"Hey, Tony. I'm just calling to tell you to stay away from SHIELD. It's a mess of HYDRA now. I wish I could explain more, but I don't have the time. The Winter Soldier is Bucky. I have to find him. I'm with Nat. We're okay, for now. Stay safe, Tony."
That was the voicemail left on Tony's phone. He replayed it at an uncountable number of times. Sure, he had known about HYDRA the minute SHIELD did, he wasn't stupid. Bucky Barnes being the Winter Soldier, well. It did make hypothetical sense. Tony didn't doubt it. So all in all, the information Steve told Tony seemed sound. But that wasn't what was bothering Tony.
Steve had gone to Natasha for help, but not Tony. Sure, Tony understood, to an extent. He and Steve clashed a lot, and Steve still blamed him for Ultron, and Steve couldn't look at Tony without seeing Howard. But Natasha? The girl who had worked as a double agent? Steve trusted her, but not Tony? Sure, Natasha was a phenomenal agent. But Tony had the technology, the know how. Hell, his father founded SHIELD. If anyone knew how to evade them, it would be Tony. And yet Steve didn't even ask for his help. All Tony got was a vague voicemail. That stung.
Tony stared at his coffee cup. Steve and Natasha wouldn't be able to catch Bucky. At least, not on a decent timetable. They didn't have the resources or the brains. They were going to get themselves killed, or at the very least, seriously maimed. Tony stood up.
Steve would kill him. The man clearly wanted this to be his mission, and wouldn't want Tony renegading on his own. Even if it was a bit hypocritical. But Tony couldn't just sit around and do nothing. He wasn't one for doing nothing. And besides, Pepper had the company now, the world wasn't in immediate danger. Tony wasn't direly busy. He had to do something.
"FRIDAY, get me everything SHIELD has on the Winter Soldier. I have work to do."
In hindsight, Tony really should've thought of a better plan. But it wasn't like he thought finding the Winter Soldier would be that easy. He really shouldn't have stormed into the Winter Soldier's suspected base without a suit or something.
Which led to the fact that Tony's target, now had the barrel of a gun inches from his forehead. Tony looked up at him, breathing hard.
The Winter Soldier (Tony didn't really feel comfortable calling him Bucky in this state) looked hesitant to pull the trigger, slight confusion in his eyes. "Howard." The man said curiously.
And there it was. Of course the guy thought Tony was Howard. "I'm not-" Tony started.
"You should be dead." The Soldier said. Tony rolled his eyes. Well no shit Sherlock, that was obvious- "I killed you." Tony's heart stopped. "Mission December 16th, 1991. Howard and Maria Stark, killed." The Winter Soldier said, his voice too calm to be talking about murder.
Tony couldn't breath. That wasn't right. His parents died in a car accident. Tony knew exactly what road, exactly what tree they hit. The Winter Soldier couldn't have killed his parents. No. He wouldn't believe it. Tony refused to believe this man killed his mother.
"I'd kill you..." The Winter Soldier said, "But you aren't my mission." With that he disappeared into the night, leaving a stunned genius.
"Save my wife."
Tony watched the video for the eleventh time, unable to keep him mind from counting each replay.
So the bastard had been telling the truth. And SHIELD knew, obviously, considering they had the damned tape of it.
Had it been any other time in Tony's life, he would've drowned himself in alcohol. He would've screamed until his voice went, then screamed some more. He would've clawed at his own skin until it bled and gone deep enough for it to scar. He would've locked himself away for days without food or sleep. Because Captain America's best friend had killed his parents.
But it wasn't any other time in Tony's life. It was now. And Tony couldn't afford a childish breakdown, as much as he wanted one. Instead, he did the only thing he could. He carried on and doubled his efforts in looking for the Winter Soldier.
"You really need to stop getting in my way, not-Howard." The Winter Soldier said, this time using his metal hand around Tony's neck to pin him to a wall. "I don't need to kill you, and I'd hate to kill someone with such a pretty face."
"First of all," Tony choked out. "It's Tony. Second of all, I'm disturbed that the man who killed my parents just called me pretty." Tony snarled.
"Well Tony, it's not my fault you have a pretty face. Or that I killed Howard and Maria. It's not like I'm exactly given a choice." He shrugged.
