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Snowed In (and Set Up)

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It was Christmas Eve. Their latest mission from SHIELD had run longer than it should have. The entire team had changed into festive shirts and ugly Christmas sweaters in the hotel rooms they’d been given to clean up in before boarding the quinjet. Everyone had holiday plans they were eager to get back to. Sitting next to Steve at the back of the quinjet Bucky found himself smiling as he watched the others.
Steve was comparing holiday recipes with Sam. Sadly he could remember all of his ma’s favorites, having been taught as a child, but could never seem to get them quite.
Across from Bucky Rhodey was sitting with Tony, but had fallen asleep a couple hours ago. Tony didn’t seem to notice though. Thor had his full attention regaling him with stories of celebrating the holidays in Asgard with his family and friends.
Clint and Natasha were flying. They were being dropped off at Clint’s farm before the rest of the team headed back to the compound. Both of them were talking to someone else.
Wanda was going with them. Clint had invited her to stay with him for the holidays. He was talking to her about what his children had planned. More like warning her from the sound of it. Bucky hadn’t met them yet but Steve told him they were quite the handful.
Natasha was flirting with Bruce. He was mostly smiling, agreeing with everything she said. They were secretly dating. Not surprisingly the entire team knew about it.
Bucky kept finding himself watching Tony. Ever since they’d first met Bucky had been drawn to him.
It had been nearly two months after Bucky had contacted Steve telling him he was ready to surrender. SHIELD wanted Steve to hand him over. They wanted a chance to do medical exams and decide if he was still under Hydra’s control. Instead Steve brought him to Avengers Tower.
They went straight from the car to the private elevator that went up to the floors occupied by the Avengers. Then to the apartment Steve lived in that filled half a floor. Still struggling to find himself, Bucky had refused to leave the apartment once he was there.
At first Steve was the only person Bucky was willing to see. JARVIS was even denied access when they realized how badly Bucky was taking his presence, then slowly eased back in as Steve helped him to adjust.
Over time he was introduced to Clint, Natasha, and Bruce. Then Rhodey, Vision, Wanda, and even Thor who was visiting at the time before going to see Jane. Steve would bring them up, individually at first, in an attempt to get Bucky to interact with others. They made him nervous, especially Thor with his booming voice and boisterous way, but seeing Bucky trying made Steve happy so Bucky did his best.
Until one day Steve felt Bucky was ready to come down to the common floor to have dinner with everyone. By then Bucky only had yet to meet Tony, who had heard about his less than ideal first meeting with Thor and decided to wait until Bucky was ready to come down to the main floor to meet him. Apparently Steve had tried to convince him that it was fine, that he should go up to meet him, but Tony’s mind was made up.
A couple weeks before Bucky had played card games when Sam had visited. He’d even agreed to have a movie night a few days ago with Sam, Clint and Natasha. This felt like too much too soon.
Bucky knew the entire team got together at least once a month to have a big dinner. They they’d play poker and the winner got to make everyone watch any movie they wanted. Steve had been excused from the first one after bringing Bucky there, it was less than a week after and had been carefully planned around everyone’s crazy schedules, but had gone to the second one.
After arguing for over an hour Steve relented, going down without him. When he left Bucky started to feel guilty and decided to go.
By the time Bucky got there everyone was seated around the giant table Tony had special made to fit the entire team, with extra room for future recruits or even guests, and dinner was being passed around.
There were only two empty chairs. One between Thor and Clint, both of whom Bucky knew would be too overwhelming. Another between Tony, who was talking to Rhodey and Steve, and an empty space at the end of the table.
No one noticed as Bucky quietly sat next to Tony. Bucky had seen pictures of Tony before, the guy was so famous Bucky doubted there were many people who didn’t know what he looked like, but they didn’t do him justice. This was his first time hearing Tony’s voice though and Bucky found himself thinking he could happily listen to Tony talk all night. He would gladly listen to him, even if he was just reading the dictionary.
“As far as I know dear old dad never figured out how to get the car to fly,“ he was telling them.
“But when I first saw him the car flew,” Steve insisted.
“Did it fly or did it just lift off the ground?” Rhodey wanted to know.
“Isn’t it the same thing really?”
“No,” Tony sighed. “That was the problem though, all he could ever do was get it to hover, not fly.”
“Do you know why?”
“We never talked about it.”
“Problems with the propulsion system malfunctioning,” Bucky found himself saying.
The entire table went quiet as they realized he was there. It felt like an eternity before they got over the surprise and went back to their conversations.
“The propulsion system?” Tony finally said.
“I asked Howard about why the car stopped working when he was demonstrating it at the Stark Expo,” Bucky forced himself to say. “He told me there was something wrong with the propulsion system that he hadn’t been able to figured out yet.”
Bucky had watched how happy it was making Steve as he and Tony spent the rest of dinner talking about it. Then as the plates were being cleared, and they were getting everything ready for poker, Bucky had slipped away to go back to the apartment.
Ever since he’d barely spoken more than a few words to Tony. Most of them to decline his offers to take a look at the arm to see if there was anything that needed repaired or that he could do to improve it for Bucky.
Instead he watched him longingly, spending more time with the entire to spend more time around Tony. Steve even convinced SHIELD to let him go on missions with them. Bucky agreed to their demands of a noninvasive physical exam and testing because going on missions would mean even more time around Tony.
“You should talk to him,” Steve whispered as he leaned close to avoid the others overhearing.
“Don’t know who you’re talking about punk.”
