Tony couldn’t help the wide grin spreading on his face as he watched the beauty he created in front of him. No way she wouldn’t score the full hundred points. Of course, he could have afforded a real expensive one; but, neither of his guests really wanted more luxuries. A shame, in his opinion.
But then again, he was able to build her up a bit, make her sleek with a fresh, new look, improving her design and making her just a bit faster. Well, perhaps more than a bit, with a built-in arc reactor powering the engine. But those were just the semantics, and no one ever wanted to talk about that. And he wouldn’t tell them. Not with the way they keep reacting to everything he had already thrown at them.
This time, he hadn’t done too much, taking Pepper’s advice to heart and trying to calm everything down. Not that Pepper even knew who was residing in the tower at the moment; or the rest of the team... Everyone had their own lives to deal with right now, and so, he was all alone in the Tower, calling everyone on occasion, more or less. Even... if he felt a touch guilty because of his secret. He knew Steve was searching for his buddy Bucky, and there he was, right in Tony’s tower, with a broken, damaged former Hydra commandant in tow. Great… And it wasn’t that Tony didn’t appreciate the company! However, this company was a bit… special.
A small smile formed on his face, remembering the stunned silence he was met with staring at them both standing in the shadows, the Winter Soldier ready to fight and standing there, all towering and dark. His hand on the shoulder of his former handler, who somehow didn’t want to be there, looking almost unnerved.
Tony had just wanted to go to bed, clad in his boxers and nothing more, well his socks... not the most dangerous and protective gear except perhaps if one was a sexy woman in a MMO. Why the man wore protective, practical armor, and the woman virtually nothing, was perhaps nice to look at, but it annoyed the realistic, practical part of him. Not that he didn’t like woman with a… lack clothing. But that didn’t really matter, he surmised, with a glass of scotch in the hand and somehow a bit buzzed while staring at the fearsome duo of Hydra’s doom.
And it had been just a Wednesday, not a Monday or a kidnapping-Tuesday. They stared at each other, each party waiting for the other one to move, somehow with Tony losing because he wasn’t one to stand still long enough.
“Well…. Either you do something, or I will leave you to yourself and go to sleep.”
The response was a short, dirty snort from Rumlow and a slightly confused stare of the brain damaged Soldier who nodded almost mechanically.
“He needs maintenance. He’s leaking.”
Clearly brain damaged…
“The hell? Humans call that bleeding, I’m no fucking robot like you.”
The Soldier just shook his head, eyes locking with Tony's just to point at Rumlow’s scarred face, right under his eyes.
“He’s leaking there. Needs fixing. You fix things?”
The voice was almost hopeful, albeit with a frown on his face. He clearly got Rumlow to shut up, the former Hydra agent closing his face in an instant and crossing his arms, but not responding to it, with just a slight muscle throbbing in his jaw. Neat. Wait. There was no way he could fix someone leaking from his eyes. Except… did he mean Rumlow had been… crying? Sad?
“I’m a mechanic. I fix things. But I’m the wrong person to fix a human. You should search someone else. Perhaps Steve? Steve’s good with people. I just… I’m not good with them. Do you see anyone else here? No. That’s why.”
He gestured with his unoccupied hand and somehow managed not to get too embarrassed because he of course wore his Captain America boxer shorts. Figures. Whatever. He was just exhausted - so, he yawned and had the nerve to wink at them both, causing at least one of them to shake his head. Brock gave a small growl, staring at the dark clad assassin, feared monster and fist of Hydra who just ignored the death glare and gave Tony a little smile.
"I don't.... leak out of my eyes, you dumbass."
Tony tried to suppress a little laugh, wanted to point out that it was funny for the man to deny he would cry. Well... It wasn't funny to cry and if someone as dark and tough like Brock Rumlow, Commandant and Strike leader would do it, it should not make him laugh. But the look on his face, trying to not look further at Tony but the asset trying to kill him with his glare, he just couldn’t hold it and gave one short and tired laugh.
“Okay. Whatever you’re doing or wanting it can wait till morning. There are free guest rooms, don’t murder me in my sleep and if I hear a Hail Hydra I will kick your ass and throw you out of the tower. Night.”
