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Delirious

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It was a simple word that made Steve happier than he had ever been in his life. A word that he had heard about a million times before, but only now it sounded so sweet and filled him with so much joy. His own name.

“Steve…”

Bucky was looking him. Just looking. The cold stare was gone, now there was recognition in his eyes and the proof was a single word passing through his lips. “Steve.”

It had taken months to find him and everybody had said that it was impossible and even if Steve was to ever see him again, Bucky would never remember him, he would never be the same. Yet here he was and Bucky was saying his name.

Of course everybody was sceptical, but Steve would have none of it. Normally he wasn’t the kind of person who would use his own status to his advantage, but this time Steve didn’t hesitate. If Thor could bring his crazy brother in as an advisor who was now about to become a fulltime Avenger Steve could do the same for his best friend. Bucky would need him to fight his demons, to cope with what Hydra had done to him, a second time. Nobody could do that on their own.

And Steve also needed Bucky.

Natasha understood that, had his back and so the others just went with it. After all they were slowly turning into a little club for the rehabilitation of villains. Although Steve would never think of Bucky as a villain. He was still his best friend who was lost, shy, kept his head down and needed someone to hold on to. Everybody, including Steve, treated him like a raw egg from the second Bucky moved into the Avengers tower. Steve had insisted on that, but in hindsight it was such a bad idea.

Despite living with them for over a year and regularly playing video game tournaments with Clint Loki still wasn’t considered a real Avengers and he had stayed at the tower, while the others were out, searching for the Winter Soldier. Not that Loki had cared and Steve had been so happy to have Bucky back that he somehow had forgotten about the Nordic god hanging out at the tower.

So Steve stopped dead in his tracks when he was about to show Bucky their common room to hang out. Loki was lying on the couch, nose buried in a book before looking up with his usual disinterested look on his face. Maybe mixed with a bit of disappointment. “You are already back? Too bad. It was heavenly quiet. Did you at least fail miserably, so I can laugh at you?”

Perhaps it was Loki’s dark glare or the tone of his voice, but Bucky who had never been afraid of anything seemed to become a little smaller. Steve instantly wanted to reach out and help him… somehow or to tell Loki to shut his stupid mouth. Thor didn’t notice any of this, just strolled into the room, being as happy as ever. “My brother, we come back to tell the tales of our victory and to present you a new friend to welcome in our home.”

Now Loki showed indeed some mild interest, sitting up straight. Steve definitely didn’t like the way he looked at Bucky. So openly, up and down. Even less he liked the fact that Bucky seemed to be intimated by that.

“Ah, so you are the famous Winter Soldier. We should start a club. People who failed at killing the dear Captain and then ended up working for his little team. Aren’t we some outstanding little fellows?” Loki was already turning back to his book and Steve had to hold back to not snap at him.

Thankfully Thor was there. “This is not a matter to make jokes about, Loki.”

“I wasn’t joking, Thor.”

Taking a deep breath Steve quickly wanted to get out of here, but now that they had already seen each other, he pretty much had to introduce them. “Bucky, this is Loki. Thor’s brother. Don’t listen to him, he just has a twisted sense of humour.”

“Only one of the many reason we adore him so much.”

Great, just what Steve needed to work Bucky up even more. Tony Stark’s daily attempt to get into Loki’s pants. Being brainwashed, tortured and thrown into a time that wasn’t your own probably obviously wasn’t enough. There were so many things Bucky had no seen yet, that would seem awkward and strange to him. Steve wanted to help him through this, slowly and with care. Now there was a bisexual man strolling in here, trying to openly charm a Nordic god who was completely unaffected by all of that. That wasn’t slow.

Tony slumped down on the couch next to Loki who instantly let out a long, deep sigh. “I desperately miss the times when I was alone. It was so peaceful and silent.”

