“Someone had fun,” mused Natasha over the com.
“Uh... wouldn't put it like that,” answered Clint.
The rest of the team remained silent. Nobody had expected something like this. They were ready to fight their way in, not exactly to witness this kind of scene. Gruesome - blood everywhere, body parts strewn about - the kind of sight that made rookies puke.
Luckily, there were none among them this time. It wasn't the type of mission where they could protect the less trained and give out advice. Surprisingly enough, Bucky had insisted on coming with them since the beginning of their quest. Something nobody had expected and yet it hadn’t surprised them.
“It’s a slaughterhouse here too,” added Sam, his voice tight.
The airman sounded like he was about to be sick. Bucky however… well, Bucky wasn't. Not that the sight wasn't awful and smelt like hell itself was sick, but it'd take a lot for him to feel sorry for the dismembered and half-eaten soldiers scattered around.
“You think he's here?”
Steve sounded just as tight and sick as Sam had.
The team had split up to cover more ground. They didn't know where their target was situated but if he was here, they couldn’t be sure anymore of his condition. Which couldn’t have been good to begin with, considering the initial situation.
“It's still possible. There were guards and if those weren't dead,” observed Bucky, “the base would be full and well protected.”
“It's recent,” intervened Natasha.
“Today. Yesterday at best,” he agreed.
He kept his progress steady but slow enough to be sure none of those on the floor were alive. It'd be impressive, and almost unbelievable, but he'd seen worse and weirder in his life.
The farther he went, the worse it became. It looked like an over-sized wild animal had lost its mind and attacked anyone in its path. He could even see some deep claw marks on the walls and the floor, as if the beast had damaged the floor taking off.
“I don't know if it's still there,” Bucky said, “but watch out.”
The others began to argue about what it could be but he didn't really listen to them.
Bucky wasn't ready to discard the possibility of the creature lurking around. It could have been one of their experiments, one that had found a way to free itself and lash out.
The results spoke for itself. It was dangerous in every kind of way and the fact that not one of them could tell what it was – except a very mean, very furious creature – didn't help.
They had neutralized every HYDRA agent they had found so far but there was still the possibility that some more remained around and one of them could have the bright idea to free the monster.
Condemned to die in any way, by an Avengers’ hand or by the monster’s, at least by freeing it maybe it would put the Avengers in a very bad position. Maybe, this way, one of them would die and killing an Avenger was a big victory in itself.
Slowly, Bucky made his way through the corridors. Every HYDRA base was different but some similarities could be found in the layout if you looked close enough.
“I may have found the right place,” he said, his voice the only sound over the comm.
The team was unusually silent. During any other mission the chatter would be crazy and full of barely acceptables jokes. Lately, though, the silence had took over and was only broken to give information and keep their teammates abreast.
“Heading your way,” came Steve’s reply.
Bucky locked his jaw. He had started to deeply regret the absence of his muzzle since he had entered this part of the site.
The smell was even worse here. The corpses were in such a state that they didn't even look human anymore. Whatever did this was vicious. The beast hadn't eaten them, it just... fiercely tore them apart.
Struggling to keep the contents of his stomach in place, Bucky forced himself to analyze his surroundings.
With the organization of each hallway and the layout he was building in his head, he could imagine the moment the alarm set off.
The nearest room on his right had its door wide open where the monitoring team had burst out when the alarm had rang. The door was hanging on its hinges with the lower part missing, at some point the beast had come here and killed whoever was still in there. The team had headed straight to the farthest cell in the left hallway. The first corpses were there, Bucky could see them from his position and the sight wasn’t any better than what he had seen in the rest of the base.
The corridor was a dead-end and the beast had been detained in the last room. The claw marks were deeper there, more numerous too. The fight had been contained there for a while, enough for a literal mass of bodies to pile up but at some point the beast had won, gained ground, and headed for the base’s exit.
One way or another, the soldiers had found a way to stop it before it reached freedom. It was a good thing, Bucky thought grimly. He really didn't want to imagine what such a monster could do if set free.
“Language,” Bucky replied easily, a very tight smile contracting the corner of his mouth.
Steve joined him very slowly. He had seen terrible things in the war, they both had, and Bucky had his own macabre actions, but what lay before their eyes was out of their league.
Carefully putting his feet where there wasn't too much blood or human body parts, Captain America made his way toward his friend and stood there, jaw set and steely eyed.
“You think Tony's here?” Steve asked.
“If he's still here, he should be in one of those cells.”
“If the thing-” but before Steve could finish, Bucky cut him.
“It didn't. The doors of the others cells are untouched except for some claw marks. The beast, whatever it was, didn't get inside.”
It wasn't interested. Bucky kept his thoughts to himself but there was a pattern in what he had seen so far. The beast hadn't wandered around, choosing randomly which turn to take or going after more victims. The bodies were scattered around but even if it had wandered, it was headed in one direction and one only.
To the outside.
It knew the route from its cell to the entryway. It had some kind of intelligence and if it wasn't necessarily very smart, it was smart enough to find its way back to liberty.
Taking a deep breath, he and Steve made their way to the cells. Bucky took those on the right while Steve started opening the cells on the left.
They were mostly empty. Apparently, HYDRA had wanted to stay focused on whatever they were doing in there.
Biting back a comment about Hydra’s lack of housekeeping, Bucky closed the door, relieved when he didn't find anything, or rather anyone. It was mostly just dirty and if he tried his best not to look at the walls and the words scratched on them, it stuck with him anyway. The number of people who had suffered and died by HYDRA's hand was revolting at best. Bucky knew something about it but seeing more proof of it... he could have done without it.
Steve hadn’t found anything either and, soon enough, they found themselves close to the last door.
Steve stood there, his face blank except for the little signs telling that he was struggling to keep his emotions to himself. He wasn't just sad or worried, he was damn pissed and the anger was showing in the brightness of his eyes. Slowly, Steve raised his hand to his comm-unit.
“He's not here.”
A deeper silence crowded the line for a second before a deep sigh resonated.
“We'll find him, Cap. We were close, they won’t see us coming next time,” Clint answered, his voice heavy.
“Everyone meet at the rendezvous point.”
Steve lowered his hand, searching Bucky's eyes. Bucky knew what Steve had in mind, it had been in his own from the beginning too, but it didn't make it easier. With curt nods, the soldiers approached the last cell.
Immediately, they heard the rattle of claws from behind the door.
It was hardly aggressive, more curious and anxious, shuffling behind the door like a dog knowing its owner was about to come home. It whined, distressed, and shuffled even more. It could have been a dog... if it wasn't for the size and the weight they could make out with every step it was making.
Whatever it was, it was bigger than every animal they knew, and it was feral enough to have killed most of HYDRA's force in this base.
The thing sniffed through the slight, almost nonexistent, gap between the door and the floor, whined louder then retreated quickly to the depths of its cell.
They opened the cell cautiously, mindful of what the beast had done to HYDRA’s soldiers and what it could do to them.
The odor hit them first. Hard. If outside the room, the scent of blood, shit and carcass was omnipresent, it was different in the cell. Mostly. The scent of blood was still there, thick, but not as much as the one saying that what was inside was definitely animal.
The lights were off and the darkness greeted them as did a low growl coming from an obviously large chest.
Steve went first, his shield held in front of him. Nothing came. Bucky followed behind him, his gun out and aiming in front of him.
The shadows were so dense, even with his enhanced sight Bucky couldn't make out the thing that was lurking in the darkness. He could hear it, though. The heavy breathing of a huge being right in front of them.
Two wild eyes caught the light from the hallway, refracting it in that greenish color that had terrified humankind for ages. A flash of fangs followed by a dull growl.
Bucky fired, missing purposefully, the bright telltale of the shot giving him the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what was hiding among the shadows.
The beast yelped and retreated quickly, whining and growling alternately, as if not knowing how to react. The rattling of the claws stopped in the right corner of the cell.
“A wolf,” observed Steve, slightly bewildered.
“A huge ass wolf.”
“Boys?” questioned Natasha over the comm, an edge of concern in her voice.
“Shush,” Bucky cut quickly.
The silence fell on the line but he was sure she was listening carefully and probably the others as well.
He needed to be able to hear anything though. The telltale sound of a leap or anything, really. And if she started asking question, he wasn't sure he'd be able to tell if the wolf was about to attack them.
Even if the possibility started to seem less and less likely to happen.
Steve came closer, his voice thoughtful and careful:
He could almost feel the tension within Steve but he wasn't standing in his battle mode anymore. His attention was entirely focused on where they thought the wolf was now, still hiding among the shadows.
There was still a low, constant rumble coming out of it but it was more like a warning and less like a promise of aggression. Both Soldiers retreated slightly until they were closer to the door – but not entirely blocking the exit.
Crowding the wolf against the back of the room was a dumb idea.
It wasn't that it wasn't dangerous anymore, they knew it was, but its behavior was less crazily violent than they thought it would be. Honestly, Bucky had thought it would at least attack immediately after his shot, it was a natural reaction for a wild animal to attack when cornered and assaulted.
But it hadn’t.
Beside him, Steve crouched slowly and extended his free hand toward the dark corner of the room. He wriggled his fingers in a “come on” gesture, his eyes strained to see the wolf, the shield at ready.
“C'me here, boy. Lemme see you,” Steve said in a kind voice, letting a bit of a smile filter into it.
And, honest to god, the wolf snorted.
The sound was so misplaced that Steve froze, something close to a smile creeping at the edge of his lips as his eyes lit up. He looked like he’d discovered something nice he wasn’t expecting. Most of the time, it didn’t end well for any of them. That punk could put his damned ass in every bad situation he could find and sometimes he didn’t even have to fucking look for it.
“Oh but you can understand us just fine, can't you.”
Frowning, James observed, straining his ear to detect anything coming from the animal. Getting more and more used to the darkness of the room, he had started to catch glimpses of the beast.
Somehow, it wasn't black as he had imagined it would be. Maybe gray, probably some white. It was hard to say but with the way the shadows were hugging it, it was obvious that the thing wasn’t black. Or Bucky wouldn't be able to see anything at all, even with his good sight.
“Come on, we're not gonna hurt you, I swear.”
This time, the wolf didn't quite scoff but it was a near thing.
It shuffled in the dark, seemingly hesitating as to what it should do.
Way more intelligent than Bucky had thought it would be.
Then, it let out a growl and moved.
Not too fast, almost reluctantly, it came to them. The light coming from the hallway caught in thick white fur marbled with gray and black. After only a few steps, its snout was now a few inches from Steve's hand.
It’s huge, amber eyes were staring carefully at them, sometimes glancing at the entryway as if thinking about darting between them and fleeing.
Head low and teeth hidden behind its lips, the wolf stopped moving and its eyes settled somewhere close to Bucky's boots.
“Was it really you who did that carnage outside?”
It wasn’t exactly uncertainty in Steve’s voice but definitely some doubt. The wolf was hardly aggressive but, from where he stood, Bucky was pretty sure he was responsible for the nightmare they had to go through to get there right in front of him. Muscular, large paws armed with thick black claws, long, sharp fangs that could rip through flesh without much effort. Even if it was behaving, Bucky wasn’t fooled.
At the question, the wolf lifted its head almost immediately, its ears, a second before flat against its skull in a non-threatening manner now slightly pointed backward in an annoyed way. It stared at Steve and bared the lower part of its fangs... and scoffed, almost growled.
Bucky allowed himself to be slightly amazed at how easily he could read the beast. It looked almost offended and maybe proud, somehow. Bucky coughed to hide his laugh, hiding his smile behind his free hand.
“Ok. What about you come with us and we'll see what we'll do with you?”
“Just don't eat us on our way out,” muttered Bucky.
It wasn't that the problem was as easily dealt with as that but what else could they do? Steve wouldn’t kill something that appeared to be non-threatening when not under attack. If the beast was to prove itself unreliable and a danger to others, Steve wouldn’t hesitate but right now it looked capable of reasoning. Maybe they could help it, find a place where it would be safe and not a danger to others.
On the other hand, no matter how “human” the wolf looked, it was still a murderer and a wild beast. Something that had killed too many HYDRA agents to be judged lightly because it was acting quiet and almost sympathetic.
This in mind, Bucky was more tempted to lean on its side than judge it because it made a mess of a few bodies, though. Whatever it was, wherever it came from, being between HYDRA's hands tended to make people dangerous and mad. It wasn’t exactly surprising that a creature of that caliber had gone wild and killed as much as it could given the opportunity, not if it had been tortured and maltreated. Given that the wolf could look Bucky in the eyes without having to raise its head, the amount of damage a beast of that size could do to human beings was beyond considerable.
Steve rose to his feet and looked at Bucky. It took Bucky some time and effort, but he managed to tear his gaze away from the beautiful monster standing in front of him and actually looked straight at him. No matter how crazy it sounded, Bucky was pretty close to swearing that it was currently raising its eyebrows at him. Do wolves have eyebrows?
They didn't have to exchange more than a few words to come to an agreement about the next steps, they didn't really need to. Their history with HYDRA and their experimentations went back to the second World War and Bucky was intimately familiar with it. Since the wolf didn't seem like a threat to them and even showed some cognitive capacity, it was only fair to give it a chance.
Steve left the room first and the wolf followed him after Bucky shooed it.
While Bucky was ready to give it a chance, he wasn't ready to trust it with his back. His gun was still firmly held in his hand, ready to shoot and protect if given a reason. Now that he was properly seeing the wolf, he thought it was quite a good idea.
“We're not coming back alone,” announced Steve in the com unit.
“No,” he cut quickly, probably as upset by the note of bright hope in Clint's voice as Bucky felt. “No, it's not him.”
“Is it the wolf you talked about, before?”
Natasha's voice was sharp, probably putting two and two together, beginning with the bloody shape of the base and the “huge ass wolf” she heard about through the com.
Bucky let them discuss it, smiling lightly when he heard Clint's protests over the safety of bringing a wolf in the very narrow space the quinjet offered. In the meanwhile, he kept track of the wolf's movements.
Somehow, it felt off.
Its limp and the blood on its fur was concerning but it wasn't what was unsettling Bucky. He had seen wolves before. Smaller and less bulky but wolves nonetheless. This one, however, had only its general shape in common with them.
Its front paws were moving with too much grace, it was light on it, almost like a feline would be. Some movement weren't as stiff as those of a real wolf, some muscles weren't at the same place. He couldn't quite put his finger on it because he wasn't a professional but... still. Something was definitely off.
The wolf's pointed ears went backwards and next Bucky knew, huge, smart amber almost golden eyes suddenly turned on him. The beast near stumbled, as weird as it was, tripping over its own legs before it stopped and turned entirely to look at him, tilting its head.
Bucky couldn’t help it, he kept cataloging the differences. The snout was larger than a normal wolf's too, if he looked carefully he could even make out some teeth poking slightly out of its lips. The jaws were bigger too, the whole thing looked harder and way more dangerous than a common wolf. Or as common as this monster could be considered.
“Steve,” he called.
Ahead of them, the blond stopped and turned, looking at Bucky with a slight frown.
“This is not a wolf,” Bucky answered the silent question, resisting the urge to point at the thing. Aside from the possibility of losing his hand by doing so, it wasn’t quite professional.
The beast scoffed for real this time, its lips curving in a lupine smile.
Strangely enough, as if sharing a joke he couldn’t understand, Bucky wanted to smile back. Those eyes were way too familiar, he noted distractedly. They seem to fit in a face he knew but couldn’t remember whose. It was nagging at him, poking and prodding, like he should be able to remember, to put a name or a memory to it. Like he was forgetting something important.
Maybe he remembered it because it was something HYDRA had made before Bucky had freed himself from them. What if it was smart enough to be used as a spy. What if... In two strides, the wolf was on him, too fast for Bucky to react. One second, the wolf was in front of him, the next he felt its fangs pinching his butt and pushing him forward. Bucky yelped and regretted it instantly.
“You bastard! I’m gonna-”
The wolf bared its fangs but instead of looking threatening it was more like the fucking little shit was grinning at him. Then it turned its back on him and scampered away. Right past Steve, head held high and looking as if it was grinning proudly.
Steve looked at it, letting it pass by him and stared at its furry butt with wide eyes.
“Did it just-”
“Shut up,” growled Bucky.
Gathering himself, he took off and Steve, startled out of his astonishment, followed him. A few feet in front of them, the wolf made a sound half howl, half growl... and tripped again on its own paws. It didn’t try to run away from them when they caught up with it and seemed to be fine with letting them behind its back. Butt. Whatever.
“What do you mean, it's not a wolf?” whispered Steve.
If he was hoping to be unheard by the monster, he was out of luck. The demon slightly tilted its head toward them and rolled its eyes hard enough to be painful. It then turned back on its way out at a moderate pace.
Bucky huffed and answered without bothering to lower his voice. If the fucker could hear them, it wasn't necessary to keep it a secret.
“You've seen wolves before, it doesn't look like one of them.”
Steve hadn't been the one at the back so he hadn’t had the opportunity to clearly see it move. But now that he could? The recognition sparked in his eyes in no time.
“Ok, saw it.”
Bucky nodded curtly, not needing to explain further.
Steve was probably no more an expert on wolves than Bucky was but he was an artist. And if Bucky was entirely capable of killing the thing it was Steve that could draw it, and had drawn animals before.
Smiling slightly, he glanced sideways at his friend, noting the intensely focused gaze. Now that he was on the trail, Steve wasn't going to let it go until he had the whole explanation.
“But... seriously, did i-”
“If you finish your question, jerk, I'm going to make you pay,” he grumbled slowly, glaring at his so-called-friend.
The fucker laughed quietly, his eyes sparkling with mirth.
“What did it do?” Asked Clint over the com. “It sounds funny, what is it?”
“Nothing,” snapped Bucky.
“Ooooh, it's definitely something. Steve, you'll tell me later?”
Rogers hummed in agreement, looking far too pleased with himself. Bucky punched him on the shoulder.
“If you tell him, I'll tell him about that time in France,” he threatened.
In a matter of second, Steve’s face fell : “You wouldn't!”
Steve took off the com.
“Oh, now you're offline, ain't ya? Scared I tell 'em about it?”
In one swift motion Steve managed to take off the comm from Bucky's ear. Surprised but too slow to react, he tried to take it back but a yell coming from the little pieces of tech in Steve's hand made them froze.
“Holy shit! You called that a wolf!?”
With a swear, they traded a look before taking off to the exit, running as fast as they could until they were out and welcomed by a not-so-surprising-scene.
The wolf was standing in the middle of a half-circle made by the other Avengers. Natasha, right in front of it, was by far the calmest and seemingly unfazed by the whole thing if it wasn't for her eyes.
“Zaichick (1)?” she asked slowly, her eyes almost glowing in the night.
The wolf raised its head and looked at her. Really looked at her. Its whole body looked as if it was only seeing her, focused on her. Natasha didn't look away, she was searching for something, looking in the depths of golden eyes without blinking.
The monster shuddered under her scrutiny, its attitude going from focused and sure to hesitant, almost afraid. Somehow, for just a few seconds, it looked impossibly smaller.
Bucky glanced from her to the wolf then back again... and he realized suddenly where he had seen those eyes before. He gasped, loud enough to draw the wolf's attention. It whirled to him, its eyes wider than ever, full of too much emotion. As were Natasha’s.
With a full-body shudder, the wolf lowered its tail, its big head turning slightly to the left, looking outside the ring that circled it. Toward land where it could roam free if it went through them.
If it wasn't for the deep feeling that this wasn't just-a-wolf, Bucky would have been surprised with how calm it was while being surrounded by strangers. Wolves were skittish creatures. It’d attack out of fear more often than aggressiveness. Now though... now he couldn't keep his eyes from Natasha's, seeing the slight hurt/fear that dawned on them when the monster seemed to think about running away.
“Proshu (2), moy zaichick.”
She extended her arms, opening them wide enough for the wolf to fits its head against her chest. Natasha was one of the smallest members of the team, even if it was probably one of her best assets to mislead her foes, but in front of the wolf? She looked frail and breakable.
Just a leap would be enough, its monstrous jaws closing around her throat and that would be it. Natasha was capable of doing a lot, surviving the impossible and fighting her way out of hell itself. And maybe she'd be able to dodge in time... but it was a big risk to take just for a possibility.
“Nat, I'm not sure it-” started Sam, wary.
“Shut up,” she snapped angrily.
The wingman startled but didn't try to warn her again. He just inched closer, ready to jump into action if necessary. His hand was slowly making its way toward his gun and there was no doubt about Red Wing hovering somewhere close, at the ready.
A snort made Bucky take a closer look at the wolf. Its tail wasn't any higher than before, hanging motionless between its back paws, its ears were low too and it looked... pained. Scared, almost. Unsure. Fuck if it wasn't crazy how easy it was to read the beast.
“You have nothing to fear,” he murmured quietly, hoping to be heard.
The wolf turned its head and looked at him from the corner of its golden, bright eyes. Beside him, Bucky could see Steve staring at him, looking puzzled. But then, with a sigh that looked like it came from deep inside of it, the beast turned back to Natasha.
Slowly, it padded toward her and, projecting its movement, nuzzled her. Its nose must have been cold if he was to believe her quiet laugh followed by soft protests. She then framed the large, big head with her tiny hands, her fingers dipping deep into the fur and disappearing in it.
“You big dumbass, you should have told us,” she whispered and looked like she was about to nuzzle the thick collar of fur around its neck but wrinkled her nose while retreating quickly. “You stink.”
It whined, seemingly distressed, at her first statement but the second made him squawk in offense and he pushed her with his nose, almost making her stumble backward.
