A door slams and Tony leans his head out of the doorway of the kitchen to investigate but is met with an empty hallway. It isn't tough to deduce who it had been though-the rest of the team other than Thor who is visiting Asgard is sitting in the kitchen eating or watching people eat with a stare that shouldn't be possible on a human face(Clint). He pulls himself back into the kitchen to look around at the faces of the others in the hopes they would have some sort of idea what could have caused Captain America to slam doors this time. Normally it's something like reporters insinuating that he should believe a certain thing, subscribe to a set of morals because of the time he'd grown up in but TMZ had been thankfully void of Steve appearances.
“What spangled his stars?” Clint's eyebrow raises though he doesn't stop eyeing Bruce as he eats like he's watching a very riveting archery competition. Tony doesn't pretend to understand why he does anything.
“No idea. Broke his phone?”
Natasha's eyes roll but she doesn't correct him despite probably knowing exactly why Cap had been imitating a teenaged girl just a few moments ago. Tony has given up wondering where she gets her apparently bottomless well of information and chalks it all up to being a spy. He'll hack the SHIELD databases later because a door slam could also be attributed to SHIELD shenanigans considering how their ways of dealing with Cap had always edged on the stupid. Then again, he had proven he could escape their evil clutches once so that eliminated most of the not incredibly idiotic ways of how to train your super soldier.
“Not going to go after him?” Bruce asks calmly in spite of the wholly annoying way Barton is staring at him.
“I'm not wearing the suit, are you kidding me? I could die. Have you seen the punching bags after he gets through them? Seriously.”
“You're not fooling anyone, Stark,” Clint smirks as he leans further across the table and really, if it's death he wants to court he can do it somewhere other than the tower.
“If you don't stop staring at Bruce I'm going to get jealous. He's my bro, I already called dibs,” he slings his arm around Banner's shoulders. It'd taken awhile for him to get used to Tony just touching him all the time, Tony knows, because he'd flinched every time for the first few weeks after the Chituari invasion however there's no hint of that now.
He shakes his head and looks up with a smile, a spot of jam beside his mouth where he'd probably missed it while being engrossed in science articles in the paper in front of him and maybe that's what Barton's been staring at the entire time. “I don't mind sharing if you don't.”
“I'm hurt and saddened by this, Banner, I hope you know. So sad I'm going to the workshop now,” he backs up and sure, he isn't fooling anyone but he can act like he is.
“Yeah, right. Have fun untwisting Cap's panties, Stark.”
“Shut up, Barton or you'll never see that missile firing armband I'm making you,” Tony gives him the finger as he goes-childish but then, he's dealing with a child.
“I'll believe that thing exists when I see it.”
“I ain't sayin' he's a gold digger,” Natasha comments over her coffee cup.
“But I ain't messin' with no broke Starks.”
Tony wonders not for the first time why he'd thought living with these people had been a good idea because they're clearly all batshit insane. Doesn't matter right now; Steve is slamming doors and probably beating punching bags within inches of their sandy lives and it's Tony's job, no, responsibility to figure out exactly why.
Steve isn't the type to act out when he's pissed off-at least not where people can see it. Oh there's always casualties-punching bags, sometimes cups, Tony's good mood-but he waits until no one is around then looks immensely guilty when someone discovers him sweeping up the innards of yet another piece of gym equipment. Today is different. Today is abnormal and that alone makes Tony speed up his trip to the workout room.
For a minute he just watches Steve punching the bag, letting out fierce sounding grunts as if that sand filled cylinder has personally offended him. Cap doesn't raise his head when the door opens with a soft 'shwip' which means he either hasn't heard him or is hoping he'll go away. He should really know better than that.
The gym has more room than they've ever needed and even Cap and his activities take up only a small portion of the large, white room. Windows act as walls for most of it because the last thing he needs is Natasha breaking someone's neck and having them be just out of sight to anyone passing by and yeah, the view when Steve has the place to himself doesn't hurt either. The floor is half specially designed, superhero resistant Stark flooring he'd developed specifically for their gym and half mats for when Natasha or Steve wants to do yoga. A wrestling ring is tucked in the back part for their grudge matches though he thinks he's only ever seen Natasha in there probably reliving her victory against Happy Hogan with Clint.
Steve wears his khakis and his button down remains buttoned up to his throat. His breath is coming in harsh bursts, sweat sticking his hair to his forehead and his shirt to his body so Tony sits. He'll come over when he's ready to talk because it sure isn't now.
It isn't until the punching bag splits down a seam that Tony's presence finally gets noticed but Steve doesn't approach him. Tony continues to work on modifications to the armour and Clint's damn missile launcher on his tablet while Steve works at cleaning up his mess. Tony doesn't bother telling him the cleaning staff will get it because Steve had fixed him with a poisonous look the first time he'd suggested it so he hadn't suggested it again. There's a rattling of chains and then punching again-okay, a two bag problem. Serious.
He lifts his head every so often over the next hour just to check up on him though no one could ever call Cap frail-anymore, Tony had seen the pictures before Project Rebirth-despite how Steve will make it clear if something has gone wrong. Only once do the hits slow making Tony foolishly think the Great Punching Bag Massacre of 2012 has ended and he looks up just in time to see Steve's forehead pressed against the bag, one of his unwrapped hands resting on it like it alone can support him. And that's it, he's had enough.
“Not now, Tony.”
For the next two hours he waits for him to be done taking out his frustration over whatever the hell has him so worked up and when Steve walks over, doesn't speak, Tony already has his plans for hacking into SHIELD solidified. He gets to his feet with the help of the hand held out to him and his fingers close around bloody knuckles but Steve doesn't flinch.
“Want to talk about it?”
Steve never doesn't want to talk. Steve has logged almost as many 'talking' minutes as Pepper in half the time. And she still does it albeit in a different context now. He lets go of his hand, pushes the hair out of his face with the one not spotted with Steve's own blood, “shower, movie and snack then bed?”
A huff of breath that edges too close to sounding shaky makes Tony encircle his waist with his arm. Steve says nothing, just touches his forehead against Tony's. One of Steve's hands comes to rest on his side, “yeah”
“We can skip the movie, just get the snack.”
As if he'd noticed how much he's leaning on Tony for support Steve steps back, shakes his head and puts on a blatantly fake smile, “no. No, what do you want to watch?”
“Again?” he chuckles like Wall-E isn't a marvel of modern animation and story telling. A cover up but Tony lets him think he's fooled.
“Excuse you, who was it that cried during it again?”
The tightness doesn't recede from Steve's eyes for all he tries to seem casual and Tony has already come up with several scenarios in his head that could have caused this and all of them end with him bursting in SHIELD in the armour. They head upstairs to Steve's floor, ditching the common area where people will be waiting with questions and criticisms of movie choices and the tens of questions buzzing around his own head all vie for his attention like crying children or especially stupid robots. He'll wait to ask at least one until Steve has eaten-he tends to get hangry even when not dealing with SHIELD's idea of fun-and has thoroughly entrenched himself in soft couch with Tony squashed against his side.