“Oh come on, reindeer games, don’t pretend that you didn’t miss me day and night. I bet you almost cried into your pillow, because you were so worried about me.” With a big smirk on his lips Tony did the next thing that would freak Bucky out. “Jarvis, how many times did Loki ask about me while we were gone?”

Steve didn’t miss how Bucky’s eyes darted around as soon as Jarvis answered and reassuringly squeezed his arm. “Not once, sir.”

Loki’s smug grin was only outdone by Tony’s. “Oh, darling, you got too chocked up about my absence, you couldn’t even talk.”

“Actually, sir, Loki and Agent Barton had a phone conversation everyday during your mission.”

“Come on, Loki, you don’t have to try to get to me via Clint. You know, I just end your suffering and take you out for dinner tonight, then you’ll have me all to yourself.” Tony wiggled his eyebrows and Steve felt the urge to throw something at him. How could a man be so stubborn?

“Since I love repeating myself so much I’ll do it one more time for you. There is no way I would ever go out with any mortal. Least of all you. I would rather volunteer to have Agent Romanov using me as a target to practice her knife throwing skills.”

When Tony opened his mouth to reply Steve quickly pushed Bucky out of the room. “Come, I still need to show you the kitchen.”

Bucky followed him, looking slightly disturbed. Damn, Steve would have Tony and Loki’s heads for this. “Is this… normal?”

“Well, uhm… yeah. Not really, no. Tony is… quite a character and Loki is not from this planet, so… don’t take them too seriously. I know this is quite a lot to take, but… they are all nice people. Or… Loki tries to… sometimes. Don’t worry, we’re all friends.” Steve gave Bucky his most encouraging smile, but it failed and Bucky chose to intently watch the floor. “Friends… I shouldn’t be here among them, Steve.”

No, no, no, no!

“Bucky, of course you should be here!”

“You are heroes, Steve. You are good people. I am not. I shouldn’t be here. The dark haired one… Loki… he is right. I tried to kill you. I killed other people.”

“That wasn’t you.”

“Was it?”

The look on Bucky’s face was breaking Steve’s heart. For a long time Steve had felt so lost and he had thought it would be the same with Bucky, but it wasn’t. This was so much worse and he just didn’t know what to do about it. “No, because I know you, Bucky. You are a good man, something bad happened to you, but this is over now. We will work this out.”

“I don’t deserve to be here…”

“Stop that, of course you do!” Steve noticed he was getting loud and quickly took a step back. “Bucky, listen… You aren’t responsible for what happened and even if you feel that way… look at Loki! He really did some bad things. Really bad things and he still had his own will. Well mostly, he was also being manipulated, but here he is. Living with us, he kinda is an Avenger anyway now, because we gave him a second chance. Everybody deserves one… not that you need it. You are a good guy, Bucky.”

Steve’s heart skipped a beat when the tiniest smile flickered across Bucky’s face. “So… you wanted to show me the kitchen?”

 ***

“Thor, any idea which tie Loki would like more?” Tony held up a red and a blue one, probably only to make Thor scratch his head and Clint sigh. “Stark, you’re staring at his ass 24/7 – how can you have not noticed that all of his fucking clothes are either black or green?”

Rolling his eyes Tony lowered his hands again. “On me, you idiot. He said that green doesn’t suit me and tonight I need to look even more fabulous than usual.”

Three months had passed and Bucky was now way more relaxed around all of them, but he still wasn’t the loud and happy guy Steve remembered. Instead he was shy and quiet, sometimes Steve even thought that he was scared to smile. He had to give him some time, he had been through so much and their little group also wasn’t the easiest environment. Every time Tony was hitting on Loki, which happened every damned day, Bucky looked still uncomfortable when he was around to witness it.

“My brother never favoured the colour red.” Thor finally nodded determinedly and Tony instantly threw the red tie away. “Great! First step is taken. My little reindeer is going be putty in my hands.”