Tony glowered at him. "I. Don't. Care."
"Is that why you're after me? For revenge?" He actually sounded curious.
"No, because I don't want my stupid ass friend to get himself killed looking for his old war buddy." Tony snapped.
The Winter Soldier tilted his head to the side. "Rogers, you mean? He's my mission. You can't change that. I'm sorry if he's your friend." He actually looked remorseful, the stupid asshole. "If it makes you feel any better, he thinks I don't know Bucky Barnes. Of course I know whose body I'm in, who keeps fighting me in the back of my head. But I figure it'll be easier for him to accept it if he thinks the real Barnes is dead." He admitted.
Tony wanted to snarl at him, punch him in the face. But he had to admit, the guy wasn't really a bad guy. Winter Soldier or not, he was acting on orders he couldn't fight, and didn't know anything else. He didn't kill because he wanted to, he killed because he had to. And he seemed to try to make it as painless as possible for his victims. And because of that alone, Tony wanted to kill him because he knew he couldn't hate the Winter Soldier for killing Tony's parents. "I don't blame you. You don't have a choice." Tony forced out finally.
The Winter Soldier nodded. "I figured you would understand. You seem smart." He leaned in close, tracing Tony's jaw with his flesh hand. "Which is why you need to stop looking for me, pretty one. If HYDRA finds out, you'll be my next mission. And I'd really hate to kill you."
"Sorry, but I'm trying to look out for a friend here." Tony shrugged, grinning a bit.
The Winter Soldier chuckled, then kissed Tony. Tony really should've fought. This was all sorts of fucked up. But then again, when was Tony Stark one for normal? Tony kissed back. "Stubborn little one, aren't you?" The Winter Soldier hummed.
Tony smirked. "It's one of my best traits."
When Tony had a limp after the Winter Soldier left, well if anyone asked, Tony had just twisted his ankle, of course.
"How am I supposed to stop tracking you if you come to me?" Tony asked, as a metal arm was wrapped around his waist and a knife was pressed to neck.
A deep chuckle resounded in his ear. "If I find you, it's different. I can tell HYDRA I'm using contacts of my mission as an attempt to find him." He said, tracing the tip of the knife across Tony's skin.
"Oh, I see. I'm just a 'contact' for finding Steve. It has nothing to do with how much the Winter Soldier likes my-mm." Tony started to tease, but the HYDRA asset slipped a his metal thumb into Tony's mouth to shut him up.
"Call me Winter, моя крошка." He ordered. "You should watch you tongue, моя симпатичная. I could still kill you. I won't, but I could." Winter purred, cutting off Tony's shirt. Tony started to squirm as the knife traced his abs, then his arc reactor. "If I cut you because you're wiggling, it'll be your fault." He warned. Tony tried to say something, but his words were too muffled by Winter's thumb. Winter laughed. "As pretty as your voice is, I do like you when you can't say anything. Makes you much more fun" He hummed. Tony whined.
When Tony couldn't walk straight the next day, he convinced anyone who ran into him he was just drunk, of course.
After that, Tony lost count of how many times Winter visited him. He always just grabbed Tony, teased and flirted with him a bit, then fucked him hard. Tony was starting to run out of excuses for his limp, considering he had it more often than not.
Steve had finally come back from hunting Bucky. He insisted Bucky had remembered him, because he had saved Steve from drowning. Tony wasn't sure if Bucky had truly broken free of Winter, or if Winter had finally been able to break out of his HYDRA programming. Tony wasn't sure which he wanted to be true, and he didn't have the heart to tell Steve about his relationship (were they even to be considered dating? They were certainly exclusive, Winter made it clear he would kill anyone who touched Tony, but were they dating?) with Winter. He would've felt guilty about keeping it from Steve, but from the way Steve kept looking at Tony, Tony knew he knew the truth about Tony's parents. If Steve wanted to keep secrets, fine. His choice.
Tony was alone in his shop when he heard someone come in. He spun around to find himself facing Winter.
Except, the look on his face, was one Winter would never wear. Shit, was it Bucky? It had to be. That didn't tell Tony why he was here.
"Hey," Bucky said, his voice forced. "I, I ah, my arm. It's not working right. Winter, his voice in my head, kept telling me to go to you. Says you'll help and won't tell Stevie I was here." He admitted, eyes on the floor.