He chooses popcorn, nachos, and some leftover pizza from a couple of nights ago as their movie food then settles in to wait while Steve showers. It takes him longer than usual but Tony doesn't mention it when he eventually does get a couch full of super soldier to himself. His arm goes around Tony's shoulder immediately, pulling him closer without using the 'I'm yawning' move that he'd been frankly disappointed had never been utilized on him. Really, Tony felt cheated. He's still warm from the water and his hair is damp when he drops his head on top of Tony's.
By the time the movie has reached the half way point the food has been demolished and they've settled into a more comfortable position with Tony inhabiting the last few inches of the couch and Steve squished behind him with his arm across Tony's waist keeping him from falling to the carpeted floor every time one of them shifts to get comfortable. The end is coming though which means he has to start steeling himself for what will happen. They've seen it about two times already but Steve cries every time. Tony doesn't. Never. He would never cry over a fictional movie.
Steve shoves his head into Tony's hair, arm pulling him even closer and Jesus, he wouldn't have chosen this if he'd known he would get this upset on the third viewing too. “You know everything will be okay, you baby.”
“Yeah,” Steve murmurs in a choked voice.
Everything does turn out of course and Steve pulls himself together while Tony goes to get a drink of water. “Come on, it's past your old man bedtime. Probably shouldn't have fed you past midnight either.”
“Better keep me away from water too.”
“What? No, a whole army of you to myself? That sounds like a blessing not a curse.”
They head for the bedroom where Tony won't be sleeping because he has to figure out why Steve has been acting like someone had told him Santa is a lie made up by his parents. Said super soldier gets into bed almost immediately then fixes his sad puppy eyes on him, “you aren't sleeping?”
“Slept most of the day while you were out, you'll be proud to hear no really, don't give me all the awards at once. Unless you want me to stay?” he's already inching towards the door when Steve shakes his head.
“No. Don't stay up too late, I want to see you in the gym tomorrow for training.”
Yeah, no. For all he enjoys training with Steve on occasion he literally cannot commit to something like that as an every Tuesday and Thursday every week kind of deal. Especially not with him moping around. He's always careful, never lets his strength get the best of him even when high on the fight but Tony just cannot bring himself to punch at that face. It should be a cardinal sin.
He practically flies downstairs to his workshop where he can watch multiple screens at once while breaking into a top secret facility's computer network and gets to work doing so. His stomach has been filled, he'd gotten a few hours of sleep, all systems are go. Except that the SHIELD records have yet to be updated so any news he could have gotten from new 'recruits'(cult members, more like) records aren't available. He hacks into the cameras instead.
Steve enters HQ dressed in civilian clothes of course and greets the security guard in the lobby before heading to the elevator. Tony switches cameras. Once inside said elevator Steve's face comes into focus-tense, brow furrowed and his hands are curled into loose fists at his sides. The expression lightens slightly before he gets off at his floor but his shoulders are still drawn in tight as he walks down the hall to the third door on the left. It takes a couple of minutes for Tony to find the right camera, the right footage where Steve doesn't yet look like his entire world is falling apart.
He finds it just in time for someone to trip the proximity alarm. Tony pulls the videos off the screen before turning around and yeah, just who he didn't want to see.
“Something you need?”
“No,” Natasha says with a small shrug. She probably knows what he's doing and for all that she's an Avenger she doesn't exactly hate SHIELD. She's no company woman but he doesn't know how often she still reports to Fury. She might turn around and go tell him. Not that it matters.
He smirks, “jealous of Clint's missile launcher? I can make you one too.”
“A little,” her smile is razor sharp as always, “stay out of SHIELD. Cap will tell you what's up when he's ready.”
“Or I could...be ready for the bombshell he's probably about to drop on me and find out for myself.”
“I'm saying this because you're a friend, Stark, leave it. This isn't something he needs you prying into.”
As if that's ever stopped him.
“But you know,” he pulls the screen back up.
“It involves me. He isn't in danger, leave it. He'll appreciate it more.”
She's gone before he can tell her that he doesn't need her advice on how to deal with his super boyfriend. Or whatever they are.
The recording starts again at his insistence and the room is mostly dark but he can see the outline of a person on a stretcher. It looks male and there are a multitude of wires running from his body to various machines that Steve doesn't seem to notice as he strides over to the bed. No sound from the cameras and his face is hidden so Tony can't see what makes the next part happen.
A hand flies up and wraps around Steve's throat-Tony can see the surprise in his body language, how he tries to step back from the threat. The man on the gurney is snarling something that he doesn't get to finish before SHIELD agents are running in to subdue him. His hand drops a moment later and Steve stands there looking like a ship lost in the middle of an ocean. The video cuts out and the next piece of footage he sees is Steve leaving the elevator, heading back for home. There's a time lapse of about two hours which coincides with the length of his “errand running”-Tony doesn't bother wondering why he'd lied about it. It must be something he really doesn't want anyone knowing if he'd made up some story about where he'd been going.
Who was the guy who had tried to kill him? It couldn't have been a villain and all of Steve's friends other than a few old ladies and the people from the places he volunteers are here. Unless...Tony pulls up SHIELD's file on someone from Steve's past. James “Bucky” Barnes: killed in action. Body never recovered.
Long chapter is long I don't know what else to say about it lol. No notes to myself hidden in there this time! XD
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“He says you aren't real. That you're an illusion made up to test him,” Natasha says into the communicator. Bucky reacted violently every time he went inside the room so they'd forced him to stay outside behind a two way mirror. As soon as he'd seen Natasha he'd steadfastly refused to speak anything but Russian and only to her. There had been a glimmer of the old Bucky there but it had quickly faded into more insults.
The room they're holding Bucky in is small, mostly dark so the light doesn't hurt his eyes and it had taken him a minute yesterday to realize that his left arm was missing. Gone along with his memories of anything before the train. SHIELD had told him it would take awhile for him to remember, that he might never recall being friends or Captain America as anything but an enemy. He tries not think about the second one.
“He says if you were a real man you would come in and talk to him yourself.”
He wants to laugh because that sounds like him and it almost erases the memory of yesterday when he'd spat at him, called him an American dog before trying to kill him but he doesn't open his mouth in case something other than a laugh comes out instead.
“Tell him if he keeps his paws off of me I'll come in,” Steve replies and the SHIELD agent beside him stammers out a rebuttal to the effect of 'no, you can't'. Maybe he's a fool to still believe that Bucky, his Bucky is still inside there somewhere but he hangs onto it with the tips of his fingernails anyway. Nothing is hopeless until it's well and truly over-he won't let them do that to Bucky.