At this point, all the others were trading confused looks. Bucky had to admit he hadn’t expected this when he and Steve had first decided to take it with them. Not even when he thought he remembered where he had seen those eyes before.
Beside him, though, Steve looked like he was starting to put the pieces together. It was funny to look at. Like the beginning of dawn, not quite a light on the other side of the horizon but soon to be.
After nuzzling her one last time, its huge jaws coming too close to the tender flesh of Natasha's throat for everyone's comfort, the wolf passed her without getting any reaction from the Black Widow and went into the Quinjet.
Looking like it knew all too well the Quinjet's amenities, the beast reached the point where the medical supplies were stocked, rose on its hind paws to reach higher and closed its jaws on blankets.
“We're letting it do that?” asked Sam, bewildered, watching the whole process as they gathered around the entryway.
“Yes,” stated Bucky.
Steve turned his head toward his best-friend and arched an eyebrow.
“Is there something you're not telling us?”
“Why don't you ask Widow?” he replied, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
Steve scoffed and nudged him. Taking off his cowl, Steve looked back at the Quinjet where the wolf had started to huddle itself into a corner, looking somehow small despite its real size, Natasha crouching beside it.
Her eyes were sharp but tender, her hands held together between her legs, one of her thumbs stroking the back of the other one. It was a discreet move but Bucky could see it, was actually looking for it. As was Clint, who was closer to the door, looking after her, not letting anything unseen.
“Am I the only one thinking of the Beauty and the Beast, right now?”
Two flat looks turned to him, seemingly entirely oblivious of the point, and Sam scoffed.
“Whatever. We'll have to make you two watch some Disney movie sometime. Again,” Sam added with a pointed glare toward them.
“The title seems accurate tho-”
A loud howl cut Clint off and he winced. Not because of the loudness, not because it was sudden, but for the pain it conveyed. It cut off almost as suddenly as it started but now everyone was looking at the inside of the Quinjet again.
There were loud and sharp creaks and cracks, articulations snapping out of their joint and popping back in place, bones breaking. Whining and muffled complaints echoed the sinister sounds. At some point Bucky thought he could hear muscles tearing apart and the monster’s skin shredding like a clothe too small to fit.
Somehow, it felt similar to what happened to Bruce when he was Hulking-out. Or coming back from it.
When the sounds stopped, it was like a weight had been lifted off Bucky’s shoulders. Beside him, he heard Steve and Sam sighing in relief, their shoulders relaxing from the tense posture they had taken when the first sounds had snapped. Natasha wasn’t doing any better. While her expression was still practically unreadable, her body language, however, wasn’t as indifferent.
In front of her, the bundle of blankets had shrunk to a human sized shape and stopped moving. The only noise remaining was a loud, harsh breathing. A very familiar one.
Reaching out slowly, Natasha peeled carefully the blanket off the body until a face could be seen. The face of a very bloodied, very naked Tony Stark.
(1) ‘Zaichick’ is a russian terme of endearment. It’s something like “bunny” in a very sweet way. Litteraly, it's more “hare” than bunny or rabbit. Russians tend to use “hare” for an endearment while we prefer to use bunny.
(2) ‘Proshu*, moy zaichick’ moy is something like “please, my bunny”.
A lot of thanks to bludnoemoloko for their help on the Russian words! <3
Thanks everyone for your lovely comments and nice words! <3
The words in italic are russian. While I used actual russian in the previous chapter, I prefered not since it's a whole dialog going on that way.
That might have been Steve. Or maybe Sam. Unless it was him. Even if the possibility had occurred to him once he had recognize those eyes, it wasn't any less of a shock. Not by a mile.
Lying on the cold floor of the Quinjet, the genius looked like even staying still was hurting him. Dirt and dark smudges of something like dried blood covered his face, sweat shining on his forehead and sticking his hair to it. His neck was deeply bruised, like someone had tried to hold him down with a collar. The rest of him was covered by the blankets but Bucky could bet his remaining flesh arm that it didn’t look any better.
Two very bright, very wild looking eyes opened for them to see, unfocused and glazed over at first, they cleared after a few seconds and Tony finally looked at them. There were the wolf’s eyes in Tony's human face... and it definitely shouldn't look as natural as it did.
Sighing shallowly, Tony tried to move but winced and thought against it.
“Could we...” He cleared his throat, his voice rusty and gravelly if not broke. “Could we not... talk about this” he tried a gesture but gave up on it when his body reminded him that it was painful to even breathe. “right now?”
“Really?” Clint asked, frustrated. “You just... morphed in front of us from the big bad wolf who ate red riding hood and you don't want to talk about it?”
Clint looked around and threw his arms up:
“Am I the only one dying to know?”
“But Steeeeeve,” he whined. “This is the best story ever. I mean, if Natasha knew...” he stopped dead on his tracks and turned to her, betrayed. “You knew?”
She looked up from where she was now sitting on the Quinjet's floor, Tony's head in her lap, and frowned.
“No, I did not.”
“But... how?” he motioned toward where she had been standing outside of the Quinjet, when everyone had thought that she was about to get eaten by an over-sized wolf.
She shrugged, looking unfazed, even if Bucky could see the tiniest tug at her lips.
Sensing that Bucky was looking at her, Natasha glanced at him and huffed when he arched an eyebrow at her.
At the entry of the Quinjet, Clint, Steve and Sam were arguing.
Clint obviously wanting to poke and prod at Tony like the overgrown child he was, pointed out that since Nat had seemed to know it was Stark, maybe it wasn't some HYDRA experimentation and there wasn’t any reason to beat around the bush. Sam was even less happy, throwing in that even if it wasn't, Tony had been held captive for a long time now. Long enough to deserve a bit of rest before starting any kind of interrogation. Steve was puzzled, he knew that both were right - even if he scolded Clint - but his own need to know was getting in the way of his patience.
Maybe some concern for his friend, who was currently purring in Nat's lap, getting head scratches and pets, was also in the mix. Tony’s eyes were closed and his body, while still covered by blankets, seemed to be less tense.
“Fine!” yelled Clint. “Let's leave it for later, we'll know why our genius, playboy, philanthropist can shift into a huge ass wolf later.” He threw his hands in the air for good measure and stomped into the quinjet. “Not fair,” he muttered when he passed by Bucky and Natasha.
Only to stop in his tracks and turn to crouch down next to Tony and touch his cheek. “Welcome back, Greyback.”
Tony huffed a tired but sincere laugh. He opened his eyes, emotions raw and unusually bared for them, looking at Clint with a small smile. Clint answered with his own before straightening and heading back to his seat quickly followed by Steve since Natasha stayed with Tony.
They took off in a record time and if Clint shot a few glances toward Tony, his lips taking a downturn each time his eyes fell on the bruised shape of his friend, it was nobody’s business.
Arriving at the Tower was a bit awkward.
Clint was almost vibrating with curiosity, couldn't keep his eyes off of Tony's sleeping form like he was expecting – hoping – Tony would wake up at any moment and start pouring out answers. Steve was worried and started fussing over his friend as soon as he gave up the controls and the engine was turned-off. Sam was hovering near by, waiting to know if he could be of any help.
Since Sam had been with them, he had started to understand just how much the Avengers were troubled people. It took probably a bit more time for them to realize how much he fit right in, with his own messed up memories and bad days. Most of the time, though, he was a sassy bastard and a smartass but he was there. To talk or to remain silent, to distract or get distracted. Bucky would never say it outloud but Sam was a good friend.
Though, the prize of the weirdest went to Natasha. Since she had realized who was hiding under the thick fur and behind the massive beast, she had been physically affectionate. She couldn't keep her hands off of Tony, petting him and staying close as much as possible without looking too obvious.
It was only Bucky's training that had made him realize it. That and Clint’s behavior. The archer wouldn’t stop looking at her hands, each time she would pet Tony, touch him in any way. Alternately, Clint would look startled, puzzled and suspicious. It wasn’t that Natasha wasn’t affectionate but never that much over so little time.
Even when Tony was unconscious - which happened as soon as the quinjet had reached the sky - she kept touching him at random times. Either it was a long caress along his covered frame, carding her fingers through the genius’ curls, playing with the hair at the nape of his neck or resting her hand on his shoulder and stroking with her thumb. Until she couldn't do it anymore when Tony was taken to the medbay. Then, after staring at the door Tony had been taken through for a handful of seconds, she just took off to her floor.
She came back later, hair still damp and wearing comfortable clothes. Natasha was there to stay and Bucky had been there already, earning a small smile from her.
Basically, Bucky had done the same. Showering in record time and coming down as soon as possible. His presence didn’t seem to surprise her, she just settled next to him, knocking their shoulders together. When they started to talk, they slipped easily into Russian, sharing warmth and comfort, leaning onto each other from shoulder to hip.
“So... Something to share?”
“Not as much as you’d think,” she said lowly, calm.
Her eyes didn't move from the door hiding Tony. She was intense and focused, as if her stare could make things better and will Tony to be fine.
The genius hadn’t looked badly injured but there were things hidden under the skin, things that could be way worse than injuries. And that wolf-morphing? That was weird. Weirder than Bucky thought he would have to face while searching for Tony.
Even though he knew he shouldn't be surprised – they had seen and still saw some stuff that should make them go crazy – but... yeah, Bucky was. Very much so. Sue him.
He wouldn't push or press her. Not because he wasn't curious – he was – but he knew how things were for people like them. And secrets weren't always just secrets, sometimes they were possibilities. Strong ones, but still just possibilities. And sharing them with people who'd take them as plain truth could cause more harm than good.
The contact against his shoulder deepened and the soft brush of her hair tickled his throat. Bucky smiled lightly and leaned his head against hers. Taking and giving as much comfort as he could from her presence, her warmth and strength.
He could almost feel the worry and the thoughts whirling around in her head, analyses being made and pushed aside – not forgotten – just pushed aside to make room for others.
“It may be something old. From his childhood. If it is, I don't know how he managed to hide it from us until now. Or why he'd let it be seen now,” she finally said, her voice quiet and her words careful.
Somehow, he knew the “us” she mentioned wasn't just the team but also S.H.I.E.L.D. They did some reports about Tony, keeping him under scrutiny for probably decades before approaching him a few years back. How Tony had managed to hide something that big from a professional spy organisation was beyond Bucky. If, of course, it was something he had been hiding all along.
At this point, they had started to whisper quietly, making sure no one or nothing could hear them.
Bucky remembered that one time Pepper had told him how Natasha had played the role of Tony's PA for Nick Fury. Maybe it was to add on top of the “how”. Hiding such a secret from an organization watching from afar was one thing, keeping it from Natasha who had been very close to Tony for quite some time, was another entirely.
“What would “it” be?”
She shrugged and sighed.
“I don't know.” And wasn't that surprising, to have her admit it aloud. “Might be lycanthropia.”
Bucky leaned back just a little to stare at Natasha in disbelief.
“What? We've seen worse. That or he has magic and never told us.”
Bucky couldn't help the scoff.
Tony having magic would be the worst cosmic joke. The man couldn't stop ranting about his loathing of it, muttering under his breath over the comms because “goddammit those clowns couldn't stay in the goddamn circus for fuck’s sake?”. Clint’s answer had led to a whole debate that had persisted long after the original fight had been over.
“Might make sense if you think about it,” Natasha pressed.
She didn't try to explain herself, neither did she seem to think it necessary to lead him to her own conclusions. She let him think on his own, relaxing against him, her eyes never leaving the door.
So Bucky thought about it.
Maybe he didn't know Tony as well as she did but he still knew him. If Tony had had magic since he was a child, Howard's reaction to it couldn't have been pretty. Bucky could never push Tony to tell him the whole story but he didn't need him to understand what might have happened and how it would have affected him.
Howard's treatment of someone – even his own son – gifted with magic, wouldn't be gentle and even less understanding. Tony's self-loathing, thoughts of never doing enough and never being good enough could come from there as well. It would lead Tony to hate his gift so badly he couldn't let it go, even less when magic made its way into his life in the form of villains or threats.
Yeah, Bucky could see how that possibility could make sense. He nodded his agreement and let his head fall back against Natasha's.
“I'll give you that. So, what about HYDRA's doing?”
“Still a possibility.”
“But you don't think it is.”
Bucky could see it. He wasn't more inclined toward magic or lycanthropia but HYDRA's doing wasn't a good alternative either.
Tony was far too at ease in that body, despite his obvious clumsiness back in the base. He also knew how to revert back from it, which couldn’t be learnt in so little a time. Probably. Not that he was an expert in that sort of thing, but it was less likely that Tony could learn it all so quickly. Bucky couldn't make out everything but he could see why Natasha wasn't keeping HYDRA's experiments on her list.
As smart as Tony was, it needed more than genius to understand how some new modifications functioned. Tony was smart, too smart for his own good more often than not, but even he couldn't make out something like that. Even if he had worked on it and knew how it functioned in theory it'd need more than a few days, at best weeks, to figure it out.
Bucky blew out a sigh and let the thoughts go. He could work on it all night, make a list of hundred and a half potentialities and it still wouldn't make any difference. Better wait for Tony to tell them.
“He's going to freak out,” she whispered quietly.
“We'll be there. We won't let him go.”
He felt her arm slide across his back and tightened her grip. Natasha didn't speak after that, remaining against him and taking all the comfort Bucky could gave her. He took it too, because his heart was aching with worry and wanting.
Waiting was hard and painful but he was determined to wait as much as necessary. They all were.
Tony’s results speak of a sprained ankle, a few cracked ribs, hurt muscles, scrapes and bruises. It came along with dehydration and starvation which probably were to be expected considering the situation.
It wasn't half as bad as they thought it would be but if they expected Natasha to relax, they were sorely mistaken. Out of them all, she seemed to be the most worried, even if it was only showing in her will to stay stubbornly close to Tony. While Tony had been through worse more times than any of them were comfortable with it wasn’t what kept her alert. She knew the physical injuries weren't the ones they should fear most.
Bucky knew something about it too, and judging by the glance they exchanged after the doctor had left them, they agreed on keeping a close eye on Tony.
Now watching over the sleepy genius and waiting for him to wake up, Bucky breathed out slowly. He felt like a guard on duty and while he loved the feeling of being in charge of Tony’s safety, being the one to make sure he was safe, he hated the waiting. Other than the time passing by without much improvement, watching the still form of his friend was driving him crazy. As a solution, Bucky spent most of his time looking outside, watching the night sky laid over New-York as his ears kept track of every sound Tony was making in his sleep. From the slight rustle of the sheets tucked around him to the way his breath came out of his parted lips.
The thing was… he couldn’t keep his eyes from Tony for too long. Tony was tough competition for the night sky, both rivaling in mystery wrapped in beauty.
The night outside was beautiful in its greatness, open for him to let his thoughts run wildly without having to hide. He could just stare into the void, passing from one weird cloud to another, one light to the next, without anything to distract him from his thoughts... and it was relaxing in the best kind of way.
The quiet and stillness of the room made him feel isolated but in a secure kind of way. He was alone with his thoughts and his feelings, free to pass from one to another, free to be without worry of someone catching the slight creasing of his brows or the way his breath caught in his throat at some point. Living with a super soldier, spies and one very annoying, very nosy friend knowing too much about vets’ for his own good had its cons. Not ever being able to let his guard down when Bucky was with one of them was one. Here, in this room, he could be without worry. Tony was asleep and the smallest change of pattern in his breathing would tell Bucky if he was about to wake up. He could stare into the night at will, watching and loving dusk and dawn and the way each of them had their own colors.
And then there was Tony. Captivating in his own way. Probably outweighing the night and the peace of mind it offered to Bucky.
Tony was rarely motionless. Even while asleep, there was some movement to be witnessed. It wasn't necessarily something big or noticeable, a twitching finger, the corner of his lips curling slightly upward or, more frequently, downward. Tony Stark was a very lively person. And yet, he was now lying in his bed, looking impossibly small and frail, unmoving and calm. Peaceful.
As handsome as ever. Tony’s long lashes were casting shadows over his cheeks, his lips slightly parted on an even breathing.
Grinning, Bucky looked back to the night sky and spoke loud enough to be heard:
“Should I kiss ya awake, Sleeping Beauty?”
“It's about a charming prince, not a toad,” came the raspy reply, without missing a beat.
Bucky’ smile grew firmer and he dared to look at the not-so-asleep-genius.
“Cold,” he drawled, “and mean. I didn't deserve that.”
Tony huffed and there was the rustle of fabric when he moved, probably trying to find a more comfortable position. Or water, judging by the sound coming from the bedside table.
“Need some help?”
“No,” growled Tony.
And here Bucky had thought Tony was a genius. The part everyone seemed to forget about Tony when speaking about his amazing big brain was how stubborn he could be, as his constant headbutting with Steve proved.
With a put-upon sigh, Bucky stood and came closer, helping Tony get the glass of water and holding the straw straight, staring pointedly at the genius.
It earned him a glare from two bright golden eyes but Bucky didn’t falter. The wolf was looking at him through Tony’s eyes. Wild, blazing eyes speaking of predator and danger. Bucky held it without flinching.
A part of him was thinking about how bad an idea it was. Bucky wasn’t any better on the wolves subject than he was in the base, a few hours ago, still knowing jackshit about them. To the exception of what he needed in order to survive them.
But then, what he had in front of him wasn’t just a common wolf. It was a teammate too, a human being, but, more than that, it was a friend.
Tony huffed then, blinked back the golden eyes and sipped at his straw.
Even in the dark and despite the warm brown now coloring the iris, Bucky could still make out the wolf hidden behind it, some traces left, showing the monster ready to jump at the forefront.
“So... you can control it,” he said quietly.
It wasn't quite a question nor a statement, maybe a bit of both. Tony was used to it, though, and smiled a bit, giving back the glass to Bucky before settling on the pillows with a discreet wince.
“Something like that,” Tony admitted without looking at Bucky.
Bucky leaned against the nearest wall, crossing his ankles in front of him and his arms against his chest.
“How're you feelin'?”
“Like shit,” came the easy reply.
Tony frowned at the hoarseness of his voice and held a hand against his throat. One of the most impressive collars of bruises Bucky had ever seen laid there. Still sore, judging by Tony's wince when he prodded at it.
“Look like it too,” Bucky answered with an amused smile.
“Thanks, cheerfucker,” Tony growled with a glare.
The genius laid back against the pillows, sighing when he found a good position and staring at the ceiling, expressionless. It was a rare sight. Even Tony’s poker face was cheeky or mischievous, never that blank.
“How long?” Tony asked.
“Two weeks, three days.”
Bucky didn't say how close they’d been to leaving him there. The thought alone sickened him and made bile rise in his throat.
If it hadn’t be for Steve's pity for the beast held there, or simply the need to kill what could be a threat, they wouldn't have Tony back. He'd still be in that base, caged in a too tiny room for him, where he’d have stayed for who knows how long.
It wasn't like they had left any survivors behind them to take “care” of him and Tony had contributed to it in his own, nightmarish, way.
“I can't believe you pinched my butt.”
Tony let out a startled laugh before a short fit of coughing took him. Once it passed, he stared at Bucky, smiling widely and looking pleased with himself.
“It's a very firm, very nice butt. And you were rooted to the spot. I just helped you move it,” Tony said with a wink.
“Yeah, you just wanted to pinch it for too long, don't go making excuses.”
A small smile still curving his lips, the genius made grabby hands, feigning a dream-like expression:
“But of course I'd use every excuse to grope it. I mean... have you seen it?”
“Never was one to look at my ass in the mirror,” Bucky deadpanned.
“Shame,” muttered the genius before moving a little bit.
He looked uncomfortable even with all the pillows and the blankets. While it wasn’t the luxury Tony was used to, it also wasn’t the crap normal people had to deal with. And yet, Tony looked like a stone was digging into his back.
“Something wrong?” Bucky asked, taking a step toward the bed, frowning.
Tony's eyes shifted back to him, wide and looking like they couldn't make a choice between warm honey and wild gold, both of them fighting their way around the pupils.
He squirmed a little bit more, wincing, half in pain, half in discomfort.
“How likely are the chances of you not getting in my way out of here?” Tony was breathless, almost panting.
Bucky made his decision in less than a second.
One look at Tony's panicked expression was all Bucky needed. The genius was definitely not one to be trusted with his own safety but Tony wouldn't be alone in this. In two strides, he was on him, pushing aside the shaking hand that was trying to take the IV out recklessly. In quick, efficient movements, he removed and taped it then helped his friend on his feet before leading him out.
Through the arm he had wrapped around Tony's body, Bucky could feel muscles tensing and wavering in an unnatural way. It was sickening but Bucky held on tight and led them to the elevator, punching the buttons until the doors closed behind them.
“Shift. Need to...”
A loud whine escaped Tony's raw throat, cutting him mid-sentence but it was enough for Bucky. Bending forward, Tony tightened his jaws, holding back a pained growl. Not knowing what else to do, Bucky tried to keep him from falling forward all the while whispering comforting things against his ear.
“We're almost there, hold on,” he said softly, his heart in his throat and his eyes staring at the numbers moving slowly, too slowly, toward the safety of their floor.
Sue him, but Bucky didn’t feel like being trapped in an enclosed space with an injured wolf big enough to stare him dead in the eyes without having to raise its head.
Tony raised his head suddenly, stuck his nose against Bucky's throat and remained there, body shaking and tensing with pain, throat barely repressing sounds that were half-human, half-wolf. Bucky let him, despite his instincts screaming about wild jaws closing around the tender flesh of an unprotected throat.
Tony was warm, warmer than ever, and breathing in Bucky's scent like it was a lifeline, his arms tightly wrapped around Bucky's waist, fingers digging into his lower back hard enough to leave bruises.
