sing (like there's nobody listening)
Bucky yawns, bored as all hell as he scrolls through his twitter feed, and settles in for a long night. At the front of the tour bus Natasha and Sam are hollering and egging Clint on in whatever drinking game they'd gotten into earlier that evening. He'd been with them at the beginning, but after the fourth glass of whiskey his shoulder had started bugging him. So here he is in his bunk, his prosthetic tucked away under the bed, half-asleep and on his phone, waiting for his painkillers to kick in.
"Aw Nat!" Clint whines, voice carrying.
"C'mon you guys," Bucky grumbles, fond in spite of himself.
His phone lights up with a message from Steve, and suddenly Bucky's much more awake as he opens it up.
Hey Buck, check this guy out!
There's a link to a YouTube video attached, and Bucky huffs fondly as he clicks it and waits for the YouTube app to load. He misses Steve, and, honestly, he's a little pissed he'd missed Steve's homecoming to be on this tour, as fun as the tour's been thus far. Peggy promised Steve would be at their concerts based in New York, the last leg of the tour, so there was that he figures, but still.
The opening riff of one of their songs catches Bucky's attention, and pulls him from his morose thoughts. He focuses back on his phone and blinks thoughtfully at the video. The guy's face is obscured by the lighting, which actually is a pretty spectacular effect in his opinion, and Bucky makes a mental note to bring it up with Peggy for their next music video, but his hands are clearly visible as he plays the piano, and then the guitar as the screen splits into boxes.
His hands are - well, they were something else, that was for sure.
But then he starts singing.
"Holy shit," Bucky mutters, eyes going wide. "Holy shit."
Once the video's over, Bucky switches back over to his texts to send Steve a message that's mostly keyboard smashes with some emojis.
Steve's response is quick and obnoxious and far too smug.
Thought u might like that ;)
Bucky makes an outraged noise.
WHO THE FUCK IS HE AND WHEN CAN I MEET HIM?!?
"NAT! SAM! CLINT! Get your asses in here!" Bucky yells, and a minute later his band mates crowd around his bunk.
"What is it, Barnes?" Sam demands, tone teasing. "Need our help composing a love letter to Steve?"
"Fuck off, man, no check this out!" Bucky replies, and pulls the YouTube video back up. He hits the replay button and turns his phone so his friends can see the screen, then leans his head back against his pillow and closes his eyes to enjoy the song.
"Daaaaamn," Clint whistles when the video finishes. "Kid's good, holy hell. He played all those instruments!"
"No kidding," Nat agrees. "Steve send you the link? He's been bombarding me with a ton of kidz bop covers, the asshole."
"Yeah, Steve just sent it to me a few minutes ago," Bucky grins. "And a'course he is. You know that's payback for getting me drunk and dragging me to that strip club."
Nat makes a face. "Yeah, okay."
"You should tweet the link to that video, man," Sam declares. "Let him and everyone else know how fucking impressed we are."
"How long d'you think it took him to put this together?" Clint muses while Bucky takes Sam's advice. "It really did look like he did all the instrumental bits himself."
"Who cares? He has the voice of an angel." Natasha replies.
Bucky couldn't help but agree, and a moment later his phone buzzes with a text from Steve, distracting him from their conversation.
Idk but I wish I knew. We can dream, right? His hands are mmmm ;)
"Asshole," Bucky snorts fondly.
alright kiddies, check this cover out, it'll blow ur fuckin minds
The first thing Tony's brain - his body - registers is the coffee, strong and aromatic as it brews. Thank fuck for automatic timers, honestly. The scent fills his apartment, and has him perking up enough to head for the coffee pot, bleary-eyed and sleep-mussed. Iron Man rubs up against his calf as soon as Tony stops at the counter, meowing softly for her breakfast.
"Mm, didn't DUM-E feed you?" Tony yawns, leaning down to scritch behind Iron Man's ears. Iron Man just meows in response. "Yeah, I hear you. DUM-E, you're fired."
DUM-E beeps in protest from the other side of the apartment and a minute later the bag of cat food crashes to the floor with a dull thud. Tony snorts, smiling, and reaches up to grab a clean mug from the cupboard. Iron Man darts over to the bag, paws at it, and meows again when she can't get to the food.
"You're still fired, DUM-E," Tony repeats, yawns again, and turns to pour himself a cup of coffee.
"Ms. Potts is calling, Sir," JARVIS announces, and then promptly answers the call before Tony has the chance to tell the AI to do otherwise.
"How awake are you?" Pepper's voice demands, filling the apartment.
Tony groans in response.
"First or second cup?"
"First," Tony grumbles, and shuffles over to Iron Man and the cat food that DUM-E, naturally, left there. "The bag is not the food, DUM-E! It just contains the food."
Pepper snorts. "It's been two years, Tony. You know he's just going to keep dropping the bag on the floor."
"Clearly I need to work on a new robot specifically designated to pour the cat food into the bowl," Tony replies as he stoops down to grab the bag, and DUM-E beeps in offense.
"Automatic food dispensers are already on the market," Pepper reminds him, laughing. "You just have to remember to refill it when it goes empty."
"Hence the robot," Tony counters as he shuffles over to Iron Man's cat dish and pours the food in. "To remember to add the food when the dispenser goes empty."
"Mm-hmm," Pepper chuckles. "Did you get those emails last night? About the meeting today to pitch the prosthesis project?"
"Yeah," he replies absently, folding the bag back up and putting it away - all without spilling his coffee! "Meeting's at three, they want me to bring the prototype I've been working on, and if it goes well we can discuss finding people to beta test."
"Yep," Pepper confirms, then adds, "I think they're going to worry more about production cost than marketing. If they agree to this, they're going to charge an arm and a leg for a prosthetic."