It had been the start of a very strange and questioning friendship, even if Tony wouldn’t go so far as to call it a friendship. It was more of a strange companionship, the Soldier lurking in the shadows and doing things that not even JARVIS could locate. Or don’t want to locate. Tony was suspicious that the AI really liked the new guy, perhaps bonded over the metal arm, who knew.
JARVIS seemed real smug about the sudden appearance and vanishing of tortilla chips and a dangerous amount of cheese. No normal human could survive this much cheese. Not that he had proof, JARVIS told him there hadn’t been any movements and he himself had looked over the security feeds. No one near the tortilla chips and no one near the cheese. Or the microwave, even if one could smell the grilled cheese through the whole tower. It hadn’t been Tony and it hadn’t been the malfunctioning Ex-Hydra, who just seems to vegetate on the couch, staring into nothing at all.
He hadn’t even flinched as Tony had let JARVIS change the documentary to some children Teletubbies. There hadn’t been a reaction, even as he let it show for at least 40 minutes. Either the man was totally nuts, or he was indeed a robot malfunctioning. Whatever it was it wasn’t Tony's’ problem and he couldn’t fix it. He really was bad with people and he couldn’t cope with his own problems, he could just offer things to make one’s life better. Not their soul.
He should call Bruce, even if he insists not to be that kind of a doctor. Or he could just call Steve, but that wouldn’t be a good thing with captain brainwashed on the loose and not happy whenever he brought up the topic Captain Spangles. That left his options to just himself.
Not that he wanted to play or talk with former Hydra agents. He didn’t even know why he let them stay. Or what to do with them.
Tony wasn't quite sure what to think of everything. On the one hand he should just run and get them arrested, on the other hand he hadn't seen much of Barnes and all he got from Rumlow was some depressing sight down on the couch, curled in himself or just staring at the screen. If not for Tony or the Soldier or JARVIS, the man would surely die. Starve himself to death. Not that drastic, but it seemed as if he needed to remind him to eat or drink, worse than himself on his work streaks. It hadn’t happened right away, the first week he had tried to act as normal as a sadistic asshole could. He hadn’t done anything other than to snap or to brood or just to stare at his reflection.
And he DID look horrible. It could have been worse, but he seemed like someone very proud of his appearance and now there were burn marks all over his face, his neck and his arms. Tony couldn’t see if there were more, covering his whole body and he wouldn’t ask to get snapped at. He had just ordered some cream promised to lessen scar tissue, one he had bought for himself and used a lot, felt like it helped. Perhaps it would help the man too. The ointment had vanished, and Tony had found the man smiling, not much but a little bit the next day. Content that there had been something good he had done he got to work, finding some grilled cheese nachos on his workbench, still warm and delicious.
Couldn’t have been Brock and he hadn’t seen the Soldier for a time and somehow... He felt like that had been a “Thank you”. Not the first-time things suddenly appeared. Like the blankets on a passed-out Brock on the couch. Or on himself with a pillow stuffed under his face and dangerous things around his head put away. As if someone tried to keep him safe while sleeping on his workbench. At one time there had also been a warm chocolate.
Although Tony never saw the brainwashed man do these things he was pretty sure it needed to be him. There was no other way. There just wasn't any proof to it. The man kept acting as if he was a lunatic, somehow catatonic person, not understanding shit. Like the one-time Tony had entered the kitchen to see Rumlow holding a spoon and gesturing wild with it, explaining how not to use the microwave.
(“But the dishes will be dry. And the tableware too!” “... You will blow everything including myself up!”)
Tony had snickered, and both had looked at him, the Soldier smiling shy and the former HYDRA-Agent huffing and throwing the spoon into the bin.
“Whatever. he knows how this thing works. He’s a genius, let him explain.”
Tony had been surprised for a moment, not knowing what to say. He had known that the Soldier could be the one making grilled cheese nachos but otherwise it could have been Rumlow. There was just a fleeting moment, a sudden smirk on the Sergeant's face, almost vanished in the same moment that he wasn’t quite sure if it had been an illusion or for real. Tony looked at Rumlow, searching the man's face if he had seen it too, but the man had just turned and made himself a coffee, hopefully enough for them both.
This mystery hasn’t been solved but it didn’t matter right now if the Soldier was normal or not, or just pretending to be dumb and helpless. Somehow it had a certain pattern in it, always happening when one of them was sad or too much into whatever headspace they were in. Even he himself had found the Soldier lurking around doing stupid things. Or nice ones like playing catch with the Bots and letting himself be dosed in foam to be sure he wasn’t on fire or overheating.