Natasha snorts and replies to him in Russian then to Steve, “he'll do that.”
He has a feeling there'd been more to it than that though he doesn't bother asking what else he'd said before heading inside in spite of SHIELD agent Doherty telling him that sir, it really isn't a good idea he isn't stable yet do you have any idea how dead Fury will kill me if anything happens to you. Steve takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, “I know you're in there Bucky.”
“Big man tries to look like less of a pussy. Crying, will that come next?”
“Maybe. You used to make fun of me for it back then, too but you were the first person to-”
“Stop telling lies. You think you can recruit me to your stupid American organization but you won't,” his smile is cruel, sharp lines and a flash of teeth before he lets out a short bark of laughter, “you're chasing shadows of what you think you know.”
“No, son, I'm not. I know exactly where all of my information comes from-do you? Have you seen it with your own two eyes or are you trusting that the people who made you have been telling the truth?” he clenches his fists hard enough that his fingernails dig into his palms. Staying calm is harder than he thought it would be even though he keeps trying to tell himself it will be okay in the end if he just persists. Bucky doesn't believe him, Winter Soldier doesn't believe him. But he doesn't have to, not yet. They haven't broken through the brainwashing and the mental blocks that have been put in place but they will because even if he isn't strong enough he knows Bucky is. His Bucky would fight his way out of this and wrestle back his life from the hands of the people who had made it so hard for him.
“I don't want to hear your fucking lies about my life. Bullshit about me being your friend.”
“Best friend,” Steve says quietly. His eyes remain firmly locked on the Winter Soldier's, “you're my best friend.”
Bucky laughs at him until he's hoarse, a horrible sound that collides with Steve's memories and he can't do that, he can't measure him against what he remembers but he can't not when his friend who should have been as dead a him is lying on a bed in front of him. When the laughter ebbs into silence Bucky doesn't speak anymore.
Natasha follows him from the room an hour later when it's clear nothing else is going to be said and her hand is on his shoulder, “you know it's just the brainwashing talking. You know that.”
He nods. He does but it doesn't lessen the sting of the words. Chasing shadows. Picking up pieces of relics from the past and hoarding them because they put a band-aid over the open wounds caused by the knowledge that he can never go back.
“They don't do anything by halves. It'll take awhile, Cap but if anyone knows what it's like to do this it's me.”
“Just don't beat his head against a railing,” he murmurs and she smirks.
“I'll try to refrain from it but I make no promises if he keeps telling me what a hot ass I have.”
A laugh bursts out of his mouth before he can stop it, “I'm sorry. It's...That's inappropriate.”
“But it's something he would say,” she nods her head towards the end of the hallway that holds the elevator, “get home to Stark before he has a coronary.”
“I think I'll stay here tonight. I know it's stupid but I...”
“You don't have to explain yourself, Cap. I'll tell him you'll be staying at SHIELD tonight.”
Tony will probably call him later if he notices that Steve hasn't come home yet but he hadn't been able to sleep last night-not while knowing that Bucky is stuck in an unfamiliar place without anyone he knows. Not that he knows Steve either. He sits back down on the chair outside of his room and watches him stare up at the ceiling.
“Sir may I suggest eating something?”
“How long has it been?” he asks without looking up from the very tiny and delicate wiring for Clint's stupid missile launcher armband hybrid.
“Approximately forty-eight hours, sir.”
That sounds...not right and it takes a few moments of working contemplation for him to understand why. “Where's Steve?”
“As Ms. Romanov informed you two nights ago he is remaining at SHIELD for the remainder of the week.”
At that a hazy recollection of her telling him while he'd been upstairs getting coffee instead of food plays back in his mind. His stomach growls-the traitor-and he concedes that he may have to eat at some point in the near future. Preferably with Steve because he does the whole bedside vigil thing too well for someone who needs to be constantly eating so he doesn't just keel over.
“JARVIS get Steve on the line.”
“Of course, sir.”
Steve answers after a few rings-he rarely ignores phone calls for whatever reason even if it's Fury or another reporter from E! Trying to get him to do yet more interviews about his love life that Tony has been barely managing keep from exploding into CAPTAIN AMERICA IS GAY headlines. Steve hasn't expressed wanting to keep it a secret but he hates being followed around by paparazzi more than Widow so they've kept it under wraps.
“Hey, up for lunch?”
“It's...” and Steve never doesn't know what time it is so Tony starts worrying immediately because of reasons, “9pm.”
He hears only the faint sound of SHIELD's air conditioner going for a moment before Steve comes back, “yeah. The usual?”
“Yeah, I'll come to you.”
“See you in twenty,” he says as he tries to ignore Dummy jabbing him in the leg with something. He bats him away impatiently. Give him an inch and he takes a mile.
“I love you, Tony.”
“Love you too,” and that...isn't how he'd imagined saying that. He's been reluctantly holding back calling Steve his boyfriend or manlover or whatever just in case Steve wisely decides to quit while he's still ahead so the whole declaration of love by either of them wasn't supposed to take place until they eventually(eventually) got that sorted out(he'd been expecting a break up before that). Not that he'd had a plan, that's more Steve's thing he's just-okay, he'd sort of had a plan and it had involved flowers and a trip but he hadn't held out hope it would occur he'd just wanted to be prepared because he knows Steve would probably expect that. Maybe. Whatever, so sue him, he's been running around like a chicken with its head cut off since they'd started sleeping together/not seeing other people/kind of sort of dating.
He cuts off the call before he can say anything stupid like 'bro' then stares at the computer screen in front of him because that'd just happened and if he weren't on a schedule he would be calling Pepper or Rhodey to ask them what exactly he should do now. He's just said the L word and isn't that a punch to the head? More like Dummy poking him in the head with his object of choice again but semantics aren't important.
“Sir, may as I suggest not making a bouquet of baseballs and simply going to Captain Rogers' side with food?”
Tony points to one of the cameras, “yes. Good idea. Not doing the first one.”
Steve meets him in the lobby with a smile though he doesn't know whether it's for him or the three pizzas he's got balanced in his arms. He goes with the pizzas because he's barely got the boxes open before Steve is devouring a slice.
“Someone's hungry. Taking a leaf out of my book, Cap?”
“Haven't been hungry,” he says then wipes his mouth with one of the napkins Tony graciously has provided, “but I guess I was hungrier than I thought...”
“Not that I'm the person to you know, judge, you should probably eat on a regular basis.”
“I know, mom.”
“Using my own sarcasm against me, Steve, really?” and he forgets all dignity even though they're sitting on one of SHIELD's pristine leather couches in the middle of their HQ lobby because who needs dignity when your stomach feels like it's eating itself?
Steve, to his credit, eats likes a very polite ravenous hyena and for all of his griping about Tony eating better he still inhales 2 pizzas by himself. He probably would have moved on to the rest of the third had an alarm not interrupted.