Tony splutters, coffee going up his nose as he tries not to spill the rest all over the floor. "Pepper! I feel like that is a terrible joke! How long have you been waiting to say it?"
"It really is," Pepper agrees, sheepish. "Since the first time you talked about taking it to the board. I really shouldn't have made it, though."
"You're my favorite," Tony says fondly.
Pepper laughs. "Speaking of, on only a slightly related topic, have you checked your YouTube channel lately?"
"Uh? Noooo? Why, should I have? Did I get in trouble?"
"No, you didn't do anything. And I suppose you haven't checked twitter either? I know you follow Nuclear Winter's twitter, and I know you follow Bucky Barnes."
"So?" Tony flushes, and he scowls at the nearest speaker. "What's your point?"
"You should do that, Tony," Pepper replies cryptically, laughing. "I have to go. Will that be all, Mr. Stark?"
Tony sighs, though there's a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "That will be all, Ms. Potts."
"Talk to you later, Tony," Pepper says, and the call disconnects.
"Why are you always so cryptic in the mornings?" Tony asks the empty air, and tosses back the rest of his coffee before going to pour another cup. "J, pull up the thing Pepper was talking about would you please? She only gets coy like that when there's something she knows I'm gonna get excitable about."
"Indeed, Sir," JARVIS replies.
Tony carries his coffee over to the couch, setting it on the floor edge before flopping down into the cushions. His tablet lights up, and he snags it out of the little cubby hole along the side and rolls onto his back. He scrolls through the usual twitter nonsense, then freezes when he reaches Nuclear Winter's most recent tweet - a retweet of Bucky Barnes'. His jaw drops, and he may or may not make a high-pitched squeaking noise that he'll deny until the day he dies, when he clicks on the link and it takes him to his video.
"JARVIS, am I actually awake, fucking hell," Tony stammers, face hot.
He goes back to the tweet and stares at it for several long moments, his brain at first nothing but white noise before going into overdrive, trying to analyze the words he's reading.
"You are indeed awake, Sir," JARVIS replies dutifully.
Tony babbles incoherently for several long moments before pulling himself together. Flabbergasted doesn't even begin to cover it. Speechless. He's speechless, and no one from Nuclear Winter can appreciate this feat.
Iron Man hops up onto the couch, crawls along the outside edge of the cushion, and then up onto Tony's stomach. Her weight elicits a small oof of exhalation, and Tony drops a hand down to pet her head absently. She mrows softly, and starts to purr.
"One of my favorite bands from this decade liked my cover of their song enough to tweet about it," Tony tells her wondrously, "and you can't even appreciate the magnitude of this. Because you are a cat."
Iron Man blinks slowly at him in response.
I'm still fuckin amped up about that cover song!!!
"Peg, I genuinely don't give a fuck what you gotta do to make it happen, I want to meet this guy," Bucky insists a month later, standing in Peggy's motel room in some rundown town in upstate New York.
"I may be a miracle worker, Barnes," Peggy says in exasperation, "but I don't have the pull to make YouTube give me access to their records."
"C'mon Peg! He's good, that cover was fuckin' amazing," Bucky declares, tossing his hands up. "It ain't just me that wants to meet him, it's the whole band! Natasha said he's got the voice of an angel!"
Peggy huffs a small laugh, a grin tugging at her red-lipped mouth. "That is very high praise indeed," she concedes, and picks her phone up off the table. "The best we can do is ask our followers to help us find the guy, and that's no guarantee."
"He's got a YouTube channel, I'm sure he's not ignorant of social media!"
"Even still," Peggy says, giving Bucky a look, "what will you do if he doesn't want to be found?"
Bucky opens his mouth, blinks, and snaps it shut with a slight scowl. Peggy smiles at him briefly before focusing on her phone, fingers flying over the screen. Bucky watches her, and tries to come up with an answer to this hypothetical situation she's posed.
"Well I guess I'd just have to deal with it!" Bucky says eventually.
"You would pout," Peggy counters with a grin.
"Mean," Bucky jokes, and gives her an exaggerated pout to prove his point.
Peggy laughs, and he breaks into a grin.
"I will never understand how Steve puts up with you, you ridiculous man," she says, fond.
"I'll never understand how Angie puts up with you," Bucky counters.
"It's certainly a challenge some days," Angie declares as she walks out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel. Her phone is in her hand, and she holds it out for Bucky to see. "But you should be thanking Peg, over a thousand people have already retweeted with the hashtag find Buck's Angel of Music."
"What, really?" Bucky says incredulously, and yanks his own phone from his pocket.
"It's right in your face, why do you need to check your own phone?" Angie sighs, sounding despairing, and turns to Peggy. "Men are ridiculous."
"They really are," Peggy agrees.
Bucky ignores them both, retweeting Peggy's initial tweet with his own message, because, really, if they're going to call the guy Bucky's angel of music, he’s going to play up to it. He isn't above using metaphorical puppy eyes to find the guy. Plus, he rather liked calling him Bucky's angel of music. He rather liked it a lot. It was Bucky's song he'd done a cover of, and Steve had shown him to Bucky first.
He knew he didn't have any real claim on the guy, and it was ridiculous to feel this little possessive thrill, he knew that, but the fact remains.
"Thought I might find you here," a familiar voice says, amused and fond, and Bucky spins around to see Steve leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest, making his t-shirt strain at the biceps the way Bucky knew Steve knew Bucky liked. Bastard.
"When the fuck did you get here?" Bucky demands as he shoves his phone back in his jeans pocket, and closes the few feet of distance between them to drag Steve into a kiss.
