed from the waist down.”
“Damn. Tell him I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault...sort of. But I will. He’ll be pissed at me for calling you.”
“Over-protective?” Bucky asks.
“You could say that.” Tony sighs. “When he’s here he fusses over me because he couldn’t always be here with his attachment to the army. And because I got kidnapped and he was a few cars behind me and couldn’t stop them and spent 3 months trying to find me with no luck. Kinda makes someone over-protective.”
“Makes sense,” Bucky nods.
“Do you have any questions for me?” Tony asks.
“What?” Bucky asks shocked.
“Well, I’ve asked you a bunch about my parent’s death, so if you had any questions about me, I’ll answer honestly. And this stays between us, if you want it all to of course.”
“How did you cope… with the death?”
“Drugs and alcohol. And some science. Which is not a very good combination. Almost killed myself, twice. Once wasn’t on purpose though.” Bucky doesn’t interrupt. “I don’t blame you, and you shouldn’t blame yourself either. But I know you’re going to anyway. I feel the same about a lot of things.”
“What do you blame yourself for?” Bucky asks. As he asks, the question surprises him.
“The list is long, but to list a few: Ultron, The Civil War, many people’s deaths from my weapons, Wanda’s family, the Battle of New York...“
“How the hell is New York your fault?” Bucky asks completely bewildered. “I wasn’t awake for that, but I read about it. That was all Loki.”
“He used my power source,” Tony admits.
“If you didn’t invent it, he couldn’t have used it?”
“Something like that.”
“That’s stupid,” Bucky says. “That’s really the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Thanks,” Tony says dryly.
“No, I mean it. You created something to keep you alive and you were trying to use it for clean energy, right?”
“Yeah.”
“So, if you were using it for good, you can’t blame yourself that he used it for bad.”
“Can you say that again?” Tony asks.
“What?”
“Just repeat that.”
“It’s stupid that you think it’s your fault because he used your inventions to hurt people.” Tony is smirking, but of course Bucky can’t see it. “I don’t… oh,” Bucky realizes. “You’re throwing that back at me, aren’t you?”
“Yup.” Tony pops the p.
“Do you really blame yourself for New York?” Bucky asks
“Yes. I really do. But when I heard you say that… Hydra made you the weapon you were. Hydra used you, the weapon to hurt people. It’s the same thing. If I’m not at fault for New York, you aren’t at fault for all the shit they made you do.”
“I don’t like that.”
“What? That I used your words against you?”
“Yeah. It makes me feel guilty.”
“For believing it true about me, but not about you?” Tony asks. “Yeah, I feel the same.”
“What a pair we are,” Bucky says and Tony snorts. After a pause Bucky says, “I like you.”
“I like you too. Which is surprising given our circumstances.”
“Yeah,” Bucky agrees.
“Do you have any other questions for me?” Tony asks.
“Are you happy?”
“In general? No. Right this very moment? I’d say yeah.”
“How close are you to getting me free?”
“You?” Tony asks. “Dude, I got you off ages ago. With Hydra and brainwashing it was pretty easy to convince them. Most people are good, despite what Steve thinks.”
“I could go to back to the states?”
“Yeah, you could come here right now and it’d be perfectly legal.” Tony says
“Can I?” Bucky asks.
“You want to come here?” Tony clarifies.
“Yes. I don’t like Wakanda. And I want American doctors. And I want to get better and you understand me. He believes I’m the same kid from Brooklyn. You understand that I’m not. That neither of us are.”
“I mean, you’re more than welcome to come whenever you want. You’re always allowed here. Like any Avengers past present and future. None of you ever have to worry about having a home or food. So yeah, if you pack your bags, I’ll pick you up. But, I just want you to be sure that’s what you want. To leave Steve. So, after we hang up, I’ll call back in a week when you’ve thought about it. If the answer is still yes, I’ll be there in a matter of hours. No matter what Steve has to say about it. Fair?”
“Yeah,” Bucky nods. “That’s more than fair.”
“Anything else you want to ask?”
“No. And if I think of something, I’ll talk to you in a week,” Bucky says.
“Exactly. I think I’m good too. Call you in one week. Don’t go under cyro. Live with them. Think about it. Call you in a week.”
“Okay...Thanks Tony.”
“You’re welcome…” Tony pauses.
“You can call me Bucky,” he says smiling.
“You’re welcome Bucky. And thank you, for talking to me.”
“You’re uh welcome,” he says and they hang up. Bucky exits the room to find everyone in a room a few doors down. Steve couldn’t hear him. He worried about that, but is glad they left. He enters the room.
“Bucky. How’d it go? You were in there for a while.” Steve says.
“I like him.”
“What?” Clint exclaims.
“Yeah, I do too” T’Challa says. He seems to be the only one smiling.
“After what he did to us? To you?” Steve asks shocked.
“We talked about it,” Bucky explains. “I didn’t understand at first, but now I think I do.”
“He blew off your arm!” Steve shouts in disbelief.
“I deserved that for touching his arc reactor,” Bucky says.
“He told you that?” Steve asks in a whisper.
“Yeah. And I agree. Even though I didn’t know the story behind it, I shouldn’t have done it. I didn’t know he had issues with it.”
“So just like that?” Steve asks “All’s forgiven?”
“Yeah. That’s what happens when you talk to someone calmly and rationally for more than 2 seconds. I actually really like him.”
“If you knew the real him....“ Steve starts.
“No, Steve. The man I spoke to was nothing but real with me.”
“And you know that how?”
“70 years of practice being able to read people’s voices and emotions, that’s how. That man was being genuine.”
“That’s a first,” Clint says with a snort.
“I like him more then you.” Bucky says, looking at Clint.
“I helped you!” Clint says in outrage.
“One action does not define a man,” Bucky says.
“Bucky, Clint is a good man,” Steve says.
“Is he? All he does is yell, complain and talk shit about a man who isn’t even here to defend himself. Are those characteristics of a good man?”
“That’s just him now, due to the circumstances.”
“A man is only as good as his words,” Bucky quotes. No one says anything in response. “T’Challa, is there a room I can stay in for the time being?”
“Of course,” the king replies.
“You’re not going back in cryo?” Steve asks.
“No, I think I should be awake from now on.” T’Challa smiles as Bucky follows him out of the room.

Chapter Text

Tony hangs up the phone and stares at it for a few moments. He stares in disbelief at it. He actually likes Barnes- no, Bucky, Tony reminds himself. He didn’t know what he had planned to say when he spoke to him. The decision had been rash. Yeah, he had time to think about it. Many different thoughts and scenarios had played in his head. Bucky would yell at him, he would yell at Bucky. One of them would hang up on the other because they wouldn’t tolerate the abuse. But he never imagined he’d invite the man over. Without the others. Without Steve. That was a rash decision. But strangely he doesn’t regret it. Not at all. He actually finds himself hoping that in a week Bucky will still want to come over.
“FRI, call the best doctor who deals with multiple personality disorders. Tell them I may have a case for them and make sure they know it’s not me though.”
“Yes Boss.”
“Also, where’s Bruce?” He would be a great help.
“He is still in Toronto. Shall I ready the suit?”
“No,” Tony says quickly. “Prep the Quinjet for tomorrow morning.”
“Sure, thing boss.”
“Where’s Rhodey?” Tony asks.
“Still with his mother, in D.C.”
“Okay. What about Viz?”
“He is currently in his room.”
“See if he’d be willing to meet me for a late dinner.”
After a slight pause, the A.I. replies, “He’d be happy to join you.”
“We still have leftover pizza, yeah?”
“Yes Boss.” Tony makes his way to the kitchen and heats the pizza. Vision is already there. Tony sits down and takes a bite.
“Tony...“
“I called Steve,” Tony says, cutting Vision off.
“You did?”
“I wanted to talk to Bucky.”
“He’s Bucky now?” Vision says mildly surprised.
“He may come over next week. For medical help.” Tony tries to casually mention.
“Is Mr. Rogers coming with him?”
After Vision found him nearly dead in Siberia, he refused to call him Captain. His words were ‘No respectable captain would leave an injured man behind.’ Tony didn’t argue that.
“Nope,” Tony says with a shrug.
“May I ask how the conversation went?” Vision asks. He was not usually one to pry, but the dinner invitation seemed more like an invitation to talk, considering he doesn’t actually eat.
“He’s not a bad guy. I forgave him, long before I called, but he forgave me, long before I called too. At least, that’s what he told me.”
“You believe him.”
“He hasn’t lied to me yet,” Tony says with a shrug. “So why not?”
“If Mr. Rogers has said that he forgave you, would you believe him?”
“Not a chance. I don’t think I’ll ever trust him or believe a word out of him ever again.”
“If Mr. Barnes does come, do you plan on using BARF to help him?”
“That’s the plan,” Tony says. “Of course, I’ll need Bruce’s and your help.”
“You’re going to Canada?” That’s where Bruce is.
“Yeah, but I think it may take some convincing.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“I don’t know if I should go until I’m sure Bucky is coming,” Tony says eating another bite.
“Do you think Bucky will come?”
“I do,” Tony says. “The way he spoke, sounded like he didn’t think very highly of them. He doesn’t like Rogers.”
“Really?” Vision asks surprised
“Yeah, Captain America thinks Bucky is the same kid from Brooklyn. But what he doesn’t realize is he isn’t that kid anymore. Bucky knows that they’re both different. He thinks Steve is believing a lie. His words, not mine. He also hates Wanda. As do I!”
“I can understand your frustration with the woman,” Vision says. “But I do think that she is troubled and could also use help.”
He knows that Vision is still upset with her. “I offered her help,” Tony says, with venom in his tone. “She was safe here. And then after what she did to you? I can’t forgive that.”
“Are you sure you don’t mean what she did to you?” Vision asks with a sad, knowing smile.
“I never liked her. Never wanted her here. But I think somewhere along the line I did forgive her. Thinking now, I don’t believe she deserved it. After everything, she still blames me.” Tony shakes his head “I told her. I told her the truth about how it wasn’t my fault,” Tony says getting angry. “Yet, she still blamed me. She can see in my head and knows how hard that was for me to say. But that doesn’t matter, does it? And everyone blames me for Ultron. Hell, I blame myself for that, even though it was her too.” Tony sighs “You know, back when you weren’t you, you were all I had. All I truly had. Because Steve wasn’t with me, not really. He was always one foot out the door with me, and I can say I slowly became the same with him. If we’re both not fully in it, how can one expect it to work? I’d like to say it’s his fault. But we both know how difficult I can be.”
“It was not your fault, Tony. And it bothers me that you blame yourself. For everything. You’ve screwed up. Yes, maybe your mistakes are bigger, more public, more widely known, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t to blame.”
Tony thinks about that for a moment. “I agree with you on some level,” Tony says. “But not really.”
Vision gives a sad smile. “I wouldn’t think you would. Maybe Mr. Barnes can do you some good.”
Tony smiles softly. “I need to set up a room and a few spaces for him. Would you mind helping me with that in the next few days?” tony asks
“It would be my pleasure, Sir.” Tony hates when he calls him Sir. He’s not JARVIS and he misses JARVIS. He knows Vision can’t always help it, but that doesn’t mean he hates it any less. But he smiles and thanks him anyway.
~
Tony heads for Canada at 5 am, hoping to get to Bruce before he leaves for the day to go wherever. He lands only an hour later and watches the tiny cottage for a bit. He finds himself getting nervous after a few minutes of watching. So, he decides before he can chicken out, to go do it. Bruce was always an early bird anyway. He knocks a few times and waits. He can hear rustling behind the door and a few moments later a bed headed Bruce opens the door.
“Tony,” Bruce says in shock. He then proceeds to shut the door in his face.
“Oh, come on, Brucie! Don’t be like that. I gave you your time. I need you now.” Tony stands there for what feels like forever. But not before long Bruce opens the door and motions for him to come in.
“I’m not becoming the hulk again,” Bruce says on his way to making tea.
“No one’s asking you to be. I need the scientist, not the Other Guy.”
“Why?” Bruce asks
“I’m sure you follow the news. The war.” Bruce nods “Well, I need your help.”
“With what?”
“Um… Bucky. But before you say anything you don’t know the full story; the important parts weren’t on the news,” Tony says quickly.
“Then tell me the whole story. Tell me why you want to help him, what I need to do and who is going to be there.”
So, he does. Tony starts from the very beginning of BARF and the death of that boy. He talks about the accords, the signing, the bombing, the hunt, the capture, the escape, the 36 hours, the airport, the raft (which was not taken lightly), figuring out they were right, getting the location, the video, the lies, the blowout, the letter, the phone call, all of it. He tells Bruce everything in great detail. By the end of it, Tony’s in tears and Bruce gets him tissues.
“Steve was so wrong not to tell you,” Bruce says after a moment. Tony nods. “And you’ve really forgiven Bucky?” Tony nods again.
“He really did nothing wrong. It was all Hydra. But at the time, I couldn’t stop myself. I let me anger get the best of me. I have a feeling you can understand that. Though the situations are much different.”
Bruce nods. “Okay. I’ll help him.”
Tony brightens up. “You will?”
“Yeah. Give me a bit to pack my things.”
“No good byes or loose ends?” Tony asks
“No, I used the money you sent me.” Bruce gives a small smile “I appreciate you giving me it, and the time. But you’re right. It’s time for me to come home.” Within two hours they’re packed and headed back to the compound.
~
Bucky hates Wakanda. Not the country, but the people the king are housing. It’s been two days since he spoke to Tony and he’s considering calling early. Clint is such an ass, Bucky’s decided. Always has something to say about everything. Can never keep his mouth shut. He wants to punch him. Speaking of people he wants to punch...Wanda has fire in her eyes, and she can’t control it. Steve assures him, she can, but he knows she can’t. Honestly, he’s a little scared of her now that he has one arm and knows she can get into people’s heads. He avoids her at all costs.
Sam and Scott aren’t so bad. They’re more peaceful then the two previously mentioned.
Natasha doesn’t say anything but has her scary passive face. He remembers her but pretends he doesn’t.
Steve, on the other hand, is following him around like a lost puppy. He guesses that’s kind of fair since he was gone for 70 years. But he keeps saying stupid things that piss Bucky off. Like that he’ll be back to normal soon. Bucky rolled his eyes, but wanted to scream at the man. 1) It won’t be soon. This is going to take a while. 2) He’s not doing a damn thing to help him! He needs professional help. Playing ‘real, not real’ isn’t that effective. He needs a doctor. He brought it up once, and Steve said he’d look into it. That was 2 days ago and he hasn’t gotten an update. He’s locked himself in his room right now and is fiddling with the phone.
He knows if he calls, Tony will answer. He knows if he wants to be picked up now, Tony will come. Steve says not to trust him, and the others readily agree, but he likes Tony much more then all of them. Maybe even combined, though he’ll never say that. He opens the flip phone but closes it after. Tony said a week, he can do a week. He wonders how Steve will take it. It won’t be good. He’ll feel betrayed that’s for sure. But Tony said be selfish, he deserves that. But he doesn’t really know what that means. Debates calling Tony and asking him, but decides against it. He’s not stupid, he can figure it out. Do what’s best for him, not anyone else.
Steve knocks on the door and Bucky sighs in annoyance.
~
“Okay, so you have his arm here?” Bruce asks back at the compound in his lab.
“Yes. Steve left it there.” Tony rolls his eyes. “Can you believe that? Surely Wakanda scientists could reattach it, but no, I was the one who thought to grab it.”
“I’m sure he had other things on his mind,” Bruce replies.
“I guess. But yeah, I’m going to melt down the vibranium for his new one. If he chooses that, of course.”
“Chooses?”
“Yeah,” Tony says. “You know Leo Fitz?”
“No.”
“Well, he works for SHIELD and when Coulson lost his hand, he built him a synthetic one. It looks real.”
“So he can have an arm that looks real or metal?” Bruce clarifies.
“Yes, but if I make the synthetic one, he’ll be able to feel with it.”
Bruce’s eyes widen. “You can do that?”
“Me? No. Us, yes! With the help of Fitz’s designs, it could happen.”
“You want me to help build him an arm that can feel?” Bruce asks with wide eyes.
“Either one he chooses; I need your help attaching it. But yeah, if he wants to touch, I already have ideas, I just need your help.”
“I’m in. let’s do this.”
Later on...

“Oh science I wish we could spend more time together,” Tony whispers an hour later.
“Been busy with the accords?”
“Yeah.” Tony nods. “I upgraded Rhodey's legs and I have suits, but that's really it. I do want to add a few things to them. Or really one thing.” Tony says
“Yeah what’s that?” Bruce asks intrigued
"Well, Antman was able to get in my suit and pull wires up and shit.”
“You want to make sure that can’t happen again.” It’s not a question.
“Yeah,” Tony answers anyway.
“You work on that, I’ll continue on this and if I need some input I’ll ask,” Bruce offers. Tony smiles and grabs the latest suit.
~
They’re eating dinner and Steve is going on about some story that involved Bucky. He’s listening and he can see how Steve is smiling, but he can’t help but think that in that situation he wouldn’t do the same thing he did back then.
“Can you shut up?” Bucky finds himself asking.
“Bucky?” Steve asks hurt.
“I hate it. All these damn stories. You’ve said nothing else the past 10 minutes! No one else can even get a word in!”
“Hey, we like the stories,” Sam says calmly.
“Well I don’t, and I don’t want to hear them.” Bucky stands up and leaves and of course Steve follows him.
“Bucky...“
“I’m leaving for New York tomorrow,” Bucky says, cutting Steve off.
“What?” Steve asks, confused “Why?”
“Because I hate it here.” Steve doesn’t say anything for a moment so Bucky continues “Tony can offer me real help. He’s talked to doctors and people who can really help me get better.”
“You’re going to Tony?” Steve asks in disbelief.
“No, I’m going to get help. Tony just happens to be the source. Not that I mind,” Bucky says “And you said you’d get information on Doctors 3 days ago! I haven’t heard a thing! I need to think about me, Steve.”
“You can’t leave me!” Steve shouts, angry “I just got you back!”
“No, you didn’t,” Bucky says. “You don’t know me. You know who I was not who I am. And you keep pretending you do and it pisses me off. They all piss me off. It’s driving me insane.”
“Is Tony tricking you into this?” Steve asks, skeptically.
“No, asshole. He said to give it a week and then decide. If he hadn’t said that, I’d already be there.”
“It’s been 3 days,” Steve says. “Not a week.”
“Yeah, I’m going to call him and tell him I can’t wait. I want to get help. I need to get help. You clearly don’t want me to get better, but I do!”
“I do want you better,” Steve says softly.
“Then you’ll let me leave.”
“I can get doctors here,” Steve says with pleading eyes.
“I gave you three days, and you haven’t even talked to the king. This is what’s best for me. You’re just making me worse. Maybe when I start getting better, we can try and be friends.”
“We are friends!” Steve protests.
“No, we’re not. I can’t stand being in the same room as you. And I’m not trying to be mean. You want me to be the man I used to be. And it kills me how much you want that, and how I’m not it. I need to think about me, now.”
“Bucky,” Steve says, his heart breaking.
“I’m going to call Tony,” Bucky says walking away. Bucky hates how much it hurts Steve, but he can’t do it anymore. He takes the phone out of his pocket and dials the number. It rings twice before it’s answered
“Bucky? What’s wrong?” Bucky huffs a bit at Tony’s immediate concern.
“I can’t be here anymore,” Bucky says. “They’re driving me insane.”
“You want me to come get you?” Tony asks.
“Would you?”
“Of course, but can it wait until tomorrow? I have to finish getting a few things ready. Is that okay? I can come now if it’s that bad. And we can deal with it.”
“No, come tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’ll speak to the T’Challa and let him know I’ll be stopping by to get you.”
“Thanks Tony,” Bucky says sincerely.
“No problem Bucky. See you tomorrow.” Bucky hangs up the phone and falls back on his bed.
~
“Change of plans!” Tony says walking back into the room with Bruce and Vision. “Bucky’s coming here tomorrow. We need to finish readying his room so he’s comfortable when he gets here.” They nod and head to the living area. They put Bucky right next to Tony’s room. Bruce and Vision share a little apartment-like complex and tony figures it’d be best for him to be near someone. They make the bed and put together the dresser, nightstand and a few other things to get it ready. An hour later everything is ready. Bruce and Tony are eating Thai while Vision sits as company.
“You ready to see them tomorrow?” Bruce asks. “Because you know they’re going to be there to send him off.”

“It’ll be fine. I’ll be an ass, they’ll hate me even more, it’ll be great.” Tony says with an eyeroll.
“Are you going to tell them that you’re getting them off in three weeks?” Bruce asks
“I’ll exaggerate it, in case Bucky, doesn’t want to see them that soon. If he wants more time then I’ll give it to him. You know, papers get lost in the mail all the time. Could take weeks for the written documents to show up officially.” Tony says with a grin “Whatever Bucky wants.” Bruce and Vision nod.
“I agree that it’s best to give Mr. Barnes as much time as he needs before he sees them in person again,” Vision says with a nod.
“I bet Steve will demand to be involved in the decision making,” Bruce says sipping his water. “He’ll want to know everything and make sure it’s all fine and people who ‘don’t have agendas’.” Tony laughs at that. “I bet. It’ll all be up to Bucky though.”
“How do you think that conversation is going?” Bruce asks.
“Awful. I feel bad that Bucky has to be the one to tell him. It’s going to be rough. Steve’s going to try and guilt trip him into staying, I bet. ‘I just got you back’. Some shit like that.” Tony shakes his head.
“I definitely see him doing that,” Bruce says with a nod. “Did you choose a therapist yet?”
“No, he’ll choose the one he likes. I’m giving him 4 to look at but of course if he doesn’t like them, I can call in more” Tony says.
“You think BARF can help?” Bruce asks.
“I don’t know. I think it’s the best shot we got though. Viz will of course have to be there. He’s probably the only one who could safely beat him in a fight if we trigger the Winter Soldier.”
“I will be there every step of the way. I do believe it was Mr. Rogers who was to blame for most of this mess,” Vision says.
“I did have my part in it,” Tony says.
“No,” Bruce says. “Steve was wrong.”
“You might not think that if you heard him tell his version of the story,” Tony says with a shrug.
“No, you deal with facts and evidence. You told me without bias. Steve would make it sound like your fault. You always take blame for everything. Even when it’s not your fault. No, Steve would twist the story to his liking, you don’t. You own up to all the shit that happens.” Bruce says truthfully.
“That is true,” Vision says. “You would never lie, especially about something of this magnitude. Unless of course it was your health,” Vision adds with a weary smile.
“You got to stop doing that Tony,” Bruce says.
“Hey, I haven’t done that shit in a while,” Tony points out.
“Because you haven’t been injured,” Bruce says back. Tony sighs and eats his food.
~
Tony lands the Quinjet in the area and after a few deep breaths walks out and meets the awaiting Bucky his (ex) team. He opens the door. “You’re an idiot to think Bucky is the same person as he was before Hydra,” Tony says immediately upon seeing Steve, who then proceeds to punch him. Tony stumbles back but stays upright.
“Tony! Steve!” Bucky shouts.
“What? I told you I’d tell him and I don’t break my promises,” Tony says.
“You said that?” Steve asks Bucky.
“He said it and I agreed.” Bucky shrugs.
“What a fucking mess this is,” Sam says.
“I hate all of you,” Tony says with an eyeroll.
“Then why are you getting the charges dropped?” Clint demands.
“Because I can’t look after your family, who you left high and dry to die, for my entire life,” Tony says with a sneer. That sobers Clint up immediately
“Are they okay?” Clint asks.
“They are now. When I got to them, Laura was injured and the kids were screaming and begging for you to help them. I managed to save them for you, though. Wasn’t sure you cared anymore.”
Clint doesn’t know whether to be angry from the insult or seriously thankful for Tony saving them. He decides he can be both and says, “Thank you, Asshole.” Tony rolls his eyes.
“My family?” Scott asks with wide eyes.
“I got ‘em too. They’re fine. They miss you, but what else is new?”
Scott, on the other hand, ignores the jab in favor of Tony saving them and merely says “Thank you.” Tony rolls his eyes again.
“I didn’t do it for you,” Tony says. “They’re in a safe house being guarded heavily. It’s not too far from me so if something comes up I can get to them in time. Can’t tell you where as it’s a top-secret location.” Tony turns to Bucky “You about ready?” Bucky nods.
“Thank you, T’Challa for housing me.”
“It was really no Problem, Mr. Barnes. You of course are always welcome if you find yourself in need of a home.”
“I don’t think I will,” Bucky says with a smile at Tony. “But I appreciate that.”
“Bucky,” Steve says stepping forward “Don’t go.” Bucky looks at him with a sigh.
"I’m being selfish. But Tony says I’ve earned that right. So, I’m going to be selfish and worry about me, now.”
“If it makes you feel better, you can see him in a month or two,” Tony says helpfully.
“Max 2 months?” Steve asks and Tony nods
“Max. You can also call as much as you want and I can try and include you in his treatment- that’s only if Bucky wants though. If not, you can go fuck yourself for all I care.” Steve looks at Bucky with pleading eyes.
Bucky thinks for a moment and then says, “No, but I’ll give you regular updates though. I need to do this on my own, without you being over protective and skeptical of everything Tony is doing. I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m being selfish and I don’t think I should apologize for doing what’s best for me.”
“You shouldn’t,” Tony agrees.
“I won’t be skeptical, I promise!” Steve says, but Bucky shakes his head.
“I’ll consider consulting you on everything, but don’t be surprised if I don’t. You’re not the medical expert.”
“How do you know you can trust Tony?”
“Ouch,” Tony says with an eyeroll.
“He’s been nothing but honest with me, so why would he lie or try and hurt me? What would he gain?”
“You killed his parents.”
“No, he didn’t.” Tony’s voice is sharp. “Hydra killed my parents. He was just the weapon. I figured you would think that about your supposed best friend.”
“Bucky,” Steve pleads. “That’s not what I meant.”
“I know what you meant. But I think this just proves why I have to go.”
“Please,” Steve begs again.
“I’ll see you in a couple weeks,” Bucky says, turning around.
“Don’t forget to update me,” Steve calls.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Bucky says, pushing open the door.
“I didn’t do this to steal your friend, though that’s what you’re going to think. He’s the one that asked. I’m doing what’s best for him. Feel free to hate me for that. I don’t really care. But when you come back in month or so, and he’s doing better, maybe then you’ll understand why I’m doing this.” Without another look, Tony’s out the door. He leads Bucky to the Quinjet as Steve watches, feeling that like he’s losing his best friend all over again.

Chapter Text

The flight back to the compound was slightly more awkward then both men expected.
“So, I have your own room set up,” Tony says as Bucky sits in the co-pilot seat.
“I did the right thing, right?” Bucky asks, turning to Tony who’d been silent the last 20 minutes.
“Yes,” Tony says honestly. “I can offer you real help. You told me you hated it there. Unless you were lying. I think this is going to be good for you.”
“I wasn’t lying,” Bucky says.
“So, what’s the problem?”
“The look on Steve’s face. He… would do anything for me. And I feel bad for just leaving him.”
“Being selfish can be hard when you’re not used to it. But you can always change your mind and include him in decisions, if it will appease your guilt.”
“I’ll have to think about it,” Bucky says.
“Hey, you have all the time in the world,” Tony says with a small smile. “You don’t have to worry about it now. Let’s focus on you, and when you start to notice the improvement you’ll feel less guilty about leaving him. Plus… I have something to tell you,” Tony says a little nervously.
“What is it?” Bucky asks, with no hint of worry.
“Well, I lied to Steve. They’re going to be free in 3 weeks, most likely. I told them two months in case you wanted more time away from them. So, if you find you actually miss Steve, you can have him come home sooner then he’s expecting.”
“Thank you,” Bucky says, surprising Tony by putting a hand on his shoulder.
“You’re… welcome? You’re not mad?”
“Why on earth would I be? You’re willing to give me as much time as I need, which I think is very considerate. I don’t really care that you lied to them about that, even if I feel a bit guilty for leaving.”
“Is there anything I can say that would convince you not to feel guilty?” Tony asks.
“No.”
“Didn’t think so,” Tony says with a soft smile. “But, hopefully I can change your mind eventually”.
“I guess we’ll see. How much longer till we arrive?”
“20 minutes. I have your room all set up. It’s next to mine in case you need anything. I’m not usually in it until late at night, but I figured it’d be good to have me close. I mean, if you don’t want that I’m sure we could figure something out, but I just thought... “
“Tony,” Bucky says, cutting him off with a sideways smile. “It’s fine. It’ll be good to have you around. You’ll… have the suit near in case you need it?”
“Sort of. It’s mostly functioning, but Vision will be able to safely stop you if anything...arises.”
“Why don’t you have the suit fully functioning?” Bucky asks, concerned. “I would feel so much better if I knew I couldn’t hurt you that badly”.
“It’s currently in the shop. And I was going to have it finished before you came, but you got here early so it wasn’t ready,” Tony says with a shrug. “I’ll have it ready in a couple days hopefully, so you don’t have to worry.”
“I do, though.”
“Blame Scott. He’s the one who messed it up,” Tony points out. But that doesn’t seem to ease Bucky’s mind any.”
“You’d be dead if you didn’t have the suit in Siberia.”
“No,” Tony says. “Because you wouldn’t have let Steve kill me, even if I had attacked him. I mean I’m stupid, but not stupid enough to go up against two super soldiers without my armor.”
“True, but I’d feel more comfortable with it.”
“Hey, you didn’t kill me when Zemo triggered you,” Tony points out.
“I didn’t want to kill you then.”
“And I’m sure you don’t want to kill me now,” Tony says confidently.
“Hold up,” Bucky says. “Did you just call yourself stupid?”
“…Maybe.”
“You’re not stupid, stupid,” Bucky says with a grin.
“That’s a contradiction.” Tony points out
“You’re a genius,” Bucky says.
“Yeah, but I can act pretty dumb about some things.” Before Bucky has a chance to respond, Tony lands the Quinjet. “Home sweet home,” Tony says unbuckling. “Come on, I’ll give you the grand tour and introduce you to its inhabitants.” Bucky follows Tony out slowly.
“Do they know?” Bucky asks.
“Know what?”
“Everything that’s happened?” Bucky asks, before they enter the room.
“Yes, I don’t have any secrets. Not anymore.”
“They know about Howard too?” Bucky asks, giving him a curious look.
“These two people do, yes,” Tony says, reaching for his hand. “Come on, they’re very good people and very understanding.” Bucky looks at it before taking it and walking through the door. He sees the two waiting for him and Bucky tries to let go but Tony doesn’t let him.
“Bucky, this is Bruce, and you’ve met Vision.” Bucky then let’s go of his hand to shake Bruce’s outstretched one.
“Bruce… Bruce banner?” Bucky can’t help but ask.
“That’s right,” Bruce says more than a little hesitant.
“I guess you’re going to be helping me get better?” Bruce nods. “Thank you.”
Bruce’s lip twitches to a slight smile. “It’s not a problem.”
“Hello, Mr. Barnes,” Vision says introducing himself.
“Hello, Vision.” Bucky says with another hesitant smile.
“He’s gonna make sure you don’t hurt anyone,” Tony says confidently. Bruce snorts and his directness as Bucky nods.
“That’s good,” Bucky says.
“Come on, I’ll give you the grand tour,” Tony says, grabbing his arm again and dragging him to the kitchen.
~
“So, you’re telling me I’m allowed in every room?” Bucky asks wide eyed a few hours later at the end of the tour in Bucky’s room.
“Yes, unless it’s a bedroom. Well, you’re always allowed in my bedroom,” Tony say with a slight blush. “But Not Bruce’s or Vision’s. Though if you ask, I’m sure they’ll let you in.”
“Why am I always allowed in your bedroom?”
“Because if you ever need to talk or if you ever need something I want you to always be able to access me,” Tony says, blushing.
“That’s… very nice of you,” Bucky says with a genuine smile.
“I want you to feel comfortable enough to come to me with any problem.” Bucky nods. “Seriously, anything! Even if you don’t think I can help, come to me.”
“I will,” Bucky nods.
“Promise?” Tony asks, wanting to make sure it’s clear.
“Only if you come to me when you have a problem as well,” Bucky says with a raised eyebrow and sideways grin.
“Okay. Deal!”
“But you have to keep up your end of the bargain,” Bucky stresses.
“I promise,” Tony says. “And I’ve kept my other promise, didn’t I?” Tony asks, with a grin.
“Didn’t really expect you to say that,” Bucky says laughing. “And I can’t believe Steve punched you for it.” Bucky looks at Tony face. “You have a bruise,” he says, frowning slightly.
“Shit, really?” Tony asks and Bucky nods. “Bruce is going to kick my ass!”
“It was already showing when we got here,” Bucky points out.
“He was holding back because you were there. I’m screwed.”
“Well I’ll kick Steve’s ass for touching you, when he gets here,” Bucky says.
“No. You’re going to do no such thing.”
“But... “
“Dude, if I can handle getting my ass kicked in Siberia I can handle a punch to the face.”
“You had the suit on in Siberia,” Bucky points out.
“Tomato, tomahto,” Tony says waving his hand. “You like the place though?”
“Very much so. I was only allowed in a few places in Wakanda. The King didn’t like it when I want wandering around. Had to tell me twice before Steve had to get it through my thick skull.”
“Why was that?”
“I like knowing where everything is, where everyone is. It bugs me when I don’t.” Tony ponders this for a moment.
“FRIDAY?” Tony asks.
“Yes, Boss.” Tony had already explained FRIDAY to Bucky so he wouldn’t freak out when she talked to him.
“If I change locations please alert Bucky, unless he’s sleeping. And upon his waking please let him know what room I’m in.”
“Sure thing, Boss.”
“You don’t have to do that, Tony.”
“I want to,” Tony says. “And I’m going to talk to Vision, Bruce and Rhodey when he gets back and see if it’s okay to inform you about them too. I’ll make sure they know it’s okay to say no, and FRIDAY don’t inform him if we’re going to the bathroom. That’s just awkward.”
“Yes, Boss.”
“Tony, that’s a lot to ask.”
“They won’t mind it. They want you to feel as comfortable as possible. Plus, they can always say no. They won’t be pressured into it and they can stand up for themselves if they don’t want it. They won’t say yes because they feel they should.”
“If you’re sure,” Bucky says hesitantly.
“I am,” Tony says confidently. “Come on, it’s almost time for dinner. What do you want?”
“Want?” Bucky asks and Tony nods.
“Yes, I’m letting you pick.”
“Um…” Bucky thinks. “I don’t know. Steve usually just decided.”
“Well, you know what you like. You lived by yourself for a year or so, right?”
“Yeah.”
“Did you cook?”
“Yes. Sometimes.”
“So, what’s your favorite food?” Tony inquires. “Or what are you in the mood for?”
“I don’t know” Bucky repeats.
“Okay,” Tony says catching on. “How about this. I give you three options to choose from and you decide from those three. You think that’ll work?”
Bucky nods and says, “Yeah. I can do that.” Tony smiles.
“Good. Okay… how about Pizza, Chinese, and Thai?”
“… Pizza,” Bucky says. “I haven’t had good New York Pizza in a while.”
“Great! Do you remember what toppings you like or should we get different ones for you to retry?”
“Can I try some?” Bucky asks
“Of course!” Tony shouts, “FRIDAY order a half pie of every topping and every special combination that’s on the menu. And one white. We can see what’s your favorite.”
“What’s yours?” Bucky asks.
“I personally like meatball.”
~
“People eat this?” Bucky asks spitting out the pineapple pizza.
“That’s Steve’s favorite,” Tony chuckles.
“No fucking way!”
“Yeah, it really is,” Bruce says smiling. “He claimed he liked cheese only, until Tony did this with Thor. He tried the pineapple and now refuses to eat any other kind.”
“Wow,” Bucky says shaking his head. “Whoever dares call that pizza, is wrong.” Tony laughs.
“Yeah, I agree. So, what do you like?”
“I like this one,” Bucky says pointing to the sausage one. “But I also really like the white one too. And the veggie pizza. And the Sicilian.” The three smile as Bucky lists three more too. “I can’t choose,” Bucky says after trying them all again.
“That’s fine, we can order each of them next time we have pizza.”
“Yeah?” Bucky asks and Tony smiles.
“Yeah. We can have as much pizza as you want.” Bucky grins eating another slice.
~
“Stop moping.” Natasha’s voice cuts through Steve’s vacant stare.
“I miss him,” Steve whines. “A lot.”
“Yeah, but Bucky is getting the help he needs,” Sam points out.
“What if it was all a trick and Tony’s hurting Bucky?”
“He wouldn’t do that,” Natasha says calmly.
“We don’t know that!”
“Yes, we do,” Natasha says, being the voice of reason. “Tony is many things, yes. But he would never just trick a man into trusting him, just to kill him after the fact. You know that too. As much as you miss and worry over him, Tony will protect him… as much as Tony protects people.”
“That’s why I’m nervous,” Steve says.
“Call him, if you’re really worried about him,” Scott suggests. “But I think it will only bug him because it hasn’t even been 24 hours.”
“Ask T’Challa to check up on him,” Sam offers. “The King appears to be in contact with Stark. Just mention you’re worried that they won’t keep you that updated.”
“That’s a good idea,” Steve says gratefully.
“You know, he probably already knows we’ve had this conversation,” Natasha points out. “He did say he monitors us, so I doubt you even have to ask.”
“That’s creepy,” Clint says. “That he watches us that closely.”
“I do believe it is my right as you are my guests,” T’Challa states, upon entering the room and making them all jump.
“It is,” Steve agrees. “But some privacy would be appreciated.”
“You are concerned about Mr. Barnes?” T’Challa asks, with a smile.
“Yes. I worry about him even more now that he’s not here.”
“I can assure you they made a safe landing back to the Compound. I called Tony a few hours ago, and they were ready to head to bed. He assured me that Mr. Barnes likes the compound and apparently hates pineapple pizza.” Steve sighs. He wanted to be the one to introduce him to his favorite type of pizza. “If he gives me an update on Mr. Barnes, I see no reason why I can’t inform you of it.”
“Thank you T’Challa.”
“It is not a problem. Now, you should stop moping,” T’Challa says with a smile, making Steve huff and the others laugh.
~
Bucky can’t sleep. He’s been staring at the ceiling, his clock, and the bathroom door for the past two hours. He’s also been listening to Tony’s even breaths through the wall, trying to match them. Still, no luck. He usually has trouble sleeping, when he’s near other people. He’s about to call it quits when he hears Tony’s breathing pick up. He listens as it becomes more uneven and hears him rustle in bed. He thinks Tony is mumbling something but can’t be sure what he’s saying. Bucky makes his way out of bed and to Tony’s room where he seems to be tossing in his sleep.
“Tony,” Bucky calls softly. Tony doesn’t wake up so Bucky steps closer. “Tony?” He says, not sure if he should wake him up. Turns out it doesn’t matter because Tony wakes himself up gasping with sweat gleaming on his forehead. “Tony!” Bucky says, trying to get the other man’s attention as Tony tries to control his breathing.
“Bucky?” Tony asks, out of breath. “What are you…?” Tony asks, still fighting off memories of his dream.
“I couldn’t sleep. I heard you and came to make sure you were alright.”
“Oh… yeah I’m fine. Just a bad dream,” Tony says sitting up. “Sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry,” Bucky says still standing a few feet from his bed. “You want to talk about it?”
“No,” Tony says shaking his head.
“Was it about me in Siberia?” Bucky can’t help but ask.
“No,” Tony says honestly. “Not you.”
“Steve?”
“Yeah. Slamming the shield into my arc reactor over and over and over…” Tony’s voice hitches as he closes his eyes.
“I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault.”
“Kind of is.”
“No. If he had told me, none of this would have happened. You couldn’t help what Hydra made you do. But Steve should have told me.”
“It depends on how you look at it.”
“That’s how I look at it,” Tony says firmly.
“Do you have nightmares about me grabbing the reactor?”
“A few. None since we talked. I have a lot of different nightmares. Nightmare roulette,” Tony says with a huff.
“Sounds fun,” Bucky says sarcastically. “How often do you have them?” Bucky asks
“Most nights. Sorry. I didn’t think you would be able to hear.”
“It’s okay. I have them too,” Bucky admits.
“What about? You can sit down, if you’d like.” Bucky slowly sits on the bed.
“Different things. I remember falling from the train. I remember them torturing me. I remember killing families and children. I remember a lot of things.”
“Nightmare roulette?”
“Pretty much. What a pair we are.”
“Want to play some cards? Since we’re both awake. Unless you’re going back to bed.”
“I’ll play cards.” They stand as Tony sends Bucky an appreciative glance.
~
Bucky ended up going to bed an hour later, while Tony went to work in his lab. He’d assured Bucky that he was fine and just needed to get some work done since he wouldn’t be able to sleep again anyway.
It’s now 9 am and Bucky is walking into Tony’s lab. as FRIDAY had informed him that’s where Tony was when Bucky had woken up. He knocks on the door.
“Come in,” Tony calls and Bucky opens the door. Tony looks at who it is. “You don’t have to knock, you know.”
“It’s polite since it wasn’t an emergency,” Bucky says and Tony smiles.
“You hungry?”
“I’m always hungry,” Bucky admits.
“Come on. I’ll go make breakfast. Bacon or sausage?”
“Bacon.”
“Waffles or pancakes?”
“Waffles.”
“Eggs, fried or scrambled?”
“Scrambled,” Bucky says with a smile.
“OJ or coffee?”
“OJ.”
“Got it,” Tony says as they enter the kitchen and he starts cooking.
“Do you need some help?” Bucky asks.
“Sure,” Tony smiles. “What do you think you can do?”
“I can make the batter?”
“Awesome.” Tony hands Bucky the box mix and proceeds to get all the ingredients and measuring cups out. Together they start making breakfast.
“I didn’t think you could cook,” Bucky comments when they’re eating the food later.
“I love cooking, just usually don’t have much of an incentive to do so. Why cook for yourself?”
“I thought you just didn’t eat regularly.”
“Rogers told you that?”
“Yeah. Probably shouldn’t listen to everything he said about you,” Bucky says thinking about it.
“I agree, but the eating regularly was true. I had a lot of excuses for that.”
“What was the real reason?”
“Loss of appetite. Could never manage to get a full meal down. So, stopped going to ‘family dinners’” (Tony uses air quotes) “When they kept saying I should eat more.”
“You eat enough now?”
“Aw, are you concerned?” Tony asks and Bucky rolls his eyes “Yeah, I eat better now.”
“Good,” Bucky says as matter of fact. Tony smiles “You want the last piece of bacon?” Bucky offers.
“It’s all yours,” Tony smiles. Bucky grins taking the piece. “We do have some things to go over,” Tony says once they’re nearly finished.
“What’s that?”
“Well, I found some of the most highly recommended psychiatrists that work with people who have Dissociative Identity Disorder. I know it’s not the exact same thing, but I think that would be a good place to start.”
“Okay,” Bucky nods.
“I’d like for you to start meeting with them this week. Not today, maybe not tomorrow. I want you to get comfortable here, but I want to start getting you help as soon as we can.”
“I can do tomorrow,” Bucky agrees.
“Awesome. I have the 4 best ones here. One specializes in trauma as well, so I think you should start with her. Ideally, I want you to see all 4 and decide your favorite, or if you happen to not like any of them, we can get others to come. I want you to like them as much as you can since they will be helping you.”
“That’s a good plan,” Bucky says and Tony nods quickly. “What else do you have to tell me?” Bucky asks, noticing Tony’s face.
“Well, that can deal with removing the Winter Soldier from your mind. But a major part in this is going to be removing the conditioning.” Bucky nods slowly.
“Okay.”
“You remember BARF?” Tony asks.
“The thing to relive traumatic memories? You want me to use it?”
“I do,” he says. “And I think that’s out best shot. If we can go in and remove it from the source, ideally, it’s the best way to deal with it. You have to agree though, because it’s not going to be pleasant. It’s not going to be shits and giggles. It’s going to be hard.” Bucky nods again.
“Are you going to be there?” Bucky asks.
“If you want me to.”
“I do.”
“Then of course.”
“Okay. I want to get better. I’ll do it.” Tony smiles at his decision.
“I’m glad you said that. I think you’ll like the trauma and DID doctor. I hope you do, because it’d be great to have both.”
“I’ll see her tomorrow first.”
“Okay,” Tony says, pleased. “And Bucky, we’re going to go at your pace. So, you’re going to tell me when you want to use BARF. Or when you want to see your doctor. I think you should have 2 scheduled appointments a week, but ultimately that’s up to you.”
“Okay. I don’t know yet, but I’ll agree to the two a week. How long are the sessions for?”
“For as long as you decide to make them.”
“I could be in there for 10 minutes?” Bucky asks.
“Or two hours, yeah. It’s all up to you.”
“Thanks Tony,” Bucky says earnestly.
“It’s no problem Bucky.” Tony smiles “And there’s one other thing. Your arm.”
“My arm?” Bucky repeats.
“Yes. Don’t you want two?”
“Yeah of course,” Bucky says quickly. “I just didn’t think…”
“I have two choices for you,” Tony says smiling. “I took your metal one from Siberia. One option is to melt the vibranium down and build you a completely new metal arm.”
“What’s the second option?”
“A synthetic one.” Tony says “It will look and feel real, but most importantly, you’ll be able to feel sensations with this one.”
“I’ll be able to feel?” Bucky asks with wide eyes.
“Yeah. Bruce and I have been working on it and we’ve figured out how to do it. If you want, you could basically have two real working feeling arms.”
“Really?” Tony nods. “What if I get hurt?” Bucky asks.
“We thought about that. If you pain came into your nerve receptors it would shut down the feeling sensation. It would go back to nothing, but you would still be able to move it and use it unless, of course, it’s physically damaged to where you can’t. It wouldn’t be as strong as the metal one. It would be as strong as your real one, of course, but it wouldn’t be anything like it was. The metal one will. But it’s up to you. You don’t have to answer now, think about it for a while.” Bucky nods “If you do choose the metal one, we’re not going to give it to you until you’re doing better. Until the brainwashing is gone, so if you are triggered you can’t hurt anyone. Safety precaution. However, if you choose the synthetic one, we can give you that in a few weeks.”
“Thank you Tony.”
“You’re welcome. And be sure to thank Bruce as well. He’s doing most of the work.”
“I’ll be sure too.” Tony smiles.
“Boss, Colonel Rhodes is pulling into the compound as we speak. Along with Mr. Hogan and Ms. Potts.”
“Shit.”
“What?”
“I uh… didn’t tell them you were here. Come on,” Tony says, beckoning him to follow. Once they get to the garage he stops. “Stay here. I’m going to tell them and then you can introduce yourself. Happy will punch you in the face unless he gets an explanation. So would Pepper and Rhodey, but he’d beat them to it.” With that Tony turns the corner, leaving Bucky to eavesdrop on their conversation.
“Pepper! Rhodey! Happy!” Tony shouts. “So good to see you!”
“What did you do?” Rhodey asks. “What’s with the bruise, Tony?”
“Nothing. Nothing… bad,” Tony says, realizing that they won’t believe his shit.
“What did you do, Tones?” Rhodey asks.
“I invited some people over.”
“People?” Rhodey asks. “What people?”
“Hear me out first, okay?” Rhodey nods, seeming already impatient. “So, I called Steve.”
“What?” Rhodey demands. “What did I tell you?”
“You told me not to call because they don’t deserve that shit because they betrayed me and my trust and they should call me if it’s so damn important.” Tony quotes exactly and Rhodey stares at him for a moment “BUT!” Tony says before Rhodey can comment “I didn’t talk to Steve!”
“Then who?”
“Bucky,” Tony says hesitantly.
“You talked to your parents’ murderer?” Pepper asks in disbelief.
“We all know that was really Hydra,” Tony says pointedly.
“He’s here,” Rhodey says. “Isn’t he?”
“Maybe,” Tony says sheepishly. “Okay, yes. He’s here. Getting treatment. And so’s Bruce.”
“And the bruise?” Happy asks.
“Steve,” Tony says. “Though that was my fault. But before you say anything else, he’s here. Bucky.” Tony calls and Bucky hesitantly walks out from behind the wall. He gives a half wave a mumbled hello.
“Bucky, this is Pepper, Rhodey and Happy.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Bucky says polite, but awkwardly.
“You too,” Rhodey says skeptically.
“I’m sorry,” Bucky blurts out. “About the fall. Tony told me. I’m really sorry, that really sucks. If I had known.” Tony puts a soft hand on his shoulder and says “Breathe.” Bucky nods.
“Right.” The three stare at him in disbelief.
“Come on, stop staring.” Tony nudges them.
“Sorry.” Pepper apologizes first. “Just didn’t expect you to be here. Is Steve here too?”
“Nope.” Tony pops the ‘p’.
“Steve punched you for getting him,” Rhodey realizes.
“Well… no.”
“I don’t want to know,” Pepper says. “It’s nice to meet you Mr. Barnes. Even though it may not have appeared so at first.”
“Please, call me Bucky.” Pepper nods after a moment.
“You’re insane,” Rhodey tells Tony. “And it’s nice to finally meet you Bucky,” Rhodey says, sticking out his hand.
“You too.” Bucky shakes it.
“Is he signing the accords?” Happy asks.
“He’s not a superhero, so he doesn’t have to,” Tony says with a shrug. “If one day when’s he’s better he decides to, then that’ll be up to him. Right now, he’s just Bucky Barnes.”
“I’m surprised you came at all. Didn’t think you’d want to leave Steve,” Rhodey says.
“I don’t like Steve,” Bucky says, making the three of them look at him in shock. Jaws literally drop. “He thinks I’m someone that I’m not. He thinks of me as the kid from Brooklyn from 70 years ago. I’m not. Tony understands that. Steve can’t seem too. Plus the others there, save Sam and Scott, are assholes who I also hate. They blame Tony for shit that isn’t his fault.”
There is silence for a few moments before Rhodey speaks first. “I like him. You can keep him.” Tony snorts.
“Oh Honey, like you had any choice in the matter.” Bucky looks to Tony at the honey comment… are they dating?
“Oh sugar, keep thinking that,” Rhodey throws back and then they start laughing.
“How’s mama Rhodes?” Tony asks.
“Good. Misses you,” Rhodey says pointedly, making Tony sigh.
“I know. I’ll call her soon,” Tony promises.
“You better,” Rhodey threatens. “How are my legs?”
“I’ve made those improvements you asked for. Should be good for another round of testing.”
“You’ve been busy, huh?”
“Yeah. Lot to do.”
“Sleeping?” Rhodey asks.
“Enough.”
“Explain.”
“5 hours a night, max, two nights just above 3.” Rhodey considers this for a moment and Bucky watches the interaction.
“Okay not bad,” Rhodey says after a moment.
“Oh, Bucky,” Tony says turning to him. “I forgot to tell you, Rhodey lives only a few doors down from me, so he’ll be near you. I hope that’s okay.”
“It is,” Bucky says with a smile, thinking if they were dating they’d share a room.
“Oh, Rhodey, is it cool if Bucky knows where you are at all times? It bothers him when he doesn’t.” Rhodey ponders this for a moment.
“Yeah, I see no reason why that would be an issue.” Rhodey shrugs. “I have nothing to hide.”
“Thank you,” Bucky says earnestly.
“You’re welcome,” Rhodey says smiling.
“FRI, did you get that?” Tony asks.
“Yes, Boss.”
“I’m going to ask the other two later when I see them,” Tony comments.
“Thank you Tony,” Bucky says with a genuine smile.
“No problem.”
“I’m hungry,” Rhodey says wheeling himself out of the garage. “You better have something to eat.”
“You won’t believe how much leftover pizza we have,” Tony says walking forward to push him. The others are not far behind.