“Stay here, Tony.”
Steve doesn't bother telling him again once they're already up to the fourth floor and yep, all hell is breaking loose. Of course, the one time he doesn't bring his armour or Steve's shield a guy intent on killing Steve busts out of his hospital like prison.
The sprinkler system is going coating the entire floor with water and making walking an entirely unpleasant experience. SHIELD agents scramble around looking competent but not actually doing anything yet probably because they haven't yet spotted the one amongst them that isn't quite like the others and that's just embarrassing because he's missing an arm unlike any of the others. Steve steps in front of him, holding him back with his arm.
“Stay behind me, Tony. It's me he wants.”
“He's right there,” he murmurs in his ear, “far right. You know, the one with no arm. I didn't even know that but I know that no SHIELD agents have missing limbs and no prosthetic what even is this organization.”
“I see him,” Steve says under his breath and heads right for him. Right for him. Like he hadn't been trying to choke him before and god knew what else because what else could he have managed with an incompetent team like this guarding him?
Tony follows anyway, blinking through the water as he looks for some sort of blunt instrument to whack Bucky-what kind of nickname was that?-upside the head with if he got too frisky.
“Stand down, soldier.”
They're standing face to face now while SHIELD collectively craps themselves and trains all weapons on Bucky. Which is just stupid unless they're intending on shooting holes in Captain America to get to him.
“Or what? You wouldn't hurt me, I'm your best friend,” Bucky says with so much venom that Tony pauses momentarily in his search to look up. Steve might not but Tony will gladly lay into him once he-oh hello. The SHIELD agent doesn't even feel him pull the nightstick from his belt which is worrying but also a godsend so he doesn't inwardly diss SHIELD for their agents' lack of attentiveness.
Steve's fists jump at his sides but they stay there. His shoulders are drawn tight and it looks like every muscle in his body could collapse from the tension in his back alone. “You're right, I wouldn't.”
It's a Mexican standoff sans the sunset and guns and Bucky breaks it with a flying kick that looks like it might just be part of Natasha's arsenal. Steve takes the hit in the stomach, gives only an inch before gesturing for the agents behind him to back off, “and you wouldn't either. You don't want to do this, Bucky, I know you don't.”
He really, really does. Tony can see it but Cap's real super power is being stubborn even in the face of failure which for all it's admirable is also stupid in situations when someone is intending to beat you to a bloody pulp.
“Think about it, Buck. Why can't you remember anything before they brought you in? What happened to your parents? If you don't remember me then why do I remember you?”
Steve doesn't stop the hand that shoots up to his throat and starts squeezing, doesn't say anything, just looks as if it will trigger something in Bucky's mind that will make him stop trying to strangle him anytime he gets an opportunity to. Tony's heart leaps to his throat as possibilities run through his head each more grim than the other. He analyzes the data and it doesn't look good because Steve is an idiot. One of his big hands wraps around Bucky's wrist but doesn't pull it away, “think about it.”
Tony's clothes are soaked through and someone is trying to kill his boyfriend person with their bare hands so he really feels like whacking him upside the head with his own weapon would be justified. He's walking over with intent when Bucky's face flickers with something other than homicidal rage.
“Shut. Up. Shut up,” he forces out through a clenched jaw.
Steve is smiling. He's smiling as he's being throttled by his surprise not dead best friend who does that? He slams Bucky to the ground in a spray of water the next second, pulling his hand away from his throat and twisting it behind his back. There's about two inches of water pooling on the floor so Bucky doesn't look out of place flailing around like a hooked fish as he tries to push Steve off of him. One of the agents finally decides to do their job and shove past Tony to slip a syringe into their charge's neck. Steve flips him over onto his back despite his weakening protests.
“It'll be okay. I'll be here.”
“Go to hell,” Bucky slurs back before his head clunks against the ground as he passes out. They oversee them taking him to a more secure location and Steve politely reams the people who had had one job while he left for fifteen minutes to eat something out for not keeping an eye on him. He's more angry than Tony's ever seen him-in recent memory anyway-all furrowed brow and he's barely keeping from yelling Tony can tell because he's seen him go over the edge more than enough times to know the signs of it.
“Steve-” he tosses the nightstick to the agent he'd 'borrowed' it from as they step out of the room before Steve breaks something expensive.
“I'm going for a run,” his hand goes through his hair, a habit he obviously picked up from Tony with how they do it almost at the same time.
“Okay, no. You're going to come back to the tower to sleep,” he grabs his shirt before he can run off, “come on, I can even set up a video feed in your room of his. You won't miss anything.”
“I can't just-”
“I get the endless, always watching thing, Cap, but sleep is good you can quote me on that, stop the presses Tony Stark thinks sleep is good,” Tony starts pulling him towards the elevator and Steve follows albeit reluctantly, “JARVIS can wake you up if anything happens.”
Steve falls asleep in the car on the way but allows himself to be moved to bed without much of a hassle. He's adorable when he's tired like a sleepy golden retriever puppy that keeps trying to fight to keep his eyes from closing. Tony deposits him in bed after a brief altercation with his belt and sits there for a minute contemplating trying to invent some sort of something that will make it so that people don't get brain washed by Soviet Russia until Steve pulls him down beside him.
“I've got a quote from you saying sleep is good.”
Steve doesn't say anything, just pulls him into his chest and they both lose the fight against exhaustion.
Thanks for reading! I also changed the summary because let's be real I can't do pithy statements that give nothing away yet draw the reader in.
Short chapter is short because of cliffhangers.
Chapter 3: the chapter when the fic abruptly got an additional plot? Steve/Tony/Bucky is still happening, it's just happening...later because I have a very large hard on for long fics so if you do not...you should probably get out now while you still can.
Doombots are my go-to thing when I need to make something attack. They're like what The Wrecking Crew is to every comic for me lol(no seriously they're everywhere they're like villain group #1 on call).
The call goes up to Assemble-Doombots-and Steve doesn't hesitate to head for the scene despite how watching Bucky takes precedence over most other things. Tony had promised a feed but everyone who had ever had a problem with The Avengers, other than those currently imprisoned or from Asgard, has been making their presences known throughout the city. Bank robberies, chemical spills, doombots, all of them have been happening so close together he's not entirely unsure there isn't some sort of villain conspiracy going on. He leaves his clothes on the chair for when he gets back, grabs his shield, and meets Tony on the roof as per the usual.
“You can stay here if you want, Cap. We've fought Doombots before,” the armour says in its typical mechanical sounding voice but he knows that Tony's voice is soft under it.
He steps onto the suit's boot then wraps his arm around the Iron Man's waist, grateful for the faceplate that hides the look Tony has been giving him far too often over these past few weeks, “I want to, Tony. I can't just shrug off my duties to the city.”
“Hold on tight,” and that's that as they kick off into the sky.