Steve had to leave it to Tony, he was incredibly persistent. Getting Loki into bed isn’t the most… glorious goal to have, but even after being turned down for the 100000th time Tony didn’t lose the tiniest bit of his ambition. Then again, tonight they should be concentrating on other things. “Tony, I hope you don’t forget that we’re going to a fundraiser… not a party.”

“Oh, Cap, don’t be so naïve. There will be music and alcohol, it totally is a party. Perfect moment to start a new strategy.”

Steve desperately prayed that nobody would ask, but Clint simply had to open his mouth. “Care to explain it to us, so we can make even more fun of you afterwards?”

Turning their back to them Tony watched himself in the mirror, fixing his tie. “I’ll get him shitfaced, so he’ll stop pretending that he isn’t into me.”

“You would dare to take advantage of my brother in such a vulnerable state?” Thor towered over Tony’s form, seemingly ready to smash his head in. Clint was easing up the tension by laughing like crazy at the idea that Tony could ever make Loki drunk. “Look, Tony, I know your alcoholism gave you quite a tolerance for booze, but we’re still talking about a god here.”

“Who is talking about me?” Looking up Steve saw Loki and… Bucky coming down the stairs. Both were nicely dressed up for the party, but Steve wasn’t even looking at said god. It had been years since he had seen Bucky like this. Especially during the last months it had only been an Avengers uniform or a casual look to hang out at the tower. No, Steve definitely wasn’t used to see Bucky wearing a grey three-piece suit and looking so fine in it. The thought almost made Steve blush, because he was completely unable to think of anything else. Elegant clothing definitely wasn’t Steve’s field of expertise, but even he could see that this suit was nicely cut, highlighting Bucky’s perfectly trained body. The colour brought out his eyes and Bucky even seemed to move differently with new found confidence. Not just on the battlefield. Yes, he was smiling.

Steve felt his heart skipping a beat when their eyes met and Bucky’s smile grew a little wider. So warm and lively. There was probably no way Bucky had missed the admiring look on Steve’s face, but Bucky looked too beautiful for Steve to even feel embarrassed about getting caught.

“Fuck me! You look good in this suit. You mind if I tear it off you?”

How could he even dare?! In hindsight Steve wanted to beat up himself for spinning around and getting ready to yell at Tony for now also hitting on Bucky. He wasn’t like that, he didn’t act like that and most importantly – Tony at this very moment didn’t even know about Bucky’s existence. Like always Tony was openly leering and made no attempt to hide the very reason for it.

Right, Loki was standing next to Bucky, clad in a dark green almost black frock coat, his hair pulled back in a ponytail. Of course he was snarling and then trying to stab Tony by staring darkly at him. “I will murder you if your dirty hands come even close to my coat…”

“Brother, I am sure the Man or Iron meant no offence.”

“I dunno. Wanting to rip off Loki’s clothes seems pretty damn offensive to me.”

“Shut up, Clint! Loki and me, we’re having a moment here.”

So Tony was still weirdly obsessing over Loki and Steve was disgustingly content with that. Ignoring what was happening around him Steve went back to contemplate Bucky and now he was actually looking forward to the party.

All of them should be out of place at these kinds of events. Maybe except for Tony who was used to rich guys, pretending to be classy and getting plastered, because he was one of them. Natasha was a spy, she adapted quickly to any situation and was walking around, charming everybody, convincing them that throwing money at the Avengers was the best idea ever. Thor was entertaining some old generals with Clint and Steve didn’t even want to think about what Loki was doing here. Well, expect being chased by Tony. Steve himself didn’t feel at ease at all here, he was a soldier, he wasn’t the kind of person to sweet talk business guys. Luckily Bucky wasn’t either and so they finally ended up at the bar next to each other. “This is completely surreal.”

“I know… but you’re doing a better job on this than me.” Steve smiled, watching happily how Bucky did the same. “I don’t think so… I have no idea what we’re even doing here. It’s cute that we’re playing dress up, but it’s still weird to do something like that.”

