“I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Tony hears Barnes say when he enters the gym, “but that’s a dumbass thing to tell me. I’m not surprised it came out of your mouth, though--”
“Buck…” Steve tries, and just by his tone of voice and Barnes’ badly suppressed smirk, Tony would bet his beard that Steve is wrong, and Barnes is going to call him on it at least four more times, because if there’s one thing Barnes and Tony have in common is that they take gleeful - almost evil in its gleefulness, really - pleasure in calling Steve out in his bullshit.
That's how Tony knows that life can, indeed, be delightful.
“You are a dumbass, Rogers. Own up to it.” Barnes says. They are running in the treadmill Tony created for centennial super grandpas and people with bullshit special abilities, at a speed that hurts Tony’s legs just by looking at it. And they are still managing to carry a conversation. Their existence sometimes exhausts him.
“Be proud of who you are,” Tony says, “Embrace it.”
Barnes tenses and relaxes so quickly, Tony almost doesn’t catch it.
Steve rolls his eyes. “If you knew the context, I bet you’d agree with me.”
“I try not to agree with you as often as I humanly can, Rogers.” Tony sits on the bench closest to the treadmills. If he’s going to watch Super Soldiers running, he might as well be on ass level with Barnes. Tony has his own set of priorities. “It’s bad for my heart, and you know it.”
“What are you even doing here?” Steve asks, glancing at Barnes, then at Tony.
“Waiting for Rhodey, don’t change the subject.” Tony narrows his eyes. “What are you wrong about today and how can I make it worse for you?”
“Would you trust Steve with anything when it comes to your personal life?” Barnes says, glancing quickly at Tony before staring straight forward, like the glass panels contain all the secrets of the universe. Maybe they do, Vision was the one who put them up.
“It’s not like I--” Steve starts, but honestly.
“No,” Tony says, “Not ever. No.”
Barnes smirks, “Steve, you fumbled with your name when that actress tried talking to you, I don’t think--”
Tony wants to laugh. “Really? You mean the one with--”
“Yes, with the--”
“Shut it, both of you.” Steve pauses the treadmill and fully turns to look at Tony. “I didn’t fumble with my name, she asked me-- And anyway! I’m just saying, if it were me, I’d prefer honesty always!” He steps down from the treadmill and grabs himself a bottle of water from the - frankly too big for a gym - fridge. He doesn’t look thirsty, or sweaty, and Tony would very much like to hiss at him for it, but he has more important things to do.
“Did she and her husband ask you to--”
“Yes.” Barnes is full on smirking now, “Yes, she did and this mook almost accidentally accepted!”
“How do you accidentally accept to--”
“Tony,” Steve is blushing now, trying to hide his face behind the bottle. Tony wants to take pictures of Steve’s red embarrassed face, so he can use them as bargaining chips with Wilson, but he’s pretty sure Steve would throw that water bottle at him if Tony took out his phone right now. He’ll get them from Friday later.
“I’m just saying--” Tony smirks, “Fine, fine.”
Barnes jumps out from the treadmill, noiseless like a cat, even in his squeaky running shoes. He stretches like he just woke up from a nice nap and not like he just jumped out from a treadmill in vertical climbing mode. If his ass wasn’t that beautiful, Tony would have a lot of trouble forgiving him.
Tony has been trying this weird new fad the youngsters are spreading, this thing of healthy sleeping and healthy living, but even he, in the best shape he’s ever been in his whole life, cannot walk around like some sort of sexy elderly cat after using the treadmill.
“You are not the best person to give opinions when it comes to -- what is it? Sex? Romantic endeavors? --, Cap. You and Sam flirt by being unnecessarily competitive. Yes, Mario Kart, so sexy. Best BLTs recipe, take me now.”
Barnes is laughing quietly, and tying his fucking hair, which is honestly Tony’s biggest weakness.
“I give up.” Steve says, gathering his phone, his bottle and his dignity.
Tony rolls his eyes and waves Steve goodbye. He looks at his watch, “Friday, where’s Rhodey? Tell him--”
“Do you agree?” Barnes asks, looking down at his own bottle of water before obviously gathering courage and looking up at Tony.
Tony feels trapped and weird about it, he’s been noticing Barnes more and more these last few months living in the compound. Barnes has really beautiful grey eyes and a really well shaped mouth. Tony’s about to say Yes, anything, yes, but he doesn’t even know what he’d be agreeing to and he’s not about to accidentally agree with Rogers. Even if the man himself is no longer in the room.
“With what? Rogers? Almost never.”
“You think honesty is the best option?”
And here’s the other thing that Tony has a really hard time resisting. Barnes has started calling him Tony, in his natural hoarse voice and it does something to Tony’s insides. He’s not sure what that something is yet, but it somehow makes him think of really good kissing, so hopefully it’s a good something and not adrenaline telling him to flee.
“I’m not sure about the context,” Tony starts, a little uncertain, standing up, “But if you’re unsure about how to interact with people in this brand new shitty future - let’s be honest, the future has been a sixteen-act shit show for you so far - but--”
“I’m not unsure about people.” Barnes puts down his bottle and crosses his arms. “I mean-- I’m unsure about most things, and this bullshit about blindly respecting people’s shitty politics you people have nowadays--”
“Hey, I don’t agree with--”
“But I think--It was so much easier before,” Barnes finishes, obviously upset. “A gesture, an introduction, an invitation, a dance. Now it’s all texting and messaging, and codes I don’t even-- I knew how to-- It’s so frustrating!”