The 'bots have been taking a beating from Hulk and Thor for the past five minutes while he and Tony have been enroute however no one would have ever guessed that by how many still remain. Cars have been abandoned on the Brooklyn bridge as the owners had been attacked by the mechanical menaces but there are still casualties. Even from high above the action he can see people unmoving beside their vehicles or near the side beams as if they'd contemplated jumping to safety before being cut down. Doom usually prefers to stick with The Fantastic Four much like Justin Hammer has it in for Tony however the appearance of close to 500 of the machine replicas makes Steve wonder if they haven't done something to get on his list too.
“Did we forget to send Latveria a fruit basket last Christmas or is he just sending his stupider selves in for a friendly social call?” they circle the area once so that Steve can get a good idea of where everyone is positioned then swing wide, jetting to the middle of the bridge and he memorizes what he can about the battle scape.
Clint's snort breaks into the communicators with a crackle, “they just want to braid our hair and talk about boys, Stark.”
“Focus, Avengers,” his voice comes out hoarser than he would have liked but flying always dries out his mouth-the armour's arm holds him a little bit tighter.
He spots Widow not far from where Thor and Hulk are smashing and points to a place not far from her six, “let me off there, take out as many as you can from the sky but be careful of civilians.”
“Thank you for riding Stark Airlines,” Tony quips before dropping him on the hood of a red sedan. He would feel worse about denting it if it weren't for how the 'bots have already located him and have started trying to get close to shock him.
They're large, metallic things with capes rivalling Thor's in their ridiculousness except that Thor has the excuse of being an alien demi-god and modelled after Doctor Doom himself complete with the expression that tries too hard to be menacing. It's always reminded Steve of a particularly worried looking version of the War Machine which he definitely does not know about as it is classified and Rhodey has never brought the thing in for repairs while Steve lounges in the basement sketching Tony working. To top it all off they all wear green tunics as if robots have anything to hide.
He throws his shield at one and it ricochets from one to another like a pinball machine that won't stop saying 'stand aside for the glory that is Doom!'. Bucky would have found the entire thing hilarious. The sudden thought isn't allowed to make him falter-this isn't the place for his problems to come out-so he pushes back anything that isn't about the task at hand.
“Rogue 'bot at your 3 o'clock, Cap,” Clint calls and an arrow zings overhead when he ducks to deliver an uppercut with his shield in hand then explodes, “got it.”
He slams the shield into a robotic head, shoves it back to give himself more room then spins, delivers a kick to another before cleanly decapitating it. Wires spark and fizzle as it crumples to the ground but the others continue their chant and he quickly glances at the others, makes sure they aren't getting overwhelmed even though metal parts fly through the air with a great deal of frequency.
“Iron Man, what's the civilian situation?”
“Small cluster of trapped. Heading there now.”
“Be careful,” he says and he doesn't have to say it because Tony knows but he does anyway.
The armour cuts a graceful arc through the sky as it flies out from the battlefield and he gets about two seconds to think about how amazing the armour, Tony is before the 'bots start exploding.
They're in key spots, trying to take out the bridge and The Avengers with it and he snaps the order to find all in danger of exploding before they do so despite how they're all in danger of exploding. Where one fails the others will prevail and that's what has always made them frightening opponents. Not the face, not the powers-their numbers, their tenacity have always made them formidable. His ears ring from the explosions a mere five feet away and they're accompanied by the constant chanting. The floor beneath him starts to quake and he continues throwing his shield, waiting for it to come back for doing it all again even as the 'bots start to fly off with their jet packs. Everything runs in slow motion, including himself as he turns and sees Widow being flown away with Thor, a tiny breakable human being yanked by her arm through the air, and Clint being caught by Hulk who flings himself through the air like the leap he'd made is just playing hopscotch.
The bridge had never been their true goal, he realizes as the ground gives way beneath his feet-something else had been on their radar and he hopes it isn't what he thinks it is. His legs coil then spring him from the falling piece of concrete to another and his hands are grasping for purchase on nothing but air.
Managed to scale back the plot I had in mind because honestly anyone still reading this is reading for the OT3 which is totally cool so I'm trying to get to that more quickly. I say as this fic becomes a 10k monster and they still haven't gotten together yet. Have faith, I will eventually get this show on the road and Steve can stop moping around like Eeyore and Tony can stop feeling guilty over how sadface grumpy pants Steve is. :Db
As always, thanks for reading!
Iron Man catches him bridal style and he would have protested if it weren't for the fact that without him he would have fallen under the remains of the bridge and into the water. They speed out to safety where the others are safely flying or floating while he catches his breath after the drop knocked it out of him.
“You should have let me know you were dropping by, Cap, I would have prepared sandwiches.”
“The civilians?” he forces out after a minute of surveying the damage. The entire middle of the bridge has collapsed leaving broken off bits of support lines jutting into the air with nothing left to hold in place.
“No time, we've got to get to the next location.”
They'll talk about that later in detail because Tony hadn't followed orders, Tony hadn't adhered to the guideline he'd set that if it ever came down to the life of a civilian or the life of Captain America that he would choose the citizens. New York isn't hurting for heroes-he could be easily replaced-but its citizens, those are who they fight to protect and any loss is unacceptable no matter how unrealistic that might seem to others.
“Their goal is probably...”
“Can't blame them. Guy intent on killing Captain America is their kind of ally,” Tony says and switches to the team channel, “we're heading for SHIELD's Midtown HQ. Get ready for shit to hit the fan.”
“Can't wait,” Natasha replies, voice deadpan.
“Thor, I need you taking out as many of the bots as you can with Hulk wherever you find them, Widow you're with me, Hawkeye and Iron Man I need you to set up a perimeter with the SHIELD agents-nothing gets in or out of that building, got it?”
“Indeed, myself and Doctor Banner transformed shall let none pass!”
“You've got it, Cap.”
“Ew, I don't want to be with Stark.”
“The feeling is mutual, Barton.”
“Enough. Doom is up to something and we're going to stop it before it gets any farther, got it?” Steve says and he doesn't hesitate anymore, “let's go, Iron Man.”
The trip isn't long and he sees emergency personnel rushing to the scene of the collapse, sirens blaring loudly even high in the sky. He shifts in the armour's grasp so he's standing again though a fall from this height would kill him even with the serum. He isn't Wolverine, after all.
“Don't do anything reckless, Tony,” he says as they bear down on the building. He can hear the chants of the 'bots already, overlapping the police sirens. They're after Bucky. Bucky who had spent the last three weeks strapped to a bed not knowing what the hell is going on. Steve shouldn't feel responsible for SHIELD's inability to break the block on his brain but when he isn't harassing SHEILD therapists, psychologists he's thinking of how if he hadn't lost him in the first place he wouldn't have been subjected to the treatment he had. If Steve had just taken care of him properly Bucky wouldn't have had to suffer. It's useless to think like that but he does it anyway.