Another opportunity where Steve should have remained silent, but this smile got the better of him. “Yes, but you look amazing… I mean good… uhm… the suit looks nice.” Somebody had to teach him how to do this kind of stuff… whatever it was.

Luckily Bucky didn’t seem to mind, but Steve was sure that he knew what was going on. Bucky always knew and he was so much better at this than Steve. Whatever it was. “Thanks… it was Natasha who chose it though. I would have had no idea how you’re supposed to dress for this kind of thing. Let’s be honest, I have no idea what is going on here. Parties definitely have changed a lot since the 40ies.”

“How would I know? I’ve never been to one of those.”

Laughing Bucky shrugged and seemed perfectly willing to explain everything that had changed. “First… no woman would have worn a dress with such a cleavage. There would have been women, but I don’t think they would have talked much. The booze is better and definitely more international. What I’m really talking about is that…” Secretly Bucky indicated him to look to the right and Steve instantly wanted to look away again. Loki had stopped running away, instead he was leaning against the wall, sipping on his drink, looking immensely bored, while Tony was shifting closer to him, obviously babbling. It was fairly obvious for anybody what was going on here and sooner or later Loki would probably empty his drink over Tony’s head. Not that he didn’t deserve it for trying all over again, but right now all Steve cared about was why Bucky would even want him to watch something he saw at the tower 24/7.

“A billionaire eager to have some of his limbs ripped off by an alien god?”

The comment made Bucky laugh and Steve’s skin started to tingle all over. “Yeah, but I meant that… a guy is obviously hitting at another guy. Everybody is watching and nobody gives a damn. I’m still getting used to that. It would have been unimaginable… I like that change.”

Bucky’s beautiful eyes left Tony and Loki and instead lingered on Steve. Full of warmth and Bucky was so obviously happy. Steve’s breath got caught, the potential meaning of these words slowly settling in. Before he could croak out an answer he had to swallow deeply. “You do?”

“Yes…” Bucky suddenly mirrored Tony’s movements, shifting a bit closer and Steve minded that way less than when Tony tried that with Loki. “I guess back then… I would have never been able to tell you… that you also look great tonight… People would have looked at us as if we’re crazy.”

“There’s still a chance that they might just do that.”

“Steve, I’m trying to make you a compliment. Do I have to say straight out that you’re beautiful?”

At his age Steve shouldn’t blush, but he did, because it was Bucky. Bucky. Bucky just told him that he was beautiful. Or that he thought Steve was beautiful. “I… thank you… that… I should be saying something now, but I… have no idea…” Somebody walked by, brushing his arms and Steve took a shaky breath. “I know you just said that you like it that you can say something like this publicly now, but… would you mind if went some place… with less people around?”

Did he really just say that? What had gotten into him and why was Bucky still smiling?

Just when Bucky opened his mouth to reply Natasha appeared like out of nowhere next to them. “Boys, we have a situation. Party’s over.”

Story of Steve’s life.

 ***

Steve personally wanted to throw Doom in some hole that he would never get out off again for attacking the city the one time Steve plucked up the courage to ask Bucky out. Well, at least somehow. It did count, right? Bucky had smiled, so there was a chance…

“Holy shit! This place is awesome! Should we write Doom a ‘Thank you’ note for leaving all this stuff behind? My little reindeer is going to love this!”

Shaking his head as if he could clear his thoughts like this Steve tried to focus on their surroundings. This was an amazing victory and Steve should at least feel a bit good about it. After destroying tons of doombots they had even managed to seek out Doom’s secret hideout in New York. The only downside was that Doom had managed to get away, but like Tony had already pointed out – he had left tons of technical equipment and other stuff that looked suspiciously like magical artefacts and potions.

“Thor and Loki just cleared the street of the last remaining doombots, they’ll be here in a second.” Clint got off his transmitter and shot Tony a dark look. “Loki says everybody has to stay away from the magical stuff. Especially you, Tony.”

“Oh, isn’t he adorable? Always worrying about me.”

