When Bucky is returned and restored, the prevailing opinion amongst the Avengers and within SHIELD, is of the bless variety. Isn't it nice that Cap's got his best friend back?
"So I guess you and Barnes are gonna go round all your old haunts?" asks Stark, a strange twinkle of nostalgia in his too-young eyes. "Does a heart good to know that you're getting the old band back together."
Steve wipes his mouth and nods and his too-wise eyes dart to the side as Bucky walks into the room.
"Your hair looks like a goddamned hedgehog nested in it," says Stark before returning to his misty-eyed reminiscences. "Are hot dogs the same as they used to be? All those kids jay-walking, huh?"
"Casual law-breaking is no joke," says Steve, severely. Bucky cracks up behind him.
Pepper is the first to find out. It's an accident, entirely, though she blames JARVIS for not employing a full lock down on the supply closet in question. She needs a printer cartridge and when she swings the door of the closet wide open, it becomes obvious rather quickly that the StarkJet Laser Printer Vivid Ink (™) cartridges are some of many casualties.
James Buchanan Barnes' pants are down by his ankles and there are stationary supplies underfoot and the metal frame of the shelving unit is creaking dangerously as he clings on with both flesh and cybernetic hands. Captain Steven G Rogers, Captain America, that sweet man who helps old ladies across the street and who blushes when anyone talks about sex, is on his knees, making the sorts of licking, sucking, slurping sounds that wouldn't be out of place in a porn movie (not that Pepper would know anything about such things, of course).
James's eyes fly wide open and he gasps and lowers one hand to poke at Steve's cheek, which has taken on the proportions of a hamster with glandular fever. Steve pulls back and turns and his forehead is resting against James's thigh and his lips are red and swollen and slick with - oh god.
"Ms Potts," he says, his voice hoarse as anything. Oh god, all those times he sounds like he has laryngitis (from shouting in the field, he says). Oh god-
Pepper slams the door shut. She doesn't tell anyone because no one will believe her.
"A package has arrived for Cap-" says Amy? Annie? One of Stark's myriad of somehow-SHIELD-approved assistants.
"I'll take it," says Barnes, hurriedly.
The package is innocuous, wrapped in brown paper, with a goddamned string tied around it.
"It's my city block, I'll sign for it," says Tony. He picks up the package and shakes it. "Ooh, it rattles. Art supplies?"
Barnes looks down at the kitchen counter.
"Cleaning products for his shield?"
Barnes makes a choking sound. "Give that here, Stark. No, don't open it … " He doesn't actually try to stop Tony from ripping open the package, like a kid at Christmas. He does wish, though, that he had a camera handy to take a picture of Tony's face. He's pale. Hell, he's sweating. Hell, he's -
" … are you having a heart attack, Stark?"
Stark starts to wheeze.
" … an allergic reaction? Do I need to call Banner?"
Stark shakes the box at Barnes. "What the - "
Barnes peers into the box and brightens up. "Oh, sweet!"
Stark stares at him. "Cap's just bought a goddamned selection box of butt plugs and that's what you have to say? Sweet?" He's clutching his chest.
"He buys the best presents," Barnes breathes. He has goddamned hearts for eyes right now and Stark feels kind of unwell.
No one believes Stark and Pepper, even though they've both started startling at small noises and Pepper refuses to open a closet door anymore, unless JARVIS has assured her that there are no life forms within and that the heat signature is not at pornographic.
"C'mon," says Barton. His arms are folded across his chest in the patented SHIELD stance of incredulity. "Cap. Our Cap? Cap who actually climbed a tree to untangle that little girl's balloon? That Cap?"
"It's all a lie," says Stark. One hand is wrapped around Pepper's wrist and the other around a large glass of some amber liquid. "It's all a goddamned lie. He's the greatest covert operative ever seen … "
"Hey," says Romanov. Her indignation is mild but terrifying. She's sitting cross-legged on the back of the couch. She tilts her head to the side. "I'd believe it of James, though."
"You … you what? You think Barnes has corrupted Cap?"
Romanov is smiling and - oh god, she's blushing? She's blushing. The Black Widow is blushing and touching her fingers to her lips. "He always said he'd - " She shakes her head, coming back to herself. "Let's just say that James has always been very inventive."
"Hey," says Barton. He scowls and Natasha reaches out to tap the back of his hand.
"He taught me everything I know," she says. "Be grateful, Clint."
"I knew I liked the guy," says Barton. "I still don't believe it of Cap, though. I mean. Barnes, sure. Filthy little glint in his eyes. But Cap."
"Cap," says Stark.
"You don't know, Tony," says Pepper. "You weren't there."
They're all there that Saturday morning, though. They're all not supposed to be there which is probably why it happens. Stark and Pepper are supposed to be in DC and Barton and Romanov should be out on a mission for at least another two days but it was a bust so they came home early and all Barton wants are some pancakes. They could go to their own floor but Barton says they should go to the communal floor, in case anyone is up.
They're goddamned up alright. Barton and Romanov are greeted by the sight of Barnes, bent over the kitchen table, gripping its round edges futilely. (Of course it's a round table; Tony likes the symbolism.) Barnes' face is red and his hair is being tugged back by one of Steve's hands. Steve's other hand is gripping Barnes's hip and Steve is pounding into Barnes's like he's drilling for oil or gold or something buried so deep inside Barnes's body that it's taking every ounce of supersoldier super-serum and super-goddamned-cock to find it.
Worse than that, though, worse than the sheen of sweat across Cap's shoulders or the hickeys on Barnes's throat, is the stream of profanity flowing out of Steve's mouth as he urges Barnes on.
Barton knows they should leave. That he and Romanov should just creep out and never speak of it again and be good little spy-assassins. They should leave but Stark and Pepper arrive and Pepper gasps and it's a quiet sound but it falls in between the moans, groans and unrelenting swears coming from the kitchen table.
Both Barnes and Rogers open their eyes.
"'m nearly-" says Steve as though they can't tell.
"Welcome home," says Barnes. That seems to do it.
When Banner returns to New York from a two-month sabbatical, Stark meets him at the door.
"So, okay, we've got a situation. Steve 'World's Oldest Living Virgin (Apart From That Nun In Bolivia One Would Assume)' Rogers is not a virgin."
"Firstly, yes, I knew that. Secondly, how is this a situation?"
"Because he and Barnes are doing it everywhere. Everywhere! Even places I haven't done it and it's my goddamned house. Wait, you knew-?"
"The day before I left? When, ah, the Other Guy emerged-?"
"I thought he was just saying goodbye," says Stark, unreasonably disappointed.
"No. I," Banner ducks his head. "I walked in on Steve and James in my lab-"
"Oh god," says Stark. "They've had lab sex. They're not even scientists and they've had lab sex."
Banner pats his shoulder. "It's okay, Tony. I'm sure they'll get over the honeymoon phase soon enough."
"You think so?" Tony asks, hopefully.
Banner frowns. "Although with the super-serum and whatever they were putting in the Red Room borscht, you'd have to wonder-"
Tony's howl of anguish can be heard in every room in Stark Tower (apart from the office where Barnes is playing secretary to Steve's CEO).