Chapter Text

“Careful, careful, slow.” Tony says as Rhodey is walking taking his hands away from the bars “Easy, cupcake. You’re doing great, platypus.”

“Tony.” Rhodey says softly “You don’t have to worry, I’m doing okay.” Rhodey knows Tony gets more affectionate with the nicknames and uses them more often when he worries.

“I know, sug… Rhodey.” Tony says with a sigh

“Help me sit down.” Rhodey says leaning on Tony to the chair. “Tony, man, you gotta stop fussing.”

“That’s coming from you?” Tony asks with a half-smile

“I worry because you tend to throw caution to the wind.” Rhodey points out.

“Boss, Mr. Barnes just finished his therapy and is on his way to meet you.” Tony looks at his watch

“That was quick.” Tony says weary

“Maybe, it was too much.” Rhodey says just as Bucky enters the room.

“Bucky.” Tony says with a smile “How was it?” Bucky hesitantly enters the room

“I don’t…” Bucky starts but can’t find the words.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Tony says

“I liked her, but she just… it was so much.” Bucky says “She wanted to know about me, like how I am now, compared to before the war and Hydra. Just to get an idea of me, and that was okay, a little overwhelming but she asked about him. And I didn’t want to think about it. I just blocked him.”

“Hey.” Tony says walking over and putting a hand on his shoulder “You did great. I’m so proud of you.” Bucky nods slowly “And we can start again slower next time. No rush. We have all the time in the world.”

“Thanks Tony.” Bucky says softly Tony smiles in response. “Also, I’ve decided on my arm.” Tony’s eyes light up

“Yeah?” Tony asks

“Yeah.” Bucky says “it was really easy. I don’t want to fight anymore, I want to feel. I;m tired or fighting, I don’t want a weapon on me at all times. I want to touch. And feel everything that arm can do. I want the synthetic one.” Tony smiles

“Awesome! I’ll get it going for you with Bruce. Should be ready in a few weeks.” Tony smiles “You want me to show you the designs?”

“Sure. I probably won’t understand a thing, but sure.” Bucky smiles

“Honey Bun, what’s your plan?” Tony asks Rhodey and Bucky’s smile drop slightly with the nickname.

“You guys go on ahead. I’m going to go to the pool with my physical therapist.”

“Need helping getting there?” Tony asks

“Nah, I can wheel myself there. Always the ever-concerned lover.”  Bucky’s eyes widen at the comment, even though Rhodey has a joking tone to that, Bucky misses it. Tony rolls his eyes

“Shut up, asshole.” Tony says snorting

“Aw, I thought you liked my flirting.” Rhodey says grinning

“Snicker doodle, I will always like your flirting, just learn the time and place.” Tony ends on a serious note and Rhodey nods

“Yeah, okay.” Rhodey says “Sorry, Bucky. Don’t mind us.” Okay, Bucky thinks, definitely dating. He doesn’t know why he feels disappointed. He really shouldn’t care.

“Bucky?” Tony’s voice brings him to the present. It has a worried, but small smile

“Yeah, sorry. It’s not a problem.” Bucky says shaking his head.

“Come on.” Tony says grabbing Bucky’s hand “I have a lot to show you.”

~

“I should call Steve.” Bucky says later that day “I mean, it’s been 3 days, he probably would like an update.”

“Feeling guilty again?” Tony asks

“A little” Bucky more asks “I mean, with everything that’s happened the last 2 days, I feel less guilty. I’m… I don’t want to say happy, but I think I’m getting there. When I was in Wakanda I was angry and annoyed and whole bunch of negative things. I’m doing good here.”

Tony nods with a small smile “I just want to remind you that we’re starting BARF tomorrow. You won’t be as happy as you are now. But I am glad you like it here. Really.” Tony says smiling

“Then better to have Steve see me happy, than whatever emotion I’ll be facing tomorrow.”

“good point.” Tony says “FRIDAY video call T’Challa please.”

“Yes, Boss.” FRIDAY says pulling the video on screen. T’Challa answers almost immediately

“Tony, Mr. Barnes. How are you both?”

“We’re good, T’Challa. How are you?”

“Dealing with a moping Rogers.” T’Challa says with a half-smile “But otherwise we are doing well, thank you.”

“Good, but I can make that even better. Bucky wants to talk to Rogers.” T’Challa smiles at that.

“Give me a moment I’ll patch you through.”

“Thank you, your majesty.” Bucky says and then his face is gone.

“Alright, I’ll leave you to it. Let me know when you’re done?” Tony asks heading out

“You’re not gonna stay?” Disappointment clear in Bucky’s Tone.

“Well, I figured Rogers would want to talk to you alone.” Tony says “I mean, if you want I can, but I don’t want to intrude.” Tony says

“I want you here.” Bucky says making Tony smile

“How about this. You talk to Steve alone first, and if you feel you need me I can come back. I’ll just be in the other room. FRIDAY can alert me if you give a signal. Unless you definitely want me there, and maybe change your mind in the middle?” Bucky is about to answer but Steve’s face is on the screen before he can answer.

“Bucky.” Steve says smiling brightly Tony mouths ‘you got this?’ Bucky nods Tony leaves the room.

“Hi Steve.” Bucky says with a weary smile

“I’m so glad you called.” Steve says happily “How are you, Tony’s not doing anything to you is he?”

“Why is that your immediate concern?” Bucky asks his smile dropping. “Tony’s been great to me.” Steve Sighs

“I’m sorry. I just know how he is. And I worry.” Bucky rolls his eyes

“I figured you’d want an update on me, but, maybe you just want to know what Tony’s doing instead.” Bucky says harshly

“Buck, I’m sorry. I won’t ask again. I promise.” Steve says pleading Bucky rolls his eyes again but nods

“I saw a therapist earlier.” Bucky says

“A therapist?” Steve says hesitant

“Yes, a very highly recommended one.”

“How was it?” Steve asks

“I like her, but I still want to meet the others.” Bucky replies

“Others?” Steve asks

“Yeah, Tony’s letting me pick. He brought four of them here for me to choose from. Though he made it clear if I didn’t like them he would bring in more until I did find the one I like.”

“That’s… good.” Steve says “Do you think it’ll help?”

“With the different treatments, I’m getting I think it will.”

“What other treatments are there?” Steve asks confused and Bucky can’t help but think that’s why it was good he came, if Steve doesn’t know anything else.

“BARF.” Bucky says

“Barf?” Steve asks

“Yeah… Binarily augmented retro framing” Bucky says “It’s a device Tony built.”

“Is it tested?” Steve asks “What does it do?”

“Well if you’re asking if it’s a proven method, no.” Bucky says “because Tony built it like just a month ago and it cost 611 million dollars so I don’t think a regular doctor would have this.”

“Is it safe?” Steve asks

“For who?” Bucky asks “For me? Yes, but of course there are risks, but I went over them with Tony, and I feel comfortable with them. It’s the people around me who are more at risk.”

“What risks?” Steve asks ignoring the ‘people around him’

“I don’t remember all of them, would you like Tony to explain it to you? He could do a better job.” Bucky asks pointedly and Steve hesitates. Bucky rolls his eyes “FRIDAY? Please ask Tony to come here.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Barnes.” Tony enters the room seconds later

“Everything okay?” Tony asks looking at Bucky who smiles and rolls his eyes

“Worried about me?” Bucky asks in a teasing tone

“Well if you die who else is going to worry about me?” Tony says grinning back as Steve watches the interaction a gape

“I guess I can’t die then, huh?” Bucky asks “You need someone to look out for you.”

“I think I do the looking out.” Tony says grinning back

“Um… Bucky?” Steve asks interrupting the banter. They both blush, clearly forgotten he was there.

“Yeah, sorry. Tony, can you please explain to Steve BARF?” Tony nods

“So BARF is a wearable piece of technology that access your hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that has emotion and memory. What it does is it brings you back to a traumatic memory. It allows you to alter the memory in your mind, hopefully erasing the after effects of the memory, like PSTD and Panic attacks and all that the wonderful stuff that comes with those types of traumas. My thinking was if we can go back in Bucky’s memory when they implanted the trigger words, maybe we can root out the triggers from his mind. That and therapy combined I believe can help Barnes immensely. I’m not going as far to say as cure, because can you ever really cure someone of something this traumatic? I don’t know, hopefully, but I guess we’ll see.” Steve is silent for a moment

“Bucky mentioned Risks.” Steve says finally

“Well, Yes, there are some. Nothing fatal, I assure you.”

“What are they?”

“We’ll I want you to know first, that I’ve used it multiple times, for multiple different memories and have not had one of the potential side effects.”

“You used it?” Steve asks “For what?” Tony stares it him like he’s joking when he sees that he wasn’t, Tony shakes his head in disbelief

“One risk could be amnesia. Of course, that hasn’t happened in my tests, but when working with the hippocampus it could be a possibility.”

“He could forget me again?” Steve asks worried

“Yeah, or he would never be trigged into the winter soldier again.” Tony says pointedly “And this isn’t about you, Rogers, This is about Bucky, and he’s already agreed to it. Unless you’ve changed your mind?” Tony asks looking to Bucky to confirm. Bucky smiles

“No, I haven’t.” Bucky says “Do you want to hear the others? It’s only going to worry you and I’m not changing my mind.”

“I want to know them.” Steve says

“Okay, well chances are we’re going to trigger him a couple times, at least. But that might be more concerning to the others in the room.” Steve doesn’t voice his dislike but it’s written on his face. He nods. “Well, the other one is probably panic attacks and more frequent nightmares. With his PTSD, it’s not unfounded.”

“PTSD?” Steve asks dumbly

“Yeah, Bucky’s obvious case of it. You’re telling me you didn’t know?” Tony asks Steve shakes his head “Why am I not surprised. OH yeah, maybe it’s because you lived with me for three years and didn’t know. Or maybe you just didn’t care. I could never figure it out, since it was obvious.”

“You have PTSD too?” Steve asks in disbelief

“Is that all Bucky?” Tony asks annoyed “If you want me to stay I can but…” Tony doesn’t finish

“No, that’s fine. Thank you, Tony. I’ll call if I need you.”

“Mr. Barnes. Colonel Rhodes is currently making his way from the pool to his living quarters to change.” FRIDAY says as Tony leaves

“Thank you, FRIDAY.”

“Why did she say that?”

“Because I told Tony I like to know where everyone is, so Tony asked everyone in the compound if I could always know their location and they agreed. So, FRIDAY informs me when someone moves and tells me where everyone is, upon my waking up.”

“Oh. Well I’m glad you’re getting good help. I was worried.” Bucky’s lip twitches

“I know. But I knew this would be the right decision. I’m happy here, Stevie.” Bucky says honestly “I mean, I know the next weeks to months are going to be hard, but I like it here. A lot better than Wakanda and a lot better than Bucharest. You don’t have to worry so much about me, Steve. And you should stop moping.”

“T’Challa told you about that?” Steve asks

“Yeah.” Bucky says “Really though, Steve. I’m good, I’m safe, I’m getting help, and I’m happy. You’ll be here in like two months.” Steve nods

“That’s good.” Steve says “I uh… heard you tried pineapple pizza?” Steve asks with a hesitant smile

“Yeah.” Bucky says with a small smile “Gotta say, it was pretty gross.”

“It’s the best.” Steve counters, “Really who doesn’t like fruit?”

“Not on pizza.” Bucky says

“What is your favorite?” Steve asks

“I don’t know.” Bucky says “I liked to many of them I couldn’t decide.” Steve nods as the conversation drifts to much lighter topics.

~

Later that night, Tony is in his room working, when he hears a noise next door. A sharp breath of sorts. Tony is up and out of his room before he knows it

“Bucky.” Tony says entering the room “Bucky wake up.” Tony walks over to his side of the bed “Bucky, it’s just a dream.” He nudges him slightly when Bucky’s eyes open and he before Tony realizes what’s happening Bucky is choking Tony with one hand, up against the wall. 

“Bucky.” Tony’s voice is nearly inaudible. Tony puts his hands on either side of Bucky’s face, staring into his eyes. Just as Tony’s about to lose consciousness Bucky drops him like he was burned and he backs up. Tony falls to the floor on his hands and knees and starts gasping for breath.

“Mr. Barnes everyone is currently on their way to your room.” FRIDAY informs now that Bucky is fully awake. Vision is the first to enter.

“it’s okay.” Tony says still on the floor voice hoarse “Everything is fine.” Tony says as the others take in the scene “Bucky are you alright?” Tony asks the man who is staring at Tony

“I…”

“Bucky.” Tony coughs “I’m okay. Really, I’m okay.”

“I hurt you.”

“No, I’m fine.” Tony uses the wall to stand up. His legs wobble a bit. He leans on the wall but stays upright. “I’m fine. Everyone can go back to bed. Really.” Tony says and Rhodey gives him the longest look but they exit after a moment Tony makes his way to the bed. “Bucky, I’m fine.”

“I hurt you.” Bucky says looking down

“No, you didn’t.”

“I was going to kill you.” Bucky says

“No, you weren’t. You let go. You recognized me.” Tony says

“I hurt you.”

“it was an accident.” Tony says “And I’m fine.”

“If I had my metal arm you’d be dead.”

“it’s a good thing I blew it off then, huh?” Tony asks with a look to Bucky “Come on, I’m okay. Want to talk about your dream?” Tony asks and Bucky shakes his head

“You should wear your suit, if you ever hear me have a nightmare again.”

“Not happening.” Tony says pointedly 

“I could have killed you if I hadn’t snapped out it. What if it’s worse next time?”

“Vision was in the room moments after you dropped me.” Tony says “Really, Bucky, it’s not a big deal.” Bucky looks like he wants to protest so Tony sighs “How about I wear that watch I used in Berlin. I have to fix it, since it’s broken, but a blast to the head would get you off of me. Would that make you feel better?” Tony asks and Bucky nods

“Yeah, we’ll start with that.” Bucky says and looks at the bed, “Cards?” he asks

“I have a game I want to introduce you to.” Tony says standing “It’s called Backgammon.”

 

This time tony is the one who falls asleep 30 minutes later, while Bucky goes on a long run around the compound. Once he gets back, he’s informed that Tony has breakfast just about ready in the kitchen, with Rhodey.

“Hey guys.” Bucky says announcing his presence

“Hey Bucky.” They say in greeting, “Breakfast is about ready.” Tony continues with a smile and Bucky can’t help but stare at the bruises that’s formed around his throat. Tony doesn’t notice until they’ve sat down and Bucky hasn’t grabbed anything to eat. “I’m fine Bucky.”

“Those are my fingerprints around your throat.” Bucky says distraught

“Bucky, I promise you, I’m okay.” Tony says

“Seriously.” Rhodey says “He’d tell you. I swear he’s never been so honest with someone so quick. He’ll the first three years I knew him he’d try to lie to me when he came home high. Like I was gonna believe him. And he would lie to me all the time. I don’t know why I stayed in such an abusive relationship, honestly.” Rhodey says with a sigh “All it was, was lie after lie.” Rhodey says exaggerating “He came home drunk, I made him sleep on the couch many nights.”

“We didn’t have a couch.” Tony points out with a smile

“I meant to say I made him sleep on the floor. In the bathroom. Because he was always throwing up.”

“Hey, I was only 14. I couldn’t hold my liquor back then” Tony says

“You shouldn’t have been drinking at 14.” Rhodey points out

“No wonder I’m an alcoholic.” Tony rolls his eyes

“Recovering.” Rhodey points out. “You didn’t have any while I was gone.” Rhodey says proud.

“I almost did.” Tony admits

“But you didn’t.” Rhodey says “I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks platypus.” Tony rolls his eyes as Bucky watches the interaction.

“Bucky! How are you feeling?” Tony asks “I know it was a rough night.”

“I’m more worried about you, then myself.” Bucky says honestly

“And while that’s a nice thing, you don’t have to worry about me.” Tony says honestly “Really, I’m okay. Not the first time someone’s choked me and I’m sure it won’t be the last.” Tony says, but doesn’t have the effect he wanted.

“How many people have hurt you?” Bucky asks

“Well, I am a superhero.” Tony points out “And a billionaire who used to make weapons. Honestly the list is long.” Tony admits

“And you’re terrible boyfriends.” Rhodey points out

“Yeah, well… I hate terrible taste in men what can I say.” Tony says with an eyeroll

“Not all men.” Rhodey says a wink and tony blushes

“Shut up.” Tony says “Ignore him, Bucky. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“Sure.” Rhodey says “I’m so oblivious.” Rhodey sarcastically.

“I hate you.” Tony says groaning

“You love me.” Rhodey says with a smile

“No denying that.” Tony says with a shrug “But you love me too.”

“Even with all your faults.” Rhodey says grinning

“Faults?” Tony asks “What faults? I’m perfect who has no issues what so ever.” Tony says grinning

“Your right, how could I forget. You take in strays and give them home even when they don’t deserve it.” They both know they’re talking about the Avengers but Tony couldn’t help the response that came.

“Bucky deserves it.” Tony says making the man look at him in shock words not forming “Thought we forgot about you?” Tony asks “Sorry, we can get out of hand sometimes.”

“its okay.” Bucky says taking a sip of water. “Thank you, I guess.”

“Believe me.” Rhodey says “You do deserve it. I was never happy about him living with the Avengers. I was glad when he moved out, even though I know living on his own is bad too.”

“When did you live on your own?” Bucky asks confused

“When I quit the Avengers to live with Pepper until she left.”

“Oh.” Bucky says

“Yeah, she couldn’t take my PTSD.” Tony shrugs “Not her fault. I called my suit a couple times because it thought she was the enemy and went to attack. We’re still friends.” Tony shrugs “But enough about me, back to you. How are you feeling? Don’t think I didn’t realize you never gave me an answer.”

“I’m okay. I’m used to the nightmares. I just hate that I hurt you.” Tony nods in understanding “I’m sorry,”

“You don’t have to apologize. I’m really okay. I would tell you if I wasn’t.” Tony says earnest

“He would.” Rhodey backs him up “He wants you to feel comfortable so he won’t lie about anything. Never seen him do that before, but he’s telling the truth.”

“I’m a work in progress, but I’m getting there.”

“Promise?” Bucky asks

“I promise. And I told you that day I would go to you with my problems, like you could go to me. I meant that. This really doesn’t bother me. And I don’t break my promises.” Bucky nods taking in his words.

“I guess you’ve kept all of yours so far.” Bucky says “Okay.” He says deciding “I believe you.” Tony smiles

“Good. Now, let’s enjoy breakfast.” Tony smiles as they start to reheat the food that’s gone cold.

Chapter Text

“Are you ready?” Tony asks before they even walk into the room. “We set up the room to your description. It won’t look exactly like it until we light the candle. But…”

“I’m ready.” Bucky says and Tony gives him one last look before opening the door. The room doesn’t look exact, but enough to make Bucky freeze for a moment. Tony puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder

“We can take as long as you need.” Tony says softly Bucky shakes his head

“I’m okay.” Bucky says and continues to move forward into the room, with the awaiting Bruce and Vision.

“Everything is going to be okay.” Tony assures Bucky nods slowly “Okay, here are the glasses.” Tony says “Putting them on accesses your memories. It’ll tingle, but won’t hurt, and I won’t turn anything on. I have to light this candle.” Tony says holding it up “And I promise I won’t start until you give the go ahead.” Bucky nods and takes the glasses out of Tony’s hands.

“This is the most expensive thing I’ll ever hold.” Bucky says with a short laugh

“Just don’t drop it.” Tony says with a hesitant smile Bucky moves his hair and places the glasses on.

“Okay.” Bucky says softly

“Okay, so we’re going to stay over here and the hologram will pop up and we’ll watch. You have to think of what you want to happen, in order to manipulate what’s happening. I will talk you through it. It’s going to be hard to change what’s going on but slowly you can stop what they’re saying and doing.”

“You’ve already explained this to me.” Bucky says weakly

“I know but, you tend to forget things in stressful situations.” Tony says “So, we know there are 10 stages of brainwashing, right? ‘Assault on Identity’ is the first so whenever you’re ready think of yourself in prison cell, and I’ll light the candle.”

“I’m ready.” Bucky says and Tony hesitates “Tony, I’m ready.” Bucky says with a nod. Tony turns on the lightswitch and the room materializes around them. The bars, show up on one side, with the cot looking dirty and old. The image of Bucky appears lying on the cot shaking from the cold, the light blanket barely keeping him warm.

“Bucky. Are you with me?” Tony asks and Bucky nods.

The man appears on the opposite sides of the bars.

“What are you?” The man asks and both Bucky’s flinch.

“I’m Bucky Barnes.” Bucky says hoarsely

“No, you’re not. You’re the Winter Solider.”

“I’m Bucky Barnes.” Bucky protests weakly, this near the end of step 1 in his memories

“You are the winter soldier.”

“No.” Tony says “Bucky, you are Bucky Barnes. Think. Think of who you are. Eveything you’ve been the past year.”

“I’m Bucky Barnes.” The man on the bed says more firm

“No!” The soldier shouts, compensating for the defiance. “You are the Winter Soldier. Bucky Barnes it dead. No one is looking for you, and no one is coming.” His voice is harsh making both flinch

“I’m…” the defiance of the first time is fading “I’m… Bucky Barnes.” He’s more unsure of himself

“Bucky.” Tony says “You are Bucky Barnes! A friend whose moved in with me! Think of someone you care about and remember them with you.”

“I care about you.” Bucky says softly

“then remember who you are with me.”

“You are the Winter Soldier.” The man says “Repeat that. You are the Winter Soldier.”

“I am Bucky Barnes.” The man on the bed stands up “And I am not the winter solider.” The man flickers before disappearing completely.  Tony blows out the candle.  

“Bucky?” Tony asks softly at the man he nods slowly “That was a really good start.”

“But I am the Winter Soldier.” Bucky whispers

“No. That’s Hydra. Not you.” Tony puts a hand on him softly “Bucky.” Tony syas softly he takes the glasses off.

“I did okay?” Bucky asks looking at Tony

“You did awesome. Much better than my first time around. I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you, Tony.” Bucky says then “My head hurts.”

“Electromagnetic headache.” Tony says

“I have some medicine.” Bruce says handing him the pills and water.

“I know.” Bucky says taking the medicine “You told me.”

“Well, stressful situations and all.” Tony says

“Why don’t you go get some sleep. I know this can take a lot out of you.”

“You won’t leave?”

“Why would I?” Tony asks

“So you’ll stay. In my room.” Bucky asks

“Yeah, if you want. I’ll be there from when you fall asleep and when you wake up. I promise.” Bucky nods and heads for the door. Tony following behind.

“You did great, Bucky. I’m proud of you.” Bucky nods and allows Tony to lead him to his bed room. He’s asleep almost instantly, with a dreamless sleep. Tony as promised is there when he wakes up.

~

“your arm should be ready sooner then expected.” Tony says at dinner later that evening. “I was talking with Bruce. He thought building it would take a long time, but I’ve managed to cut that down about a third. A week and half, two at most, and it’ll be good to go.”

“That’s awesome, Tony.” Bucky says though his voice does not sound like it’s awesome. “thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Tony says sadly.

“look, Tony. I’m okay, just a little shaken.” Bucky says trying to convey the truth of the words

“I worry about you, pumpkin.” Tony says and Bucky’s eyes look up, questions in them at the nickname. “do you want to see a therapist?” Tony asks not realizing

“I don’t…” Bucky doesn’t finish. He doesn’t what?

“It might do you some good.” Tony says

“Okay.” Bucky agrees after a moment. “But I want to talk to the same one.” Bucky says

“Okay. FRIDAY, please inform Dr. Jackie that Bucky wants to talk to her ASAP.”

“Doing so now, Boss.”

“Thanks, Doll.” Tony says 

“She will meet him in 10 minutes.” FRIDAY says only a moment later. “Mr. Barnes, Dr. Jackie is currently on her way here.” Tony housed the potential therapists a few miles away. He didn’t want them living on sight, just in case. “I will inform you when she arrives.”

“Thanks, FRI.” Bucky says


“My pleasure., Mr. Barnes.”

“Stop sweet talking him, FRI.”

“Yes, Boss. I suppose I should leave that to you.”

“FRIDAY.” Tony says blushing, but Bucky’s not really paying attention anyway. “Bucky?” Tony asks “Is there anything I can do?”

“No.” Bucky says “I appreciate it, but I just need a few hours.”

“I understand.” Tony says “Reliving memories is hard. The first time is one of the worst.” Bucky nods

“Mr. Barnes, Dr. Jackie is entering the compound now.” Bucky nods

“Thank you, FRIDAY.” Bucky stands up “I’ll see you later.”

“Okay.” Tony says as Bucky leaves. Tony puts his head in his hands

“It’s going to be okay.” Rhodey says from the door.

“I don’t know about that.” Tony says wearily

“Oh, don’t be dramatic. Bucky’s strong, he can bounce back from that.”

“I know. But…” Tony doesn’t finish

“You’re worried about him. Rightfully so.” Rhodey says wheeling himself in “it’s going to take some time, we knew this going in.”

“I know. I just hate seeing him like that.” Tony says sighing

“You remember the first time you used it?” Rhodey asks

“Well, partly.” Tony says

“Yeah, you blacked out because it was so bad. Bucky’s doing well, I would say.”

“Yeah, true.” Though Tony jumped right in to the worst, Bucky was still faring better than he did.

“You were fine in a couple days, he’ll been fine in one or two.”

“yeah, but then we’re going to keep doing it for each step.” Tony says “And there is 9 more steps we have to go through.”

“Yes, but the first one in each step will be rough, the more each step is done, the easier it will get.” Rhodey points out

“I know, I know, I just hate that he has to go through every step multiple times. I hate that he had to go through it in the first place. It makes me so mad. I hate it, I hate that he dealt with that for nearly a century!” Tony slams his fist on the table.

“Tony, man, you gotta relax. It sucks, yeah, but you can’t change it. You’re doing the next best thing, helping him move past it. That’s not something Steve could even do for him, man. You’re the best thing to happen to him in 70 years. Just think about that, Tony. 70 years.”

“I can’t help it.” Tony says “I just hate that no one thought to look for him. I hate that he was tortured.”

“I bet he feels the same.” Rhodey says “That you were tortured.”

“My waterboarding is nothing compared to his.” Tony says

“That’s bullshit.” Rhodey says “You can’t compare your pain and think that you should be fine because his is worse. And I dunno, Tony, the list of your pasts pain, is pretty long. Shall we start with Howard?” Rhodey asks “You were just a child, when he hit you. At least Bucky was more grown up, when he was taken.”

“18 is not grown up!” Tony shouts.

“You told me you were 4 when he first hit you, and had hit your mom prior to that. Compared to 4, 18 is grown up. Plus, it was the war era.” Rhodey points out

“That doesn’t make it okay.” Tony says looking down

“No, it doesn’t.” Rhodey says “But you’ve had a rough life man, and you’re nearly 46. Which in comparison its not that far from 70, if you ask me. Plus, he wasn’t awake for all of it. You were.”

“Why are you doing this?” Tony asks with a sharp look “You want me to what?” Tony asks “Feel less bad about  him, and worse about myself?” Rhodey sighs

“That’s not what I was tring to do.”

“What were you trying to do then?” Tony asks “Remind me of my joyous life?”

“No.” Rhodey says “I just wanted you to understand that we worry about you too. You should see a therapist too.”

“I don’t need a shrink.” Tony says

“I don’t believe you.” Rhodey says “You want Bucky to get better so bad, you’re willing to do whatever it takes. Well, that’s what I’m willing to do for you, only I’m not a genius and cannot persuade you to talk to a therapist. No matter how much I try.”

“I really am okay, Though.” Tony says

“You have nightmares, and can’t sleep more then 4-5 hours a night. And that’s if you’re lucky. I don’t think that’s the definition of okay. More like managing. But you could get better Tony. Really, better.”

“I don’t want to.” Tony says lamely “it’ll get worse.”

“Yeah, but then in months, maybe a year, you’ll be better.”

“I don’t believe that.” Tony says

“but you believe it for Bucky?” Rhodey asks and Tony looks down again “Come on, Tony, you’re a smart man.”

“Leave it be Rhodey.” Tony says sighing Rhodey shakes his head like he wants to argue but doesn’t

~

“Hello, Bucky. I’m glad you asked to speak with me again.” Dr. Jackie smiles at Bucky.

“It’s just because I haven’t met the others yet.” Bucky says with a shrug, but Dr. Jackie’s smile does not fade. Nor does she say anything else. They sit there for a moment before Bucky gives in to the silence.

“I’m Bucky Barnes, but I’m also the winter soldier.” Bucky says

“You are.” She says honestly “But that doesn’t mean you have to be.”

“I don’t understand.” Bucky says

“You can be Bucky Barnes, you are Bucky Barnes. Just like you can be and are the winter soldier. But just because you are both in the past, doesn’t mean you have to be in the future.”

“I will always be the Winter Soldier.” Bucky says

“Do you want to be?” She asks

“Well… no.” Bucky says

“Then why do you have to?” She asks

“Because of what I did. I can’t change that.” She pauses

“I’m going to tell you something that I spoke to Mr. Stark about. He gave me permission to talk about him and this.” Bucky nods “He told me that he was called the merchant of death for years and years, many years back.” Bucky frowns not sure where this is going. “To citizens of enemies of the US, they feared him, where he went, because of what it could bring to their opponents, that could destroy them, their families, their homes. Today, Mr. Stark has no affiliation with the military besides his friend, Colonel Rhodes, but now even that tie is cut as he was honorably discharged.” Bucky nods. “Well, now Iron Man is a symbol of hope for all innocent people all over the world. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” She asks

“That Tony is a good man?” He asks and she smiles

“That is true, but that was no my point. My point is, no one even thinks of Mr. Stark as ‘the merchant of death’ that title has come and gone. When people think of him, they think Iron Man. Not mass murderer.” Bucky looks up “What I’m saying it that past titles do not hold who you are, Bucky. You are Bucky Barnes, you will always be Bucky Barnes. Even when you were the winter soldier you were still Bucky. But you don’t have to be the Winter Soldier, you can always be just Bucky.” Those words ring in his ears two hours later when he leaves her office. ‘you can always be just Bucky’

He meets Tony in his lab. FRIDAY having told him where he went during his meeting. He knocks on the door.

“Come in.” Tony calls tinkering with the watch on his arm “Bucky.” Tony says looking “You were in there for a while. Everything okay?”

“Yeah.” Bucky says “I’m good.”

“You sound like you mean that.” Tony says happily

“I do.” Bucky says “And tomorrow morning I want to use BARF again.” Tony looks at him in surprise

“Are you sure?” he asks

“Yeah. Something she said… I want to try again tomorrow.”

“Okay.” Tony says smiling “We can go again tomorrow. I’ll let Bruce and Vision know. But I don’t want you going to fast. Maybe tomorrow and then a day or two off.” Bucky nods

“And I like Dr. Jackie. A lot.” Tony smiles brightly

“Yeah?” he nods “Do you still want to see the others?”

“No, I don’t see the point since we’ve already talked for a long time.”

“Okay, FRIDAY first thing tomorrow morning, let the other 3 know that we appreciate them coming but their service are not required. Make sure they know they’ll be payed the agreed amount even though they didn’t speak with anyone.”

“Okay, Boss.” FRIDAY responds.

“Thank you, Tony.” Bucky says “Really.” Tony smiles

“You think you’re up to finishing dinner? You didn’t eat anything since breakfast.” It’s only then that Bucky realizes how starving he is.

“Yeah, I can eat.” Tony smiles as Bucky follows him to the kitchen

~

“Are you sure you’re ready?” Tony asks as Bucky puts on the glasses much less hesitant this time “I don’t want you going to fast.”

“I’m sure.” Bucky says “Light the candle.” Tony nods and turns it on and the whole room comes together. Bucky watches as the guard comes as Bucky lays on the bed.

“What’s your name?” He asks

“Bucky. Barnes.” He says through gritted teeth.

“No! You are the Winter Soldier. You are a nobody! You are nothing, your only name is the asset!” Bucky wavers slightly, this worse than last time

“I am Bucky Barnes.” Both Bucky’s say at the same time

“YOU ARE THE WINTER SOLDIER!” He shouts right in his face.

“I Was.” He says sturdy and unwavering “Now, I’m just Bucky Barnes.” The image flickers and the guard disappears and Tony blows out the candle as Bucky takes off the glasses.

“Wow.” Tony says “That was… I’m so proud of you.”

“I just needed someone to remind me of who I am.” Bucky says smiling at Tony, who is smiling right back. And in truth, even though it was Jackie’s words, it was Tony’s story, after all.

Chapter Text

Tony and Bucky are just eating lunch when the Avengers... remaining Avengers Assemble alarm goes off. Tony jumps up immediately

“FRIDAY what have we got?”

“There appears to be doom bots in NYC.”

“Shit.” Tony curse “Ready the suit.”

“Boss, it’s not fully operational.”

“Ready the suit!” Tony shouts

“Tony.” Bucky says “it’s just you and vision.”

“It’ll have to make due.”

“I’m coming.” Bruce says from the door way.

“Are you sure about that Bruce?” Tony asks as the suit flies to him and around him “I meant what I said about wanting Bruce.”

“I know, Tony. But we’re out of options. It’s only me you and vision.”

“Okay. Quinjet now.” Tony turns to Bucky “I’ll be back, hold down the fort.” Tony gives Bucky a quick hug without thinking and starts running off “Ready the iron legion.” Tony says running to the quinjet. Vision and Bruce already there. Tony takes off and is headed there quickly. When they get there, there is a lot of them. The iron legion the already there, but since he destroyed most of them, there is only three functioning. His suit isn’t even at 100 % and three is no SHIELD back up. He’s glad no one can see his face.

“Alright.” Tony says more confident then he feels “Bruce, you stay in the main area, smashing as many of them as possible. Vision you and I will try to keep the perimeter. Iron legion will try to take out as many as possible too.” They nod as Bruce transforms into the Hulk and vision fades through the plane. Tony lands the quinjet and flies out immediately. He starts shooting them as fast as possible.

He hates team Cap, but he could really use their help right about now. But his prayers are answered when Thor shows up half way through.

“Boy, am I glad to see you.” Tony says flying by him. Thor doesn’t’ respond just kills 6 doom bots with one lightning bolt with a grin on his face. Taking out the rest is easier now that Thor is back. They meet at the quinjet, after Tony helps Bruce turn back into Bruce. Tony removes the suit and hugs Thor.

“You saved our ass.” Tony says with relief

“I am sorry, Anthony.” Thor apologizes

“I’m pretty happy that you saved our lives and the city.” Tony says not really sure why he’s apologizing

“I merely mean with Ultron. I strangled you, and I was wrong.” Tony smiles

“Thank you, Thor, that means a lot.” Tony smiles “And it’s alright, all’s forgiven.”

“Thank you, Anthony, I do appreciate that.”

“How’d you know to come?” Tony asks “And, where were you?”

“I was on Asgard and Heimdall saw the battle and told me immediately what was happening. I got here as soon as I could. I am sorry, for not coming back sooner.”

“I would say your timing was impeccable.” Tony says smiling

“Yes.” Thor says “but I was hesitant to come back, until I heard of the doom bots. I heard about the accords, and the war. I did not want to have to choose sides.”

“That’s understandable. I was the same way, Thor.” Bruce says

“Yes. I since have watched the event unfold after, and I have seen which side was right, you Anthony, have been a great hope through this mess. And I will sign the accords, given of course you go over them with me in detail.”

“Of Course, Thor.” Tony says smiling “I would never have you sign something you didn’t understand.”

“I know that.” Thor says

“Heimdall also mentions you have brought a guest to the compound.” Thor says “I will not be able to stay for long but I would love to meet him.”

“Sure.” Tony says “How long you think you can stay?”

“Hopefully, I can stay the night. Asgard is very busy now, and I must return soon. Though I could not leave you and the city to perish.”

“Thank you, Thor. I wish you could stay longer but I understand.” Tony readies the quinjet. “FRIDAY give Bucky a heads up of Thor.”

“Sure thing, Boss.”

~

They’re watching the news, as usually, wanting to at least know what is going on in the US when a breaking news flashes across the screen. They all perk up

“New York City is under attack at a mass of what appear to be called Doom Bots.” The reprotet says as one flies over her head. “They have damamged much and have injured many, but the city isn’t sure what to expect now that Captain America and most of the Avengers are out-laws. SHEILD which was once able to stop this, is now gone too.” Team Cap look at the screen with horror as no one is coming to the city. “The police are unmatched for this battle and we are hoping Iron Man arrives soon.” The team watches as they fire and hurt people “Iron Man has arrived!” The reporter says “And the hulk with him, along with Vision.”

“Bruce.” Natasha whispers

“The iron legion is here as well, but it doesn’t seem to be much of a legion anymore.” The reporter turns her head as a doom bot goes flying by. “It seems that the remaining Avengers are outmatched.” The battle continues on for a few minutes before in the background a familiar bolt of lightning strikes “Thor! Thor appears to have returned to earth and is helping the battle!”

“Thor and Bruce.” Clint says shocked “Stark really knows how to manipulate people.”

“you think Stark had time to manipulate people while battling doom bots?” Natasha snaps “He probably heard what’s going and came to help.” Clint shrinks a little but doesn’t respond. Shortly after the doom bots are saved and it shows Iron Man hugging Thor and Thor grinning right back and Tony. They head into the quinjet and watch as it takes off for the compound.

“We should have been there.” Steve says “How many people died because we weren’t?”

“Says nobody’s died.” Clint says trying to be helpful

“Injured then. We could have taken them out it minutes.” Steve groans

“If you had signed the accords, we would have been.” Natasha points out “You realize that if you had gone in with Tony you could have explained what was going on? Then they could have sent us in. None of the battle would have happened because as angry as Stark would have been at us. And yes, us, there’s no way all of us would get into a big blow out like that.” Steve sighs

“We wouldn't have gotten to it in time. And I still think the accords are wrong.”

“Did you even read them?” Scott asks surprising everyone “I mean, I was already to help Captain America fight his way out. I just… I thought it was for the right reason. And I haven’t seen them, maybe they are as bad as they sound. I don’t know… but you don’t give any detail of what they say only saying people can control us. I mean, I get that’s bad, but what else did they say? It couldn’t have been however many pages and pages, for one thing, right?” Scott asks

“No,” Natasha says “They had much more to them than that. And we were allowed to make changes to them. They were going to be ratified, and with Stark’s legal team, would have done an impeccable ob.”

“The raft-“ Steve starts to protest

“Wasn’t in the accords.” Natasha says calmly

“So, you didn’t read them.” Scott says “Great.” He says sarcastically

“They’re wrong!” Steve tries to argue.

“I agree.” Clint says “They were going to control us.”

“Coming from the man that’s retired? Or are you not?” Natasha asks

“Oh, shut up.” Clint snarls

“Really?” Natasha rolls her eyes “the accords we’re the right thing.” Natasha says

“Then why’d you help me?”

“Because I didn’t want any Rhodey’s. It didn’t work.” The statement turns everyone quiet.

“We still should have been there.” Steve says absently mindedly

“it’s your own fault we’re not.” Natasha says “Even your buddy Bucky agreed with them, with Tony.”

“He wanted help!” Steve shouts “And not Tony. He assured me of that!”

“He was lying.” Natasha says “he doesn’t like you.” Steve’s blood is boiling

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“guys.” Sam says calmly “This isn’t helping anything. What’s done is done, we’ll be good to go in 6 weeks.”

“I’m going to the gym.” Steve says standing wanting to let out his frustration, preferably not on Natasha’s face. “Don’t follow me.” Steve stalks out of the room in anger making Natasha roll her eyes. Yeah maybe she was harsh, but the man needed to hear it. She’s done being stuck here with them. She’s over it. She takes a calming breath and goes back to watching the news.

~

Thor enters the room and sees Bucky

“James!” Thor says entering the room.

“Hi.” Bucky says hesitant

“I am Thor, God of Thunder, son of Odin. I am pleased to make you acquaintance. Friend Anthony says great things about you!”  

“That’s… good.” Bucky says slowly

“Very.” Thor assures. “I cannot stay for long, I did however wish to meet the man that friend Steve spoke so highly of! He was very worried about you.” Thor says and Bucky nods making him even more uncomfortable

“Alright, point break, let’s leave the man alone, yeah?” Tony says with a nervous smile “How about we have that buffalo chicken pizza you like so much.” Thor grins

“Yes. That would be wonderful.” Thor grins not noticing Bucky’s unease. When he has to  leaves a few hours later Tony makes him promise to come visit soon, and not just when he’s needed. 

“I promise, my friend. I am sad that I don’t have much time here on Midgard as I do like it so, but Asgard needs me. And I cannot leave them in such need.”

“Wouldn’t think of it of Thor. Just don’t be a stranger.” Tony says with a smile and Thor nods with a smile and travels back to Asgard.

“So, that’s Thor.” Bucky says “Never thought I’d meet him.”

“yeah.” Tony says “He can be a bit… abrasive, but he doesn’t mean to be. He’s a good God. But sometimes he doesn’t realize what he says can affect people more then he means. He’s gotten better, but his time away from earth I think maybe him fall back in to old habits a bit.” Bucky nods. “He was very happy to meet you. And he even told me he agreed with me on the accords. Next time he comes for a longer time, he’s signing.”

“Good. That means you at least have another Avenger.” Tony nods

“Yeah, I didn’t want to say it then, but if he hadn’t shown up…” Tony doesn’t finish the thought.

“What if that happens again?” Bucky asks “I mean… now that the Avengers are torn apart, bad guys are going to try and use that for their gain.”

“I know.” Tony says sighing “I had an idea. At least, until they’re back.”

“What is it?”

“Spiderman.” Tony says “he… he’s young, but he’s skilled, mostly. And he could be a temporary one. No one needs to know who he is. And I can work my way around him signing the accords. Just in case until They’re back.”

“When are they off?” Bucky asks worried.

“Hey.” Tony says looking Bucky in the eyes “You take as long as you need, okay? They don’t need to be back in order for the team to succeed, because the only one who can actually help fight, is Natasha. And Spiderman can take his place until they get back.”

“because no one else signed the accords.” Bucky says nodding

“So even if they come back early, they can’t do anything. And if they do they’ll get arrested and nothing I can do will get them off. Even though they saved people, it won’t matter. They’ll be at the door demanding his arrest, and I will help.”

“Okay.” Bucky says “But if we have another attack and Spiderman isn’t enough, they’re coming home” Tony smiles brightly. “and we’re demanding that they sign.” Tony can’t help the smile on his face “What?” Bucky asks “Why are you smiling?”

“You called it home.” Tony says happy

“Oh.” Bucky says thinking about it. “I guess I did.” Bucky starts smiling “It feels like the closest thing to a home I’ve had in 70 years. So yeah, it’s home.”

“I’m so happy to hear you say that.” Tony says with tears in his eyes “You have no idea.” Tony pulls Bucky in for a hug. “I just want you to be happy.” Bucky hugs back with his one arm

“I am happy. With you.” Tony smiles brightly at that

Chapter Text

“You okay?” Tony asks already knowing the answer is no “You’re not okay, don’t even try to lie to me.” they just finished their third use of BARF. Side effects, we're a  little worse this time.

“Then why’d you ask?” Bucky says leaning on Tony for support. Which is very difficult considering the man is much taller and heavier then he is.

“Because, honey, I worry.” Tony says with an eyeroll. Bucky’s to tired to even look at him for the nicknames.

“I don’t feel every good.” Bucky says about .3 seconds before he throws up. Tony only by sheer will alone is able to hold Bucky up and preventing him from falling.

“Okay. Shower time.” Tony says leading him away from the potent smell. Good thing that was on tile, Tony thinks weakly

“I don’t think I can stand.” Bucky says

“Yeah, I gathered as much. That doesn’t mean you’re not showering. And brushing your teeth.”  Tony adds as an afterthought. “Come on, peaches, we’re giving you a shower.”

“No!” Bucky protests

“Don’t worry, sweet cheeks, you’ll be mostly clothed.” Tony says not wanting to see Bucky naked… at least not in that context. “Okay.” Tony says when they get to the bathroom.

“Teeth, brushed.” Tony orders and Bucky picks up his tooth brush with a shaky hand. Tony walks over and grabs it from him. He puts on the tooth paste and orders Bucky to open up. He brushes his teeth, and yeah it’s awkward, but he knows, Bucky is grateful.

 “Can you undress down into your boxers, or briefs… or whatever you wear.” Tony sort of rambles. Good thing Bucky is too out of it to notice.

“I… I need help.” Bucky says weakly

“That’s fine.” Tony says putting him to lean against the counter. “Arm up.” Bucky slowly lifts his arm “You doing great, smooches.” Tony says as he lifts the shirt over his head he tosses it to the ground, planning to burn it later. Bucky lowers his hand. “Okay, I’m going to undo your belt now, so don’t freak out. Though I’m pretty sure you’re so out of it you won’t freak out. Is this okay, Bucky?” Tony asks looking up first “I mean, I don’t want to do something you’re not comfortable with. I’m used to it, Rhodey did it for me probably hundreds of times, no joke. But if you don’t’ want me to do this, I’ll stop just say the word.”

“No… it’s okay. I want to be clean.” Bucky says with a nod “Thank you.”

“You don’t have thank me for asking for consent.” Tony points out

“I meant helping, dumbass.” Tony snorts

“So rude.” Tony says but he’s smiling “If you’re feeling awkward or uncomfortable just ask me to stop. I will okay?” Bucky nods as Tony undoes his belt. Tony proceeds to unbutton his jeans and lower them to the ground. “I’m stopping here.” Tony says “Boxer guy, huh?” Tony asks “I’m more brief’s man myself.” Bucky snorts

“I wasn’t really able to choose. Wakanda has limits.” Bucky points out

“Did no one take you shopping?” Tony asks shirt halfway off. “We’re going online shopping when you’re awake.”

“I’m awake now.” Bucky protests as Tony tosses his shirt. Bucky can’t help but stare at the massive amount of scar tissue where and around the arc reactor use to be. Tony squirms under his gaze but is determined to help Bucky. He proceeds to take off his pants, leaving himself in his briefs only. Bucky is still staring, but Tony ignores it, vaguely thinking he would never do this with just anyone. Tony walks over and turns the water on.

“How warm do you like it?” Tony asks feeling the water it’s a little warmer the neutral

“Whatever’s fine.”

“Cold shower would probably be good huh?” Tony says with a slight joke. He glances down at his chest briefly and his smile fades.

“Tony-“ Bucky says softly

“Alright.” Tony says ignoring him “Put your arm around me, I’ll try and hold you up.”

“Tony.” Bucky tries again but Tony ignores him in favor of stepping into the shower. He hates water, especially when it goes over his face from above, but he’s pushing all that down to later, because Bucky needs his help. Panic later, shower now. Tony puts Bucky under the water.

“You okay?” Tony asks

“Are you?” Bucky counters and he rolls his eyes “Yeah, I’m okay.” Bucky says after a minute  “Thank you.”

Tony nods grabbing the shampoo. He lathers it in his hands and reaches up for Bucky’s hair. Bucky leans into the touch as Tony seems to be washing his thoughts away. After a moment Tony grabs the shower head and rinses his hair. He does the same with conditioner, because a man cannot have that kind of hair and not use conditioner. Bucky still leaning into his touch. Tony grabs the loofa and pours some liquid soap on it, before lathering it on Bucky’s body. Bucky closes his eyes and allows Tony to wash him. He vaguely thinks he would never let anyone do this, yet here he is having Tony bathe him and he’s more than comfortable.

“This is nice.” Bucky mumbles

“It’s nice to have someone take care of you.” Tony says and Bucky nods. It’s over too soon for Bucky, but Tony is having trouble keeping the man upright. Last thing they need is to fall in the shower.