No right now the only thing that mattered was the beauty in front of him. A Kawasaki Ninja 300, in matted black with blue glowing lines surrounding her delicate frame. Not exactly what he had had in mind, but he had found a brochure about this motorcycle on his workbench under one of his screwdrivers and JARVIS commented one time that Rumlow seemed to like TRON. Nice movie, perhaps he would join the two outlaws at a time to see it with them. He hadn’t seen it in years.
Even though he knew the baby was fabulous and if Rumlow didn’t like her he could just fuck off with his scarred ass and get lost. Not that he liked driving with motorcycles, too many opportunities to get hurt or to die. He loved his suits, they were safe. Or a car. The main point was to be safe between metal and not exposed and vulnerable as on a motorcycle.
“JARVIS? Tell Rumlow to get his sorry ass in here. Dim the lights! I want it to be a surprise.”
It didn’t take long, the man was quite in a mood, glooming all over his sorry life choices but Tony didn’t have the time for that. He just wanted to show him this beautiful gift. To see how he reacted. To see if he would like her.
“Evil Genius needs some minion? I’m sure the asset will volunteer.”
Tony couldn’t help himself, he just snorted and shook his head. “Yeah funny. Something else to do? Perhaps some…” He cut himself short, not wanting to say something about tentacles and gangbang parties, he had called the man to show him the beauty.
“Whatever. I’ve got something for you. Try to not be an ass.”
It only took one second for the engine to start and the motorcycle to glow in a slowly brightening blue light, showing off the aerodynamic frame and Tony smiled proud at his new baby.
“It’s a Kawasaki Ninja 300, she’s not exactly the costliest thing on the market, but she’s got a nice look and I…”
He wanted to start giving the man a few info over the Ninja, but Rumlow just ignored him, going quietly to the machine with eyes just on her. The towers genius opened his mouth to talk but shut it as Rumlow started to touch the machine. No. He didn’t touch her, his hand was hovering inches above the steel, a soft expression on his face like one would seeing a sleeping lover. The moment his fingers ghosted over the surface was the moment Tony sucked his breath sharp in, Rumlow’s face content and almost blissful, caressing the matted black and touching the blue lights.
“She’s beautiful.”, his voice sounds hoarse, he turned to stare at Tony, a sudden bright and honest smile on his face, reaching his eyes and for a moment he seems truly happy. Didn’t take long for it to die down and he takes his hand off the motorcycle.
Tony sees the man taking a step back and shaking his head, not much, only slightly and closing his face again.
“Come on. I’ve tinkered the whole night to finish her and she needs to be taken out. You treating a girl like that? Shoving her away?”
Tony made a huge scene, gasping and shaking his head like he couldn’t believe anything Brock could say.
“I can’t just let her stay here… she needs to make a run! Just once, please? I have clothes for you too!”
Tony could see the fight in Rumlow’s eyes, could see his want and also his hope not to get played with. He tried to smile reassuring and shook his head.
“Come on. Make a bit love to her while I get the clothes.”
“M’ only driving if you come with me.”
The brown haired stopped mid step.
“M’ only driving if you come with me.”
There was a sudden determination in the gruff voice, sending a shiver over Tony’s back.
“I… Don’t drive motorcycle.”
“Then I won’t either.”
Desperate Tony looked at the man, found him standing there, wide legs and crossed arms, a honest and serious look on his face. His voice wasn’t the one Tony got used to since both arrived, it had some kind of authority in it, his eyes were focused and damn… if it wasn’t hot that the man turned for a moment into his fierce and dangerous self, staring him down like he would a teammate to get what he wants. But Tony couldn’t get fooled, he felt the uncertainty radiating around the man, the soft step he’s taken nearer to the machine, the flicker in his eyes, a want, a need and somewhat hope. It’s the flicker that led Tony to nod, smile and answer the man.
“Kay… But If I fall off and die it’s your fault. M getting the suits…”
And he would fall down… or the man would drive careful. And slow. He sure would drive careful, wouldn’t he? When was the last time this man drove a motorcycle? He had downright refused to drive with Steve, and Spangles would be so angry with him for driving with Brock. Of all people. And for hiding James and Brock from him. Tony knew what he did wasn’t right, but he felt it in himself that he just couldn’t abandon them. Not like this.