Steve sighed. “I think he is more worried about you accidentally blowing this whole place up. Seriously, we shouldn’t touch anything.”

“What is half of this stuff anyway? Looks more like a weird kitchen to me… with some strange equipment.” Bucky was standing in front of a large table that was covered over and over with glasses, bottles and bowls filled with liquids of different colours. It did indeed remind Steve of how a movie would try to represent the lab of a mad scientist… who was also a wizard.

“I’m with Steve. Not touching any of that. Doom is probably mass-producing stuff that turns you into a pink, singing, rhinoceros.” True to his word Clint kept lingering around near the door, careful to not even come close to the furniture.

As expected Tony didn’t share these thoughts and was watching everything with big interest, not being worried in the least bit. “So? My little reindeer could turn you into a pink, singing, rhino with a blink of his eye.”

“If you don’t stop calling him that, I will put an arrow through your eye… and stop touching things! Loki will kill you!”

“Tony! Put that down!” Steve would have run up to Tony and taken the bottle away from him, but he didn’t dare to. Nobody knew how Doom’s creations would react to that. It was pure recklessness to even pick up a bottle of…

“Don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s just glass containing white smoke! What will it do? Turn me into the next pope? Actually, that would be awesome…” Tony got that look on his face that even made Bucky step in. “Shouldn’t we listen to the mage who said that we shouldn’t touch any of the… magical things…”

“Oh, come on, Buck! Loki just wants all this stuff for himself. As soon as he shows up he will tell us to pick everything up and to carry it for him to the tower.”

Steve and Bucky shared a look, because there might be a good chance that Tony was right, but they still shouldn’t take any risks. “Look, just put it down. Loki will be impressed with you.”

This prospect was good enough to made Tony consider putting the bottle down. For two seconds. “Nah, I like it when he’s pissed off at me. It’s hot.”

Jesus Christ! Was there any hope for this man? Bucky had enough of Tony acting like a reckless moron and set Steve’s theoretical plan into action. Sadly it wasn’t the best plan to rip the bottle out off Tony’s fingers, snarling “Don’t act like child, Stark.”

“Hey! I wanted to be the next pope!”

“No more touching the magic stuff until Loki is here.”

Steve couldn’t help but smile how determined Bucky sounded. Just like a real leader and everybody knew it was the toughest task to get Tony Stark to shut up. Sadly this was the last time Steve got to smile for a very long time.

It happened all so fast and the lesson they should take form it was to check out bottles or any form of glass for cracks before picking it up and putting it back down. Everybody could hear the glass breaking and not even a second later all the smoke was released and instantly formed a big cloud, completely engulfing Bucky and only him. There almost seemed to be an invisible barrier between him and Tony.

“Shit!”

“Bucky!” Immense fear took a hold of Steve when he heard Bucky collapsing to the floor. No, not today, not ever. He had just got him back and now Steve had failed again to protect him. Not giving a damn about what might happen to himself Steve rushed towards him, the smoke quickly dissolved and revealed Bucky lying unconsciously on the floor. Dropping to his knees next to him Steve hardly realised that Tony did the same. “He’s out cold.”

Cradling Bucky into his arms Steve checked his pulse and released a long, relieved sigh when he felt it was still strong and steady. Okay, he was going to be okay. “Bucky, come on. Open your eyes… that was just some smoke.”

“Magical, white smoke and he must have inhaled have of it.”

Steve hated Clint with a passion for pointing his out, but he couldn’t argue that he was right. This was magic. They were a soldier, an assassin and a mechanic, they were no help. Loki. They needed Loki, right now.

A quiet, pained groan passed Bucky’s lips and his eyelids flickered. Never having felt this thankful in his whole life Steve almost laughed happily before trying to sound reassuring and calm. “Don’t worry, Bucky. We’re gonna get Loki and he’ll take care of you.”

Bucky coughed, his lips even looked dry and he sounded confused, maybe even disorientated. “Loki?”

