Tony wouldn’t meet Wanda’s eyes.
No one else seemed to notice that, or the way the genius did his best to avoid her. When they did have to be in the same area, the man always looked haunted, and flinched if she came too close or used her power without any warning. That much Wanda knew and seemed pleased by – the rest of the team should have picked up on it too. They should have called her out on it, taken her to task for the times she would gleefully use scarlet light to do something she would have done by hand if Tony weren’t in the room. No one mentioned it… so Bucky had to believe he was the only one who saw. The alternative just didn’t bear thinking about.
Steve would say he picked up on it all because he was sweet on the guy, and so pretty hyper-aware of his every move and mood. It was a fair point, but not enough to account for the blindness the rest of the team was displaying. Steve’d have an answer for that too. He’d say Bucky was seeing things that weren’t there because he didn’t like Wanda. Then he’d give sad eyes and wonder again why they couldn’t be friends. After all, Hydra had experimented on her too! They had a lot in common, and if they’d just talk they could help each other.
That was complete and utter fucking bullshit, but he didn’t know how to tell Stevie that without earning his ‘I am very disappointed in you’ face in return. Because in his opinion, he’n Wanda were different as night’n day. She’d volunteered for that shit, and – from what he understood – had very happily marched along to Hydra’s tune. It wasn’t until the Ultron incident that she’d realized that maybe she and her twin weren’t making the best of choices and switched sides. Even now, she didn’t seem all that repentant about what had gone one before that little change of heart. Since he’d fallen off a train, lost his arm and been forced to wear an arm-shaped weapon in its place that hurt all the goddamn time and then been brutalized into becoming a wind-up murder doll, he felt very justified in his lack of sympathy for her so-called ‘plight’. She’d made choices and they’d been shitty and done a fuck-ton of damage, and that sucked – but she’d had the opportunity to choose. Excuse him, Steve, if he thought that was a pretty significant fact.
Besides, he trusted Tony’s judgment more on this one – and not just because he was secretly and quietly pining after him. Tony was a smart fella, and he wasn’t scared of much. Wasn’t even scared of Bucky, and not in the forced, cheerful way that Steve and Sam refused to be scared of him. No, when he’d finally let Steve bring him in from the cold and then met the man for the first time, Tony had met his eyes with a fierce scowl, and said ‘meet me in the pit’. Then he got into an argument with Steve about ‘duels to the death’ and how they were ‘unacceptable’ and how ‘it wasn’t Bucky Tony!’ and all sorts of other shit. The whole time, he’d kept his eyes locked on Bucky’s, refusing to back down in the face of a legendary assassin who’d killed his parents. By the time it was over, he had a solid respect for the man. Eventually, when Steve was away on a mission, they’d been able to ‘spar’ with Tony in the Iron Man suit. He’d kicked Bucky’s ass (not that he’d been fighting back too hard, and not that he’d ever, ever let Tony know that) and then they’d grabbed a beer together. Bucky listened as Tony rambled about his parents – mostly his mother – about his anger, about how much he hated the Winter Soldier, about how he hated that Hydra’s weapon had been wearing his face. When he’d finally talked himself out, Bucky had apologized, Tony had scoffed, and that was pretty much that.
Two weeks later, he and Ms. Potts ended things, and he moved to the compound full time – Steve said it was to lick his wounds among friends, but Bucky thought he was probably just lonely. Lonely and a little crazy, because he started letting Bucky into the workshop whenever he wanted. Bucky liked it because he could sit and watch, or sit and look at nothing; it was never quiet, but he wasn’t expected to contribute to the noise. Tony seemed to like having someone around who didn’t mind if he talked at them, and even if he didn’t push Bucky into talking, he always perked up if it was a good day and they managed actual conversations. Bucky liked watching him build things, liked watching lines on paper (or on a holograph thing, whatever) become a reality.
He didn’t like that Tony didn’t eat or sleep near enough.
He didn’t like that Tony didn’t spend as much time with the team as he clearly wanted to.
He hated that Tony came back from fights all scraped and bruised and refused to go to medical.
He loathed being unable to join the Avengers on the field so he could protect both Steve and Tony.
So he started bringing food to the workshop with him, nudging Tony carefully into eating. He noticed pretty quick that if he brought something he’d made himself and asked the genius to try it to see if he’d done it right, the man was willing to indulge him by taking a bite… and then would usually absently finish off the portion. He also realized that trying to hand Tony a plate was the best way to get him irritated and absolutely unwilling to have anything to do with him for about twenty minutes – it was clearly a sore spot, so Bucky navigated around it with as much grace as he could manage. If Tony had been up and in the ‘shop for more than 48 hours, he’d head down that way and plop down on the couch, making a bit of small talk before he began to yawn and stretch as if he were tired. If he played his cards right, Tony would start doing the same, and he could then lure the man into the elevator with a suggestion of watching a movie upstairs – both of them were usually asleep on separate couches in the rec room before it was even halfway through. Then he or Steve ( the latter mostly in the beginning, before Bucky realized why his heart sped up and his stomach began to flutter in Tony’s presence) could carry him to his room and tuck him into bed. Bucky kept the first aid kit in the ‘shop well stocked, and after a few weeks of their blooming friendship, Tony would let him tend to all the wounds that Bucky was sure wouldn’t be there if he’d be allowed to go out there and fight along with them.
When Steve realized what was going on, he’d laughed until he was crying, curled up on the floor in a shaking ball. Bucky didn’t appreciate it, and the prank war that raged across the compound in the next month made his displeasure pretty clear. Other than the initial reaction though, the blond was supportive in his clumsy efforts to woo Tony – they were two of his best friends, he said, and he wanted them both to be happy. If they were happy together, well, that’d suit him just fine.
Bucky thought he might have more luck if he could get Tony to hang out with the whole group more often. Maybe then he’d see that Bucky didn’t treat anyone else that way but Steve, that he was special. Maybe then he would realize that Bucky’s protective streak was reserved only for people he cared about like crazy. That was really his only hope, that Tony would see that and make a move, because every time he tried to open his stupid mouth to confess and do something about his feelings, he sort of forgot how to speak English, and even his Russian got stuck in his throat. What escaped was never helpful, and tended to have Tony arching a brow and asking if ‘The Soldier’ was making a comeback. So he just had to get Tony around everyone else for a while, so he’d realize how Bucky felt.
Except being around the team almost always meant being around Wanda, and Tony was always so uncomfortable. He tried to pretend he wasn’t, but Bucky saw. Bucky noticed. Tony Stark was a man who met everything and everyone head on – he didn’t flinch until the job was over and the damage done. He’d never been scared of Bucky, and he didn’t show that he was scared of much else either. He should feel comfortable in the compound; he should feel safe.
But he wouldn’t look Wanda in the eye.
Bucky aimed to find out exactly what the Witch had done to his beautiful, fractured genius.