“I’m gonna let you wash your bits in private later.” Tony says with a soft chuckle turning off the water. Bucky and Tony both instantly miss the warmth of the spray. Tony with unbelieving luck manages to get Bucky out of the shower, and lean him against the vanity again. He starts drying him off, slowly. Once he’s dry enough he dries himself off.

“I don’t really want to see your dick in this context, but if you need help changing I can.” Tony says not sure where to proceed from here.

“If you get me them, I think I can manage. But I’ll probably need your help with the rest.” Tony visibly looks relieved and exits the room. It’s only after he’s gone does he realize tony said ‘in this  context’. Before he can think about it more, Tony comes back with his boxers. He hands them to Bucky before turning around.

“if you need help…” Tony says making sure, he’d do it if he needs it.

“I appreciate that, but I got it. I’m almost done.” Tony nods and within a few more seconds Bucky says he’s done. With a little help from Bucky he’s able to put on his pajamas.

“Alright bed.” Tony says leading him into his room. He helps him to his side of the bed. He lays down

“Stay?” He asks as Tony’s about to leave

“Bucky, I don’t know about that.” Tony says hesitantly

“Please.” Bucky asks already half asleep “You make me feel safe.” Tony heart breaks slightly so he crawls into bed next to him as Bucky’s arm curls around him

“Big spoon, huh?” Tony asks but Bucky is already asleep. And tony doesn’t dare leave for him to wake up alone, even if he is in his wet, briefs. Soon Tony’s eyes drift close and he’s asleep too.

Chapter Text

Tony slowly opens his eyes. The first thing he notices is he’s still wrapped in Bucky’s arm. The second thing is how good and comfortable it feels. The third, is he didn’t wake from a nightmare, and the fourth is, it’s now dark out. He and Bucky fell asleep long before sun started to set and he has no idea the time now. It’s getting into summer so it’s lighter later, which means he’s been asleep for a while. Tony inhales enjoying the feeling of Bucky’s arm around him. He stares into the man’s face, and notices how peaceful he looks. So different form the usual hesitant and uncertain, of basically everything. Tony smiles and just watches Bucky sleep peacefully. Tony doesn’t know how long he’s there enjoying it, but not before long Bucky opens his eyes. He blinks a few times before looking at Tony and noticing the position they’re in. Bucky sits up rubbing his eyes

“Mr. Barnes. It’s currently 9:34 pm Colonel Rhodes, Dr. Banner, and Vision are all in the living area talking and watching the news. Boss is in your bed.”

“I noticed.” Bucky says with a hesitant voice.

“Wow.” Tony says “I slept for 7 hours.” Tony says commenting

“6.” FRIDAY informs helpfully. Tony huffs

“You were awake for an hour?” Bucky asks hesitantly

“I didn’t want to leave you to wake up by yourself.” Tony says “And you seemed so peaceful I didn’t want to wake you up.” Bucky nods not sure how to respond “Was that okay?” Tony asks “I mean, you asked me to stay.” Tony says worried

“No, it is.” Bucky says worrying about how Rhodey is going to feel of them sleeping together.

“Okay.” Tony says not entirely convinced. “How are you feeling, though?”

“Better.” Bucky says firm on that. “Thank you for helping me… I know it must have been awkward for you.”

“Rhodey’s done this for me a lot. So don’t worry about it. And you’re welcome. Why don’t we go have some dinner and Rhodey can tell you all about it?” Bucky nods and Tony gets out of the bed. He stands up to find that he’s still in his briefs. “I think I’ll go get dressed first. No need to traumatize Bruce.” Tony makes his way to his room to change out of the damp briefs and get dressed. He meets Bucky outside and they make their way to the living room.

“Morning sleeping Beauties.” Rhodey teases when they enter.

“We made chicken.” Bruce says with a  smile “We saved you guys a plate.”

“Thanks, Brucie-bear.” Tony says heading to the kitchen.

“I’m the one who cooked.” Rhodey says

“Shit.” Tony curses. “Bruce, do we have anything edible to eat that won’t poison us?”

“ha, ha, very funny.” Rhodey shakes his head

“I like to think so.” Tony says grinning pulling the food out of the fridge and popping it in the microwave.

“How are you feeling, Bucky?” Bruce asks when he stands awkwardly in between rooms.

“Better. The effects have worn off. Thank you.” He says with a smile. Bruce smiles back

“I looked into the side effects while you were asleep.” Bruce says “I don’t think it was the equipment that had to do with it, just the memory. Must have triggered something in your mind to give you the reaction you did.” Bruce says in an apologizing tone.

“Will it happen again when I do it a second time?” Bucky asks while Tony brings the food over.

“I’m not sure. I wouldn’t think, but without knowing what triggered it, we can’t be sure it won’t happen again.” Bruce says “I don’t mean to pry, but do you know what you triggered?”

“I think it was just the guilt.” Bucky says honestly “I mean, I already had some of those thoughts before they got me and drilling it into me… made it worse. And then they brought it up again and I had to be reminded of them.” Bucky shakes his head “I just think it was the comments.” Bruce nods in understanding as Tony hands him his plate. He pauses remembering Tony’s comment but he’s digging in right away so Bucky starts eating. He pauses “This is really good.” Bucky says after swallowing

“Thanks.” Rhodey says smiling

“This is a mama Rhodes recipe. That woman can cook.” Tony says “And I guess Rhodey-bear can follow a recipe okay.” Tony says with a smile

“Yeah, better then you can.” Rhodey throws back

“True.” Tony nods then smiles “Story time, Rhodey.” Tony smiles “Tell Bucky about when I was piss as drunk the first time and you made me take a shower.”

“God, tony, no!”

“oh come on, it’ll make him feel better.” Tony protests

“You don’t have to.” Bucky says to Rhodey. “Really.” Tony pouts

“How about I tell another story?” Rhodey asks

“Yeah?” Tony asks which “Which one?”

“I have one.” Vision says making everyone look to him in surprise. “I have a few memories of my time as JARVIS.” Vision says with a small smile. Tony’s smile fades.

“Yeah.” Bruce says “I’m sure we’d all like to hear about it?”

“Yeah, great, sure.” Tony mumbles

“Tony?” Bruce asks “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, it’s fine. Go ahead vision.” Tony mumbles

“Tony.” Bucky says softly “What’s wrong? Really.” Tony looks at Bucky and sighs

“You’re not JARVIS. And I still miss JARVIS. And I really don’t want to hear a story about JARVIS and from a guy that sounds like him, but isn’t him.” Tony says with a sigh “I’m sorry.”

“I understand, Tony.” Vision says “I’m sorry. I thought this might help cheer you up. Because I know you miss him. I did not think that it would have this reaction. And I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, Viz. Just because I miss him, doesn’t mean I don’t like you. You know that, right?” Tony asks

“I do.” Vision smiles 

“Maybe soon, I’ll hear some of the stories you remember. I’m just not up for that right now.”

“I understand.” Vision says with a small smile.  Rhodey ends up talking about the first time he and Tony met.

~

Tony doesn’t sleep that night. He’s in his lab working on Bucky’s arm when Bucky walks in the room.

“Bucky? Is everything alright?” Tony asks turning away from his work

“Yeah… bad dream is all.” Bucky says softly

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“I…” Bucky hesitates “I don’t know.”

“I’m a good listener.” Tony offers.

“It… was about you.” Bucky says hesitantly

“About me? What about me?” Tony asks not expecting that

“You died. On a mission.” Bucky says

“I was going to talk to Spiderman tomorrow. You don’t have to worry.”

“He was there.” Bucky says protesting

“I’m the suit.” Tony points out “I don’t usually get hurt when I’m in the suit.”

“We hurt you.” Bucky says “And I what if you go up against other aliens who are as strong as us. Or something.”

“Bucky, honestly, I’ll be okay.” Tony tries to assure. He walks over to him and pulls him in for a hug. “I’m tough. I can handle most things.” Tony says as he pulls back

“You told me that if Thor hadn’t shown up it wouldn’t be good.” Bucky says

“But we know he’s going to show up. He promised.” Tony says with a soft smile

“What if it’s not enough?” Bucky asks “What if you die? What then?”

“Then the world keeps moving.” Tony says with an obvious flippant tone. “That’s what happens when people die.”

“Tony.” Bucky says softly

“You know Pepper bugged me about this for hours on end. What if I die?” Tony asks “Always her question if I came back hurt. So I hid it from her. Lied to her so she could see that it wasn't a risk.” Bucky listens quietly not sure where this is going “And then when she found out I was lying to her, the team to everyone about my injuries, she was done. It was the PTSD, that was true, but it was also this. The stupid what if game. I hate it. Why does everyone always worry about that. Doesn’t anyone see what that what I’m doing is worth dying for?” Tony asks

“Because you don’t have to.” Bucky says “You don’t need to die. You don’t need to get hurt. If you had a team-“

“I had a team.” Tony points out

“A better team.” Bucky says “Like Wanda and Clint would take a hit for you? Like Steve would jump in front of a grenade, for you? Like Natasha, Scott and Sam willingly risk their life, for you.” Bucky shakes his head

“I never asked them too.” Tony says shaking his head

“You don’t think you’re worth it.” Bucky says realizing

“I didn’t say that.” Tony says

“But you’re not denying it.”

“I don’t know, okay?” Tony says deflating “Is my life worth theirs?” Tony asks “What have I done that I deserve to live over them?”

“Everything.” Bucky says

“Oh come on, you know that’s not true. Steve is-“

“An asshole, who leaves his supposed team member to die in the freezing cold Russian, winter.” Tony huffs with an eyeroll

“If I hadn’t attacked you-“

“No.” Bucky cuts him sharply “If Steve had told you, is the words you’re looking for.” Tony sighs

“I don’t want to fight, Bucky. I really don’t. You just don’t need to be worried about me.”

“I can’t help it.” Bucky says “You’re the closest person I’ve been with in 70 years. You make me feel safe. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Survive.” Tony says wearily

“I don’t want to fight either Tony.” Bucky says sagging “Just… I want you to have enough people in case of another attack.”

“Is this your way of telling me you want them back?” Tony asks with disappointment in his voice

“No. I’m just saying that maybe before they come home, we should try and explain the accords to them. Make home see reason. Because I don’t see the point of them coming home, if they’re not going to sign.” Tony sighs

“We’ll call them tomorrow and have a meeting. How’s that?” tony asks with a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes “We can go from there.”

“That sounds reasonable.” Bucky says with a small nod “Thank you.” Tony nods

“You want to see the progress of your arm?” Tony asks changing the subject and Bucky nods, his dream still lingering in the back of his mind.

~

Tony drives to queens. He meets May again, but this time, he’s less flirtatious. He heads to peter’s room only after a short minute.

“How are you, kid.” Tony asks

“I’m good, Mr. Stark.” Peter says grinning “I love the new suit.”

“Great.” Tony smiles “That’s great.”

“I have a feeling you didn’t come here to ask me about my suit.”

“I was curious.” Tony says “But no, that’s not why I’m here.”

“Why are you?” Peter asks

“I need you.” Tony says then pauses “Okay, that came out a little more pedophile-y then I meant. I mean, Spider-Man.” Tony says “I need Spider-Man.”

“When?” Peter asks

“In case of another attack. With just the few of us remaining it’d be good to have you as back up. I would of course, want to give you some actually training first.”

“I have training!” Peter protest

“No, not in hand to hand. You’re good with your web-slingers, but everything else needs work.” Peter nods slowly “I’d like you to come to the compound a couple odd weekends to train, to science, and to meet Bucky Barnes.” Tony says with a guilty smile as Peters eyes widen

“he’s with you?” Peter asks “And not Steve!” Tony laughs a bit

“Yeah, Turns out the man doesn’t even like Steve. Isn’t that a kicker?” Tony asks feeling a bit guilty at laughing. He knows how hard this is on Steve, but truth be told he doesn’t really care that much.

“No way!” Peter shouts “Seriously?” he asks

“Serious.” Tony says “So what do you say? Training and science?”

“Yeah.” Peter smiles “I can do that.”

“Awesome.” Tony smiles “I’ll text you the address.” Peter nods “We’ll tell Aunt May it’s about the grant.”

“Yeah, definitely.” Peter agrees

“And don’t worry about signing the accords.” Tony says “I can keep your identity a secret so you don’t have to.”

“Thank you, Mr. Stark.” Peter says “but just so you know, if my identity is found out, I will sign the accords. Even though when I was fighting with you, it wasn’t really about them, I’ve done my research. I agree with them,  with you.” Tony smiles and pats him on the shoulder.

“That’s great, really, but you’re not signing anything until you’re 18 anyway.” Tony says firm and peter nods in understanding

“Thank you, Mr. Stark.” He repeats

“Call me Tony.” He says with a smile and Peter smiles brighter back.

~

“Hello, Bucky.” Dr. Jackie smiles at him

“Hell, Jackie.” Bucky says with a small smile

“How have you been?” She asks

“I had rough day yesterday.” Bucky admits

“Would you like to tell me about it?” She asks

“Do I have to?” He asks

“No, you don’t have to say anything you don’t want. I merely thought talking about it might help.” She says

“Maybe later.” Bucky says

“Okay.” She says “I did have one thing, I’d like to  discuss with you.” Bucky nods “The Winter Soldier.” She says calmly making Bucky tense “The purpose of BARF is to get the trigger words out of your head.” She says and Bucky nods “But that doesn’t mean the winter soldier won’t be in your mind. In our second session you mentioned that he’s in there, but he’s just not talking, correct?” She asks

“Yeah, it’s like a feeling. Like he could break out.”

“That is different the Dissociative Identity disorder, but I’d like  to put you on a medication to try and help.” Bucky tenses, but she presses on “Medication doesn’t always work, with DID, but it can help. And even though this is different, this medicine I think is a good shot of removing him from your mind.”

“You think it can work?” Bucky asks

“I’m not certain, but I think this is our best shot.” She says “There are a few different medications made for this. I have one in mind. Is it okay if I prescribe you this to try? It’s a twice a day pill, one at morning one at bed.” Bucky thinks for a moment debating it “If you’re not sure you can always think about it, and talk to someone. There is no rush.”

“Prescribe it” Bucky says deciding “I’ll take the medicine.” She nods taking out her prescription pad.

“Are you sleeping okay? I know you mentioned you had trouble?”

“I… I slept okay with Tony.” Bucky says and then feels embarrassed

“Don’t be embarrassed sleeping next to someone you feel safe with is always a healthy thing to do. I’m sure Tony didn’t have a nightmare that night either, am I right?” She asks

“Well, he was awake before me.” Bucky says

“You would have heard him if he did.” She says “But besides with Tony.”

“I… I have nightmares.” Bucky says “But I usually get at least 5 hours before they come. And my body doesn’t need as much sleep as a regular human does.”

“You feel rested enough where you don’t think you need an aid?”

“Yeah, I don’t think I need one.” She nods and hands him the script

“That’s good.” She says “That bottle will last you for a month. It takes a week or two to kick in so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t take effect right away.” He nods

“I think I want to talk about my day  yesterday.” He says and she smiles

“Whenever you’re ready.” She says with a smile.

~

“You ready?” Tony asks Bucky whose sitting next to him, a copy of the new Accords on the table in front of them. Bucky nods and Tony starts the video call.

“Bucky.” Steve’s pleased voice greats them “Stark.” He says almost disgusted a second later.

“is everyone around?” Bucky asks “We need to talk to them.” Tony and him agreed Bucky would take charge until it came to the explanation part. They all seem to like Bucky better so. Bruce is in the background listening, wanting to be there, but they can't see

“Yeah. We can do that.” Steve says getting up to find everyone

“T’Challa is going to meet you in the kitchen.” Steve nods and they wait patiently until everyone is in view of each other.

“What’s this about?” Steve asks

“The accords.” Bucky says and Steve’s face hardens.

“Don’t’ tell me Starks’s tricked you into signing them.” Steve’s says darkly Tony rolls his eyes

“No.” Bucky snaps “I don’t need to sign them because I’m not a superhero, one. And two, Tony didn’t do anything. I read them over without his influence and agreed with them.”

“I would like to read them.” Scott says from behind Steve

“Of course, we were hoping you all would.” Tony says calmly “Me, Rhodey, Pepper, Vision, and my legal team spent weeks trying to amend them. We thought of all the angles we could all the options. And what we thought you would like included and excluded. It would have been easier if you had not ran away, but I guess we’re past that.” Tony says  “I asked T’Challa to bring you all your own Copy to read over and see for yourself, what they are, why they’re needed, and what they entail for super people.”

“I won’t sign, Stark.” Steve says “With people like Ross in government.” Steve shakes his head

“Okay.” Bruce says coming from behind. “You are the world’s biggest dumbass, Rogers.”

“Bruce.” Natasha says shocked. He doesn’t even acknowledge her.

“I don’t see how that’s true.” Steve replies calmly

“Really?” He asks “First off all, I think if anyone wouldn’t want to sign because of Ross, that would be me.” Bruce says with emphasis and Steve even looks ashamed

“You signed.” Steve says surprised

“Nope.” Bruce says “I’ve been too busy to read them yet, but I plan on it, when I’m done.”

“Oh.”

“First of all, Ross is on trial because the raft was not in the accords. That was illegal.” Bruce says and the other look at him in shock. “. And Tony I’m sure, was in the process of getting you all out legally before you broke them out.”

“I was.” Tony adds helpfully

“Secondly, Secretary of state, which was Ross’s position are rarely involved with the Unite Nations. He wouldn’t have had any power over where we go, because the position that deals with the United Nations is called The United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Two separate positions.” Bruce says “As soon as the accords were done, then he would be back to doing his real work. He would not get one say in where we go.”

“I… I didn’t know that.” Steve says weakly

“To be fair.” Tony says “Neither did I.”

“Another thing.” Bruce says clearly not done “Is there is a whole council of people from different parts of the world. You think all of them are corrupt? That they would purposely send you someone for their own gains. 193 people make up the United Nations. You think one corrupt person can convince them? I guess you don’t know how the voting works in the united nations, but it’s fairly simple, even you can understand it. 90% of the time it’s won by a two/thirds vote. 127 people need to agree. I can guarantee you 127 people won’t send us in for one personal agenda. In the other 10% its’ majority but that’s still over 97 people.” Bruce says “Your point is invalid. And you look like an ass because you didn’t even do the research.” He stops and takes a few calming breaths.

“I think you said that quiet well, Bruce.” Tony says and he nods but doesn’t say anything else. “All we’re asking is for you to read, them. See what they entail. T’Challa already said he was more then willing to read over them with you and explain things you might not understand, because it can get confusing. Unfortunately since you weren’t here to help with the ratifying, what’s done is done. Nothing else can be changed. If you had done as we wanted you would have had a say, but that ship has long since gone. So don’t expect to be able to change anything.” Tony says dully

“We’ll read them over.” Sam says first Steve looks up at him like he’s been betrayed  “Really?” Sam asks “After everything and all the explanations, you really won’t even read them?” Sam asks and Steve shrinks

“We’ll read them.” Steve says with a nod.

“That’s all I’m asking.” Tony says “You don’t have to sign, no one’s going to force you, but if I’m being honest, we need the full team.”

“I see Thor came.” Clint says with anger in his voice

“He did, yeah.” Tony says scoffing “Strange, isn’t it? That he didn’t want me to die, and did want the city to get destroyed? I always get confused when someone actually cares about me.”

“I care about you.” Bucky says without thinking Tony smiles brightly

“I care about you too, Bucky.” Steve hisses

“So you care about him, but don’t even like me?” Steve asks not able to hold his anger.

“Yeah.” Bucky says “And you haven’t really been helping your case.” Bucky says honestly

“What’s he done that I haven’t?” Steve asks

“He hasn’t lied.” Bucky says

“Bullshit.” Steve says Bucky chooses to ignore him

“He’s got me medical help.” Bucky says continuing “Has helped me through one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time, Zemo days excluded. He’s fed me, clothed me, he’s never pried or forced me to talk when I wasn’t ready. He stayed up late to play cards with me when I had a nightmare, even though I actually hurt him during it.” Bucky says “I strangled him, he almost passed out, yet, he doesn’t’ fear me, didn’t make me feel guilty, uncomfortable, bad about it. He cleaned up my vomit.” Bucky says

“That was actually Bruce. I feel asleep remember?” Tony whispers sheepishly

“Oh damn, Bruce I’m sorry. You didn’t have to do that.” Bruce shakes his head

“it’s fine, Bucky.” Bruce says with a soft smile  “You had rough day. It’s the least I could do. You two were occupied and I wasn’t going to leave it on the floor.”

“Thank you, none the less.” Bucky says and then looks up to continue “And you want to know what he’s doing for me, Steve?” Bucky asks and he shakes his head “He’s giving me an arm. That can feel. I’ll be able to touch, Steve.” They all look at him in shock

“Bruce had a major part in that too.” Tony says making sure Bruce gets his credit

“Between the two of them, I can feel. We left my metal arm in Siberia. He took, in case he needed the vibranium if I wanted another metal one instead.”

“You’ll be able to feel?” Steve asks wide eyed along with the group

“Yeah.” Bucky says “It’ll be able to feel, and it will look real. It’s the next best thing. So, Steve, that’s what he’s doing for me.”

“Thank you, Tony.” Steve says earnest, even using his first name

“I didn’t do it for you.” Tony says

“I know that, I don’t care. Thank you, for everything.”

“You’re welcome…” Tony says softly thinking that maybe this is the turning point since the accords

“We’ll read over the accords.” Steve says straightening up “And we’ll get back to you.” Tony nods

“Sure, you don’t have to decide right away. You won’t be off for another 5-6 weeks most likely so think about.” Tony says

“Thanks, Tony.” Steve says “We will.”

‘Bye, Stevie.” Bucky says with a small smile

“Bye Bucky.” Steve smiles back and they hang up. They look at each other in shock

“I think we may have talked some sense into that man.” Tony says with a happy smile

“I think so too.” Bruce smiles back “Who would have though, We could make Steve Rogers see reason?”

“I definitely didn’t think that’s how it would end.” Bucky says with a short laugh

“Me neither.” Tony says “Me neither.”

~

Chapter Text

“So just like that?” Wanda asks when they hang up, having been silent during it. “All’s forgiven? He gave Bucky an arm and everything is dandy now?”

“No.” Steve says “Of course not. If we had not gone then and had to sign and wait for them to approve of where we’re going, we wouldn’t have gotten there in time. Tony still messed up, but I’m starting to realize maybe I did too.” Steve admits quietly

“Really?” Clint asks disbelieving

“Yeah.” Steve says softly “Bruce made some good points is all. I need think about it more. T’Challa, could we go over the Accords at a later time?” Steve asks “I want to rethink some things.”

“That’s fine.” T’Challa says with a smile “Take all the time you need.” Steve smiles and heads for his room.

~

Tony’s in his room for the night. He gasps awake from a nightmare. He tries to control his breathing but before he knows what he’s doing he’s walking into Bucky’s room and crawling into his bed. Bucky rolls over wrapping his arm around Tony

“Go back to bed, Tones. I’ll scare the nightmares away.” Tony hums in contentment and drifts back off to sleep, feeling safe in Bucky’s embrace.
~

Bucky’s the one to wake up first this time. He feels Tony in his embrace and he vaguely remembers him coming in last night. He curls his arm around Tony protectively Tony buries his head deeper into Bucky’s shoulder. Bucky lays there enjoying his warmth, thinking no wonder Tony didn’t wake me up. With a smile. Tony wakes up much quicker then Bucky did.

“bucky?” Tony mumbles pulling back he rubs his eyes “What…?” Bucky chuckles

“You came here last night.” Bucky informs

“I had a bad dream.” Tony says remembering “Sorry.” He mumbles

“Don’t be.” Bucky smiles “I sleep better with you anyway.” Tony blushes

“I sleep better with you too.” Tony admits with shy smile Bucky smiles back but after a moment Tony gets up

“Mr. Barnes,” FRIDAY says “Colonel Rhodes  is still currently in bed, Dr. Banner is now in his lab for the morning and Vision is reading by the pool.”

“I forgot you had a pool.” Bucky says “I kind of want to go swimming. Do you have any idea how long it’s been?” Bucky asks and Tony shrugs

“A while.” Tony mumbles

“Understatement of the century.” Bucky laughs and then actually looks at Tony. “You don’t like water.” Bucky says “I’m sorry, I forgot.”

“it’s okay.” Tony says with a sad smile “At least you remembered.” Tony shrugs “But hey, if you want to go swimming, I can go a put my feet in while you go.” Tony smiles “If you want?”

“Would you?” Bucky asks

“Of course, I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t mean it. And I trust you not to pull me in or splash me.”

“You took a shower with me.” Bucky realizes.

“Yeah.” Tony says looking away “You need one, remember?”

“but you don’t like water yet you got in the shower with me.” Bucky says amazed

“I do take showers almost daily, even though I don’t like it. So it wasn’t really a huge deal. It’s more my head under water.” Tony says with a shrug “but if I needed to do that to help you I would.” Tony admits with a slight blush

“That’s… that means a lot.” Bucky says with a bright smile “I would do the same for you, you know.” Tony smiles

“I know.” Tony throws back the covers. “Come on. Rogers left a bathing suit you can use.” Bucky throws back the covers and follows Tony. He throws him the swim trunks. “Change, get ready, meet you here in 5.” Bucky nods and heads back to his room to get ready.

Not before long They’re at the pool and Bucky slides in the water while Tony has his feet in.

“This is so nice.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” He says smiling Bucky takes a deep breath and lets his head fall below the water. When he comes up Tony is smiling at him

“What?” bucky asks

“Nothing.” Tony says but can’t help but smile.

“Tell me.” Bucky says

“You look so happy.” Tony says with a smile “And I’m just so glad that you’re happy.”

“I’m happy with you.” Bucky smiles and Tony can’t help that his smile gets infinitely brighter.  They stay there for an hour and a half before Bucky decides he needs food.  And they should actually get started with the day. As Breakfast ends Bucky’s mood drops.

“Hey.” Tony says “You alright?”

“Of course.” Bucky says and Tony gives him a disbelieving look. “I will be. I’m getting better.” Tony nods 

“I know it’s tough, but you’ll get through this.” Bucky nods with a small smile “I have a proposition for you.” Tony says

“What is it?” Bucky asks

“I sleep better with you.” Tony says as a matter of fact. “And I’m pretty sure you sleep better with me.”

“I do.” Bucky says

“So why don’t we just sleep together.” Tony says with a slight blush “Not in the sexual sense-“

“I know what you meant.” Bucky says “And I think that’s a good idea.” Bucky says with a smile.

“Awesome.” Tony says “Your room or mine?” Tony asks

“Umm mine?” Bucky says unsure.

“Sure, that’s fine. I’m rarely in my room besides sleep so it’ll be good.” Bucky nods still slightly worried about Rhodey.

“Okay, then my room it is.” Bucky says with a smile Tony smiles back

~

“Bucky I just realized few things.” Tony says walking into the room the next day with a Laptop A StarkPad and StarkPhone.

“What’s that?” Bucky asks

“You have no access to anything outside this house, besides the tv. And that’s not fair.” Tony says

“Okay.” Bucky says unsure of what that means

“So.” Tony says “Here’s a StarkPhone, I’ll show you how to use it.” Bucky nods “Here’s a StarkPad which is good for reading and such.” He hands that over “And a StarkTop. Which is the same as a laptop just from my company, in case there was confusion.” He hands that over as well. “In the phone I put in everyone’s number you’ve met here, and T’Challa’s line to reach Rogers if you ever just want to talk.”

“Thank you, Tony.” Bucky says with a smile

“You’re welcome.” He says with a smiele. “one other thing. I think you need a hobby.” Tony says and Bucky nods slowly “As much as I love spending my day with you, which I do, really, I have some work I need to get back to for SI. And I need to work on your arm more. So I’ll still be able to spend some of my day with you, just not as much.” Bucky nods disappointed but understanding “So, I think you need a hobby.” Tony says

“Okay.” Bucky nods

“Was there anything specific you did when you lived on your own?”

“Well… I wrote… but not like a hobby just things I would remember and try to discern what was real.”

“Okay, well, if you want to start writing again I gave you the laptop, unless of course you want actual paper, we’ll need to order that.” Bucky nods as Tony continues “I have some options for you as well. Would you like to hear them?” he ask and Bucky nods “Art. I don’t know if you were ever artistic like Rogers, but I bought some art supplies. You don’t like it, Rogers can have them when he gets here.” Bucky nods “I also bought and downloaded cook books on to your tablet in case you want to try cooking. Same for baking. I have different recipes for different deserts too.” Bucky nods again “Those were a few options I thought of that you can try but if you had something else in mind you can do that too.”

“I need to think about it.” Bucky says and Tony nods

“I would think.” Tony smiles

“And thank you, for all this stuff. I appreciate it.”

“it’s no problem.” Tony says smiling. “Find out what you like, I don’t want you to be bored.” Bucky smiles

“Thanks, Tony.” Tony smiles in return

~

“FRIDAY where is everyone?” Rhodey asks after his physical therarpy session.

“Boss is in his lab, Mr. Barnes is in the living area, Dr. Banner is in his lab, and Vision is in his room.”

“Can you please ask them to meet me in the living area. Tell them it’s important, but not Tony.”

“Sure thing, colonel Rhodes.” Rhodey rolls his eyes knowing full well he’s not a colonel anymore. He heads to Bucky’s location.

“Hey, what’s up?” Bucky asks “FRIDAY said everyone was on their way here.”

“Not everyone.” Rhodey says as the other two trickle in

“What’s up Rhodey?” Bruce asks taking to the name Tony calls him

“You guys know what Sunday is?” Rhodey asks and only Vision nods

“It’s Tony’s birthday. I almost forgot.” Vision says

“Yeah, well he hasn’t really been celebrating his birthday for the past few years and I want him to celebrate. He’s going to be 46.”

“Do you have any plans in mind?” Bruce asks

“I was thinking of just cooking something and having cake. He won’t want anything huge.”

“I can cook dinner and bake him a cake.” Bucky says and they look over “It’s not like I have money for a present so I could do that?” Rhodey nods after a moment

“Yeah, that’ll work. He likes chocolate cake and I’ll give you a few ideas for dinner, in a bit.” Bucky nods “I really want to make this a good birthday.” Rhodey says with a smile and the others nod

“I do too.” Bucky says making Rhode

~

Tony wakes first on the morning of his birthday. He smiles enjoying the embrace of his friend. Bucky only wakes up a minute or two later

“Happy birthday, Tony.” Bucky mumbles Tony looks at him in surprise  “Rhodey told us.” Bucky says simply

“Course he did.” Tony laughs “Never lets me forget my birthday.”

“Why would you want to?” Bucky asks and Tony shrugs

“Birthdays were never celebrated for me growing up.” Tony says with a shrug and Bucky frowns “And I guess I never really liked celebrating either because I had huge parties when I was older because I thought that was what’s expected of me.”

“Howard never celebrated your birthday?” Bucky asks sadly Tony huffs

“No, and it’s really not that big of a deal.”

“It is to me.” Bucky says “My ma would always bake me a cake and Steve would come over with his ma and we’d sing happy birthday and stuff. I just hate that you never got that.”

“It’s really not a big deal, Bucky.” Tony says with a shrug “Yeah, maybe I hated it when I was little and Jarvis would sneak me a cupcake but that was Howard. It was the same with Christmas. We had decorations and a gala but there were never any presents under the tree, don’t give me that look.” Tony says when Bucky looks at him sadly

“That’s awful tony.” Bucky says and Tony shrugs

“Everyone thought I was the spoiled rich kid.” Tony says “That was the hard part. Being in high school when you’re years younger than everyone else, and then everyone thinking you’re spoiled and daddy gets you everything.” Tony says with an eye roll

“I can’t imagine what that was like for you.” Bucky says “I’m so sorry.” Tony shrugs

“I didn’t tell you so you could pity me.” Tony says pointedly

“I don’t pity you.” Bucky says “I just wished I was there, could have stopped him.” Tony smiles

“Yeah, but I don’t think so. Aunt Peggy could never stop him.” Tony sighs missing her. His first birthday without her.

“You knew Peggy.” Bucky asks softly

“Yeah.” Tony says “My dad worked with her before they knew you and Steve. I didn’t get to go the funeral like Steve because I actually had to do work.” Tony shrugs

“Why don’t we visit her grave next weekend.” Bucky offers and Tony sighs

“Yeah, I guess we could do that.” Tony smiles softly

“Come on, why don’t we get up and have breakfast. I want you to have a good day.” Tony nods and pulls back the covers

“I’m going to go shower.” Tony says

“Alright, I’ll meet you in the kitchen for breakfast.” Tony nods and leaves

“Mr. Barnes, Vision, Colonel Rhodes and Bruce are in the kitchen making breakfast for Boss.”

“I’ll go help.” Bucky says getting up and heading to the kitchen

“Hey Bucky.” Bruce says with a smile

“Hey guys.” He says smiling back “Tony’s in the shower.”

“FRIDAY said that.” Rhodey smiles “We’re just about done. Why don’t you set the table?”

“Sure.” Bucky says grabbing the plates and silverware. Tony comes out 10 minutes later and walks in with a smile on his face.

“Happy birthday Tony!” They all says smiling Tony smiles back

“Thanks, guys.” He looks at the food “Please tell me those are mama Rhodes world famous flapjacks.” Tony says eying the pancakes

“What do you take me for?” Rhodes asks feigning shocked “A Bisquick man on my best friend’s birthday?” Tony smiles

“You’re the best, platypus.” Tony smiles as they bring the food over to the table. Tony grabs 4 pancakes on his first go and three pieces of bacon. Tony pours on the syrup before taking a huge bite and moaning “Oh so good!” Tony says mouth full of pancakes. Rhodey laughs

“So I made them okay?”

“Honey, they’re so good.” Tony says taking another bite after swallowing. Bucky bites into his stack on pancakes and hums in surprise

“See, Bucky-bear likes them too.” Tony says enjoying his food “And I’m sure Viz would if he ate.”

“I’m sure I would.” Vision says with a smile. Breakfast goes well and Tony enjoys it.

“Boss, you have a guest waiting in the lobby.” Tony looks up surprised “Pepper and Happy would have come in the garage.

“Who is it?” Tony asks

“Tell him to come here.” Rhodey says with a smile.

“Who’d you invite?” Tony asks but his question is answered immediately when Peter Parker rounds the corner

“Mr.- I mean Tony! Happy birthday Tony!” peter says running in the room

“Peter.” Tony says smiling “I didn’t expect to see you.”

“Colonel Rhodes invited me.” He says smiling “I hope that’s okay?”

“It’s great.” Tony says smiling “Glad you could make it. Breakfast?” Tony asks

“Thank you, Tony.” Peter says sititng down

“Peter, this is Bucky Barnes, Bucky, peter.” Tony says introducing them “AKA Spider-Man.” Peter grins sheepishly

“Sorry about you know… the fight.” Peter says softly

“It’s cool, Peter.” Bucky says with a smile “I’m sorry too.”

“Tony explained everything to me. It’s okay, we’re okay.”  Peter smiles eating his pancakes “Wow, these are really good.” Peter says eating more. And Rhodey laughs

“Thanks.” Rhodey says smiling

“So.” Peter asks “Any special plans for today Tony?”

“Well I was going to work, but now that you’re here I guess I’ll have to show you around and do science with you.” Tony says trying to act annoyed but can’t help the smile on his face. The three men hide their smiles that the plan is working. “What are you guys doing?” Tony asks “you want to tag along?”

“No.” The three says “Why don’t you guys go run off and try not to explode to many things.” Rhodey continues

“If you do happen to get bored we can check out my lab.” Bruce says peter nods excited knowing to keep Tony busy until dinner.

“Can we blow something up?” Peter asks giddy making Tony laugh

“Sure, but we have to use proper safety equipment.” Tony says trying to be responsible but can’t help the look of excitement on his face. They leave breakfast rather quick after that, peter turning around and winking before disappearing.

“Okay.” Rhodey says once they’re gone “Pepper will be here soon with Happy and the groceries meanwhile we’ll start decorating, okay? I ordered the supplies last week, so, Bruce I have a feeling you’ll be doing most of the work.” Rhodey says with a half-smile and a look at him in his chair and Bucky with one arm.

“How are the prosthetics coming along?” Bruce asks

“There good, I just have to practice with them.” Rhodey says smiling “Next few weeks I should be able to use them often enough.” Bruce and Bucky smile

“That’s great.” They smile

“Alright.” Rhodey says “Alright when Pepper gets here Bucky you start making the cake while the rest of us finish and then you can start dinner.” They nod and start opening the decorations

~

Peter manages to keep him busy all day asking about his projects, blowing some stuff up and looking over Bucky’s arm. Before they know it, it’s almost time for dinner, they completely missed lunch.

“Tony, I had a really great time here.” Peter says still really excited

“I’m glad. Maybe the weekend after next you could come to train.” Tony says with a smile “We never actually set a date so let’s make it official. Two weeks?” He asks and Peter nods enthusiastically.

“Boss, Mr. Barnes would like me to inform you it’s time for dinner.” Tony smiles and peter follows him out to the kitchen and dining room. He smiles when he sees’ Pepper and Happy there.

“Happy Birthday, Tony.” Pepper smiles pulling him in for a hug.

“Thanks, Pep.” Tony says with no bad feelings. At first it had been hard, the breakup, he had realized that things weren’t really working out for them Pepper broke it off. He wanted to try and work it out, but he had been saying that for a while. For a few weeks he felt betrayed and sad, but now he can just hug her platonically. His thoughts drift to Bucky but he’s pulled out of it when Happy shakes his hand and wishes him a Happy as well.

“Thanks Happy, glad you could make it.”

“Glad to be here.” Tony fully walks in the room then and laughs and the birthday decorations. Happy Birthday banner hanging up with ballons and streamers hanging

“Whose idea was this?” Tony asks

“Rhodey.” Pepper smiles “but we all helped. Bucky cooked dinner.” Tony’s eyes turn to Bucky

“You did?” Tony asks and he nods shyly

“Well, yeah. I don’t really have money to get you a present, so I cooked instead.”

“That’s better than present.” Tony smiles “Thank you.” He pulls him in for a hug

“You’re welcome Tony. Happy birthday.”

“Thanks.” Tony blushes slightly when everyone is staring with a smile on their faces. “What’d you make?”

“Chicken marsala with penne à la vodka and garlic bread on the side.” Bucky says smiling

“I can’t wait to try it.” Tony says smiling

“I found the recipe in the cookbooks you gave me.” Bucky says as they all sit down.

“You liked cooking?” tony asks putting some food on his plate.

“I do.” Bucky says “I think I might start cooking more.” Tony smiles

“No complaints from me.” Tony says taking a bite into his chicken. He pasues and then moans blushing slightly “This is so good.” Tony says with a bright smile

“Thank you.” Bucky smiles sheepishly aware of the eyes on them

“This penne à la vodka is amazing.” Tony says

“Thank you.” Bucky says again. “I’ve obviously never made it before and would have hated it if it sucked.”

“You don’t have to worry.” Tony smiles “It taste really good.” Tony blushes realizing everyone is watching with a dopey grin on their faces. He rolls his eyes and they continue to eat dinner with light enjoyable conversation.

Dinner’s over too quick for Tony but Rhodey isinsits they do presents. Rhodey got him science coloring book, making Tony laugh. But putting it away nicely. Pepper (and Happy) made him a scrap book of Rhodey, Happy, him and herself. Tony smiled as he flipped through it.

“Thank you.” He smiles pulling her into a hug “I think I needed this.” Pepper smiled

“We’re always here for you Tony.” Pepper says smiling “No matter what.”

“Thank you.” He smiles at Pepper and Happy.

“You’re welcome, Tones.” Happy smiles

Bruce got him a shirt that has a periodic table on it. He then used a marker to add the element he invented on it. Tony laughs at the name since he never actually named it, much to the dismay of many people. He named it Tonyonium. Bruce grinned and said it was an epic name. And Tony promised to email them tomorrow with its new official name.

Peter got him a mug that says I’m and engineer spelled wrong many times and then crossed off and say I’m good with math. Tony thanks him and told him he didn’t have to get him anything. But peter shook his head and gave him a hug.

“And thank you, Bucky, for dinner.” Tony says making sure Bucky knows he enjoys his present.

“You’re welcome.” Bucky says “And I also made something else for you.” He nods to Pepper who follows him into the kitchen to light that candles.

“Happy. Birthday to you.” Bucky sings as Pepper carries out the cake with her two hands having help light the cake “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Tony, happy birthday too you.” They smile as she puts the delicious looking cake

“Make a wish Tony.” Bucky says smiling Tony looks at Bucky and then grins blowing out the candles. To say the cakes is amazing is an understatement.  Tony manages to scarf down two pieces.

“So, good.” Tony says “best birthday I’ve had… maybe ever.” Tony smiles

“I’m glad you had a good birthday.” Peter’s aunt picks him up right after because of school tomorrow. Pepper and Happy leave for the night shortly after. Bruce calls it not long after that, and Rhodey smirks as he leaves  the two alone for the rest of the night.

Bucky and Tony are sitting on the couch next to each other.

“had a good birthday?” Bucky asks moving his body to face tony, tony does the same.

“Yeah, best birthday I’ve had.” Tony smiles “really.”

“Can I ask you something?” Bucky asks and Tony nods “Are you happy?” He asks “You mentioned on the phone that you were generally unhappy. What about now?”

“I’m happy.” Tony smiles “With you.” Bucky smiles brightly

“Yeah?” Bucky looks so happy 

"Yeah." Tony says "Are you happy?" Tony asks and Bucky nods

"This is probably the happiest I've ever been." BUcky admit 

"I'm so glad. Really you have no idea how happy I am to hear that." Tony says earnest 

"I do." Bucky smiles "I really do."  

 

Chapter Text

Just under a week passes and Bucky is sitting with Doctor Jackie.

“Have you noticed a change because of the medicine?” She asks and Bucky shakes his head. He hasn’t told Tony yet, and he feels guilty, and decides to tell him soon

“Nothing yet.” Bucky says and she nods

“That’s fine, as I said it usually takes a week or two, sometimes more before kicking in.” Bucky nods

“Would you like to talk about BARF?” She asks “Maybe why you’re having so much difficulty with guilt?”

“I don’t know.” Bucky says weakly

“I don’t believe you.” She says simply with a smile

“Aren’t you supposed to listen to me and believe what I say?”

“I’m here to help you.” She says with a smile “And you lying doesn’t help. If you don’t want to talk about, that’s fine. I won’t force you, but I’m going to be straight and let you know that I know you know what the problem is. I don’t know it, of course, but you do.”

“Then how do you know I’m lying?” he asks and she smiles politely

“I’m not the bets DID therapist in the world, if I can’t tell when someone’s lying to my face.” She smiles again and Bucky rolls his eyes

“Are you always smiling?”

“No, but I’m happy most of the time, so I tend to smile.” She says honestly “But we’re not here to discuss me.”

“I feel like they’re right.” He says “But notabout Stevie.” He says unable to help the nickname “I feel like they’re talking about Tony.”

“What specifically are they saying?” She asks

“That I don’t deserve love.” He says “That I’m a bad person and I’ve done bad things and I don’t deserve Steve’s love.”

“But now you keep thinking that’s true, but now because of what the Winter Soldier did, and that you don’t deserve Tony because of it.” Bucky doesn’t answer

“I’m pretty sure Tony’s figured that out, and why I’m having so much trouble with it.” Bucky says with a sigh and soft smile “He keeps telling me I’m worth it. In random times.” He says “I’ll be doing the dishes and he’ll say thank you. I’ll smile and say it’s no problem, and he’s like ‘you deserve this, you deserve to be happy, your worth it’. Stuff like that. Then he’ll walk away as if nothing’s happened.”

“That does seem like he’s figured it out. Is it helping?” She asks and he nods

“Yeah.” He says “I think having those multiple reminders a day helps me. His voice is there during the process reminding me of everything he’s told me. I’ve been getting better, more sure of it, but the bad guy’s voice is relentless. When he starts yelling I can’t hear Tony.”

“And then you can’t remember all the words he’s said to you.” She fills in and Bucky nods

“And I can’t believe how accepting he is of me and how amazing he is when we’ve only know each other for a few weeks.”

“Tony can be all or nothing with people.”

“I think… I think may like him.” Bucky says blushing “Like, like him.” Bucky says feeling the urge to clarify. She smiles like always

“Have you told him this?” She asks

“No.” Bucky sighs “I’m pretty sure he’s dating Rhodes.”

“Really?” She asks “I wasn’t aware of that.”

“Yeah, they’re always flirting with each other. I dunno. I just… I hate that feeling. Because I really do like him.”

“I would suggest finding out if he really is dating Colonel Rhodes. Because I’m not sure that’s true.” She says thinking and he nods feeling a bit of hope.

In the end he doesn’t mention it to him, or Rhodey. Everytime he goes to ask he chickens out. He doesn’t need to ruin the relationship he has with Tony if he is dating him. It would just make it awkward. He decides it’s best to just live with it.

~

He’s gotten better with BARF and Tony’s voice breaks through the screaming and he gets rid of him half as fast as the last time and Tony is beaming.

“Bucky I’m so proud of you!” He pulls him in for a hug “That was amazing!”

“I was just following your words.” Bucky smiles back and Tony has a big dopey smile on his face. “I have to tell you something.” Bucky says quietly “And you may be mad.”

“Nothing will make me mad at you.”

“I’ve been lying to you.” Bucky says and Tony shrugs

“I’m sure you had a good reason.” Tony says with a shrug and Bucky actually pulls Tony in for a hug and can’t help the tears forming

“I can’t believe you trust me so much when I outright tell you I lied you’re not worried and you think I have a reason.” Tony holds Bucky tightly

“I trust you. I know you wouldn’t do anything bad or wrong or lie without a good reason.” Tony smiles and the pull back. “If you still don’t want to tell me you don’t have to. Would I like it, yeah? But only tell me when you’re ready. No pressure.” Tony smiles and Bucky has to fight the urge to kiss him and tell him how he feels. He bites his lip resisting.

“I um… I’m taking medicine. To help with DID.” Bucky says quietly and Tony continue smiling.

“That’s great Bucky!” Tony says happily

“You’re not mad for not telling you?” He asks

“No.” Tony says simply “You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to. I’ll listen when you need and shut up when you need that too. Bucky, I care about you.” Tony says with so much emphasis “You do what’s best for you, even if that means lying to me or keeping things from me. Remember what I said? Be selfish. Even if that’s to me.”

Bucky actually starts crying. “Tony, you are the best person I have ever met. You have no idea how much what you said to me means. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough for you to care about me. God, Tony. I think you’re best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Bucky says smiling so bright.

“Would you believe that’s it’s the same for me?” Tony asks unable to contain his immense joy. “because it is, Bucky. Really. I think I’ve been waiting my whole life for you.” Bucky wants to kiss him so bad. He but he refrains just like Tony who think they might ruin the moment along with their relationship if the other rejects them unaware of the other’s feelings.

“What are odds? 70 odd years and millions of moments that got us here.”

“Whatever they were, I’m happy.” Tony agrees.

“Me too.” Bucky repeats ”Me too.”

“Come on. Let’s go get some dinner. Maybe we can cook together?” He asks and Bucky nods

“That sounds awesome.” Bucky says grabbing his StarkPad and heading to the kitchen. Both never been happier then that moment.

Chapter Text

Tony enters the house to children laughing and giggling happily. They hear the door and they run to Tony.

“Uncle Tony you’re here!” Cassie shouts along with Lila Cooper and Nathanial

“How are my mini heroes?” He asks giving them a hug

“Good.” They all say in unison

“I missed you, uncle Tony.” Lila says and Tony picks her up

“Well I  guess it’s a good thing I’m here, huh?” She nods happily and Tony follows the children to the kitchen where Laura Cassie and Jim are standing.

“Tony.” Laura says smiling as he walks in with Lila still holding on to him

“Hey Laura, Maggie, Jim. How are you guys doing?”

“It’s been okay.” Maggie says with a shrug and Tony nods

“I’m sorry about how stressful this has been for you guys.”

“That is not your fault Tony Stark.” Laura says, “Our men put us in this spot and you’ve been nothing but helpful.”

“I wasn’t saying it was, I’m just saying it’s hard. But thank you.” Tony says with a small smile. “I have some news. I don’t know if it’s good or bad though.”

“What is it?” Laura asks and tony looks to the kids

“Hey kiddies why don’t you go play while the grownups talk.”

“Uncle Tony! We want to play with you!” Cassie says

“Give me 10 minutes then I’m all yours. I promise.” Tony smiles and they think for a moment before nodding and running off to the play room.

“What’s up Tony?” Maggie asks

“I’ve been in contact with them.” Tony says and they nod understanding already “And they’re going to be off in a week, but we’re going to tell them a month and a week because… well it’s complicated, I can explain after.” The three adults nod slowly “I’ve spoken to them and I told them that you were here and safe so they will definitely want to see you and the kids then. It’s up to you, of course but they’re going to want to see their kids. I wanted you guys to have some time to think it over.”

“Okay.” Laura says first, “Thank you Tony. I’m not sure I want them to see him.”

“I thought that might be the case, but I wanted to let you know.”

“I don’t think I’m going to let Scott see Cassie.” Maggie says softly

“That’s up to you.” Tony says with a shrug “I understand both options so take your time and think about it.”

“Even before Steve Rogers called him I didn’t want him to be in Cassie’s life because of so many reasons and now this? I think it’s best if he’s out of her life. He has Jim for a father figure and you Tony, for a superhero to look up to.”

“That means a lot, Maggie.” Tony says smiling “I’m not sure I deserve that, but I appreciate it.”