Tony nodded. That made sense. "Of course. What's going on with the arm?" He asked, getting out some of the right tools.
"I don't know. It's been acting funny ever since I jumped in the ocean to save Steve's stupid ass." he offered a half shrug.
"Mhm. You probably water logged it. Sit down, I can fix it." Tony assured him.
"You won't tell him I'm here, right?" Bucky asked, slightly alarmed. "I... I'm just not ready to talk to him yet. I just can't do it right now." His voice was small and scared.
"Hey, I promise I won't tell him. You're fine." Tony soothed, starting to work on the arm.
Bucky nodded, relieved. "You know, I-I saw everything you and Winter have done. I know about the two of you." He admitted
Tony gave him an arched eyebrow. "Yeah, and?"
"Just letting you know I know what you look like naked." Bucky grinned. Tony snorted. Looks like Barnes was just as sassy as Winter was.
"Well then you've been graced with one of the most beautiful sights in the world." Tony smirked.
"Wouldn't go that far, but you certainly ain't ugly." Bucky mused. Tony glanced up at him.
"If you're hitting on me, you're the one who has to deal with the possessive psycho in your head." Tony warned.
Bucky offered a lopsided shrug. "Winter says he thinks I'd be hot to watch me fuck you. He doesn't like sharing, but since we share the same body..." Bucky shrugged again.
Tony paused his work on the arm. Fucking hell, he was going to have a sore ass again.
The next visit was from Winter again.
"I missed you." Winter purred in Tony's ear, making him jump.
"Well if you keep sneaking up on me, you're going to kill me." Tony wheezed, clutching his heart.
Laughter sounded in Tony's ear. "Like I'd let моя крошка die."
"I'm going to have to die at some point." Tony pointed out.
"No, you aren't." Winter growled, as if he was going to fight off the Grim Reaper for Tony.
"Mhm, sure." Tony hummed absently.
Winter started gently rubbing his shoulders. "You're tense, моя симпатичная."
"Funny, the fall of SHIELD, having a boyfriend who's a master assassin, and a billion dollar company can do that to a man." Tony's voice was sarcastic.
"Boyfriend?" Winter whispered, his voice dangerous.
"I'm sorry, is there something you'd rather I call you?" Tony sighed. He knew the 'b' word was risky, but he wanted something to define their relationship.
Winter spun Tony around so they were facing each other. "No. But remember, the moment you admit we're dating, is the moment you have to admit to yourself I'm never going to let you go." Winter warned.
Tony shrugged. "Then you're my boyfriend." Winter kissed him so hard they knocked over Tony's workbench.
That night, they didn't have sex. They made love. It was a weird change, but a welcomed one for both parties. Tony knew how dangerous this was, but maybe he liked playing with fire.
Tony was constantly visited by Winter and Bucky. Hell, sometimes they flipped back and forth during one visit. He still didn't breath a word of it to anyone, but Tony didn't care that no one knew. In fact, he was only shocked no one had found out. It was starting to become more obvious. There had been two recent assassination attempts on Tony, and both men had been found with their hearts ripped out. Someone had to figure out that Tony had one of the most terrifying men in the world shadowing him and protecting him. But until they did, Tony sure as hell wasn't going to tell them.
"You know I didn't do it." This time it was Winter, but this visit was different, more somber, than any of the others.
Tony paused the news report, the one on the bombing in Wakanda, claiming the Winter Soldier had killed the king of Wakanda. "I know. You don't do that anymore. It isn't even your MO." Tony sighed.
"And you were in the building. I wouldn't have risked hurting you for some king." Winter scoffed.
Tony nodded. "I know. But-"
"But you're going to have to convince Ross to let you hunt me so he doesn't send a team of agents who'll kill me and be able to find me easily because Rogers will be up my ass." Winter finished.
Tony sighed. "I'm sorry."
Winter cupped his face, rubbing Tony's jaw. "Don't be. You're doing everything you can. Your hands are tied."
"I know. You should keep your eye out for T'Challa as well." Tony warned.
"T'Challa?" Winter echoed.
"Yeah, the prince -well, king now- of Wakanda. He told Black Widow that he swears to be the one who'll kill you." Tony explained.