Steve laughs into the kiss and brings his hands up to cup Bucky's jaw. Bucky pulls back to glower at his boyfriend, though he has a hard time keeping up the charade when Steve's eyes are sparkling and crinkling at the corners in that ridiculously goofy grin Bucky's always adored. Steve, having known Bucky their entire goddamned lives and therefore knowing better, just rolls his eyes and leans in to kiss the corner of Bucky's mouth before directing his attention to Peggy and Angie.
"Thank you for keeping him out of trouble," he says, and Bucky squawks in outrage.
"Excuse you, Rogers," he says, jabbing a finger into Steve's side and drawing a jumbled yelp-laugh out of him, "I'm not the one always gettin' into fuckin' bar fights!"
Steve just grins.
"Please," Peggy sighs fondly, "get him out of here. I should kick you for sending him that link, Rogers. He's been pestering me all week to find that boy so they can meet."
"I have zero regrets," Steve tells her, wraps his arm around Bucky's shoulders, and shoots her a shit eating grin before turning them and marching them out of Peggy's room.
"Peggy created a goddamned hashtag," Bucky says as they walk through the halls of the hotel, slinging his arm around Steve's waist. "Called him my angel of music."
"Oh, your angel of music, huh?" Steve teases, and laughs when Bucky elbows him. "Yeah, your angel alright."
"Mm, nah," he chuckles and ducks away from Bucky before he can nail him in the side with his elbow again. "I know you like it, Buck, no use trying to pretend otherwise."
"Such an asshole," Bucky complains fondly, and digs in his pocket for his room key as they turn down the last hall to Bucky's room. "I don't know why I like you so much."
Steve snorts. "Don't lie, you know exactly why you love me."
"Hmm," Bucky eyes him, from head to toe and back, his mouth quirking into a wicked smirk that makes Steve's eyes darken. "Yeah, I do."
#findBucksAngelofMusic because i really wanna meet 'em! make a Buck's dream come true?
"You're ridiculous," Bucky sighs and slumps back against the vinyl upholstery of the booth in the VIP section Steve and Peggy had nabbed at the start of the night, though now it was just Steve in the booth, Peggy out on the dance floor with Angie. Bucky's sweaty and he looks tired, but his eyes are shimmering with the leftover adrenaline of performing. It's a very good look on him, in Steve's opinion.
Steve smiles at him and nudges his glass of water closer to Bucky's right hand before going back to his napkin-doodle of a cartoon Bucky praying to a faceless angel holding a microphone in one hand and a guitar strapped across the chest. He couldn't really help himself, if he's honest. Not when Peggy'd told him all about the fuss Bucky's been kicking up about finding the guy.
Really Steve's not all that surprised. Sure, he hadn't exactly expected or anticipated Bucky's reaction, but he can't say he's surprised. Or bothered. He's definitely not bothered.
"I'm gonna post it to twitter when I'm done," Steve tells him as he starts adding little music notes in a circle to make the halo over the angel's head. "Not that you need all that much help makin' people sympathetic to the cause. I saw that selfie you posted. You used your puppy eyes."
"I dunno what you're talkin' about," Bucky sniffs, and gulps down half the glass of water.
"Yeah, sure," Steve snorts just as Natasha and Clint slip into the other side of the booth with a tray covered in drinks. "Hey guys."
"S'up, Steve," Clint greets, and starts passing drinks out. "I hope you're making all sorts of fun of Bucky."
"Why? From what I heard he's not the only one eager to meet this guy," Steve says, glancing up from his doodle to grin at Clint.
Clint laughs and shrugs. "Yeah, true," he allows. "But! He's the one who wants to most. At least the rest of us are in it because the dude's super talented."
"As if you don't wanna bang him," Bucky grumbles under his breath, then narrows his eyes at Clint. "Stevie'n'I saw him first."
Nat rolls her eyes and hooks her arm around Clint's neck. "Clint knows he can look but not touch. He gets no freebies."
"Naaaaat," Clint whines and struggles futilely to escape her headlock.
Steve grins, watching them. "So, you're saying if Bucky was into you two you wouldn't have a threesome with him?"
"Hey!" Bucky complains, twisting to scowl at Steve. "Why you gotta drag me into that?"
"Because Steve knows that I would have invited you into our relationship in college if you weren't with Steve, or had shown any interest in us in the first place," Natasha answers, matter-of-fact, and Bucky blinks at her.
"Well okay," Bucky says slowly, narrowing his eyes at her. "I was terrified of you, you do realize that right? In college? I was absolutely petrified of you. I would not have objected to getting fucked by you, either, probably, but yeah no."
Steve tries not to choke on the soda Clint'd bought him, sputtering at the look on Nat's face. He didn't think anything could actually surprise her, and yet here they are. Nat's shocked and Clint's choking on an olive.
"You okay, Barton?" Steve asks after he's managed to compose himself, reaching across the table to thump what he can of Clint's back where he's slumped over the table.
"M'okay," he wheezes, and pushes upright again, his face bright red. "Might've just imagined Natasha pegging your boyfriend though."
"That's fair," Steve grins, and stretches his arms out along the back of the booth, his left arm falling across Bucky's shoulders. "He's real pretty stuffed full of cock."
"Steve!" Bucky yells, elbows him in the side, and slumps down further. "Do not put ideas in their heads, goddamnit. The only cock going in my ass is yours."
"What about your angel of music, hmm?" Clint asks, smirking. "Would you let him put his cock in your ass?"
"Go fuck yourself, Barton," Bucky grumbles.
Steve turns his head to hide his smile against the side of Bucky's head. "Would you though?" he whispers, lips brushing the shell of Bucky's ear.