“Tony, you deserve it.” Jim says to him “You may not have been in the past but you are now, Tony.” Laura nods in agreement

“Thank you. I’ll try and live up to that.”

“You already have.” Laura says and Tony smiles

“So about the whole extra months thing… You know how Steve sent me the phone and dumbass letter?” Tony asks and they nod.

“yeah.”

“Well, I ended up calling and I talked to Bucky. And it turns out he doesn’t like Steve or any of em.” They look at him in disbelief “I know, right?” Tony says with a laugh “but anyway he wanted to come to the compound for medical help so now he’s there and doesn’t want to see Steve yet.”

“okay, wow.” Laura says first “He doesn’t like them?” And Tony shakes his head

“Told me ‘they blame you for shit that I don’t see how is your fault’.” Tony shrugs “After all that he chose me over Steve.”

“Of course he’d choose you, any person who actually pays attention to the facts would choose you.” Maggie says with a shrug and Tony smiles

“Well, I was very shocked and now he lives with me and I may like him…” Tony says sheepishly. He hasn’t told anyone even though his friends-save Bucky- have figured it out.

“that’s great!” Laura says “You deserve to be happy.”

“But I don’t know if he likes me like that back.”

“He’d be stupid not to.” Jim says they laugh but agree.

“Well, I mean… I don’t know about that.” Tony says “I have a lot of bad things to go with me. I’m not saint.”

“I say go for it.” Maggie says “That’s how it was with me and Jim. We danced around each other until he got the courage to ask me out.”

“Yeah.” Tony says smiling “Rhodey and Bruce, I think agree, even FRIDAY is in on it!”

“Then it’s meant to be.” Laura says “if you’re AI sees it… come on Tony, you’re a smart man.”

“I’m a dumbass when it comes to romance.” Tony says honestly “I mean, really.”

“then lean on your friends to see the truth.” Maggie says and then there is a whiny call for ‘uncle Tony’

“I’m being summoned.” Tony says smiling “We can talk more later.” They nod “WHOVIANS ASSEMBLE!” Tony shouts running into the room making the three adults laugh

“Be careful!” Laura shouts after a laugh the three shake their head at him.

~

“Tony I like you.” Bucky says “Tony, I like you.” Bucky repeats to himself in the mirror. “Tony.” Bucky says again “I like you. I want to date you.” Bucky sighs “Just man up.” He whispers to himself. “Just tell him.” He rubs his face with his hands “I’m gonna tell him. When he gets back.” Bucky says nodding as FRIDAY speaks

“Mr. Barnes Boss has returned to the compound.” Bucky sighs and rinses his face with water.

“I can’t tell him.” Bucky mumbles “Nope.” He walks to the kitchen where Tony is

“Hey Tony.”

“Hey Buck.” Tony smiles at him “I have a surprise for you.”

“Oh?” he asks and Tony pulls out the drawing of Bucky and Tony the kids drew.

“Oh wow.” Bucky says looking at the masterpiece of a 6-year-old.

“Yeah. Lila overheard me say that you were with me. So, she drew us together.”

“We’re holding hands.” Bucky notices

“We are.” Tony says simply. Tony guesses she overheard that to.

“let’s hang it on the fridge, shall we?” He says bringing it over and putting it on with tape.

“Perfect.” Tony says once it up their smiling Bucky turns to him and is about to speak when Bruce walks in to the room

“Hey guys.” They turn to him

“Hey Brucie-bear.” Tony says smiling “you guys hungry? I grabbed some Chinese on the way home.” He says pointing at the bags Bucky didn’t even notice.

“I’m always hungry.” Bucky says reaching for the bag. And Bruce nods too. Vision sitting at the table already.

“FRI tell Rhodey that were eating dinner.”

“He said he’ll be here in a minute.” Tony nods and starts getting the plates out and they set up the table. Rhodey walks in and grabs a plate out of Tony’s hand making him turn around. He drops the rest of the plates on the floor when he realizes Rhodey is standing

“OH my god!” Tony shouts as the others turn to look “Rhodey! You’re walking!”

“Thanks to you, Tony.” Rhodey is smiling

“Oh my god.” Tony repeats “you’re walking!” Tony starts bouncing in joy. “you’re actually walking!”

“Yeah.” Rhodey says laughing at his happiness.

“walk back to the door and here again.” Tony says excited. And so Rhodey does, it’s slow but it’s steady. And doesn’t that usually win the race?

“That’s so great Rhodey!” Bucky says smiling along with Bruce.

“I can’t use it all the time I have to start slowly before I can use it more. But I figured why not surprise you guys with it.” Tony beams

“I’m so proud of you and happy!” Tony smiles just staring at his best friend who is standing. Something Tony was scared he’d never see again. He just stares at Rhodey who is laughing “I was so worried that you would never walk again and It’d be all my fault.” Tony says with tears in his eyes

“it was never your fault Tony, or yours Viz.” Rhodey says with a look to the android. Tony just stares at him “Tony, you were never to blame for it.”

“I should have caught you.” Tony whispers

“No.” Rhodey shakes his head “You never would have been able to get to me in time. And Vision, it wasn’t your fault it was an accident. As I said It’s a bad blow, but I knew what I signed up for. I don’t blame you, either of you. Or you for that matter.” Rhodey says turning to Bucky “I just realized you may blame yourself for it because I was going after you, but it’s not your fault or Steve’s or anyone’s fault.” Bucky nods not saying anything because in truth he was blaming himself. “But walking? Tony that’s all your fault.” Rhodey says with a smile and Tony grins.

“you can walk, Bucky’s getting an arm, look at all these extremities getting made.” Tony says

“Now come on, I’m starved. As much as I like you staring and me walking I’m hungry.” Rhodey says grabbing the food and sitting down everyone following suit.

“So?” Rhodey asks “How is everyone and the kids?” Tony smiles and talks about his time with them. Unable and unwanting to get over the joy of seeing Rhodey walk.

Chapter Text

“I’m ready to read over the accords.” Steve announce to the group knowing T’Challa will probably be arriving shortly

“Yeah?” Sam asks

“Yeah. I still think they’re wrong and Tony was wrong but… I guess I should try and give them a fair shot even if Tony is a dick.” Natasha shakes her head from the other side of the room. She really is tired of this. But she keeps her mouth closed since Steve is willing to read them. Progress she thinks dully.

“Whenever you are ready we can read over them.” T’Challa says from the door.

“Do you just stand there all day and listen to our conversation to make creepy and stalker-y entrance.” Clint asks and T’Challa smiles and tilts his head and Steve sighs

“Yes. I am ready now, if you are free.” Steve says

“I am. Is everyone else ready to go over them?” T’Challa asks the group.

“Yes.” The group collectively agree.

“Then let’s begin.” T’Challa says sitting down and opening the accords.

~

“This doesn’t seem that bad.” Scott says once they’ve read it over and finished the following day.

“No, it’s not. Of course there are things that we aren’t going to like, for example having to wait for authorization. But Tony and I were able to add in certain situations like if something extreme like if another battle happened like New York you’d be allowed to go in immediately. Like Sokovia. DC was a hard one, but it probably would have been okay for you to go in too. So, it’s really on missions where you need to go into foreign countries for surveillance and other stuff that isn’t time sensitive.”

“That’s actually pretty fair if you think of it.” Sam says flipping through the pages.

“What happens if it’s a country that doesn’t  want us to go in but we feel it’s the best to save people?” Steve asks

“Well, it is up to the country so if they say no, then you can’t go in or you’ll go to jail. But, Mr. Rogers, you have to understand that chances are they are going to send you in. They know you’re a force to be reckon with and will do the best you can. At least I hope so after this mess.” T’Challa says “What do you think are you going to sign?” he asks

“I already did.” Natasha says

“I’m going to.” Scott says firm “I want to be able to save people. Even if it’s not the greatest way, it’s still the best way. And I’m tired of being a criminal. I want to see Cassie. And if that means signing this? I’m going to do it.” T’Challa smiles

“I think I will too.” Sam says “I mean I was kind of for it when we heard it the first time, but didn’t want to disappoint you Steve, but… I can’t say this was worth it. So if I have a chance, like Steve said. I’m going to take it.” He nods.

“I’m not signing it.” Clint says “I’m retired. For good now.” He crosses his arms as if daring someone to disagree.

“How am I able to do this?” Wanda asks “they consider me a terrorist I can’t come back to the US even if I sign, can I?”

“I don’t know.” T’Challa says “Tony has been working on it, but I’m not sure where he is. I can give him a call if you want?” Wanda nods

“If you would.”

“Certainly.” T’Challa projects the video on the TV so everyone can see.

Tony pops on the screen with a screw driver between his teeth and faced the other way

“Once sec, Kitty Cat.” Tony mumbles T’Challa smiles at the nickname

“Stark.” Steve says and Tony turns immediately and see’s everyone. He take the screw driver out of his mouth

“oh… hold on.” Tony turns again “Hey, guys, they’re all on the phone, it’s not just T’Challa.”

“Why are they calling?” Rhodey says

“I don’t know Platypus I haven’t asked them.” Tony replies still off Screen. Rhodey’s face pops up

“What the fuck do you want?”

“Colonel.” Steve says

“It’s just Mr. Now.” Rhodey says

“Rhodey, come on. We talked about this.” Tony says and Rhodey looks his way.

“Be careful what you say.” Rhodey threatens and Tony comes back on the screen.

“Sorry, he’s just over protective.” Tony says not sounding sorry. They nod and Bucky’s face pops up next to him.

“Hey guys.” Bucky says smiling.

“Bucky.” Steve says smiling back “How are you doing?”

“Uh…” Bucky considers it for a moment and then smiles with a little laugh “I’m doing good.” Tony is smiling next to him.

“So what’s up?” Tony asks before Steve can question it.

“Wanda was wondering what the status is on her citizenship.” T’Challa says and Tony’s smile falls

“Well that’s a tough one, unfortunately.” Tony says running his fingers through his hair. “Because you, Wanda only had a visa they’re telling me that you were never a US citizen and shouldn’t be allowed to get your green card again after breaking the law.” Tony sighs “I’ve been fighting them about it and we’re making progress. Slowly.” Tony says and looks at her “I think I’ll get it but I can’t promise. I’m doing the best I can but it’s mess.” Tony shrugs and Wanda nods slowly. “Have you read the accords?” Tony asks and they nod

“Yes. Sam and Scott have agreed to sign them.” And tony smiles brightly

“Awesome. What about Rogers and Barton?” He asks

“Clint said he is retired, and Steve has yet to answer.” T’Challa says and Tony and Bucky look at Steve waiting.

“I don’t know.” Steve says honestly “I’ll be the first to admit they’re not as bad as I thought but I’m not ready to commit.”

“Good.” Tony says

“Good?” Steve asks confused

“Yeah, I don’t want anybody rushing into a decision. Think about it and decide what you definitely. So take your time you still got over a month.”

“That’s not the response I expected.” Steve says honestly and Tony shrugs

“How is my family?” Scott asks and Tony looks at him thinking how to answer

“I saw them yesterday. They’re doing well.” Tony pauses debating telling him the things Maggie said but decides against it. “I also saw your family, Barton, they’re doing well too. The kids are all getting along for the most part.” Tony says with a small smile remembering the fun they had yesterday

“Okay, thanks for the update.” Scott says honestly “I just want to see her.” Tony’s smile fades

“Scott, I just want to tell you I’m not sure Maggie is going to want you to see her.” Tony says “It’s up her, but I’m just telling you straight up I’m not sure if you’ll get to. She wasn’t very happy with this mess.” Scott nods sadly

“I’ll convince her.”

“I hope you get to.” Tony answers honestly

“Thanks Tony.” Scott says with a small smile and using his first. Tony smiles back with a nod.

“Were really busy here, do you mind if we go?” Tony asks turning back to his project.

“Sure.” T’Challa says

“I’ll call you in the next day or so.” Bucky says to Steve.

“Looking forward to it.” Steve says and Bucky nods and Tony hangs up the phone.

“Do you think he’s really trying his hardest?” Wanda asks 

“I do.” T’Challa says honestly

“I think so to.” Natasha says having been quiet for a while.

“I believe it.” Scott says with a nod and Wanda nods hoping it’s true, but not sure.

“Well, I’ll let you get back.” T’Challa says “I hope you come to the right decision Steve.” With that T’Challa leaves leaving the group to their thoughts.

~

“You doing so great Bucky.” Tony smiles at him “You’ve finished step two and three in the last 4 days.” He smiles

“Yeah but the first part of stage 2 took me over a week.” Bucky points out

“So?” Tony asks “You’ve made amazing progress. Just think of it! You’re pretty much a third done!” Tony beams “That’s a lot. 30%?” Tony says

“I guess.” He says softly

“Bucky it is! It really is and it’s only  been like 2 and half weeks. Bucky can’t you see how amazing that is?” Tony asks looking at the man with a proud smile on his face.

“Tony.” Bucky says softly

“I’m just telling the truth.” Tony smiles and Bucky smiles but pasues

“Tony can we talk about you for a minute?” Bucky asks

“What do you mean?” Tony asks hesitant.

“Well, there is a few things I’ve been wanting to say.” Bucky says wringing his hands

“I guess.” Tony says nervous.

“Okay… well I think you should start seeing Jackie.” Bucky says honest

“I don’t have DID.” Tony says looking down

“She can be a therapist for other people as well. She’s a trauma therapist to remember?” Bucky asks looking at Tony

“Yeah…” Tony says

“Well, I want you to get better to Tony.” Bucky says earnestly

“I’m fine.”

“You’re managing.” Bucky says and Tony flinches slightly “Look, Tony. You’re doing so much and you’re helping so much, and I am getting better. And I appreciate that. But I want you to get better too. We talked about it, both of us getting help, remember?” Tony nods refusing to look at him “Tony.”  Bucky says softly “Look at me.” Tony sighs “Come on.” Tony looks up

“I don’t want to.” Tony says

“Why?” Bucky asks “You convinced me and look how good I’m doing? You just said it yourself.”

“I don’t know.” Tony says, “I just don’t want too.”

“I think it’ll be good for you.” Bucky says

“I don’t know, Buck.” Tony says, “What if I get worse?” Tony asks the vulnerability shown in his voice.

“I’ll be here to help you through it like you were for me. That’s what you did for me and I’ll do it for you in a heartbeat. We’ll help each other and we’ll pick up each other. We can do this. Imagine how happy we’ll both be when we’re both better.” Tony sighs

“I guess I’ll give her shot.” Tony says with a small smile

“That’s all I’m asking.” Bucky says with a smile “I’m proud of you.”

“Stop being such a sap.” Tony laughs

“Never.” Bucky smiles “We’re in this together Tony. We’ll lean on each other.” Tony nods

“Sounds good to me.”

~

He is late, though he knows she’s expected that. He walks as slowly as he can to her office before entering 12 minutes late. He wonders if she’ll mention it.

“Tony, I’m glad you decided to see me.”

“I was mostly coerced into coming by literally everyone, especially Bucky.” Tony says sitting on the plushy couch,  with distain.

“Well, none the less I’m glad you came.” She says with a smile. “I’d first like to get a baseline of who you are.” She says

“Everyone knows who I am.” Tony says with an eye roll and flick of the wrist.

“do they?” She asks with a raised eyebrow “Because I don’t think they do.”

“What do you mean?” he asks slowly

“I think you know what I mean.” She says and he narrows his eyes

“I’d like to hear it from you.”  He says crossing his arms

“I know that media and the news portrays you different then you are. I think they portray you still how you used to be. But not completely of course. You’re now the hero, but they still portray you as selfish and spoiled. That isn’t true. And you put up your mask so they believe it even more. But it’s not you. Not the real you.” Tony thinks about this for a moment before nodding

“Okay.” Tony says “I can see why Bucky likes you.” Jackie smiles

“So, is it okay if I ask you a few baseline questions to get an idea on you?”

“Go for it.” Tony says confident “Ask away.”

After about 15 solid minutes of questioning Tony realizes why Bucky was overwhelmed the first day. He’s used to people and media asking him, but this time he has to be honest. Which is difficult, but only at first. Towards the beginning, he was short with his answers just enough detail to answer the question. At the end, he would explain his answers give reason. But he finds that she’s easy to talk to. That he doesn’t mind telling her how he feels. An hour passes by and before he knows it it’s time to go.

“That’s it?” Tony finds himself asking

“We could stay longer if you’d like, I have no problem with that.” Jackie smiles

“No… I’ll see you next time. I need to get back to work.”

“Okay, Tony.” She says standing “When do you want to meet again?”

“Three days, same time?” he asks and she nods

“I’ll be here.” She smiles and Tony walks out of the room feeling confused. He didn’t even realize he walked right into Bucky.

“Tony.” Bucky says steadying him.

“Bucky. I didn’t see you, there.” Tony says snapping out of it.

“You okay? How’d it go?”

“Umm… it was different than I expected.”

“Good different or bad different?”

“Good different.” Tony  says smiling “it was overwhelming at first but once I got going I found myself talking a lot.”

“Do you mind if I ask what?”

“I was mostly who I am and how I’m portrayed. I think she’s excited to get to my daddy issues.” Tony snorts.

“I would be too.” Bucky says and Tony smacks him and Bucky laughs “Hell, I would love for you to tell me.” Tony looks at him questioningly

“Why?”

“Because I care about you and want to know as much about you as I can.”

“I’ll tell you.” Tony says with a shrug

“Really?” Bucky asks shocked.

“Yeah.” Tony says “Why not? Right telling you could help me and I trust you, and I feel you deserve to know.”

“Thank you, Tony. That means a lot.” Bucky smiles

“Well I mean I watched all the terrible things happen to you. Maybe I’ll use it and you’ll help me through it? What do you think?”

“Whatever you want. I think it’s a good idea, but if you don’t want to.”

“No, I think I will. I think this will help.” Tony smiles “And eventually we can work on my PTSD too.”

“I’m proud of you Tony.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.” Tony points out

“But you’re going to.” Bucky says “And just making that decision is hard.”

“I have you to help me through it.” Tony smiles “With you I feel I can do anything.”

“You can do anything without me.” Bucky says nonchalantly

“No.” Tony says “That’s where you’re wrong. I could manage without you. Getting help? That I need you for.” Tony says honestly making Bucky smile.

“I feel the same with you, Tony.”

“guess it’s good we have each other then.” Tony smiles

“yeah, it is.” Bucky agrees

~

“You ready Tony?” Bucky asks and Tony nods his breathing coming a little quicker. Bucky lights the candle. The image forms in front of them.

Howard in the living room of the mansion he grew up in, holding a glass of scotch anger etched on his face. Tony, around 6 in front of him with wide eyes, tears forming

“Anthony!” Howard shouts making both Tony’s flinch

“You’re okay Tony.”

“You built this?” Howard asks looking at the robot in front of him

“Yes, Sir.” Tony says “He use voice commands-“ Tony’s voice is cut off when Howard kicks the machine and stomps on it, breaking it to pieces.

“Why did you do that?” Young Tony demands “I worked hard on that.”

“Shut up, Boy.” Howard back hands him he goes sprawling on to the floor. He quickly gets up. “You will learn to build important things or nothing at all.” Tony stares at the destroyed bot next to him. “Now stop crying. Stark men don’t cry.” Tony closes his eyes and will the tears away. He wipes his eyes and looks to Howard for approval.

“Good.” He says and Bucky blows out the candle.

“Tony?” Bucky whispers softly “Are you okay?” Tony doesn’t answer just stares at the place where the image was. Bucky puts a hand on his shoulder and tony looks at him

“It looked so real. It felt real. I remember his words his cruel words always yelling at me, never good enough be better, better smarter, don’t fail me, you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough…” Tony looks at Bucky

“I’m sorry Tony.” Bucky says “I should have done more during it, I was startled to see him like that. I should have helped you more. I’ll do better next time. I promise.” Tony shakes his head

“it’s okay, Bucky. I understand, you knew him when he wasn’t… that. I’ll be better next time.” Bucky pulls Tony in for a hug

“I’m sorry you had to go through that.” Bucky whispers.

“I like to think it made me into the person I am today.” Tony shrugs “I didn’t handle it well for years after they died and such but… I think going through that and everything that followed shaped me to who I am.”

“It did, and you are amazing. Millions of moments, right?” Bucky asks and Tony nods with a soft smile

“Can we go lay down?” Tony asks and Bucky nods

“Of course. Come on.” Bucky grabs Tony’s hand and they walk back together to their room. Tony falls asleep almost instantly Bucky watching him sleep, hating what the man he once knew turned into. He soon drifts off to sleep still holding Tony closely.

Chapter Text

“I don’t think I can do this.” Tony says quietly.

“You can, Tony. You can. Take as long as you need. We can stay here all night. I’m here.” Bucky says reassuring and squeezes his hand. Tony squeezes back.

“Thank you for coming.” Tony whispers.

“It’s no problem. I’m just glad I could help.” Bucky smiles and Tony nods.

“Okay. I’m ready.” Tony nods as they step through the gates of the cemetery.

“Steve told me where she was.” So, Tony follows Bucky to her grave. Tony can feel the tears forming. Bucky can feel Tony’s hand shaking in his so he holds it tighter. Tony follows forcing his feet to walk. Bucky stops at her grave and Tony stares down at it. He bends down and kneels on the soft dirt. He lays the flowers over the dirt gently, as if he could hurt them.

“Oh, aunt Peggy.” He whispers, “I wish I could have come to your funeral.” He puts his hand on the dirt as if he could touch her. He stays like that for what feels like minutes but before he knows it it’s almost dark and he hasn’t spoken in over an hour. He turns around and Bucky is still standing there. Looking at him sadly. He stands up and wipes the dirt off.

“Sorry.”

“it’s okay. We can stay longer if you like.” Bucky offers and Tony shakes his head.

“No, we should get back we have a lot to do.” Tony looks at the grave stone again. “I’ll come back, Pegs. I love you. I miss you.” He nods and takes Bucky’s hand again. “Okay.” He says softly “I’m ready.”

“You sure?” Bucky asks and Tony nods.

“Yeah, let’s get outta here.” He looks back at her final resting place once again before walking out completely “How well did you know her?” Tony asks Bucky.

“Not anywhere as close as you did.” Bucky answers “But I knew she and Steve had a thing and I had been around a her a bit. I wasn’t really anything to her, like she and Steve were to each other.”

“He never deserved her.” Tony spits “Him crashing the plane was the best thing that could have happened with her. If anyone should have been able to go to the funeral it should have been me. I knew her. I loved her. They knew each other for 3 months! I knew her for my whole life.” Tony can’t help the sob that comes out. He can’t help that he completely falls apart after. Bucky pulls him in for a hug.

“I’m so sorry, Tony.” Bucky whispers as Tony cries into her shoulder.

“Who the hell does he think he is?” Tony whispers “She was my aunt. She wasn’t his, never his.”

“It would have been right for you to go.” Bucky says rubbing his back just holding him. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to.”

“I miss her.” Tony sobs into his shoulder the stress and anxiety of these weeks finally coming out “I should have visited her more. I tried to go every week sometimes more but it never felt like enough. She didn’t remember me sometimes. It killed me. It kills me that I had to watch that. I loved her so much.” Tony sobs harder and Bucky tightens his grip unable to help the tears forming in his eyes. He doesn’t know how long they stay like that, holding each other in the middle of the cemetery in England, in the dark.

Slowly Tony pulls back after a while. “I’m sorry.” Tony says wiping his eyes.

“Don’t be.” Bucky says, “it’s hard to lose someone you were close with and not get to go to the funeral.”

“Can we go?” Tony asks, “I want to go home.” Bucky nods.

“Of course.” Tony grabs Bucky’ hand and they walk back to the quinjet parked a block away.

“Thank you, for being there for me. I really needed you today.” Tony admits once they’re up in the air.

“I was happy to do it. And glad I could.” Bucky answers with a smile Tony smiles back as they head for the US.

~

“Okay Parker listen up. These are things that can help you in a fight so I want you paying attention okay?” Tony asks.

“Yes, Tony.” Peter says smiling.

“Okay, ground rules.” Tony says “Fight your best, but don’t fight your hardest. Okay, I’m every breakable. So, don’t use your full strength when battling with me.” Peter nods “And a rule with me is try and avoid my chest area, it hurts a shit ton when you hit okay?” Peter nods again.

“I got it.” Peter nods.

“Okay, so first rule of boxing is never take your eyes off the opponent.” Peter nods “But that may not be always possible in a fight, but it’s a good thing to try and keep in mind, you’re vulnerable when you can’t see your opponent. So, if possible keep them in your sights.” Peter nods again.

“keep them in sight, got it.” Peter nods.

“Okay, next thing, a lot of times when someone is about to throw a punch they take step forward. So, if they’re throwing a right hook or punch they’ll step with the right foot.” Tony demonstrates it. “So if you can try and keep an eye on the feet you can see where they’re going to punch so you can block it and such.” Peter nods excitedly “One of the most important things to remember in a fight is stability. Try and keep both feet on the ground at all times. If you only have one foot down you can be easily knocked over and then they have the advantage.” He nods again “Okay so repeat back to me everything I just told you.” Tony says.

“Okay, so try and keep your eyes on your opponent because if not your vulnerable.”

“Good.” Tony says.

“Someone will usually step forward when they go to punch so watch the footing.”  Tony nods asking him to continue “And try and stay with both feet on the ground because with one foot you can be easily knocked over.”

“Good.” Tony says “Next when your opponent has one foot on the ground it's a good idea to try and knock them off their balance so you have the advantage Now knives. Have you fought an opponent who has a knife when you don’t?” Peter shakes his head “Okay, then this will be useful because it’s bound to happen.” Peter nods “When someone has a knife and you don’t your highest priority is to get the knife out of their hand. Level the playing field. I’m sure you’ve seen in movies slamming the hand that is holding the knife on the wall or object knocks it out and that’s actually correct. It’s too hard to pry it out of their hands so slamming it on the table is good. If you get nicked with the knife you’re at a disadvantage because you’ll be bleeding and loosing blood and hurting making it hard to win. So, try and get that knife away as fast as you can.” Peter nods “If you can get it that’s great but if not try to keep it away from them.” Peter nods “So, you got that?” Peter nods.

“I think so.”

“Great. So now we’re going to practice the fighting without the knife first, then we’ll move on to practicing with knifes. After that I’ll tell you about guns.” Peter nods as they start sparing.

 

“Okay.” Tony says getting off the mat. “I think you’re doing really great already.” Tony was able to get Peter on the mat a a lot but Peter quickly learned and got Tony down twice.

“Hey, how was it?” Bucky asks as Tony and Peter walk into the kitchen.

“Tony kicked my ass.” Peter says, “I was totally expecting to get him down easily!” Bucky laughs.

“Sometimes skill beats strength.” Bucky says and Tony agrees.

“Thank you for doing this tony, I think it really helped and I’ll be better off now.”

“You’re welcome. We’re still going to practice more, we didn’t do anything with knives and guns. So eventually when you’re free you’re going to come back.” Peter nods excited.

“I look forward to it.” Peter says smiling.

“Good.”

“Mr. Parker your aunt is here to pick you up.” Peter nods.

“Thanks again Tony! See you later Bucky, Tony.” Peter waves goodbye as he runs off Tony and Bucky shouting bye as he goes.

“So how was it, really?”

“He needed a lot of work.” Tony says “He’s strong but he’s to excited he has to stay calm he needs to remember to breath and stay calm. He looks forward to it, which can cost him in the end.” Bucky nods “he’s improved since we first started so that’s good. I’m gonna go hit the shower.”

“I’m going to cook, it’ll be ready when you’re out.”

“Thanks Bucky.” Tony smiles and heads to the much-needed shower.

~

“Tony.” Bucky whispers “Tony wake up.” Bucky doesn’t want to touch Tony, fear of making it worse. “Tony, wake up, it’s just a dream.” Tony wakes up gasping sweat gleaming on his forehead. “Tony?” Bucky asks softly and Tony darts out of the bed and rushed to the bathroom and throws up in the toilet. Bucky enters as Tony flushes the toilet and lays on the cold tile. “Tony? You okay?” Tony shakes his head trying to focus on his breathing. “Do you want to talk about it?” Bucky asks softly and Tony shakes his head. “okay, well do you want to go back to bed?” Bucky asks and Tony shakes his head.

“Rhodey.” Tony mumbles.

“You want Rhodey?” Bucky asks and Tony nods “FRIDAY?” Bucky asks and Rhodey enters the bathroom a few moments later.

“Hey Tones.” Rhodey asks “You’re alright.”

“You’re not dead.” Tony whispers.

“Nope. I’m alive.” Rhodey says wheeling over to him. Tony reaches out and grabs his hand “Alive and well.”

“You fell so far.” Tony whispers “And so hard. I thought you died.”

“I’m alive, Tony and I’m right here. Okay? For as long as you need me.” Tony nods and sits up.

“I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for, Tones.” Rhodey reassures. “I’m always here for you.”

“What if you die?” Tony whispers.

“Then, I’m sure Bucky here will take care of you for me.” Rhodey sends a smile to Bucky who nods.

“I will Tony. One of us will always be here for you.” Bucky assures.

“I’m cold.” Tony whispers “I’m freezing.”

“Then let’s get you off the cold tile.” Bucky helps Tony up who leans on him heavily.

“I’m sorry for waking you both.” Tony says once they're back in the room, after Tony brushed his teeth, with the heat turned up.

“You don’t have to apologize.” Bucky and Rhodey say at the same time.

“Can I go work?” Tony asks and Rhodey nods.

“Sure.”

“Can I have your sweatshirt.” Tony whispers.

“Of course.” Rhodey says “Let me go get it.” Tony nods and Rhodey leaves the room.

“I’m sorry Bucky.”

“Stop apologizing you have nothing to be sorry for.” Bucky says trying to add the most meaning in his voice.

“I saw him die.” Tony whispers “That’s why I needed him tonight.”

“You don’t have to explain yourself, Tony. Do what’s best for you.”

“I need to.” Tony whispers “I need to you to know.”

“Why?” Bucky asks and Tony looks down. Rhodey enters the room again and immediately notices he’s interrupted. 

“here you go Tones.” Rhodey says handing him the warn MIT sweatshirt that smells like him. Tony puts it on immediately.

“Thanks Platypus.” Tony says inhaling the familiar smell. The feeling of being safe.

“I’m headed back to bed. If you need me just ask okay? I’m here for you.”

“I know. Thank you Rhodey.” Tony smiles as Rhodey heads back to bed.

“You going to work?” Bucky asks and Tony nods.

“Are you going back to bed?” Tony asks and Bucky looks at the clock 4:09.

“Nah, I have enough sleep. I don’t usually need that much anyway.” Tony nods.

“Sorry for waking you.” Tony apologizes again.

“Don’t worry about it Tony.” Bucky says with a soft smile.

“I think I’m going to go for a run.”

“Okay.” Tony says standing heading for his lab. Bucky desperately wants to ask why, why he needed to tell him. But he watches Tony go the question repeating in his mind all day.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“FRIDAY, please video call Rogers.” Tony says with Bucky next to him. Some news has come through and Tony wanted to let them now right away. Steve’s and the groups face pop up.

“Bucky, Stark.” Steve says in greeting.

“Hey, Steve.” Bucky smiles

“Hi.” Tony says, “Is everyone there?” tony asks and Steve looks behind him and nods

“Yes, we’re all here.”

“Wanda, we’ve figured out an arrangement for you. The paperwork will take a while, but I figured you’d like to know the agreement and terms.” Wanda steps forward looking hopeful

“Yes, I would.” Wanda says

“So, I was able to grant you back into the US.” Wanda smiles

“Really?” She asks excited

“Yes. There are several conditions though.” Tony says in warning “And you have to follow them. This was the best I could do so take them or leave them.” Wanda nods quickly

“Signing or not signing you will not be an Avenger unless otherwise direct by the United Nations when they feel you are needed for the mission and they stated that the condition has to be dire enough to risk sending you.” Wanda nods slowly “Secondly, you are mandated to see a therapist for them to determine if you are stable, mentally. That was a big question and I tried to convince them you were but they only agreed to it this way. That means while you are on the compound you will not be able to leave until they clear you.” Wanda nods “After they’ve cleared you, you are only allowed to leave the compound unless escorted by myself, Bruce or Vision. I’m sure Vision will be more than willing to go wherever you want, though you do have to stay in New York and that is indefinite. Eventually, hopefully, they will realize you are not an actual terrorist. If they do then you will be allowed to go out by yourself. That’s the best I could do.” Tony finishes with a shrug

“That’s… I can agree to that.” Wanda nods “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Tony smiles softly

“What about the rest of us?” Clint asks

“It’s the same about leaving the compound.” Tony says “They’re afraid if you’re on your own you could do something, I don’t know what, but Bruce, Vision or I have to escort you.” Tony looks at Bucky. “I’m trying to get Bucky on that list.”

“You are?” Bucky asks turning to him with a smile

“Yeah.” Tony smiles back “We have to finish getting the brainwashing out but after that you can go out with Steve without one of us, if you’d be so inclined.”

“That’s awesome, thanks Tony.” Steve says smiling

“Are you signing?” Tony asks not even bother responding to his thank you. “Have you decided yet?”

“Um… I haven’t.” Steve says and Tony nods

“Okay. No rush.” Tony says nodding

“Can I talk to Bucky?” Steve asks and Tony looks to Bucky who nods with a smile

“Yeah, we can.” Bucky says and everyone leaves the room, including Tony.

“Bucky, I don’t know what to do.” Steve says honestly.

“Do you want me to be honest?” Bucky asks and Steve nods

“I think the world needs Captain America.” Bucky says “I think with things yet to come having you would be paramount. I think if you can’t follow all the guidelines that come with it, then don’t sign no matter how much we need you. Because as much as I’m not your biggest fan, currently, I don’t want to see you in jail. And Tony told me specifically he will not be able to get you off any charges once you’re off because you’re on probation and house arrest, with extenuating circumstances.” Bucky says truthfully making Steve nod

“Thanks Bucky. I think that helped.” Bucky smiles.

“I’m glad.” Bucky smiles

“I miss you.” Steve says “And I know I really never got you back but I feel like it did and you slipped through my fingers.” Bucky smiles softly

“I’d apologize but I’m not sorry. Steve I’m a third done getting rid of my brainwashing, and it’s only getting easier from then on. I’m happy, Steve. I’m really happy.”

“I’m glad you are Bucky. I may not like the circumstances. At all, but I do want what’s best for you and I’m starting to see this may have been a good thing. I still hate Stark. And maybe that’s wrong of me. Maybe he doesn’t necessarily deserve that. And I don’t hate him as much, but I still find myself annoyed at him.” Bucky nods sadly

“Some people just rub people the wrong way.” Bucky says softly “I don’t think Tony deserves your hate at all. He’s an amazing generous man. Attributes you may not see in him, but I do. I wish you could get past whatever problems you have but I’m not going to sit here and take sides. Tony doesn’t like you much either after what you did to him. And I can understand that. He deserved to know. He really did. And you kept that from him and I don’t think he ever will forgive you and I’m not sure you deserve that.” Bucky says honestly

“I know I messed up.” Steve says “but nobody hates Natasha for it!” Steve says angry “She knew too and never told Tony! Yet he doesn’t hold a grudge over her.”

“That’s because he never trusted Natasha like he trusted you.” Bucky says making Steve look down “He never really trusted Natasha after she went undercover in SI. They got a long yeah, but he never expected her to be honest with him. He expected you too. He trusted you, which is why I think it hurt him so much.”

“I thought I was doing the right thing.” Steve whispers “And I get it, I screwed up. I do.” Steve shakes his head “I wish I could go back. But I can’t.”

“Did you ever really apologize though?” Bucky asks

“I did. In the letter.” Steve says and Bucky sighs

“But you had the chance to say it. To him. Out loud. And you didn’t. That doesn’t reassure him that you really are sorry. That you really believe you messed up. And that you really regret it. From your actions, it doesn’t appear that you think that. I’m not trying to take his side, I’m trying to show you what your actions are being perceived as.”

“Okay. I get it.” Steve says, “I really will think on the accords.” Steve says wanting to get off the topic of Tony. “I’ll let you know.”

“Okay.” Bucky says with a sigh “I’ll talk to you later. Bye Steve.”

“Bye, Bucky.” Bucky hangs up the phone and meets Tony

“Everything okay?” Tony asks

“Yeah. I guess.” Bucky says not sounding very sure.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Tony offers

“No. It’s not really something I think Steve would want you to know.”

“Okay.” Tony says with a small smile “You could always talk to Jackie. That tends to help.”

“I’ll think about it.” Bucky says and smiles “Come on, I want to try and make this alfredo sauce.” Tony smiles

“I’m in.” Tony follows Bucky to the kitchen for a yummy dinner.

~

“Tony, we need to talk.” Bucky says after they’ve cleaned up.

“Umm… okay.” Tony says worried “What’s up? Did I do something wrong?”

“No, Tony, of course not. I did something wrong. It’s been bugging me for a while, and I really need to apologize.”

“Okay…” Tony says slowly “For what?”

“When you helped, me shower after that rough night I remember the um… scars on your chest. And I remember staring at them. And I’m sorry. I made you feel uncomfortable and probably a lot of other things, but you’re beautiful with or without the scars.” Bucky says with a slight blush at the last part. Tony nods slowly.

“Ummm, okay?” Tony says not really sure what to say, “That’s not very true, but I appreciate the thought.”

“It is true.” Bucky says trying to convey the feeling of truth behind the words.

“Come on, Bucky.” Tony says with a shake of the head “we both know it’s not.”

“It is.”

“Bucky, it’s huge. It’s all over my chest it’s not beautiful or pretty or… so just stop okay?” Tony shakes his head and goes to leave but Bucky grabs his arm

“Tony.” Bucky says softly “I’m not lying.” Tony shakes his head and pulls his arm out of Bucky’s and walks away. “Tony.” Bucky calls but watches him go.

~

“I need your advice.” Bucky says to Rhodey the next day.

“With?” He asks

“Well remember when Tony helped me shower?” Rhodey nods “Well he got undressed to and I saw his scars on his chest.”

“Oh.” Rhodey says understanding.

“And I was out of it but I remember kind of staring a bit. And I feel so bad about that. And I tried to apologize to Tony and let him know that he’s still um good looking with or without the scars and he told me I was wrong and lying and walked away. And now I don’t know what to do.”

“You’re never going to convince Tony that his scars are beautiful or anything related to those words. I’ve tried to tell him that for years. He won’t listen. You need to show him that even if they’re ugly, which I’m not saying they are, but he believes, that it doesn’t matter. Show him that it doesn’t change your opinion of him when he’s undressed. That it’s not a big deal. That you don’t even care that he has them. That they mean nothing to you. So, don’t point them out, and don’t bring them up. The best thing to do is ignore them. He’ll appreciate that more than believing that they’re not ugly.”

“Okay.” Bucky says “I can do that, if you think that’s best. So, you’re saying don’t even try and bring it up again.”

“No, don’t. It’ll make it worse.” Bucky nods

“Okay. I hate that, but okay.”

“I hate it too but I’ve tried for so long, it’s the best thing to do.” Bucky nods hating that, and hoping maybe eventually he’ll be able to convince him.

~

Tony looks at Bucky hesitantly when he sees him next but relaxes when Bucky doesn't bring it up. Bucky hates it, but if that's what's best for Tony, then he'll do it. 

~

“You got this, Bucky.” Tony says reassuringly “Step four is your breaking point.” And Bucky nods

“I think that with each step done the next step should be a little easier considering the first steps don’t affect me anymore.” Tony nods

“I hope so.” Tony agrees.

“Yeah.” Bucky says “I’m ready.” Tony lights the candle and the room materializes around them.

Bucky from the past is on the bed with his head in his hands shaking back and forth. It breaks Tony’s heart to see him like that. He hates that he went through it and he can’t help the rage inside him. Bucky on the bed is mumbling something that tony can’t quiet hear.

“Bucky.” Tony says through the noise.

“I am Bucky Barnes.” Bucky says and the Bucky on the bed looks up

“Who am I?” he asks “Where am I? What am I supposed to do?”

“Fight.” He replies “You are Bucky. You are in Hydra’s hands, and you need to fight them.”

“I’m… I’m… Barnes.”

“Yes, Bucky Barnes.” Bucky says firm

“No, I’m the winter soldier.” Bucky says frowning

“No, you’re not.” Bucky says “You are Bucky Barnes. I am Bucky Barnes.”

“I’m Bucky Barnes.” The man repeats

“We are Bucky Barnes.” He repeats and Tony watches with proudness that Bucky doesn’t even need his help. “We are Bucky Barnes. And we are in Hydra’s hands. And we will fight. We will not let them win.”

“We’ll fight. I’ll fight.” Bucky repeats firm “I am Bucky Barnes, I am not the winter soldier and I will fight.”

Tony blows out the candle and beams at Bucky

“Bucky, that was amazing!” Tony exclaims

“Thanks.” Bucky says softly

“I’m so proud of you, I don’t think that could have went any better. You did this whole step in your first try, by yourself. You didn’t even need me.” Tony says his voice proud.

“I always need you.” Bucky says softly

“No,” Tony shakes his head “you don’t.”

“I do, Tony.” Bucky says “You just being there is what helped me. Maybe I didn’t need your voice, but just knowing if I did need it you’d be there and will always be there gave me strength.” Tony smiles at him

Tony says with a smile “I guess we need each other.” Bucky nods in agreement as Tony heads to work and Bucky heads to the pool for a swim.  

Chapter Text

Another week has gone by and Bucky’s arm is finally done. Tony is excitedly bouncing around the room as Bruce attaches it to Bucky as he isn’t much help. Rhodey and vision are there too.

“Tony calm down.” Bruce says with a slight laugh

“I can’t.” Tony says with a big grin “Bucky’s getting an arm, Today!” Bucky laughs and nods

“Yeah, I’m pretty excited too.” Bucky grins.

“Just about done.” Bruce says and Bucky nods trying to be patient. Bucky gasps and sits up right as the connections in his arm connected. “Keep, still.” Bruce says trying to attach the last wire. He sits back “Okay, done.” Bucky lifts his new arm. He can’t help the big smile on his face. He rubs his fingers together and actually starts laughing that he feels that. Bucky runs his hand across the metal table, and feels the cool surface beneath.

“oh my god.” Bucky whispers and he can’t the tears that fall. He runs his fingers through his hair. “I can feel. Oh my god I can feel.” Tony is grinning from ear to ear when Bucky puts his arm on his arm. “I can feel your skin.” Bucky whispers “Oh my god.” He whispers again. “Thank you.” Bucky whispers to Bucky and Tony. “So much. I can’t believe you did this for me.”

“Of course, we did this for you.” Tony smiles and Bucky goes and touches the different surfaces in the room like it’s the first time, again.

“oh my god, Tony, Bruce. I never thought I’d ever have this again. Thank you.”

“You are so welcome.” Tony whispers

“Cooking is going to be a lot easier now.” Bucky thinks out loud making everyone laugh

“Yeah.” Tony smiles “It will.” Bucky pulls Tony in for a long hug and can’t help but enjoy the feeling of both arms wrapped around him. Tony hugs back

“I can’t even describe in words how amazing this is.” Bucky whispers

“I think I can relate.” Rhodey muses from the side. Bucky nods quickly

“Getting dressed will be so much easier.” Bucky says and they laugh “You laugh but I’m serious!” Bucky says with a grin “it’s so hard to freaking pull up your pants with one arm. Try it, next time. See how difficult I had it.”

“I will. Promise.” Tony grins

“And dishes. Gosh, those were annoying.”

“I do the dishes every night.” Tony scoffs “You cook so I clean them.”

“Okay, I try and clean as I go.” Bucky says and Tony snorts.

“Well now you can do them.” Tony says laughing

“Do you know how impossible it was to chop anything? I had to have Bruce chop the mushrooms at your birthday dinner, Tony.”

“You didn’t tell me that.” Tony says, “I would have helped.”

“I didn’t want to need you to help me with that. I figured I should learn to do it on my own. Be independent.”

“I could see that, but there is no shame in asking for help.” Tony points out

“I know, but now I don’t even need too.” Bucky says and Tony smiles

“I’m happy for you.” Tony smiles

“Thank you.” Bucky says “Words can’t describe how much this means to me.”

“You are so welcome.” Tony says Bruce nodding in agreement.

“I want to go chop some things!” Bucky says running to the kitchen Tony right after laughing

~

“Video chat Steve, please.” Bucky says Tony standing next to him “Let’s see how long it takes him to notice.” Tony nods grinning

“Hi Bucky, Stark.” Steve greets.

“Hi Steve.” Bucky says waving his artificial hand

“Rogers.” Tony greets

“What’s up?” Steve asks with everyone in the background

“I just wanted to talk.” Bucky says smiling.

“Oh.” Steve says lighting up. “That’s great.” Bucky throws both arms up in a shrug

“Yeah haven’t talked to you in a week.” Tony bites his lip trying to keep from laughing because Steve has yet to notice.

“Yeah. We’ve been pretty bored here.” Bucky nods and covers his mouth with a yawn.

“Yeah. We’ve been busy.” Bucky says and Tony chokes back a laugh

“What’s wrong with him?” Steve asks and Bucky shrugs

“Nothing.” Bucky says, “He just excited is all.”  Bucky says shrugging with both hands. Tony covers his mouth with his hand unable to contain his laugh

“I don’t get it.” Steve says with a look.

“Maybe two heads are better than one. Maybe someone else can figure it out.” Steve looks behind him and they shrug while he’s looking the other way Bucky raises both hands and wiggles his fingers. Everyone perks up and as Steve turns around Bucky lowers his hands

“Bucky!” they grin

“What? What’d I miss?”

“I’m not sure.” Bucky says stretching both hands above my head “Whatever it is, is probably right in front of your face.”

The group laughs and Steve’s face lightens up with realization

“Oh my god, Bucky!” Steve shouts and Bucky raises both his hands

“yeah. Bruce and Tony finished and attached it this morning.” Bucky grins

“Oh, my god. And you can feel?” Steve asks and Bucky nods

“Yeah. That was fun.” Bucky nods

“I’m so happy for you Bucky. I can’t believe it took me that long to notice.”

“I was waiting to see how long it would take you to notice.” Bucky laughs “Longer then I thought to be honest.”

“I wasn’t focused on your hands I was focused on what you were saying.”

“I guess.” Bucky says yawning

“Everyone is waiting for us for lunch, but I wanted you to know.” Steve nods

“Okay. Call me later? I want to hear all about it?”

“Of course. Bye Steve. Everyone.” He waves by with both hands grinning

“Bye Bucky.” They all call smiling Tony ends the chat and grins at Bucky

“I don’t feel guilty anymore. At all.” Bucky says to Tony “At first I did but now after everything. How I’m feeling now compared to when I was there. God, Tony. This really was the best thing for me. I can’t even describe how much this means to me.” Bucky says lifting his arm “How much you mean to me.”

“I was glad I could do it.” Tony says smiling “And you mean a lot to me too.”

“No. I mean.” Bucky sighs “Never mind.” Bucky says shaking his head

“What?” Tony asks tilting is head

“Nothing.” Bucky says smiling “Let’s go eat.” Bucky grabs Tony’s handing using his artificial one. Tony wants to push the topic but decides it best to let it be. He follows Bucky to lunch where all his friends- no, his family, is waiting.

~

“Bucky, I had a thought.” Tony says to him the next day

“Yeah?” He asks

“We never got you those briefs.” Tony says “So I had an idea.” Bucky nods “We go out to the store, we go shopping for clothes and such for you. And then we stop at my favorite restaurant for dinner.” Bucky looks at him hesitantly

“Tony, I don’t know about that.”

“It’ll be good for both of us. We’ve been stuck in this house for weeks.”

“Tony.” Bucky says again

“Look, Bucky. I think this will be good for you. People need to see you in public to know that you’re not their enemy. That you’re not the bad guy. So, if we go out shopping they’ll see that you’re human too. I’m worried what the people may begin to think after seeing you get off but not ever in public. I think this will be both good for you and good for America and their vision of you.”

“I don’t know.” Bucky says again “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“I’ll be there with you every step of the way and if it gets too hard, we’ll come back home. But I really think we should.” Bucky nods slowly

“Okay.” Bucky says “I guess we’ll go.” Tony nods

“We can make a set plan so we only go in stores we need to and can come home right after.” Bucky nods

“Okay. I can do that.” Tony smiles

~

Once at the mall Bucky can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

“Bucky everything will be fine.” Bucky fights back the panic and walks into Calvin Klein. They browse the shelves for a while until Bucky found everything he needed. There are a lot of looks and a lot of pictures, but Tony gives him a reassuring smile and nod. It all goes well until a man comes up and taps Bucky on the shoulder.

“You don’t belong here, murderer.” He says face full of rage. Bucky looks taken a back but Tony steps in

“Okay. First of all, this is a store. And unless the store owner says we need leave, we are allowed here. He is. Secondly, If you were referring to the US and not the store, maybe you should listen to the news and see here, that Bucky is innocent and I no way responsible for anyone being hurt.”

“That’s bullshit!” he shouts, “How many people has he killed?!”

“Okay, I thought we went over this, but I guess you’re either deaf or stupid so I’ll repeat it. That. Was. Not. His. Fault. He. Was. Brainwashed. By. Hydra.” Tony says extremely slow making the guy madder “Do. You. Understand?” He goes to punch him but Tony catches his arm

“oh, hell no, you touch me or Bucky and I’ll sue for everything you have.” He stares into the man’s eyes “Understand?” He asks and the man takes another swing so Tony blocks him and hits him in the side. “I can do this all day. It’s actually my job. I can beat you in a fight, and then I’ll sue you and you’ll be hurt and broke. So, try me.” Tony says still the face of calm and the man looks behind Tony to Bucky and flips him off.