With a long-suffering sigh, he retrieved not only skin-tight motorcycling clothes, smiled at himself for a moment because they weren’t like the ones the other would get. It would hurt the man on the scars to just wear the tight leather, therefore he had invented a new silk, well not only for Brock but for everyone with scar tissue. He wore it himself, the scars prominent on his chest and he just need to try it with Rumlow now. His own clothing was tight as the other one, similar to his undersuit he wore in his Iron man suit, together with two identical helmets, Rumlow’s with similar glowing lines as his bike.
Tony arrived just the moment Rumlow was kneeling beside the bike, tutting over her flanks and fucking purring over her behind, touching it lightly and murmuring how stunning she was.
“Eh…. shall I… give you both time?”
The man managed to not flinch violently, just a slight twitch and he stood again, patting down his legs and trying to hide his blush.
“Just looking if you did a decent job.”
“The hell! Of course! She’s perfect! There. For you. We will drive right away, so that you know she can beat your ass any time.”
Tony was too riled up to see the sly smile and turned to get out of his clothes and into the new suit, not at all caring to be naked before the man.
“A real nice behind.”
“Yeah. Figured the way you were petting it and purring. Can a grown man purr? Or did I just imagine it.”
“I’m not Rinzler.”
Tony snorted, of course he wasn’t Rinzler, he would be CLU.
“The kid is Rinzler.”
“... wouldn’t call him a kid.”
The rustling of clothes ended, and they were facing each other again, couldn’t help to look the man up and down. He looked…. good in black, skin-tight. The scars on his face present but the smirk gave him a ravishing look, he seemed happier than ever, well then, the last days.
“See something you like?”
“Yeah, it’s big, black and has blue lights on it.”
The double agent laughed at his comment and turned to the beauty, swung his leg around her and caressed the handlebars.
The smirk wasn’t just a smirk it was seductive and somehow Tony felt like a mouse getting eaten by a real badass cat. First getting lured into petting the cat and giving him hugs and then just…. The smirk was getting wider and the eyes were glinting like he knew exactly what Tony was thinking, causing the genius to huff and get his helmet on.
“Yeah, yeah coming. You like being bossy, huh? Liked you better mourning on the couch.”
There was no spite in his words and he swiftly walked to Rumlow, getting a softer smirk this time and sat on the motorcycle, his hands slightly shaking. The man took his own helmet, sat it on his ruffled hair and grabbed Tony’s hand to guide it around his waist.
“Hold on tight. Don’t want my cash cow falling down.”
“I’ll give you cash cow!”
For a moment Tony forgot that he had been scared to ride on such a thing… he just grabbed the waist, a bit harder than necessary causing the man to snort in amusement and then…. they were moving. Just like this. In his hurry he hadn’t heard the purring of the engine, they were just… moving. Jarvis had opened the driveway and soon they were out of the workshop, Tony grabbing onto Brock as if, well technically his life depended on the man who just laughed.
“I can hear you!”
The helmets were connected, like his suit, he would have talked the man through it but apparently, he was adjusting well. Or JARVIS had just the black visor on not wanting the first ride to crash. The laughter didn’t die down, instead it increased, happy, breathless and content, like the man wasn’t only laughing about Tony but the joy of feeling the bike himself. Therefore, he couldn’t quite hold the grudge, instead listening to the laughter, one he hadn’t heard in ever from this man, not that they knew each other this long.
It was just such an improvement to the sulking and staring into thin air that he couldn’t help but smile himself. It was an effective way to just ignore where he was, closed eyes and leaning into the muscular body, way like cuddling just sitting awkward on a bench. He could get used to it.
Until the first curve.
It wasn’t a shriek coming out of his mouth, nor did he grab the bastard hard enough to squeeze the life out of him, no thank you sir that’s a lie! They were fast enough to die! He hadn’t seen it coming because his eyes were shut, not wanting to see anything. Tony was pressing his lips and eyes together, trying not to cry and just clench harder, thinking about his suit. It would be coming for him, wouldn’t it? JARVIS was looking out for him and the suit would arrive as soon as they were falling. But he wouldn’t be fast enough. The suit needed to arrive at their current location first and in the meantime, they would be smashed into the ground, shattered and bloody and they would just die.