Bucky shivers and elbows him again. "Stop that, jackass, I'm not up for some exhibitionism right now."
"Alright," Steve relents, and turns back to his doodle. "Should I add Nat and the others behind you?"
"Only if we're making fun of him," Nat says, grinning. "It's find Buck's angel of music, after all."
"You're the one who said he's got the voice of an angel first," Bucky points out.
Nat's smile grows a little predatory, and she leans forward over the table, planting her elbow on the sticky wood and settling her chin in her hand. "Is that permission for me to eat him up?"
Steve chuckles under his breath and glances at Bucky from the corner of his eye just to see the clench of his jaw.
"No," Bucky growls, eyes narrowed. "It is not."
"Spoilsport," Nat sticks her tongue out.
"Where the hell is Sam?" Bucky asks, loudly, and cranes his head around to look. "Did you eat him up, Natasha?"
"Hardly," Nat laughs and leans back against the booth.
"He was flirting with the bartender last I saw him," Clint offers.
"You know he'd be ragging on you harder than these two if he were here," Steve points out.
"Damn right I would be," Sam says from behind them, and Steve tilts his head back to smile crookedly at Sam. "S'up Steve."
"Hey Sam," Steve greets. "Get the bartender's number?"
"Nah, she had a girlfriend," Sam shrugs, sips at his beer, and shoves at Bucky until he scoots closer to Steve. "Thinking it's probably for the best, though. Checked my phone before I found you guys and there was a message from Riley."
"That's awesome, Sam," Steve says, beaming. "How is he?"
"Sounded like he's doing better. Said he wants to see me when the tour's over. Also said he'd keep an eye out for Bucky's angel."
"You know what, I'm not even remotely embarrassed that that's what everyone's going to call him," Bucky declares, and throws back the shot of vodka Clint had brought him. "I'm more than fine that everyone's calling him my angel."
Nat and Clint laugh, and Sam bumps his shoulder against Bucky's playfully.
"No, but in all seriousness, how's Peggy plan on vetting anyone who comes forward claiming to be him?" Sam asks once they've all calmed down.
"That," Steve says with a slight grimace," is a very good question. I'd imagine she's got a plan for that, even if Bucky did aggravate her into that initial tweet."
Peggy chooses that moment to wander back over to their booth, hand in hand with Angie. She glances around at them, huffs, and climbs in on Clint's and Nat's side, crawling into Clint's lap so Angie can sit on the edge before resettling herself in Angie's lap. Everyone, save Clint, watches her in amusement.
"I'm pleased to see you're all keeping out of trouble," Peggy says, and shoots Steve a pointed look. She catches sight of his napkin, then, and snorts. "I think that should be a new t-shirt design, don't you?"
"What? No!" Bucky protests, jerking upright and slapping a hand down to cover Steve's doodle before Angie can see it.
"Why not? It's Steve's artwork," Peggy replies, and smiles sweetly at Steve.
Steve fidgets. "I dunno, Peg," he mumbles, and refuses to meet her eyes. She's been trying to get him to do the album art since Nuclear Winter's EP, and he's refused every time she asks. It's not that he doesn't want to, exactly, but his stuff's just, well, doodles. Nothing serious, nothing to get all excited about, though the way his friends carry on seems to say otherwise.
At least, in their opinions. And even still, his style hardly fits their image. Too comic-y to grace a CD.
"C'mon, Steven, it's cute! It would make a very cute t-shirt," Peggy cajoles, reaching across the table to stab a dark red nail into the back of Bucky's hand in an attempt to get at the napkin. "They could just be limited edition merch, just for this angel hunt."
"Angel hunt," Bucky huffs, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Seeing as we're on the subject," Sam interjects, and Steve shoots him a thankful look. "How's that going to work, exactly? You know damn well we're gonna get quite a few people claiming to be Bucky's angel. How're we gonna confirm they are who they say they are?"
Peggy leans back against Angie's chest, and Bucky yanks his hand and the napkin off the table. She shoots him an exasperated look before focusing her attention on Sam.
"I talked to Dum Dum, and he agreed to go meet with anyone who claims to be Bucky's angel," she explains. "They'll have to prove that the YouTube account is theirs, and more, that they haven't stolen the video and cloned the account."
"Dum Dum'll probably just make whoever sing the song for him," Angie adds. "He's alarmingly blasé about things, for a lawyer."
"Make him take Jaques and Morita," Nat suggests, earning a laugh from Peggy.
She starts in on the three of them together and why that's a terrible idea, and Steve lets the story fade into the background. He knew them, and these stories. Heard them enough times, never mind that he'd lived some of it. He would much rather pay attention to Bucky, who's slumped into Steve's side.
"You okay, honey?" He whispers, tilting his face towards Bucky.
"Yeah," Bucky mumbles, sounding sleepy. "Just a little sore. Tired."
"Wanna call it a night?"
Bucky scrunches his face up in thought, then nods. "Yeah, a nice hot shower sounds real nice right now. Shoulder's buggin' me again."
Steve gives him a concerned look, then eyes what he can of Bucky’s left shoulder. He’d had to relearn how to play the guitar, after being wounded, this time left-handed. The strumming still strained his muscles more than Steve knew Bucky would ever admit. It hurts Steve’s heart, knowing that playing guitar, something Bucky’s always loved, causes him pain.
“Stop that,” Bucky sighs, and Steve jerks guiltily. “Just need some hot water and to relax, Stevie. I’ll be fine.”
“I know,” Steve says, “I know that. I just wish -”
“Yeah,” Bucky huffs, and nudges Sam. “Move it, Wilson, gonna head back to the hotel.”
“You alright?” Sam asks as he slides out of the booth.