“Murderer!” He says and then leaves.

“Some people.” Tony says shaking his head then turning to Bucky “Don’t listen to him.” Bucky looks down “Bucky.” Tony says “look at me.” He looks up “You were not at fault for any of that.” Tony says sincere “You were brainwashed. You had no control. They forced you. That is not you.” Bucky nods

“I know, I know.” He says trying to believe it.

“Have I lied to you?” Tony asks and Bucky shakes his head “So then believe me. You are not a murderer. That is some asshat who can go suck a dick for all I care.” Bucky snorts “I’m serious. I seriously would have kicked his ass, for you, if you had wanted, but I know you didn’t.” Bucky nods

“Thank you.”

“No need to thank me.” Tony says and Bucky gives him a look “But you’re welcome.” Tony looks over the few people who are videoing the encounter so Tony turns to them.

“This man? Is a good man. He was kidnapped and tortured and brainwashed into doing what he did. We all know Hydra made him kill people. That isn’t his fault. Do you call marines who come back from war after killing bad guys, murderers? No. We call them veterans and thank them for their service. Bucky was a war hero. But Hydra took him, and Hydra used him. And that, is not his fault. Do you honestly think, he asked for that? He wanted that? No. So stop victim blaming. I’m done with that shit. This man?” Tony says looking at him “Is one of the best man I’ve ever known. And probably one of the best I ever will. So go hate someone who deserves it, like Hydra its self, not it’s victim.” Tony turns around and heads to Bucky

“You okay?” Tony asks aware that the cameras are probably still rolling.

“Thanks, Tony.” Bucky says with a small smile

“it’s the truth. And people need to see that.” Tony smiles “Let’s finish shopping and head home.” Bucky nods with a grateful smile.

~

After dinner later that night, Tony goes on the media to see what’s what.

“We made the news.” Tony says to Bucky showing him the article and the video attached.

“Tony Stark and what appeared to be former Hydra assassin, James Buchanan Barnes went into a Calvin Klein store today. We were aware that Mr. Barnes made a return to the US but this is the first time anyone has seen Tony Stark or James Barnes since it hit the news. There appeared to be an argument between a civilian and Barnes. Tony Stark stepped in and gave this speech.” They don’t watch the video. Bucky makes a face “That’s how they described me. Former Hydra assassin? Not war hero? Or even Captain America’s best friend.”

“Well, to be honest right now, Former Hydra assassin, is actually better for your reputation than Captain America's best friend..” Tony says with a shrug “They all hate him, so to be associated with him, not the best thing in the world. Though I give you on war hero.”

“Really? It’s better to be connected to Hydra then Steve?”

“Yes, since it wasn’t your fault with Hydra, you aren’t to blame. Technically you are to blame for being friends with Steve, even if you’re not now.” Bucky shakes his head

“I didn’t know it was that bad.” Bucky says honestly

“Oh yeah, Steve isn’t going to have a walk in the park once he returns. A lot people hate him, including me.” Bucky nods

“I don’t hate him as much as I used to, but I mean he’s still a fucking asshole for not telling you.”

“Bucky, don’t go hating him because he didn’t tell me. That’s my grudge to hold. You hate him for anything else.”

“But I hate him for lying to you for years.” Bucky says, “I know how much that hurt.”

“And I appreciate that, I do. But… I guess I want you to give him a fair shot, without my input. Because I know he missed you, and when he gets here, he’s going to try and befriend you. And I don’t want what he did to me, to affect your relationship with him. I mean I hate him but I feel like he at least deserves a shot at being friends with you. He did uh become an outlaw on your behalf. Or well, was trying to do something even though it was the wrong way to go about it.”

“I appreciate that, and I’ll try. But I’ve seen what it’s done to you. And every time I think about how he lied to you for years, and I don’t know if I can get past that.”

“I get that.” Tony says not really sure what to say. “But I guess when he gets here, you should at least give him a shot.” Bucky nods

“I’ll try.” Bucky says and Tony smiles

“That’s all he deserves.” Tony says

“Thank you, for today Tony. It was nice getting out of the house. Even though that happened I think you were right about needing it, and it being good based on the feedback.”

“I’m glad you agree.” Tony says, “You ready for bed?” Tony asks, “I’m exhausted.”

“Me too.” Bucky says nodding as they get into bed. And tony can’t help but enjoy the feeling of two arms wrapped around him as he sleeps.

~

“Bucky made his first public appearance yesterday.” Sam reads online “Apparently, Tony took him to Calvin Klein.”

“Really?” Steve asks from the other side of the room

“Yeah. It’s the first they’ve seen of him since returning to the US.”

“What’s it say?”

“There’s a video.” Sam says with a slight frown. They all sit and watch it and watch Tony defend Bucky.

“Wow.” Steve says once Tony’s finished his speech “I didn’t exactly expect Tony to defend him like that.”

“Really?” Natasha asks, “After we’ve seen the way they are with each other.”

“I guess they are good friends.” Steve says feeling jealous “I don’t understand why he doesn’t like me. Do you think Tony is feeding him lies about me?”

“No.” Natasha says with an eye roll “What would he gain from that.”

“He hates me. He stole my best friend.”

“That’s not true.” Sam says “Look how happy Bucky’s been with Tony. It’s been good for him. We all know he hated it here. I think it’s nice to see him happy, even though it’s not with us.”

“I have to agree with that.” Scott says “Isn’t the whole purpose of what we did to like, save Bucky. Wasn’t that your whole motivation? So, seeing him happy like this should be great for you.”

“It is, I just… wish it was with me.”

“Yeah. I understand that, but I would just be happy for him.” Steve nods

“I just want to be his friend. Like we used to be.”

“I think Stark’s right.” Wanda says from the side, surprising people “I am not a fan of Tony Stark. But I really think he was right when he said you were an idiot for thinking Bucky is the same kid from Brooklyn.”

“Thanks Wanda.” Steve says flatly

“No. I wasn’t trying to call you an idiot. I was trying to say that Stark was right about him being different than you remember.”

“I guess.” Steve says “I can kind of see it more. Now that he’s not here.” Sam nods

“I think that’s good that you can finally see that. So when we go back, you don’t think the same way when he was here.” Steve nods

“I guess Stark was right after all. And that kills me to admit.”

“At least you did.” Natasha says thinking finally to herself.

Chapter Text

“Twenty bucks says Bucky man’s up and makes the first move.” Rhodey says to Bruce and Vision one afternoon when Tony and Bucky are sitting across from each other making lunch. Tony snorts and starts laughing at something Bucky said.

“You’re on. Tony will definitely be the one to man up.” Bruce says confident

“No way.” Rhodey says with a laugh “Tony will never do that.”

“Did it with Pepper.” Bruce points out “He’ll do it. Bucky’s too shy and unsure and unconfident in himself. Tony will man up.”

“I TOLD YOU SO!” Tony shouts from the kitchen making Bucky laugh, both unaware of their conversation.

“I bet it’s Boss too.” FRISAY says from above.

“I think it’ll will be Mr. Barnes.” Vision says watching the interaction

“I guess we’ll see.” Rhodey says with a grin.

~

The Avengers alarm goes off at Lunch the next day. Tony immediately stands and runs for the suit with barely a goodbye for Bucky. Bucky turns on the news and watches what’s happening.

As soon as Tony’s in the suit he calls Peter.

“Peter.” Tony says

“I see the news.” Peter says rushed “But aunt May won’t let me leave.”

“Well sneak out!” Tony shouts as Bruce Vision and he arrive on sight. “I gotta go. Get here as fast as you can!”

Tony starts battling the unknown aliens trying to find a weak spot. Tony hopes Thor shows up soon, as promised. Tony tries blasting with repulsor beams but they don’t even budge. Tony launches his mini rockets at a group of them and they all go down.

Bucky meanwhile is at home watching Tony and the others struggle waiting for backup.

Three of the aliens surround Tony and fights them off. While he’s battling the three he doesn’t notice the one that comes behind him and he ends up falling 2 stories down, landing on his left arm, shoulder, painfully.

“Multiple contusions detected.” FRIDAY says and Tony moans at the pain “Boss, you’re losing blood.” And tony knows that because there is a big gash down his arm. “I am taking the necessary precautions, but you-“

“I know they only help for so long.” Tony snaps. He gets back up and starts fighting, sweat beading down his face from the pain, no matter how cool the suit’s interior temperature is. Tony calls Peter again

“Kid, where are you.” Tony says through gritted teeth.

“I’m almost there.” Peter says “2 minutes.”

The hulk roars and kills 12 of the aliens in one go. Vision is doing better than Tony.

“Boss, I suggest heading back for medical attention and if you do not, I have override codes and will take the suit home anyway.”

“Not until Peter and Thor show up.” Tony says fighting them while feigning off the urge to pass out.

Peter shows up seconds later.

“Boss! You’re losing consciousness. I’m taking over the suit.”

“Not yet!” Tony says knowing he’s losing the battle. Tony stumbles and is unable to keep himself upright.

Bucky stares at Tony nervously as he stumbles. “Tony, come on. Do not die on me.”

“I have taken over function of the suit and am taking you back to the facility for medical help.” FRIDAY informs as Tony starts losing consciousness.

“No. Thor… hasn’t.” FRIDAY ignores him and flies him back to the compound at top speed.

“I have informed the others what your situation is. Thor-“ Tony’s completely out before she's finished the sentence 

Bucky watches the news as Tony heads home and hears the suit fly in and he runs for the medical department knowing Tony must be badly hurt if he came home. What he finds is worse than he thought. Tony completely unconscious so much blood dripping down his left arm. Bucky watches as he goes away into surgery. He takes out his tablet and continues watching the news, and sees Thor and Spider-Man are there and watches as they take care of the aliens. Before Bucky realizes it the team is back and is walking into the waiting area. Bruce running into surgery, Vision not far after.

“How bad is it?” Peter asks shifting foot to foot.

“He um… he was unconscious and bleeding pretty badly.” Bucky whispers

“Friend Anthony is strong.” Thor says trying to bring hope. “He will survive this.”

“I hope you’re right Thor.” Bucky whispers nervously.

What feels like hours later Bruce comes out with a soft smile on his face. Everyone stands up quickly bombarding Bruce with questions.

“He broke his left wrist and arm.” Bruce says once everyone quieted down “He had a huge gash in his left arm and the suit kept him okay for as long as it did but even with it, he was losing blood fast. Good thing is, Tony always prepares for the worst so he has enough blood of everyone who lives here in case something happens, so he had enough to survive if they lost blood. He’ll be up in a few minutes, and can leave in another hour.”

“Can I see him?” Bucky whispers and Rhodey is nodding along.

“Yes. But while he’s unconscious. We need him to be woken up slowly and having people there besides doctors and the nurse could be overwhelming. I suggest after you see him, Bucky make dinner, because he’ll be hungry.”

Bucky nods and the 5 men make their way to Tony’s room. They stare at the man who already has some color back in his cheeks.

“oh Tony.” Rhodey whispers Bucky holds Tony’s uninjured hand. And just watches the man while the others stay quiet. Glad that their friend is okay.

“guys, we’re about to wake him up.” Bruce says about half an hour later. “You guys need to leave.” They nod and follow each other out.

“I have to get home.” Peter says “Aunt May is probably worried sick about me.”

“I’ll give you a ride.” Vision says calmly

“Do you mind if I tag along?” Rhodey says “I could use to get out of this house for a distraction.”

“Of course.” Vision says

“I’m going to make dinner.” Bucky says and they head their separate ways.

~

“Tony?” Bruce asks as Tony regains consciousness. Tony groans the feeling of pain already intense. “yeah, we already gave you morphine for the pain. It should take another few minutes to kick in.” Tony groans again thinking that, that was a horrible idea, but is unable to voice it.

“You’ll be okay. Bucky’s made dinner so.” Bruce says calmly Tony nods feeling the medicine start to kick in.

~

“Bucky you’re amazing!” Tony exclaims giddy a few minutes later.

“Oh come, on.” Bucky says with an eye roll

“Brilliant!”

“Tony.”

“Fantastic!” Bucky sighs shaking his head “Geronimo!”

“Now you’re just quoting doctor who.” Bucky says shaking his head.

“Shut up.” He says with a grin “I didn’t know you watch doctor who!”

“I don’t. I know about it though.”

“Well, the statements still stand.” Tony pauses “Except maybe Geronimo. Okay, we’re watching doctor who.”

“You said that about Supernatural.” Bucky points out

“And I’m sure I’ll say it about Sherlock now shh. I’m trying to tell you how amazing you are!” Tony grins

“Tony, it’s just pasta.” Bucky says shaking his head

“No. It’s not ‘just pasta’.” Tony says quoting him “It’s the best pasta ever.”

“I’ll be sure to make it again now, relax.” Bucky says at Tony’s childless “I swear, whatever they gave you made you high as a kite.” Tony grins feeling the bliss of the drugs that he hasn’t taken in years.

“Did I ever tell you how much you mean to me?” Tony asks eating pasta

“Yeah, I know I’m your friend.” Bucky says with a smile

“NO!” Tony shouts “Not friends.” Tony shakes his head

“We’re not friends?” Bucky asks confused

“Can I have some more garlic bread?” Tony asks going back to his pasta

“Tony, what do you mean we’re not friends?” Bucky asks worried

“Well we are friends.” Tony says with a look of ‘duh’

“You just said we weren’t.”

“I don’t want to be friends.” Tony says shaking his head

“What?” Bucky asks tears prickling his eyes

“I hate being friends with you.” Bucky just stares at Tony, who doesn’t notice.

“Tony.” Bucky’s heart breaks

“What?” he asks

“You don’t want to be friends with me?” He asks

“Of course not.” Tony says like it’s easiest thing it the world.  Bucky doesn’t respond staring at him with a broken heart. “I don’t want to be your friend.” Tony says again “But you never notice.” Tony sighs “I keep trying to tell you, but you never get the clue.”

“I get it now.” Bucky whispers

“Of course, you don’t.” Tony scoffs “I haven’t said it yet.”

“You said it multiple times.” Bucky says tears falling

“No. I said I didn’t want to be your friend.” Tony shrugs “I didn’t say that I want to date you instead.” Bucky’s eyes widen

“What?”

“Can you pass the garlic bread please?” Tony asks eating more spaghetti Bucky hands it over numbly

“Tony.” Bucky says softly “Did you say what I think you said?”

“What’d I say?” Tony asks looking up confused

“That you want to date me.” Bucky says and Tony nods

“Yeah of course.” Tony smiles

“I want to date you too.” Bucky says “But you’re probably not going to remember this.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Tony asks 

“Cause you’re high.”

“I’ll remember.” Tony says nodding

“If you say so.” Bucky says

“So… is that yes? Are we now dating?” Tony asks

“Well… I’m going to wait to confirm that until you’re sober.” Tony nods

“That makes sense. But I know I want to date you. Even when I’m not high.” Tony nods

“Okay well, why don’t we clean up and then watch some TV.” Tony shakes his head

“I want more pasta.” Tony says shoveling more food into his mouth.

“God, help me.” Bucky whispers, but hopes that Tony feels the same when he is sober.

~

“Bucky?” Tony asks blinking a few times

“Tony? You back with me?” Bucky asks

“My arm hurts.” Tony groans “What the hell just happened?”

“What do you remember?” Bucky asks feeling nervous.

“I was in battle and I got hurt. And FRIDAY was nagging me.”

“Helping you.” FRIDAY says from above.

“Same difference.” Tony says waving his arms “And bits of stuff nothing concrete. Pasta,” Tony says "yummy pasta. That’s about it.” Bucky smiles at the pasta

“Well, you seriously injured your arm and lost a lot of blood. Thor and peter showed up. Thor went to sleep for a little bit now because he’s been up for what he said was a long time. Rhodey and Visons dropped Peter off and just got back and little while ago. They gave you some morphine to help with the pain but Bruce said it won’t be as bad tomorrow.” Bucky summarizes

“What?!” Tony asks bolting upright only to regret that later. “Fuck.” Tony curses. “FRIDAY get Rhodey.” Tony says sadly

“Tony, it’ll be okay.” Bucky says softly

“No. You don’t understand.” Tony shakes his head

“Understand what?” Bucky asks

“Tony what’s wrong?” Rhodey says entering the room.

“I did something stupid.” Tony says softly

“Well that’s nothing new.” Rhodey says softly “What’d you do?”

“Well, it wasn’t me this time, actually.” Tony says, “But they gave me morphine.” Tony whispers

“Tony.” Rhodey says softly and then nods “It’s going to be okay. We’ll get through it.”

“You know what it’s going to be like.” Tony whispers

“Yeah. And now you’ve got an even better support system then before.” Rhodey says softly

“You know what’s happened in the past.” Tony says shaking his head

“We’ll get through it, Tones. We got through everything else. And now you have Bucky and you have Bruce, Vision.” Rhodey smiles reassuringly “You have people who care about you, and will help you no matter how hard you struggle. We’ve got you. You’ve got it. You won’t relapse.” Rhodey says confident “So don’t take anymore and we’ll be okay.” Rhodey says and Tony nods

“Okay. I can do this.” Tony says nodding

“You can.” Bucky says reassuringly and now understanding what the problem is. “I know you can. We’ll be here every step of the way.” Tony nods as Bucky feels bad for what happened

“Okay. Thank you.” Tony says with a grateful look to Rhodey and Bucky

“No problem Tony.” Rhodey says smiling

“You want me to stay?” Rhodey asks

“No, we’re okay.” Tony says nodding

“Okay, don’t hesitate to call if you need.” Rhodey says

“I won’t I promise.”

“I know. Love you.” Rhodey says

“Love you too.” Tony says smiling as Rhodey leaves. Once gone Bucky turns to Tony

“Tony, we need to talk.” Tony turns to Bucky

“Did I say something or do something?” he asks nervous

“Yeah.” Bucky says softly and Tony inhales slowly

“What’d I do?”

“First I need to know… are you dating Rhodey?” Bucky asks and Tony shakes his head

“No. We’re just friends. Best friends, we flirt with each other because we’re assholes, before you ask. And I think I know where this is going.” Tony says looking down “I’m sorry.” He says, “I probably freaked you out and you probably don’t want to be friends anymore.”

“No, I don’t.” Bucky says with a smile biting his lip Tony nods “hey, idiot.” Bucky says smacking him upside the head

“What?” He says sadly looking over and Bucky grinning at him. His eyes widen. “you mean?” Bucky nods “Really?” He asks hopefully

“Yeah. It was never question.” Bucky shakes his head.

“How did I say it?” Tony asks

“Well, you said you expressed your romantic feelings for me with a beautiful poem.” Bucky says grinning

“I did not, did I?” Tony asks embarrassed

“Oh yeah.” Bucky says grinning “you want to hear it?”

“No.” Tony puts his head in his hand

“Roses are red, violets are Blue, Poems are hard, and I am too.” Bucky says grinning

“No I didn’t!” Tony protest hoping that is not true

“No, I was mistaken, it was Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m waiting for the day, we finally screw!” Bucky says laughing

“Nope. I wouldn’t say that.” Tony says shaking his head repeatedly

“Okay fine. I’ll be straight, you said ‘Do you know what this shirt is made of?” Tony groans. “Boyfriend material’.” Bucky finishing with a laugh

“Quit joking.” Tony says nudging him

“You were an ass about it, honestly.” Bucky says shaking his head

“Was I?” Tony asks grimacing

“You told me you didn’t want to be my friend.” Bucky says “5 minutes later you decided to tell me you want to be my boyfriend instead.”

“Seriously?” Tony asks cringing

“Yeah.” Bucky says with a snort

“I’m sorry.” Tony says sheepishly

“Would you, or would you not have told me if you were sober?” Bucky asks

“I was thinking about it.” Tony says honestly then smiles “hey, my wish came true.”

“You wished for me?” He asks and Tony nods

“I guess if one good thing came out of this mess, I’d be I got you.” Tony grins “Would you have told me?”

“Probably not.” Bucky says honest

“Well I would have eventually.” Tony says smiling

“I’m glad you didn’t wait, even if it wasn’t the best of ways.”

“Yeah, me too.” Tony says honestly “I’m just worried.”

“We’ll get through it. I promise.” Bucky says and Tony believes him wholeheartedly

~

The next morning  Bucky and Tony walk to breakfast hand in hand smiling like idiots.

“Finally.” Bruce says from the Kitchen.

“Who asked who?” Rhodey demands

“You bet on us, didn’t you?” Tony says with an eyeroll

“Yes.” Rhodey says grinning “Who made the first move.”

“Tony did when he was high.” Bucky says smiling.  Bruce holds out his hand to Rhodey who puts a 20 in it.

“What the hell?” Tony asks “Rhodey you bet against me?”

“Oh, come on, Tones! You never admit when you have real feelings! How was I supposed to know you’d say something first?” Vision nodding in agreement

“Asshole.” Tony says with a small smile

“Idiot who had to be high to talk about his feelings.”

“Oh shut up, James.” Tony says with a grin

“Oh pulling out the James, shell head.”

“Shall I call you Jim instead?” Tony says with a smirk

“That’s enough, boys. I won the bet too.” FRIDAY says from above

“Not you too, FRI.” Tony says sighing

“Yes, it was painfully obvious. And you owe me and upgrade.”

“I myself thought I would be Bucky too.” Vision says

Tony sighs extremely loud for point

“Could you sigh any louder? I think I missed it.” Rhodey says with a smile

“Asshole.” Tony grins “And Bucky asked me if I was dating you since I didn’t remember! Like I would ever date your ugly ass.”

“You know you love my ass.” Rhodey says smirking

“I love Bucky’s ass more.” Tony sticks his tongue out at Rhodey rolls his eyes and Bucky and Bruce huff in amusement

“And Bucky, you could have just asked if we were dating.” Rhodey says with a laugh “It would have saved you a hell of a lot of trouble.”

“I didn’t want it to be awkward if you were.” Bucky says with a slight blush.

“I guess we get out of hand sometimes.” Tony says softly “I wonder if anybody else came to the same conclusion.” Tony ponders

“Mr. Hogan was certain you two were meant to be, Boss.” FRIDAY says Tony huffs realizing he’ll have to give his former body guard a call.

“Tony, I’m really sorry.” Bruce says softly “I didn’t realize… I didn’t put two and two together and I should have. I know you were a drug addict and I know I shouldn't have given you morphine. I feel like an idiot and I'll feel even worse if you relapse because of me.”

“It’s okay.” Tony says softly “I know you didn’t mean to. It’ll be okay.” Tony says nodding “I’ll get through it. I have you guys. I have Bucky.” Tony says smiling

“We’re here for you, Tony. Don’t forget that.” Bucky smiles

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Tony smiles “Now, when are you making that pasta?” Tony asks Bucky laughs

“I can make again tonight if you want?”

“Absolutely.” The others watch hoping that Tony will be okay, and will be able to get through this too.

Chapter Text

In Wakanda, everyone is watching the news as it happens. They watch as iron man stumbles.

“Do you think he’s hurt?” Steve asks somewhat worried. No one has an answer for him except when Tony flies away mid battle.

“He left?” Clint asks “While they’re still there? What kind of hero is he?”

“Maybe he was seriously injured and dying.” Natasha points out.

“He’s in the suit. He can’t get hurt.” Clint says

“Yes, he can.” Steve says knowing full well that he can. “I’m going to call Bucky in the morning to make sure everything is okay.” Steve says once the battle is over.

“I think we’d all like to be there.” Sam says and they all nod.

~The next day~

They video call them and Tony and Bucky pop up on the screen.  Steve could see that Tony's arm was immobilized, but strangely the other man seemed to be happy even if he was clearly uncomfortable. 

“Hey, Bucky, Stark.” Steve said in a hesitant voice, but he was curious.

“Steve.”

“Rogers.” Tony says feeling not so great about have to talk with Rogers so early in the morning.

“We saw the news.” Steve says, “We wanted to make sure everyone was okay.”

“By everyone you mean me.” Tony says surprised at the reason for the call and Steve nods

“Well, yeah. When you left in the middle of battle we thought you might have been seriously hurt.”

“Yeah, I was. I broke my arm and wrist ad had a huge gash in my arm and I almost bled out.” He admitted as if it were not important, Bucky sighed beside him. He wanted Tony to care more about his health, not just physical but also mental. He wanted to be there for Tony just as Tony was there for him.

“But you’re okay now?” Steve asks making sure

“Yeah, I’m okay now.” Tony says nodding

“You don’t seem it.” Steve says and Bucky looks over at Tony.

“I am, it just hurts.” Tony said as if this was something obvious and it made Steve let out a troubled groan. Of course, Tony always had to make everyone sound like idiots around him just because they were asking a confirmation question. In fact, Tony just wanted it all over soon so he could go back to the lab or watch Supernatural with Bucky.

“Tony Stark admitting he’s in pain. Am I dreaming?” Natasha says trying to joke with Tony.

“No, I’m trying this new thing where I don’t lie to everyone about my pain and when I’m injured.” Tony shrugs with a soft smile for Natasha. For the first time he knew he could trust the people around him, so that was easier. And there was Bucky, Bucky who against all odds the world really cared about him. He was still reeling in the thought that someone cared for him like that. And didn’t seem to care about all his problems, but rather wanted to be there for him, to help him with all his problems. He still in awe about it.

“Wow.” Steve says “That’s… great.”

“It’s Bucky’s fault.” Tony says snickering and Bucky rolls his eyes “He’s made an honest man outta me.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Steve asks confused and Tony nods

“For the most part.” Tony smiles “Yeah, it’s hard to not to fall back into old habits. But I got Bucky to keep me straight.” Tony smiles at him. “or not so straight.” Tony says snickering and Bucky slaps him and makes an ‘what the hell are you doing’ face, god, he is totally head over heels about Bucky “Any who, do you want to talk to Thor?” Tony asks the group and Steve nods without thinking of the statement twice.

“Yes, I would love to.”

“FRIDAY?” Tony asks

“he is on his way.”

“So… how’s the arm?” Steve asks while they wait.

“It’s amazing. Better than I could have hoped for.” Bucky smiles at Tony who grins.

“Nothing but the best.” Tony says as Thor shows up

He pops up on the screen with a hesitant smile

“Hello, friends.” Thor says smiling softly, unsure if they are still friends

“Hey, Thor.” They all great him

“How are things in Asgard?” Steve asks

“Asgard is much trouble.” Thor says sadly “There is a lot going on and I do need to get back shortly.”

“I’m sorry Thor, I wish we could help.” Steve says

“Yes, but I don’t know if I would like your help, to be truthful.” Thor says and Steve looks at him confused for a moment “I have seen what has been going on.” Thor says in a way of Explanation “And I am disappointed in how you treated, Friend Anthony.”

“Not you too!” Clint says annoyed

“Yes, I saw how you lied to him for years.” Thor says “Which was very wrong of you, and I saw a man react to watching his parents be murdered, and find out his best friend lied to him about it for years. I saw a man lash out, because he was hurt. And I saw his supposed friend and teammate leave him for dead in the freezing Russian winter to die.”

“I didn’t leave him to die.” Steve says “I knew he’d be okay, he had the suit.” Thor’s eyes turn to Tony in questioning.  And Tony sighs

“The uh… the arc reactor was broken.” Tony says in way of explanation. He didn’t want to tell them this. “The suit without heating is freezing because it’s metal.” Tony did not want to be there. He takes a shuttering breath. He did not need to deal with now. Bucky looks at Tony with concern.

“What?” Steve asks

Tony shrugs, “I’m not sugar coating it.” Bucky says, “When we left him there, he nearly died and nearly lost his fingers to frostbite in the process.” He was really angry with himself and Steve. Bucky did not want to think about the fact that he almost killed Tony after he discovered that he had killed his parents. Not me, Hydra, Bucky thinks to himself. 

“Bucky.” Tony whispers softly seeing how it had affected the other man

“No. He should know what we did. He doesn’t deserve to not have to feel bad over this. Tony, you were nearly dead. If Vision hadn’t shown up when he did, you would have died.”

“I know that.” Tony snaps “I know how close it was. But that doesn’t mean you have to make Steve feel guilty over it when he didn’t know what he was doing.”

Deep in his heart Tony knew Steve was not to blame and he did not want to blame Steve for it. 

“Just because he didn’t know what he was doing does mean he should get off scot-free of guilt.” Bucky argued, he hated that  Tony wasn't defending himself, Bucky would do it for him. He wanted to show his boyfriend that he had done nothing wrong, and they were to blame.

“Bucky come on.” Tony says avoiding the look of horror on Steve face.

“Tony. I had no idea.” Steve whispers “I’m sorry.”  

“Are you though?” Tony asks

“I Really am.” Steve whispers “you have to believe me.”

“I don’t believe a word that comes out of your mouth.” Tony says and Natasha, Sam, and Scott look at him with concern not realizing how close it was. They never would have gotten off if Tony died in Siberia. But it’s more than that. They’re starting to see the real man Tony may be. Clint and Wanda look as though they don’t care if he died. Not thinking of all the things Tony’s done for them.

“Tony.” Steve whispers and Tony sighs.

“As much as I hate you, and you hate me, I know you wouldn’t have purposely left me there to die. I know that. But that doesn’t mean you’re sorry. It doesn’t mean you care.”  He started to feel sick, God he just wanted to run away from there.

“I don’t like you very much, but I don’t hate you.” Steve says softly “And I am sorry, for what it’s worth.”

“I don’t really care.” Tony says shrugging “I hate you, and will probably always hate you.” He could no longer hide everything he was feeling, he wants them to understand how he's feeling, but knows they won't even care.

“I deserve that.” Steve whispers

“You deserve a lot worse.” Tony says with a shake of his head “Talk to Thor, I’m done with this conversation.” Tony walks away, that was enough for now.

“Who the hell does he think he is?” Clint demands “Steve is the best man we know. He’s Captian freaking America.” Tony pauses at the door out of sight

“Is he?” Thor asks “Because he has been nothing but generous."

“How has he been generous?” Wanda asks

“He got us off for everything we did.” Sam points out.

“Besides that?” Wanda asks

“I’m sorry, is that not enough?” Scott asks

“He locked me in my room.” Wanda says

“We all know that is an over exaggeration. He was trying to protect you.”

“Tony Stark does not protect people.” Wanda says

“Yes, he does.” Bucky says firm. “he protected you from things you don’t even know happened.”

“Like what?” Clint demands

“I’m not going to go through everything Tony did and does for you. But he deserves better.” Bucky says and Thor nods along.

“Bucky, you can’t actually believe this.” Steve says softly

“I do.” Bucky says “And I know it’s the truth.” He looks over to Tony who’s been listening  “Tony.” Bucky says softly he waves it off. He appreciates what Bucky’s saying but hearing all this makes him angry. He walks off.

“You should go make sure he’s alright.” Thor says and Bucky nods

“He’s fine.” Steve says annoyed “I only get to talk to you occasionally he can wait.”

“he cannot wait.” Bucky says “He shouldn’t have to. He deserves better. And I’m going to make sure he’s okay.” Bucky leaves ignoring Steve’s protest. He hears Thor start defending Tony as he leaves and Bucky smiles softly at that.

 

Tony walks straight to his lab and starts working trying to get his mind off the conversation and if he’s being honest, his mind off a lot worse.

He didn't want to remember what happened in Siberia or even before that on the raft. He was so tired, so tired of all pointing his finger at him and saying how wrong he was. Tony tried to remember the yesterday, he was so numb most of the time because of Morphine that he had not thought of any of it. It was just him and Bucky and the rest of the world did not exist. He wanted so much to be happy, was that too much to ask?

“Tony.” Bucky says walking in the room not two minutes later.

“You shouldn’t have told him.” Tony says tired, but not turning around.

“I disagree. But I’m sorry I did it without your permission.” Bucky says,

“It’s okay.” Tony says sighing “I’m sorry I snapped at.”

“it’s okay.” Bucky says smiling, he knew that Tony wasn’t ok after that “Thor was kind of  going in on them a bit when I left.” Bucky wants to show that more people were at his side, maybe it would cheer him up

“Really?” Tony asks “What he say?” Tony was partly and happily surprised that Thor was defending him after Ultron. He really didn't expect that.

“Well he was going on how Heimdall sees all and sees how they behave when you aren’t around. The things they would say.”

“What did they say?” Tony asks softly

“Tony.” Bucky says softly

“What.” Tony says, “Did they say?” He needed to know, he needed to know why. he didn't want to keep a false hope that one day they would forgive him or at least be kind to him.

“Stupid shit, it doesn’t matter.”

“What did they say, Bucky?” Tony asks nervous

“It doesn’t matter.” Bucky tries again. “What they think doesn’t matter. You’re you. And we both know who you are. And it doesn’t matter what they think.” He did not want to repeat what they said, they were so cruel and Tony did not deserve it. But he knew Tony would not let it go. At that moment Bucky regretted not being quiet.

“If Thor hears it, I deserve to know.” Tony says sharply

Bucky sighs “They would say that you’re selfish, which is so inaccurate. You’re are the most selfless man I know.”

“What else.” Tony says without surprise

“That you were at fault for shit that wasn’t.” Bucky says and Tony makes a motion to continue “I don’t understand why you want to torture yourself with lies that they say. Nothing they say is accurate.” Bucky says “And it doesn’t matter what they say because you know, I know, hell Thor knows it’s not true.” Tony shakes his head

“You know why?” Tony asks “because I’m used to strangers thinking the worst of me. They follow the news and that’s how they portray me. They don’t know any better. They knew me.  They knew better. I showed them how much I cared. How much I tried. How much effort I put into protecting them. Caring for them. And then they act as if I did nothing for them. I did everything for them.” Tony says shaking his head “And I never got one thanks. Not even one.” Tony cared for them. Hoped they could be his makeshift family. but they were never on the same level. They never cared for him like he cared for them.

“Tony.” Bucky says softly “They never deserved you. And you deserved so much better. They’re assholes and you’re amazing. Even I knew that, when all I heard was them complain and put up lies. I know the truth. Thor knows the truth. Vision, Rhodey, Bruce, Pepper, Happy, Peter. They know the truth. It doesn’t matter what they think, because they’re wrong and you have people who know that.”

“I know that.” Tony says “I do. I really do. And I appreciate that, but it still… sucks to know that that’s what they think of me. I don’t care. I really don’t. They can think whatever.” Tony says with a shrug “And you know what, this may be petty, but I’m not upgrading, creating, making, buying, designing, giving, them any new weapons or armor. I don’t care if they die because of it.” Tony says angry.

“We both know that’s not true.” Bucky says softly. Tony groans

“I know, but I wish I could do that. I wish I wouldn’t care if they die. It’d be so much easier.”

“Don’t go upgrading or anything unless they come to you with a problem or an idea.” Bucky says “unless you notice a life-threatening issue that they haven’t seen of course. But if you invent something better, don’t just go and give it to them. They’ll walk all over you again. Make them earn it. They don’t deserve handouts, which is what they’ve been given by you and what they’ve gotten since becoming Avengers. They don’t deserve that. Give them a fucking job, because you work your ass off they should work for what you give them.” Tony smiles softly “I’m serious. Make them work on the yard or cleaning or something. Why do they get to live here for free after that?”

“I’ll consider it.” Tony says softly “I guess it’s a fair point.”

“It’s the absolute truth. They deserve nothing, and I don’t want you to give them everything.”

“I won’t give them everything. I promise.” Tony promises

“Good.” Bucky says smiling “Now. I had an idea.” Maybe this could cheer Tony up a bit more.

“Yeah?” Tony asks, he was curious since Bucky look excited

“Yeah. Why don’t you use BARF for positive memories of Peggy? I mean I get what the main purpose is, but why can’t you use it for good memories too?”

“I didn’t think of that.” Tony says honestly “I guess I could do that, huh?” Bucky nods.

“You want to use it now?” Tony’s face breaks into a smile. Maybe watch for an old memory of him and Peggy soothed his heart. After all the pain he was feeling, maybe he could finally breathe a little.

“Yeah I think I do. What a great idea.” Tony says to Bucky and he smiles.

Half hour later Tony’s put on the glasses and the room is set up. Bucky nods reassuringly as Tony turns it on.

The image of Tony at age 6 and Peggy kneeling in front of him pop up.

“Tony.” Peggy says affectionately “Happy birthday.” She says handing him a small present Tony smiles

“Thanks Aunt Peggy!” Tony smiles “What if dad finds out?” He asks a second later, his smile falling.

“It’ll be our little secret, Tony.” Peggy smiles “Keep it locked away when you’re not using it, and it won’t be an issue. If he does, he’ll have to deal with me.” Tony nods and opens the present.

“It’s a book.”

“It’s my favorite children’s book.”

“Alice’s adventures in wonderland.” Tony reads out loud with a smile

“I know Howard thinks that you should only read from books that help you gain knowledge but I think we could all use a little more creativity in our lives, especially you, Tony.”

“Thanks aunt Peggy! I can’t wait to start reading it!” Tony smiles

“Just remember to keep it somewhere hidden when you aren’t reading it, and do your best to not read it when Howard’s home.” Tony nod enthusiastically 

“I understand. Thank you!”

“Come here.” Peggy says pulling the boy into a hug “I love you so much, Tony. Never forget how much I love you.”

“Only if you promise to do the same.” Tony says smiling

“I could never forget.” Peggy says smiling. And the real Tony has tears streaming down his face.

“I love you aunt Peggy.” Both Tony’s whispers.

“I love you too, my little angel.” Peggy kisses Tony on the head “Next time I see you I want you to tell me how you like the book.” Tony nods

“I will. I promise.” Tony beams at Peggy. Peggy smiles as the memory disappears.

Tony just stares at the spot she was standing

“Tony?” Bucky asks softly

“I miss her so much.” Tony says and he can’t help the tears that fall after. Bucky pulls Tony in for a hug

“I’m sorry Tony.” Bucky whispers holding him. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“No, it was a good idea. I just miss her.” Bucky nods as he holds Tony. Tony pulls back and wipes his eyes.

“I still have that book.” Tony says “It’s in my dresser next to my bed.” Bucky smiles “I used to read it, when I had nightmares sometimes. It would help me chase the dream away. For a while I’ve just went to work when I had a lot to do, but sometimes I would pull out the book and read the familiar pages. I loved that book.”

“I’m glad.” Bucky says smiling. Tony looks at the faded memory and can’t help the tears. “Tony.” Bucky says softly “Are you okay?”

“Can I be alone for a while?” Tony asks softly. He was not okay. He shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t. Tony had just seen one of his best memories, but what good was that? Peggy had died and was no longer there to love him and it wasn't like Tony could tell Bucky that. His boyfriend was trying to calm him down and he would be so upset if he noticed that it had hurt him. .

“Are you sure you want to be alone?” Bucky asks

“Yeah.” Tony says softly “it’s not that I don’t want you, it’s just I need some time.” Tony says and Bucky nods. He needed to be alone. Tony felt so tired. He did not want to feel this way, he needs to be strong and not weak. The words that his father drilled into him all those years ago. Stark men are strong. Stark men are strong and don’t feel pain. But that’s not true. Not in the least. But right now, he needs to be alone, so he doesn’t see him weak. He knows Bucky won’t see him like that, but old habits die hard. He just needs time alone.

“Sure.” Bucky says “I’ll just…”

“No, I’m going to go to my lab so.” Bucky nods and Tony walks out without a goodbye. And Tony was telling the truth about going to his lab, but his legs ended up taking him to the deserted medical wing. Before he realizes it, he’s looking through the drug cabinet. He searches until he finds the Oxy they keep in stock. He pours the pills into his hand and stare at them.

Time stood still as Tony stared at those pills. His hands shook, the cold air of the medical area caressed his skin and he was so aware of everything around him. He remembered the feeling the day before as he ate the pasta Bucky had prepared. How happy he felt. How he had no worries. How apparently was able to tell Bucky his true feelings without his usual hesitation. How good he felt. Nothing was wrong, how could it be? Nothing bad could happen when you feel like that. He just wants to feel like that. Happy, not a care in the word. He looks at the pills. Taking them would chase all his problems away. At least for a little while.

 He remembers years ago when he was high and drunk for most of his days. The blissful ignorance of what was going on around him. How he didn’t know what was happening and how he didn’t care. That Howard and Maria’s death didn’t affect him. How he felt better. How it didn’t matter.

But then he remembers what he felt like when he quit. When he went through withdrawal. How awful that felt. How he wished he would die. How he tried to kill himself. His lowest low. How he wanted to die because he couldn’t stand the feelings that were coming back.

“Boss-“

“Mute.” Tony says looking at the pills

‘They’ll help the pain.’ One side of him thinks

‘it’ll be worse in the end’ the other side reasons

‘I won’t feel’ he thinks

‘you’ll feel it worse later.’ He thinks fighting off the urges.

‘but it’ll be better now’

“I miss her.” Tony whispers looking at the pills tempting him “I want to feel better. I need to feel better.” Tony puts his head in his hands struggling with the decision. He knows what he should do. He knows what he wants to. “Unmute.”

“Boss-“

“Get Bucky.” Tony says staring at the pills he pockets the remaining bottle without thinking about it. He just wanted to take them. He just wanted everything to stop and he needs Bucky's help.

“Tony.” Bucky says coming in the room.

“I miss her.” Tony whispers not turning around.

“I know.” Bucky says walking closer “but you know this isn’t the answer. It’ll only make it worse, in the long run.”

“I know.” Tony whispers

Bucky says calmly “You don’t need drugs to make you feel better.”

“I do.” Tony whispers

“No.” Bucky says shaking his head “You have a group of people who care about you and can make you happy all by themselves.  You have me, Tony and I’m not going anywhere. You’re not alone.”

“Bucky” Tony says with a broken voice.

“You don’t need the drugs to make you happy, We’ll find a way, ok?” Bucky walks forward

 “I know today was hard for a lot of reasons but I’m here. I’m always going to be here. We could go watch Supernatural like you keep saying we should. Or Doctor Who, Sherlock.”

Bucky approached Tony and placed a hand gently on his shoulder, Tony turned to look at him. His eyes were less glazed and as tears subsided, but Bucky could see the raw pain inside them and he just wanted to stop it. Tony was quiet for a moment, then he dropped the pills that fell to the ground without a thought. He hugged Bucky as if he were the physical representation of the drugs that minutes before he wanted to take.

“Bucky…..”

He started to cry again and Bucky put a hand on his face trying to wipe away the tears.

"Shush..." Bucky whispered trying to calm him. "Look at me, doll." Tony looked at him as if the world around them did not exist. "Everything will be fine, I promise."

And then Bucky kissed him gently. Tony did not take long to respond, it was as if his body knew that this was the right thing to do. Bucky's embrace was so gentle and Tony felt welcomed and protected. It was then that he realized that he believed every word spoken by the other man. Things would really be all right eventually. The road would be difficult, but he wouldn't be alone. They parted and were silent for a few moments, both still holding each other and Bucky caressed Tony's cheek. The younger man had stopped crying and was a bit embarrassed, but strangely, he felt good or as good as a person could get after that.

“Your kisses are the only drugs I need.” Tony whispers softly and Bucky smiles

“Glad I could assist.”

“I haven’t seen the last three episodes of Supernatural.” Tony says with a hesitant smile. He needed to get out of there and needed to calm down, but most of all he just wanted an excuse to stay with Bucky all day.

“So let’s go watch em.” Bucky says softly. He knew that Tony wanted to change the subject and did not want to think about the things that had happened. That conversation had been enough for today. If Tony needed a distraction, he would be happy to help.

“But you haven’t seen them.” Tony says, “You won’t understand.” Tony broke away from Bucky so he could look at him better.

“I can start from there.” Bucky says

“No, you cannot.” Tony says forcefully “Everyone knows you have to start from season one to get all the background knowledge.”

“Will you watch them with me?” Bucky asks.

“Yeah. I’d love to.” Tony says

Tony needs to talk to Rhodey, later though. He needs to know how much he’s struggling because he’s always been there and will continue to be like always.

Bucky knows he has to talk to Bruce about keeping the drugs where Tony can’t reach them. He doesn’t want Bruce to feel bad about having Tony nearly relapse, but knows he will anyway. He holds back a sigh of how tough this is going to be for Tony.

 “Now come on.” Bucky says, “Let’s go.” They walk out of the med lab and head to, the entertainment room where FRIDAY puts up Netflix and the first episode starts, Lawrence Kansas, 22 years ago. Tony leans on Bucky as the first episode plays.

“Do you know that will probably make out before the end of this, right?” Bucky said while he sits next to Tony. He gave a kiss and the head of his boyfriend. Tony was giving he a little smile, that was a start.

“Shut up.” Tony smiles knowing Bucky is definitely right. “Thank you.” Tony whispers halfway through “thank you for being there for me.”

“I’ll always be there for you, Tony. It was my pleasure.” Bucky smiles as Tony leans in for another kiss.

They never finished the episode.

Chapter Text

Tony finds the bottle in his pants pocket and doesn’t even remember taking it. He looks at it for a moment before stuffing it in his underwear draw and walking to Bucky’s room.

~

“Rhodey.” Tony says the next morning when they’re alone.

“I’m proud of you.” Rhodey says already knowing where this is going.

“I nearly relapsed.” Tony says like he shouldn’t be proud.

“But you didn’t. You got Bucky. You stopped. You should proud of that.” Rhodey says with a soft smile

“I know but… I’m worried.” Tony says honestly the bottle in his room in the back of his mind. He should say something.

“I know you are. And you have good reason to be, but you’re strong. You can do this. You’re already doing so great.” Tony nods

“I know, but the want is there. And I have no self-control.” Tony says

“We both know that’s not true.” Rhodey says “I’m here for you Tones. I will always be here for you, like Bucky was.”

“I know.” Tony says “I appreciate that.”

“We’ll get through it.” Rhodey promises and Tony believes him.

~

“Bruce.” Bucky says softly

“I heard.” Bruce says shaking his head “I feel terrible. It was such a stupid mistake and now Tony’s struggling and it’s all my fault.”

“He was in a lot of pain, you were just trying to help. You made a mistake that’s all. It’s not your fault. I could have made the same mistake. I wouldn’t have put two and two together even though Tony’s told me about it.”

“But I’m a doctor. I should have make the connections.” Bruce shakes his head “I’ve put a lock on the medicine cabinet and FRIDAY agreed she would inform us if Tony went there by himself and not needing medical assistance. He can get around that, of course, but…”

“He’ll pick a lock.” Bucky says

“I’m hoping FRIDAY tells us before he gets there. Just in case.”

“Yeah.” Bucky whispers “Part of yesterday was my fault.” Bucky says feeling the guilt come out.

“How?” Bruce asks

“I suggested seeing memories of Peggy that made him happy.”

“But it was too soon.” Bruce fills in and Bucky nods

“he wanted to be left alone and that’s when he went to get the drugs.” Bucky says hating that he helped push Tony over the edge. “And even before that Steve called and they were saying all these things about Tony none of which are true.” Bucky sighs “When they get here, is going to be really hard for Tony.”

“3 weeks.” Bruce says, “That’s not that long.”

“No. It’s not. And with Tony struggling. I almost wish we could give him another few months. It started off as me needing the time, now I think Tony needs the time more than I do.”

“It’s going to be hard for him.”

“Tony tells me I shouldn’t hate them for what they did to him. That it’s his grudge to hold. But I can’t help it. I hate what they did to him. What they say about him. I don’t want anything to do with them, until they see the truth about Tony. But they’re stuck in their ways and won’t even listen to another perspective. Sam, Scott and Natasha are better. Not great, but better. Clint, Wanda and Steve…” Bucky sighs “They hate him. And I hate them for hating him.”

“I get where Tony’s coming from. I think he wants you to be happy with Steve, even though he hates him, because he was your best friend and a lot of what he did was to protect you. And I know that if he said yes to Tony you would have been protected more, but he thought what he was doing was right. And I guess that’s why. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hate him for what they do and say. You’re allowed to be mad at them for what they did to him.” Bruce shrugs “That’s yours to get past. And Tony’s too.” Bucky nods

“Yeah. I’m just worried about Tony. How he’s going to deal with them here. I almost wish they weren’t staying here, but I know part of the arrangement was they had to stay here.”

Bruce nods “Natasha… she’s going to want to talk to me. She’s been trying to call me, but I told FRIDAY to block all her calls. I don’t want to talk to her. I don’t have anything to say.” Bucky shrugs

“I don’t really know what happened, Natasha is not forthright with information and the others never really said and I don’t know if I’d believe them. So, I don’t know what happened, but if you don’t want to talk, don’t talk. You can listen, you can walk away. You could put headphones in to drown out her voice. Just because she wants to, doesn’t mean you have too. but sometimes it is good to talk. I’ve been learning that myself. Of course, that’s all up to you.”

Bruce nods “I can see why Tony likes talking to you.”

 

And Bucky smiles “Yeah.” Still worried about him.

“I had an idea.” Bruce says, “And you can tell me it’s none of my business, but the Peggy thing didn’t work out.” Bucky nods “Why don’t you just go on a date. That’ll cheer him up. He’s head over heels for you.”

“That’s a great idea.” Bucky smiles “I know just the thing.” Bruce smiles at that.

~

“Tony.” Bucky says to him later that day.

“yeah?” Tony says his mind mostly on his work

“I had an idea.” Bucky says with a soft smile at how rugged he looks when he’s like this.

“Yeah?” Tony says again and shakes his head. He turns to Bucky and nods “Sorry. You had an idea?”

“it’s fine. I know work is important.” Bucky says “Let’s go on a date. Tonight.”

“Date Night?” Tony asks then his face breaks into a smile “Yeah, I’d love too.”

“I thought we could go to your favorite restaurant since we didn’t get to when we went shopping.”

“Yeah.” Tony smiles “FRIDAY call Tony’s Di Napoli and make a reservation for 8.”