Tony is stuck between vicious, pathetic jealousy that there’s someone outside this room that has caught Barnes’ attention, and this burning anxiety that comes with all the possibilities, that this someone is indeed inside this room, and it’s hopefully not the cleaning roomba - its sucking mechanism comes with sharp blades.
He messages Friday to cancel with Rhodey, and lock the doors, just in case.
Hope springs eternal, etc, etc.
“A gesture still works,” he says, stepping closer. He might as well try. “An invitation. It’s not actually that complicated.” This would be a good moment to pray, but Tony's an atheist, and anyway, nowadays he's sure that Thor's family might be the one listening and he really does not want an Asgardian listening to his horny prayers. “There's always Grindr, Tinder, Christian Mingle...”
Barnes smiles a little, then huffs, still frustrated.
“My recommendation is that you make sure your interest is shown. Maybe you think you're being really obvious,” If Tony goes any further into Barnes’ space, they'll end up chest to chest. It's probably better to wait for Barnes to use one of those mythical gestures he likes so much. “Maybe you think it's clear you're interested, but some people need, you know, guidance. A helpful hand, a map and a guide. Just, anything, show anything.”
Barnes is looking more and more startled, but still, somehow happy about it, which is great. Obviously. Tony's gotten nothing but excellent reviews when it comes to his methods of seduction. And he's feeling a lot of really excellent things right now. Except maybe 2% pure unadulterated terror.
Maybe even something like 32%, but who's counting, really.
Barnes uncrosses his arms, looks down, looks at the doors, then finally, finally, down into Tony's eyes. “So what should I say? Dinner and a movie? Make time in an alley? Target practicing and sex on the cold, hard floors?”
Tony clears his throat a little, “Those are your only three settings? Not complaining here, but-- intense. Maybe before you get to the adrenaline fueled, sweaty, floor sex--”
Barnes huffs again, but he's grinning.
“You should maybe start with a kiss?”
Tony is half expecting Barnes to nod and walk away in search of that nasty Roomba, half hoping for at least one of those sweet, corner of the mouth, elementary school first kisses.
But Barnes puts his hands on Tony's shoulders, his metal arm gleaming, and he's smiling this terrific, gorgeously shy smile that gives Tony more of that something feeling. That's some powerful stuff right there.
Tony grabs onto Barnes’ surprisingly dry shirt with both hands. He's trying to be cool here, so he smooths his hands up and down, settles them on Barnes’ waist and hopes he doesn't look as excited as he feels. Because he feels like he should get the armor and do some embarrassing skywriting. Something like, NEW YORK LOOK WHO I'M ABOUT TO KISS followed by twelve exclamation points and an arrow pointed directly at the compound's gym.
Tony rolls his eyes, but Bucky pulls him forward so their chests touch, and their stomachs and, oh boy. That's a quality gesture here.
Bucky kisses him. It is a sweet simple kiss. Just a soft scratchy touch of his lips.
The world doesn't stop, and yet. It's so good, Tony is fucking hooked. That's a really delightful mouth. Well done, genetics.
Bucky pulls away a little, smiles at Tony, “Ok?”
“Yes, ok. Very ok, would like more.” Tony babbles, shameless. “A lot more, if you please. See? Communication. A gesture, right here.”
Bucky’s nodding, going back in for more, and this time, his hands get a little on the action, holding onto Tony's nape, his lower back, making Tony grab onto his shirt more forcefully.
He's getting lost in the kiss. Bucky tastes like nothing in particular, like skin and tongue. Like a kiss. It still manages to taste like dessert, like a reward for good - ish? - behavior. Short strands of his hair keep touching Tony's cheek and he loves it, turns his face a little so it gets even better. The kiss gets deeper, Bucky cradling his head, sighing into the kiss, kissing and kissing him and kissing him.
Tony knows kissing, ok? He's been good at it for a long time, spent years practicing it. For a while there during puberty, he did so much of it, with so many of his teen peers, he had to buy chapstick by the bulk. Bucky is excellent at kissing. He's the kind of kisser who pulls you in and makes you beg for it, he's the kind of kisser who traps you with sweet little sips, small quick touches, until you've given away your house, your fortune, your friends and family, probably your beloved pet. It's very, very good. A+ with extra credit.
“So when you say gesture,” Bucky says, voice even raspier now, metal hand still on Tony's nape, “Is this…?”
“Oh, this is a good one.” Tony grins, kisses him again, quick and easy, “Easy to understand, good follow through, no misinformation. Excellent.”
Bucky laughs a little. “Good, that's a relief.”
Tony wants to keep kissing, wants to push Bucky against the wall and have his way with him. Wants to do experiments with that perfect combination of genetics of a mouth, maybe use that corner between the lockers and the dumbbells to try this cold hard floor sex thing, except his mouth says, completely out of control, “Dinner? Movie? Meet you around seven in the garage?”
“Yes.” Bucky grins, eyes crinkling with how big his grin is getting, Tony is really proud of himself. “Yes, fuck yes.”
Tony grins too.
“Wait,” he says, “What did Cap say to you earlier that you disagree so vehemently?”
Bucky rubs Tony's chin with his flesh hand, touches his thumb to Tony's mouth. “Told me I should ask you out, be honest about my interest.”
Tony sighs. “Damn, I hate it when he's right.”
“I know, but he does it so rarely, he deserves a win sometimes.”
“I'll be kind this one time and let him have this.” Tony's already distracted again. “But don't let it happen again.”
Bucky rolls his eyes and kisses Tony again.