Winter frowned. "How dangerous is he?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure. He seems to be a bit more than your average spoiled royalty. I wouldn't take him lightly." Tony advised.
Winter nodded, pulling Tony into his eyes. "I'll keep that in mind."
They didn't have sex that night. Winter couldn't even risk staying the night. Instead, all they could do was stay just like that, Tony in Winter's arms, for a long time that didn't feel long enough for either of them.
Tony's chest hurt when he watched them drag his boyfriend in for custody. He couldn't even get close enough to figure out if it was Bucky or Winter in charge when they got a hold of him. Steve blamed Tony, to an extent, and wouldn't let Tony try to mend their friendship. And when Winter (it had to be Winter now, since that stupid asshole used the stupid codewords) was forced back into the HYDRA programming, and broke free, and then had to fight Tony and Tony couldn't tell if it was an act or he was in too deep to even know it was his boyfriend he was fighting, Tony was barely holding his shit together.
36 hours. That's what he got. He could've found them in 36 seconds if he wanted. (Bucky agreed to a tracker in his arm for Tony to keep an eye on him)
Hey, Steve and his friend Sam found me. I'm okay, don't do anything stupid, love.
That text was probably the only thing keeping Tony from actually finding him, instead of just pretending to try. Tony knew it was Bucky now because of the language used. Tony wanted Bucky and Winter back more than anything. But for now, all he could do was keep Ross at bay, and begrudging assemble a team to fight the one Bucky warned Tony that Steve was building. It was a mess.
The airport fight was awful. Absolutely, painfully awful. Tony had to focus on fighting Steve so he didn't end up fighting Winter. (Steve did know Winter was in control and only pretending to be Bucky, right?) He sent Peter after Winter so Winter didn't have to deal with anyone who was a real threat. Tony wouldn't admit it, but he was glad Wanda joined Steve's side. He hated locking her up, but he wasn't stupid. It would make her hate him enough to fight along side Steve when the inevitable battle came. She helped tip the scales in Steve's favor. Tony knew he had to beat some of them, but hopefully he strategized well enough to have the right ones beat Tony.
Did Steve really think Tony was stupid enough not to know about Zemo? Of course he knew. But he had to play dumb to give him a reason to try to take Winter into custody.
And Natasha. Oh, sweet, sweet, back stabbing Natasha. If Tony wasn't pretending to be mad and betrayed at her, he would've kissed her. He had to hold back from throttling her when she had chosen his side because Tony knew it's tip the scales dangerously to his favor, but thank god old habits died hard. If it weren't for her, Steve and Winter wouldn't have gotten away.
Tony hated locking his own team up. He was already compiling evidence against Ross to free them, but after Rhodey fell, Tony was done letting those he cares about walk into the line of fire. So he pretended to just find out that Zemo was guilty, pushed the others to the right direction for finding out, and headed to Siberia.
Tony should've seen Zemo's real plan coming. Really, considering how carefully he planned this out, he should've known. It was really such a cliché villain move.
Tony watched the video of his parents dying, already knowing how it ended. He flicked his eyes to the smirking asshole. Fuck it. Tony was done letting other people be his puppet.
Tony rolled his eyes, clapping slowly for Zemo. "I have to admit, this was an amazing plan. A bit too thought out and a little loony, but hey, it almost worked. And really, it would've." Tony admitted. "But there was just one thing you didn't account for. I already knew, and I knew Steve knew and wasn't telling me. So, nice try, better luck next time." Tony smiled sarcastically, then blasted the door down that Zemo hid behind. He already had the man in handcuffs when Black Panther showed up.
"Tony, I'm so sorry I didn't tell you." Steve sighed, sounding truly guilty.
Tony shrugged. "Look, to be honest, I was furious at you for not telling me at first. But now, I couldn't care less." He glanced up at T'Challa. "If I give him to you to take into custody, you won't kill him, will you?"
T'Challa took off his mask. "No. My blind rage made me use the sacred mantle of my people to almost kill an innocent man. I will learn from my mistakes." He looked at Winter. (Seriously Steve, were you ever going to notice it's Winter not Bucky right now?) "I sincerely apologize, Mister Barnes." He bowed his head.
"I don't blame you. If someone tried to kill someone close to me," he glanced at Tony. "They'd already be dead. I understand your motive." Winter shrugged.