“Yeah, he’ll be here in a second. Whatever shit Doom fabricated in this bottle, he isn’t worth shit against my little reindeer.”

It looked like real effort when Bucky opened his eyes and they darted around, clearly unfocused. “What?”

Steve narrowed his eyes at Tony for confusing Bucky even more when they still had no idea what was going on. “He means whatever just happened to you… Loki will know what to do.”

Bucky’s eyes fell shut again, but Steve was sure that he gave a small nod. “Yes… Loki…”

“He’s going to be fine… It’s just Doom… Loki will snap his fingers and he’ll be fine…” Tony was mumbling mainly to himself. Trying to fight down his guilt. Normally Steve would say something, tell him that he shouldn’t beat himself up, that the damage was already done and now they would fix it. But this was Bucky and he was hurt, because Tony had played around, not giving a damn. At this moment Steve couldn’t think about anything else than Bucky losing consciousness again this very second.

“I should have known. Foolish mortals… Which part of ‘don’t touch anything’ didn’t you understand?”

Nobody had ever been happier to hear this voice with the constantly spiteful undertone. “Spare us the lectures and help us!”

Tony flinched when Loki just materialised next to him, shoving him aside. “What happened? What did Stark do?”

“Why me?!”

“Because it’s always you who is responsible for things going wrong.” Loki’s expression didn’t give anything away, just remained completely bland while he was watching Bucky intently and then raised an eyebrow at Steve. Information, right. He needed that so he could help. “A bottle broke, there was some kind of smoke in it. White smoke. It completely surrounded him and he inhaled lots of it… What’s going on? Can you undo it?”

Loki didn’t bother to give a reply, just let his hand hover directly over Bucky’s head and closed his eyes. The tips of his fingers started to glow green and this was good. Loki was doing something, he was helping, Bucky would get up, everything would be alright and they could continue their… whatever they had started tonight. “A spell has been cast over the Winter Soldier. I cannot tell what it is. It is not hurting him and will not affect his health, but I can clearly feel the enchantment. Something that is clouding his thoughts… I will be able to tell what it is when he is awake. It would be wise to isolate him.”

“What?! Why?”

“Because he is under the influence of Doom and we don’t know the effects yet.”

“Can’t you undo it just now?” Tony tried to urge him, but he really should know better when it came down to Loki.

“Sure.” Loki responded dryly. “If you don’t care about him losing his sanity in the progress.”

Hastily Steve shook his head, pulling Bucky tighter against him. “No, we’ll do everything like Loki said. We’re not going to take any risks. But… you can fix this, right? Whatever it is?”

The question seemed to downright offend Loki. “Of course, I can. As soon as I know what this ‘whatever’ really is.”

 ***

The most soothing noise Steve had ever heard. Bucky’s steady breathing and the silent beeping of heart monitor. Bucky was lying there, sleeping peacefully, looking like he could wake up any second. After thoroughly examining Bucky the doctors had said that there was no reason to worry, everything looked normal. Since there was no physical explanation for the breakdown, Bucky was still attached to lots of machines that were monitoring his vitals. For two hours now Steve has been sitting there and he wouldn’t leave until Loki had undone the enchantment. First Bucky needed to wake up though.

“How is he doing?” Tony sneaked into the room and Steve instantly felt sorry for him. During his whole life Steve had probably never seen somebody who looked more guilt ridden. Well, technically it was Tony’s fault, but Steve wasn’t angry at him. Not anymore. Loki and the doctors had said that Bucky was alright, so Steve didn’t hold a grudge.

“He’s still asleep, but he’s fine. When he wakes up Loki will get here and undo the… spell.”

“Still no idea what kind of spell that is?”

“No, he needs to talk to Bucky to find out what exactly is going on… but he said it’s something minor.”

Tony tried to hide it, but Steve could easily see how relieved he was, not just for his own sake, but also for Bucky’s. No, there was no reason to be angry. “Good, my red-nosed darling is going repair him. Just a shame that the party had to end like this.”