It took Tony another minute, holding on the man like he was his lifeline to recognize they weren’t moving anymore. Slowly he raised his head, the helmet no longer pressed into the other ones back, it must have hurt but there was no complaint.
“You know that a motorcycle can’t fall in a curve you genius. It’s science.”
Of course, he knew it, it was simple physics but that didn’t change a thing at all!
“I’m just saying Centrifugal Force and Gyroscopic forces. And… that I really need to breathe you silly thing.”
His tone was light, teasing and Tony needed to shake his head, but somehow managed to lighten his grip, Rumlow nodded and demanded him to step off the bike. For a moment Tony was sure he would just drive away.
“Let’s just sit a bit, I think I have seen a coffee shop around the corner, I need some caffeine, you pay.”
“Cause I’m your cash cow?”
Tony’s hands were still shaking, his legs too and he almost toppled over, staggered a bit and leaned into Rumlow who took the opportunity to lay an arm around him, guiding him to the shop. Indeed, it was a little coffee shop and they didn’t mind giving Rumlow two coffees to go and letting the silent man pay. They didn’t need to take their helmets off and it was delivered fast, a moment later they were standing next to the bike again.
“Take a seat.”
Rumlow gestured to the ground and smirked behind his visor, Tony could hear it in his voice.
“You need to get the visor up to drink your coffee you know that, Stark?”
There WAS a blush on his cheeks while fumbling with his helmet and it took Rumlow to open his visor for him. He didn’t know for sure, but everything pointed to JARVIS having alerted Rumlow to stop the ride. He loved his AI. Even if there wasn’t any voice till now. Was he offline, JARVIS would never be this quiet.
“Thank you for listening to JARVIS.”
His voice was quiet, somehow lost and he stared into his coffee not wanting to see the man laughing at him and being an ass. There was a short silence and he dared to look up, right into Brock's face who was staring at him with a puzzled look.
“I… Didn’t hear your AI. Not since we left the tower. But yeah. He’s not giving any strange commands, so why not?”
He was almost civil like this, content drinking his too hot coffee, Tony himself needed to wait for a bit longer and shook his head.
The sentence died in his mouth, damn, he had forgotten to connect JARVIS into the helmets, they were ordinary ones, well not ordinary at all because he made them, but they weren’t finished. He had just focused on finishing the bike. Would mean the man had been observant enough to just stop on his own.
He would like to thank him, but somehow his mouth kept itself shut, not knowing how to deal with him being nice to Tony and not JARVIS. It was so much easier if the man was nice because of JARVIS and not because he somehow cared. And nothing else would have made him to stop the motorcycle.
Or perhaps he just was nice because he got the bike and Tony let them live in the tower, not that he intended to throw them out of it. and they should know that, not after them revealing the clear cut from Hydra.
Which must have hurt the commander the most. With him betraying the ones he once called comrades, never the word friends on the tip of his tongue.
It had indeed puzzled Tony what both had done in his tower and what had led them there. In fact, he had been shocked himself nearly to death because he couldn’t quite remember the former night, woken just by the need of coffee he had entered the kitchen to get a hot cup of coffee shoved into his slightly shaking hands. He murmured a thank you, sat down on the kitchen table just to let the cup fall down and staring at the two Hydra agents, just to burn himself with the hot coffee splattering all over the table.
He stood up and tried to avoid getting more hot liquid over his naked chest. Suddenly he was hit, but not with a knife like he thought, no it was a wet towel, soaked in freezing water.
“What the hell.”
“You need to cool it. Else you will look like me, just as beautiful.”
The dark-haired man snorted and leaned against the kitchen sink, staring down on his chest where his eyes met the arc reactor.
“Nice nightlight, Stark. Having it for not feeling alone at night? Scared of…. ghosts?”
“...Fuck you. Either you kill me or get fucking lost.”
“No swearing in front of the child.”
Tony stared at the man as if he’d grown a second head. Which was hilarious of him being Hydra and almost dead, coming back like… whatever. His brain wasn’t made to function this good in the morning. With a hangover and without proper coffee in his stomach
“You wanted to fix him.”