Bucky grins up at him. “Yeah, just tired. Wanna go soak.”
“He wants to fuck Steve’s brains out,” Clint counters with a lascivious smirk. “Or have Steve fuck his brains out. Either way, somebody gon get fucked.”
“Sure as shit ain’t you, tonight,” Bucky snaps.
Clint blows him a kiss.
Steve slides out of the booth once Bucky’s on his feet and out of the way, and together they say their goodbyes before making their way back to the hotel.
They’re quiet as they walk down the street, hand in hand, and Steve thinks about the letter sitting in his suitcase addressed to Bucky. Bucky’s mail goes to a post office box while he’s on tour, and a few times a month someone - usually Daniel or Dum Dum, or Angie if she isn’t with Peggy - checks it and takes anything important to Bucky. Now that Steve’s finally home, for good, he’d taken it upon himself to check the post office box. He wasn’t really sure if this letter was important, but it had come from Stark Industries and he knew anything with an SI return address was to be delivered to Bucky.
He’d meant to give it to Bucky that first night, but with the bliss of reunion and catching up he’d completely forgotten.
“Sorry for gettin’ short with you, Steve,” Bucky murmurs, pulling Steve out of his thoughts.
“It’s okay,” Steve whispers. They turn the corner then, and shortly after that they’re back at the hotel.
“Fuck, finally,” Bucky sighs as they tumble into their room.
“You want me to help you with your arm?” Steve asks as he kicks his shoes off.
Bucky kicks his boots off, glances over to the bathroom door and then back to Steve, and sags, a little. He ducks his head, gives Steve a small, self-conscious smile, and focuses on getting out of his jeans. Steve watches him, heart hurting, and waits for Bucky’s decision all the while wondering if he should’ve just kept his mouth shut.
“Yeah,” Bucky mumbles eventually, even as his shoulders tense further. “Yeah, some help would be nice. Thank you.”
Steve smiles gently and closes the space between them. “Hey, you know I don’t mind it, honey.”
“Alright,” Steve murmurs, and helps Bucky out of his shirt.
It’s the first time he’s seen Bucky shirtless in a long while. The other night they’d been too enthusiastic and eager to bother with stripping fully, though Steve suspects Bucky would’ve kept his shirt on anyway. Steve wants to tell him he’s got nothing to be ashamed of, but he knows that’s not how it works. While his body might have healed up nicely, it doesn’t mean his mind has.
“I’ve got a letter for you,” Steve declares, in an effort to distract Bucky, as he takes Bucky’s left arm in hand and gently removes the prosthesis. “Meant to give it to ya yesterday but, well. S’from Stark Industries.”
“Where is it?” Bucky asks, looking at Steve expectantly, excitement shining in his eyes.
“In my bag,” Steve replies, and twists to set the prosthetic on top of the dresser.
“Can you get it for me?”
“Yeah,” he smiles, and goes to his bag, crouching down to dig the envelope out. “Pretty hefty, Buck,” he comments as he carries it back over to Bucky.
“Oughta be,” he quips, grinning. “Stuff for me to sign.”
Steve hums inquisitively, slits the top open to pull the papers out for Bucky. He hands them over to Bucky, then turns to Bucky’s bag to dig out the creams for what’s left of Bucky’s arm.
“Are you signing your soul over to ‘em, then?” Steve jokes, when it’s clear Bucky’s not going to clarify, and Bucky snorts.
“Nah, not hardly. I qualified to beta test their new prosthetic line,” he explains, glancing up to meet Steve’s eyes. “Was gonna talk to you about it when I knew for sure I qualified, because it’s gonna require more surgeries. The designs’re Tony Stark’s.”
“Doesn’t he have a doctorate in robotics or something?” Steve asks as he massages some cream into Bucky’s skin. “A certified genius, if I remember right.”
“Mmhmm,” Bucky confirms. “These prostheses are suppose to connect with nerves and shit, so it’ll have some rudimentary feeling.”
“Sounds amazing,” he smiles, earnest. “You don’t need my permission to go through with it, if you want.”
Bucky snorts and uses the papers to whack Steve’s hip. “I know that, asshole. Wasn’t lookin’ for it, but I didn’t wanna do it without tellin’ you first.”
“You make more money than I do,” Steve points out. “You know I’m not going to mind helping you out, takin’ care of you, after the surgeries, if that’s what you were worried about.”
“A little,” Bucky admits. “It’s - it’ll be hard , Stevie. Not as hard as when I first lost my arm, but it ain’t gonna be a walk in the park.”
Steve sighs, and bends down to kiss the top of Bucky’s head. “I hate that I couldn’t be there for your recovery, and before you say anything I’m not sayin’ this outta misplaced guilt or whatever. I’m sayin’ this because I love you. I want to take care of you, Bucky. I’m in this with you for the long haul.”
“Yeah?” Bucky smiles up at him, soft and small and beautiful. “‘Til the end of the line, huh?”
Tony stares at his tablet, Pepper’s voice and Happy’s laugh hardly registering. He can’t figure out what it is he’s feeling, exactly. Surprise, maybe. Definitely a little disbelief.
#FindBuck’sAngelofMusic is still trending, even a couple months later. In fact, it’s almost gotten more fervent. He’d had to program JARVIS to handle the flood of comments and messages his YouTube account started getting. He thought, at the start, that it’d die down after a few days, but it hasn’t and Tony doesn’t know what to do.
There’s no way he can come forward. No way . For one, Howard would kill him. Probably. For another, well. He’d only just learned about it a couple weeks prior, but Bucky Barnes is one of the people set to test out Tony’s prosthetics. They’ll be meeting in person , soon.