Sadly Tony had no idea just how right he was and Steve desperately tried not to think of how the evening could have ended. And that Bucky had called him… beautiful.

“Yes… it would have been a nice evening, I’m sure.”

“Oh, definitely. Look, can you do me a favour and immediately kiss him when Loki fixed him?”

The words almost had Steve falling off his chair. “What?!”

“Look, Clint, Nat and I have a bet going on… Clint says you guys need another two weeks to hook up. Natasha says three days and I said 24 hours. It’s about 500 bucks, we could share.” Tony grinned at him while Steve was still searching for words. He knew?! What did he know?! What was there to know? Well, Steve was pretty sure that he was badly hiding his feelings for Bucky, but…

“How can you guys bet on something like that?!”

“That’s exactly what Bruce said! Come on, Steve, you guys have been drooling over each other for weeks! Being cured from an enchantment is the perfect moment to finally do something about it! You know each other since the 1940ies, it’s about damn time… and I can make some money. You’ll be the cutest couple around here. Second place behind me and Loki.”

Steve raised both eyebrows and Tony huffed. “I’m working on it! Come on, you almost had a complete meltdown when you thought he was hurt. You’re into him and he worships the floor you’re walking on. Just go for it!”

Just the thought of Bucky and him… No time for daydreaming, rather hoping that Bucky hadn’t heard their conversation, now that he was obviously waking up.

“Bucky? Hey…”

“Steve?” Slowly opening his eyes Bucky directly looked at him, while Tony was already calling for a doctor. “What happened? Weren’t we fighting Doom?”

“Yeah, you got… hit by a spell, but everything’s okay.” At least Steve hoped so. Bucky’s eyes were focused, his confusion was gone and those were all good signs.

“Magic? Oh, great…” Sighing softly Bucky rubbed his temple and Steve wanted to ask millions of questions… especially if Bucky still remembered their last conversation. This wasn’t the time.

“James, good to see you awake. Let’s do a little check-up to see if everything’s alright.” The doctor instantly took care of Bucky and Steve avoided Tony’s gaze. No kissing Bucky, definitely not right now. But later… who knew…

Everything seemed to be perfectly normal, the doctor was checking Bucky’s pupils when the two Nordic gods entered the room. Good, Loki could lift the spell and then this terrible night would be over. It had started so well…

“This is odd… Your heart rate just went up. Are you feeling alright?”

Bucky’s eyes quickly darted to the doctor and nodded. “Yeah… yeah, perfectly fine.”

“Those are splendid news, my friend. We were all deeply worried.” Thor was beaming at Bucky, while Loki made the impression that he had a lot of other places where he’d rather be. “Yes, we are all deeply moved. Could you please step aside, so I can see what we’re dealing with?”

Confused and maybe a bit intimated the doctor shuffled back and Steve thought that he could see a faint blush on Bucky’s cheeks. Loki really had a talent to make every situation uncomfortable.

“Right, work your magic, darling and when you’re done with Bucky, you can work it on me.”

Ignoring Tony Loki sat down on the edge of Bucky’s bed, putting his hand on Bucky’s forehead. “Loki, what are you doing?” Suddenly his voice sounded strangely hoarse and Steve started worrying again.

“I’m locating the spell. That requires silence, thank you.”

The result was a rather awkward moment, because nobody dared to say anything. Because of that Steve concentrated on the steady beeping… which wasn’t so steady anymore, but constantly getting faster. How should Steve keep quiet if Bucky’s heart was more or less racing? “Bucky? You okay?”

Bucky only croaked a ‘Yes’, staring at Loki who now put both hands on Bucky’s cheeks and closed his eyes. “It’s strong… it’s everywhere… but I can’t locate it.”

“If it’s everywhere how can’t you tell where it is?”