“I bet you don’t jerk,” Steve laughed.
Steve spent the rest of the flight to Clint’s farm giving Bucky sidelong looks while he talked to Sam. Bucky pulled out a book and pretended to read it to hide that he was really still watching Tony.
When they got there he was one of the first off. As Bucky followed Steve he noticed it was starting to snow.
Natasha brought Wanda up to the house while Clint oversaw their stuff and the Christmas presents everyone had brought for his family being unloaded. With Steve, Bucky, and Thor grabbing all the heavy bags it didn’t take long to get everything into house.
Once Clint saw Bucky he pulled him over to his wife, Laura, to introduce them.
“This is Nathaniel,” she offered when she noticed Bucky watching the baby on her hip. “And those two running around are Cooper and Lila.”
Laura had ordered pizza, apparently when Clint had called as they were getting close she had decided they would be hungry and that she should feed them. Thankfully there was enough to feed a small army, or in their case a demigod and two super soldiers.
As they ate Cooper and Lile opened their presents while Laura opened Nathaniel’s for him. Since they opened Natasha’s first and she was already done eating she offered to get the quinjet ready to go. Everyone snickered when Bruce scrambled to go with.
It wasn’t long before they came back. One looked at their faces told Bucky something was wrong.
“We have a problem,” Bruce announced once they had everyone’s attention. “We’re snowed in.”
“How is that possible?,” Steve wanted to know. “It was hardly snowing when we got here.”
“Then we stayed for over an hour for lunch and presents. There’s too much snow now. Even if we cleared enough of a runway though it’s coming down too hard. There wouldn’t be enough visibility for it to be safe to fly and they’re saying the storm won't let up until morning.”
There was barely any cell coverage so Bruce, Tony, Rhodey, and Sam took turns using the landline to cancel their Christmas plans. Thor simply wished everyone a happy holiday, trudged out into the snow, and used Mjolnir to go to Jane’s. Normally Tony and Rhodey could have used their suits to leave but they were their power units had been damaged too badly during the fight.
Clint had Cooper check for more firewood on the porch. He came back saying there was none. They were deciding who would go out to chop some more until Laura remembered that was more in the barn.
“I’ll get it,” Tony offered.
“Someone should go with you,” Rhodey insisted.
“Bucky will do it,” Steve was quick to say.
“I will? I mean sure, I’ll help bring some wood back to the house.”
Thankfully there were two shovels on the porch. Shoveling in silence it didn’t take long to get inside. In one of the empty stalls there was plenty of wood. Once Tony had as much as he could carry he headed back to the house. Bucky grabbed a few more than followed after enjoying the view.
While Natasha started a fire in the living room Laura made chili for dinner and Clint tried to figure out where everyone was going to sleep. Steve offered to help Laura. Then Tony decided to help Clint. Bucky was about to follow Steve when Sam suddenly dragged him after Tony instead, insisting he should go with him to help Clint.
Bucky helped Tony pull spare blankets and pillows out of a closet. Clint pulled out a couple blow up mattresses he found. By the time they were done setting everything up dinner was ready. There were bowls waiting for them and the others were already eating.
Bucky looked around the living room trying to figure out where he could sit. With so many people though there wasn’t much room. Wanda was sitting on the coffee table talking to Clint and Laura as they ate on the loveseat.
“Here, sit next to Tony,” Bruce told Bucky, offering where he had been about to sit. “I just remembered something I need to talk to Steve about.”
“This is starting to get weird,” Tony muttered.
Bucky couldn’t agree more.
Sitting there until long after everyone else had finished, they talked about what Christmas had been like for them growing up. Then Tony told him all about the one the Avengers, except Thor who was not on Earth, had spent together a couple years after the events in New York. Tony, Clint, Natasha, and Bruce took turns explaining things to Steve until they realized he wasn’t as clueless as he was acting. Steve couldn’t stop laughing as he admitted they were being trolled.
Afterwards Bucky offered to take Tony’s bowl to the kitchen. Steve and Sam were finishing washing the dishes. Bucky grabbed a towel, drying the dishes until Laura came to take over.
“Clint is getting the kids to bed. I can do that,” she offered. “Got get some sleep. All that’s left is one of the mattresses in the living room.”
Exhaustion catching up with him, Bucky lay down on the first mattress he saw. He didn’t even notice the other once was empty.
“You’ve got to be joking.”
Bucky looked up to find Tony standing over him.
“I can move, if you want.”
“No,” Tony insisted.
As Tony got comfortable Bucky tried to go to sleep. Having Tony so close was distracting though. Hoping not seeing him would help, Bucky turned to face the other way.
“I think the others have been trying to make us spend time together here,” Tony suddenly blurted out.
“Steve’s been trying to get me to talk to you.”
There was a long silence. Bucky worried he’d said something wrong.
“Rhodey’s doing the same thing. I think he’s working with Steve,” Tony confessed.
Bucky turned back towards Tony, but he was facing the wall now.
“I don’t understand.”
“I may have admitted to Rhodey...certain feelings I have for you.”
“For me?”
Tony sighed, turning to face him. It was barely light enough for Bucky to see that he was blushing.
“Forget I said anything.”
“I’d rather ask you out.”
“Great, you’re finally getting together. None of us have to suffer your mutual pinning anymore. Now stop talking and go to sleep,” Sam surprised them both when he called over from the couch. “Talk about it in the morning. Some of us want to sleep.”
Bucky and Tony just smiled at each other.