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At All Costs

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Tony stood in the doorway of the Avengers’ common room. He felt warm, light and deliciously buzzed. It was the best way to deal with a public appearance he would have rather avoided after a long inventing binge. Unfortunately Pepper had made it very, very clear that avoidance was not an option.

So alcohol it had been.

Alcohol plus lack of sleep had made things far more interesting then they’d had any right to be. At least he’d managed to avoid any of the more handsy bastards who were clearly trying to get into his pants to get into his wallet.

It would have been better if he could have dragged one of the other Avengers along. Natasha always had creative threats to share, Clint off color comments, Bruce provided actual stimulating conversation and Steve always seemed to be torn between stunned horror at the people around them and amused surprise.

One memorable time Tony had thought he was going to get to see Captain America deck some asshole who had openly propositioned him despite Tony politely declining the man repeatedly and being a step away from hitting the man himself.

Tony had yet to drag Bucky along but he didn’t doubt the night would have been far more enjoyable and he would have had someone gorgeous to look at if nothing else. Plus he’d heard stories about Bucky Barnes and dancing. Tony was very interested in seeing how true they were.

He loosened his tie, sighing lowly before he meandered into the room with no intention of immediately going to his own room. His sock covered feet were silent as he moved forward. The TV was on low and there was a lump on one of the couches. Without thought he discarded his jacket, flung it over a chair haphazardly, and rounded the couch in curiosity.

Bucky Barnes was curled up in the corner, a soft cover wrapped around him making him look like a ridiculous kind of burrito but that wasn’t what had Tony blinking in wonder. The Winter Soldier’s hair was mussed, almost fluffy in a way it shouldn’t be, and Bucky’s usually sharp eyes were soft with relaxation.

It was adorable.

It was so fucking adorable and Tony knew, deep in the sober part of his soul, that his current thoughts were meant to stay locked away. He’d managed to keep a lid on his growing attraction to Bucky, instead enjoying the friendship they had developed, and Tony was quite sure no one knew how he felt.

Unfortunately he was floating on the amazing feelings of drunk and carefree. It explained why he had ended up in front of Bucky with his ass sitting on the coffee table that had been moved closer to the couch. In seconds his hands were resting on scruffy cheeks and he couldn’t remember how they had gotten there.

“You are ridiculously adorable.” He couldn’t help himself. Blue-grey eyes blinked at him and Tony scrunched Bucky’s face between his hands so Bucky’s lips were lightly pursed, “So fucking adorable.” Tony leaned close, alcohol bold and free, as he grinned when Bucky blinked at him again. Bucky’s brow furrowed and something like confused amusement appeared on his handsome face. “You must be protected at all costs.”

Tony said it as though it was an undeniable fact and it was. Ever since he’d come across Bucky Barnes and dragged him back to Avengers Tower with the sole intention of giving Bucky somewhere safe. It had been this little fact that drove him to reach out to Bucky, to keep creating more things to keep him safe on and off the field. It had also not helped the first spark of attraction.

Protecting those he cared about came naturally to him.

As he continued to hold Bucky’s face between his hands the sober part on his brain was practically screaming at him to let go of the super soldier and step away. It was the small self-preservation part of his brain that he often ignored in favor of flinging himself into danger to help teammates or save civilians and it was even easier to push aside while running on little sleep, a bit too much alcohol and nursing a crush the size of Texas.

“I’m a trained assassin.”

Tony moved one of his hands from Bucky’s cheek and pressed his fingers to Bucky’s mouth, “Shhhhh. I’ll keep you safe.” He nodded, eyes hooded and mind floating. The room was warm, the low hum of the TV an almost distant sound in the background and Tony could smell the spiced scent of Bucky’s soap. “Safe and protected.”

He could feel Bucky’s lips pull into a small smile under his fingers and Tony watched as Bucky’s shoulders moved with a low laugh. How the fuck did someone like Bucky Barnes even exist?

How could someone be so fucking amazing?

He just wanted Bucky to be happy and safe. If he could have nothing else he’d be content with that.

On the couch Bucky shifted, his blanket falling down and Tony could hear the low hum of his metal arm when it moved. There was some kind of expression on Bucky’s face that hadn’t quite been there before and Tony’s brain, usually so fast and sharp, was far too tired to figure it out. “I’m sure you will.” The tone in Bucky’s voice was fond and Tony sighed as he swayed slightly forward. His hands fell away from Bucky’s face to rest in Bucky’s lap.

He ended up with his forehead resting against Bucky’s chest and his body slumped forward in an awkward position he couldn’t be bothered to correct, “I will.” Tony felt his body relaxing as the alcohol in his system started to make a valiant attempt at dragging him into unconsciousness. “Safe and protected. No more pain.”

“Come on, doll.” Strong hands shifted and Tony felt Bucky effortlessly pick him up from where he had been sitting on the coffee table. He lifted his head once he’d been hauled up onto the couch, tucked up against Bucky’s side and watched as Bucky pulled a cover off the back of the couch to drape it over him. “There we go. You can keep me safe from right there.”

“Damn right.”

Bucky’s laugh shook Tony where his head was resting against Bucky. “There we go. Be a good genius and rest those gorgeous brown eyes.” There was something playful in his voice.

Tony squinted up at Bucky, looking for any kind of sign he was being made fun of, before pressing close and letting his body relax. He hadn’t seen anything. Just more of the same fondness he’d noticed before. “I don’t need sleep.” Even though his eyes were getting increasingly hard to keep open and his brain was even fuzzier.

“Sure you don’t.”

“Ridiculously adorable.” Tony muttered as an arm seemed to curl around him, tucking him closer all the while resting warm, safe and secure against him. “So fucking adorable. It isn’t right.”

“Trained. Assassin.”

“Whatever you say, Bucky Bear.”

Tony’s eyes slipped closed and he started to drift off with a soft sigh. A warm arm curled tightly arm him, fingers lightly brushing the fabric of his shirt, while Tony nuzzled closer to the source of warmth.

He felt a light pressure against the top of his head and heard a murmured goodnight, sweetheart breathed into his hair before he finally lost the fight against sleep.