Now that Bucky was paying attention to it, there wasn't much space left between them. Tony was plastered against him as if he were trying to fuse with Bucky and was close to making it.
One hand against the nape of Tony's neck and the second rubbing soothing circles against his back. Bucky was trying very hard not to think about what anybody would think if they were to see them like that. Not that it mattered that much, but the teasing and agitation it would result in might make it worse and Bucky was too close to be safe if anything happened.
And maybe he really didn’t want to think about the very thin, very open hospital gown Tony was wearing.
Looking at the scrolling numbers getting closer and closer to the safe place of the Avengers’ floor, Bucky had thought they would make it. Five floors left before they reached the penthouse but then the first crack had resounded loudly, breaking Bucky's stream of softly spoken reassurances.
The body against his twisted in a painful way while a loud howl escaped from Tony's throat. His knees gave up on him, Bucky being the only thing keeping Tony from falling to the floor. Though, on second thought, the way bones and muscles were shifting, snapping and breaking in a sick concert, Bucky thought against it and gently laid the genius on the cold floor.
Unable to remain still, Tony immediately rolled on his side and stood on his knees and elbows, head lowered until his forehead was on the cold floor of the elevator. Sweat was shining on his skin, he was holding his fists tight enough to leave marks on his skin. Tony looked like he was in agony, his face tensing each time a new wave of pain washed over him.
Despair and panic clawing up at his throat, Bucky raised his head, keeping track of the rolling numbers. Three floors left and the open gown was showing large patches of white and gray fur, Tony's head seeming less and less human as it got closer to a wolf’s muzzle. His eyes were screwed shut, looking like he was fighting against an ocean of pain and losing the battle.
Two floors and Bucky thought it would be wiser to retreat to a corner, leaving as much space as possible between him and the coming wolf. He could see it, appearing clearer and clearer with each sick sound. Witnessed with a roll of nausea the way the shoulder suddenly bent at an unnatural angle until it broke, the articulation of the arm moving and reshaping itself to fit a wolf’s. The same was happening at Tony’s hip, twisting and snapping, tearing a loud cry out of Tony’s throat.
The tension suddenly bled out of Tony’s body as if the genius had stopped fighting a losing battle. He rolled onto his side, his breathing closer to a wolf’s panting. The shift wasn’t achieved and, for an awful moment, Bucky thought Tony was stuck in between. Sounds of breaking bones, moving flesh and reshaping muscles stopped all at once.
From where Tony was sprawled on the floor, gold eyes stared at Bucky and everything stayed still for a full second. Then the morphing started back but instead of a scene worthy of an horror movie, it looked… painless. Articulations went into place with a soft pop, same as stretching back and shoulders after a long period of stillness, paws forming without a fuss, fingers shrinking and thickening, the thumb crawling heighter on the wrist. It looked like a calm, changing wave, everything settling into place almost quietly.
One floor left and it was too late.
Standing in his corner, Bucky stared at the wolf while it was rising on shaking paws, panting loudly. Bright fangs peeking out of a huge maw, large enough to fit a human’s head and strong enough crush it. At the moment, though, it had its tongue hanging out of its mouth and the ears were pointed straight at him. If it wasn’t for its ungodly size and its many predator’s features, it could almost pass for a curious dog.
They were still staring at each other when the doors of the elevator dinged open.
“FRIDAY told u- holy shit!” yelled Clint, stumbling backward, eyes wide.
The wolf bared its fangs as a loud growl vibrated in its chest, golden eyes narrowing on the archer.
Tuning out Clint freaking out and wailing questions to someone nearby, Bucky looked closely at the beast.
The fur didn’t look bristly, the hackles weren’t raised and even the bared teeth didn't look quite as threatening as what Bucky had faced in Siberia. Snorting, the former assassin rose on his feet and nudged slightly at the wolf's shoulder, attracting its attention. For a second, Bucky felt weak in the knees under the weight of the wolf’s stare, more conscious than ever of the beast’s size.
“Stop being an ass,” he forced himself to say, “Clint's going to piss himself if you keep going,” Bucky added, admonishing and, a little more at ease with the way he could almost imagine the wolf smiling at him, hoping his own smile wasn't too obvious.
Looking at Bucky, the wolf clicked its jaws shut and leveled its head, ears up and pointed toward him. After a short second, it opened its jaws, tongue out and tail wagging wildly. The weird feeling of having an over sized dog in front of him came back, full force, and Bucky took the risk to reach out and scratch it behind one ear.
Shutting its eyes, the wolf leaned its head against his hand and seemed pretty happy to stay like that. For a second, Bucky even thought it was about to rest its head on his shoulder but, thank god, it did not.
“After the beauty and the beast, we're having, what? The Jungle Book?”
Sam appeared from the right side of the elevator, looking at them cautiously. He was smiling though, a small, careful thing but a smile nonetheless. Turning its head toward the airman, the wolf seemed to like it and wagged its tail a little firmer, a little higher.
Bucky couldn't blame Sam for his cautiousness though, he was still a bit wary, what with the build of the beast. Even fingers deep in thick, clean fur, Bucky wasn't confident. Trying to act as he would usually, Bucky glared at Sam and said:
“I changed my mind, you can bite them. You have my blessing.”
Huffing, the wolf left Bucky's side, brushing his shoulder on its way, and trotted deeper into the penthouse, its nose quivering as it was sniffing around.
Reaching Sam's side, the wolf made a fast, rough move toward the airman who jumped with a yelp before the wolf retreated quickly. Baring its fangs in a wolfish smile, and a throaty sound that was suspiciously close to a snicker, the wolf padded peacefully toward the kitchen, its tail relaxed, wagging slightly, head held high.
“Yup, definitely Stark,” commented Clint, standing now beside Bucky.
“I thought my heart was about to be ripped out of my chest,” breathed Sam, his hand pressed against his heart. “The bastard scared me. He looks fine,” he added, thoughtful.
Feeling some kind of weird vibrating energy near him, Bucky turned to discover Clint, tapping his foot, arms crossed and a deep scowl on his face.
“Something botherin' ya?”
“He's not human,” Clint grumped.
“Well seen, Bird-Brain. Anything else you wanna share with the class?”
“No, you don't understand. He's not currently human. What about the big, brain-wrecking revelation? He promised he'd tell us everything later! And now he's not human anymore. You tricked us, you cheating bastard,” he yelled after the wolf, chasing – stomping – after it. Only to stop abruptly once close to the kitchen’s door. “Hu, guys... I think we might have to refill the fridge soon.”
Making their way to the kitchen, Sam and Bucky peered above the counter.
Right in front of them was the wolf, eating butter, package included, the fridge door hanging on its hinges, revealing its ravaged insides. Meat, fruits, vegetables, leftovers, nothing escaped the wolf's hunger and what he hadn't deemed good enough for his palate laid on the floor.
“I suppose he's good for a new bath,” Sam observed, seemingly fascinated by the disaster happening in front of them.
“Is that eggs on his belly?”
“He's skidding,” giggled Clint.
“Eggs tend to do that when burst on the floor,” remarked Sam with a wry smile while he made his way toward the kitchen's entrance. “Tony,” he called slowly.
The wolf lifted its head toward him, a low sound rumbling in its chest. For a second, Bucky thought of a kitten greeting its owner with a soft mewl but he had to push the picture out of his mind. A wolf the size of a small horse had nothing to do with a cute, harmless kitten. The wolf barked briefly, before putting its head back into the fridge and ripping the milk bottle to lick it on the floor.
“He's cleaning the mess, I'm out of it,” Clint said, lifting his hands toward Bucky.
“I've never seen Tony eating so much before. He's almost inhaling it,” commented Sam from his spot, watching closely.
“Bottomless pit,” agreed Bucky.
“You're one to talk, Barnes.”
Sticking his tongue out at Sam, Bucky's attention came back to the kitchen, toward the matter at hand.
Sam tried one more time to get the wolf's focus off the fridge and onto him: “Tony, please. You need to rest, you're injured and... eating paper isn't good for you. Nor is it to eat a whole butter. How did you even do that?” Sam added in disbelief.
The beast licked its muzzle, fur damp with milk and unknown matter spattered on its snout, opened its jaws and snapped them shut.
“Nice display, bud, but that wasn't what I was asking for.”
This seemed to make it smile because the next thing they knew, the wolf has its lips wide open in a grin that showed even its back teeth.
“Come on, we're going to clean,” Sam made a gesture at the wolf, “all that mess you made here. But we’re going to clean you first. You coming?”
Wagging its tail and without making so much as a fuss, the wolf followed Sam out of the kitchen and into the hallway. Toward the closest bathroom, most certainly.
Hanging on its paws, the remains of the bandages and pieces of the ripped hospital gown were now full of milk, eggs and whatever else had been in the fridge and were leaving behind them an awful trail.
Ok loves! I'm an idiot and I'm pretty bad at maths (Or I'm just a super nervous author who messed everything up in her head, let's go with that... or both, both are good too). So I thought, I don't know why, that it would be totally ok to publish 13 chapters in five days by publishing one chapter a day. Let's say : stupid, not realistic. I'm a dumbass.
So today and tomorrow you will get not one but four chapters per day! Until Tuesday where I'll publish the last one that will conclude the story. That will make a lot to read at once but I hope it'll be ok and that you will enjoy it as much as you did 'til then.
Have fun! <3
A few minutes after the wolf's departure, Bucky retreated to his room.
He needed a bit of time on his own. The mission was almost a day old and it was his first real break since Tony had been brought home.
His door had barely closed before he made a beeline for the bathroom. He needed another shower to begin with. Discarding his clothes in quick, efficient movements, Bucky let them fall to the floor and stepped into the shower.
As with almost everything on the Avenger’s floors, the shower was large and luxurious but discreet. The first couple of times showering had been weird but now that he was used to it, he could ignore it in favor of what he had to do.
He reached for the soap and harshly rubbed his skin, hoping to get rid of the scent of the Hydra base. Since they’d gotten back, he couldn't wash the smell off of his skin. It kept assaulting his nose, tugging at his mind, nagging at him, stirring up bad memories from depths he preferred to keep hidden.
Tony had it on him too, it stayed stuck on his skin, but in the medical room it had been easier to ignore with all the others scents surrounding him. Them.
The wolf smelt like wolf and a small familiar note Bucky linked to Tony but HYDRA's scent was dimmed, lessened. Bucky could ignore it if he had something else to occupy his mind but now that Tony was gone, taken care of by Sam, it was all he could smell, all he could feel.
The dark, sinister hallways, the piles of bodies and pieces of flesh scattered everywhere, the blood splashed on every wall like a wicked painting. It wasn’t the worst, not even close, but it was awful enough to lie on top of the bad memories. Those hallways were too familiars.
A flash of grim corridors, almost identical with those he had paced with the team, made its way to the forefront of his mind and he screwed his eyes shut. Leaning against the tiled wall, Bucky focused on evening his breathing, on the water running on his back, dampening his hair.
The scent remained. He could still smell it.
Bucky scrubbed angrily at his skin,not daring to look at it because he knew what he'd see. Red skin around white, puffy scars. If he looked at his left, he'd see angry red around puffy, angrier red stopping where cold, smooth metal would begin.
He could feel the telltale sting of tears building behind his lids and thought he could just let go, right now. Nobody would know, not even himself, he could pretend it was all running water from the showerhead. Bucky was about to do just that when he heard someone knocking at his door..
Steve. Of course, it was Steve. Bucky’s shoulders tensed instantly and he opened eyes devoid of tears.
In a matter of seconds, he built back his walls, slammed the door on the thick cloud of dark thoughts and yelled: “Coming!”
As usual, his voice remained steady and for a full second he hated himself for it. Bucky stepped out of the shower, dried himself and got dressed.
While Natasha and Bucky had gone almost immediately after Tony as soon as they’d showered, the others had scattered. A shift had been organized to be sure Tony was never alone and would be with someone when he'd woken up. Natasha had had the first one, right after their little discussion in the medical corridor, Clint had taken the second one and Bucky had the third and last one.
Steve, for his part, had been headed for a debrief and supposed to call everyone involved in Tony's research and rescue.
A look at the nearest clock made Bucky realize that his time in the shower had been quite longer than he had thought. He tried not to let it show but considering the look Steve sent him from the foot of the bed, it was not a success.
“How did it go?” Bucky asked, trying to keep Steve from asking too many questions, questions Bucky wouldn’t answer.
“Pepper will come as soon as possible,” Steve told him, letting him know that Bucky wasn’t fooling anyone. “She told me she'd make room in her schedule.”
There was something in Steve’s tone and Bucky understood what wasn't being said.
Bucky hadn't had the opportunity to have a good conversation yet with Pepper Potts. Every time he saw her, she was either on her way out or in to see Tony or someone on the team. The times he actually had exchanged a few words with her, it had been polite small talk, nothing that really mattered. It wasn't that she hadn't wanted to or seemed to dislike Bucky, she had always been kind and understanding towards him. The opportunity just hadn't presented itself. What Bucky had gathered about Pepper, though, made him feel sorry for the poor soul that had had to deal with her to free some of her time.
Interpreting Bucky's face correctly, Steve smiled a little bit before going on:
“Colonel Rhodes, Vision, Bruce and Wanda are on their way back, they will land in a few hours, probably will be here for a late breakfast.”
Because it was five, almost six in the morning. Bucky let out a weary sigh and felt Steve move beside him, coming closer until they were plastered together from hip to shoulder. He couldn't see it but could picture pretty easily how Steve’s hand was hovering awkwardly above Bucky's shoulder, wanting to touch but not daring to. It felt good.
Feeling every one of his ninety plus years of living, Bucky let himself lean onto Steve. The awkward hand finally landed on his shoulder and he could feel, on his back, the trail of warmth from where Steve's arm was hugging him.
“You should catch some rest, you look like crap,” Steve said, sounding as tired as Bucky felt but managing to slip some amusement in his voice.
“Speak for yourself, punk,” Bucky answered wearily. “You seen Tony?”
Steve hummed against his temple, pressing a kiss there, and Bucky felt himself relax a bit more. The shower had loosened his muscles but it was his mind that needed to calm down now, to be silent for a few hours.
Usually, he would go to Tony's Workshop. The whole place was a wonder, occupying him with everything from sound to sight, and when it wasn't the projects or the future being built in front of him, it was Tony himself. The way his hands moved, graceful and powerful, the lean frame of the genius, his flexing arms when he was holding something up... his eyes and his smiles. His ass was a bit of a plus too, he thought with a smile.
Bucky knew he wouldn't find Tony in his lab at the moment, though.
Steve's warm body and familiar, friendly scent was doing the trick though, helping him in loosening his grip. Beside him, Steve moved a little, accommodating himself better with Bucky's weight leaning on him.
“Sam put him in bed, on top of the blankets.” Steve answered finally, his voice calm and soothing. “He's staying with him to be sure he won't leave once more. A nurse came by already but it was useless, she's no vet.”
“I suppose we'll have to wait until tomorrow to have an explanation.”
“Maybe,” Steve shrugged awkwardly with one shoulder, “It depends on how he's going to be.”
“This... it wasn't willing,” Bucky said with a flash of a shoulder bending until it broke, of the sounds Tony was making as if he was fighting a lost battle. “I mean... I don't think he changed voluntary.” Not until the very end, he didn’t say. The last part of the shifting had seemed… so much easier, less painful. More natural.
Beside him, Bucky could sense Steve's body going tense.
“We'll see. Until then, Clint is actually pissed at you and Sam, you left him with the mess in the kitchen.”
Bucky barked a surprised laugh. He had entirely and completely forgotten. Remembering how Clint had cleaned his hands of it first, made him laugh a bit more before he sobered up.
“I thought there were cleaning bots for that?”
“There is... but it was a bit too much for them.”
Steve drew out a deep breath before carding his fingers through Bucky's hair, relaxing him a little more: “You should get some rest.”
“Mhm,” Bucky hummed, content to remain there and enjoy Steve’s warm presence and the feeling of his body against his. It was such a comfort, such a relaxing way to be and just breath it in for a moment.
They stayed like that for some time, talking about a few things, trailing off more often than not in their state of exhaustion. Nothing important, but the meaningless subjects helped Bucky settle his racing mind.
When Steve left the room, Bucky crawled under the blankets and curled up there, pressing his face into his pillow and hugging the other one close to his chest.
“Yes, Mr. Barnes?”
The voice was low, the lights already dimmed a bit. He knew it would go on like this until the room was drowned in darkness. Bucky knew the layout of the room like the back of his hand, if anyone was stupid enough to come to him in here, they were in for a surprise.
“Wake me up before Rhodey arrives.”
He wanted to be there when the Colonel discovered the wolf, the face he’d make. But, more than that, to see him having his friend back.
Of all of them, Avengers and Pepper included, Rhodey had been the most affected. A reminder of how long he had known Tony and how much they meant to each other. Something in the back of Bucky’s mind whispered about Afghanistan and what he knew about it, that it was another reason for Rhodes’ state of mind. It was more likely than not.
“Very well. Good night, Mr. Barnes.”
“Good night, FRIDAY.”
The darkness fell a bit more on him as he settled against his pillow, hoping for his sleep to be without nightmares.
And knowing it was an empty wish.
Bucky had two and a half hours of sleep before the nightmares came by and pushed him out of bed.
While another shower had a certain appeal, he avoided it, a common occurrence after nightmares relating to cryofreeze. Among other things. No matter how high FRIDAY kept the heat, whenever he was done showering, it wasn’t enough for him… and right now, keeping the cold away was one of his priorities.
Once dressed and ready to face the day – or as much as he could – Bucky made his way toward the common floor.
Not so surprisingly, almost everyone was up and gathered in the kitchen, waiting for the other members of the team to arrive.
The wolf was there too and was treated to a plate of something Bucky didn’t have any chance of setting eyes on, since it had inhaled it as soon as the dish was set in front of it. And was actually busy licking the dish clean.
Bucky let himself fall onto the nearest stool and slump forward, resting his head on his arms. He wished the few hours he had slept had been enough to feel less tired but he felt worse than he had before going to bed. He was used to sleep without any resting effect – or making everything worse – but Bucky wished he wasn’t.
A cup of coffee made an appearance in front of him and Bucky reached for it with a grateful smile for Steve. The strong smell helped him wake up a bit more, chasing away the fog that was covering his thought processes and making him realize that, yeah, Tony was still stuck in his wolf form.
Bucky bent until he could see the beast now curled up tightly at Natasha’s feet, right next to him:
“Will you ever be able to come back and tell us something useful?”
The wolf raised its head and glancing and pointing its ears at him before they dropped against its skull, looking a bit like Bucky had kicked it instead of asking a question.
“He shifted for a short moment earlier,” informed Sam around his own coffee cup, breathing it in with the relieved face of a man who had needed it for too long.
Instantly, everyone was looking at Sam. Something new, then, Bucky guessed.
“And when were you planning on telling us, exactly?” It was Natasha, brows knitted in a frown.
“Any revelation?” The childish hope in Clint’s voice matched the pout he sent at Natasha when she kicked him under the table.
“Forgot,” mumbled Sam before taking a sip of his coffee and setting it down. “He changed around six fifteen, it lasted for a good thirty minutes but he had to change back after that.”
“So… It’s not something he’s doing voluntarily.”
“Nope. More like what HYDRA injected into him forces him to remain in that form but he was adamant that his shifting abilities aren’t something HYDRA did to him.”
“He could do this before and didn’t tell us?”
Even if Clint was looking upset and excited at the same time, the down turn of his lips spoke of something else. Steve seemed to be curious but his deep frown was telling another story. Bucky knew that light in his eyes and it meant a lot of questions in the near future. Sam had his scrunched up face that was a common thing when he had to face a complicated problem. Where Steve was usually at the end of that expression, Tony was sometimes at the beginning of it but the genius tended to stay out of Sam’s mojo psychic thing as much as possible. The most interesting, once more, was Natasha though.
She paled but managed to keep her composure as she stared at the wolf at her feet. It was looking at her but this time Bucky was unable to read it’s body language. Its ears were pointed toward Natasha and it looked mostly curious, attentive, but there was something wrong with it.
Before he could make anything more out of it, FRIDAY chimed in:
“Colonel Rhodes, Mr Banner, Vision and Miss Maximoff are on their way up to the common floor.”
All eyes fell almost immediately to the wolf, which looked like it wished the floor could swallow it right at that moment.
Before any of them could say or do anything, though, the discrete ding of the elevator rang. Steve regained his footing first and went to the entry of the kitchen to welcome the team. Bucky went after him. The coffee hadn’t done any miracles for a change. He couldn’t wait to see Rhodey’s face when he’d be in front of his very huge, very furry friend.
Clint probably had the same idea since he was right behind him, almost elbowing him to be in the first place. For a second, Bucky thought of a theater and some stupid guys fighting to have the better seats and felt bad for it. But the second ended quickly, luckily.
In the elevator, the four members from the second team had gathered seemingly in a rush. They were still grim-faced, dirty and looked tired as fuck but Colonel Rhodes’ eyes were sharp, their intense gleam could have been disturbing but he wasn’t looking at any of them. He was searching for something.
The Colonel made a few steps inside, followed quickly by Bruce who was trying very hard to keep his eyes open. The exhaustion was clear around his eyes, as much as it was in Wanda’s slumped shoulders or the way her fingers were tensed. They were always a bit sore when she had to use her powers too much. Bones and muscles protesting against the tenseness put upon them every time Wanda molded her will through them.
Something bumped against his shoulder and Bucky didn’t need to glance at it to know the wolf was there. Its massive body was pressed against his side, as if seeking some comfort and courage. More than willing to do so, Bucky carded his fingers through the thick, warm fur of its shoulder, the muscles tense, hard as steel underneath.