Tony turned to stare at the Winter Soldier who had given him the cup of coffee, being met with big blue eyes, hopeful and somehow innocent. There was a short moment he wanted to lash out, he had read the files, knew everything about both of them. But those eyes weren’t those of a killer, it was almost as if he was a grown beaten puppy, who knew Cap had copied the look from this man.
“Yeah no swearing in front of the child. Does that make you the Momma Rumlow?”
“Just one way to find out Stark.”
“Yeah. No. So now. What are you doing here? I’m not joining Hydra if you dare to recruit me. I will rather kick your burned ass.”
The sudden hurt on Rumlow’s face was fast enough to not be seen, just an imagination of the hangover perhaps.
“No Hydra anymore. They are searching for him and they won’t get him back.”
The soft whisper almost broke Tony’s heart and he nodded. He had seen the files, the videos. Those sick bastards.
“No Chair and no Hydra, they can’t get in here… well... you both could get in, but I don’t think the rest will be as good as you. And we can make the tower safe with your help, fill in the gaps. They won’t hurt you.”
“And fix the Commander.”
“... yeah. We’ll try to fix him, but I don’t think there’s much to do. He will stay an as….exual being.”
He had almost sworn, but he didn’t want to swear in front of this man who seemed like a big grown child. Well… not his best rescue, but he would deal with that later, ignoring the raised eyebrows from Rumlow and a soft “Like Agent Rollins?” from the beaten puppy.
Barnes gave him a warm and sudden smile, a new cup with coffee was shoved in his hands again. Even if he didn’t answer the question and what does he know about those things? Wasn’t he frozen for like forever minus the assassinations?
“Could you perhaps get some blankets out of the living room? Hey, you could build a fort out of blankets and pillows! we can watch a movie, would you like that? JARVIS can show you pictures of it.”
There was a bright smile this time and the man vanished almost silent out of the room, leaving Tony and Rumlow alone in it.
“Wanted to call you asshole but I think he wouldn’t have liked that, else we don’t want him to learn inappropriate words. And Rhodes is asexual, I love him.”
He wouldn’t let Rumlow talk any shit about aces, they were too cute and lovely and not demanding for anything one didn’t want at all. He and Rhodey had cuddle sessions he wouldn’t ever get from another sexual orientated human.
“Agent Rollins is…. was an ace too.”
Rumlow’s voice was somehow soft, he gazed into the distance and seemed to think about his teammates, a ghost of a smile on his face. Even if he closed his eyes for a short moment and shook his head.
“Well… I don’t think he will change his sexuality in prison, but okay.”
Tony knew for sure that Rollins was alive, had seen the interrogation and there weren’t any executions of Hydra agents. He didn’t know why he gave that information to the man but somehow it seemed as if there had been a big burden lifted from his shoulder.
“No… He would break everything pointed at him.”
Rumlow smirked for a moment, but got serious again.
“I quit Hydra. I’m not a good man and won’t be one in the future. I wouldn’t want you to believe something stupid like that. But they wanted to kill Winter and Rollins. There is no way I would forgive that.”
Indeed, a good reason to quit but Tony wasn’t quite sure what to make out of it.
“And you think I believe that you did it out of the pure love of your heart?”
“Take it or not. You don’t need to believe shit. Even if I’ve got a rotten heart I can care about people.”
That made sense, somehow somewhere. He wouldn’t judge the man by his past actions, but he wouldn’t trust him like this. He had been Hydra and been loyal to them well to the point when he brought the Winter Soldier in here.
“Either way. Why didn’t you call for Cap? He would be happy to not only get his best friend back, no he could get the one that tried to kill him, tried to kill his friends and everyone he cares for. Even you had been in the firing line. How does that feel Stark?”
Tony felt the sudden need to just slap him into the face, but felt like Rumlow just tried to make up for the few honest and painful answers with more force and snark to make Tony forget that he showed real feelings. Tony somehow knew he would do something like that. And who was he kidding? It worked.
“You sick fuck. Is this how you repay for…”
“I can’t find more blankets!”
The sudden interruption caused him to stop talking, only stared with angry eyes at a cold smirking Rumlow who licked his chapped lips.
“That’s no problem kid, I think you did fine. Whatever we need a blank fortress for.”
Rumlow snorted and let himself be led into the living room to look at whatever Barnes had made for them, leaving Tony angry in the kitchen.