“Sure, thing Boss.”  

“Tony eating at Tony’s.” Bucky laughs

“Hey, they have the best freaking chicken parm and Fettucine Alfredo. But they peas in it which I think is weird. So, we’ll ask for no peas.”

“Done.” FRIDAY says from above. Tony smiles

“All set.” Tony smiles “It’s pretty nice restaurant so we should semi dress up.”

“I have the clothes we bought.”

“Perfect for such an occasion. I knew they’d come in handy.” Tony says grinning

Bucky grins back.

~

Once Tony’s showered he goes to get dressed and he sees the little bottle but puts the thought aside and finishes getting dressed. Without thinking of the bottle the rest of the night.

~

“Right this way, Mr. Stark. Mr. Barnes.” The hostess says with a smile.

“Thank you.”

“We put you in the back room. So you’re farther away from prying eyes.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t just book the restaurant.” Bucky says with a grin

“I thought of it.” Tony smiles “I thought that might be a little over the top for you.” The hostess sits them down and with a thank you she’s gone.

“I think it would have been romantic.” Bucky laughs “But such a waste of money.”

“Not if it’s romantic it wouldn’t have been.” Tony laughs

“Next time.” Bucky says

“Would you like to try our new wine?” The waiter asks in his Italian accent.

“None of me. Bucky?” Tony asks

“No, thanks.” Bucky says smiling. He’d be a bit of an ass if he was drinking while Tony can’t “Coke for me.”

“Strawberry lemonade for me please.”

“DO you know what you would like to eat?” The waiter asks

“Possiamo ottenere qualche pollo di pollo e fettuccine per favore.” Tony speaks fluently

“Cosa certa. Sempre un piacere Mr. Stark.”

“Grazie.” Tony says smiling

“You speak Italian?” Bucky asks

“Why does nobody know that I’m fluent in 6 freaking languages.” Tony shakes his head “I swear.”

“What languages?” Bucky asks interested

“English, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese’s. But I can get by in middle eastern countries too, with little trouble.”

“Say something to me I French.” Bucky says grinning

“Tu es le meilleur homme que je connaisse. Je ne te mérite pas, mais je ne renoncerais jamais à toi. Je pense que tu es celui qu'il me faut, Bucky. Je le crois vraiment..”

“ohh sounded sexy.” Bucky says grinning Tony grins “What’d you say?” He asks. And Tony shakes his head. “You’re not going to tell me?” Bucky asks

“Nope.”

“But I already forgot what you said so I can’t look it up when we get back.” Bucky protests “That’s not fair.”

“I’ll tell you what you learn to speak any langue fluently, besides English and Russian and I’ll tell you.”

“Mudak.” Bucky curses in Russian.

“Proklinayu menya v russene? Zrelyy.”

“That’s not fair.” Bucky says huffing

“That I spent years studying several different languages to be fluent in them?” Tony asks and Bucky grins sheepishly

“Yes.”

“Watashi no Chisana dami.” Tony says smiling

“What’d you say?”

“I called you a dummy.” Tony grins

“That’s not fair. Every language I speak you speak.”

“Learn one I don’t know then. I’ll still tell you.”

“I might have to do that.” The food comes out and the server serves it to them.

“Thank you.” Bucky says

“Grazie.” Tony says

“You’re very welcome.” He says smiling and Bucky digs in to the chicken parm and his eyes widen.

“This is delicious!” Bucky says grinning

“I know, best in Manhattan. Try the alfredo.” Tony says giving him the spoon.

“So good.” Bucky says chowing down on it.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” Tony says grinning taking some food.

“What is your favorite food?” Bucky asks

“I don’t have a favorite food. Why limit yourself to one, right?”

“Okay, pick 5.”

“Steak, burger,  turkey, Stuffing, cornbread and that Chicken Marsala and penne a la vodka you made too. God I haven’t had a good turkey dinner in years.”

“I could make a turkey.” Bucky says with a shrug 

“I uh… have a recipe that I like.”

“I can follow your recipe.” Bucky says again.

“You don’t have to make me a whole turkey dinner, Bucky.”

“I never said it was for you.” Bucky says scoffing “I happen to like turkey, myself.”

“Hmm.” Tony says “Well then who am I to stop you.” Tony says with a grin

“That’s what I thought.” Bucky says eating more chicken.

“What’s your favorite food?” Tony asks

“Pizza.” Bucky says, “I think good New York Pizza.”

Tony nods “Pizza’s good. Favorite color?”

“Blue.” Bucky says “Everyone like’s blue. Yours?”

“I don’t have a favorite color.”

“Everyone has a favorite color.” Bucky says “I would have thought yours would be Red and/ or Gold.”

“No.” Tony says shaking his head “That was just me being flashy and it uh kind of stuck. Can’t change it now, can I?”

“you’re seriously telling me you don’t have a favorite color?”

“Yeah. I like to wear dark colors and that’s not because I like them because I think I’d look weird in bright colors.”

“Huh.” Bucky says “Who woulda thought?” Tony shrugs “Favorite movie of all time.”

“Hmmm… well… let’s see…  my favorite chick flick and only chick flick I like is 50 first dates. With Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Uh favorite action, Bourne movies. Favorite sci-fi is Star Trek followed by Star Wars. Favorite comedy is Ferris Buhler’s Day Off followed by the breakfast club in a close second. Favorite horror movie, the Exorcist . Favorite adventure Pirates of the Caribbean. Sherlock Homes is my favorite Mystery. Yeah. Those are my top favorite.” Bucky laughs

“So picking one is out.” Bucky says with a laugh

“Nobody has one favorite movie and no one can prove me otherwise.”

“I only have one favorite movie.” Bucky says

“That’s because you’ve only seen one movie.” Tony says with an eyeroll.

“I’ve seen more than one movie.” Bucky protests.

“Okay, more than 2.” Tony says joking ad Bucky rolls his eyes “So list your favorite movies.” Tony says

“I don’t know.”  Bucky says “I mean I really haven’t seen that many since after… everything so…” Bucky shrugs and Tony pulls out his phone holding up his finger. “What are you doing?”

“I just booked us the movie theatre to see a movie.” Tony says smiling

“A whole theatre?” he asks

“Well just one showing of one movie not the whole theatre.” Tony shrugs

“What movie?” Bucky asks

“It’s called The Nice Guys.” Tony shrugs “I guess we’ll see if it’s good. It got good reviews.”

“When does it start?” he asks worried about finishing

“When we get there.” Tony says laughing

“oh.” Bucky says smiling

“Yeah. So, we can continue enjoying our date before we finish it off with a movie.” Tony smiles

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Bucky says grinning

~
Tony rests his head-on Bucky’s shoulder and Bucky wraps his arm around him.

“this is nice.” Tony whispers as the movie starts.

“Yeah.” Bucky says smiling.

~

Once the movies over Tony and Bucky walk back to the car.

“I’d hold your hand, but you know.” Tony says with a shrug

“Yeah, I don’t think the world is ready for us.” Bucky laughs

“I kind of want to see what they say.” Tony says with a grin.

“I wonder what Steve is going to say.” Bucky says and Tony sighs “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like-“

“I know.” Tony says softly “I just… wanted our date to not include Steve.”

“Sorry.” Bucky says again

“It’s okay.” Tony says with a shrug “Want to hear a song?” Tony asks with a grin

“You sing?” Bucky says unbelieving

“Oh yeah, voice of an angel.” Tony grins “Well, not Supernatural angels, I don’t have the voice of a dick, but ignore that because we haven’t even gotten past the first episode! Which we’re watching where no kissing is allowed, now, as I was saying song.” Bucky laughs Tony clears his throat

“Penso che un sogno cosi non ritorni mai piu.” Tony sings beautifully in Italian “Mi Dipingevo le mani e la facia di blu. Poi d’improvviso venivo dal vento rapito.” Bucky watches Tony in awe “E imcominciavo a volare nel cielo infitito.” Tony laughs “Volare oh, oh cantare, oh, oh, oh nel blu dipinto di blu. Felicie di stare lassu. E Volavo, volavo felice piu in alto del sole. Ed ancora piu su. Metre il mondo pian paino spariva lontano laggiu. Una musica dolce sunonava soltanto per me.” Tony finishes “there’s more, but that’s what my mom would sing to me, when I was real little. Before Howard has stopped her. She would sing that bit, beautifully.” Tony smiles with tears in his eyes

“That was beautiful tony. I had no idea you could sing.”

“One of my many talents.” Tony grins

“Is there anything you can’t do?” Bucky asks with a smile

“Uh… I can’t draw for shit.”

“That’s not true.” Bucky says laughing “You draw up blueprint and designs all the time.”

“but I can’t draw like something other than a sun in the corner of my paper.” Tony says with a shrug and Bucky laughs

“You’re funny too.” Bucky says “Seriously. You’re a genius, you can do basically anything”

“I can’t…” Tony humms trying to think of one.

“See you can’t even think of one!” Bucky laughs

“I don’t know! You list 3 things you can’t do.”

“I can build an arm. I can’t sing with the voice of an angel. I can’t create a new element.”

“That’s not fair, you’re just listing things I can do and you can’t!” Tony protets.

“So?” Bucky asks laughing

“Fine… I can’t lift a car.”

“You can in your suit.” Bucky points out

“I can’t run 60 miles per hour.” Tony says “Yeah, I calculated how fast you guys were that day.”

“Seriously?” Bucky asks

“No, dumbass. It’s on Steve’s file.” Tony laughs

“Oh. Well I wouldn’t put it past you!” Bucky laughs. They reach the car laughing. Tony tosses the keys to Bucky who catches it. “You’re letting me drive?” Bucky asks looking at the Ferrari. Stark 11.

“Sure. Why not?” Tony asks getting in the passenger side. Bucky grins getting in the driver’s side. 

“This car is awesome!” Bucky says with a grin “How many cars do you have?”

“All of them.” Tony says seriously and Bucky looks at him in shock “I’m joking you, dummy!” Tony laughs “I can’t believe you thought I own every car?” Tony asks

“Asshat.” Bucky says smacking him. With an eyeroll.

“I own… 37… it might be 39.” Tony says, “I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure?” Bucky asks flabbergasted.

“No, because some fell into the ocean when I invited the mandarin over to my house for coffee.” Tony says “I think it’s 37.”

“When you invited…” Bucky shakes his head

“What?” Tony asks “That was soo 2013, me. I would invite them over for tea, I think coffee made the situation a little intense.” Tony says with a grin.

“I’m gonna smack you.” Bucky says not finding this funny “You almost died.”

“Ah, but I survived.” Tony says “and I save the president and a lot of other people like monkey barrels. And Pepper. Don’t forget I saved pepper. Sort of.” Tony says with a frown “but I’m okay. I survived like always.”

“You’re an idiot. I swear, the biggest freaking idiot.”

“You called me a genius 10 minutes ago.”

“I’ve changed my mind.” Bucky says grinning

“Drive. I don’t want to be in this parking lot for hours.” Bucky adjusts the mirror and his seat before pulling out carefully. Tony rolls his eyes at how careful his boyfriend is being.

“Seriously tony how many times have you nearly died?” Bucky asks and Tony thinks back “if you have to think about it, that’s not good.” Bucky says and Tony shrugs

“How many times have you nearly died?” Tony asks “You were in the army, you were Captain America’s side kick.” Bucky looks over “Sorry. Best friend in arms.” Tony says with an eyeroll “You fell of a fucking train. You nearly died but yet I don’t complain.” Bucky rolls his eyes

“Yes because falling off a train is so much better, than drinking yourself to death, committing suicide, dying from being kidnapped, dying from pallidum poising, dying from the Chitauri, dying-“

“I get it.” Tony says sharply and Bucky looks over

“Tony-“

“You know why I almost died all those times?” Tony asks without looking “Because I didn’t care. Because part of me wanted to die.”

“Does part of you still do?” Bucky asks softly                        

“No. Not really.” Tony says

“That doesn’t really make me feel better.” Bucky says looking over. 

“Will I go into situations recklessly as if I don’t care? No. Because I do. Will I drown myself in booze and pills not caring if I die? No. Because I do.” Tony says “I don’t want to die, Bucky. Not anymore.” Bucky nods slowly.

“Okay. I’ll kill you if you die.” Bucky says and Tony smiles.

“Deal.” Tony smiles.

~

The next morning while Tony’s working a phone call comes from the safe house

“Hello?” Tony asks

“Tony Stark.” Laura’s voice comes through the speaker “Did you go on a date with Bucky Barnes and not inform me first.”

“Sorry…” Tony says sheepishly

“I’m so happy for you!” She says with a laugh

“How’d you find out?” Tony asks

“Well there was news article about you two going to dinner and a movie. They didn’t make the connection but from what you told us, we did.” Maggie says too. Tony laughs

“Yeah. That was fun.”

“Who asked who?” Jim asks

“Please tell me you didn’t bet on us.” Tony says

“Uh…” Comes three voices through the speaker

“Who bet on who?” Tony asks

“tell us first?” Laura sasy

“I did.” Tony says and Maggie and Jim grumble over the phone.

“I knew you would, Tony.” Laura says proud

“Yeah you know who bet against me? Rhodey.”

“Really?” They ask

“Yeah, he bet Bucky would do it.” Tony scoffs “I myself, am a man of action. I can’t sit idly on the sidelines.”

“By which he means he was high when he asked me.” Bucky says making his appearance with a grin. Tony rolls his eyes

“Yes, but we agreed I would have asked you anyway.”

“High?” Laura asks worried

“It was an accident.” Tony says “Bruce gave me morphine not thinking.”

“Tony.” Laura says softly

“Yes, I know. I’m dealing.” Tony says huffing

“He feels really bad about it. Considering…” Bucky whisper

“Considering?” Laura asks

“I almost relapsed the other day.” Tony says “But I didn’t, I’m fine.”

“Tony.” Laura says softly “if you ever need anything.” She offers

“I know. I appreciate that, but I’m okay.” Tony says thinking about the bottle in his room. He pushes it out of his mind

“Promise?” Laura asks

“Promise.” Tony says meaning it.

“Okay. Well we’re happy for both of you. You should come around soon, Bucky. The kids would love to meet you.” Laura says smiling

“Thank you.” Tony says “We’ll think on that.”

“Bye now.” Laura says and they hang up all of them with a smile on their face.

Chapter Text

 “I understand but-“ Tony gets cut off as Bucky walks in the room “Yes, I realize that but that’s-“ Bucky looks at Tony with concern “I understand you made a decision, but that’s not-“ Tony sighs “Okay. I’ll tell him. Bye.” Tony hangs the phone up

“What was that about?” Bucky asks and Tony sighs

“Avengers business. They made a few… adjustments to Wanda and Steve’s… get out of jail free card.”

“Oh no.” Bucky whispers

“Yeah.” Tony says shaking his head “They’re not going to be happy.”

“What are they?” Bucky asks

“No matter what Steve is being stripped of his title as Captain America indefinitely.” Bucky looks at him with concern “I know. They want to see his willingness to cooperate before they give him the title back. However, that’s not even the worst part.”

“What is?” Bucky asks concerned

“They called in Doctor Strange.” Bucky nods vaguely aware of who he is. “They want him to strip Wanda of her power except when he’s teaching her to control it.”

“He can do that?”

“Apparently. And he’s more than willing to. Now, he is a great man, mostly. Bit an off ass, reminds me of myself, actually. But she’s not going to be happy about not having her powers until she’s cleared by him and the therapist.”

“Yeah, that may not end well.”

“I am personally pleased with Wanda’s situation however we can’t tell her, until Doctor Strange is here so nobody gets hurt when she reacts. So that means this is going to get sprung on to her at the last minute and we all know who gets the blame for everything…”

“Which could end really badly for all of us, but specifically you.”

“Exactly.”

“When is Doctor Strange getting here?”

“Well before they arrive so we know everyone is safe because I don’t put anything past her. And he’s going to stay until we tell her the next day and then he’s taking her powers. Giving her time to cool off, then coming back with the offer again to teach her letting her know that’s the only way, she’ll get her power back.”

“Isn’t that good though?”

“Yes. It is. I’m worried about the short term effects of the blowout.”

“Oh great.” Bucky says shaking his head “So they terrible situation of when they get here is going to be magnified by Wanda’s reacition.”

“Yup. Pretty much.” Tony says to the summary.

“Well that sucks.” Bucky says softly

“Yeah. But we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.” Tony says shaking his head.

~

Bucky’s in therapy when the Avengers Assemble alarm goes off. Bucky looks at Jackie who motions for him to go. Bucky’s out of the office in seconds running to where the team is getting ready.

“Tony.” Bucky says softly “You’re injured.”

“I know.” Tony says, “But they need me. I’ll be fine.” Tony kisses Bucky quickly and gets in the suit without waiting for a response. All Bucky can do is watch.

He watches the news as it airs.

“A man and what appear to be animal hybrids are taking over the city.” The news reporter says “Spider-Man has already shown up and we are awaiting the arrival on the remaining Avengers.” She says “Who have just arrived-“ The camera signal got cut off.

“Friday?” Bucky asks

“All channels appear to be cut off along with radio broadcasts and other electronics. I am not connected to Boss, currently either.”

“Is he okay?” Bucky asks concerned

“I detect no new injuries prior to the signal loss but am unsure now. Bucky paces the room for 30 minutes before the team arrives back. Bucky runs over

“What happened?” he asks and looks around “Where’s Tony?” Bucky looks at each face nervously “Where’s Tony?” He repeats

“Bucky-“

“Where is he?” Bucky demands

“Tony was taken.” Bruce whispers and Bucky’s heart drops. He’s sure Bruce is explaining what happened but the rest of the world has faded out and all Bucky can hear is his blood pumping through his veins. His heart rate picks up as words play over and over in his head. Tony was taken. His Tony. His heart feels like it’s going to jump out of his chest. He can’t breathe. His whole world’s collapsing; he can’t believe this is happening. Tony, Gone. He forces his brain to start working again. He’s no use to Tony panicking. Tony needs him. And he’ll be there no matter what.

“Bucky-“ Breaks through and nothing. He focuses once more before opening his eyes

“What happened?” Bucky asks pushing and shoving down the panic. Bruce looks at him with concern but continues.

“They weren’t there to hurt anyone- besides kidnapping Tony. They had something that once was stuck on his suit was able to control it. With him inside. It blocked all the service in the area like our comms-“

“The news went out.” Bucky says cataloging this new information, he needs to focus. Tony needs him.

“That too.” Bruce says “We tried.” He whispers “but they surrounded him and we couldn’t get to him.”

“Can we track the suit?” Bucky asks going into rescue mode.

“yes.” Bruce says “but it’ll take some time.”

“Okay. Time.” Bucky nods “How long?”

“A Few hours.” Bruce says softly

“Enough time to get reinforcements.” Bucky says nodding and planning. Already sure what he’s going to do.

“Bucky-“ Bruce says but Bucky’s already walked away determined to save Tony no matter the cost.

“FRIDAY call Steve please.” Bucky says once in his room. He looks at the bed. The bed he shares with Tony.

“cky-“ Focus. Bucky tells himself again.

“Steve.” Bucky looks up and sees him looking at him worried. Everyone there. “I need your help.” Bucky whispers

“What happened?” Steve asks “We saw the news, before it cut out.”

“They took Tony.” Bucky whispers. Breath. Bucky reminds himself. “And I need your help getting him back.”

“Bucky… we can’t come to the US anyway.” Steve says softly

“You can.” Bucky whispers holding back tears “You can. Tony got you off 2 weeks ago.” They look shocked and angry “He wanted to give me time to heal away from you so we lied to you about 2 months. He was doing it to give me time. So, you can all come back.”

“Bucky.” Steve says softly

“I know you don’t care about him.” Bucky whispers “I know you don’t. But I need you to help get him back. All of you.” Bucky can’t help the tears falling down his face. “I need him. I can’t do this without him. Please.” Bucky’s voice cracks at the last word. He takes a controlling breath and stops the tears. Being emotionally  isn’t going to help.

“Yeah.” Steve says nodding, “We’ll help.”

“The hell I will.” Clint says crossing his arms

“No one is asking for your help.” Steve snaps at Clint who looks pissed. He turns his attention to Bucky and softens. “I’ll sign. I’ll sign and help. I’ll do whatever I can. It’s the least I can do.”

“Thank you.” Bucky whispers not letting himself fall apart.

“I will too.” Sam says frim “he needs out help and he would help us. No matter the cost. I know that.  We know that.” Sam say with a pointed look and everyone but Clint nods. Wanda included.

“Do you have a location?” Steve asks getting into hero mode

“not yet, Bruce is working on it. In the meantime, come back to the compound and we’ll work on a game plan.” Bucky says, “Thank you.” Bucky whispers “I mean it. Thank you.”

“Of course.” Steve says, “We’ll see you in a few hours.”

Bucky hangs up the phone and has no idea how survive that time.

~

“We cannot allow Steve Rogers or Wanda Maximoff to help.” One of the representatives of the United Nations is telling Bucky. She’s a hologram in front of him in Tony’s office.

“Just Steve then.” Bucky begs “Please. We need all the help we can get. I know Wanda’s a wild card so forget her. But let Steve help this mission before you strip him the title of Captain America. Give him this one shot and maybe it can even help his case too. Either way take his title tomorrow. Just this once. The world needs Iron Man. And we have no idea what they’re doing to him or the suit. If they have that technology it would be a lot worse for everyone if they reconstruct it. If we get there in time and have enough help we can stop this before it gets worse. If he doesn’t the situation could become worse.” Bucky plead “Just make this exception once. Because he will sign and then you can decide his fate.” She turns around and Bucky assumes someone is telling her something.

“Steve Rogers will be allowed to do this one mission.” Bucky relaxes visibly “But that is all. And you, Mr. Barnes, are responsible for him. If he does anything, you can and will be help accountable.  And Wanda Maximoff will not be a part of this. Doctor Strange will be there first thing tomorrow no matter the outcome. Understood?” She says and Bucky nods

“Understood. Thank you.” Bucky nods with a small smile

“Now go save Mr. Stark. You’re right.” She says “We need him.” Bucky nods and turns off the hologram.

~

“Got it!” Bruce shouts “he’s 10 miles from Freeport Kansas.” Bucky is about to respond but the sound of an aircraft landing stops him

“They’re here.” Bucky says “I’ll go get them and then we can fill them in.” Bruce nods as Bucky runs to them. Once he gets there Steve turns to him and pulls him in for a hug.

“Steve.”

“Bucky.” Steve says “We’ll find him. We’ll save him.”

“I know.” Bucky whispers “I know. We have a location.” Bucky says pulling back and looking at everyone, including T’Challa. “Thank you all for coming. For helping.”

“Of course.” T’Challa says “Tony Stark would do no less for us.” He says with a small smile

“I talked to the UN we’re already cleared to go in. Steve I told them you’d sign but after the mission because time is sensitive and they agreed to let you go now, for Tony’s sake… but I’m just telling you… everything isn’t going to be peachy when you sign. There’s a lot-“

“We’ll sorry about that later. Now we have to worry about Tony.” Steve says and Bucky nods, glad this is a conversation for later.

“Wanda… “ Bucky sighs

“I can’t help, can I?” Wanda asks and Bucky shakes his head

“No. The US won’t allow it. I tried. But I’m not Tony. I couldn’t do anything.” Wanda nods

“Okay. I understand.”

“We have a location. So, suit up.” Bucky says “We’re leaving in no more than 10 minutes. Your stuff is already set out for you.” Bucky says and they nod and run to go. Clint stares at him for a moment “You can go do whatever you want.” Bucky says “We don’t have a room set up for anyone, but you can go to the game room and hang, I guess. I don’t really care.” Without another thought Bucky turns around and heads to the weapon depot to get guns. They’re going to save Tony, if it’s the last thing he does.

~

Natasha watches Bruce for a moment without making herself seen. Bruce knows she’s there, but ignores her. He works on getting medical supplies that Tony might need. She doesn’t speak but she knows that he knows she’s there. She looks at his back as he meticulously packs everything. She watches him for a moment more before leaving him to finish packing. She sees him let out a breath.

~

“What do we know?” Steve asks once on the plane.

“Tony was taken exactly 3 hours and 27 minutes ago.” Bucky says “We did a thermal imagining or the place and there was 24 hostiles. 4 of which are human. The others are the animal Hybrids. Then Tony appears to be laying down and unmoving. But he has a heat signature so he’s alive. Hopefully unhurt.” Because says going over the information Bruce told him a few minutes ago. “Our mission is to save Tony. There are no civilians here so we just have to make sure we get all of hostiles before they get to the population. We go in and we get out as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

They nod as they land. The team takes out the hostiles in minutes and before they know it they’re making there way to where Tony is laying. Bucky stops short when he’s hooked up to a machine.

“Tony?” Bucky says going to unplug him

“STOP!” Bruce shouts before Bucky can unplug him.

“What?” Bucky asks freezing

“Don’t unhook him. It could kill him.” Bruce says looking at the machine. Bucky’s eyes wided and he puts his hands down. “Look at Tony.” Bruce says softly

“he’s smiling.” Steve says softly.

“Exactly.” Bruce says “Which means his in some sort of hallucination. Which means pulling him out could kill him. Someone needs to go in and convince him it isn’t real and convice him to get out or he would be stuck there and he could die.” Bruce looks at Bucky who nods

“okay. Hook me up.”

“Bucky.” Steve says “what if you get stuck?” he asks concerned

“It doesn’t matter.” Bucky says “I’m going to save him. Or die trying.” Bucky lays on the table that’s placed next to Tony’s. Bruce starts hooking to the machine.

“This is Tony’s perfect world.” Bruce says “This is what Tony dreamed his world would be when he was little. So things won’t be right. Won’t be how he wants them now. So don’t be bothered-“

“I get it.” Bucky says and Steve and them look confused “I get it. It isn’t what he really wants at his age.”

“Exactly.” Bruce says “Now, I don’t know if this will hurt.” Bruce says getting the last connection.

“Do it.” Bruce connects the piece and Bucky screams before he gets cut off and he’s drifting into nothingness.

~

Bucky turns around and realizes he’s at gala for some event. He looks around the room and find Tony talking to-

“Howard?” Bucky asks whispering. “Tony?” Bucky calls and he turns around but turns back “Tony?” Buck shouts and Tony turns this time longer. “Tony.” Tony turns all the way. “Tony.” Tony looks at him with confusion

“Barnes?” he whispers, “How are you?”

“It’s Bucky, Tony. It’s me, it’s Bucky. Your boyfriend, Bucky.”

“No, I’m married to Pepper.” Tony looks behind him to the room full of rich people with the love of his life.

“No. you’re not. Tony this is the dream you wanted when you were little.”

“This is real.” Tony says “Oh god, I’m drunk aren’t I. I’m hallucinating aren’t I?”

“yes.” Bucky says “This world is a hallucination. I’m not. I’m real.” Tony shakes his head

“Look at Howard.” Bucky says “he looks 20 years older than you. But he had you at 53. He has barely aged. That’s not possible. Same as Maria.” Bucky says and Tony looks at his parents. “You’re 47. He looks 70. But he’s much older than you. They look as how you remember them before they died. They haven’t aged. Tony, Howard would be 99 this year not 72.” Tony frowns

“How did I miss that?” Tony asks

“Because you’re in a simulation. It isn’t real.”

“Bucky.” Tony whispers “Bucky Barnes. My boyfriend.”

“Yes.” Bucky smiles “Now let’s go. Back to the real world.”

“No.” Tony says shaking his head “I’m happy here.”

“Tony, it isn’t real.” Bucky whispers “none of this is real.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Tony says, “I’m happy.”

“Tony that man? Abused you.” Tony says “That relationship is not real.” Tony shakes his head “He beat you and your mom and you want to stay with him?”

“He didn’t here, though.” Tony whispers “He’s a good dad here.”

“But it’s not real.” Tony shakes his head so Bucky tries a different way “Tony you’ll die.” Bucky says

“I don’t care. I’ll die happy.” Tony says turning to the gala behind him where pepper waves at him with a smile.

“You’re not happy with me?” Bucky asks softly

“Of course, I am. With you not with anything else. With the accords with Rogers.” Tony shakes his head “Everything here is perfect.”

“Life isn’t perfect. It isn’t meant to be.” Bucky says “Life sucks. It isn’t fair. But you have to deal with the hand your dealt. And you’ve got a crap hand, but it’s getting better.” Tony shakes his head.

“I don’t want to go. I don’t have PTSD here, I don’t have nightmares and panic attacks.”

“Please.” Bucky whispers “The world needs iron man. I need you.” Bucky whispers “I need you.” Bucky pleads

“I’m sorry.” Tony says softly turning back to the room full of people

“Fine.” Bucky says “Then we’ll stay here together. I’ll die here with you.” Bucky says “If this is what you want, I’ll be here with you.”

“No! I don’t want you to die.” Tony shakes his head “You can’t.”

“I don’t want you to die either but it’s both of us or neither of us.” Bucky says

“Bucky.” Tony whispers

“I’m with you, either way.” Bucky says softly “Do what you have to. I’m here either way. I’ll be here whatever you choose.”

“Bucky.” Tony whispers

“Do what you have to.” Bucky says holding his hands. “it’s okay.” Tony shakes his head

“You won’t die here. I won’t let you.” Tony says shaking his head “How do-“

~

Tony and Bucky gasp awake at the exact same time.

“Tony? Bucky?” Tony looks down without responding to Steve.

“Tony.” Bucky says softly “I’m sorry.”

“We have to go.” Steve says softly. Tony doesn’t look up but can’t help the single tear that falls. He immediately wipes it away before going back into superhero mode. He looks up surprised to see everyone there, but then realizes Bucky must have called them.

“I blew up the suit.” Tony says in a voice without emotion. “I’m assuming the simulation was used to get information out of my  brain?” Tony asks Bruce

“That’s my best guess.” Bruce says

“Do we know where the main frame is?” Tony asks getting off the bed.

“Yeah.” Steve says “We passed it on the way here.” Tony stands up and starts to walk

“Take me there.” Tony says with a hand wave. They all follow behind Steve and Tony. Bucky worried but silent behind him.

Tony enters the room.

“ohhh.” Tony says, “Alien tech.” he says examining the machine. “Very advanced. Very, very cool, though.” Tony says typing into the machine “Hmm.”

“What are you doing?” Sam asks

“Finding the information that they took…” Tony says as he reads the code and types fast his eyes flying across the screen. “Okay… getting closer.” Tony says as they all stand guard “Got it.” Tony says as it lights up on the screen “That’s weird.” Tony says reading it

“What?” They all collectively ask

“They didn’t want any information on my engineering expertise.”

“So what we’re they after?”

“My family history.” Tony says in a curious voice the others share a concerned look. “Which makes sense given the dream… but…” Tony shakes his head as he continues reading “That’s… not right.” Tony says more to himself

“What’s, not right?” Scott asks

“This… is wrong. Whatever they have here… isn’t true. It can’t be.” Tony reads over it again and twice more after that.

“What does it say?” Scott asks

“I’m adopted.” Tony whispers baffled

“What?” They all ask at the same time and turn to him.

“Yeah. I was… adopted. No wonder Howard never like me.” Tony snorts. Team Cap looks to Bucky and Tony at that. He doesn’t respond. “No, this says my parents, well my birth mother was a SHIELD agent but my father was a Hydra double agent who got together. After he was revealed to be Hydra, she didn’t want me anymore so Fury put me in an orphanage in Bulgaria.” Tony reads “So Maria couldn’t get pregnant so Howard found me and adopted me…” Tony looks at it confused “hmm.” Tony reads over the reaming information.

“that’s… I don’t know what that is.”  Steve says honestly

“Neither do I.” Tony whispers typing away again.  “I’m trying to hack into the mainframe to see why they were after family history when I didn’t even know that.” Tony says biting his lip. “Did you kill the leader?” Tony asks

“We got everyone who was here.”

“This guy?” Tony says clearing the view of the screen.

“I didn’t see him.” Bucky says “Did anyone else?” They shake their head

“What’s his name?” Steve asks

“Doesn’t say… So… that means he’s still out here and now has more information. I don’t understand why. What does he gain from this?” Tony asks filing through the remaining information.

“Well, now that his goons are dead that means he can be easily stopped.” Scott says

“You think all that man has is 16 guard dog…things and 4 men?” Tony says snorting “I think you were meant to find me. I think I was meant to find this. He knew I couldn’t resist.” Tony says “I just don’t know what it means.” Tony says “Bruce-y bear, did you bring a thumb drive?” Tony says with a smile

“Like you have to ask.” He tosses it to Tony with an eyeroll.

“Such a genius.” Tony smiles plugging it in. “I’m downloading the files now.” Tony says as the bar starts to reach 100%. “And… done.” Tony says pulling it out. “Ready?” Tony says as he turns around and they all stare at him for a moment. He rolls his eyes “Come on, no  time to lose, did I mention this place is rigged to blow in less than 2 minutes?”

“What?” They asks staring to move “Next time lead with that!” Steve shouts

“Tony.” Bucky says running next to him “How long have you known this place was going to blow?”

“Since I accessed the mainframe and it went into a 10-minute countdown. Don’t worry, I kept an eye on the time.” Tony grins sheepishly Bucky sighs and shakes his head

“You’re taking this whole ‘adopted’ thing Pretty well.” Bucky says softly

“Well, I wasn’t  going to freak out since you called everyone.” Tony says pointedly “Really?” He says “Really?”

“Oh I’m sorry, you’re right I should have left you, to die!” Bucky shouts

“You could have saved me with Bruce and Peter and vision all by your lonesome. You didn’t need reinforcements!” Tony shouts

“I’m sorry I wasn’t going to risk it. Next time I’ll let you die.” Bucky says exasperated

“Well it doesn’t matter now! I’m sure you told them they’re free men! And women.” Tony adds

“Yeah, had get them here somehow!” Bucky shouts “You know you should be thanking me for saving you!” Bucky says annoyed

“Thanking you for pulling me out that? That was so torturous hell. Being happy.” Tony rolls his eyes

“You would have died.” Bucky shouts “Sorry I want you to live! You know what, I’m sorry.” Bucky says “you can deal with that fact that I want you alive!”

“Oh shut up.” Tony says

“Oh no comeback for that?” Bucky says and Tony pushes his arm

“I hate you.” Tony says but he’s smiling

“I hate you too.” Bucky says smiling

“Would you two stop bickering like an old married couple already!” Scott shouts and they look at each other and laugh.

“T- minus 30 seconds to self-destruct.” The building says as they run outside.

“Go! GO!” they run on the set and get into their seat and buckled in just before the building explodes. The whole ship shakes

“Don’t worry.” Tony says “We’re fine here.” Steve sits in the pilot seat and takes off “So… how is he here?” Tony whispers To Bucky. Steve turns hearing his name and Bucky looks at him

“He signed.” Bucky whispers and Tony looks at him in shock “he wanted to help. And It was to save you.” He says, “So they agreed.” Tony nods

“I guess I am important.” Tony says grinning “So adopted.” Tony says “That’s a new one.”

“Do you think it’s true?” Bucky asks

“I do.” Tony says “But… My geniusness.”

“that’s not a word.” Bucky says with a laugh

“I’ll call Meriam Webster. They made twerking a word they can make that one. And that’s besides the point. I always thought I was a genius because Howard was smarter than the average human. But if I’m just some average schmuck’s son how am I so smart? My life could have been so different if Howard didn’t adopt me.” Tony says “Like dreadful different. As much as that part of my life sucked, I became who I am because of it, because of the money and my great education I received because of it. Without it… I couldn’t even begin to imagine where I’d be.”

“Well, it’s a good thing that Howard adopted you then.” Bucky says “As much as it doesn’t seem right to say.”

“Why isn’t it right to say?” Scott asks and they look at him

“What?” tony looks up

“You realize we’re are in an aircraft and 3 feet from you, right?” Natasha asks with a smirk on her face.

“Would you look at that.” Tony says with a smirk of his own “Moving on-“

“No. You never answered the question.” Scott says

“None of your damn business.” Tony says

“Oh come on!” Scott says, “Why did you say Howard never like you? We all want to know!” he says and everyone from team cap including Natasha nods

Tony rolls his eyes “It’s none of your damn business. Leave it be, Lang.”

“So, you do know my name.” Scott says pleasantly surprised

“Of course, I know and knew your name dumbass.” Tony rolls his eyes

“Asshole.” Scott says

“eh, I’ve been called worse.”

“Much worse.” Natasha says and Tony nods

“I guess you could say I’m desensitized to your hurtful words. Remind me why I freed your asses?”

“I don’t know. Why did you?” Sam asks

“Because there’s something coming.” Tony whispers “Something big. Something worse than we’ve ever faced. And when that comes, we need to be united. At least more than we are now.”

“What’s coming and how do you know?” Scott asks a little unnerved by that. Tony shakes his head.

“I have no idea.” Tony says “But Thor told us that the work with the tesseract is showing other realms that the earth is ready for a higher form of war.” Tony says “Did everybody forget that?” Tony asks “No. If Loki and the Chitauri knew that we were ready for a higher form of war, what else could? We haven’t really seen anything big and bad besides the few measly aliens we fight once in a blue moon. Something is coming.” Tony says “I know it, I can feel it. Can’t you?” Tony asks

“No.” They all say.

“Somethings coming.” Tony says “And we need to be untied. More so then now. Otherwise we’ll all die.”

With that they fall in to silence all lost in thought over Tony’s words. Tony knows this peaceful ride is going to end once they get on the ground and all hell is going to break loose after that.

Chapter Text

The second they walk through the door Clint walks right up to Tony and punches him in the face. He stumbles back and Bucky takes no time in punching him back and he goes for a second blow when Steve’s stops him.

“Touch him again, and I will end you.” Bucky threatens. He shakes off Steve’s hand. He turns to Tony. “You okay?” He asks softly

“Suck it up.” Clint says with an eyeroll

“Didn’t feel a thing. I’d say you punch like a girl but that'd be insult girls everywhere.” Tony says with a perfectly straight face.

“Very clever.” Clint sneers.

“Eh.” Tony says with a shrug “Not my best, thanks for the vote of confidence, though.”

Clint raises his fist to punch him again but Steve stops him.

“Stop. All of you.” Steve says Firm.

“Oh, captain my captain you aren't a Captain.” Tony says with a look.

“Tony.” Rhodey says walking in. “What did they tell you?” Rhodey asks with a look.

“Well… it was such a good opening though!” Tony defends.

“What does that mean? I'm not a captain? Colonel?” Steve asks

“Well,” Rhodey says “to put it simply, you are not a captain like I'm not a colonel.”

“Okay. I guess that's fair.” Steve says nodding, “I guess after everything they wouldn't put me in charge.” Tony snorts which turns into a laugh.

“I don't think you understand, Rogers.” Tony says biting back a satisfying grin. “You're not Captain America. They dethroned you.” Tony can't help the sadistic smile that comes through as Steve’s face turns from confusion to anger. “The UN doesn't trust you. And until they do, you are no longer Captain America.” Tony feels slightly guilty for taking so much pleasure in this.

“You can't do that!” Steve shouts pushing him against the wall. Bucky grabs Steve shoulder and pulls him back and throws Steve up against the other wall.

“What did I say about touching him?” Bucky growls, “That applies to all of you.” He says with a pointed look at Steve. Bucky lets him go after a long look.

“Let me just say this and maybe you can get it through your thick skulls.” Tony says “I know none of you are geniuses like myself but I don't understand why it's so hard to grasp that I don't have much power in what happens to us. Yeah us. Because we're all superheroes. Well except Bucky.” Tony says with a wink to Bucky who shakes his head with a small smile knowing what’s coming next.

“Tony.” Steve says threateningly

“He's just a war hero with superpowers that weren't used in his control.” Tony finishes with a look. “And let’s be real Steve, shall we? You have absolutely no say in anything Bucky related. Unless of course Bucky says okay first. So, get off your high horse. You were wrong.” Tony says “and now you're paying for it by getting dethroned. And that brings me back to my original point. I have very little say what happens to us. But let's be clear here, I don't like you. Any of you. But you know what? It doesn't matter. None of it matters. Whether or not we like each other isn't anything. Because we only have to work together. No other interactions are necessary. Understood?”

“Uh… Tony?” Rhodes says softly

“Yeah?” He asks

“The UN put you in charge of them.” Rhodey says softly.

“What?” Tony asks “Really?” Rhodey nods as all the other break out in protest. “Why didn't the put Bruce in charge?” Tony asks

“They said that since you've been working with the UN so diligently that they want you to oversee what goes on here since it's your house and your idea.” Rhodey repeats.

“That actually makes sense.” Tony nods “Unfortunate, but makes sense.”

“Pretty much.” Rhodey says

“Does this mean he gets to order us around?” Wanda demands.

“Yup.” Rhodey says taking pleasure in that fact.

“I won't take orders from him.” Wanda threatens

“Then you get deported.” Bruce says with a shrug “but please, by all means defy him.” He says with a look so she knows not all’s forgiven. Actually, nothing is forgiven. She looks away.

“You have to agree it makes sense.” Natasha speaks up for the first time. “They trust him. It's his house. It all makes sense.”

“It's not the logic that bothers me Natasha.” Steve says. “It's having Tony in charge of something.”

“You know I was CEO of a major company for a while there.” Tony says like everyone forgets.

“You gave it to Pepper.” Steve says with a look

“I was dying and thought she'd be the best at it. Turns out I was right, so I let her do it while I superhero-ed. Like you have any room to judge freeloader. At least I have a job. I'm sorry what do you do again? Besides mooch off of rich hard working people.”

“Guys come on.” Bucky says, “Can we just stop this now?”

“Yes.” Tony says “for now. But we have a lot to go over so bring your bags to your rooms. Bucky will show you where they are and meet in the conference room in an hour. Wear something comfortable. We're going to be there for a while.” Bucky nods to the group who follows him. “Bruce do you have something for my head?”

“Yeah.” Bruce says softly “Come on. I need to get you checked out too.”

“Tony.” Rhodey says “I think all things considered you handled that pretty well.”

“Did you see how Bucky defended my honor?” Tony grins “It was so sexy.” Rhodey shakes his head.

“I'm proud of you, man” Rhodey says with a smile. “I'm not even sure I could have done that well.”

“I don't know about that…” tony shrugs “I'm excited to be in charge of them, though.”

“Don’t let the power go to your head.” Rhodey says

“Has that ever been a problem?” Tony asks innocently. Before Rhodey can respond Tony, grabs Bruce's arm and drags him to the medical wing, a small smile on his face.

~

The meet in the conference room one hour later, when Tony was cleared took a shower changed and grabbed the papers from his office. He’s waiting in the room when the others slowly make their way in. Bruce the last to enter. Bruce chuckles and smiles at Tony’s wardrobe choice.

“What?” Steve asks looking between the two.

“Nothing.” Tony says shaking his head “Just Bruce gave me this shirt for my birthday.” Tonyonium.

“Oh.” Steve says sitting down.

“Okay.” Tony says once everyone is seated. “Shall we get started?” They nod slowly looking at the papers in front of them.

“This is your pardon document.” Tony says “Each one is different for different aspects so I want you to read over them before signing. Read carefully because you will be held accountable for everything in them.”

Just as they start to read Doctor Strange opens a portal and enters in the room.

“Stephen.” Tony says standing “Glad you could make it.” He says shaking his hand.

“Yes, didn’t have much of a choice, did I?” He says with a look.

“Sorry. Didn’t really expect to be kidnapped. Or Bucky to call in them.”

“Who is he and why is he here?” Steve asks

“I’m Dr. Stephen Strange. I’m Sorcerer and I’m here for Ms. Maximoff.” He says as all eyes turn to her.

“What?” Wanda says looking up.

“If you would come with me we can do this in a more secluded setting.” Strange says.

“No.” Wanda shakes her head.

“Very well.” Strange turns to Tony who gives him the go ahead. “Ms. Maximoff I was sent here by the United Nations to help you control your powers. And to learn them in a healthy way.”

“I don’t need help.” She says, “I control them just fine.”

“I disagree, but you don’t have much of a say in it anyway.” Doctor Strange reaches out his hand and pulls her powers into him. She gasps as she feels the power leave her. Once it’s down she tries to use her powers to stop him but can’t.

“What have you done?” Wanda demands.

“I took your powers. I thought that was clear.” He says and she growls. “This was going to happen with or without your permission and with or without your return to the US. I will be back in a week to offer you the same thing I did earlier.”

“Which is what?” She asks anger very visible.

“To teach you how to control and use your powers. You were an experiment. You weren’t granted your powers by nature. And because of that you haven’t learned control and without control you’re dangerous and frankly we were worried what you would do to people in this house, specifically Tony in case you were… angered.”

“That’s bullshit.” Wanda curses. She stands up at makes a go for him. Stephen puts his hand up and freezes her in place.

“Let me go!” Wanda shouts struggling but making no move.

“Please tell me how are you reacting to this?” He asks “You’re angry. You’re a child who can’t control herself. You are also to see a therapist and an anger management course will be given. Until you are cleared by both doctors and I’m am convinced you will use your powers only for the right reasons and you can control them, will you get them back.”

“That could take months!” Wanda shouts.

“I suspect it will, at this rate. Or more.” He says, “One day hopefully you will be good enough for the powers you were given.”

“You can’t just do that.” Steve says in protest.

“And why not?” Stephen says “We did that with you, didn’t we? We took your shield and your title. We’re doing the same with Wanda, only we have to power to take away her powers because she’s out of control. We can’t take away yours.”

“She’s defenseless here.” Sam protests.

“Who’s going to attack an Avengers facility?” He asks “And if you’re so worried actually train her in hand to hand, guns, weapons. She’s can be more than just her power. You just have to teach her.” Stephen looks at Tony.

“If you have any trouble call me. I can be here in seconds.”

“Thanks Stephen, I will.” Tony says

“Are you going to try attacking anyone?” Stephen asks Wanda who is still stuck. After a deep breath, she shakes her head. Hesitantly he lets her go. And she stands there for a moment debating before huffing and sitting in her chair.  “I will see you in a week Ms. Maximoff.” He says, “until then.” He says creating a portal and disappearing.

“Wanda?” Steve says softly “Are you okay?”

“No.” Wanda says “But there is nothing I can do about it now. We may as well get through this.” She says looking back down. Tony is grateful since he’s gone she’s not going to try something. Although maybe she’d wait. Tony puts the thought out of his mind.

“Jobs?” Scott reads and looks up moment later.

“Yes.” Tony says, “I will not have you living here for free.”

“You want us to work here?” Clint demands angered by the thought.

“I expect you to work here.” Tony says sharply, “You will get payed much higher than the usual rate. You will buy your own food, your only clothes and everything besides utilities and rent. Did you expect me to just pay for everything again?” Tony asks and doesn’t wait for a response. “No. You will live her for free but you will earn your own money.”

“It doesn’t say what the jobs are, just that we have to work minimum 20 hours a week.” Scott says getting with the program.

“The jobs are…”  Tony flips the page out “Cleaning staff. You will clean the offices and common space. Another is Lawn Maintenance. You will mow the lawn and keep the yard decent. Water the flowers and such. Laundry is one. And opening and managing fan, and let’s be real here guys, hate mail.”

“What’s that entail?” Scott asks

“Well, we can throw out regular hate mail, but if it’s death threats or anything else we save those for just in case. Fan mail however is up to the person who gets it.” Tony shrugs “They can do nothing or they can write back or something.”

“What do you usually do with your fan mail?” Scott asks

“Depends.” Tony shrugs “I get a good amount so I can’t do everyone but if something stands out like a girl who was 7 had cancer wrote me asking for me to visit and I went and stayed for a while before paying for her treatment.” Tony shrugs with a soft smile on his face.

“You did that?” Steve asks skeptical.

“Yeah.” Tony says shaking his head “Her name was Lilian. That was 2 years ago.” Tony sighs

“How is she now?” Scott asks softly

“She didn’t make it.” Tony says looking down for a moment.

“Tony.” Bucky says softly.

“But how you address your fan mail is up to you.” Tony says wanting to move on. He clears his throat. “So, does anyone have jobs in mind that I can put you down for?”

“I’ll do lawn maintenance.” Steve says, “I mean if you’re making us work that sounds like my best bet.”

“That can be a two-person job so if anyone else is interested…” Tony leaves the ending open.

“I’ll do it.” Sam says looking at Steve. “If that’s okay with you?”

“Sure. That’ll be fine.”  Tony writes those down.

“I can do cleaning.” Scott says with a shrug, “I always liked my house clean to begin with so if I do it here I can do it my way.”

“Perfect.” Tony says writing it down.

“I’ll do the mail.” Clint says crossing his arms. “Can’t be that bad.”

“Sure.” Tony says writing it down.

“That leaves laundry.” Wanda says shaking her head “I’m not doing everyone’s laundry.” She says angered.

“Well only former team Caps laundry.” Tony says, “If that’s not good, think of something else. Natasha, I had a separate thought for you.” Tony says without looking up, “We can discuss it after.” Natasha nods.

“What is it?” Clint says, “If she gets she doesn’t have to work, I don’t want to either.”

“She is working.” Tony snaps “Like the rest of you, but not any of those jobs and that is all I’m saying until I’ve talked it over with her. Understood?” Tony gives them all a long look. Eventually they all nod, Clint taking the longest. “Wanda, did you have something else in mind since you don’t like the laundry?”

“Do I need to decide today?” Wanda asks softly.

“No. Let me know within the next two days though.” Tony says as he flips over the page. “Did you guys like your room okay? Steve, Wanda, Sam, Natasha yours should have been the same. Clint, Scott we tried to make it as neutral as possible. Once you start getting paid you can decorate it how you want. If you need new sheets or something that’s not ridiculous let me know and I’ll think about approving it. Certain things I will provide at first. Food is one. Personal hygiene is another. That’s about it until you earn your own money. And everything will be approved.”