Head low and ears held in an uncharacteristically shy position, the wolf remained slightly behind, trying to stay hidden and doing a bad job at it. Not seeing it would have proved to be difficult considering it was taller than Natasha.
Bruce drew in a sharp intake of breath and retreated slightly behind Rhodey, screwing his eyes shut and trying very hard to remain calm before opening them again. Wanda was gaping, trying to find an explanation by looking at every one of them without much success. It wasn’t like any of them had even the beginning of an answer. The one who could help with that was currently a huge ass wolf who could bite them all to death.
“Shit, Tones is that you?”
“This is indeed a very interesting development,” mused Vision.
Passing them, the wolf made a few steps toward the Colonel, his head still low and overall looking miserable.
Bucky could now make out the lowered tail that wagged slightly, ears plastered against its skull. In front of them, Rhodey was gaping at his friend, his eyes jumping from the thick paws ended by claws, shoulders high enough to knock into Bucky’s, maw hiding terrible fangs and those eyes that were undeniably Tony.
After a few second of heavy silence, when Rhodes spread his arms wide enough to welcome the monster, Bucky wasn’t surprised. If he had to believe the few gasps from beside him, he was one of the few knowing how some friendships were deep and strong enough to go through everything. Probable lycanthropia included.
“C’m’here you dumbass,” Rhodey said and the fond undertone made Bucky smile.
It was like unleashing the beast, quite literally. In no time the monster was on Rhodes, its tail wagging so hard it’s hindquarters were shaking with it.
Without the slightest hesitation, the airman wrapped his arms around the wolf and hugged it, laughing out loud from where he was smashed against a furry collar. It then started licking Rhodey’s face and throat like a mad dog welcoming his long gone owner.
It was funny and heartwarming. Beside him, Steve bumped shoulders and Bucky smiled a bit more, letting go of his restraints and allowing a bit of his own feelings to appear. The nightmares were still close, the heavy weight still on his shoulders, but seeing the wolf acting like an overjoyed puppy and Rhodey’s worry and fear flying away as he laughed like he hadn’t in weeks, it was helping a bit. Maybe a lot.
“Look at you! You’ve never been so tall in your life.”
Even Bruce started to smile when the wolf let out a high pitched noise and started to drool all over Rhodey, making him yell in disgust and try to shove the wolf away but the thing was a gigantic, determined mass of waggling wolf and it was doomed to fail.
“Do you think they’re a thing?” whispered Clint, leaning over the counter, practically mouthing the words, really. Probably hoping the wolf and its friend in the next room wouldn’t hear him. “Natasha thinks they’re not but… I mean, they’re always together and if the wolf is still Tony then it means something, doesn’t it?”
The question wasn’t too stupid, considering, Bucky thought with a quick glance toward the living room.
Since Rhodey’s arrival at the tower, the wolf hadn’t left his side. Waiting outside – or even inside – the bathroom while the airman was showering, sleeping together and, like right this moment, sprawled together on the couch. Bucky couldn’t even begin to understand how Rhodey was capable of holding the wolf’s weight but he looked at ease and comfortable and that was the point. Probably.
Still, Clint’s question wasn’t as stupid as Natasha seemed to think, considering the massive eye roll she gave. For a full second, Bucky felt concern about her spraining a muscle there.
“They’re friends, get over it,” she said drily.
“But Tasha! I like all of you, don’t ask me why, but it doesn’t mean I’d wait outside the door while you’re pooping. Seriously, I couldn’t bear being followed everywhere like Rhodey does. I mean… even in a very deep, very tight relationship it’d drive me mad so there’s that. It’s weird, isn’t it?”
Natasha huffed, wrapped her hands around her mug of coffee and hopped off her stool, leaving the room with a quiet: “Have fun” to them.
With her gone, it left Bucky and Steve to deal with Clint’s question. “So?” the archer pushed, looking at them expectantly.
“I… honestly don’t know,” tried Steve.
Bucky scoffed: “Yeah, sure, because you weren’t one hell of a stalker yourself?”
“Says the guy who followed me for several days,” retorted Steve, glaring at him.
“Yeah, was that or finding your sorry-ass dumped in the trash by the nearest bully.”
Steve sputtered and shoved him: “Yeah because you weren’t enjoying every fight I got into!”
“I totally was, punk. That’s why I stuck to your scrawny ass. I knew you’d be fun.”
Before everything went to shit, before the war, before their life took a one hundred and eighty degree turn, Steve would have been uncertain of Bucky’s joke, unable to know if it was one or a disguised truth.
A while ago, Steve’s laugh would have been false and grating. Now though it wasn’t. His smile was small but grateful. The blond bumped their shoulders together and dove back into his breakfast, ignoring Clint’s stare.
“That was… disgusting…”
Without looking up, Steve scooped up his bowl, got off his stool and walked toward the door, a spoon in his mouth as an excuse to keep it shut. He patted Bucky’s shoulder on his way out, his smirk barely hidden by the spoon.
“Traitor,” hissed Bucky.
Without even a backward glance, the fucking bastard left him behind.
Bucky could almost feel Clint’s eyes riveted on him. Time to think of a better tactic. Not that he didn’t like talking with the archer, they were getting on pretty well most of the time but once Clint was onto something, there was nothing to keep him off of it. And since he still hadn’t gotten his explanation for the whole morphing-Tony-thing, he would be unbearable.
There was only one way Bucky could get away with it. Wiping his face of any emotion, adopting a blank expression and focusing on being unreadable, Bucky turned his eyes on Clint and tilted his head sideway.
“You wanted to talk relationships with me?”
His voice fell flat, letting the hollowness of the Winter Soldier slip into his tone as he stared directly at his friend.
In a matter of seconds, Clint’s face went from expectant to exasperated: “Oh come on, you can’t pull that shit every time you don’t want to deal with something, it’s just ridiculous.”
Not reacting, Bucky kept staring at him waiting for the trick to work. And there it was. Throwing his hands in the air, Clint got up and stomped his way out of the kitchen, muttering angrily under his breath.
Bucky waited for a few seconds, listening carefully to be sure Clint wasn’t about to come back. Once he was certain to be alone, Bucky smirked and got up too, bringing his mug of coffee with him.
Like every day since his arrival, Rhodey was sprawled on the couch, watching a movie with the big wolf on top of him, the large head of the monster lying on his chest and shoulder. A small movement would be enough for the beast to reach the airman’s throat and be done with it but there was no trace of any kind of fear in Rhodey. To be honest, Rhodey was more relaxed than usual, face devoid of any tenseness and his whole body devoid of the stiffness that comes with being on active duty for a long time.
The man’s hand was petting up and down the wolf’s back and side, fingers deep into the fur and stroking lazily. If the tranquility of the wolf was anything to go by, they were both enjoying it a lot.
“If you drool on that shirt, I’ll make you wash it,” Rhodey threatened idly, seeing only then that Bucky was watching them. Rhodes raised his hand from behind the couch, greeting him with the beer he was holding.
The wolf grunted without moving, its eyes closed and looking like an oversized plush thrown upon the airman’s body.
If Rhodey and the wolf weren’t on the couch or in the workshop, they were in the gym where Rhodey would train a bit before being disturbed by a giant bored wolf. Then it would be chaos as the two dorks would wrestle on the ground, the room echoing with laughter and loud growls.
The last time, Steve had been involved in one of those fake-fights. It had been the first time Bucky had seen him covered in drool and smiling like a goof since before the war, when Steve would play with one of their neighbor's dog. It was a good look on him and a nice one to rediscover. Still, it was a golden opportunity to make fun of Steve and Bucky hadn’t missed it. Right until the wolf decided that Bucky was too clean for its liking and started a new fight, involving Bucky this time.
It had been a good day. One that had helped Bucky be a bit less wary about the beast. He probably was one of the first that had made the link between Tony and the wolf but he still couldn’t get over it.
Bucky had a hard time linking the monster to one of his closest friends. The one he could talk to about everything, with which he could stay up all night talking or just watching him work, the one he had told about some deep things he hadn’t felt safe enough to share with Steve or anyone else.
Tony had helped him the first months, when Bucky couldn’t look Steve in the eye and bear all the hopes lying in them. It had been hard for all of them but Bucky, somehow, had found someone who could understand him. It was nothing similar but the genius had come back from a life-changing experience too and had to deal with people who couldn’t see it had indeed changed him. Tony had understood and tried to help him along the way to recovery.
Sometimes, Bucky could still see those hopes in Steve’s eyes, the way he would talk about something, like one of the memories that still was out of Bucky’s reach, but it was easier. Bucky didn’t need to hide somewhere anymore, searching for those memories and coming back with something fake, made up by his own mind and what he thought he had understood from Steve.
The brain was an amazing thing, and tricky sometimes, Bucky had learned to let it heal on its own and not push. It was useless and it was better than the hurt and the disappointment Steve couldn’t hide fast enough when Bucky came back with the wrong story, with the wrong details.
Bucky couldn’t seek that friend anymore, couldn’t hunt him down until he found him and if not talk to him at least lie around with him. The wolf wasn’t Tony.
With a curt nod, Bucky left the room, a deep feeling of loneliness and yearning for someone that wasn’t there anymore.
At some point, the obvious question had to be asked.
Tony hadn’t turned back to his human form in the last few days and was seemingly not disturbed by it. If anyone started asking question or mentioned the subject, the wolf would just leave the room peacefully but with ears slightly downturned.
Rhodey, needed elsewhere for the military, had left two days ago. Bucky hadn’t listened to what the mission was about. He didn’t need the knowledge, wasn’t interested to begin with. Not that he didn’t like Rhodey, far from it, but what he was doing was none of Bucky’s business and if he needed to know for some reason, all Bucky had to do was to ask FRIDAY.
For now, all Bucky was interested in was if he was still allowed inside the workshop.
Since Rhodey’s departure, Natasha had stepped up again. If she wasn’t lying on the couch with a monster plush covering her, she was touching the wolf at any given opportunity.
It wasn’t something obvious but Winter was used to tracking details. No. Wrong. Not Winter. Bucky. Bucky was used to tracking details. And the way Natasha kept using every opportunity to casually touch the wolf wasn’t something he’d take lightly.
There definitely was something behind it and there was something he’d forgotten that was itching at the back of Bucky’s mind. It felt like when Steve talked of some event Bucky should remember and yet couldn’t. The familiarity, the sense that he indeed knew something but couldn’t remember it, couldn’t put his finger on it. And Bucky needed… Bucky desperately needed Tony.
Bucky’s mind wasn’t the only thing itching, his whole being needed a huge scratch and the only medicine known for that kind of itch was Tony. Bucky, however, knew he wouldn’t have him, he knew Tony wasn’t there – for now, not forever. But since everyone seemed pretty at ease with the wolf, maybe Bucky could try? It had been easy, in the elevator and before that, back in the base, to interact with it. It shouldn’t be that hard now.
The thing was… Bucky didn’t want it to be easy, he didn’t want to have a super touchy-feely relationship with the beast. Nor did he want to befriend the monster.
He wanted Tony back.
He wanted the casual touches, the shoulder that would nudge him slightly when Tony was on his way to the coffee machine. Bucky wouldn’t even be in the path but it was one of those small, little things he had come to love and expect. The discreet look when someone was saying something funny and it was one of their inside jokes, the banter and the nicknames.
He missed Tony’s bad moods. When he came back from nightmares and was harsh and raw from memories and pains. When the bastard was wounded and acted like nothing happened, when he was too distracted to pay attention but still capable of reaching and catching Bucky before he left. When Bucky could almost see the future being built in that amazing mind of his. When the genius made the man so different, it was a puzzle to solve and just trying was enough to make Tony smile that sweet little smile he offered so rarely.
Bucky’s chest was aching with how much he wanted his friend back. He didn’t want the wolf… but it was the closest to his friend Bucky would have until Tony came back.
So… the workshop it was. The monster had gone down there an hour ago, sixty three minutes exactly, the time Bucky needed to convince himself to go and seek it out.
Padding softly along the hallway, Bucky tried to remain silent. The workshop was dark like it was when Tony was housing a massive migraine but couldn’t stop himself from working, just lessened the lights to keep his sensitives eyes safe.
It was made Bucky a bit more cautious, more self-aware and conscious of the danger the wolf really represented. Memories of deep claw marks on cement walls was etched deep in his mind, as were the bodies scattered around in pieces like a wicked puzzle.
As if everything wasn’t already different from the usual, FRIDAY didn’t announce him when he passed the doors. But maybe it was her way of showing him something. He crept slowly inside, keeping his footsteps light and silent, sure there was something for him to see.
Holding back a huff, Bucky leaned against the nearest workbench and let his eyes roam over Tony’s body. Tony’s very human body. It loosened something in Bucky’s chest and he let himself relax a little bit, some tension he wasn’t conscious he was housing finally bleeding out.
Even in the darkness, he could see the tiredness but more than that was the fabulous determination written in every feature of Tony’s face. His shoulders and the way he moved around, working on some project, giving away the feeling that nothing in the world could ever stop him. It was such a relief to see it back, it unfurled a deep warmth that spread through Bucky’s chest. Something about Tony was off but Bucky’s instinct wasn’t alarmed so he kept it to himself, later he’d have plenty of time to think back about it. For now, he’d let himself appreciate his friend finally coming back to him.
With a small smile playing on his lips, Bucky rapped his knuckles against the workbench, letting his presence be known by his host. Sometimes it wasn’t enough, especially when Tony was focusing entirely on his work and so deep into his own thoughts that the world outside his mind simply ceased to exist. This time wasn’t one of those, though.
Tony startled, whirling around, wild, golden eyes focusing entirely on Bucky. It was like staring back to the wolf eyes, the light coming from the holographic screens giving him an eerie look. The effect of those very animal eyes coupled with the modern project around Tony was fascinating.
The gold disappeared as fast as it came and soon enough Bucky could stare at his friend’s eyes without anything out of the ordinary. Well, mostly.
“Don’t startle me like that Buckaroo, I’m not sure I’d be able to restrain myself from jumping you.” Tony’s smile was playful as he leaned against the workbench, mirroring Bucky’s own stance.
“I already told ya, dollface, it’d be wonderful,” Bucky drawled, unable to stop himself from smiling and joining Tony in his game.
“Wouldn’t that be too much teeth involved for you?” He purred back without missing a beat.
Bucky wet his lips, suddenly conscious of Tony tracking his tongue like a hunter its prey.
“The more, the better,” he said finally with a knowing smirk.
For an instant Tony looked like he was about to leap and devour him, the hunger raw and clear. In the next he huffed and all the tension bled out of him as he turned his back to Bucky and went back to his project.
“Didn’t know you were into zoophilia.”
“I’m not,” Bucky stomped heavily on the disappointment rising in his chest and distracted himself by joining Tony. “Whattcha workin’ on?”
He was close enough to feel Tony’s shoulder slumping in relief and Bucky fought down a smile.
There was a reason Tony came here in the first place and if he didn’t want to talk about the whole issue, Bucky was not going to be the one to push and make him. He knew enough of having to but not wanting to.
The time where everyone tracked Bucky’s flinches and various reactions, dissecting his every word to psychoanalyze him, wasn’t so far behind. And he could still see some of it in Sam’s eyes. The bastard was nice and smart and his nickname hadn’t come only from his ability to fly with some ameliorated jet packs.
Next to him, Tony inched closer, his eyes fixed on what his hands were doing.
“Widow Bites. And some upgrades for Natasha’s gear. She mentioned a lack of hiding spots and I’m working on adding some without compromising the others features.”
“Catching up on lost time?”
“Something like that,” Tony agreed. ”I needed to do something. I’ve already closed some SI stuff but it’s not enough. I’ll probably have to work all day and all night to be done with a quarter of what I need to do.”
“How about you get some well deserved rest in between and don’t make everyone suspicious about your actual humanity?”
Tony’s shoulders rose slightly and Bucky cursed himself for his mistake. “It’s temporary,” the genius tried. “I’m not sure of how much time I have before I need to-”
“No it’s not,” Bucky cut curtly, watching attentively as the shoulders rose higher “but it’s fine,” he added softly and smiled when Tony dared to look at him.
There was hope and fear dancing in bright, human eyes. Despite the slight darkness, only broken by the holoscreens, Bucky could make out some discreet, small, flickers of gold in the genius’ irises. “Is it?” Tony asked tentatively.
“Yeah, punk. It is. If you don’t want to deal with it for now, it’s ok. I understand.”
Tony let out a sigh that seemed to come from deep within him. The shoulders relaxed slowly and a small, grateful smile quirked Tony’s lips before he focused back on his workbench.
Without seeming to do it consciously, Tony inched closer to Bucky, keeping his eyes on his work, manipulating screens and tools with ease. The movement made Bicky remember something else.
Two days ago, the wolf was sitting near him in the kitchen. Closer to Natasha than Bucky but the gesture had been exactly the same.
The beast wasn’t looking at Bucky but had leaned slightly toward him. Bucky had seen it because he was watching but hadn’t thought much of it before going back to his mug of coffee. Later that same day, on movie night, Bucky had been sprawled on the love-seat with Natasha’s head in his lap.
She was curled tightly and, while he thought it wasn’t possible, managed to look comfortable. Her hand was hanging, openly offering some tactile affection to the wolf. Without looking at him, it had angled it’s head slightly toward Bucky and its shoulder came closer to his knee.
After a bit, without getting any reaction from him, it had lowered to the floor and stayed there during the whole movie, crawling backward until Natasha’s hand was deep in its fur. There had been a lot of moments where the wolf had leaned slightly toward Bucky before giving up.
Realization hit Bucky like a train.
He felt his eyes widen when he understood that, under the layer of fur, fangs and claws, Tony had always reached out to Bucky, only for Bucky to let him down.
The thought crushed his heart. The urge to hug the genius wracked him. He hesitated near Tony’s shoulder, unsure if he had the right to touch him after all those times Tony had tried to reach for him to get nothing in return. With a slight intake of breath, Bucky laid his hand on the space where shoulder met neck.
In awe, Bucky watched the simple contact awaken a shiver that ran down Tony’s neck and under the collar, making Bucky wonder how deep it went. He stroked lightly the pad of his thumb against the naked skin and felt the muscles loosen under his palm.
With a sigh, Tony leaned lightly sideway, toward Bucky, and Bucky got the hint this time.
He changed the angle of his body, just enough to allow Tony to rest against him. With his hand against the nape of his neck, Bucky guided Tony softly but the genius was more pliant than ever and went without the slightest hint of resistance. In no time, the soldier had his arms full of Tony, his nose deep into curly hair that smelt… pretty badly to be honest.
“Didn’t take a shower yet?”
The shoulder under his hand shook with a silent laughter. “Didn’t think I’d have company.”
“Well, you have some now and let me tell ya, you reek.”
Two strong arms wrapped themselves around Bucky’s middle and he felt Tony melt entirely against him.
It wasn’t like back in the elevator where a tight tension had held the body against his, where there was urgency and fear wrapped in desperation. It was trust and it felt more private than having Natasha’s nose buried in his stomach, his hand carding through her silky hair or holding her hand during a bad moment.
Moving more from instinct than consciousness, Bucky spread his hand against the nape of Tony’s neck and wrapped his other arm around Tony’s frame, trying to cover as much space as he could. Trying to seem as if he was everywhere and holding Tony with everything he had.
A long puff of hot breath brushed against his throat and he knew he had been right.
“What is it with you, Russians? You’re all telling me I stink. Rude,” came the muffled answer.
Bucky huffed and pinched Tony’s hip, making him squeak. “I’m not Russian, Tony.”
“You had to say it. First you tell me I reek and then you break my Russian Assassins’ twin thing,” Tony complained quietly, his words stifled where he had his face smashed in Bucky’s shoulder. After a beat, he said louder: “Fuck off, traitor.”
Even if Bucky had tried to move and step away, the arms around him were clamped tightly without being painful. He knew if he tried, he wouldn’t break the hold without using his superior strength. “Tony.”
“What now?” The genius answered petulantly without moving an inch.
“If you want me to go, you’ll have to let go,” Bucky said patiently, fighting down a grin and losing the battle spectacularly.
“That’s a problem you’re having here.”
Bucky let his head fall back, watching the unconcerned ceiling while holding back a laugh. Tony hadn’t left his place against Bucky’s chest, every word he said was muffled in the most… ok, let’s admit it, adorable way. How was he going to put up with Tony if he just wanted to stay there for ever and hold on for dear life? Damn but Bucky had missed the punk too much to be able to put up any kind of resistance.
“Isn’t it you who wanted me out?”
“I’m the one having a hug here, what do you think I want?”
“… I’m pretty sure two people are needed for a hug to be one.”
“I’m a selfish bastard, I’m not allowing you to enjoy it. I’m not hugging you, you’re hugging me.”
“Yeah, keep telling yourself that, punk.”
Tony huffed but didn’t answer. The more time passed by, the more Tony’s body went limp and heavier against his.
“Are you falling asleep?” Bucky asked, baffled.
“Mmmbe,” mumbled the genius.
With a long suffering sigh, Bucky changed his grip on Tony and lifted him before heading toward the ragged couch in the corner where Bucky stayed when he was in the workshop and Tony was working.
Two or three of Bucky’s books were lying around, among other things. One of them was the most comfortable blanket in the whole tower. It was all fluffy and warm and Bucky loved wrapping himself in it when he could feel the cold trying to sneak back into his bones.