It’d be too weird, maybe. What if Bucky thinks he only got the trial slot because he’s a member of one of Tony’s favorite bands? What if Bucky finds out Nuclear Winter is Tony’s favorite band and feels creeped out or weird about Tony being lead researcher on the prosthetic trials, like Tony’s a creepy fan using his position to see Bucky half-naked?
“Tony, hey, you’re spiraling again, boss,” Happy calls, one large hand clapping on Tony’s shoulder gently.
“Are you still freaking out about the Bucky Barnes/Nuclear Winter thing?” Pepper asks, smiling fondly.
Tony glowers at her briefly before setting his tablet to the side and focussing in on the paperwork Pepper brought him. “Do you know if we’ve heard back from Dr. Cho on costs, yet?” he questions as he scans the first page.
Pepper sighs, sorts through her own stack of papers, and passes over a spreadsheet. “I don’t see why you don’t just tell them. You don’t have to meet them if you don’t want to, which I find hard to believe, but they can’t force you.”
“Pepper,” Tony huffs, tilting his head back to stare up at the ceiling. “It’s not about that. It’s not - can’t we just drop this? It’ll die down eventually!”
“Uh, that’s probably a little doubtful, boss,” Happy interjects, sheepish, and holds up his phone. “ Trish Talk just posted an interview she did with Barnes, about trying to find you.”
Tony stares blankly at him for a long moment, then closes his eyes with a soft little huff. “God damnit ,” he groans. “Seriously?”
“‘Fraid so, boss.”
Pepper reaches over to grip his wrist, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “It’s not so bad, Tony. It’s actually very sweet, I think. He liked your cover so much he wants to meet you! How many people can say that?”
“I just don’t understand how he found it in the first place!” Tony mutters, but smiles gratefully at Pepper. “You’re right, it’s not all that bad. It’s - I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited and overjoyed that he likes my cover of his song but, Pep, I can’t let anyone know it’s me .”
“Tony,” Pepper sighs, frowning, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I’m sure if you asked them not to make your identity public they’d respect that.”
“It’s not entirely about that, Pepper.”
“Then what is it about?”
Tony gives her a blank look. “Pepper… Come on, I know you know Bucky Barnes is part of the trial.”
Pepper raises her eyebrows at him. “Yes, and?”
“And? And ? Pepper! Don’t you think he might be a little creeped out to know the lead scientist and researcher on the trial he’s participating in is a huge fan? What if he thinks I just want to - to, I don’t know, ogle him!?”
“Oh, Tony,” Pepper sighs, fond and exasperated in turns. “I’m sure he won’t think that. You didn’t even have any part of the selection process.”
“He won’t know that!”
“You could tell him,” Happy suggests, and Pepper shoots him a thankful smile. “Also, in the interview Barnes talks about how he found your cover. You should check it out, it’s pretty interesting actually. He also said the entire band wants to meet you.”
Tony covers his face with his hands, mostly to muffle the pathetic little noises he’s making. “Not helping!” He whines, and blows out a breath. “Okay, Christ, let’s get back to work, yeah?”
“I’ll make a note that embarrassing you is a good way to keep you on task,” Pepper quips. Tony makes an outraged noise and throws a balled up piece of paper at her. Pepper’s laughter trails after her as she and Happy leave.
Trish: So, Bucky, tell us how the search for your Angel of Music is going?
Bucky: Not so good, sadly. We’ve gotten a few false claims, but those petered out once people figured out they had to prove they were IronMan6870 to our legal team.
Trish: That’s too bad! I know #FindBuck’sAngeofMusic has been trending since the start. Seems your fans are just as enthusiastic about you meeting IronMan6870 as you are.
Bucky: Yeah, it’s pretty neat to see, honestly. But it’s not just me who wants to meet ‘im, you know? The whole band wants to.
Trish: Oh yeah? How’d all that come about?
Bucky: The first time I heard the cover, we were on tour, you know? My boyfriend sent me the link, actually. I was back in the bunks on our bus, and after I’d watched the video I wanted to show the others, so I called them all back. Natasha said Iron Man has the voice of an angel.
Trish: Oho! Is that how he became the “Angel of Music”?
Bucky: I guess, yeah. That’s more our manager, Peggy’s, fault. She’s the one who came up with it, after I’d mentioned that to her.
Trish: So then, why did he become your “Angel of Music” if Natasha’s the one who said he had the voice of an angel?
Bucky: Peggy’s way of making fun of me. I pestered her for a week straight about seeing if we could find Iron Man. They all tease me about it still, actually. Clint drew my name and Iron Man’s in a heart and taped it over my bunk, the asshole.
Trish: Oh, how did your boyfriend feel about that?
Bucky: The little punk still has it. Thinks it’s hilarious . [Bucky chuckles.] He wants to meet Iron Man, too, though.
Trish: Well, I can’t say as I blame any of you. I checked the cover out, and it really is very good! Say, why don’t you tell us a little about the song that’s covered, while we’re on the topic? I admit I don’t really listen to your music, I’m more of a Ke$ha and Beyonce girl, but I know the song covered is one of your lighter songs.
Bucky: Yeah, yeah it’s a little different from what we normally play. A ballad, I guess you’d call it. [Bucky laughs softly.] I wrote it, oh, probably the first year my boyfriend and I were apart. It was for him, just. You know, me trying to tell him that no matter what I still loved him and was still waiting for his punk ass to come home.
Trish: That’s so sweet!
Bucky: Yeah, he thought so too.
Bucky: I was still recovering, at the time, too, and music was a huge help and outlet for my feelings. That song, though, is really the only one I felt comfortable sharing with the band and putting on an album. It’s real special to me, y’see.