“What about electronics?” Sam asks, “I couldn’t find my computer and tablet.”

“You will each be given a Stark Phone because that is necessary and your TV will stay but if you want anything else you will buy it yourself.”

“Are you kidding?” Clint asks in the same tone as everything else.

“No.” Tony says with no room for argument. However, Clint ignores that.

“That’s going to be months of work to get them.” Clint says angry.

“Actually, my tablets are very affordable if you had bothered to look. The cost of a stark tablet is 100 even. iPads are over 400. So, choose your tablet wisely. Computers are about $600 a lot cheaper than any other good brand. But none of you had bothered to check.” Tony shrugs.

“Do we get a discount?” Scott asks

“No.” Tony says flatly. “My prices are good. I won’t charge tax or fees for data but you will pay full price for the device.”

“That’s… okay I guess.” Steve says

“Okay?” Tony asks, “That is better deal than anyone else in the world is getting.”

“Does the rest of your guests work here too?” Clint asks

“Yes.” Tony says with a shrug

“You’re making Bucky work?” Steve demands angered by the thought.

“Yes. And by work, I mean work on getting better.” Tony says pointedly “Bruce works in his lab and works on some stuff with me. Vision works as an Avenger and some IT and helps with BARF with Bucky. And Rhodey works in his physical therapy and as an advice giver and a best friend which is a full-time job.” Tony laughs along with the three.

“Boss, Peter Parker is on the line.” FRIDAY says interrupting them.

“Shit. Did anyone tell him I was found and fine?” Tony asks looking to them. Bruce, Vision, Bucky and Rhodey shake their head.

“Who is Peter Parker?” Steve asks.

“I have to take this.” Tony says standing up and exiting the room.

“Peter Buddy, sorry for not telling you I’m okay. It slipped my mind since you know everyone is here.”

“It’s cool, Tony. I heard it on the news but just wanted to make sure for myself.” Tony smiles at that.

“That means a lot, Kid. How was your math test?” Tony asks sitting down for a moment

“It was good, I aced it.”

“That’s great Peter.” Tony smiles “You ace everything.”

“Well not history…” peter says sheepishly

“What’s your grade?”

“82.” Peter says

“Not everyone can be perfect like me.” Tony says with a smile “No, but seriously Peter, an 82 with everything else you’ve got going on. That’s pretty damn impressive. You don’t need all A’s to be a genius.”

“You did.” Peter says protesting.

“I’ll have you know I didn’t get A’s in everything.”

“Really?” Peter asks.

“Yeah.” Tony says honestly.

“What did you get a B in?” Peter asks and Tony smiles.

“Well, it was psychology.” Tony says, “And God knows how much I hate that, so I just skipped and only came in for tests and passed it with a C.”

“Really?” Peter laughs, “You got a C?”

“Yup.” Tony smiles. “And Peter don’t worry. You work as a superhero in the nighttime.” Tony says “You can get a B and still should be very proud of all the work and hero-ing you’re doing. Be proud. Not just anyone can accomplish all that you do. I’m proud of you.” Tony smiles.

“Yeah?” Peter asks with hope in his voice.

“Yeah.” Tony smiles. “I am.” Tony says, “Why don’t you stop by this weekend and meet everyone properly.”

“Are you sure?” Peter asks

“Yup. You’re coming.”

“Okay.” Peter says softly

“Hey, I gotta go.” Tony says, “I left them all in the conference room.” Peter laughs

“Bye Tony.” Peter says

“Bye Kid. See you Saturday.” Tony hangs up and walking back in. Arguing is going on.

“Tony.” Steve says noticing him “What is this about evaluations?”

“Well, yeah.” Tony shrugs sitting back at head of the table. “You all need to be approved by a court mandated therapist. I don’t know who and will not know what you spoke of, just if you were cleared.” Tony shrugs “I don’t see the big deal.” Everyone breaks out in protests. “One at a time.” Tony says loudly “Steve.”

“Some of us were worried that we won’t get approved and then what?”

“Well, that’s unlikely.” Tony says without much thought, “The only thing you have to do in those is be honest.” Tony thinks about it for a moment. “Okay, I see where you’re going with this.” They all look at him. “The questions you’ll be asked are like do you think you were wrong.”

“We weren’t!” Clint shouts. And Tony looks at Bucky who gives him a knowing nod.

“Okay.” Tony says rubbing his eyes “Don’t be honest.” Tony says shaking his head “Tell them what they want to hear.”

“So, you’re saying lie?” Steve asks with a judgmental tone.  Tony rolls his eyes.

“Yes. Because I thought you could at least understand that not everyone has agenda’s.” Tony says with a look at Steve. He gives him what’s supposed to be a threatening look. “Okay. We will meet again before the sessions occur and I’m going to tell you what to say.”

“You said the UN trusts you and then you’re telling us to lie to them.” Natasha says

“I’m sorry Natasha, what is it you’ve done since I’ve met you?”

“Don’t throw this back at me.” Natasha says “The UN never said they trust me. They trust you and you’re telling us to lie.”

“I’m am!” Tony shouts “I am! Lyng, it’s the only way.  God damn it Natasha, do you think this is what I want?” Tony shouts “Did you think I wanted us to be torn apart!? We weren’t perfect.” Tony whispers “We weren’t close to perfect. But I cared about you. I cared about all of you.” Tony looks at them. The longest at Steve. They look away. “This was happening either way.” Tony says shaking his head “You know why I signed and why I gave in?” Tony asks no one. “because I knew we were never going to fight this. 117 countries. We don’t have the power to say no. So, I signed. And it’s a good thing I did because I changed a lot. You don’t have any idea what was in them Steve.” Tony says “but you thought no, no I don’t believe in this so I won’t sign.” Tony shakes his head “You’re an idiot. You’re all idiots. Do you have any idea what I’ve been doing while you’re on vacation in Wakanda?” Tony asks, “You have no idea.”

“Tell us.” Steve says and Tony looks at him.

“What?”

“I’m being serious. Tell us.” Steve says motioning to go ahead.

Tony shakes his head “I’m not doing that.”

“Why not?”  Steve says, “You just said we have no idea so tell us.” Tony sighs

“I have been working around the clock to get the Accords fixed. Get you guys off. Work on my suits. Work on Bucky’s arm, and work with his conditioning. Fixing Rhodey’s legs. Designing other aspects of affordable prosthetics. While working for SI electronics. While trying to also get enough sleep and not eat smoothie’s fore everything and try and actually be happy, which is a rare thing for me.”

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.” Steve says softly, “I should have been.” Tony’s doesn’t believe him.

“You were never there for me.” Tony says, “Not really. You were always one foot out with me.  You always resented me for not being like Howard.” Steve looks down. And Bucky bites his tongue to keep from shouting how much Howard was a bastard who deserved what he got. “I liked you there for a minute. I actually cared about you. All of you.” Tony says with teary eyes “You know, I never really had people that I cared about. Never really had a family for many reasons. But then the 5 of you moved in. And I was hesitant at first. I don’t let myself get close to people, because one of us just ends up getting hurt. Rhodey the only exception thus far. But after a while I finally started to like you guys. Started to enjoy your company. And then Ultron.” Tony shakes his head

“That was your own fault.” Clint says sharply “You’re the one who made a murder bot.”

“I’m glad you said that. I think it’s the best that the truth comes out now. Right Wanda?”

“What?” Steve asks looking at her.

“Oh, let’s see. How she blamed me for her parent’s death, right?” They nod “Well she can see inside people’s minds can she not? So, if she even looked in my mind every time I see her, she would know I was using back then. Yes, I was a drug addicted or am a drug addict I’ve been craving Oxy lately who, who knows right? Anyway, I was on the verge of ODing on heroine. Or Coke or really anything I could get my hands on.” Tony says with a shake of his head “I couldn’t deal with the fact that my mom, the only person in the entire world who gave a shit about me was dead. So, what was the point of living? I was already an alcoholic. Even though I was just 21. What can I say dad drank, I drank? So, no wonder I turned to drugs. So, the man responsible for killing your parents was Obadiah Stan. Obie. A man I trusted, who I thought cared for me, in a sort of way. Well, he paid for my drugs at least. But oh yeah, he literally ripped my heart out of my chest. The arc reactor. That’s why I have PTSD partly. Because he paralyzed me and took it out. I nearly died. I ended up killing him. It’s hard to hate a man that’s already dead.  So, because it was my name, it’s instantly my fault. So, no, it wasn’t my fault your parents are dead. And it’s actually your fault Pietro’s dead. Isn’t it?”

Wanda doesn't answer “How is it her fault?” Steve asks

“She gets into heads. She knew I had PTSD. She knew I had lost so many people and didn't want to lose you guys too. So, she got in my head. Showered me every one of you died. And with your dying breath, my best friend at the time Steve Rogers looked into my eyes and told me ‘you could have saved us. Why didn't you do more?’” Tony quotes word for word fresh as the day he heard it. “Yes, why wouldn't I do more? I could protect my family. Well people who I thought was my family. People who I loved like my family I never had. So yes, I built Ultron to try and protect you guys. But I hadn't even thought of doing that until she put it in and let me go. She knew exactly what my fear would make me do. And she got what she wanted. I built Ultron for her. Because I wanted to save you.”

“Wanda is that true?” Steve whispers and she nods

“Yes.” Wanda whispers “I’m the reason Tony built Ultron.” She looks down “He wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t show him his biggest fear.”

“Your biggest fear was losing us.” Steve whispers.

“I lost you anyway.” Tony says with so much emotion “our relationship as never the same after that. All I wanted to do was protect you. Protect all of you. But I ended up ruining it instead. Irony huh? Or maybe that’s just me.”

Steve looks down “I'm sorry Tony. You deserved better.”

“No, not really.” Tony says shaking his head “I still built it, kept it from. From all of you. That’s on me too.” Tony shakes his head. “So, you slipped away. My friends I was just starting to enjoy being around.” Tony wipes away a tear. “I thought I finally had someone I cared about. Who cared about me too.” Tony shakes his head. “It wasn’t meant to be I guess.” Tony thinks aloud. “Maybe I’m just not meant for a family.”

“Tony, you know that’s not true.” Bucky says firm “You know that, right?” Tony shrugs

“I ruin everything one way or another. Steve, Pepper. It’s only a matter of time.” Tony says

“That is bullshit.” Bucky says standing up and walking over to him. He crouches down next to him and looks into his eyes.

“You’re the best thing that’s happened to me.” Bucky whispers “You’re… friendship means everything to me.” Tony looks up and Bucky looks into his eyes conveying his feelings. Now’s not the time to tell the team they’re dating.

“Yours too.” Tony says softly.

“This won’t end badly.” Bucky promises.

“I believe you.”

“Best friends for life.” Bucky says and gives him a long look.

“BFFs.” Tony smiles back and resist the urge to kiss him.

“You good?” Tony nods and Bucky heads back to his seat ignoring the looks everyone’s giving except Rhodey who is grinning like an idiot. Rhodey winks at Tony.

“I think we should take a break. Meet back fresh tomorrow.” Tony says standing and looking at Bucky, who nods biting his lip. They all slowly exit the room. Steve pulls Bucky aside.

“Did you have a time in mind?” Sam asks

“Nope, we’ll figure it out tomorrow.” Tony says staring at Bucky who is taking to Steve. Sam looks at him staring at Bucky.

“Are you two-“

“No.” tony says cutting him off. Sam gives him a disbelieving look.

“You didn’t even hear what I was going to say.” Sam says with a knowing look.

“Whatever it is you’re thinking. It’s not true. And…”  Tony looks over at him “it would be appreciated if you kept your wild and not true thoughts to yourself.” Sam nods.

“Of course.” Sam says and Tony nods.

“Good. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Tony says walking away. Bucky says bye to Steve and follows Tony out. Sam is pretty sure they’re dating, but isn’t positive. But he definitely won’t tell a soul. He smiles at the thought as he follows Steve back to their room.

Chapter Text

“Tony.” Bucky says ones back in their room.
“Yeah?” Tony asks pulling on pajama pants.
“There's a few things we need to talk about. One I feel we should talk about now.” Bucky says and Tony walks over and puts his hands on Bucky’s chest looking up. He bites his lip.
“Is it about our friendship?” Tony asks with a grin
“It's about the drug comment.” Bucky says flatly. Tony sighs and pulls back.
“Bucky, come on.”
“No Tony, this is serious.” Bucky looks at tony with worried eyes. “I just want to make sure you're okay. And that you're not going to relapse.” Tony looks down thinking of the bottle of pills in his top draw.
“It's not a big deal.”
“It is, Tony.” Bucky walks over to Tony and pulls him into a long hug. “I just want to make sure you're okay. And you're not…”
“Not what?” Tony asks pulling away. Bucky sighs.
“I didn't mean it like that.”
“Mean it like what?” Tony asks again.
“Tony.” Bucky says softly “I'm just worried.”
“You don't have to be. I'm fine.” Tony says pointedly
“Everybody in the universe knows ‘I'm fine’ is really not fine. And I don't get why people don't question it because we all know what it means. So, I'm going to question it. You're not fine. I think you should go back to therapy.” Bucky says bluntly. Tony shakes his head.
“I don't like it.”
“Tony it'll help. Especially with the drugs you're struggling with. I want you to get better.”
“I'm-“ tony cuts himself off from the words.
“Fine?” Bucky finishes “You're not. We both know that.”
“I don't know.” Tony says softly
“Think about it at least?” Bucky asks
“I will.” Tony promises. He then smiles. “Sam knows.”
“About us?” Bucky clarifies and Tony nods “You told him?”
“Nope. Well kind of. I was staring dreamily at you after the meeting and he took notice.”
Bucky laughs “Do you often stare dreamily at me?”
“Fair amount.” Tony admits with a smile “I mostly stare at your ass.” Bucky laughs again.
“I do have a nice ass, don't I?” Tony nods vigorously and then sighs.
“Look, Bucky.” Tony says softly “I really am okay.”
“You're managing.” Bucky looks at Tony with a sad smile.
“I thought I was doing okay. Like really.”
“Tony, you are doing okay. But you can be so much better than just okay.” Bucky really wants to convey his feelings to Tony. He just wants Tony to be happy and healthy. Bucky knows how hard this is for Tony. For having them back here; in close proximity. He knows Tony is going to struggle with the fact that because they're so close he could get hurt. Both physically and mentally. Bucky’s heart throbs at the thought of that. Bucky instinctually pulls Tony towards him and kisses him gently. Tony kisses back eager.
“I just want you to be happy and healthy.” Bucky whispers pulling back. And Tony gives him a sad smile.
“Those two things don't usually come with me.” Tony says honestly. “Besides being with you I don't know the last time I was happy.” Tony pauses for a second thinking about it. “I thought I was happy then. But I wasn't. I wasn’t happy like this. I didn't even know this was possible”. He says honestly “You've made me so happy. Maybe I'm not healthy. Maybe I have PTSD and panic attacks and drug cravings. But one this is for certain. I'm happy with you.” Tony says not able to recall a time he was more honest with anyone about anything.
“You make me happy too.” Bucky says and Tony reaches up and brings Bucky’s mouth to his. They both get lost in the kiss, not wanting to let go of the moment. When they do break apart Tony sighs happily.
“Okay.” Tony says nodding, “I'll go to therapy.”
Bucky smiles. “Yeah?” He asks just to be sure.
“Yeah.” Tony smiles “happy and healthy.” Bucky smiles and brings tony in for another kiss.

~
Tony wakes up in the middle of the night with a slight gasp. Bucky wakes up and looks sleepily at Tony.
“Bad dream?” Bucky asks softly already knowing the answer. Tony nods “Want to talk about it?” Bucky offers.
“No.” Tony shakes his head “Not right now. Go back to sleep.” Tony says crawling out of bed.
“Tony?” Bucky says worried.
“I just need to clear my head.”
“Promise that's all it is?” Bucky asks and Tony nods.
“Cross my heart.” Tony smiles softly “I'm going to be lab. Go back to sleep.” Bucky nods slowly wanting to make sure he's okay but wanting to give Tony time like he asked. Tony slips from the room and heads off to the lab. He finishes his new iron man armor since the other one has a self-destruct code in case it gets stolen. He had one that was mostly built and he spent the next 5 hours finishing it unusual silence. When he’s done he looks at the clock and realizes it’s a little after 8. He got up earlier then he thought. He heads back towards his room to get a shower and start on breakfast when he literally walks into Steve who’s just getting back from his morning run.
“Tony.” Steve says surprised steadying him from falling over. Tony can’t help but flinch at his touch. Steve looks at Tony and frowns at that. Tony pushes him off him.
“Watch it, Rogers.” Tony snaps and moves to go around him. Steve watches him go and remembers a time when Tony would lean into his touch and not flinch back. He can’t help but feeling a pang of regret over what happened.
Tony gets to his old room as Bucky is coming out of theirs.
“Hey.” Bucky says softly
“Hey.” Tony says looking down
“What’s wrong?” Bucky asks softly
“Nothing.” Tony shakes his head.
“Tony.” Bucky says patiently.
“It’s just… I ran into Rogers… Literally. And he called me Tony.” Tony says with a clear look of displease.
“What’s wrong with that?” Bucky asks not understanding.
“When did we get back to first name basis?” Tony says almost demanding. “I called him Steve yesterday too. But I still hate him. I still want him to know that! I don’t want to get close to him again.” Tony ends looking down, still angry at the encounter.
“Well… I would say you don’t want to get close to him because you’re worried he’d hurt you again.” Bucky says softly “And that’s okay. But… maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be civil with each other. I mean…”
“I don’t want to be, Bucky. I don’t want to, because that’s how it started last time. He called me Tony and then after that everything changed.” Tony sighs “It was a good thing back then, but not now. Now I want him to just be Rogers.”
“Okay.” Bucky says nodding “Then start calling him Rogers again.”
“What if he still calls me Tony?” Tony asks with a frown on his face.
“Well… he probably still will. I think it’s his way of trying to make an effort. I think he feels bad once he found out how… serious it was.”
“Well too damn bad!” Tony says and Bucky pulls him into a hug.
“I know.” Bucky says softly “I get it. I can talk to him, if you want?” Bucky offers.
“No.” Tony shakes his head. “I’ll just call him Rogers and I’ll be an ass and then he’ll start calling me Stark. Works every time.” Tony nods decisively.
“Tony, I don’t think you should be an ass to him. Not deliberately at least. I get why, but if we’re going to all be living here for the foreseeable future we need to get along, at least a little bit. Especially when you’re avenging.” Tony doesn’t respond knowing Bucky has a point. “Look, Tony, I get that it’s hard. What can I do?” Bucky asks wanting to make things easier for Tony.
“I… I don’t know.” Tony says, “Can I get back to you?” He asks looking up at him. Bucky nods.
“Of course.”
“I’m going to go shower.” Tony says
“I’ll get breakfast going.” Bucky says softly
“With everyone?” Tony asks hesitantly.
“No. Just us.” Bucky smiles
“Okay.” Tony says relieved.
20 minutes and a shower later Tony’s already feeling better and walks to the kitchen with a smile on his face.
“Bucky that smells…” Tony cuts himself off and his smile fades when he sees Stev- no Rogers is there leaning on the counter.
“What are you doing here?” Tony asks sharply.
“Tony.” Bucky says softly.
“I was just wondering if Bucky wanted to have breakfast with me before we start the day, but he already told me you two were having breakfast.” Steve says with a conflicted look.
“That’s right.” Tony says making his way over to Bucky “You can leave now.”
“Tony.” Bucky says softly.
“Don’t.” Tony says sharply at Bucky “Don’t make me feel bad for not wanting to be in the same room as him.” Bucky sighs
“I’m sorry. I was just hoping…” Bucky shakes his head. “Steve, you should probably go. We’ll see you in bit.”
Steve nods sadly “See you later Bucky, Tony.” Tony clenches his fists as Bucky says bye and Steve leaves.
“I hate him.” Tony says angry again.
“Tony, it’s not really a big deal.” Bucky says, “This was his first morning back, we usually ate breakfast in Wakanda since no one else was really awake then.” Tony sighs.
“It wasn’t that.” Tony says. “I get that part. I just… I dunno, maybe it’s lack of sleep, maybe I’m hangry but I can’t even look at him without being angry.”
“I think it’s a combination of things.” Bucky says “But let’s just eat. We can talk about it later, everything is getting cold.”
Bucky puts the food on the table and the two eat in an awkward silence.
“I’m sorry.” Tony says abruptly “I shouldn’t put you in this position. He’s your friend.”
“He’s not my friend, Tony.” Bucky says shaking his head “Maybe we’re closer than when I left, but that doesn’t make him my friend.”
“But he wants to be your friend.” Tony says “I should support that. Even if I don’t like it.” Bucky smiles softly “So… why don’t I clean up and you go see him.” Tony decides nodding.
“Is this just to get me to leave.” Bucky asks worried.
“No, of course not.” Tony says honestly “As I said when we really met. I want you to be happy. And I think if you spend more time with him you could be happier.”
“I can’t possibly be any happier than I am right now. With you.” Bucky says looking into Tony’s eyes with what can only be described as love.
“But-" “No buts.” Bucky says softly “You make me happy. And being friends with Steve can’t make me happier than this.”
“Promise?” Tony asks still unable to believe that.
“I swear it.” Bucky promises. Tony breaks out in a smile knowing Bucky wouldn’t lie.
“Still, go on. I’ll clean up. Meet in the conference room in 30?” Bucky gives Tony a look wondering if he really doesn’t mind it, but the look on Tony’s face supports his statement.
“Okay.” Bucky says standing and walking to Tony. “Thank you.” Bucky leans down and kisses Tony who responds eagerly. Bucky pulls back with a smile. “Nothing could make me happier than you.” Tony grins as Bucky leaves. His smile fades once he’s gone. Tony truly does want Bucky to be happy with Rogers even if he hates the man. He cleans up as he readies himself for the day.
~
Most of the day goes by in meetings. They have arguments and they have agreements and soon it’s 3:30 and everything is signed and agreed.
“So how does it feel?” Bucky asks Steve as they exit the room. “To be a free-ish man?” Steve smiles
“I feel like celebrating.” Steve says “Did Tony get you on the list of people who can accompany me?”
“I don’t know. Let me ask.” Bucky turns to Tony who clearly having a private conversation with Rhodey. “I’ll be right back.” And Bucky walks over and looks between the two. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah.” Tony says smiling “What’s up?”
“Well, Steve was wondering if I could take him out to celebrate. Did you get me on the list?”
“No.” Tony says “Not yet at least, they haven’t gotten back to me with a decision.” Bucky nods “but... I’ll go and just wait in the car and say I supervised.”
“You don’t have to do that.” Bucky shakes his head.
“I have work I can do on my tablet it’s fine.” Tony smiles at him with a shrug
“Are you sure?” Bucky asks and Tony nods.
“It’s something I’d want to celebrate if it was me. But it wasn’t,” Tony says huffing “I did the smart thing and signed in the first place.”
“Yeah.” Bucky smiles “Well, I’m going to go tell him.”
“Great.” Tony says smiling as Bucky walks away. He turns to Rhodey “What the hell am I doing?” Tony immediately asks
“Being a good person.” Rhodey says with a smile.
“I don’t want to-“ Tony gets cut off when Steve walks over with a smile on his face.
“Hey, I just wanted to thank you. Bucky told me. So, thank you.”
“It’s really not a big deal.” Tony says avoiding his gaze.
“We’ll I figured we’d go to dinner first and then a bar.” Tony nods
“Great, let me know when you want to leave.” Tony says and Steve nods noticing the way Tony’s looking everywhere but him.
“We were thinking 7.”
“Okay.” Tony says still avoiding his gaze.
“Alright…” Steve says and walks back to Bucky.
“You know, you can’t go the rest of your life without looking him in the eyes.”
“And why not?” Tony asks but before he can answer Tony continues. “Gotta get some work done.” Tony says heading to his lab leaving Rhodey shaking his head.
7 comes quicker than he thought and before he knows it Steves trying to get his body in the back seat of the only car that they can all get in. Tony is biting back his laughter.
“Shouldn’t you have an SUV or something?” Steve complains. “You used to have one, right?”
“Yeah.” Tony says with a shrug
“So, where’d it go?” Steve asks as he has his knees to his chest
“I donated it.” Tony says getting in the driver side.
“What?” Steve asks, “Why would you do that?”
“Because I didn’t want it anymore.” Tony shrugs
“But it would have been useful!” Steve says exasperated.
“It was making me sad.” Tony snaps “Now drop it.”
“it was making you sad?” Steve asks not dropping it. Tony doesn’t answer. Bucky looks at him. “What does that mean?” Steve asks again. And Tony turns up his music. Steve doesn’t ask again but the statement bothers him. The pull up to the restaurant and Tony gets out to let Steve out.
“I’ll be around the block.” Tony says but half way through Steve is already shaking his head.
“I’m buying you dinner for everything you’ve done.” Steve says smiling.
“Do you even have any money?” Tony asks already knowing he’s paying. Steve frowns not having of thought of that and Bucky looks at Tony.
“Tony, you don’t have to pay for us to go out to eat and have drinks.” Bucky says shaking his head.
“It’s fine.” Tony says shrugging “I have the money, right?”
“That’s not the point.” Bucky says
“It’s fine, Bucky.” Tony says “Go.”
“But you’re still coming with us, right?” Steve asks hopeful and Tony hesitates. “Please?” Steve asks and Tony sighs
“Fine.” Tony says and they walk to the restaurant
“Three please.” Steve says and the hostess looks at him in shock.
“Right this way.” She says with a bitter tone. Steve looks at her confused.
“What are you doing here?” A man asks as the three walk by.
“Last I heard it was a free country.” Tony says before the others have the chance.
“Not for traitors.” He says and his wife nods in agreement
“I’m not-“ Steve starts but Tony cuts him off.
“All you need to know is that they have every right to be here, same as you and her. If you don’t you have Iron Man to go through.”
“You’re defending the man who almost killed you?!” The man asks and Tony walks away without responding the two in tow. The reach the table far away from anyone else. Tony sighs
“I should have prepped you.” Tony says sitting down.
“I didn’t realize I’d need prepping.” Steve says frowning
“You may be free, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t hated.” Tony says bluntly “But, let me take care of it and don’t get angered by it, it’ll make the situation worse, pretend like it doesn’t bother you.”
“It does bother me.” Steve says
“Pretend it doesn’t.” Tony says “if you don’t react it won’t escalate. Well, it shouldn’t. Less likely. Basically, let whoever is with you handle it.”
“I don’t like people fighting my battles.”
“It’s not a battle.” Tony snaps “It’s about not starting a riot or a hate video that you react to that goes viral! You don’t need bad press. It would be a disaster if you got bad press. It could screw up everything. Do you understand?” Steve nods
“Let you handle it.”
“Good. Now, let’s enjoy dinner.” Tony says picking up the menu.
“Bucky, they have penne al a vodka.” Tony laughs
“Better get it.” Bucky grins “I need to know if it’s better than mine.”
“Very doubtful. Yours was creamy and flavorful and delicious. But I’ll try it to be sure.” Tony grins
“I’ll try the chicken parm. It was really good and Tony’s and I think this will be good too.” Bucky turns to Steve who’s been watching them not the menu “What are you going to have?”
“Umm…” Steve glances the menu. “lasagna.” Steve decides.
“I have great lasagna recipe from my mom.” Tony says smiling “She couldn’t cook for crap, but if there was one thing she could cook it was lasagna.” Tony smiles softly at the memory of the days she was in a good mood and wanted to cook.
“We’ll have to try it sometime.” Steve says softly and Tony smile fades.
“Maybe.” Tony says looking away. Bucky looks at Steve who has a regretful look on his face.
“So, what are you most excited to do now that you can be here?” Bucky asks Steve he turns to him.
“I don’t know… anything, everything.” Steve says excited “Even if I don’t get to do anything, I’ll just be thankful to be here.” Steve says looking at Tony. He’s not even paying attention.
“Tony?” Bucky asks softly putting his hand on his arm.
“Hmm?” Tony asks turning to him. But the waitress walks up before he can respond.
“Hi, my name is Gina I’ll be taking care of you, would you like to sample our wine?”
“Yes please.” Steve says and she pours some into his glass. She turns to them and they shake their heads. “Mmm.” Steve says “It’s good. How much is a bottle?”
“Seventy even.” She says and Steve looks to Tony who shrugs.
“No.” Bucky shakes his head “he’ll have a glass.” Steve nods at her indicating that that’s fine.
“What else can I get you to drink?” She asks
“Lemonade.” Tony says
“Coke.”
“Are you all ready to order?” They place their orders and she leaves.
“I know we can’t get drunk, but that doesn’t mean we can drink the night away. Drinks are expensive. It could be eight bucks for a beer.”
“Really?” Steve asks and Bucky nods.
“So, not a lot, okay?” Steve nods, they don’t say anything for a moment
“Bucky.” Tony says grinning “Okay, this is great I forgot to tell you this, okay, just listen.” Bucky laughs at Tony’s enthusiasm already “So I was talking to Rhodey, right? And he goes ‘do you have a nickname for Bucky yet?’ And I said ‘his nickname is Bucky his real name is James, like yours stupid.’ And he goes ‘I know, idiot. I’m saying like platypus’ or something stupid like that, right? And I got it. I’ve come up with your nickname.” Tony says with a grin. “Are you ready?” Bucky nods with a smile. “Binky.” Tony says and starts laughing hysterically and Steve even chuckles.
“Wait, no!” Bucky says protesting “No! I can’t be Binky! Tony, come on!”
“No, it’s set in stone, Binky.” This makes tony go into another set of giggles.
“Then I’ll come up with an equally horrible nickname for you.” Bucky says with nod.
“Go for it.” Tony says grinning “Nothing can be as bad as Binky.” Tony goes into another bunch of giggles and Steve watches their interaction.
“No, I’ll think of it. Give me some time, I’ll give you one.”
“I was also going to go with Buckaroo, but decided against it.”
“No, Buckaroo is so much better.” Bucky pleads and Tony smirks
“I know, that’s why I chose Binky.” Bucky rolls his eyes
“You’re such an ass.” Bucky says with a laugh
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you Binky.” Tony says and Bucky lightly slaps his arm as the waitress brings over their drinks.
“Hey,” Tony says to the woman. “Gina. You obviously know who we are right?” She nods “I have a question.”
Bucky mumbles and oh god.
“Okay.” She says and Tony smiles
“Okay, so I had to give Bucky a nickname, it’s a thing to long to explain. So, I came up with two. I want you to tell me which one I should call him.” She nods “Buckaroo or Binky?” He says laughing and Bucky shakes his head but with a smile.
“Don’t feel the need to answer that.” Bucky says.
“Well… I think if you’re going for something cute and endearing it’d be Binky, but if you were going for a joking manor Buckaroo is better.” Tony smiles up at her. “Thank you, Gina. What a perfect response.” She smiles.
“You’re uh welcome.” She says and leaves. Tony smirks at Bucky.
“So, isn’t it Buckaroo now?” Steve asks and Tony turns to him forgetting he was even there.
“Uh… no, I think I’ll keep it Binky.” Tony says biting his lip.
“But-“
“We’re friends, it’s endearing. Get over it.” Tony says locking eyes with Bucky.
“It’s not a big deal.” Bucky says to Steve mostly for him. Bucky forces his eyes away. “It’s growing on me… Do you have a nickname for Steve?” Steve straightens up.
“uh… no.” Tony shakes his head and Bucky snorts.
“Oh, come on, you think I can’t tell when you’re lying.” Bucky says with a grin, “What is it?”
“Well, it’s not an endearing nickname.” Tony says with an awkward laugh. “Best not disclose.” Steve looks at Tony with an annoyed look.
“Really?” he asks Tony rolls his eyes.
“It’s really not a big deal.”
“Then what is it?” Steve asks
“Okay, fine.” Tony says huffing “but don’t over react when you hear it.”
“Okay.” Tony bites his lip and looks at Bucky.
“This was when I first started to sort of like him- you.” Tony says looking at him. “And you won’t understand the reference to Supernatural… but Doctor Sexy.”
“What?” Steve asks jaw dropping
“Well, it’s not that you look like him, it’s just that you’re a bit of an ass, but also in a kind of sexy way. Don’t judge.” Tony says and Bucky breaks out laughing as Steve sputters.
“Doctor Sexy, that’s your new name.” Bucky says laughing his ass off.
“Who else has a nickname?” Steve asks hoping others we’re similar to his.
“Clint was hawkass. Natasha was Rushmanov at the time because I didn’t believe her name was Romanov. Bruce is Brucie-bear mostly cause he’s so cuddly. Thor was pointbreak. Wanda’s scarlet bitch. Vision is just Viz. Sam didn’t have one. And Scott doesn’t either.”
“Why am I the one who has the sexy name?” Steve asks
“Because you’re the sexiest one in the group, besides me of course.” Tony says it with an eyeroll.
“What about Natasha?” Steve asks
“Eh.” Tony says “I’m more into men at the moment.” He riskily winks at Bucky who grins and Steve was too busy thinking to notice.
“But…”
“Is it a problem that I’m bisexual?” Tony asks making a face
“No! Of course not, I just… I didn’t realize you found me… attractive.”
“I said you were the sexiest in the group. I never said I found you attractive.” Tony says.
“Oh, good.” Steve says relieved.
“But I did find you attractive.” Tony admits with a laugh as Steve chokes back his drink “Just in easy on the eyes kind of way, not the I’ll take you to bed and have my way with you, attraction.”
“Oh.” Steve says
“But don’t worry, I find you repulsive now.” Tony says brightly and unsurprisingly that doesn’t make him feel better.
“What else do you do that we don’t know about?” Steve asks softly
“Well, most of it you wouldn’t understand.” Tony says waving his hand in dismissal.
“Yeah, but what about the things we would?” Steve presses on.
“Well…” Tony says “FRIDAY and JARVIS monitor you pretty well. And um… if you do something stupid JARVIS would show me it when I was in a bad mood.”
“Like what?” Steve demands.
“I don’t respond well when someone talks to me like that.” Tony says with a look and Steve sighs.
“Sorry.” He says not sounding very sorry. “I was wondering what kind of videos you’ve seen.”
“Best not to say, you’ll get mad.”
“Tony.” Steve says in a low tone. Tony rolls his eyes.
“Just that time you walked face first into a door frame.” Bucky snorts and can’t help but laugh.
“That’s not fair!” Steve cries “I was still a little dopey from the medicine.”
“So that’s why you apologized to the door.” Tony says snickering and Bucky bites his lip to prevent himself from laughing.
“What else?” Steve says
“I’m not going through them all, Rogers.” Tony says with an eyeroll. Steve makes a face at Rogers but doesn’t say anything.
“Tony.” Bucky whispers “Look over there.” He nods to a guy holding a phone towards them.
“Ignore him, he’s not doing anything illegal and we’re not saying anything that we shouldn’t.” Tony shrugs and Steve and Bucky share a look. “What?” He asks
“It’s just… uncomfortable.” Bucky says
“Oh.” Tony says not even thinking of that. Tony turns to the man “I charge 100 bucks for a photo op, don’t get me started on videos.” He puts the camera away embarrassed for being caught. “Better?” They nod.
“Thanks, Tony.” Bucky smiles
“Hey what are…” Tony stops himself from saying friends for and instead goes “You’re welcome.” Steve looks down and Bucky looks at Tony with sympathy. Just then the meals come out. She puts the food down.
“Thanks.” Tony says as she leaves. He takes a bite and chews thoughtfully. “Not bad.” Tony says “Could use more love.” Tony breaks into a grin as Bucky laugh
“Yeah, you think my secret ingredient is love?” Bucky asks smirking “It’s lard.” Tony looks at Bucky with amusement
“Please tell me that was a reference to The Big Bang Theory and not a real ingredient.” Bucky breaks out into a grin
“I’m so glad you got that, otherwise that’d be an awkward conversation.” Tony laughs
“So apparently you had the big Bang Theory in Bucharest?”
“Oh yeah.” Bucky says smiling “Had a lot of good shows.” Tony eyes light up.
“Like what?”
“The Office reruns.” Bucky says casually.
“Oh my god.” Tony exclaims “You’ve seen the office! This is the greatest news I’ve ever gotten. Oh my god. Bucky, this is great.”
“It is?” Bucky asks
“Of course.” Tony says it like it’s obvious “You don’t know what it means?” He shakes his head “it means I can make references to a show and you’ll get them!”
“I don’t remember all of them.”
“Well, neither will I, I haven’t seen it since…” Tony doesn’t finish
“Since when?” Bucky asks softly. Tony shakes his head and looks to Steve. Bucky turns his gaze and nods
“Oh, did you remember I was here?” Steve asks with a bitterness in his tone. Tony and Bucky cringes slightly.
“Sorry.” Bucky says “What do you want to talk about?”
“I want us to have a nice conversation like you seem to be able to do with Tony.” Tony starts eating and gets really into his pasta and garlic bread,
“Are you jealous that I can have an enjoyable conversation with my- Tony.” Bucky almost said my boyfriend.
“You’re Tony?” Steve asks and Tony stares at his pasta wishing he was somewhere, anywhere else.
“I misspoke.” Bucky says calmly
“Well why don’t you spend the evening with Tony?” Steve asks “That’s all you’ve been doing.” Tony stands up.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” He leaves the room and walks straight out to the car Steve and Bucky none the wiser.
“Steve, really?” Bucky asks
“You forgot I was here!” Steve shouts and others look over. Steve lowers his voice. “you seem to be able to be best friends with him, but don’t even remember me half the time.”
“Being friends with him isn’t complicated like you are.” Bucky hisses.
“I am?” Steve asks
“Oh, come on.” Bucky says exasperated. “You’re an old friend from the 40’s who are now together again but have been on completely different paths since then. We’re different people now. And you’re trying to force my friendship.”
“I want us to be friends.” Steve whispers “I miss you.”
“I know.” Bucky says sighing “But don’t take it out on me and Tony because our relationship isn’t easy.” Steve sighs a resigned sigh.
“I’m sorry.” Steve says “I realize that you and Tony have gotten closer when I wasn’t there and I just think if he hadn’t taken you away we could have been like that.”
“he didn’t take me a way. I asked to leave. And maybe, maybe not. You were pretending that it was the same as when we were kids. Everything is different and you were still living in the past. I needed to get better and to do that I need to focus on the future and I didn’t see a future I wanted while stuck in Wakanda.” With you, is unsaid. Steve sighs
“I’m sorry I was jerk. I was just so excited to finally have you back. I missed you.” Steve says “I see where you’re coming from. I do. It’s just hard for me to get past the part where you like Tony more than me. Of all people, Tony.”
“He’s better than you think. You don’t appreciate everything he has ever done for you. For instance, did you thank him for getting the charges dropped?” Steve thinks back and shakes his head. “That’s my point. Do you know how much strain he’s under and everything he has to do to keep all of us afloat? He works his ass off to pay for things, to fund the Avengers.”
“He’s a billionaire.” Steve points out.
“But if he loses the company because he doesn’t produce new technology and products we’ll be broke in 3 years.”
“What?” Steve asks, “he has hundreds of billions!”
“We cost him billions with the relief fund.” Bucky says “Don’t you realize how much you’ve destroyed in battles. New York. DC. Sokovia! Who do you think pays for everything to be fixed when you go in and break it. And yes, I realize you were just doing your best to stop the attack but you don’t try and minimize your damage control. Billions of dollars spent to rebuild New York. Billions of dollars to give the citizens of Sokovia new homes. He can’t stop working because we’ve been blowing through his funds like crazy. He’s lost over 75 billion since New York. Even though he’s kept up his income, he makes a few billion a year from purchases. But it’s not enough to recuperate the loss.”
“I didn’t realize.” Steve whispers
“Yeah, I didn’t neither. And Tony didn’t tell me this. He doesn’t know I know. He tries to keep the money part away from us.”
“Then how’d you find out?” Steve asks
“I was in his office and he had a projection on the wall with all the information looking for ways to recuperate his money because the executives in his company aren’t happy.”
“I didn’t realize.” Steve says again. Bucky looks over.
“Where is he anyway?”
“He should have been back by now.”
“I’m going to check the bathroom. Make sure he’s okay.” Steve nods as Bucky walks to the restroom only to find it empty.
“He’s gone.” Bucky says pulling out his phone.
He calls Tony and it goes to voicemail. A text comes in after that.
T: In the car. Bill’s already paid. Enjoy dinner.
Bucky sighs and sits down repeating the message.
“Oh, that’s nice of him.” Steve says and Bucky sighs
“He left because we were starting to fight and he didn’t want to make it worse.”
“Oh.” Steve says “I guess that makes more sense.”
“Let’s finish so we can bring Tony his dinner.” They eat the coldish food in silence.
“Bucky.” Steve says finishing his wine. “I’m sorry that I made things hard for you in Wakanda.”
Bucky smiles softly “Thank you. But if anyone deserves and apology it’s Tony.” Steve sighs but doesn’t respond. The waitress walks over and tells them everything is paid and they get a box or Tony’s food. And they walk back to the car to find Tony on his tablet.
“Hey.” Bucky says getting in and handing him the pasta and remaining bread.
“Thanks.” Tony says, “What bar did you want to go to?”
“Which one would you recommend?” Steve asks and Bucky looks at Tony.
“Well, if you’re getting beer there’s a bar with a special brew that I enjoy, but if you want whisky or bourbon that’s a different place. Of course, martinis are basic and Vodka you can get anywhere. If you want a daquiri I know just the place.” Bucky looks at Tony with concern over the amount of knowledge he has over bars in NYC.
“I’ll have beers mostly, Bucky?”
“Whatever’s fine.” Bucky says not taking his eyes off Tony who is staring ahead. Tony puts the car in drive and drives them a few miles away. He parks the car and goes to pull out his tablet when Steve starts talking.
“I’m sorry for what happened in there. Why don’t you let me buy you a drink?” Steve asks and Tony shakes his head.
“No thanks.”
“I’ll pay you back the money once I start working. Come on, it’s the least I could do.”
“I said no thanks.”
“Why do you have to be so difficult! I’m extending an olive branch, here.”
Tony huffs and turns off the car and gets out and walks to the bar Bucky and Steve following behind. Once seated Bucky looks at Tony.
“It’s fine.” Tony says softly. It’s so loud Steve can’t hear him. “And have a drink tonight because I know you enough to know you won’t drink around me. So, enjoy yourself.”
“What can I get for you?”
“A coke and two of your homemade brews, please.” Tony says
“Coming right up.” He says and he puts the beer in front of Tony and Steve and the coke in front of Bucky who quickly switches them.
“You won’t have a drink?” Steve asks seeming annoyed.
“Leave it be, Steve.” Bucky says sharply and Tony focuses on the game on.
They sit in an awkward silence, and there seems to be a lot of those.
“So…” Steve says, “How the brainwashing removal going?” Steve says trying to start a conversation.
“It’s great. We’re just finished stage four of the process out of 10.”
“Bucky that’s amazing!” Steve exclaims.
“It’s all because of Tony.” Bucky says looking to him, and he’s not even paying attention just staring off into space. “But it hasn’t been easy. Just glad to have his h elp.”
"I can help.” Steve says, “I mean, I knew you, I could do a good job.”
“I know you can. But… I’d rather do it with Tony. He seems to know what he’s talking about. It’s worked so far.”
“He can be there too.” Steve says almost pleading. Bucky looks at Tony again.
“Are you okay?” Bucky asks getting concerned.
“Fine.” Tony says not looking his way.
“Tony.”
“Talk to St- Rogers.” Tony says absent mindedly. Bucky looks at him for another moment before turning back to Steve.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, with the way things are between you and Tony.” Bucky says
"We can make it work.” Steve says almost pleading.
“No.” Bucky says, “The answer is no.” He says again when Steve goes to protest.
"Fine.” Steve says “Whatever.”
"Maybe we should just leave.” Bucky says shaking his head.
"No, we’ll just talk about something else.”
"Talk about what? Eveything we say always ends in an argument.”
"That’s because you keep talking about Tony like he’s the greatest person on the planet.”
"He is to me.” Bucky says sharply.
"Really?” Steve asks “Really? He’s the best person on the planet?”
"Maybe we should just stop talking to each other all together.” Bucky says looking away. “You seem to hate everything I say and like and this isn’t working.”
"I want to be your friend.”
"Well than act like it!” Bucky shouts “Take interest in what I like. Listen to what I have to say when I’m talking and don’t dismiss what I say and my feelings.” Bucky and Steve are to wrapped in their conversation to notice people looking at them. Tony takes notice but before he can say something Steve continues.
"We used to have the same likes! I still like the things I did.”
"Well I don’t!” They push off the barstool.
"Bucky.” Tony says alarmed, but he ignores him. The situation getting worse. People starting to video. “Stop!” He shouts but gets nothing.
"Well maybe if you hadn’t fallen off that stupid train you’d be the same person!”
“Oh god.” Tony whispers
“Well maybe if you hadn’t let me fall none of this would have happened!” Steve throws the punch and Bucky blocks it and goes for a punch.
“BUCKY!” Tony shouts at him and Bucky turns to him and Steve shatters a glass on Bucky’s head.
“Oh that’s it.” Bucky says grabbing him and throwing him against the bar.
“BUCKY!” Tony shouts again and Bucky holds back his punch and looks over and Tony’s horrified face. “You need to stop. NOW!” Bucky comes back to himself and let’s Steve go. He looks around at everything and the people. “We need to leave, now.” Bucky pushes Steve out the door as Bucky throws a couple hundred’s on the table just to be safe. They get to the car and both have cooled off.
“What the fuck was that?” Tony snaps at them.
“I’m sorry.” Bucky says, “it got out of hand.”
“Out of hand?” Tony says, “Out of hand?!”
“It’s not a big deal-“
“Shut up Rogers. You two made a god damn mess of this!” Tony shouts.
“It’s was a stupid fight but you’re not the one who’s in trouble.” Steve says scoffing “Bucky and I will get the punishment.” Tony is fuming. He is literally shaking he pulls off the high way and gets out of the car. They follow.
“You two are the biggest dumbasses I’ve ever met!” Tony shouts “Idiots! God damn idiots! You have no idea what you’ve done! God, you couldn’t have made I bigger mess. I told you we didn’t need a scene! I told you and you did it anyway!” Tony pulls out his phone.
“Tony.” Bucky says softly not understanding why but gets it’s a big deal.
“Pepper- You heard? Set up a press conference for when I get back. An hour. Bye.” Tony hangs up and turns to them fuming.
“God, you two are so stupid.” Tony says and Bucky tries not to flinch.
“Tony, what’s happening?” Bucky asks
“You two got into a damn bar fight!” Tony shouts.
“Why is it such a horrible thing?” Bucky says calmly
“Because I was responsible for the two of you.” Tony says angry, and Bucky pales. “You’ll get a slap on the wrist and won’t be allowed to leave the compound for 6 months.” Tony shakes his head.
“What about you?” Bucky whispers. Tony doesn’t answer.
“Tony?” Steve says softly
“I’ll be held responsible for your actions because I couldn’t control you, because it was my responsibly. And that could be any number of things. And people are going to question me about how come I could stop the fight, and what would happen if they turned on civilians. And what could I have done? How do we know we’re safe when Tony Stark can’t even control two super soldiers? How can we trust the people who just got free when they can’t even have a simple drink together?”
“What could they do to you?” Bucky asks “What’s the worst case scenario?” Tony sighs
“Best case is they don’t allow me to take out anyone on trips. Worse…I technically broke the conditions of the agreement and could be fired.”
“Fired?” Bucky asks mad at the thought that what he did could cost Tony his job.
“It’s unlikely, but if they’re feeling bitter…” Tony doesn’t finish the sentence.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” Bucky whispers “I don’t know what came over me.”
“Neither do I. I’m sorry too, Tony.” Steve says in a genuine tone and Tony rolls his eyes.
“Get back in the car, I have a press conference to get to.” They nod silently getting in the car. They drive back is silent expect for the occasional sorry’s that they can’t seem to contain. Tony ignores them and focuses on the road. Bucky looks over and watches Tony’s face. It clearly goes from angry too worry. Bucky shifts nervously in his seat.
“Tony.” Bucky starts but Tony shakes his head
“Don’t.” He says sharply “I don’t want to hear it.” Bucky nods feeling even worse. When they pull up to the compound there’s a bunch of news van’s there. Tony parks the car in the garage. “Stay in the house. Don’t come out, let me handle this. You’ll only make it worse.” Bucky looks at Tony a thousand things going through his mind but just ends up nodding and leaving Tony to clean up their mess. Like always. Everyone is standing there obviously aware something happened and they begin to ask questions. They shake their heads and turn on the news.
“Tony Stark is making his way here to give a statement about the incident earlier. Let’s have a look.” A video obviously taken by a cellphone pops up. Bucky and Steve watch cringing through the video.
“Oh, my lord.” Rhodey whispers in disbelief. “You two-“
“We know.” Steve says, “We know.” Bucky nods as the others look at them with a shake of their head. The video ends.
“Here he is.” She says and they all stop talking for Tony.
“Earlier this evening there was an incident at a bar involving Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. Fortunately, no one was injured and everything thing damaged was paid for. Because of this incident Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are not allowed to leave the compound for any reason besides a mission for the next 6 months. After that they will not be allowed to go out together indefinitely. Any questions?”
“Mr. Stark?”
“Yes?”
“How do we now we are safe if you can’t control them while they’re just having a drink? And they’re supposedly best friends.” Steve and Bucky look at each other and Bucky looks down first.
“Their relationship at this moment is not part of this, but I firmly believe neither of them would attack anyone if the situation arises.”
“But they attacked each other?”
“Let me rephrase it. I believe after Mr. Rogers ad Mr. Barnes have their punishment they will have learned their lesson and will not attack anyone for any reason.”
“That’s a nice thing to say but how do we know that’s true?”
“We won’t know until the time comes, but if I know one thing about those two is that they learn from their mistakes.” And Tony realizes he’s pretty much lying.
“Mr. Stark?” He nods “What about you? If you can’t control them how can anyone?”
“I’ll admit, if they get in a fight and I’m without my armor I’m not able to physically stop them. But if you pay attention to the video, I didn’t need to. I got through to Mr. Barnes before it got out of hand.”
“What if you couldn’t get through?”
“I don’t foresee a situation where that is the case.”
“Yes, you’ve been clear about that but, what if? We need some reassurance that if they get out of hand the rest of us will be safe.” Bucky watches worried about the consequences of his actions, and worried that he really messed up with Tony.
“As I said they won’t be allowed to go out for six months, however, if one of them do go out I’ll make sure to have the armor with me.”
“But what if you don’t go out with them? What if Dr. Banner does? And if he does and can’t get it under control what if he turns into the Hulk?” Bruce takes a deep breath.
“Bruce Banner is in control of his anger. He rarely changes when he doesn’t need to anymore. And he is more easily calmed down.”
“Wasn’t Ms. Romanov the one who calmed him down previously? And are they still that close?”
“Bruce’s personal life has nothing to do with this, but I will say I am able to calm him down quite well.” Natasha looks at Bruce who ignores her.
“What about the city that the hulk destroyed and you could barely stop him.” Bruce cringes knowing that would come up.
“That was a different situation as his brain had been affected by an outside source.”
“You are referring to Ms. Maximoff yes?” Tony nods “How do we know she won’t do that again? We have seen time and time again that she is can’t control herself, is reckless, and a danger to those around her.” Wanda growls but doesn’t say anything.
“All of that is true, but I can say Dr. Strange has taken away her powers and won’t have them indefinitely, and there is a chance it will be years or she may never get them back if she can’t control herself like we’ve seen.”
“What?” Wanda hisses. Everyone shushes her and she gets angry.
“She no longer has her powers?”
“That is correct.” Tony says
“But how do we know this won’t happen with any of the others?”
“We don’t. Not for certain, but I can say I personally won’t let them go out until I feel they are ready.”
“But how can you stop them if you couldn’t before?”
“Because while I’m here I have several people who will help me. If that situation arises.”
“Do you think that is was a good decision for Bucky to be brought back to the US after everything he’s done?” Bucky holds his breath as he watches Tony think for a moment.
“Do I think it was a good decision?” Tony asks and Bucky watches a little nervous. “I know for a fact that Bucky didn’t have a say in what was done to him and what they made him do. Think of it like this. While you were sleeping someone drugged your and brought you to the middle of town. During the time you were unconscious is it your fault for what someone does to you? If that happened to you, and you could do nothing to stop them because you weren’t conscious are you at fault?”
“But having someone do something to you and something being done by you is different.”
“Is it?” He asks “Because he had no control. Was it his fault he fell of the train? Maybe.” Tony says “But he was only doing it because he was trying to save lives. He got kidnapped twice in the line of duty. He was doing his best and can we fault him for that? Can we blame him because Hydra took him and brainwashed him so he had no thought of what he was doing? I of all people can be his friend after what’s happened, because I know it wasn’t him. I know he wasn’t at fault. So was it good decision?” tony asks again “I think it was the second-best decision of my life.” Bucky smiles at that.
“And the first?” She asks. Tony smiles to himself.
“That, I’m not going to say. But he knows. And that’s all that matters.” Bucky grins at the screen and Tony’s soft smile. And the group looks at him wondering. Sam just smiles to himself.
“Mr. Stark, what can you tell us about the incident directly? What sparked it? Why was there such a blow out?”
“I won’t say everything but I will say this.” The two watch the screen nervously. “Even though Rogers and Barnes were best friends back in the 40’s doesn’t mean they are now. Like everyone, they’ve changed because of their experiences. Steve’s experience was a much better one than Bucky’s in a lot of ways. And the people they are now, are different from the people they were. I think they’re going to have arguments, they’re going to disagree, because they were so close, and now they’re so different.”
“Do you think they’ll eventually be friends again?”
“I hope so.” Tony says truthfully.
“That’s not the question.”
“I think that they have a chance. If they both get their heads out of their asses and learn to communicate they can become friends again. But at this moment that doesn’t seem to be happening.” Bucky and Steve look at each other soft eyes.
“Mr. Stark, what can we expect to happen to you, since you broke the contract.”
“I have no idea.” He says “What the UN decides is up to them. I will let you know when they’ve reached a decision. Last question?”
“Mr. Stark. What can you tell us about the future of the Avengers and what will become of them, if things stay like this?”
“I can tell you that if we stay like this, things aren’t going to be okay. I can tell you if we don’t find peace between each other bad things may come. Probably will come and we may not be able to stop them. But I do have to say if we try our best to get past the incidents of the last year we can be a united front. Better than we ever were. And I’m past it, I’m just waiting for the others to catch up. Thank you.” He says and walks away as people burst out questions.
“That was…” Sam drifts off
“He did a great job for you two.” Rhodey says with a look. “You two were stupid. God damn stupid.”
“We know.” They say in unison.
“I can’t imagine anything was worth fighting over that.”
“It wasn’t.” Bucky says “We just weren’t thinking about what could happen we were too caught up in our argument.”
“Apparently.” Rhodey says and they both look down. “Tony should be here any minute.”
~
Once he’s inside and there are no camera’s his confidence fades and throws back his head. He slides down the wall and just sits there for a few moments.
He’s jerked from his thoughts when his phone rings.
“Hey,” he says to Pepper.
“God job, there.” She says, “I think you answered the questions well.”
“Thanks.”
“But… what did happen, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“They were fighting over me. Because Bucky thinks highly of me and Steve thinks I’m an asshole.”
“God.” Pepper says, “Steve’s an ass.”
“Oh yeah.” He says
“Well, before the conference I spoke with UN.” Tony’s breath picks up
“Yeah?” He asks
“They said they’re not punishing you for what happened.” Tony relaxes
“Good.” And then frowns “Wait… if they’re not punishing me…”
“They’re adding things to their contract.”
“They already signed.”
“They don’t care.”
“What is it?” Tony says waiting for the blow.
“it’s put into contract that if a public incident such as this happens again they have the right to be prosecuted.” Tony sighs.
“I guess that’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“it’s better than they deserve.” Pepper says sharply
“It is.” Tony agrees.
“Look, Tony.” Pepper says “Rhodey told me you’re with Bucky. And I’m happy for you, I am. But are you sure it’s the smartest decision to be with him right now? I want you to be happy, I do, truly, but maybe now is not the best time with everything going on. Maybe you should put this on hold for a couple months.” A million thoughts run through Tony’s head but he doesn’t say one of them. Pepper sighs “Look, Rhodey says Bucky makes you happy. Happier than you were with me. I’m glad. I love you Tony, but we’re better friends.”
“I know.” Tony whispers voice hoarse.
“And as your friend I want you to be happy. But professionally, I think this is the wrong time and could screw up everything we’ve worked so hard for. I’m not going to tell you what to do. It’s your life and it’s your decision. Just think about it, okay?” Tony nods but realizes she can’t see him and for once, he glad.
“Okay.” He croaks out. “Bye Pepper.”
“Bye Tony.”
He hangs up the phone and stares at the wall for a long time.
Is it the wrong time? Should they stay apart. He remembers the smile on Bucky’s face whenever he’s there and they’re happy. But is it really best? It’s creating problems with Steve, and there is going to be a big blowout when he finds out. If it got out to the public very bad things could happen. Very bad things. But he’s happy. He’s finally happy. Does he even deserve that? After everything? He wipes the thought from his mind and stands up. He walks back to everyone still in a daze.
“Tony.” Bucky says walking to him. Tony shakes his head.
“I’m going to bed.” He says before he gets there. “It’s been a long day.” He nods to everyone before turning and walking to his room. He changes and lays down. Not before looking Bucky knocks on his door.
“Come in.” Tony says knowing it’s Bucky.
“Hey.” He says softly “What’s up?” he knows that means why are you in my room.
“I need to think over some things. By myself.” Tony says not looking at him. Bucky looks down but nods.
“Okay.” Bucky says “if you need anything…”
“I know.” Tony says “Just… I need to be alone now.”
“I’m sorry.” Bucky says “I was stupid this evening and you cleaned up our mess like usual. So, thank you, and I’m sorry.” Tony nods not verbally responding. “I guess I should go.” Bucky says after an awkward pause.
“Guess so.” Tony says still lying in bed. Bucky nods and walks out of the room looking back before shutting the door and going into his room. Tony stares at the ceiling for a few hours before finally going to his lab to do some work while thinking over what Pepper said to him. He falls asleep at his desk a few hours later, without a decision.