Lowering himself slowly onto the couch, he was about to ask Tony if he wanted to sleep alone but the genius was fast asleep, his head lolling against Bucky’s shoulder. Worrying his lips, Bucky weighed the pros and cons but the thought of the wolf sprawled on Rhodey or near Natasha was haunting him.
Finally, he settled down and covered them both with the blanket, wrapping it around them to keep the warmth in. Rearranging the cushions to prop his head up just a bit, Bucky reached out to catch one of his books and smiled lightly to himself.
Bucky hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep until the body on top of him started to stir, waking him from his light doze. He blinked his eyes open and felt a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
It wasn’t the first time he got to wake up near Tony, it was a common occurrence since they began sharing a couch on movie nights or when they simply hung out together. At some point, Tony would fall asleep against Bucky’s shoulder, a tablet held loosely in one hand. More rarely, Bucky would be the first one to succumb, but in the same way he took care of Tony while he was asleep, the genius would always be there when Bucky woke up.
So, it wasn’t rare for him to see Tony wake up, but it was always something he deeply enjoyed.
The way Tony’s nose scrunched up when he felt the dry – or not so dry – drool on the corner of his mouth. Then the slightly unfocused eyes would be uncovered and Tony would rub them like a child before yawning and smile sleepily at Bucky.
Tony’s hair was sticking up in every direction and that sole sight made something warm in Bucky’s chest. The feeling grew until it felt too great for him and he wanted to do something… he didn’t know what. He knew, somehow, that it was a simple gesture, something genuine that would help him express his emotions but he couldn’t figure it out. And beside the affection grew the frustration, making him hold back a slight growl.
“’m’ning,” mumbled the bed head on top of him.
They were far from morning but the soldier kept it to himself. It wasn’t useful, wasn’t even necessary and he had something else on his mind. Something far more interesting than bickering about whether or not Tony could or couldn’t say ‘good morning’ when he woke up, even if it wasn’t morning.
A nose stuck itself against Bucky’s throat and he felt hot puffs of breath brush against his skin.
Bucky wanted nothing more than to lower his head and nibble at Tony’s nose, something gentle and soothing, affectionate. It was weird and inappropriate, though, also quite surprising. He opted for a quick kiss to Tony’s head and settled comfortably before dropping the question he knew would rouse some reaction.
“So… wanna talk about the touch-starved thing?”
And there it was. The body lying on top of Bucky’s went tense all of a sudden, the hot puff of breath against his throat gets slightly more humid and suddenly he wondered if Tony could control himself in his human form. Would Tony bite him? Could he keep himself from reacting wildly, with wolf instincts, when he wasn’t in his other shape?
But then, Tony sighed and relaxed entirely.
“I won’t tell you about why I can change form, I’ll have to tell the others and one time is more than enough.”
Bucky felt Tony shift slightly until two arms wrapped around him and Tony’s legs started to tangle with his. There wasn’t much of his body that wasn’t in contact with Tony’s, and that felt… amazing. It soothed Bucky so much, some tension he hadn’t realized he was housing loosened and he relaxed against the cushions behind his head.
“Fine by me,” he answered, slightly surprised by his rough voice. His throat felt dry and, come to think of it, he hadn’t drunk much lately.
“I held him back for a long time, years of keeping him down and almost non-existent. I need to… to catch up for lost time. Wolves are social creatures and they need contact, touch and interaction. Mine hadn’t had any in a very long time.”
“Why can’t you keep it at bay anymore?”
For less than a second, Tony went tense against him. “I had implants.”
What kind of implants? The ones that came mind were those sending electric shocks into the brain or muscles or whatever and that made him uncomfortable. Some weak voice reminded him that it wasn’t HYDRA who made Tony like that, Tony hadn’t been tortured into it… but then who, why and how?
“So… what’s your thing? Magic?”
In a second, Tony was upright, sitting on Bucky’s lap and glaring down at him: “Excuse-me? You weren’t listening when I told you magic was crap and horseshit?”
Bucky raised his hand in a calming gesture, fighting down a grin: “Ok, not magic. What then?”
“Ever heard about werewolves?”
“Werewolves aren’t magic?”
Bucky kept a very straight face but it took him a lot of effort to remain that way when Tony’s face fell.
“You’re no longer my favorite,” he pouted, crossing his arms and sulking.
“Oh yeah? Then I shouldn’t regret...”
“Regret wha-” started Tony a full second before Bucky’s hands went to his sides,tickling him mercilessly. Tony’s question ended in a yelp which quickly morphed into frantic yelling : “BUCKY NO!”
Everything became a mess in a matter of seconds.
Tangled in the blankets with pillows flying everywhere, they wrestled and fell from the couch, laughing all the while. Bucky with delight and an edge of manic while Tony was inarticulately pleading, his body twisted and wriggled, trying escape Bucky’s traitorous hands. To no avail.
So of-fucking-course the little shit had to cheat. One second he was tickling without any remorse the soft sides of a genius howling in laughter, the next his fingers were deep in fur and getting stuck in the remains of torn clothes.
“No, not fair!” He protested angrily, feeling betrayed and too close to be outmatched to feel comfortable.
The retaliation was going to be painful.
The monster growled and pounced on him, flipping Bucky on his back. Before Bucky could try to flee, hard, long fangs closed on the tender flesh of his belly. And how fucking possible was it that that was fucking tickling for fuck’s sake!?
Trying to push away the cheater while stifling laughter as best as he could, Bucky forget it all when the bastard pinched his skin and a cold, humid nose made its way under the hem of his shirt making him flail even more.
Bucky had his face full of fur and couldn’t possibly ignore the way the wolf’s tail was waggling madly, soft growling and rumbling making the whole struggling looking like a fight when it was really just Bucky trying to extricate himself from a furry trap.
Somehow, after long seconds of insufferable tickling torture, Bucky managed to switch on his belly and started crawling but Tony had another idea in mind. The fabric of Bucky’s sweater pants was thinner than the leather of his gear so, when Tony bit his butt once again, Bucky felt it all the more.
“TONY!” he cried out. The question ‘could a wolf laugh’ found its fucking answer because that one did just that. “Fuck you!”
Bucky tried to twist once more with the intent on making the bastard pay for that but had to fight down large paws pinning him down while Tony was nibbling at his ass.
The wolf was rumbling happily, sounding like a child giggling softly while playing at some stupid game.
Pushing on his arms, Bucky managed to slip away an inch and twisted his upper body, using the lower part to push the monster with a sock covered foot. A manoeuvre promptly used against him. A maw closed around his foot and started to pull, making Bucky slip on the floor, the fangs pressing against the sole and making him squirm and yelp when he wasn’t giggling helplessly. How a fucking mouthful of teeth could tickle that much, Bucky would never know.
Hell bent on taking back control of the fight, Bucky used the instant Tony stopped pulling him around like a ragdoll to jump on him.
The wrestling was far less technique than anything they could have done but way more entertaining. Bucky was laughing and the wolf was growling and barking at times, his tail wagging wildly, the excitement and joy obvious in the way the golden eyes were sparkling in delight.
They could have gone like that for a while, the wolf having apparently way more stamina than Tony’s human form, but at some point the punk licked his face, leaving slobber on his way and Bucky yelped, disgusted, before making a decision. If the little shit could use drool, fangs and fur for his defense, he wasn’t going to hold back.
Wrestling to get a hold on the thick head of the wolf, Bucky bit down on an ear with enough force to be felt but not enough to hurt. It was sufficient though. The beast yelped in surprise. The fight got messier, if that was even possible.
They instantly froze and raised their heads toward the entrance where the slightly amused voice had come from. Natasha was standing in the doorway and barely smiling but smiling nonetheless.
“Dinner is ready, we’re waiting for you.”
Bucky and Tony traded a look before standing, struggling a little bit since Tony was half on Bucky and Bucky had an arm hooked under a paw to keep it from scratching at him.
“No food for either of you before a shower,” she added sternly with a frown, “I can smell you from here.”
The wolf beside Bucky whined loudly, head low and ears against his head. He would have looked miserable if it wasn’t for the tail batting against Bucky’s calf. Natasha stared at it pointedly before looking Tony in the eyes.
“Don’t try that with me, Tones.”
The wolf perked up, ears pointed toward the redhead like she was holding some nice treats and cocked his head sideway. Tasha arched an eyebrow at him and the fucker pouted at her before turning, heading for the part where the shower was. He shifted back into human form halfway and darted toward the door:*
Bucky gasped and chased him: “TONY!”
The loud giggle that came from the bathroom echoed Natasha’s snort.
The race to the shower ended badly when Tony slipped and Bucky lunged for him, before tripping himself.
They ended both on the floor, Bucky on top of a very naked Tony Stark who was wheezing with laughter, his body shaking silently under Bucky’s.
“If you wanted me pinned down, you should have just told me. No use in tackling me so roughly, soldier,” Tony said, turning his head to peer at Bucky over his shoulder.
When Bucky looked at Tony’s face, he saw a smile and sparkling eyes.
The playful edge and the clear feeling of the engineer’s naked body under his own raised a heat low in Bucky’s belly. He had to fight down a blush and settled for a wink: “I thought rough would suit you just fine, guess I was wrong.”
The feeling beneath Bucky chest coming from Tony was that of a low purring that made him think of a huge cat instead of a wolf.
Tony shifted slightly and without any effort pushed with his arms, lifting them both off the ground before turning and then Bucky found himself lying on Tony’s front. And that made everything more hard (HA!).
Being pressed haphazardly against Tony’s back was one thing and he could totally force himself to ignore the perfect curve of Tony’s ass. It wasn’t a possibility anymore. The thin fabric of Bucky’s sweat pants hadn’t protected him against the wolf’s fangs, it wasn’t protecting him against the feeling of Tony’s hardening cock pressed against his thigh nor would it protect him if he started to react to it.
Which was very likely to happen.
The low voice made Bucky want to cry. It wasn’t helping him on the matter either. Yet the craving for touch and the want he felt were enough to make him react to it without embarrassing himself.
“Mhm,” Bucky chanted, lowly, making it roll in his throat as he watched Tony’s reaction.
He wasn’t disappointed.
The flash of wild gold didn’t speak of wolf or teeth, it was a sparkle of raw need and hunger that was definitely not food related. Strong hands took hold of Bucky’s hips, pulling him tight against Tony’s hardening cock.
“Tell me more.”
The growl was one hundred percent Tony and it sent a thrill through Bucky. He threw every doubt through the window and ground his hips downward, loving the hitched breath he drew out of Tony.
“Rough would be nice,” Bucky said, stuttering at the end when he felt a hot mouth closing around his throat, a wet tongue slipping against his skin, “but I’m pretty sure you don’t like having your ass against cold tiles.”
He heard the laugh as much as he felt it vibrating against him but the maddening thing was happening down there, where Tony was undulating his hips, seemingly unable to stop himself. The last memory of Natasha and the team waiting for them was now only hanging by a thin, breakable thread. Not that Bucky cared.
“Any ideas to make it better?”
Bucky took a deep breath, trying to organize his thoughts and did the only thing he could think about to help the process. He pinned Tony to the floor to keep him from undulating against him, using his whole body and weight to stop the movement. It helped his thought process. A lot. Though not in the direction Bucky had in mind when he had done it.
While it had been difficult to focus and think with Tony’s body rubbing against his, it was now very difficult to ignore Tony’s hard cock right next to his.
“The shower’s right there,” he breathed roughly.
“I like how you think.”
Bucky shouldn’t have found the way Tony lifted him without apparent difficulty as fucking hot as he did, but damn it, it was the second time it had happened and it was still as stunning as the first time.
He wondered how much that werewolf shit changed Tony but the thought went out the window when he set eyes on Tony’s butt.
When they came out of Tony’s workshop, nobody had waited for them and were already attacking the dishes, only looking up when Clint started pointing excitedly at Tony, sputtering through a mouthful.
“Yes Clint, we saw,” said Natasha, “stop acting like a child,” she scolded, before glancing at Tony and Bucky and adding: “You’re late.”
Tony didn’t even try to look ashamed and went directly to the place between her and Sam, who knocked him on the shoulder for good measure, smiling lightly.
“You told us to take a shower, that’s what we did,” Tony articulated through a mouthful, moaning loudly when he swallowed. “Who did this?”
“Might be me,” answered Steve cautiously.
Tony stared at him for a second before looking down at his plate, shrugging without commenting further and went back to it with appetite, swallowing spoonfuls of food at a surprising speed. It was like looking at Steve after one of his morning runs.
Bucky took his own fork, moving around some stuff on his plate before spearing one of the meat balls. After Tony’s reaction, it was anticlimactic. Bucky shouldn’t be surprised, really, Steve’s skills as a chef weren’t through the roof, far from it, but he had been expecting something better considering the way Tony had reacted to it.
“So… You’re human,” started Clint slowly, forgetting his own plate. “Walking on two legs.”
Clint was trying too hard to remain casual. His eyes hadn’t left Tony, cataloging everything and shining brightly from curiosity. The small frown between his brows, though, spoke of another story.
Tony hummed his agreement, his fork and the speed at which it was moving almost hypnotic.
“Oh please!”, cracked the archer, “Tony! I’m literally dying to know, come on!”
Snorting, the genius eyed Bucky before going back to Clint.
“I mean, it’s been what? Almost a week, right? You told Sam it wasn’t anything HYDRA did to you. So what?” Clint pressed.
Tony looked at the meatball speared at the end of his fork but all his hunger seemed to have vanished. He wasn’t the only one. Since their arrival, nobody had touched their plates, forgetting forks mid-air. Except Natasha who was still eating quietly, seemingly uninterested.
For his part, Bucky was hesitating between following her example and finally putting something in his hungry stomach or waiting for Tony to tell them what all of this was really about.
Bucky’d be lying if he said he wasn’t curious but on the other hand he wasn’t sure it was something he wanted to know. Maybe knowing that Tony could shift from one form to another should be enough. It was for Bucky. Well, more or less. He wasn’t entirely interested in knowing the why from the how, just knowing what he was dealing with would be enough.
Steve seemed to have the same idea and was the next to speak: “Tony, listen, you don’t have to tell us everything, just what we need to know in order to work with it or if there is something we can do to help.”
Staring at Steve for a handful of seconds, the genius finally let out a heavy sigh and set his fork aside and pushed his plate away before looking at them. He was obviously uncomfortable, uneasy.
Tony kept avoiding everyone’s eyes, including Bucky’s. Until, suddenly, everything eased and Tony relaxed. The small glance he threw Natasha’s way gave her away but she kept scraping at her plate without looking up.
Her left hand was missing from where it had been resting on the table a few seconds ago.
“Ok,” breathed Tony. “Ok,” he repeated. “I’m a werewolf, there’s no magic involved,” he said pointedly, throwing a glare toward Bucky for good measure, “and that’s it. There’s a whole shit-ton of things to know but honestly I don’t know where to begin.”
“You eat more,” pointed Sam.
“Ah, yeah. Fast metabolism, shifts will make me hungrier, I burn a lot during the changes.”
“Like a super soldier?”
After a brief hesitation, Tony nodded and frowned at his plate: “Yeah. Like a super soldier.”
Tony raised an eyebrow at Bucky, a small smile playing at the corner of his mouth.
“Yeah,” he drawled, “Strength. Speed. High senses too.”
A foot brushed against Bucky’s, climbing slowly along his calf before it reached his thigh.
What a shame, Bucky thought sarcastically. Tony was too short to reach what he was looking for without having to change his position too obviously. Bucky let a wry smile crook his lips and watched in amusement the flash of indignation in the genius’ eyes.
That was Steve, looking at the collar of bruises fading on Tony’s throat. It had been an ugly shade of black and purple but now was yellowish, almost gone. The foot retracted but Bucky hooked it with his, attracting a quick glance from Tony and a there-and-gone smile.
“Just slightly on a daily basis, barely faster than the average human. I won’t get sick as easily as before and probably won’t die from cancer or stuff like that.”
“So… you were a werewolf all along?”
There wasn’t any disapproval in Sam’s voice nor was he scolding, he was curious if anything, but Tony flinched anyway.
“You should have told us,” added Steve with a small frown.
Bucky couldn’t tell if it was from displeasure or concern, about all the facts he would have pushed aside because he wouldn’t have known better. Steve wasn’t a big fan of lies or omissions, some things he had to get used to while working with spies.
“It wasn’t relevant at the time.” Tony wasn’t looking at any of them, staring instead at the table, both of his hands now out of sight. Then the genius took a deep breath and leveled his gaze at them, determined. “Listen, it wasn’t something I was happy with and it’s always been an issue but I’ve found a way to keep it down, almost nonexistent, and I was mostly human for all the time you’ve known me. There was nothing to tell, nothing to speak about, it was wasn’t relevant. I shouldn’t have to tell you shit about it, it’s none of your business.”
“None of our business?” Steve asked in disbelief, “You serious here? What if we’d left you there, to die in that cell, what if we’d killed you, back there? That’s why we got in there in the first place!”
“Well, you didn’t,” muttered the genius, crossing his arms before leveling Steve with an unimpressed glare. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for those dumbshits, it wouldn’t even be a thing we’d discuss. That they used some chemical crap that triggered the process is just… bad luck.”
“Bad l-,” Steve started, dismayed. “No, nope, I’m not doing this,” he said, raising his hands. “I’m done.”
He stepped out of his chair, taking his plate with him and dumping it in the sink before leaving the room.
Sitting right in front of him, Bucky saw the moment Tony opened his mouth, a mean gleam shining in his eyes, and kicked Tony in the shin to shut him up. The genius yelped, almost jumping out of his stool and glared at Bucky while rubbing his sore leg.
“So… after that stupid answer from a supposed-genius, I have an important question,” intervened Clint.
Still glaring at Bucky, Tony took a second before turning his head toward Clint, looking like he was about to growl or snap his teeth in anger.
“Did you eat little red riding hood?”
The way Tony’s face lit up made Bucky’s heart flutter in his chest, fighting down a smile as the genius threw his napkin at Clint.
“Dumbass,” he said, still smiling and eyes sparkling in amusement.
The archer was cackling, Natasha was smiling but it was barely there and Sam… well Sam looked like he was thinking intensely.
The archer started throwing questions at Tony, and while there was some serious ones in between it was mostly garbage. As expected from Clint. It started a nice quip match Bucky was glad assist.
A question startled Tony out of it before Clint had the time to throw a meatball at Tony’s face for mocking him.
“What about the full moon?”
Tony stared at Sam for a few seconds and nodded, a barely there motion. “Yeah, that might be a concern. I still have time to figure this out.”
“Figure what out?”
“Well, the fact that I, more or less, was human all those years isn’t for nothing. I had something going on that kept it down… now I need to know if it still works.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
It was the first time she had spoken to him since they all came back from looking for him. Contrary to her usual behavior, she wasn’t frowning at him. While there was nothing soft about her, she seemed to be mostly curious, her gaze intense as she stared at him and waiting for his answer. It was making Bucky uneasy. Tony too, if he was to judge the way Tony tensed ever so slightly.
Tony thought about it, though, and didn’t seem pleased by the idea. He shrugged, a one-shoulder thing that was communicating dismay and uneasiness.
“Well… I guess I’ll have to see.”
“Maybe you should accept it instead of trying to erase it,” she said softly.
For a whole second, Tony looked like he was about to snap but one glance at the young witch made him think about it and he sighed.
Beside Tony, Natasha was silent but not missing any piece of information, her eyes swiping from one to another, observing and taking in every detail she could. The genius lowered his gaze, his shoulders hunched.
With a deep sigh, he said: “I don’t…I-I’ll think about it, ok?” he asked tentatively, looking up at the young woman.
She smiled lightly at him and stood up, taking her plate with her before setting it in the sink. On her way out of the kitchen, she bend toward him and kissed him on the forehead.
“That’s all I ask.”
His eyes followed her on her way out, thoughtful.
Bruce had somehow excused himself during the dinner, which wasn’t entirely surprising considering. It left Tony, Natasha, Sam, Clint and Bucky himself.
The genius eyed his plate and, letting go of any pretense, took it in his hand and started eating despite it now being cold. He wasn’t looking as happy while eating as he did before but he certainly needed it. Staring at the dish unseeingly, Tony shoveled pasta and meatballs in his mouth, chewing and swallowing without tasting any of it.
Bucky had finished his own meal during the exchange. He hadn’t felt like taking part in it, except for Clint and Tony’s banter where he could make a bit of fun and fish for more informations. That was an easy one. The other part, though, wasn’t as funny as dumping a question with dirty innuendo and he wasn’t sure how he was feeling about it.
He was quite ok with letting Tony deal with his own crap and making decisions concerning himself, but Steve wasn’t entirely wrong and neither was Tony.
Bucky didn’t know what had happened in that HYDRA base, how they managed to “trigger the process”, whatever that meant, or even what Tony had gone through but… now that he was thinking about it they were in that cell to kill the beast. They weren’t thinking about saving the thing that was behind the heavy door, they’d seen what it was capable of and thinking of it outside of those walls had been frightening. They couldn’t just let it die in there, slowly and painfully, even less could they have left it where HYDRA could take it back and use it later.
They had in mind to kill it.
Suddenly, his meal was feeling heavy in his stomach. They almost killed Tony and they wouldn’t have known.
“What happens if you’re killed while you’re a wolf?”
Tony’s head snapped toward him so fast Bucky almost felt sorry for the pain it must have caused. Almost. Because Tony was looking sick himself and had stopped eating all together, looking at Bucky with huge, horrified eyes.
“I don’t know,” he finally let on.
“Yeah,” drawled the former assassin feeling cold creeping up his spine, “that sounds like a lie, doesn’t it Tony?”
The genius shook his head, looking like he might puke.