T'Challa nodded thankfully, and took Zemo, leaving the three of them.
"I thought you'd be angrier." Steve admitted.
Tony rolled his eyes. "Look Steve, I'm not thrilled. But the way I see it, I think once you know what I've been keeping from you, you'll see why I think we're even."
Steve frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Oh, it means I've been screwing him since you started looking for me." Winter said offhandedly.
The look on Steve's face was priceless. "What? Bucky, what are you talking about?" He sputtered.
Winter rolled his eyes. "Lord, if you call me 'Bucky' one more time I might hit you. If have to ask who's in control at any given moment, fine. But don't call me the wrong name." He snapped.
Steve frowned. "What?"
"Steve, Winter and Bucky are two very separate people in one head. Sooner or later you'll figure out how to tell the difference, don't worry." Tony explained.
"You can tell the difference?" Steve seemed just overwhelmed with information.
Tony shrugged. "Yeah, I've always been able. But I met Winter first, so I guess I had a small advantage."
Steve processed the information. "So you're with Winter? Sexually?" Tony nodded. "Bucky too?" Tony nodded again. "Is it... Romantic?" Another nod. "How did you...?"
"Well, when your stupid ass went hunting for him, I couldn't let you just go and risk your life." Tony began. "I knew you didn't want my help, so I started my own private search. I succeeded a bit quicker than I thought I would. Instead of killing me, he fucked me." Tony said. Steve looked mildly horrified.
"You make it sound like I raped you." Winter sniffed.
"Well some of the things you said were a bit rapey." Tony teased.
"Still not my fault you have a pretty face, моя крошка." Winter shot back. Tony made a face at him, so Winter snorted and kissed him.
"That, just looks strange." Steve said, his voice strangled. Tony laughed against Winter's lips.
Once they pulled away, Tony sighed. "I don't want to have to deal with the aftermath of all this, I need to get Steve's team pardoned, and I can't do that in a Siberian bunker." He whined.
"They're in custody?" Steve demanded.
Tony sighed. "Yes, and technically I'm here to take you into custody as well. But, I have evidence against Ross. It might take awhile, but-"
"Tony, those are good people!" Steve almost shouted. "And they're in cells because-"
"Rogers, you're making yourself look idiotic. Shut up." Winter interrupted. "Do you realize how much Tony has thought this out? How he had to perfectly plan everything out to get the best outcome?" He demanded. "He had to do things he knew would badly reflect on him to make this work out. You could've gotten killed if Tony wasn't pushing as hard as he was. He made sure he pissed off the right people so they would fight on your side at the airport. He recruited untrained idiots to make it look like he was trying. Don't blame a flawed system on him, because he played it perfectly." Winter finished, arms folded.
Steve sighed begrudgingly. "I guess you're right. I guess we are even, Tony." Steve smiled. "Let's go get our team back."
It ended up taking a month, but Tony got everyone pardoned, got Ross imprisoned, and at least got all 117 countries agree to revise the Accords. He still had a ways to go, but Tony figured he deserved a damned metal for everything he'd done. Winter and Bucky agreed.
Steve eventually figured out how to tell them apart, so did a few of the other Avengers. Some gave up on trying though, and just called him "Tony's boyfriend". Bucky and Winter were happy enough with that, as was Tony.
Steve was a bit upset about Tony not telling him about it all, but admitted that he slightly deserved it. He gave Tony a shovel talk, but overall, was happy Bucky had someone. That alone helped mend Tony and Steve's friendship, and brought the Avengers back together, with a few new members.
"You know, as exciting as a 'living on the run and hiding from a fucked up system' life was, I think I'm enjoying the domestication we have right now." Tony mused, cuddled in Bucky's arms in the communal living room of the new Avengers facility.
Bucky laughed. "Yeah, me too."
"Remind me again how living in a building with people who can phase through walls or lift cars over their heads is domesticated?" Clint shouted from the kitchen. "I retired for domesticated. I have a family, you know. That's domesticated. This, this is not domesticated."
"You're the one who decided to come back, Hawkass." Tony shrugged.
Clint came into the living room with pizza and an eye roll. "Yeah, well I didn't come back to watch you two suck face."
Bucky flipped into Winter, and Winter grinned with mischief. "Not my fault he has a pretty face."