Trish: Yeah, I can see how it would be.
Bucky: Mmhmm. That’s why I’m so determined to find Iron Man. Well, one of the reasons. I wanna be able to look ‘im in the eye and tell ‘im how much that cover means to me, because there’re a buncha Nuclear Winter songs Iron Man coulda picked from.
Trish: Well, hopefully IronMan6870 is out there listening right now.
Bucky: I sure hope so.
Tony shouldn’t have listened to the interview. Truly a terrible idea. Absolutely. Never should’ve happened. He knew better. He'd even managed to resist, for the most part, after Happy’d told him about it because he knew listening to it was a bad idea. Held out until today. Until the temptation proved too much, or until the little masochist in him took over, who knew, and now here he is. Reminding himself why it was such a terrible idea. Reminding himself why he especially shouldn’t have listened to it before going to his first appointment with Bucky.
That’s where the real mistake lay.
“Sir,” JARVIS prompts, after five minutes have elapsed of Tony just standing in front of the elevator staring at the doors. “You will be late for the appointment if you don’t leave promptly, Sir.”
“Shit,” Tony groans, and reaches for the call button. As he waits for the elevator he thinks about the interview, the warmth of Bucky’s voice as he’d talked about IronMan6870, and about the song Tony had covered.
He’d always wondered about it, if Tony’s honest. It really was different from Nuclear Winter’s usual stuff, and he’d thought it had to be for someone. But he’d also always thought that it was either Clint Barton or Sam Wilson who’d written it, not Bucky.
The elevator arrives, pulling him from his thoughts. Tony steps on, presses the button for the floor with all the conference rooms, and leans back against the wall as the elevator ascends. He checks his phone while he waits, sighing despondently at the number of notifications sitting in his inbox. Even with JARVIS filtering them there were still too many for Tony to really keep up with, and he hates that he can’t respond to comments and messages like he’d always done.
Once the elevator reaches his floor, Tony takes a moment to compose himself. He’s been in and out of the spotlight his whole damn life, and he’d learned a long time ago how to hide what he’s thinking and feeling. He hates it, but he hates it more when people he doesn’t know or trust can see him, because more often than not it’s always used against him. Not that that’s necessarily anything he needs to worry about with Bucky Barnes , but it sure does come in handy when he doesn’t want the man knowing exactly what Tony’s thinking or how excited he truly is to get to meet him.
Pepper is waiting for him in the hallway, and she gives him a reassuring smile when she spots him. “I set him up in conference room three,” she declares as she moves into his space to fix his tie.
Tony huffs and bats her hands away gently, scowling. “Stop that, Pep.”
“Just thought you ought to look presentable,” she murmurs wryly.
“Hey, I look plenty presentable! I showered and put on clean clothes and everything,” he protests, then sighs heavily when her smile turns knowing. “Shut up,” he grumbles without heat, and starts for conference room three.
“Oh, Tony, he didn’t come alone!” Pepper calls after him, almost like an afterthought though Tony knows she’d waited to tell him intentionally.
“Mr. Barnes knows he’s welcome to bring whoever he likes,” Tony replies, twisting around to roll his eyes at her. “I’d have been more surprised if he came alone.”
Pepper smiles, nods, and turns towards the small alcove where the vending machines and coffee maker were hidden. “Page me if you need me, Mr. Stark,” she says over her shoulder.
“Yeah, sure,” Tony mumbles, and turns back to conference room three.
He pauses with his hand on the door handle, takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly before opening the door and strolling into the room. Bucky and an unbelievably built blond, who Tony guesses is Bucky’s boyfriend, are sitting at the large, round table in the center of the room. Their conversation cuts off with the soft snick of the door shutting, and as one they both turn to face Tony. He smiles at them, a little more real and less media broad than he’s strictly comfortable with, but then, they’re here for something a little more real than weapons or body armor.
“Hello, Mr. Barnes, and guest,” Tony greets as he strides towards them, and holds out his left hand.
“Mr. Stark,” Bucky replies, and stands up to shake Tony’s hand. “Please, call me Bucky, and this is my boyfriend, Steve.”
Tony turns to shake Steve’s hand. “Pleasure to meet the both of you, and if you insist I call you Bucky then I insist you call me Tony. Also because Mr. Stark is my father.”
Bucky huffs softly, grins, and nods. “Alright, sounds fair.”
“Mm,” Tony hums, and gestures at the chairs. “Let’s have a seat, shall we? I can answer any questions you have.”
“Sounds fine,” Bucky chuckles, and sits back down in the chair he’d only just vacated. Steve sits beside him, their chairs pushed close enough together he can put his arm around Bucky, Tony notes. “Steve’s got a lot of questions for you, just to warn ya. He’s a worrywart.”
Tony smiles, and pulls out a chair of his own, turning it to face them. “That’s fine. That’s understandable, actually.”
“See, I told you so,” Steve says, and wow his voice is as nice to listen to as Bucky’s.
“What can I do to help alleviate your fears?” Tony asks, before Bucky has the chance to reply, and watches them.
“Well,” Steve starts, “how much pain will he be in? When he first told me about it, he mentioned there were going to be more surgeries. He won’t say as much to me, but I know he was in a lot of pain for a long time. I didn’t get to be there for him -”
“Ah hell, Stevie,” Bucky sighs.
“What? I just wanna know if you’re gonna be in any pain, Buck,” Steve grumbles.
Tony glances away, feeling like he’s intruding on a private moment, then rubs at his mouth. “I can’t say for sure,” he tells them after another minute of charged silence, the two of them just staring at each other. “I’d like to say he won’t be in any pain at all, but I can’t actually make that guarantee. There’ll be several factors that play into it, and Dr. Cho would probably be able to give you an idea better than I will.”