“No, I really don’t know. Never seen one die before. Not… not like that.”
It was hard to tell if he was lying but there were ways to guess and Bucky thought he knew Tony enough to say it might not be a lie. Though, considering the current situation, maybe he didn’t know Tony as much as he thought.
It was a depressing thought.
He made eye contact with the genius and held it. Tony looked stressed out and maybe a little bit guilty but hell if the guy was about to admit it or just say “I’m sorry”. He wouldn’t. Was more the kind to show it instead of saying it out loud, as if excuses didn’t hold much meaning for him anymore, it was all in the physical expression of it.
Sometimes, Bucky found himself wondering what made him disregard words such as “I’m sorry” until it was shown but it only lasted for so long before all the reasons came by themselves. Everyone on the team had been betrayed or lied to at one point or another.
Bucky was still pissed off and wanted nothing more than to yell at Tony but he kept it to himself, for now, and nodded curtly. The genius broke eye contact, staring onto the counter with a posture and expression that were screaming defeat. With a small slap of his hand on the counter, Bucky got up and left the kitchen.
He hated seeing Tony like that and knowing he was the one putting that expression on him but he was allowed to be angry.
There's smut ahead, guys! It's my very first one, especially in english XD. Please be kind?
It took Tony three days to make his way to Bucky’s floor. Three days the soldier spent thinking and trying to relax some, to let the anger lessen by itself. It wasn’t always successful, only thought of Tony dying by his hand was enough to make the anger flare again, as strong as ever.
Bucky was still mad, but the frightened edge had bled out and he was now entirely capable of thinking without instantly picturing Tony staring blankly at him from the cold, dirty floor of his cell, dead. At least, not each and every time.
It came to him that maybe he couldn’t entirely blame Tony for his silence since he had done it himself. When Bucky had asked Steve about the side effects of the serum without telling the whole truth.
The thing was… at the time, Bucky hadn’t been entirely sure about anything and didn’t know what had been done to him.
When Tony finally came to him, Bucky was almost ready to explain why he was mad and why he could also understand Tony’s choice. What he wasn’t expecting, however, was for the man to meet him, arms crossed and staring at him head-on, jaw set stubbornly.
“I won’t apologise,” the genius started, pushing past him to enter Bucky’s floor and turning to face him once he reached the living room. “I won’t apologise for not telling anyone.”
The rush of anger had Bucky pinning Tony against the wall in a matter of seconds, his flesh hand curled around Tony’s throat. When the genius did nothing but lean his head slightly to the side, putting the soft flesh of his neck in plain view, Bucky had to fight down a brutal urge to bite, hard enough to break the skin.
Holding it back, Bucky bared his teeth in a snarl instead.
“I don’t care about secrets, we all have them,” he growled, noticing how Tony’s pupil had blown out so much it had swallowed the ring of color. Not enough to hide the fact that it was gold around it instead of warm brown, though. “We could have killed you in there. We went in for a kill, not to make buddies with a puppy. We thought you were dangerous, we thought we had to take down a monster. We went for a kill.”
It was hard not to see how Tony was struggling not to stare at his lips. It was just as hard not to stare at the genius’ when he wet them before speaking:
“But you didn’t.”
Bucky punched the wall, not caring in the slightest about the small pieces of plaster it loosened
“Do not play with me, Stark,” he all but growled. “I ain’t laughing.”
The anger was burning low, spreading like a wildfire. They hadn’t killed him, that was great and beautiful. But the possibility, the “what if”, the “they could have”, was still heavy on his conscience. And, if he was being honest with himself, Bucky was terrified by the idea.
Tony glanced at where Bucky’s fist had dug a hole in the wall and shivered. Bucky would have missed it if it wasn’t for the close proximity. Now that he’d thought about it, he couldn’t ignore everywhere he could feel Tony. The way the man’s chest was expanding with each intake of breath, brushing against Bucky’s, the shift of his hips.
Bucky pointedly didn’t look down, holding Tony’s gaze while he took a step forward, sliding a knee between Tony’s. His erection pressed hotly against Bucky’s hip, the feel of it ignited the burning embers of his arousal into a wildfire.
He surged forward, met halfway by Tony, swallowing their mutual growl in a heated kiss made of teeth and tongue. Bucky pressed forward, his hands going to Tony’s ass and lifting. Tony crossed his legs behind Bucky’s back, pressing his hard cock against his. Tony moaned, the sound promptly swallowed by Bucky.
The hands on Bucky’s shoulders, ripping his shirt into shreds, weren’t entirely human but the sting of claws against his back made him groan. Tony’s legs were constricting, pulling him closer and closer while the genius’ hips were sliding against Bucky’s in a maddening motion.
Not losing track, Bucky tore Tony’s shirt open, his flesh hand finally finding its way against skin, revelling in the feeling. His metal hand cradled Tony’s jaw, tilting it to a better angle, allowing him to deepen the kiss. Forget the teeth, it was all tongue and sin, searing and sparking every nerve alight. Bucky’s flesh hand found its way into Tony’s jean, grabbing a handful of that perfectly curved ass. The teeth that bit down on Bucky’s lower lip were sharp, drawing blood, but when Tony started sucking on it, it was worth the pain and made Bucky press his hips harder against Tony’s.
There was a hand on Bucky’s back, drawing bloody patterns, the familiar tingling of the healing process thrown into the whirlwind of sensations, the lightning of pleasure coursing through Bucky’s blood. The small noises Tony made, trying to hide it while kissing Bucky, were making him lose the thin thread of control he was trying to hang onto.
Bucky realized he should have kept tabs on the second hand when it was suddenly there, playing with the waistband of his pants, ghosting fingers drawing goosebumps on his lower belly and shivers down his spine. Tony slipped his hand in to cup his cock, starting to move along his shaft. Bucky let his head drop onto Tony’s shoulder, feeling the calloused palm and strong fingers and loving every bit of it. Dry handjobs weren’t the best but they had all the time to make it better and all Bucky needed, right now, was Tony’s hands roaming freely on him.
Panting, Bucky let his metal hand slide down Tony’s chest, cold fingers leaving goosebumps in their wake, until he had a grip on both ass cheeks, spreading them, kneading them. Tony gasped and punished him with a sharp tug of his dick, hot puff of breath ghosting over Bucky’s ear.
“Ready for a new round, soldier?”
The low rumble did sinful things to Bucky’s body. He tightened his hold on Tony, making the genius hiss loudly, his hips thrusting against Bucky’s as he let the back of his head rest against the wall, throat bare and inviting.
Leaning his head slightly to the side, Bucky nibbled at it, teeth working on tender flesh before he started sucking a deep bruise, leaving his mark on him. The claws embedded in his back moved, gripping his hair and pulling slightly, just on the edge of painful. Bucky left the abused skin with regret, resting his cheek against Tony’s, the hand on his dick desperately still.
“Dunno, you think you can handle it?” Bucky panted near Tony’s ear, his lips ghosting over it. He nipped the skin, earning a soft moan in return.
The hand on his cock resumed its movement, working up and down Bucky’s length, the thumb spreading the leaking pre-com.
“I think I handle you pretty well, so far.”
A surprised laugh escaped Bucky. He smiled against the bruised flesh of Tony's throat, kissing it softly.
“I have lube in my room, wanna move?”
As if in agreement, a low rumble vibrated against his chest, it probably shouldn’t be as hot as it was.
Hoisting Tony up, his hands keeping their hold on Tony’s ass, he left the wall and headed for his bedroom.
Tony had to let go of his dick, which was a BUMMER but he made it better by wrapping both arms around Bucky’s neck and kissing him hungrily, dry-humping him desperately all the while.
“Tony,” he warned in a deep rumble.
“Please,” moaned the genius, hips rubbing harder against Bucky, his hard length dampening his pants. “Please.”
Almost shaking with impatience, Bucky kicked his bedroom door open and threw Tony on the bed before joining him, tearing off Tony’s cloths while the genius proceeded to shred Bucky’s into pieces, nail like claws leaving angry red lines on his skin.
Frantic hands were moving all over Bucky’s body, once soft and caressing then letting him feel the sharp edge of claws.
Bucky attached himself to Tony’s neck, sucking and biting, nestling himself between the genius’ legs, his flesh hand going south to feel Tony’s leaking cock. Tony’s body jerked, a long shiver running through his body as he tossed his head against the mattress, repressing a moan behind his clenched teeth.
Leaving a bruised throat in his wake, Bucky got to his knees and reached out to open the drawer of his bedside table.
Tony used the opportunity to attach himself to Bucky’s chest, one hand clutched against the soldier’s back, the other on his hip before a hot, wet mouth closed around one of Bucky’s nipple. Growling under his breath, closing his fist on the wood of the drawer, Bucky fought the urge to grab Tony and start kissing him again.
It was so fucking good. The feeling of the hot tongue moving against his sensitive skin, the slight bite of sharp teeth sent electricity down his spine and he hung his head down, wanting nothing more but to sink his teeth into Tony’s neck and fuck him into the mattress.
The bastard hummed thoughtfully, sucking insistently at the hard nub, the werewolf’s hips rutting against Bucky’s thigh and making it that much harder to remain calm and not forget the much needed prep’.
Giving up on patience, Bucky pulled the drawer out and on the bed, fishing the lube and pushing the rest to the ground. He couldn’t care less about the mess he was causing, there were hips rutting a hard cock against his thigh, hot mouth teasing sensitive flesh, switching from one nipple to another.
In one swift move, Bucky had Tony on his front, pinning the werewolf’s shoulders to the mattress before covering Tony’s body with his, plastering himself to Tony’s back.
His cock nestled itself between Tony’s cheeks, making the genius hiss and wiggle against him to get more friction.
The loud mewl Tony let out when Bucky bit down on his shoulder went straight to Bucky’s dick, which wasn’t the effect he was counting on but should have expected.
“I’m gonna open you up and you’re not gonna move until I tell you to, d’you hear me?”
“Yesss, Bucky please.”
“On your knees,” he growled in his ear.
Bucky barely had time to get off his back before Tony was scrambling to get on his knees, his head pressed on the mattress lightly, feverish eyes peering at Bucky under thick eyelashes.
All at once, Bucky changed “hot” for “gorgeous”.
Pouring lube on his flesh hand and rubbing his fingers together to warm it up, Bucky set his metal hand on Tony’s hip to keep him still and steady.
At the first teasing of his finger, Tony growled and glared at him.
“If you’re thinking of going in slow and soft, you’ve another thing coming, soldier. Hurry up or I’ll do it myself.”
The thought itself wasn’t bad, quite tempting in all honesty. The picture of Tony riding his cock was kind of fucking enticing actually, but maybe not this time. Considering the state Tony was in, he might do it without prep and that was definitely not happening.
At the first finger, Tony relaxed notably, closing his eyes and licking his lips in relief. For Bucky, it was a little bit harder, especially to stay slow and cautious. The way the ring of muscles was tightening around his fingers, the heat, and the sounds Tony was making, were all making it difficult for Bucky to focus and not rush.
His straining cock was hanging heavily between his legs, throbbing at Tony’s loud moan when Bucky pushed a second finger in the tight ring of muscles.
“Fuck,” Bucky hissed.
Bending down to rest his forehead against Tony’s lower back, he bit down on the skin then soothed it with a kiss.
Tony wiggled his ass impatiently, dislodging Bucky from his resting pose which earned the genius a playful nip on the left cheek. Tony huffed a laugh. It quickly morphed into a deep moan when Bucky crooked his fingers, rubbing the inner walls and stretching, taking pleasure in the way Tony was coming apart.
Quickly following the second finger with a third, Bucky stretched Tony as fast as he dared, feeling the genius get more impatient by the second.
Probably playing with Tony hadn’t been a good idea, all things considered. Even rushing as much as Bucky allowed himself to, he found himself suddenly sprawled on his back across the bed with a very eager genius on top of him.
The rush of heat that went through him at being manhandled that easily almost made him miss an important detail.
Reaching out and grabbing Tony’s hips before he could continue, Bucky tried to speak through is fast breathing. Tony already had his hand covered in lube - and when did he…? - wrapped around Bucky’s cock, positioning it and shit but the sight only made it harder to keep his resolve.
“Condom,” Bucky panted quickly, holding Tony above his own fucking cock. Keeping that greedy hole away from his dick was the hardest thing he had had to do in a very long time. “We need a condom,” he added when Tony looked at him.
Despite looking like he was about to deck Bucky for interrupting him so close from his purpose, Tony managed a smug look above all things.
“We can’t get sick, Buck. Now can we…?”
The fingers wrapped around his dick gave a small squeeze and Bucky hissed through his clenched teeth, glaring up at Tony which only made him chuckle. Fucker.
Splaying his fingers on Tony’s ass and adjusting his position, Bucky started lowering Tony onto his cock. The genius’ fingers shifted ever so slightly until the blunt head of Bucky’s cock pushed against Tony’s hole.
A concert of “shit” started ringing through Bucky’s mind as he breached Tony’s hole, feeling the tight heat start to engulf him.
As Tony slowly went down on his cock, he kept his eyes one Bucky’s. The deep, warm brown of his eyes was almost entirely swallowed by dilated pupils. Tony’s forehead was covered in sweat, making damp strands cling to his skin.
Once Bucky had bottomed out, Tony’s ass pressed flush against him, Tony shifted slightly, getting used to Bucky’s size all while Bucky was trying to remain motionless despite the urge to move.
The feeling of Tony’s tightness squeezing his cock was maddening, making it difficult to lie there and wait, the heat and the fucking knowledge of being deep in the genius’ ass wasn’t helping either.
“If you don’t start moving soon, I’m gonna change the rules too,” Bucky growled through clenched teeth.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
What made him think Tony was anything but shameless in bed?
Setting a hand against Bucky’s chest to settle himself, Tony started to move, slowly at first, getting used to Bucky’s girth, spreading the lube further until it went nice and easy.
Biting down on his lower lip, Tony quickened. Setting a fast, punishing pace, the sound of flesh hitting flesh sounding sharply in the room. Bucky meeting every motion with a thrust, holding tightly onto Tony’s hips.
Never looking away, Bucky witnessed every shift in Tony’s expression. Pleasure painted in every feature, from the bitten, swollen lips to the flush of his skin. Those who thought Tony was anything but muscular were so very wrong. He was lean, fit and muscled, his body a piece of art, memories drew in white, irregular lines, scars made to remember and warn his enemies.
Somehow conscious that Bucky’s head wasn’t entirely in the game, Tony leaned forward, changing the angle of the thrusts and Bucky moaned, the sound shifting ever so slightly when he felt a hot mouth closing around one of his nipple, sharp hint of teeth scraping against the sensitive flesh.
Tilting his head on the side, Bucky left enough space for Tony to come and attack his throat. He didn’t have to wait much longer for the invitation to be taken.
Suddenly pushed flat against the mattress, his torso plastered against Tony’s, Bucky felt a strong mouth closing on the tender flesh of his neck and sharp teeth broke the thin layer of his skin, drawing blood.
Crying out, pleasure rushing through his veins, Bucky grabbed handful of Tony’s ass hard enough to leave bruises, planted his heels on the mattress and started pounding into his ass. He felt the moan more than he heard it as Tony met every thrust with his own, making every slap of skin louder than before.
Licking the abused skin and the blood leaking from the fresh wound, Tony was panting, his breath coming in short puffs of hot, moist air against Bucky’s ear.
Tony was chanting a plea made of one word, repeating it over and over again but it took some times for Bucky to process it.
“Please, please, please.”
Bucky groaned and in one quick motion reversed their position, bending Tony in half before plundering into him, taking pride in the way it knocked most of the air out of his lungs.
His mouth open on a silent cry, Tony scrambled for a grasp, his fingers clawing at Bucky’s arms and shoulders.
Tony’s cock was straining against his stomachk, pre-cum leaking on his belly. Bracing himself with his left hand to keep his balance, Bucky reached between them and wrapped his fingers around Tony’s dick. The immediate reaction it got had him hissing in pain-pleasure as the tight muscles around his own cock squeezed tightly as Tony’s whole body jerked and a long moan rewarded his initiative.
Tony’s voice had gone rough and husky, taking on low notes, coming from deep within his chest.
Jerking the genius to the rhythm of his thrust, Bucky encouraged him, feeling nails digging in his back and muscles tightening around him.
“C’mon babe, do it for me,” he said, quickening the pace of his hand.
Grabbing Bucky’s hair, Tony pulled him down, his grip tight enough to be on the edge of painful. Complying to the silent request, Bucky kissed him, deep and slow in opposition to the sharp and fast slap of flesh hitting flesh. Bucky was close to his own release but he didn’t want to come first, wanted to make sure Tony was enjoying this as much as Bucky was.
Biting down on Tony’s lower lips did it.
His whole body tensing with a low groan suspiciously sounding like Bucky’s name, Tony came in hot spurts of cum, coating his stomach and Bucky’s fist.
Tony’s grip on Bucky’s hair didn’t go slack as Bucky had expected. Instead, the grip tightened and suddenly Bucky was dragged forward, a hot mouth closing down on the bite mark Tony had left earlier. Sharp teeth broke the healing skin and Bucky’s vision went white from a mixture of pain and pleasure, his shout stifled against the skin of Tony’s neck.
Bucky woke up early the next day, dawn was near and the tower felt… calm and silent. It was rare enough that he wanted to enjoy it as much as he could.
Or maybe he was just enjoying the feeling of waking up with a warm body pressed against his.
Glancing down at the mess of sheets wrapped around them, Bucky didn’t try to suppress the smile from curling his lips.
Tony was curled up on his side, head resting on Bucky’s shoulder, right leg thrown on top of Bucky’s and one arm tightly wrapped around his waist. He was warm and breathing in a slow, regular pattern, his expression calmer than ever, relaxed. That was something in itself, even among his friends, the genius had never seemed as relaxed as he looked this morning. He was never that… still, quiet. Trusting.
Sensing the smallest hint of change in Tony’s breathing, Bucky rolled onto his side. Tony grumbled and shifted until he had his head nestled in Bucky’s neck, his mouth near the remains of his bite mark, drawing hot puffs of breath on the sensitive skin. Bucky shuddered and wrapped his arms around Tony and pulling him in until their legs were tangled and not much space was left between them.
Including their morning wood.
Bucky could feel the way Tony’s mouth curled in a grin and cursed himself for what he was about to do. Before sneaky hands could get anywhere near his crotch, Bucky tightened his grip until he had Tony flush against him.
“No more sex before we had a talk,” he said in Tony’s hair.
They were so close he couldn’t have ignored the way Tony’s whole body tensed before relaxing in a deep sigh. The flow of hot, moist air against his skin made Bucky regret his life choices, even if it was the right thing to do.
“First: unfair,” croaked Tony. “Second: unfair.”
Apparently insisting made it stronger. Bucky suppressed a smile and nuzzled the messy curls of Tony’s hair. It smelled like sweat, sex and the mixed scent of Tony and Bucky together. Tony’s smell remained stronger and for a split second, Bucky was submerged by the need to cover it with his.
Unable to help himself, Bucky nuzzled lower until he could smell Tony’s skin and realized his scent was there too, stronger even, which made something loosen in Bucky’s chest. He relaxed slightly, realizing only then how tense he had been.
With a low rumble, he kissed Tony’s forehead and tightened his hold briefly, his hands caressing lazily the smooth expanse of Tony’s skin, feeling every dip and curve. The slight, discrete bumps of scars, the valley of strong muscles.
Between them, their dicks hadn’t softened and probably weren’t about to if Bucky kept at it. And if Tony didn’t stop shifting ever so slightly to get friction and contact, his dick rubbing against Bucky’s abs and along his own cock.
“Tony,” he growled.
Purposefully ignoring him, Tony moaned wantonly. “We can talk after, I promise.”
Bucky groaned, his fragile resolve melting quickly. He grabbed handfuls of Tony’s ass and pressed their cocks together as Tony started rutting against him in a slow roll of his hips. Apparently it wasn’t going to be a fast one and Bucky was totally on board with it.
Tony had closed his eyes, lips parted, his forehead going down against Bucky’s shoulder.
Unlike their first time, it was slow and unhurried. Bodies and hands stroking lazily, lovingly even. In the way Tony looked up at Bucky, eyes shining brightly in the dim light of dawn.
Later, and still a bit breathless, they took a shower together, kissing and mapping each other’s body under the steady stream of water.
Bucky was the first to finish getting dressed, going directly to the kitchen to prepare a nice breakfast. It was quite early but he didn’t expect Tony to go back to sleep and he was hungry and wanted coffee.
He found the coffee already prepared and ready to be poured.
Knowing who to thank for that, Bucky glanced at the nearest camera and mouthed a “thank you” to FRIDAY. The quick flash of light made him smile fondly as he went back to the task at hand.
He launched himself into the making of a nice breakfast for himself and Tony. Keeping in mind that he wasn’t the only one super-hungry anymore Bucky doubled Tony’s portion.
Barely a few seconds after he got started, Tony shuffled into the kitchen, hair damp and wearing Bucky’s clothes. Too large hoodie, slowly falling sweat pants and naked feet were completing the least expected outfit Bucky could think of. The pride swelling quickly in his chest aside, it was intriguing.
“What happened to your clothes?” he asked while moving the eggs around in the pans.
“Beside you tearing them off?”
The amusement dripping from the words made it difficult for Bucky to remain silent. Flattening his lips to keep a smile from splitting his face, the soldier lowered the gas under the sizzling bacons.
“I’ll give you that,” he conceded. “So you just go and take my stuff without asking?”
