One moment he, Steve, Sam, and the rest of the group that the three of them privately refer to as the "Howling Avengers" are sitting in a conference room in Stark Tower, getting a briefing from Thor about how Loki has slipped his bonds again, when Loki appears in a great poof of smoke (because he's a theatrical prick), grabs Steve, makes another poof of smoke, and Steve is gone and there's this guy who's a ringer for Steve, only he's got very short dark blond hair, a goatee, and glasses, and he's wearing a pink and purple shirt that says "Petunias", boxers with little kisses all over them, fuzzy bunny slippers, and he's holding an American Girl doll.
He looks at them all for a moment and says, "Um … this is exactly what it looks like?"
The guy's name is Jake Jensen and he's a motormouth ringer for Steve from another dimension. Hopefully the same one where Loki sent Steve.
Correction. Make that a snarky motormouth ringer for Steve from another dimension.
And, it was exactly what it looked like. A guy with a present for his niece's birthday. Her soccer team is the Petunias, and anytime he's in country he never misses a game. He was getting ready for her team birthday party when Loki kidnapped him.
He glomps onto Bucky as soon as Stark gives him the run of the floors where people's quarters are located, because "You have that silent but deadly with a gun more than a mile away vibe." And, "I kind of have a thing for your type."
Despite his worry and aching heart, Bucky wonders how Jake's old team is dealing with Steve. He's no motormouth. He's not an expert in communications technology or computers, but he definitely has the tactical chops to run with a special forces unit, and, as Sam pointed out, "He's certainly snarky."
Jake also has his ass pulled out of the fire on a regular basis by Cougar, the team's sniper. Apparently he's a man of few words, both in English or in Spanish.
A splinter group formed of ex-HYDRA assholes and ex-AIM zealots, AGM (Advanced Genocide Mechanics) lead by MODOG (Mental Organism Designed Only for Genocide) decides that they're just not getting enough traction in their quest to rid the world of "overbearing Jewish-Italian grandmothers" down in the Congo. Their analysis of demographics reveals that New York City has the highest concentration of Overbearing Jewish-Italian Grandmothers in the world.
As MODOG advances on him, or, more correctly, the grandmother cowering behind him, Jake squares up and asks, "But, wait a minute, wouldn't the Jewish-Italian grandmothers be in Italy? Perhaps on a vacation in the Holy Land? This woman behind me is a Jewish-Italian-American grandmother, so you've got the completely wrong group of people, and finally, there's no need to say overbearing when talking about any of those combinations of grandmother, that's just redundant." He practically spits the last words, so great is his contempt and outrage.
MODOG pauses in thought just long enough for Bucky to put two in its brainpan.
The Jewish-Italian-American grandmother they saved won't let them leave her house until they've both eaten two helpings of everything and taken an immense amount of leftovers home.
After the courage he displayed in taking on AGM, Bucky is more than happy to help Jake infiltrate the server room at Stark Tower.
"Because, look," Jake said, snapping his gum as he laid out the plan, "I know Tony Stark is doing his best to figure out how to send me back to my reality, but he's also a sanctimonious prick who needs a good pranking."
Jake finishes his work in five minutes and neither Bucky nor Sam (who helped by keeping Tony distracted with Falcon suit R&D questions) have any idea of what Jake did in there until Tony asks Jarvis a question and a voice strait-outta-da-BRAWNKS replies.
Tony stews for about 10 minutes before accepting this as proof of Jake's "call me J-mageddon" computer skills, and sets him to work on on a variety of projects that Bucky only barely comprehends, but he only reluctantly leaves the room when they work because they are the best damn show in town. The snark is epic. Not to mention, both of them love having an audience ... even if the audience thinks they're a couple of show-oafs.
Jake (re)introduces Tony to "Dr. Kevorkian", aka brewing coffee using Diet Dr. Pepper instead of water, because, hey, he hasn't had this much fun since college.
After 96 straight hours of Dr. Kevorkian fueled uptime, Pepper and Natasha distract Tony while Bruce injects him with horse tranquilizer. His mouth twists a little when he says, by way of explanation, "They are starting to make me … cranky."
Jake is still motormouthing away when Bucky and Sam take him back to his room where Sam feeds him a double shot of 151 with a generous benadryl chaser. 30 minutes later he's out like a light.
He looks so much like Steve used to, back in the Brooklyn days, crashed out in an exhausted sleep, that Bucky can't stop himself from climbing into bed next to him.
Bucky knows Jake isn't Steve -- and how -- and a part of himself is angry at being this desperate, pathetic, and hollow, but he needs this. He needs to lie down in bed next to Jake and shut his eyes and just fucking pretend for five minutes that it's Steve next to him, and that everything is okay. In few minutes he'll get up, and no one will ever …. zzzzzzzzzzzz.
He wakes up in the middle of the night when Jake rolls over, flops against him, and groans, "Oh, Cougar."
Bucky plans to just wait a few more minutes, till Jake falls into deep sleep again, and then he'll slip out from underneath Jake's arm, and …. zzzzzzzzzzz
"Oh, this is awkward."
Bucky's eyes fly open at the sound of Jake's voice, to see his face right above his, chin slick with drool, and lips impossibly, kissably, lush and pink.
"Oh man, " Jake babbles, "Did we? 'Cause the last thing I remember is .... No. Wait. We're fully clothed. So we didn't." His mouth quirks a bit on the last word.
Bucky sighs and looks down at the expansive wet patch on his shirt. "Should I feel relieved or disappointed?"
Jake's eyes flick up in thought. A moment later, he smiles brightly and says, "Both."
While they were sleeping, Bruce took advantage of the peace and quiet and solved the final physics problem with the help of an Asgardian treatise on the nature of space-time that Thor very generously translated with extensive help from Dr. Jane Foster.
Bruce can now open a stable gateway between dimensions and it's "got something akin to a firewall on it. Nothing comes through but approved packets."
It's going to burn out one of Tony's arc reactors to keep it open for seven minutes, but Bruce knows Steve's exact location, and once Tony stops grousing about his destroyed arc reactor, Bruce knows he'll be all happy to start designing a newer, better model, and Bucky can see that Bruce is also looking forward to consulting on that project.
Jake says to him as they're setting up the portal equipment, "Bucky, I need your help again, for like, five minutes." Pause. "It's a parting gift to say thank you to Tony. You'll love it."
Bucky knows Cougar the instant he lays eyes on the rag-tag group of people hunkered down inside a warehouse.
There's only time for the briefest hello-goodbyes, but Cougar catches his eye, nods his head at Steve, and says, "Feisty. But worth it."
Bucky smiles so hard and so good it feels like his face is going to break. He flicks his eyes over at Jake, looks back at Cougar, and says, "Back at you."
Upon their return, Bucky is surprised, but not surprised, to hear Jarvis greet Tony in a gaspy, mechanized baritone, "What is thy bidding, my master?"
It turns out that one of the the things that Steve did on his "vacation" was help "The Losers" save their earth from a madman who wanted to unleash a plague, and then charge everybody for a treatment.
"That's what really grinds me," Steve says. "A treatment, not a cure. He wanted everybody to have to … to … kowtow to him every day for the rest of their lives."
Bucky smiles from the depths of his heart upon hearing that tone of indignation. That's the Steve he knows and loves, always standing up for what's right.
"I got so angry at him, Buck, so angry at level of sheer, unmitigated gall, that I charged in before getting a complete sit-rep." Steve shakes his head.
"But Cougar had your back." Bucky shrugs.
Steve pauses, caught off guard. "How'd you know that?"
Bucky laughs. "Apparently, we have a type."