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Santa's Come Early

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Tony was nervous (flustered. Twitterpated. A complete basket case.) to see Bucky again, and it was not made better by Steve showing up with him. Again. Like he had to every single one of Bucky’s appointments with any part of Stark Innovations. This was one of the milestone meetings, though, and Tony took a moment to take a couple of good deep breaths and will his hands to stop shaking.

He was still a babbling mess, though. “OK, great. So it looks like the transceiver panel on the stump is doing its thing properly, that’s definitely a good sign. Now, the arm is designed to attach and detach with no help but your other arm. Heck, in an emergency you could probably do it with just this arm, but that might mess up your shoulder, so maybe don’t test it over the weekend?” He pressed the transceiver panel on the arm to the one on the stump, and twisted it until it clicked. “There you go, that should do it. You’re probably going to want to take a minute for sensation, everyone says that part’s a little intense.”

Bucky was looking between the arm and him in awe. He wiggled his fingers a couple of times, then turned his hand and ran his fingertips down Tony’s sleeve. (Tony did his best not to shiver at the strangely sweet gesture.) “This… This is amazing! I… God, Stevie, I can….” He twisted past Tony, to where Steve was holding his other hand, and ran his new fingers down Steve’s cheek and jawline. “I can feel your stubble!” The laugh he let out was more surprised than amused.

Steve beamed back at him. “Oh, sure, that’s the first thing you notice!”

Tony ached for the love and happiness swelling between the two men, but he forced himself to take half a step back. “Right, so you’ve already gone on to the motor control stuff, looks like that’s all good, so, good. Whenever you’re ready, we have a bunch of grabbing and throwing for you to do, and for now there are a bunch of sensors in there, so when you come in for your weekly check-ins we can get all the feedback and haptics and whatnot, but you are taking to this really well, so, go you!” He mustered a small smile, but when both the ex-soldiers turned to him grinning, he couldn’t help but grin back, hoping it covered up his heartbreak.


The more Steve saw of Tony, the more he liked him. He chatted with the two of them during every one of Bucky’s appointments, jumping topics with a speed and randomness that was hard to follow but always entertaining. Though there were a couple of topics he skated over (mostly his father, his boyfriend, and/or the interaction of the two) that had Steve frowning on the inside, and making a habit of bringing granola bars and muffins and even slices of the kinds of pizza that travel well, and making sure Tony had eaten them before letting himself and Bucky leave.

This week, Bucky was in high spirits as they left. “This thing is totally amazing. I guess it’s finally time to apologize to Gwen for that time I yelled at her for putting video of my pizza dough thing on the Instagram, ‘cause I think it mighta paid off!” He wrapped both arms around Steve as they got in the hospital elevator, lifting him off the ground a little and then setting him down and pulling back to smirk at Steve. “Pretty damn glad we met Tony, in general I mean, not just ‘cause of the arm. And don’t think I haven’t noticed you mother henning him, too. Feeding him up like Hansel and Gretel? Betcha just wanna gobble him up, doncha?”

“Shut up, jerk.” Steve took advantage of the elevator’s opening at just the right moment, hustling out as if that could hide his burning cheeks from Bucky’s gaze, and headed for the subway entrance. “I’m just worried about him, is all. He’s a great guy, seriously a catch, and he could do so much better than that creep he’s seeing!”

Bucky bumped his flesh-and-bone shoulder against Steve’s arm, still grinning. “He could do better, huh? Like you and me, you mean?”

Steve, who had just gotten his blush under control, felt his cheeks flame up again. “I wasn’t implying anything… exactly...”

Bucky smirked at him as they swiped their Metro cards and pushed through their stiles. “Nah, it’s cool, punk. I know you got a lot of love t’ give, an’ honestly, Tony could use a lot of love.” He found a pillar on their platform to lean against. “I maybe don’t got as much love as you t’ toss around, but Tony fer sure deserves it. Hell, I’m in.”

Steve swooped in for a smacking kiss, his happiness bubbling over, then realized the teeny, tiny, little snag in the plan. He pulled back just enough to frown at Bucky. “Now we just gotta get him to break up with that douche he’s been seeing.” They both contemplated that issue for a long moment, then sighed. Just a minor problem, then.


Ten o’ clock, finally, and the steady stream of people looking for takeout with which to weather the oncoming snowstorm finally ran out. It was going to be a bad winter if this was how December was starting. Bucky locked the door behind the last of the night’s patrons with a weary sigh, and went to grab the mop bucket. Damn customers had tracked in enough snow for a snowman! He had barely started the mopping, though, when there was a knock on the door. He dropped the mop against the wall with a low growl and stomped over to the door.

Bucky yanked the door open and snarled at whoever was on the other side. “We’re closed. Read the damn- Tony?”

Tony gazed up at him through bangs weighted down with half-melted snow. “I know, I’m sorry, I know you guys are closed, but I did it. I walked out on Ty. Except, now I have nowhere else to go. Can I, like, sleep in your storeroom for a couple nights, til I figure things out a bit? I can wash dishes or-”

Bucky was already pulling him in and shutting the door. “Don’t be stupid.” Tony’s whole body drooped, the laptop bag and duffel bag each barely clinging to their respective shoulder. “We can at least give you the couch upstairs, it’ll be way warmer, and there’s pillows and cushions and shit. C’mon, let’s get you dried off.” Tony’s spine was suddenly a lot straighter, and his step almost bouncy as Bucky led him through the storage-and-office area, to the stairs. “Hey, Stevie, we got a roommate. Gonna make us all some cocoa.”