Two warm, strong arms wrapped around Bucky’s waist and soon enough Tony’s chin was laying on Bucky’s shoulder. A glance at the ground revealed Tony on his toes and Bucky promptly lost his hopeless fight against his grin.
Plastered against his back, the genius peered down at the heating breakfast, seemingly calm and relaxed, a soft smile playing on his lips.
“Smelled like you,” Tony said before glancing at him to gauge his reaction. When Bucky’s grin only softened and remained relaxed, maybe a little prouder, Tony started again. “It’s… comforting. I like your scent.”
Maybe he was a little bit too eager but sue him. Bucky’s heart was doing some weird flips and shit in his chest while his stomach was swooping.
A nose brushed against the skin at the junction of Bucky’s shoulder and neck. It wasn’t sexual in any way but it was definitely intimate, soothing in a way Bucky had trouble explaining.
“Mhm,” confirmed Tony, resting his cheek against Bucky’s shoulder and peering up at the soldier. “Smells like cold metal, oil… sweat,” Tony added with a playful snif near Bucky’s armpit.
“Hey, I just showered!” He protested and got kissed on the tip of his nose for his troubles. “You should know, you were there,” he mumbled without being able to keep himself from smiling.
Tony made an amused, sweet noise and let go of the pretense of being tall enough to rest his chin on Bucky’s shoulder. He opted instead for resting his head against the top of Bucky’s shoulder blades, rubbing his cheek against the fabric of Bucky’s own hoodie with a contented hum.
“Smell like pack,” continued Tony quietly.
If he hadn’t known the genius, Bucky could have thought he had done it expecting not to be heard but Tony wouldn’t forget how Bucky’s hearing was enhanced like the rest of him.
Somewhere deep inside, Bucky could almost feel a distinct part of himself settle and loosen at Tony’s admission.
It was a part of himself he had been conscious of since he had come back to Steve, an occurrence that happened rarely. Barely once or twice a year when something terrible had happened to the star spangled man or when he witnessed something that was good and positive. It was really hard to tell, to describe, but he had started to expect that distinct part of himself to react strongly when one of his teammates was in danger or threatened in one way or another.
It never did anything, something he had put on the account of the serum, something he hadn’t had before. Probably something HYDRA had done to him, it could be anything, really. But it had been easy to ignore. Something he usually forgot until he’s abruptly reminded of it.
Somehow that had changed. Drastically. Since Tony’s reappearance as a werewolf, it was almost always there, in the back of his mind. Snarling and purring alternately, reacting to anything and everything happening around Bucky.
One way or another, though, it was always reacting strongly to Tony’s presence. At this moment, it was overly pleased by Tony’s admission of Bucky feeling like pack to him.
Keeping the subject in mind, Bucky bent down to lay a kiss on the genius’ forehead before nodding toward the kitchen’s table.
“Take a seat, it’s ready.”
The mumble was barely recognisable as it was pressed against the fabric of Bucky’s hoodie but Bucky was used to it enough to understand it anyway.
“Coming with a mug. Sit,” he ordered with a pointed stare toward the nearest chair.
Tony grumbled and bit lightly at Bucky’s shoulder through the hoodie before complying. In the next second, Bucky had set two mugs of coffee on the table, followed closely by glass of orange juice and plates covered in eggs, bacon, a few sausages and some toasts with different kind of jams. It was like making breakfast for himself and Steve, really.
Maybe just a little bit more Tony-like though, he thought while setting the blueberry jam on the table and receiving a beaming smile in return.
If Bucky wasn’t already in love with the man, he would be now. As it was, he fell all over again, the feeling spreading in his chest like a warm tide.
Contrary to what Bucky had expected, the admission didn’t freak him out nearly as much as he thought it would, nor did it make him feel nervous. It more felt like… a settling puzzle piece, another one taking its rightful place. Now the problem was to talk about it to Tony. Which might be difficult.
“Good mate,” hummed Tony, hungrily attacking his plate.
Bucky forgot everything about his own breakfast despite the hole hunger was digging into his stomach.
“Mate?” he blurted, barely managing to keep an even tone.
The thing, the distinct part of himself Bucky could still not identify clearly, was currently standing at attention, very near the surface.
Tony lifted his head and stared at him in confusion before flushing bright red. He loudly cleared his throat and stared at his plate before going back to Bucky, looking shy of all things.
“Well… yeah? Mate?” Tony said in a small voice, looking at Bucky from under his lashes. “As in… lovers? As in… could we… would you… I mean… boyfriends?” he nearly squeaked.
It took a full second for it to register but when it did, it was like a small explosion had gone off inside Bucky’s head. The thing was howling in victory, wreaking havoc in its delight while Bucky was left feeling hot and warm and light like never before.
“Yes,” he said quickly. “Shit, yes. Of course yes.”
His cheeks were hurting he was smiling so much and when he reached over the table, hand open and hope high in his chest, Bucky felt like his heart might burst with happiness when Tony accepted and held his hand.
Tightening his hold on Tony’s fingers, Bucky went back to his breakfast, listening to Tony in the comfortable silence that had fell around them.
It was easy, somehow, to just share the silence and eat while letting the realization dawn on him. It was far more than he had expected, faster and easier than he thought it would be. So much better too.
Bucky’s recovery was going well, he was still seeing someone to keep track of everything but he was doing good, great even. Better than expected considering the extent of what he had been through. He hadn’t expected something like this happening, though, especially not so fast. Sure he had thought of, some time later, meeting someone and maybe having something with them. He hadn’t wanted it exactly, hadn’t expected it either… but it had been a possibility for the future.
His feelings for Tony weren’t recent either, going all the way back to when he realised the workshop didn’t upset him anymore. His echoes of memories overcome by the man who made it a home.
At first, going down there had been a challenge he had to get over for his arm’s sake. The maintenance was necessary at least a few times a year, at the very least. Tony had offered to do it somewhere else, to come to Bucky’s room or wherever else he would be comfortable. Bucky, however, didn’t want to be coddled and felt like he needed to get over his fucking fears.
The first times hadn’t ended well for either of them but Tony had been more than understanding, welcoming him the next time Bucky had wanted to come down. Babbling for the both of them, keeping up constant chatter and poking at Bucky to see if he was ready to participate and if he wasn’t, well, Tony could hold a discussion all by himself and proved it more than once.
At first Tony’s voice was covered by the hum of machinery, the hiss of joints and the clatter of tools, all of it grating on Bucky’s nerves and putting him on edge. But soon it all became the background for Tony’s voice, his smile and his energy. The workshop became a place to share with all those sounds if he wanted to get to Tony.
It wasn’t easy, far from it, sometimes he had to storm off before coming back, some hours later, days even sometimes. And the doors were always open for him, never locked outside… Well, except when he deserved it.
It came back from there, when Tony had became a constant stream of chatter in the background of Bucky’s thoughts, welcoming him without asking anything in return, not even his presence or his participation. Just being there and letting Bucky rest in some corner of the workshop for as long as wanted, as long as needed. Those times when Bucky would let a word slip and it would trigger an argument hours long, he would feel thrilled and excited and so much more than just a recovering victim. Tony had been an important part of it.
At some point, the workshop ceased to be threatening and became a haven accessible at any time.
Tony thumb stroked the top of Bucky’s hand, bringing him back to the present. Bucky smiled and pushed away his empty plate. All he wanted at the moment was to bask in the warmth and contentedness, but he knew he had to talk with Tony. Something was telling him everything wasn’t going to be this soft and easy.
“I need more coffee for that,” the genius cut in quickly.
Without looking at Bucky, Tony stood and went to the coffee maker, his shoulders were hunched and his head hanging low.
Bucky let himself feel sorry and hate himself for two full seconds, then he squashed the feelings. He needed to know, it was something important he needed to clear up before letting the subject drop. Tony wasn’t comfortable with it and there was a lot lying underneath the surface, a shit ton of crap Bucky wasn’t sure he wanted to deal with, but they needed to.
With a sigh, Bucky stood and went to pour himself a cup of coffee, noticing that Tony’s cup was already full. Knocking their shoulders together and staring intensely at Tony, Bucky waited until the genius glanced at him to smile, trying for reassuring.
“It’s gonna be ok,” he said softly.
“You don’t know that,” Tony muttered..
“No, I don’t,” he agreed, leaning slightly to the left until his side was pressed against Tony’s. ”But I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. It counts for something, right?”
“I guess it does.”
Bucky bent down and kissed Tony’s forehead, winning a small smile from the genius in return. They went back to the table, each of them holding their cup of coffee and mindful of the upcoming conversation.
With a deep intake of breath followed by a huge sigh, Tony locked eyes with Bucky and held on, staring determinedly at him.
“Fire away, soldier. I’m ready.”
Bucky allowed himself a second to appreciate Tony’s straight back, squared shoulders and the determination written all over his face.
“The other day, you said they injected you something that triggered you. Do you know what it was and what did it trigger exactly? I mean, I know it’s about the whole werewolf thing but I thought you had something to keep that from happening?”
Tony’s eyes widened slightly before a wry smile curved his lips.
“Straight at it, why don’t you.”
The genius carded his fingers through his hair, taking them out of his face, his eyes wandering on the table before coming back to Bucky’s.
“Ok, so… to answer that, I’ll have to tell you exactly what I did not want to tell you. Perfect. Great. Really.”
Huffing through his clenched teeth, Tony stood from his chair and began pacing in the kitchen, his hands shoved in the hoodie’s pocket.
Bucky let him, sipping at his coffee to keep his hands busy while his eyes followed Tony’s pacing. Until Tony settled suddenly, resting his hips against the kitchen’s furniture and facing Bucky, his eyes huge, wild gold dancing amidst warm brown.
“The super serum dad and Erskine worked on was based on werewolf blood,” Tony finally said, his tone bearing the weight of his words. “What Erskine did changed it in some way, making it the serum we know and getting rid of the wolf. Like Steve and Red Skull. Steve’s barely wolf, I can hardly recognize him as one of my kind. He’s not,” Tony said quickly when he saw Bucky about to interrupt him. “As I said, Erskine changed it. Managed somehow to make the healing factor stronger but maybe it’s just the way the shifting redirected itself. There’s a lot of healing involved in breaking bones and putting them back together in the span of a few seconds. Same goes with shifting muscles.”
His coffee forgotten and the mug sitting between his clenched hands, Bucky stared at Tony. All the implications behind those words were starting to be too much and the thing, on the forefront of Bucky’s mind, wasn’t liking it.
Tony swallowed audibly, his eyes haunted.
“I think HYDRA was working on the serum too, some remnant of what they used on you or something. They injected it to me. When it did nothing the first time, they did it again. And again.” Tony was speaking quickly, words tumbling out of his mouth. Almost too fast for him to speak clearly anymore. “It flooded the implants in my body, broke them and… forced me into a shift. Then there was too much in my system to fight it, which is why I couldn’t stay human too long after you found me.”
Unclenching his hands from around the mug was harder than it should be. His finger joints cracked loudly in the heavy silence that had fallen on the kitchen. Clasping them on the kitchen table in front of him and holding on tight enough for his flesh hand to whiten, Bucky focused on keeping his breathing even. Which was proving to be harder than predicted.
“Howard wasn’t a werewolf,” he breathed out, his jaws clenching almost as soon as the words left his lips.
“I think so,” Tony answered without taking his eyes off of Bucky.
Maybe that was how they got enough werewolf blood to work on the Red Skull and for Steve. And all the experiments before all of it and in between. It would explain it but not something else.
“How does it work? Like in the books, you need to be bitten to become one? Or can you have it from your family?”
“Both work. I learned a bit about it. There’s whole families of werewolves, quite a lot in America to be honest. Russia is the only country with more of them than us.”
“Us. Russia is the only country with more of us, than America, Tony. You’re one too.”
Tony’s lips formed a tight, pale line on his face. His eyes more golden that warm brown. He had crossed his arms in front of his chest, was hugging himself more than being defensive though. Bucky wanted nothing more than to go over and wrap him in a warm hug, keeping him from all the things Bucky felt was still waiting to be said.
Tony nodded sharply, neck stiff and shoulders tense.
Praying for him to be wrong and hoping to be wrong, Bucky asked one of the two questions that mattered the most to him.
“Tony… how did you became a werewolf?”
There was a sharp intake of breath and Tony broke eye contact, looking stubbornly to the side. There went Bucky’s hope of Tony’s mother being a werewolf.
“Howard,” Tony said through his gritted teeth.
“But… you said he wasn’t a wer-”
“He used his version of the serum on me,” Tony cut, looking now straight at Bucky with eyes shining bright gold. “He didn’t know from where the serum came, only thought of it as some kind of magic potion or whatever. He took Steve’s sample of blood, Erskine’s research, did some crap and thought he had the right thing. Tried it on himself.” Tony scoffed, the grip of his fingers tightening where he held himself. His lips turned downward. “It didn’t work. They used vita radiation to boost it and sped up the process with Steve. If he was to use the same thing on himself, it’d kill him. He didn’t want to die so he used me instead. Figured it’d work while I’d grow up. Slow process but process nonetheless, right?”
Suddenly, all anger bled out of Tony and he slouched against the counter, his arms dropping along his sides before he hid them in the sweat’s pockets.
“For a few weeks he injected something into me. It was regular like clock work. A year passed and nothing changed. It pissed him off so he tried something stronger. This time it worked and it triggered something. The next day I was sick and stuck in bed. I don’t remember much of it but I remember the pain. My whole body was on fire, breaking, and I couldn’t do anything until I just stopped… fighting. Then it was like a fresh wave of relief. I could feel the burn but it was far away, the next thing I knew, some nanny had found me and was screaming her lungs out.”
Tony shrugged one shoulder, not looking at Bucky anymore but not trying to avoid him either.
“As it turns out, turning into a fur ball the size of an actual adult wolf wasn’t as cute as you may think. Howard was… mad. My mom was mad at him and… but, well,” he chuckled, tilting his head to the side, a soft expression on his face, “she loved it when I sprawled on her in winter. She liked my wolf form, loved going out in the garden with me when nobody could see us. Brush my fur or petting me.”
He didn’t say anything about his father but Bucky didn’t need a picture to know how it ended. He was furious and it was almost difficult to hear Tony over the roaring covering his thoughts, covering everything. His blood was rushing, his heart beating wildly against his chest, pounding in his ears.
“I could pet you, if you want me to.”
The words escaped his lips before he knew it and when Tony’s eyes snapped to his, Bucky had to fight down a blush. He was mad, he was angry and he wanted to fight someone so bad he wished he could taste blood on his tongue. Right now, though, Tony needed him more than Bucky needed to sooth his fury.
Tony stared at him in disbelief then snorted, his face scrunched up in amused bewilderment.
“You serious here? I’m telling you the shame of the Stark family and you’re proposing to pet me?”
Trying to play it cool, Bucky shrugged and let a smile crook his lips: “Well, I’d hardly call a huge ass wolf that could rip a HYDRA base apart all by himself a shame but yeah, I do propose to pet you if you want me to. I mean… have you seen yourself?”
Tony shook his head, still looking at Bucky like he was the strangest thing he had ever seen.
“FRIDAY, do you have pictures?”
“I do. Along with security videos if it might be of help,” she answered pleasingly.
Bucky opened his arms and made grabby hands at Tony. The genius scoffed, mumbling “you’re ridiculous” under his breath but went quite begrudgingly, sitting in Bucky’s lap with his arms crossed. Bucky smiled and wrapped his arms around the man’s frame, not missing the way Tony’s body went lax against his as soon as he started hugging him.
“Pull them up, lady.”
Instead of answering, she made a holoscreen appear in front of them. On the left was a roll of multiples shots of the wolf and when Bucky tapped on one of them with his index, it made the picture grow until they could see the wolf in all his glory.
“Look at that,” Bucky whispered in Tony’s ear, feeling the way Tony shivered with a thrill. He pointed at the wolf’s back and shoulders, the way the muscles were working differently than those of common wolves. “Here, look at that. The way you’re built allows you lateral moves and some motions you shouldn’t be able to if you had the same anatomy as a regular wolf. Your maw,” he said while pointing at it, “... honestly it’s a nightmare but if you look at it without thinking of it closing on your throat… it’s gorgeous.”
At first, Tony kept staring at the picture without saying a word, his body had gone tense as soon as the pictures had appeared but the steady stream of words coming from Bucky had eased him a little. It still took a full minute of sulking before Tony reached tentatively for the screen and went through the different shots.
It showed the wolf in different situations. When he was with Rhodes, somehow sprawled over the colonel without crushing him under his weight, gently petted by a very focused Natasha, when Sam had been watching over him at the beginning. There also was a picture of Clint sneaking pizza under the table for the wolf which made Bucky snort.
“I…” Tony cleared his throat. “I like the colors.”
“You do? It’s not red and gold, you sure you’re seeing right?”
Tony elbowed him in the ribs but he relaxed against Bucky’s chest, his eyes locked on the screen. The wolf was in the middle of the common floor, near the couches and seats where the whole team was gathered to watch a movie. Natasha’s feet were propped up on the wolf’s back, Bucky was sitting on the floor, his hand deep in the thick collar of fur around the wolf’s neck.
“I remember that night,” whispered Tony.
“You don’t remember everything?”
The genius shook his head, never taking his eyes off the screen.
“Sometimes the wolf was too strong.”
“So… you’re separate entities?”
It was hard to understand all the bits of information Bucky had, it wasn’t enough to get a good picture of it but luckily Tony wasn’t avoiding the questions.
“Not exactly,” Tony said uncertainly. “At the beginning, after HYDRA injected me, yes. He was strong, he was everything and I couldn’t control anything. It was him and at the same time it was me. Just… not... “
“All of you,” finished Bucky. Tony froze before he raised his head, tilting it slightly until he could look at Bucky directly. Bucky smiled softly at him, maybe a little sad. “I know what you mean.”
“Maybe… maybe you do.”
They stayed like that for a handful of minutes. Tony’s coffee was finished and Bucky’s had gone lukewarm but he finished it with a grimace.
“Could we… go on the couch and watch a movie?” Tony asked tentatively.
“Sure thing, doll.”
Before leaving the kitchen they put their plates in the sink, cleaned the table and refilled their mugs of coffee. It was still early as fuck and they were having serious discussions, they probably needed the caffeine more than they would usually.
They settled on the couch, Bucky taking the right side and Tony lying down with his head in Bucky’s lap and relaxing as soon as the metal hand started playing with his hair.
FRIDAY chose the movie, playing Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. They had both seen it already and even if it wasn’t one of their favorite movie, it was something they could watch mindlessly, enjoying the time spent together.
It was nice and relaxing, until the revelation of Bootstrap Bill being Will’s father. It reminded Bucky of the last question he had wanted to ask, the one he had had in mind since Tony had revealed the serum was made from werewolf blood.
Somewhere, in his mind, the thing started pacing restlessly.
“Tony… if the serum was made from werewolf’s blood and Steve’s version was as clear as possible… what does it say about me and the bastard version I was given?”
In his lap, Tony tensed.
Turning on his back, Tony looked up at Bucky. With an awkward shrug, considering his position, the genius tightened his grip around Bucky’s hand.
“I can’t tell, honestly. I think they worked on the same basis, Zola might have known what was used at first and refined it to some extent,” he said.
The small smile that curled Tony’s lips was a little sad, a little unsure. “But they didn’t refine it as much as Steve’s.”
The movie was still running but neither of them was paying it any attention. There were so many questions Bucky wanted to ask but all of them were dangerous. Asking out of the blue if it was normal to feel something reacting like a separate entity wasn’t exactly the most subtle way to go. Especially considering the possibility that it would be seen as the remains of the Winter Soldier. Which it wasn’t. It wasn’t common for the thing to come at the forefront of Bucky’s mind, he could forget it for years before something made it come back out of nowhere. And nothing in particular stood out as trigger. Aside from, maybe…
“How do werewolves react when they meet another one?” he asked cautiously, staring at Tony, searching and waiting.
What went through Tony’s eyes, though, went by too fast for Bucky to identify any of it.
“Depends,” the genius said slowly. “Might go from fury to-”
“Possessiveness?” cut Bucky. “Protectiveness?”
“Only in some particular occasions?”
Bucky could see Tony was searching for answers on Bucky’s face as much as Bucky was searching Tony’s. Slowly the genius sat up and turned until he was sitting cross legged on the couch, facing Bucky.
“There’s something you need to tell me?” Tony asked, his thumb stroking Bucky’s palm in a soothing gesture.
The contact was as soothing as the motion, though. The feeling of Tony’s calloused fingers and palm, the way it felt against Bucky’s own skin.
“I… don’t know,” Bucky answered, shifting his gaze to Tony’s right shoulder as he weighed the pros and cons. “It’s just… sometimes there’s… something,” he said with a wince. Shit Tony was going to call the others or tell him to speak with a professional. There wasn’t anything normal with having a part of himself that didn’t feel like himself and then sometimes did. And it wasn’t a huge one, not most of the time, it came and went at odd moments without making any sense. Except when it came to Tony. “It’s not like when I was the Winter Soldier,” he finally said. Gathering his resolve, Bucky met Tony’s eyes head on and jumped. “Sometimes I want to grab you and keep you for myself, sometimes I want to bite you strong enough to leave a mark so everyone knows you’re mine, sometimes I want to hurt anyone looking at you funny, sometimes I want to-”
“Snarl and bite until you draw blood,” cut Tony, his gaze intense, “to taste it on your tongue. Sometimes you feel like there’s something filling you from the inside with a will strong enough to obliterate anything else. Sometimes you feel like you’re not alone.”