Chapter Text

Tony spent the entire day in his lab. Twice Bucky called but Tony said if it wasn’t an emergency and wasn’t super important he needed to be left alone. Of course, Bucky respected his wishes and left Tony in his lab all day. He hasn’t eaten in his lab in over a month so everything has expired and he wasn’t that hungry enough to risk it.

He asked FRIDAY what to do several times and she said the same thing every time.

“Listen to your heart.” And then she would play the song by Roxette for him and he’d groan but wouldn’t ask her to turn it off. Just would listen to the words.

The ones that stuck to him the most was ‘listen to your heart, when he’s calling for you. listen to your heart, before you tell him goodbye.’

That just made the situation harder because wasn’t he supposed to be thinking with his brain, making the smart decision, not listening to the heart, right?

But every time he comes close to listening to Pepper he feels the tug in his heart. And he’d shamelessly ask FRIDAY to play the song again.

So, for the past 18 hours Tony’s been playing ping pong in his head. He knows Bucky’s probably worried. He’s probably thinking Tony’s mad at him for what happened not having an internal debate about breaking up with him, at least for the time being.

Because he really does care for Bucky. He doesn’t want to live without him there. He’s better when he’s with him. They’re better for each other. Tony would never have agreed to therapy otherwise. Tony bolts up right at the thought. Therapy. Some one who is paid to give him advice. He huffs not believing he didn’t think of it before. He tells FRIDAY to have her meet her in his office. She’s waiting for him because he had to make sure he wouldn’t run into anyone. He sits down.

“I need smart unbiased and useful advice.” Tony says not even fully seated.

“Hello, again Tony.”

“We don’t have time for hello’s.” Tony says “We need to start.”

“We have all the time in the world. Why don’t you try and relax before telling me what’s going on. I assume it has something to do with what happened?”

“No.” Tony shakes his head “I don’t care about that.”

“Okay, then tell me what’s the issue.” She says calmingly.

“Well, after the interview I talked to pepper.” She nods “And I was talking to her and she made some valid points that maybe Bucky and I shouldn’t date right now. With everything going on between his recovery and my issues. Because things could go terribly wrong if the public finds out, what is Steve and the others going to think? What if this blows up in our faces and I could have prevented it by breaking up with him, for the time being?” She pauses for a moment and he hates the silence

“Obviously there is a lot to consider about what Ms. Potts said.” Tony nods leaning forward “Let me ask you a question.” She says, “Do you love him?”

“I… I don’t know yet.” Tony says softly “I mean, I could see myself saying that in the future. The faraway future.”

“Are you just saying that because you’re scared of the revelation?”

“No.” Tony says but he can't help the nagging feeling that he's lying. and she smiles at him

“That’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own.” She says

“FRIDAY tells me I should listen to my heart, but I like my brain making the decisions.” 

“That’s not bad advice from and AI.” She says “But I guess you have to think of it in terms of worth. What are you risking by being with him and is it worth the risk? And what are you giving up if you break up?”

“Happiness.” Tony answers immediately

“I tell this to people all the time. It may seem stupid, but it helps. Make a pros and cons list. List the pro’s and con’s of dating Bucky. Rate the items on a scale of 1-5 importance calculate the results and see which is higher.” She smiles “Another thing to do is flip a coin.”

“You want the fate of our relationship to rest on fate?” he asks in disbelief she smiles.

“No. When you flip the coin you usually hope for a side while it’s in the air and that’s when you realize what you want.”

“Huh.”

“Would you like to do it now?” She asks and he nods. She pulls out a coin.

“Heads you stay with Bucky, tails you don’t.” he nods she flips the coin into the air and he takes in a breath. He thought a million thoughts would fly across his mind fighting for a decision while consuming the time until it lands. But his mind immediately says ‘heads’. It lands in her palm.

“Well?” She asks and he smiles

“Heads.” He says but isn’t fully convinced.

“I think that should sway at least a little bit on your decision. But you still should make the pros and cons list.” He nods

“I will.” He says “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome Tony. And if you ever need anything, I’m here.” He smiles and walks back to his lab. He pulls out his tablet.

Pro’s Tony hums.

Happy. Clearly, happy.

Less nightmares.

Sleeps better.

More emotionally stable.

Someone to talk to.

cooks for me.

helps me stay clean.

Cares about me.

Defends my honor.

Refuses to let Steve be an ass when he’s there.

Gives good advice.

Funny.

Makes me smile, when he’s in the room.

Advice giver.

Tony thinks for a moment.

Good at cuddling.

Tony nods at the list and he goes back and labels them one through 5

Happy, 5. Less nightmares, 3. Sleeps better, 3. More emotionally stable, 4. Someone to talk to, 3. Cooks for me, 2. Helps me stay clean, 5. Cares about me, 5. Defends my honor, 4. Refuses to let Steve be mean to me, 5. Good advice giver, 3. Funny, 3. Makes me smile, 3. Advice giver, 3. Good Cuddle buddy, 2.

Tony adds them up. 53. 

He moves on to cons.

Risky if Steve finds out, which he will, 5.

Horrible if UN finds out, 5.

Horrible if Public finds out, 5.

Tony thinks for a long time.

Bad timing? 2.  Only because he’s not sure he believes that.

He stares at the list for 20 minutes before giving up on finding something else negative about them being together. He adds them up, 17.

He stares at the results, 17 to 53.

The results match the feeling in his heart when the coin flipped. He still isn’t sure  so Tony decides to leave his lab. Maybe some fresh air will give him a new perspective. He finds Bucky walking to him

“Hey.” Tony says softly. Bucky perks up.

“Hey.” He smiles at Tony “You came out.”

“Yeah.” Tony says biting his lip. “Um, look, I’m not mad at the whole thing, well I am, but that’s not what this is about.”

“Than what is it about?” Bucky asks softly

“It’s about something Pepper said to me.”

“What did she say?” Bucky asks

“Just… said maybe now isn’t the best time for a relationship.” Bucky looks at him in shock.

“What?” Bucky asks

“I haven’t decided anything, Bucky but… she has some good points.”

“What are they?” Bucky asks

“If the world found out, it could be really disastrous.”

“They won’t find out.” Bucky says so confident Tony almost believes him

“When Steve finds out, that’s going to be a hell hole.”

“We’ll handle it.”

“You’re still healing.”

“You being with me makes the process easier.” Bucky says with so much emotion. “Tony… I need you. I don’t think I could do it without you by my side.”

“I’d still be there.” Tony says “And you could. You don’t need me.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Bucky says stepping forward “My strength comes from you. From you looking at me, like I can do anything. I feel like I can do anything, when you look at me like that. I’m more confident when I’m with you because you believe in me, unlike anyone ever has. I… can’t begin to describe how much I need you, because without you I’d be so lost.” Tony has tears in his eyes.

“I feel the same…” Tony whispers

“So, then why are you considering it?” Tony sighs

“Just give me a couple day.” Tony says “I just need to make sure. I need to talk to Rhodey, he gives me great advice. I figured I’d tell you so you know it’s not about the stupid bar fight.” Bucky looks at Tony sadly for a moment before straightening up, confidence forming on his face.

“Take what time you need, I’ll be here waiting, because I know what the right decision is. And I know you do too.” Tony smiles.

“Okay, um… I’m gonna go eat something there was no food in my lab.”

“I made baked ziti, it’s in the fridge.” Tony smiles

“Thanks.”

He eats it and it’s another reminder why Bucky’s the best.

~

“Rhodey.” Tony whines walking to his room.

“Hi, Tony.” Rhodey says from his chair. He puts his book down as Tony sits on the bed across from him.

“Pepper is a meanie.” Tony says with a sigh.

“What happened?”

“Well, she said I did an excellent job on the conference.”

“You did.” He smiles

“And then told me I should break up with Bucky.”

“What?” Rhodey asks sitting up, a little outraged. “She did?”

“Yeah, said it wasn’t a good time because when Steve finds out it'll be ass and when the world finds out it could screw up everything. And Bucky’s still healing.” Tony whispers “Maybe… maybe we should wait.”

“Tony, here’s the brutally honest truth.” Rhodey says dead serious. “Pepper doesn’t know everything.” Tony laughs. “But even more truthful, there is never going to be a right time. You can come up with a million reasons why you should wait, and then when those million are done, they’ll be a million more.” Tony nods realizing the truth in those words. “And Tony, when Steve finds out, he gonna shit bricks.” Tony snorts at the accurateness of it. “but, when he gets over that, which he should, he’ll realize that Bucky and you belong together. I’ve never seen two people a better match.”

“Really?” tony asks though he knows the answer.

“Really. And Tony, Pepper isn’t here. She doesn’t know how much you two help each other. She doesn’t know about how you chase each other’s nightmares away. How you help him through his treatment with support. How he makes you happy, and more honest. There’s a billion reasons why you should be together. She doesn’t know all those things. And I do. And you do. And Bucky does. And isn’t love worth a little risk?”

“I didn’t say I love him.” Tony says quickly

“You don’t need too.” Rhodey says “I see the way you look at him. The way you smile when you’re around him. The way you light up when he walks into a room. That’s love, and even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself, that’s fine, just know that breaking up isn’t the solution.” Tony looks at Rhodey. He doesn’t love Bucky. I mean, they’ve only been together a few weeks, you can’t love someone in a few weeks, can you? Tony shake his head at the idea. But he concedes to Rhodey’s points. Is it worth the risk? Tony keeps coming back with the same answer, yes. Tony nods.

“Thanks, Rhodey.” Tony smiles and Rhodey smiles back. Tony walks out of the room all his questions having been answered.

He finds Bucky with a small smile on his face.

“Tony.” Bucky says walking over.

“Okay.” He says decisive “I’ve decided I want this.”

“You do?” Bucky whispers

“A wise old man told me that there isn’t ever going to be a ‘good time’. And that what we have is worth the risk.”

“Who was that?” Bucky asks confused at who Tony talked to.

“Rhodey.” Tony says grinning, Bucky breaks out laughing

“I can’t wait to tell him you said that.”

“Well it’s technically true!” Tony laughs

“So, you’re sure?” Bucky asks biting his lip.

“Oh yeah.” Tony says “I’m sure.” Bucky pushes Tony up against the wall and kisses him, hard. Tony moans into the kiss and runs his hands through Bucky’s hair. “God.” Bucky murmurs in the kiss. Tony pushes his body closer to up against him with a grin. Bucky pulls back first with desire in his eyes.

“If we don’t stop now, I don’t think I’ll have enough control not to do you right here.” Bucky whispers.

“Is that such a bad thing?” Tony whispers staring at him with lust in his eyes. Bucky breaks eye contact and takes a deep breath.

“Yes, right now it is. I mean, are you ready? I mean I don’t know if I’m ready yet.” Bucky whispers being totally honest and vulnerable. “I don’t know, I mean, I kind of wanted to take it slow, you know? Where still just healing and I mean God, I want to have sex with you, but I want to take it slow too, you know?” Bucky asks a little nervous.

“Yeah, I do.” Tony smiles “I understand. I did want to take it slow too. I was kind of lost in the moment, I guess. But yeah, waiting is good.” Tony smiles.

“yeah.” Bucky smile pleased that Tony is so understanding. He sighs “I was so worried when you were in your lab. I thought you hated me or something.”

“I could never hate you. Even when I’m mad, or questioning us.” Tony says “Which, was a stupid thing to do. I mean, Pepper isn’t here, she doesn’t know us like we know each other.”

“Yeah.” Bucky says softly “I’m glad you came to the logical conclusion.”

“Well, I am a genius. But it um… helped that I talked to FRRIDAY, Jackie and Rhodey.”

“You talked to Jackie?” Bucky as pleasantly surprised. Tony nods

“Yes, and she has some pretty cool tricks up her sleeve.”

“Oh?” Bucky asks

“She had me flip a coin.”

“The fate of our relationship was based on chance?” Bucky asks in disbelief.

“No.” Tony says smiling “She told me when you flip the coin there’s usually a side you wish for while it’s in the air. That’s how you tell what you really want.” Tony smiles “And it was easy. I want you.” Bucky smiles at him.

“I want you too.”  

“Just one more kiss.” Tony says grabbing Bucky’s collar. Bucky leans in, happy to comply.

They break apart at hearing something shatter. They look over and find Steve staring at them gaping with a glass of water shattered on the floor.

“I forgot he was going to come over and we were going to have a drink and talk.” Bucky whispers “Shit.” Tony cringes.

"This was sooner then i thought." Tony whispers

“What the fuck!” Steve says breaking out of his shock. “oh god, please tell me this is all a huge misunderstanding and you were like, giving him mouth to mouth to revive him.”

“He was giving me mouth to mouth to revive me.” Tony says with a straight face. “Because he’s drop dead gorgeous.” Tony breaks into a set of giggles. Bucky gives him a look now is not the time. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

“No, you’re not dating.” Steve says laughing “No, this is ridiculous.” Tony and Bucky don’t say anything. “please tell me this isn’t true. That he’s hypnotized you, Bucky. He must have there’s no way you like him, let alone want to kiss him. Wait, are you together, together or are you hooking up. We all know how Tony is. You’re hooking up. It’s not great, but it’s better.” Steve relaxes having ‘figured it out’.

“We’re dating.” Bucky says softly “And we have been for a while.” Steve shakes his head.

“That’s not funny, Bucky.”

“I’m not joking, Steve.” Bucky says “Tony… makes me happy. I… I can’t picture life without him.”

“No.” Steve shakes head.

“It’s true.”

“It’s Tony.” Steve says like that’s reason enough. Tony rolls his eyes.

“Why do you do that?” Bucky demands “You just dismiss him with a wave of your hand and a comment about how It’s just Tony!”

“Because we all know how he is.” Steve says with an eyeroll “he’s awful, and rude and selfish. He’s just… Words can’t describe how much of an asshole he is. And I can’t even begin to describe how I can’t believe you managed to lower your standards to him. Really Bucky. Him? I know options are limited here, but you could have just been single.”  Steve make a face and Tony sighs with an eyeroll, but Bucky’s not having it.

“Listen up Steve fucking Rogers.” Bucky snaps “you can’t keep treating him like this in his own home. He is the best thing to happen to me. And whether you like it or not, we’re together and we’re happy. And you need to realize the truth or you need to learn to keep your opinions to yourself. You see Tony in your judgmental way. Your so stuck on how you’ve decided who he is, you don’t see the real him. I’ve looked past the media, and the lies you tell yourself and others, and I see what a good man he is. And don’t shake your head at me, Rogers. If you just thought rationally about the things he’s done, and everything he’s given up for us, then you’ll realize the truth. Tony is a better man than both of us combined. So, either you open your god damn eyes or leave my boyfriend the hell alone!” Steve glares at him.

“I know the truth.” Steve says, “And I know what a huge mistake your making.”

“it’s not a mistake, but even if it is, it’s worth the risk.” Bucky says quoting Tony from only minutes before. “What we have, Steve. It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Sure, I was happy in the 40’s. I had you, but I was gay, and couldn’t even say it. We were in war and I was being deployed. You were being deployed. And I knew nothing could change that. So I dealt with it, but Steve. I know it may sound stupid, or a horrible thing to say, but I’m glad Hydra took me prisoner. I’m happy with all the events that transpired, I wish I didn’t kill all those people, but I did. And I’m not glad about that, but I’m glad I ended up here. You woke me up Steve, but Tony makes me feel alive.” Steve stares at him.

“You really believe that.” Steve says softly

“I don’t believe it Steve. I know it’s true.” Bucky smiles at looks to Tony who’s been watching with wide eyes.

“And you, Tony?” Steve asks “What about you?” Tony thinks for a moment. There’s a lot of ways to answer it. He thinks for a moment.

“When I was a kid, Howard convinced me that I wasn’t anything special.” Tony says softly “he told me that I wasn’t good enough, and would never be as great as him.” Tony smiles at Bucky who is listening with interest. Steve is looking confused at the words about Howard but listening none the less. “I believed him for a while. Even still part of me believed his words only a few months ago. But then Bucky came into my life. Oh, and what a ride was that. But then I called. One phone call. One conversation. One hour and everything changed. Bucky came into my life from enemies to friends to lovers. He tells me that I am special. That I am good enough. Hell, more than enough. He tells me that I deserve to be happy. Even when I don’t believe the words myself. He tore down all the walls the I had built up. Not only does he make me happy, but he makes me honest, he makes me want to get help, he makes me a better man, he makes me…” Tony shakes his head. “he makes me feel things I never thought I deserved. After all the terrible things, I’ve done. After all the weapons I built, all the deaths I’ve caused, he still thinks I deserve to be happy. The way he says it, makes me believe it. The way he looks at me when we wake up in morning, makes me believe it. The way he laughs when one of us says something funny, makes me believe it. The way he smiles when he looks at me, makes me believe it. And the way he kisses me, makes me feel like I’m the luckiest man on earth and I deserve every bit of it. I don’t know if I do. I don’t know if I really deserve that. But I know that Bucky’s here, and I know that I am going to spend the rest of my life with him, if he’ll let me.” Tony looks at Bucky with a smile on his face. Bucky smiles and pulls him in for a long kiss Steve compleletly forgotten. When they pull back they smile. “Yeah.” Tony says “I know this is meant to be.”
They turn to Steve, who is fuming.

“I don’t care what you think, Steve.” Bucky says before he can speak “We’re together and you’re just going to have to deal with that.”

“This is ridiculous.” Steve says

“Don’t.” Bucky says stepping forward. “Don’t say one more bad word about him, because if you do, you’ll live to regret it.”

Steve takes a deep breath. “It’s your life, Bucky.” Steve says though gritted teeth. “And I can’t control what you do. But I don’t like it.”

“I don’t care.” Bucky says. Steve nods once.

“This isn’t over.” Steve says before turning around and leaving. Bucky looks over at Tony.

“This isn’t going to be good.” Bucky says softly

“he was going to find out one way or another.” Tony says with a shrug “I wonder what the other’s will think because he’s probably going to rant about us to them now.”

“Let’s worry about that later.” Bucky says, “I just want to enjoy my time with you, without worry about them and everything.”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Tony says before Bucky pulls him in for a kiss. And both know that when they see the group in the morning, it will suck, but right then, they don’t care, they’ll think about it later. They just enjoy getting lost in the kiss.

Chapter Text

“They’re dating.” Steve says walking into the room which includes; Natasha, Clint, Wanda, Sam, and Scott.

“Who?” Scott asks

“Tony and Bucky.” Sam says softly.

“You knew?” Steve asks outraged, “You knew and didn’t tell me?

“I had guessed. I didn’t have confirmation. And it’s not realty your business what they do, Steve.”

“It’s awful, Bucky deserves to be with someone better than Tony! I don’t know what he did, but he’s not thinking clearly. I can’t believe he’s lowered his standards to Tony. I think I’m going to throw up. Tony with Bucky.”

“Are they happy?” Natasha asks softly.

“They say they are, but we know they’re not.” Steve shakes his head “We need to knock some sense it to them.”

“Yeah.” Clint and Wanda nod along.

“It’s not out business. If they say they’re happy, we shouldn’t interfere.” Scott says, “I mean, I get your angry. And it may not be what you like. But it’s not our say, or your say what they do. They’re two grown adults who can make their own decision.”

“Tony is manipulating Bucky. Bucky wouldn’t want that. Want him. Tony’s taking advantage of Bucky while he’s still healing.”

“You don’t know that, and I highly doubt that’s true.” Natasha says

“Have you met Tony?” Steve asks and Natasha shakes her head sigh a sigh.

“We don’t even know anything about the relationship.” Sam says “Tell us what happened. Did they tell you?”

“No. I found them kissing.” Steve shudders. “I thought tony was like trying something on Bucky. But when I realized it was consensual I thought they must be sleeping together, we all know how Tony is.”

“He doesn’t do that anymore.” Natasha says with an eyeroll.

“yeah he does.” Steve shakes his head moving on dismissing Natasha’s statement completely. “Then Bucky said some stuff that makes it seem more than just sex. Which was bad enough.”

“What did he say?” Sam asks

“Well, it kind of summed it up in one sentence that stuck out. He said, ‘you woke me up Steve, but Tony makes me feel alive.’ Like really?” Steve shakes his head.

“That’s a pretty serious thing to say if they were just being casual. They obviously care for each other.” Sam says but Steve shakes his head.

“You’re not getting it.” Steve says with emphasis.

“I get it.” Wanda says, “Tony is being himself and bringing down Bucky with him.”

“He can’t do that.” Clint says getting annoyed. “He’s already messing with my family, I won’t let him ruin yours too.” Natasha wants to point out that Bucky isn’t Steve family, but decides against it.

“Ms. Romanov, Boss would like to see you in his office.”

“What are you going to do?” Steve asks

“See what he wants.” Natasha says standing.

“No, I mean about what he’s doing with Bucky.”

“It’s not really my business, Steve. Or yours.” She says with a pointed look.

“Natasha.” Steve says but she leaves without another word.

“Look.” Sam says softly “I know you don’t want to hear it but you need too.”

“What?” Steve says crossing his arms defensively.

“I want you to go into this with an open mind or you’re never going to see it from other’s point of view.”

“I have an open mind.” Steve says stiffly but his arms are still crossed and he’s tense as if waiting for it to be bad news.

“No, you’re not.” Sam shakes his head “Man, Steve, I thought you were this upstanding guy who has this profound sense of right and wrong and good morals. And just… Steve, I don’t even recognize you anymore.”

“I do.” Steve protests “I know what is right and what is wrong.”

“You don’t think it’s wrong to get into somebody else’s love life when you’re not even a friend?” Sam asks

“I’m Bucky’s best friend!”

“No, you’re not.” Sam says “he’s made that clear. I don’t understand how you don’t see that.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Clint says “They grew up together. Of course, they’re best friends.”

“I had a friend all through elementary school to high school.” Sam says “We graduated together and I thought we’d be friends forever because we’ve been friends for 90% of our lives. But I haven’t spoken to him in nearly 10 years.”

“What happened?” Scott asks

“We became different people.” Sam says with a shrug “I had joined the military and he became a corporate lawyer who only cared about the money, and not right and wrong. We were just changed. It’s what happens when you get older. And you two have changed significantly. There is no way you can tell me that isn’t true.”

“I…” Steve falters.

“You have.” Sam says “I didn’t know you back then, clearly, but it would be impossible if you hadn’t changed. Hell, I’m pretty sure you’ve changed more in the past year then most of your life.”

“What does that mean?” Steve asks and Sam looks at him in disbelief.

“Are you serious?” Sam asks.

“I haven’t changed.” Steve says.

“You are in denial.” Sam says “You… You need to come to that realization yourself. But in the meantime, you need to tone down the Tony hate.”

“Oh, come on!” Sam shakes his head.

“Sometimes I don’t even recognize you.” Sam says softly. He sighs and walks out of the room. Scott follows him out leaving Clint, Wanda, and Steve.

“We need to do something.” Wanda says. “Teach him a lesson for messing with you and Bucky. He has no right.” Steve nods along with Clint.

“What were you thinking?” Steve asks Wanda smirks.

~

“FRIDAY said you wanted to see me?” Natasha Tony who is lounging in his desk chair.

“Yeah.” Tony says, “I wanted to talk to you about your job.” Tony takes his feet off the desk and looks at Natasha.

“Okay.” Natasha says

“I want you to be the personal trainer.” Tony says with a shrug “I don’t know how well people have kept up on training, and we probably don’t necessarily need your help in training but you are the best at it and I know I haven’t been great keeping up my training because I’ve been busy and I can’t train with Rhodey or Bucky. So, I figured you could do that and help with Wanda since she has no skill without he powers and I do think it’s important for her to learn, but she’s not going to be very good at first so… what do you think?” Tony asks

“That’s good with me.” Natasha says with a shrug. “I was already planning on helping Wanda. Not that she deserves it.” Tony snorts. “But yeah. And I think it’s smart, giving us jobs.” Tony tilts his head. “So, they don’t take you for granted anymore.”

“Yeah, that’s the idea, however I doubt it’s going to work. I half wonder if Wanda’s messed with their minds to make them hate me or despise me or whatever. I doubt it, but sometimes I wonder. They never used to be like this. I don’t get it.”

“I think…” Natasha shakes her head “I’m not going to defend them or their actions. They’re dumbasses who have no idea what you do for them. You don’t tell them, and I don’t really get why.”

“Because if I do say something they say something along the line of ‘well you’re rich’. Steve just learned some things about my money. Yet he hasn’t changed. Has he already told you?” Tony asks

“Yeah. He came in ranting about. But I’m happy for you two, so is Scott and Sam. I haven’t really seen it but Steve told us what he said. If he means that, then… I don’t know how Steve can be so… ignorant. He should listen to what Bucky says. He’s just… ignoring the facts. He’s in denial.”

“Yeah.” Tony says with a smile. “He makes me happy. Something I haven’t been in a while. But Steve coming back… I always thought we’d tell him and break the news in a good way. Not have him find us... but I hope it blows over.”

“It should.” Natasha says.

“I don’t know why I’m even talking to you about this.”

“We used to be friends.” Natasha says and Tony gives her a disbelieving look.

“We were not friends. And you know that.”

“Maybe not.” Natasha concedes. “But we were definitely better than this.”

“Yeah. But... I never truly trusted you after…” Tony trails off thinking about her time as Natalie Rushman.

“I know.” Natasha says softly “It was my job.”

“I understand.” Tony says “but…”

“I get it.”

“I mean, do you even trust me?” Tony asks and Natasha pauses.

“I do.” She says after a minute and Tony looks at her in surprise. “I mean, I shouldn’t. Not because you’re untrustworthy, but because I don’t trust anyone. Clint and Phil were the first people I trusted. And I don’t exactly trust Clint anymore and I haven’t seen Phil since he ‘died’ and then informed us he wasn’t dead, months later. After that I haven’t seen him since. But I know you, Tony. And I can admit I was wrong, when I gave a report on you.” Natasha looks at him with a sad look and a shake of her head. “I can’t believe I didn’t see though your mask.”

“My mask?” Tony asks hesitantly and Natasha smiles sadly.

“Yeah. The one you put on to make people believe things you want them too. The one you put on for media, or literally anyone else that isn’t Rhodey, Pepper, and Happy.”

“And Bucky.” Tony says quietly.

“And Bucky.” Natasha adds with a smile.  “I can’t believe I fell for your act. You’re good Tony. Which isn’t a good thing.”

“It is.” Tony says quietly.  Natasha frowns.

“How so?”

“I can’t be the weak PTSD ridden Avenger. I have to handle the media for us with a steady hand. I need to be able to make the public believe what I say. If I can’t convince them of anything, we’d be screwed ten times over. If I can convince Natasha Romanov that I am a grade A dick, then I can convince anyone of anything.” Tony says and then pauses “Except Rhodey and Bucky.” Natasha shrugs.

“I guess so.” She says “We do need that. And you do take care of everything. I bet I don’t even know half the stuff you take care of for us.”

“You know nothing.” Tony says with a shake of his head. “If I wanted too, I could ruin you. I could ruin anyone. I can create fake documents and sell a story to my pleasing. If I wanted.”

“Have you ever?” Natasha asks, “Ruined someone I mean?”

“One person.” Tony says softly “And I didn’t do it publicly.”

“To who?” Natasha asks and Tony smiles at her.

“What do you take me for Natasha?”

“Oh, come on, Tony.” Natasha says leaning forward. “I can keep a secret.”

“Depending on the secret I know you can.”

“So?”

“An Ex-boyfriend of mine.” Tony says before Natasha can question more Tony continues. “So, have you spoke with Bruce?” Natasha gives him a long look but he doesn’t respond just holds his innocent looking smile.

“No.” She says finally changing topics. “I’m hoping to talk to him after this.”

“He doesn’t want to.” Tony says softly

“I know.” Natasha says. “I need too though.”

“Well, there’s nothing more for me, why don’t you go see. He’s in his lab now.”

“Thanks Tony.” Natasha says standing “Let me know when I should start training.”

“Whenever you’re ready give me a schedule. You give me your hours. I’d like at least 20 a week, but for training that’s a lot, but… I’ll pay you the same as everyone else, clearly… but I know you train a lot anyway so…”

“I can do that. A few hours of sparing with everyone a week.” Tony nods. “Let me know when is best for you so I can schedule you first.”

“Okay.” Tony says and Natasha exits to find Bruce. Natasha walks to his lab and little nervous. She shoves down the feeling, because Natasha Romanov does not get nervous. She knocks on the door and hears a soft come in. She opens it and say his name softly. He freezes.

“I just… want to talk.” Natasha says

“Please leave.” Bruce says without turning around. “I have nothing to say to you.”

“Then just listen.” Natasha says and Bruce doesn’t respond so she continues. “I’m sorry, but I’m also not.” Bruce snorts. “What I mean is I’m sorry I forced you into the hulk. I’m sorry I took advantage of you. And I’m sorry I broke your trust.” Natasha pauses “But I’m not sorry I did it. I know you understand why I had too. I hate that I had to but I did, you know that. We were fighting a war. Against an army of robots. We needed all the help we could get. I know that you didn’t want to be the hulk again and wanted to run away. And I wanted that. I really wanted that. But I couldn’t leave them to die. Pietro… Pietro died. And if we weren’t there it could have been Clint. Or Thor, Or Stefve. Or all four. I know the hulk is… But we needed the other guy. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I don’t exepect you to trust me ever again. Or even like me. I just needed you to know that I was sorry. But I had to.” Bruce snorts which turns into a dark chuckle.

“You do realize how apologize are supposed to go.”

“Yes, but I decided to be honest. I figured you’d like that more.” Bruce shakes his head.

“You’ve said your peace, now leave.” Bruce says. Natasha nods. Natasha waits for him to turn around, to look at her, even just for a second, but he’s stuck in his position not moving.

“I’m sorry, Bruce. And I understand if you can’t accept that and never talk to me again.” Bruce takes a deep breath and with that Natasha slips from the room leaving it like she never came at all.

~

Tony’s walking from his lab to their kitchen where Bucky has promised him dinner. He looks at his watching knowing he’s a few minutes early. For once. He smiles at the thought. He’s so lost in thought he is completely unprepared for when Steve shoves him into the wall.

“What the fuck!” Tony shouts. Straightening up. “What the hell are you doing?”

“You’ve done something.” Steve says “you must have to get Bucky to date you. I don’t know what it is, or how you did it, but you’re not allowed to date him.”

“it’s not your decision.” Tony says and he sees Wanda and Clint sneak up from the sides.

“FRIDAY? Please get Bucky or literally anyone who’s not an idiot.” He rolls his eyes. But when he doesn’t get a response he looks at the three. “What did you do?” Tony asks

“FRIDAY will be fine.” Steve says “You won’t be. Unless you stop dating him.” Tony raises an eyebrow

“Are you threatening me?” tony asks

“It’s promise.” Steve says with a narrowed look.

“Really? How cliché is that?” Tony rolls his eyes “You’re an idiot. I didn’t trick Bucky into anything. He wanted to date me too, you know. Oh wait, you think I what? Performed a spell on him? Gave him a love position. Geeze, Steve I’m not desperate.”

“Say you’ll stop dating him. Or else.” Steve says stepping forward.

“No.” he says and expects the punch so he ducks and Steve misses and stumbles and Tony uses that time to trip him and he goes down. Wanda and Clint make as go and Tony dodges and ducks, both of their attacks. “You seriously think attacking me is going to make me stay away from him? You do realize he’s just going to stay around me to protect me.” Tony says before Steve runs into him shoving him against the wall.

“Yeah. Well maybe you’ll learn your lesson.” Steve spits when Tony’s head hits the wall. He sways blinking away the dizziness when Clint punches him.

“this is for my family, Stark.” Wanda seethes and Tony easily blocks her punch before swinging on her knocking her to the ground.

“You’re useless without your powers.” Tony snaps as she goes spiraling on the floor. She groans and he rolls his eyes. But Steve uses the distraction to kick him down on his knee before punching him across the face. He goes down. Tony grins up at him with a bloody mouth.

“What?” Steve says raising his foot.

“I don’t think you realize what the consequence of your actions will be.”

“What?” he asks hesitating.

“Bucky will never forgive for this.” Tony says with a sadistic grin. “So, go ahead, do your worse. He’ll never be your friend again.”

“Yes, he will.” Steve says sounding unsure.

“Really?” Tony asks, “Are you sure about that?”

“Stop hesitating Steve.” Wanda’s voice seems like poison in his ears. “He’s tricking you. Do what we came here to do.”

“But-“

“No Buts.” Clint says next to him. “Wanda’s right. Bucky will understand.” Tony starts laughing which turns into a wet cough.

“You think so? You think he’ll forgive you for this?” Tony laughs again.

“Even if he doesn’t it’s too late to turn back.” Wanda sneers “finish it.”

“He’s more likely to forgive me if I stop now.” Steve says hesitating.

“He won’t either way.” Clint says pushing him to finish, “He stole my family from me. He stole Wanda’s family. He stole Bucky, your family.” Tony just laughs and laughs. Clint kicks him in the stomach and Tony groans “Shut up!”

“We…” Steve doesn’t get to finish because Bucky is throwing Clint against the wall and he hits his head and collapses. Wanda straightens up readying for a fight and Bucky rolls his eyes, ignoring her completely. He turns to Steve.

“I stopped.” Steve says.

“You started.” Bucky says “get away from him.” Steve looks at him in the eye.

“Bucky. I –“

“No!” Bucky shouts “You attacked him. Move.” He nods and moves away from him “Tony?” Bucky asks and Tony grabs the hand Bucky’s offered him. Bucky lifts Tony who leans on him. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Tony says though he’s lying. “How’d you know I was here?”

“I came to get you for dinner.” Bucky says.

“I need to fix FRIDAY.” Tony says “They did something. I didn’t realize they were smart enough to do that.”

“What do we do about them?” Bucky asks looking at Steve who has a regretful look on his face.

“Bucky.” Steve says.

“Well…” Tony says but doesn’t really know where to go. “I guess their fate is up to us.”

“What do you mean?” Steve pleads softly.

“Tony?” Bucky asks

“They broke their contract.” Tony says “We could have them arrested. But… that’s only if you want too.”

“Bucky, please.” Steve pleads. “It was stupid.”

“How are you, really?” Bucky asks ignoring him.

“Is it part of the decision?” Tony asks and Bucky nods “Well… my arm hurts. The one I injured. I don’t think anything else is broken or fractured. My face is going to be sore. And my knee hurts a little too, but nothing permeant. I hit my head, but I don’t think there is any lasting damage.” Bucky hesitates.

“What do you want to do?” Bucky asks.

“I don’t care.” Tony says.

“No, this is your home, this needs to have some consequences.” Tony lets out a breath.

“Okay. How about this is a warning and all electronics are taken for a week.”

“A week?” Bucky asks.

“Longer?”

“What?!” Clint shouts.

“That’s nothing.” Bucky snaps “We could send you in the cold hard jail cell where you don’t have any of that.” Clint looks down.

“What do you want, Bucky?”

“Strike one. No electronics for two weeks and must have someone accompany them when they leave their living quarters.”

“Who?” Tony asks. Bucky frowns.

“yeah… They can’t leave their quarters without permission and you and I give that permission. Closely monitored by FRIDAY.”

“I feel like we’re punishing 6-year-olds.” Tony huffs.

“I know but how else are they supposed to learn.”

“Okay let’s do that.” Tony says, “How many strikes do they get?”

“Three. Only two if it’s physical.” Bucky says and Tony nods.

“Sounds good.”

“Alright.” Bucky says turning to the three. “I want all electronics in my hand in the next hour and once FRIDAY is fixed you won’t be allowed to use your TV.”

“What will we do all day?” Clint asks

“Think about the consequences of your actions.” Bucky snaps.

“Bucky, I’m sorry.” Steve says. Bucky looks at him in disgust.

“Seriously?” Bucky asks

“Of course. I really am sorry.” Steve says earnestly.

“No, not that.” Bucky shakes his head “I mean you’re apologizing to me, Steve? Me? Not Tony?”

“I…” Steve frowns and turns to him. “I’m sorry Tony.”

“Yeah, sure, great.” Tony dismisses

“Tony.” Steve says softly and Tony rolls his eyes.

“Just leave before you make things worse.” Tony says. Steve bites his check holding back. He nods and turns.

“I really am sorry.” Steve says and Tony flips him off as he leaves. Clint and Wanda are remaining neither wanting to back down the fight.

“If anything else happens to him in this house because of you, you will get kicked out.” Bucky says with a harsh look,

“You don’t make the decisions here.” Clint snaps. Bucky turns to Tony who has a far off look on his face.

“Well, I sure have more power than you.” Bucky says a little worried.

“Just because you’re fucking him doesn’t give you power.” Wanda hisses.

“Leave. Before I do something you’ll regret, scarlet bitch.” Bucky smirks “Or I guess it’s just bitch now.” She makes to go after him but Clint’s hand stops her.

“Not now.” Clint says

“Not ever.” Bucky says and Clint nods to Wanda and they leave without another word. Bucky turns to Tony.

“You okay?” He asks softly

“Yeah.” He says softly “I just…” he laughs shaking his head. “I just can’t believe them.” Bucky nods. “I have to fix Friday and I want to get cleaned up. Do you think you can keep the food warm?”

“Of course. Do you need help?” Bucky asks sympathetically

“No. Thanks though. See you in a few.” Tony gives Bucky a quick kiss before heading to FRIDAY’s main frame. Bucky sighs and heads to the kitchen.

~

Tony gave Clint the phone number three hours ago. He dealt with Tony, but now he just needs to talk to his wife before he has to give his phone up in an hour. He said it was a safe line and he could talk to her for as long as she'd like. His words exactly. Not he'd like; she'd like.  The message was clear. 

He picks up his phone he hits dial. It rings and rings before he hears her voice. A soft hello and he already feels like he wants to cry.

“Laura." Clint’s voice is barely above a whisper.

“Clint.” She says in a short tone. He tries to read it but just wants to hear her speak.

“How… how are you?” It's such a simple question something you’d ask someone the street but she takes a moment to answer.

“I’m okay.” She decides softly.

“And the kids?”

“Fine.” She says slowly.

“Tony said I had to get permission for me to see them and you.” Clint rolls his eyes. “So, could you tell him that I can come over?”

“No.” Her voice is soft but firm.

“What?” Clint asks confused.

“I said No.”

“But…”

“You left us.” Her voice is short and tight. “For a stupid war that you had no part in.”

“Steve needed me!”

We needed you, Clint.” She says it louder now, more confident. “You left us vulnerable to run off and fight while we stayed behind and nearly died, Clint. No. You do not get to see them. Not after what you did.”

“How… how bad was it?” Clint asks softly.

“I was shot.” Laura says with a shudder.

“Oh my god, Laura.” Clint whispers.

“The kids were seconds away before Tony saved us. Killed the intruder and saved our lives. And yet Rhodey tells me you still talk to him and about him like he's garbage. Your whole family would be dead if it wasn't for tony. And it would be your fault for leaving us in the first place.” Her words are harsh but he knows it's true. If he never got involved they wouldn't have been a target. Even if they were, he could have stopped him.

He doesn’t answer right away and they sit in silence for a long moment waiting for the other to talk. Clint can’t help but think that he tried to kill the man only minutes ago. How if he had done it a few months earlier his family would be dead. He can’t help the guilt consuming him. He pushes it down.

“You’re right.” Clint says finally. “It was my fault. I am so sorry, but Steve needed me… and I made a judgment call. Maybe it was the wrong one, but I chose it and here I am.” He feels a little better, being honest.

“Maybe?” Laura asks in disbelief and Clint cringes. “Maybe it was the wrong choice? You made a judgment call and maybe it was the wrong one?”

“I… I…” Clint stammers.

“I… I…” Laura mocks “Are you kidding, Clint?”

Clint sighs “I’m sorry. But I just want to see my family.” Laura doesn’t answer. Doesn’t know how to answer. Part of her doesn’t consider Clint family anymore. He left them to die. He’s no dad or husband. But part of her, nagging in her heart is saying, yes, he is. You love him. He loves you. But then she thinks, do I love him? After everything? She feels it tug at her inside while he waits for an answer “Please.” He whispers and Laura sighs.

“I will meet you at the compound, alone. You will not see the kids, only me and that is none negotiable. I need to talk to you about a lot before I even begin to think about letting you see the kids.”

“Okay.” Clint says, “Thank you.”

“I’ll talk to Tony about a time.” Laura says

“Okay. I love you.” Clint says and Laura pauses.

“I’ll see you soon.” Laura says before hanging up. Clint’s heart breaks at her not saying it back. And Clint sits down and can’t help the regret that flows through him at what the three of them did to Tony after what Tony did for them, specially him, saving his family. He shakes his head and pushes down the guilt. Tony may have saved them for him, but he’s still wrong. And maybe he does owe him one for that, but that doesn’t change anything in Clint’s mind. He’s grabs his cellphone and other devices to bring to Bucky. he goes to grab Wanda’s and Steve’s too, deciding to just do this easily. He gets lost in thought for most of the day, just like the punishment was intended for.