“Awkward, I was just about to say the same.”
“I mean it,” his voice comes out steady though it feels shaky to him. He shoves that aside once again to focus on the mission. Nothing good ever came out of being an emotional wreck even if Bucky's name is in his head on repeat.
“I know. I got it, Cap.”
He and Widow get dropped on the roof where they quickly push their way inside the building amidst the arrival of the 'bots. If they got to Bucky before they managed to haul him away then everything would be alright. Or at least better.
Tony watches them go inside then turns to Hawkeye who has been dropped on the building beside SHIELD, “you ready to rock, Barton?”
“Shooting to thrill, Stark.”
He smirks and starts blasting at Doombots currently laying seige to SHIELD HQ despite the best efforts of the agents. Of course Fury is probably in the Helicarrier so with their luck they'll get Maria Hill running the show down on the ground-Tony thanks the rock gods that he really doesn't have to be down there if he doesn't want to and yep, there she goes.
The 'bots aren't really here to take Barnes, he knows, there's probably someone else either inside or wanting to be inside to grab him though he has no doubt that the things could carry a grown man off into the sunset with no trouble. He still has no idea what the hell Doom would want Barnes for-a Reed focused killing machine, sure, but Cap? They didn't make it a habit to get along with any villains but Doom hasn't exactly spent all waking hours plotting to destroy them either. To his knowledge anyway. He could have a closet full of busts of all the Avengers made from pieces of gum and locks of their hair or something for all Tony knows.
“You got company, birdbrain,” he calls before body checking the thing because why not? A well placed repulsor to the face blows its head mostly off and the stupid thing keep chanting its narcissistic song but it doesn't move.
“Speak for yourself.”
An arrow knocks the 'bot approaching from behind him through the air before turning it into shrapnel raindrops. “I've got A company. I know, it's easy to get them mixed up-”
“Another bites the dust!” Thor bellows bellows before whacking a few robots with his lightning infused hammer, “and you have been thunderstruck!”
Tony only somewhat regrets introducing him to classic rock and Queen but only a very little bit. He's got plans for him to dress up as Axl Rose on Halloween regardless. Hulk roars along with him and it's good to see them not punching each other into walls for once however Tony has always maintained that AC/DC can bring anyone together.
“Cap, report,” he says into the private channel and he hears Steve breathing so he knows that he's still alive but he doesn't say anything.
“Don't know where he is. Natasha and I are both fine.”
“All fine out here too.”
Steve's voice is terse, mission mode has been thoroughly engaged and once this is over he really, really wants to force him to lie down in bed and do horrible things to him because it's been weeks since they've so much as slept in the same building. Pepper has made her feelings on the matter quite clear and Rhodey has stopped answering his calls. Happy still listens to him but Happy is nice to him as all of his employees should be. Pepper could take lessons from him, really.
They continue beating the tar out of the bots for another 30 minutes only for them to abruptly take off which means target has been obtained despite Steve and Widow's best efforts. Tony abandons the fight outside in favour of looking for which one has got said Soviet made soldier in their arms. It doesn't take longer than a minute for him to find him then give chase but they're quicker than they look and before he can just shoot them out of the sky he's tumbling backwards through the air. Loki. Great. And he's brought his magic of course-why is it always magic? Why can't there be a normal, scientific explanation?
“Go to sleep, tin man,” he says and Tony doesn't feel himself fall.
“He's lucky that Thor saw him falling,” Bruce says, fidgeting with the hem of his pants as if somehow he's responsible for not catching Tony who falls out of the sky either on purpose or otherwise every few weeks this time.
Steve nods and pulls him further into his arms, “if we're done here we're moving out.”
Tony is still sleeping but the armour had at least responded to his command to open the faceplate as frantic as it had no doubt sounded. The armour isn't heavy to him of course so it doesn't even wind him to carry it and its creator to the SUV waiting to drive them back to the tower. Thor has flown off in an attempt to reason with Loki though he'd disappeared into a portal shortly after taunting them all but the others are with him.
“I'll take care of Hill and the debriefing, Cap,” Natasha says once everyone else has piled inside. She'll do that and more, he knows however trying to stop Widow is like trying to stop lightning from hitting Thor when he's playing lightning rod.
“No problem. You coming, Barton?”
Clint groans from his spot beside Banner then crawls over him, Steve, and Tony who is being held in place by Steve's arm, “and I was just saying how I hoped there wouldn't be another field trip.”
“With the-...” Banner coughs, “never mind.”
Predictably Tony wakes up as soon as they're inside the tower and doesn't protest too much when Steve doesn't let him down until they reach the bedroom. He sets him down on the bed then goes about untying his boots, pulling off the cowl to let fresh air at his scalp.
“You know I can't sleep in the armour, right? I mean, I could. But I don't really want to unless this is already a dream...Am I in the boardroom? Pepper? Wake me up? No?”
The bed creaks loudly when Tony sits up and it takes only about 20 seconds for him to step out of the armour. “Mad at me?”
“You know I wasn't even half way there by the time I saw you falling. Was I supposed to just let you get crushed by a bridge or...?” there's a hint of anger there but Steve doesn't take it personally-they could both use rest or at least a week off from heroing. They won't take or get it, but they would probably make good use of the time.
“We had an agreement and you reneged.”
“We had an agreement before we started sleeping together and you told me you loved me, Steve, might need to renegotiate the contract,” Tony's hand curls loosely around his thigh, seeking contact for all that his tone tries to shove him away, “I'm sorry, okay?”
“We shouldn't have had to. If I had seen what Doom's plan was from the beginning no one would have had to die,” his hand curls into a fist and Tony's hand moves from its spot on his leg to his hand. Not trying to push, just resting on top.
“I'm the one with the super intelligent computer talking in my ear, not you, and even JARVIS didn't predict that.”
Tony's bedroom gets more use out of it now than before however the sheets still feel like new, the carpet barely tread upon, and the flat surfaces notably void of the clutter than overtakes any room Tony routinely inhabits. He hunches over, resting his elbows on his knees, “it was so obviously a distraction.”
The bed shifts again and Tony has moved behind him, legs on either side of Steve's back and hands situated on his shoulderblades. His hands are so hot from being inside the armour Steve can feel them through the thick barrier that is his uniform. They slide down his back then up again a few times until he's gotten used to the motion. Then a thumb digs into a knot in his neck, “What's this?”
Steve groans, “Distraction.”
“Come on, shirt off.”
He unzips the front part then pulls it away from his body-Tony takes it before he has a chance to fold it properly. His hands are even hotter without his shirt in the way and for all Tony says that Steve is like a furnace Tony can't talk either. A kiss on the back of the neck has him shivering because it has been awhile since they've been alone in the same room together, had their hands on one another in anything other than a teammate capacity. “Missed you, Cap.”