Bucky had frozen, his mind stopping with how accurate Tony’s words were. It wasn’t everything, there were missing parts but it was the most accurate way to voice it. Bucky had never been much of a wild fighter. He was efficient, fast and clean. He used knives and guns but was pretty good in a hand in hand fight. Though, sometimes, he felt like clawing with claws he didn’t have, biting with fangs and ripping off throats and flesh. If the taste of blood came to his lips and tongue, it was even harder to keep himself on track and stay mostly human. Sometimes he felt like his body wasn’t enough for him, like pushing at the seams of his skin.
“Something like that,” he said hoarsely.
“That, my friend, is what it feels to be a werewolf. Well, more or less. I can feel you,” Tony said slowly, “more than I can feel Steve.”
“What you mean is… I’m closer to be a werewolf than Steve is but not enough?”
“I can’t shift, though, right?”
Tony shook his head. “I don’t think you can. You’d already have if you could.”
“Is it also why I heal slower than Steve?”
Tony frowned, cocking his head slightly to the side, reminding Bucky of the wolf. It was as cute on Tony as it was on the wolf.
“That… would make sense,” Tony mused. “I mean, if you’re closer to a werewolf than Steve, maybe your system is partially ready to accommodate shifting and not working at its best when you’re injured.”
It made sense and somehow it was a good thing to know but Bucky’s mind couldn’t get off the most important part of this discussion.
“So… I’m not losing my mind?”
The fear of, maybe, reverting back to the Winter Soldier’s mindset was taking over. Even if he couldn’t remember a time where the soldier had experienced the same kind of fury Bucky did when Tony had spoken about how Howard Stark had treated him. Or the hunger and possessiveness he felt toward Tony. It was so strong, so intense and true, it was unlikely related to the Winter Soldier but fears were rarely logical.
With a small smile, Tony went on all fours and crawled until he was curled in Bucky’s lap, his nose brushing against Bucky’s throat.
“No, you’re not crazy Bucky. Just a bit wolf sometimes,” the genius said gently, wrapping his arms around Bucky.
“Are you feeling like this all the time?”
Bucky kissed Tony’s head, feeling the dark curls tickling his nose and the scent that was entirely Tony mixed with Bucky’s soap filling his nostrils. Damn, it was soothing and comforting and the thing - the wolf ? - in his head was kind of pleased by it. Bucky hugged Tony closer, tightening his hold and letting himself relax in the feeling of Tony curled up against him.
“More or less. You get use to it and at some point you… just kind of become one. There’s no longer the feeling of some dog scratching inside your skull when something’s upsetting it.”
Bucky winced at the picture Tony’s words were painting. That kind of upset hadn’t happened to him, yet. And he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic at the idea of experiencing it one day. The worst the wolf had done, so far, was to snarl, howl and growl. Sometimes it had felt like it was readying itself for a fight or throwing itself against the boundaries of Bucky’s mind, as if trying to force its way out of his skin.
“Thinking of it… it’s not a bad thing that you can’t shift,” said Tony, voice slightly muffled. Bucky hummed his inquiry, not feeling like talking but more like enjoying their position. Instead of answering verbally, Tony drummed his fingers on the plates of Bucky’s metal arm. “Can’t shift with that. Trust me, I was glad I had the implant when I had the arc reactor.”
Bucky lowered his gaze to the shining plates of his hand and forearm, listening to the quiet hum and shifts of the machinery. That was a pretty good reason to be glad for not being able to shift, indeed.
The last few days had been sweet and soft in a way Bucky couldn’t find words to describe but Steve’s knowing smile and happy eyes told him he didn’t have to. For his part Clint was just being his gross, childlike self and it was enough of an acceptance for both Tony and Bucky. When she had been told - not that she hadn’t known before - Natasha had smiled, kissed Tony’s forehead and whispered something that made the genius giggle softly. She had left, only to find Bucky some time later, giving him her well wishes. He and Natasha had spent a good afternoon at the gym, talking while trading hits swiftly. In his very own way, Sam had shown support all the while jabbing at Bucky, being his usual pain in the ass self.
Bruce on the other hand… Bruce had just smiled, said he was happy and that was that. Well. More or less. The hint of green showing up in the scientist eyes the next time Bucky crossed Bruce’s path was the silent threat Bruce didn’t want to waste time saying aloud.
The bigger change, though, was Tony.
Bucky couldn’t say if it dated from before or after they started dating but there definitely was something different about him. Tony was more relaxed, his shoulders not as tense as they could have been. He came more often to the communal floor, chatting with his usual ease but his smiles were more genuine, came more easily. It was as if someone had lifted a thick black screen between Tony and the rest of the world.
Tony reached out without hesitation, something he wouldn’t have done before. Holding Bucky’s hand with a carefree smile, flipping the bird at Clint whenever the man dared to comment on it, grinning proudly at Sam when he pointed it out. All in all… it had been easy, and nice. The atmosphere when everyone was gathered in the communal living room was so light and friendly, Bucky felt something settle in himself.
Tony too, Bucky could tell.
Honestly, it had been some very nice, very relaxing few days. In the security of Bucky’s room, Tony had even agreed to shift just for him and Bucky had spent the evening fingers deep in the thick fur, the large maw nestled in his lap as they both watched a movie. Bucky couldn’t tell how much Tony actually saw of it but it didn’t matter when, once he was back in his human form, Tony had looked relieved.
And very thankful, if Bucky had to believe the night they had. And the following morning.
When he asked FRIDAY about Tony’s next trip, Bucky learned that the visit at the facility had been scheduled for some time now. Tony had explained that, while he wasn’t CEO anymore, he was still head of R&D and… well it was something he looked forward to too, to go and visit other labs and see what his guys were up to. What new crazy things they had cooked up and how Tony could help, could find new ways to improve it. He loved helping along the way, just saying the right word that would, hopefully, lead to a new discovery or some new way to improve people’s lives.
He also said that, for some reason he couldn’t fathom, his employees loved to see him.
While the genius didn’t seem to understand how lovely he was and how inspiring he could be, Bucky, however, could.
It hadn’t taken Bucky long to convince Tony to take him along for the trip. Clearly, Tony had been thinking about it too and waiting for the right moment to ask. It had been a sweet, awkward moment. The kind that left them smiling sappily at each other.
Maybe… Maybe Bucky should have known it wouldn’t last.
Honestly, everything had gone smoothly from the moment they landed to the trip at the hotel to their arrival at the research facility. And Bucky realized how Tony had been understating the pleasure the researchers and workers would have to seeing him. The moment they had arrived, there wasn’t one of them without a fucking huge grin on their face as soon as Tony entered the room.
Each of them were talking fast, gesturing wildly in a spitfire of science and projects and Bucky couldn’t follow any of it but the joy was contagious. He found himself smiling for no other reason than the simple pleasure of being surrounded by mad scientists acting like a pack of overexcited puppies.
The part Bucky had started to call his werewolf-self - or the wolf in his mind - was always a bit more present when he was near Tony, the genius had explained that werewolves call to one another. When a werewolf was close to one of their own, more often than not it triggered their instincts and just brought the wolf closer to the surface. At the moment, though, it was weirdly restless. Partly charmed by the crowd surrounding Tony and stirring him toward the labs and workshops with excitation and impatience, partly unsettled by something Bucky couldn’t put his finger on.
It grew more and more agitated as time passed and, while Bucky wasn’t entirely sure about it, he felt like Tony felt the same. Behind the sunglasses Tony kept wearing inside the building, Bucky could make out flashes of gold and a wild gaze looking at him, surveying the room. Tony looked relaxed, keeping track of everything, answering questions and proposing solutions, pointing at boards with complicated equations, but Bucky knew better.
Something was off.
Leaving Tony to his horde of mad-scientists-in-love, Bucky made his way around the room, checking exit and entry points, the weaknesses of the layout. He wasn’t entirely pleased with his conclusions. There weren’t enough spots to hide underneath or behind, everything was a little bit too open. Anyone coming in with a gun could make an ugly score before the occupants could duck for cover. Leaving the place would be a nightmare on top of it and would require crawling through the whole lab to the nearest exit. Which left a lot of opportunities for the attacker to strike again.
As he was about to go back to Tony and ask to leave and head for their room, Bucky’s phone rang. His wolf came to a halt, still and waiting. Across the room, he exchanged a look with Tony before the genius went back to his conversation, features tense and smile a little too stiff.
Reaching into his pocket, Bucky glanced at the phone and frowned, his gut twisting in unease. This couldn’t be good. Answering the call, he brought the phone to his ear.
“An alarm was triggered three minutes ago in the building. I cannot identify the origin nor the nature of the alarm but it appears that everyone is being evacuated except the seventh floor. Where are you and Sir?”
She sounded hurried and nervous. Bucky could understand, nothing in those three sentences sounded good for any of them.
“Evacuate,” she ordered curtly. “The elevators are cut, it might be a fire but my detectors aren’t finding any heat source that indicate a fire. I’m alerting the rest of the Avengers.”
Ending the call and shoving his phone in his pocket, Bucky turned toward the group of still excitedly chatting scientists and raised his voice enough to get heard.
“Is there a safe exit leading to the lower floors?”
The men and women all turned to him, hands half raised in aborted gestures to illustrate what they were saying. They all pointed toward the door on the farthest wall. Smart, some of them had already started toward the door, unease written all over their faces. Somehow, they had perceived something was going on and running away was a good option. Smart, really.
“Everyone exit calmly but don’t linger. G-.”
The wolf in Bucky’s mind stilled entirely and Bucky felt like every hair on his neck had risen. A step to the side was all it took to avoid getting crushed by the door when it burst out of its hinges. Twisting to the side just in time to duck long fingers crooked like claws and covered in fur, Bucky had only a second to get a glimpse before something else, much bigger, tackled it with a roar.
Less than a few feet away, two beasts were standing on their hind legs, fighting without any mercy. Clearly, the fight was definitely not fair for one of them.
The one who had attacked Bucky was the product of a sick nightmare. Patches of fur like it had been randomly thrown on someone’s body, the thing was misshapen in all the worst ways a sick mind could come up with. *
One of its back legs was bent like it had been broken and set back in place, holding up only by a miracle, and was covered by human skin but the foot at the end was nothing human like. The toes were longer, bigger, ending with thick claws while the big toe was misplaced higher on the foot almost near the ankle. The back of the monster was entirely covered in fur, a weird knotted stump at the end of its spine, a wanna-be tail left unfinished.
The worst, though, was the head. It was as if some sick mad experiment had smashed a human and wolf skull together. The upper part was wolf-like, pointed tufted ears and a long snout, thick fangs curved and ready to snap… but the lower part was entirely human, unable to close the maw and leaving it open for everyone to see. On the front, the chest was a battlefield where human and wolf had fought and neither had won, patches of fur between bare, pale skin. But the shoulders and the arms while human, were covered in fur and the fingers were long and strong, ending with long, sharp, curved claws.
Looking at its opponent was where the fight became glaringly unfair.
Where the creature looked like it came out of a nightmarish horror movie, the other one was the product of a dangerous, fantastic one, the kind pictured in books and never entirely given justice in movies. The whole body was covered in thick fur, evenly so, except around the collar where it was thicker. The back paws on which it was standing were strong, thick and muscular, the toes long and large to support the weight and ending with dark claws. The head, definitely one of a wolf, was large and deadly, white and grey with hints of black around the eyes, enhancing the glaring power of gold eyes. The white fur covering the lower part of the maw was dipping to the throat and chest, a very humanlike chest aside from the fur entirely covering it. The tail was long and powerful, tensed, perfectly formed. It was the kind of werewolf found in pictures on the internet, in the recent books. The kind where awe and terror mixed together in a confusing, amazing result.
The werewolf in Bucky’s mind was roaring with pride and battle song, in contradiction to Bucky’s wavering, uncertain voice.
The beast turned its head toward him and the black, thin lips curved slightly at the corner. That smug son of a bitch. Bucky snorted.
The nightmarish wolf used Tony’s momentary distraction to lunge, sharp claw tracing lines of blood on the white fur of Tony’s shoulder and upper chest. Reacting instantly, Tony grabbed him by the scruff, claws digging in and drawing blood. While the thing tried to fight back, Tony was too fast to be stopped and wrapped his large maw around its neck, twisting it with a sick sound Bucky was quite familiar with.
Dropping the body without so much as a second glance, Tony stepped over it and met Bucky in two large, silent steps. Tony was such a wonderful monster, it was hard to tell if he felt terrified or amazed by this new form. Dipping his fingers into the fur as soon as the wolf was within reach, Bucky marveled at the strength he could feel under the skin, the rolling muscles. While Bucky wondered at his deadly beauty, Tony was sniffing at him, his hands patting him carefully, his claws never so much as scratching or grazing Bucky.
“Not hurt,” he said gruffly. “You, on the other hand.”
Bucky reached out for the wound, his hand hovering above it without touching. It was deep but not enough to be really concerning. Nothing important had been touched but he would feel better if they could take care of it as soon as possible.
“It wasn’t alone, was it?”
Tony shook his head and snarled toward the door the thing had come through, his whole face morphing into something less of a wonder and more of a nightmare.
Bucky reached for his concealed gun and a knife, unsheathing them under the careful gaze of the wolf. He probably couldn’t hear as well as Tony in his wolf form but he had good hearing nonetheless and could tell they weren’t the only ones left on the seventh floor.
Hopefully all of Tony’s employee were out and safe but there was nothing they could do aside from occupying the attackers until the rest of the team could get here.
With a short nod, Tony straightened and went first, followed closely by Bucky. In this half-form, Tony was way taller than Bucky, probably over six foot and a half, which was perfect to hide from anyone coming from in front of them.
Slightly hunched, Tony made his way slowly, his ears flickering until they settled dead ahead of them. Bucky had heard it too. Golden eyes peered at him over a shoulder covered in fur and Bucky nodded, removing the security of his gun.
They reached an open space occupied by cubicles. Bucky crouched slightly until he was hidden by the panels closing each working space. Tony would have to almost walk on all four to remain unseen but he chose not to, crouching slightly instead, which wasn’t nearly enough for Bucky’s liking.
They were approaching an intersection between the booths when Tony striked suddenly on his right. A splatter of blood covered the white panels as the beginning of a high pitched whine ended before it could get too loud, the sound of crushed bones covering it. The werewolf dipped to the left, offering to Bucky a wide and perfect opening to aim and shoot. He took down the second monster charging at them. It fell at Tony’s paws with a heavy thud.
Bucky risked a glance at the one he had shot and regretted his choice instantly. If the first one they had fought back in the lab had been nightmarish, this one took the prize. While he looked overly human, his body was distorted unnaturally, skin stretched thin over an oversized skeleton, the joints were misplaced and some bones were grossly outgrown. The one Tony had killed was almost entirely wolf, slightly smaller than Tony, but the hand outstretched toward them was very human. As were the dead eyes.
Tony’s golden eyes were easy to place in his wolf maw, it was beautiful and natural. But seeing entirely human eyes in the face of a wolf was disturbing in too many ways.
With a sneer at the dead wolf, Tony progressed further down the hallway. Bucky couldn’t see him entirely but the wolf was on the hunt and he wasn’t just searching anymore, his whole body coiled for action and ready to act on it. The silence with which the wolf was moving was unsettling. Tony was loud and everything but discreet, even on a stealth mission. Yet the wolf was deadly silent.
Behind them, things started to howl and loud crashing sounds followed.
Bucky didn’t need any more indicators. They found their trail and they were coming straight at them. All he could hope was that they weren’t too many. The Quinjet was fast and could get there in record time but would it be enough to reach them before it was too late?
Tony whirled, ready to lunge at the pack heading their way, but he stopped and backed slightly until his bulk protected Bucky. He couldn’t protect him from both sides though.
Bucky could hear from the direction of the lab the sounds of beasts running toward them. Howling and screeching sounds, that couldn’t be named and were neither human nor wolf, came from both sides now.
“We’re trapped,” Bucky said, his eyes roaming over the expanse of Tony’s furry back.
Tony growled and inched closer, his huge body radiating heat against Bucky’s side.
“Well, let’s hold the fort until the team arrives, shall we?”
They rose from their crouch, no need to hide anymore, and stood back to back, the feeling of the thick fur a comfort against Bucky’s back. He wasn’t wearing his battle gear and his current clothes wouldn’t protect him from claws or fangs and while he could hold his ground for quite some time with his weapons, he wasn’t entirely sure of the outcome of this fight.
When the team arrived, the hallways were covered in blood, bodies scattered here and there, in a weird imitation of the base where they had found Tony. Except the bodies were barely human to begin with. The disbelieving looks on their faces were priceless.
“Someone had fun,” Natasha said with a wry smile.
Bucky barked out a laugh at the repeat from the base. His laugh was cut short as he whined and winced, curling his arms around himself.
“Please, don’t make me laugh,” he moaned pitifully.
She went to them, stepping over the mess on the floor without a second glance. The rest of the team stayed at a safe distance, eyes sharp and surveying the floor like guards. As always, she was not afraid in the slightest by the werewolf holding Bucky in his arms. Bucky was curled up against a furry chest, his head resting on a bloody shoulder. He couldn’t care less at the moment, though. His whole body ached and there wasn’t a place he could point to and say “that doesn’t hurt”. Even his toes were hurting. And let’s not talk about his fingers.
Tony wasn’t doing much better.
Natasha petted the maw currently sporting more red than white or grey and looked over Bucky.
“You look like shit,” she said, her lips curving into a small smile.
“Well,” he drawled, “I did fight an army of nightmarish monsters and win. I’m allowed to look like shit,” he said, borrowing closer and revelling in the soft feeling of the fur. It was even more comfortable than when Tony was plain wolf. Now Bucky could understand Tony’s liking for being held close in bed. It was damn comfortable.
Tony lowered his head and growled at him, ears flattened against his skull and eyes flashing dangerously.
“Ok, we fight an army of nightmarish monsters and we won.”
The wolf smiled smugly, making Bucky snort.
“But, you look like shit too,” he added with a smile.
Her hand resting lightly on the shoulder of the wolf like he was nothing out of the ordinary, Natasha looked around, face expressionless. The shape of some of the bodies- was it because Tony had torn them apart or because of their nightmarish appearance- warranted a wince and some grimaces from the rest of the team, but not from her.
“Do you know what this might be about?” She asked with a glance at him.
Not so far away, Clint was walking the perimeter, keen eyes surveying everything and making sure all the beasts were dead. He, on the other hand, didn’t keep to himself his thoughts about what he was seeing. Steve and Sam came closer, eyeing Tony carefully but without any kind of fear.
Bucky jerked his head toward three perfectly human bodies on the farthest side of the room.
“HYDRA came back for Tony. All of these things, here, are the result of the experiments they had before they took him.”
Sam snorted, mirth dancing in his eyes as he tried his best not to look at the body lying a few feet away from him.
“Usual villain speech?”
“Urgh,” said Bucky as Tony made a disgusted sound deep in his throat, “he wouldn’t shut up.”
Clint, now near the men Bucky had indicated, nudged one of them with the tip of his boot. “... Until you shot him in the head, right?”
“Pretty effective,” admitted Bucky with a small pout.
Later, after a trip to the medbay, Bucky and Tony made their way in silence toward their floor. Weariness and exhaustion keeping them silent, Bucky wrapped an arm around Tony’s frame, and pulled him closer when the genius leaned into him with a deep sigh.
“Do you think we should make a package?” Tony said tiredly.
Bucky could make out the small smile in his voice and it settled something in his chest, the wolf in his mind relaxing for the first time since their disastrous trip to the research facility. “What do you mean?”
“They want you. They want me. We’re a couple. Package,” explained Tony, matter of fact.
Bucky snorted and leaned his head against the top of Tony’s, letting the tension bleed out of his shoulders. He mumbled happily when Tony wrapped his arms around him and Bucky turned just that last bit, allowing Tony to tuck his nose under Bucky’s chin. They stood there, hugging and soaking in each other’s contact.
After a few seconds spent in silence, Bucky felt like this was the good moment for his little, innocent question.
“Say… you didn’t tell me about that kind of shift either, did you?”
Against him, Bucky felt Tony tense and did his best not to smile nor glance Tony’s way even if he really, really wanted to see Tony’s face.
“Oops?” came the sheepish reply.
“Nope, you’re in trouble.”
Small explanations : I’m going to do some more stories around this verse, in theory. I had a few ideas while writting Hidden Wolves and with all the love and amazing comments you gave me, the want to write those stories became stronger. It’ll be shorter than this (thank god) and will be from Tony’s point of view and what happened while Bucky wasn’t there during this fiction. I decided to open the serie already even if I don't know if and when I'll post the next parts, this way you can subscribe to it (if you want to) already and be alerted if I post something. Thank you for my Dragon Queen's advice, she helped me take the decision to open the serie already <3.
For Tony’s final shifting I was going to make a passage to explain it all but then I couldn’t find a way to end the story so I went with this. Every werewolf have the possibility to reach two kind of shifts. A plain shift which means being a wolf, a very large, high one but a wolf nonetheless. It’s the first one we see Tony in. It’s the most common form and the one every werewolf can reach. It’s the natural one.
Though, some werewolves can reach a partial shift. It needs a lot of training and, sometimes, it’s more a matter of emotion and feelings than control. There are werewolf who can partially shift any time they want, it’s exactly like the wolf one : easy. But it asked a lot of training for them and it’s a show of perfect control. Few can do it. It’s why Tony don’t do it often, it asks a lot of energy and concentration… or for him to be particularly pissed and in need of a more fighting form. Which is what happened at the end. It’s also what happened at the very beginning of the fiction when they entered the HYDRA base and there were claw marks on the walls. Tony was in his partial shift when he ransacked it.
Thank you for reading me through this all! Lots of love! <3