“Because…” Loki hesitated, reopened his eyes and Steve bit his lip when the pauses between the beeps got even shorter. Something was wrong. Bucky’s eyes were dilated, shining brightly. Maybe he was having temperature?

Letting go of Bucky Loki studied him intently and now the blush on Bucky’s cheeks couldn’t be ignored. “Oh no… what have I done to deserve this?” Loki sighed loudly and everybody in the room was alarmed.

“What did you find, brother?”

“Come on, darling, what’s going on?”

“Loki, is he alright? Can you help him?”

Not one of them got an answer, instead Loki kept his attention fixed on Bucky. “James, Doom cast a spell on you. That’s nothing to be played with. The situation is rather serious. I have to know exactly what I’m dealing with or I can’t help you.”

“If somebody can do it, it’s you, Loki.” It was odd to hear Bucky whisper when Loki was talking so loudly and clearly.

“Exactly. You need to tell me something, so I can identify the nature of the spell. It is absolutely important that you give me an honest answer. If you don’t tell me the truth, I can’t help you. So my question is – what are you thinking right now?”

Steve had no idea what Loki was doing here. Bucky was lying in a hospital bed, he had just learned that he was under the influence of a magical spell… what else should he be thinking…

“You have the most beautiful eyes…”

What?! Everybody’s reaction couldn’t be more different. Thor looked slightly confused, Tony’s mouth dropped wide open, Loki sighed in frustration and Steve… didn’t understand a thing, but he knew that he shouldn’t feel hurt. Yet he did. Bucky himself only blushed harder and mumbled an apology. “I’m sorry… but you said that I had to be honest. I… can’t stop thinking about your eyes, that’s all. They’re beautiful.”

“Whoa, Bucky, calm down a little. The only one who’s allowed to flirt with my little reindeer is…”

“Shut up, Stark!” Snarling at him Loki got up. “I can’t break the enchantment without more information. I’m going to study everything Doom kept in his hideout.” He was about to just leave them alone, but Steve couldn’t let that happen. “Wait! What enchantment are we talking about? What is wrong with him?”

Releasing a long breath Loki rubbed his temples. “Mages use complex and long terms to describe this kind of spell, but you would probably call it… a love spell.”

“You are kidding, right?”

Judging by Loki’s face he wished he was kidding. “Oh, believe me, I can think of more pleasant things than having yet another mortal to annoy me with his foolish interest in me.”

Steve felt his fingers and hands growing cold. A love spell? No, this was… Even to their standards this was ridiculous. Bucky in love with Loki? Out of the question. No way. Definitely not.

Just because Bucky’s heart rate had sped up the second Loki had entered the room… he was constantly blushing, only looking at Loki and nobody else… and talking about how… beautiful Loki’s eyes were.

Oh God, please no.

At least Steve wasn’t the only one who thought this was a catastrophe. Tony seemed desperately eager to find a way to kick his own ass. “Fine, Rudolph, you won. Next time I definitely won’t touch anything…”

“You better…” After giving Tony a look that could make anyone’s blood freeze to ice Loki left without saying another word and Steve tried to keep calm. Just a little love spell. Loki would read a book, come up with a plan to undo this… yes. Loki was a genius, piece of cake. Tomorrow they would laugh about this. “It’s okay, Bucky, don’t worry. We’ll take care of this.”

Bucky slowly nodded, looking heartbreakingly sad. “I didn’t do anything to upset him, didn’t I? I don’t want him to be angry at me. When can I get out of here? I’d like to apologize. Maybe I should invite him to…”

“Wow, wow! Love spell or not, I don’t care! Let me make this clear, just thinking about asking me little reindeer out for a date means war!”

“Man or Iron, he is under a spell, he can’t help it.”

“I don’t care! Yeah, the whole thing may technically be my fault, but… he can’t just have the hots for Loki now! I’m not standing a chance anyway, I’m completely fucked if I now also have to deal with competition!”

Steve buried his face in his hands. They should have never left the damned party.