His eyes close, muscles start to relax as Tony kneads at his neck, he breathes out, “Tony.”
“Like that? Lie down and I might even give you a happy ending.”
There's no 'might' about it. Tony uses this in place of words, it's been obvious from day one they don't know how to talk to each other like rational adults when it comes to saying important things-Steve tends to be better, more direct but Tony prefers touching rather than talking. Not that either of them have ever complained about that.
He squirms a little until he's in a position that doesn't have him perched on the edge of the bed and Tony follows right behind him to straddle his thighs. “I missed you too.”
“You say the nicest things when you're under duress,” Tony says with the smirk clear in his voice, then, “and my masseuse said I was too tense.”
His skin tingles where Tony's hands, fingertips touch so that he can't hold back the soft noises-half pain, half pleasure-falling from his lips. “keep it up and I might fall asleep.”
“That's what I meant when I said happy ending-oh, you thought...what kind of a man do you think I am, Steve?” but he's bending over and pressing his lips to Steve's shoulder, his neck while his hands slowly move up and down his back to put up the pretence of a massage still happening.
He doesn't answer because it doesn't need one. After a couple more kisses that make his head start to buzz pleasantly he rolls over onto his back slowly so he doesn't knock Tony flying and pulls him down. He should be more angry about the civilians and more worried about Bucky. He is still angry and they'll talk about it more later but right now more than just his brain tells him to yield to Tony's lips and his hands that wander everywhere.
“Thinking too much, Steve,” he mutters against his lips, “I'm not doing a good enough job.”
“Can't not think.”
Except for those times when he'd just laid on the bed after he and Tony had finished without thinking of anything at all. But those times aren't now. Those times he hadn't had to worry about Bucky which keeps running through his head at every opportunity. At first he hadn't believed it but now there's no way to escape it-Bucky is alive and he hates him. The others haven't asked why he's not been staying at the tower which he knows isn't because he's good at hiding things from them so he chalks it up to Natasha or Tony saying something to them. Thor had already tried to speak to him about comrades turning enemy however Steve hadn't been in much of a mood to talk.
“Doing it again,” Tony palms him through his pants, “do you want to talk?”
He swallows thickly, “No, it's fine, I'm just...” falling apart at the seams like he never has before.
“Missed you so much,” the hand squeezes firmly and Tony is kissing him the next moment so that he can't reply.
It would be much easier if he could just give up on things.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Widow is back by the time darkness overtakes the city. Steve sleeps or rests his eyes as he would call it on his chest, one arm keeping Tony where he lies with his hand lazily combing through blond hair but she doesn't bother knocking. She never does which is just rude, really.
“I've got a lead on Loki and Doom,” her voice doesn't rise above a loud whisper.
“Let me guess, Latveria.”
Her lips twitch into a smile, “is there anywhere else they would choose to be?”
“Uh...Hilton Hotel maybe?”
If they'd been hiding out in a hotel Natasha would have been back earlier. Did they have to go to a whole other country, seriously? It's like they're just showing off now and while Tony is a huge believer in shaking your moneymaker it's overkill. Not that if he had a whole country to himself he would stay in a hotel but he also isn't a supervillain.
“Not a chance. Get Cap up,” she gives him a warning look, “we're meeting in the war room in 15.”
“Already awake. Let's go,” and Steve breaks out of his grip like it's nothing then starts pulling on his clothes as if Natasha isn't standing right there. Being that he'd taken advantage of the whole no underwear thing before Tony chooses this time not to mention it. His face is beautiful even when he looks like he wants to break someone's neck and if they had time Tony would have spent more than a few seconds staring at him but they don't so he calls the armour to him.
The war room is technically the living room in the common area however it has enough seating for everyone and a big screen TV that Tony can project plans onto. As it stands only Clint has been called in making their party a quartet-Thor has yet to return which means he's probably already gone and hammered through walls and borders after his brother and Banner would probably not be a good choice to bring into an already messed up situation. They needed enough people to get in, grab Bucky then get out hopefully without causing an international incident. Which would be difficult considering Doom made everything into an international incident even without Loki hanging around with him too.
“Widow, report?” Cap says the moment they've all gotten situated.
“I've got information from a few of my contacts that saw Doom and Loki return to Latveria about five minutes after Iron Man tried to follow them by portal-”
“Wait, you have contacts in Latveria?”
“I have contacts everywhere, Stark, keep up. Which means that they could leave at any time if they get wind that we're on our way. Thor has probably already stormed the gates for us which also means we have to be extra careful. I want Barton and Iron Man with me on this, Cap.”
“And I'm supposed to stay here?”
She nods her pretty head, “we can't afford to have a big group go in, you know that and we need you to run interference with Fury considering you're his favourite.”
“You're asking me to stay here and wait for you to come back while my best friend is out there probably being brainwashed again.”
“I'm asking you to trust me. I won't let anything happen to him, you have my word,” Natasha's smile from earlier has disappeared leaving only her mission face in its wake.
“Trust has nothing to do with it-would you let me go out there to save Clint while you sat around and waited for me to get back?” so yeah, apparently Steve is the kind of worked up that amazing sex cannot cure and Tony can't blame him but he also doesn't want to see a sparring match between Captain America and Black Widow. It would go on for hours, for one thing.
“I would trust that you would do your best to bring him back in one piece.”
“And what if my best wasn't good enough? What then? I'm going with you and that's the end of it.”
She rolls her eyes and throws him one of the four packs nestled against the coffee table, “let's get going, we've got a castle to infiltrate.”
She hadn't been kidding about the castle. She also hadn't been kidding about the running interference because Fury has their number by the time they've left Manhattan. One can't just invade another country without permission, obviously, though Tony has maintained since the whole Latveria thing had come up that technically Doom had started the whole invading thing. But he had dual citizenship or was a diplomat or something Tony doesn't care about because they're going in and no matter how angrily Fury shouts they aren't going to turn around and leave Captain America's best friend in the hands of supervillians. A Captain America who has his fists clenched so hard as he sits in the Quinjet that Tony is surprised he hasn't broken anything either in hands or of a technological origin. Really, Tony worries for the TV every time Steve watches Fox News.
“They've got a force field but we can get past it if we use some tricks and there are a constant patrol of Doombots throughout the country. This isn't going to be easy even if Thor has already gotten through, Cap.”
“Can I just-” Tony puts up his hand and Widow turns from her analog map of Latveria(how quaint), “can we just talk about how stupid it is that everything is named after him? I mean, Doomsburg? Really?”
“Like when you get your own country you won't have a city named Tonyopolis,” Clint chimes up from his seat in the cockpit.
“Shut it, Barton,” he gives him the finger turns to regard Widow and Cap, “and for the record it would be Starktopia.”
“Isn't it? Okay, so, Castle Doom. What are we looking at here? Dragons, moats with alligators in them?” the picture they've got looks like someone threw mud at a camera lens. It's embarrassing what counts as a camera these days, what did they take the picture with their foot?
“We don't exactly know, we haven't infiltrated Castle Doom in years. Off the record. Never at all on the record. It doesn't matter what we find there-we're there to get Barnes and get out. That's it.”
“We're going in without a plan?” Cap's mouth is turned down in a frown as if it's looked any different over the past month-Tony resolves to find a way to make him smile. Baseball, maybe.
“Unless you've got one, Cap. Send me in first and I'll find a good way in but after that we're flying blind. We have no idea where they're keeping him or if Doom will be guarding him.”
Tony thinks privately that this is a horrible, terrible, really bad idea but keeps it to himself. Doom will have guards or else he or Loki will be there themselves and they're not exactly his favourite people to fight. Steve will fight like a honey badger until he has Bucky safely back in America and Widow could probably kill them all with various mundane things found on the Quinjet but they're still a small team. Going into a whole other country that has a force field surrounding it and army of robots playing sentry. After someone who probably won't go with them willingly. If Tony were one for plans he would be regretting this one but everyone knows his only plans come from some hidden part of his brain that only flicks on when he really needs it to. Usually said plans involving shooting at things until they blow up or using the environment to make said things blow up but he's kind of flying blind on that one so he'll have to wait to formulate an idea.
They're about three minutes to being to their destination when Cap grabs his arm, yanks his cowl back and stares at him, “don't do anything stupid, Tony.”
“Stupid? Me? I'm offended, Cap.”
Steve shoves their foreheads together despite the edges of the helmet, one hand reaching up to palm Tony's face, “I mean it, Iron Man.”
“Can we define stupid?”
“Don't get yourself killed.”
“Hey, who does that? Not me,” but for all that he smirks and plays it off like it's nothing he nods, “I'll do my best.”
“No. Promise me,” comes the growled reply and they really should have left him at home if he's gotten to this point although it's too little too late now.
“I promise, happy? You said it yourself, I'm not the guy to make the sacrifice play.”
And shit, they both know that isn't true but it's all he has to give right now.
They step away from each other, give each other room to breathe. Steve pulls his cowl back over his face, “Avengers, assemble.”
Natasha heads down first, putting the EMP in place that will give them about a minute to get inside the force field. No sign of Thor but maybe he'd done the smart thing and gone back home. Tony wouldn't put any money on that because Thor had the whole...honour bound thing going on but they could hope. The blast will leave the armour non-functional for the entire minute so Steve will carry him inside, make sure that he hasn't, in fact, died before Widow runs a quick intel mission with Barton who has managed to land the jet despite the terrain.
Tony still hasn't formulated a plan beyond storm the gates however he'll have a whole minute and a half to make one up.
“Are you sure this is wise, sir?” JARVIS asks in his ear.
“Shut up, JARVIS, I know what I'm doing. Kind of. If you're prepared to look at Steve's sad puppy face for an eternity because we couldn't get his friend back then be my guest. But I'm not.”
He's really, really not. He's prepared to get Barnes back and then bask in the glow that is a happy Steve Rogers until such a point when Tony does something that makes him get all moody and 'you crossed the line, Stark'. Really, he doesn't mind it so much if he's honest-anything is better than staring at the same page of a book for hours Steve. That Steve is really bad in bed as an aside.
So they do that. The whole...putting the armour out of commission thing and it works kind of well until Thor comes flying through the place yelling like he wants to wake up the entire neighbourhood. The neighbourhood, as luck(or maybe something else) turns out to be Bucky I want to kill Captain America Barnes. And that's great and all except for the whole wanting to kill Cap, thing.
“Isn't he supposed to be a sniper?” Tony asks to his helmet because the comm-link has gone down and JARVIS hasn't rebooted yet, “kind of...not good to be a sniper and up close, just sayin'.”
A shining arm stands in the place of the empty space that had been there before and okay, maybe that's why he isn't lurking in shadows or something. It doesn't seem affected by the EMP which means that it's either awesome or really horribly out of date or being controlled manually. Tony not so secretly hopes for the really horrible one so that maybe if they ever get the guy onto their side he can have a go at making mechanical arms that are attached to something smarter than Dummy.
Steve goes down with a grunt beside him, having gotten a face full of Soviet spy metal fist and it is just in time for the HUD to go back online.
Punching Barnes feels really, really good. For Tony. It'll get him in the dog house maybe but nothing that feels good for Tony ever lands him in Steve's good books unless it's to do with donating money to orphaned whales or sad puppies on TV. He hears Steve snap at him but it's about all he hears before he's out again and this is getting really annoying.
He opens his eyes to a hospital room and Steve's worried face. Great. “What happened? I mean, I have an idea, but I was just wondering for confirmation.”
“The reactor. I-...I didn't think he knew about it. I'm sorry, I should've...”
“Did we get him back?” it doesn't sound like it. Which means that that face will be a permanent fixture until they do. He tries not to be pissed except that he really, really is. His body shifts under him painlessly-it really had been the reactor then which is...worrying to say the very least-until he's in a more vertical position with the bed now forming an L along with him.
Steve sits with his hands folded in his lap now, mouth set in a line,“Yeah.”
Big shoulders shrug, his eyes downcast like he's thinking too much again which Tony doesn't rule out considering it's Steve, “just weird having him back, I guess.”
“If it's about the arm thing, I'll make him a better one. Like it wasn't even gone.”
It's about then that Tony gets a lap full of super soldier and well, it's just weird. Kind of. In a good way. Steve doesn't generally just...climb up on him when they're in public places. He's not heavy, not with how he's holding most of his own weight but it's good. He's still wearing his Cap uniform and that? That's just not fair. Tony runs his hands up his thighs, slowing when he riches his hips.
“I'm sensing a distraction here, Steve.”
“That what you're sensing?”
“I just want you to know, that I'm totally up for any distracting you want to do at any time,” he settles back on the pillows when Steve's lips press against his, “mm-including when I'm in the workshop.”
“Don't think Fury would want to hear that,” he says, sliding his hands into Tony's hair and kissing him again like he's really going for the gold in the whole distraction thing.
It doesn't matter, Tony is more than willing to think with something other than his brain and in general their 'thank god we're alive' sex is the best kind of sex they have. So really, he's not going to look a gift horse in the mouth on this one.
I copped out(because the actual...comic story ended up being incredibly similar to what I was planning on writing despite me never reading it before??????). But the reactor thing will come back to be ~angsty~ later. Now you have your bro back, Steve. Now you can all work on getting together in an OT3 for god sakes this is getting too long I just want to write them cuddling while watching a movie why'd I do this to myself. Anyway.
Maybe next chapter I will actually write the sex out. Probably not but you all can hope, right? At least I've not rated it NC-17 for violence or something.