“Well, will the prosthetic cause him any pain? It’s - He said it’s gonna be connected to nerves?”
“The potential is there,” Tony murmurs, meeting Steve’s eyes, then Bucky’s. “It’s a risk. This is a trial, what we’re doing is unprecedented. Dr. Cho has spent decades doing delicate surgeries like this, she’s the best in the field. There’s going to be a lot of maintenance and physical therapy, in the beginning. You’re going to have to be totally honest, Bucky, about everything.”
“So, does that mean I gotta talk about my feelings, too?” Bucky jokes, and Tony snorts despite himself. Steve glares at his boyfriend, though there’s a fond smile trying valiantly to spread across his face, so the effect is ruined. It’s really kind of adorable.
“Well, yes,” Tony replies, and lets himself grin when Bucky groans exaggeratedly. “Therapy is also a required part of this, before and after the surgeries. When you stop seeing the therapist will be between the two of you, though.”
Bucky fidgets, grimaces, glancing to Steve. “S’not so bad, I suppose,” he mumbles, shrugging stiffly. “Had mandated therapy after the fact.”
“You nearly put your therapist through the wall,” Steve snorts, and turns to Tony. “Is therapy going to cost extra?”
Tony frowns. “Did nobody talk to you about the finances?” he huffs and shifts to pull his phone from his pocket. “Unbelievable.”
“No, don’t be, this isn’t your fault. Have you two been under the impression you’re paying for any part of this?”
“Eh, sure but,” Bucky shrugs, “ain’t like I can’t afford it.”
Tony sighs, but grins. “Yeah, well, that’s not the point. You won’t be paying for any of this, except maybe travel expenses, and even that’s unlikely.” Tony explains, and pulls up his email.
“Wait, all of it?” Steve asks, big blue eyes wide with disbelief as he stares at Tony. “You’re covering all expenses? For all the trial participants?”
“Well, yes, of course I am,” Tony says, blinking. “There’s only five people in the trial right now, and I’ve got several research grants. Bonus, I only feel like I sold my soul a little to get some of those grants, but it’s worth it. Bucky or any of the other participants shouldn’t have to pay for any of this. Especially when they’ve already paid somebody else’s price.”
“Are all the participants combat vets?” Bucky inquires.
“Three of you are,” Tony smiles. “One is a police officer in Harlem. The fifth lost her arm in a nasty accident coming home from her junior high volleyball tournament last year.”
“Jesus,” Steve pales.
“Yeah,” Tony agrees, and finally refocuses on the email.
When he glances back up from his phone, the both of them are staring at Tony. It’s a little unnerving, and he can feel his face grow warm under their scrutiny. They’re entirely too attractive.
“Alright, so, are there any other questions you’ve got for me?” he asks, and hopes they can’t tell how flustered he feels.
“Will the arm be detachable?”
Tony grins, relieved, and pulls up the schematics for the arm to project. “That’s the plan. Wouldn’t want to have to subject you to routine maintenance while it’s attached. Unless you’d rather it not be detachable?”
“Wait, if it’s meant to connect to nerves, how would detaching it work?”
“The nerve connection would only be active while the arm is attached,” he explains. “I suspect it’ll be unnerving, no pun intended there, for detachment and reattachment, for maintenance, hence the therapy sessions post surgery. I have been toying with a way to shut off feeling in the arm during maintenance so that removal of the arm wouldn’t be required.”
Bucky smirks at the pun, his eyes shining with a refreshing kind of interest Tony’s only used to seeing in his fellow research teams’ eyes. Steve, in contrast, looks more concerned, which Tony understands. He’d be concerned, too, if he wasn’t thoroughly familiar with all of this and his lover was willingly undergoing it.
“I honestly can’t say which would be more disturbing,” Bucky offers thoughtfully. He raises his left hand up, showing off his prosthesis as he turns it as if he’s examining it beneath the bright lights of the conference room. He flexes the hand, scowls a little, and lowers it back to his lap. “It’s already off putting enough, having this and not being able to feel.”
“We will absolutely take your preferences into consideration, Bucky,” Tony replies seriously. “We want you to be comfortable with the new prosthetic. If it causes you any distress, well, that defeats the purpose.”
Bucky smiles at him, warm and sweet. “Thanks, I guess.”
“You’re welcome,” Tony replies, then, “I guess.”
Steve and Bucky both chuckle at that, and Tony tries not to feel all warm and fuzzy about it.
“I have to ask,” Bucky says when the laughter abates, and his gaze is intense as he meets Tony’s eyes, “I know it’s supposed to give me more fine motor control, but will I be able to play the guitar right-handed again?”
“I hope it’ll give you that much fine motor control,” Tony answers honestly. “That’s certainly the goal, but we have no way of knowing for sure. Not until we put it to practice.”
Bucky nods, mouth twisting a little with a wry sort of grin. “I figured as much. Guess I can’t complain too much, huh? I play fine enough left-handed, anyway.”
“I’d say,” Tony agrees before he can think about it.
“Oh yeah?” Bucky smiles, brightening a little further. “You listen to my band, huh?”
Tony ducks his head a little sheepishly, cursing his mouth. “Sure.”
Steve quirks an eyebrow, amusement glittering in his eyes.
“Well,” Tony clears his throat. “Any other questions? No? Excellent! Bucky, if you’ll follow me, I need to take some scans for dimensions and stuff,” Tony exclaims as he pushes to his feet, clapping his hands together.
Bucky blinks, taken aback by the abruptness, but stands up. Steve stands with him, the two of them like clockwork and damn does Tony hate his life. Tony smiles at them and gestures towards the door.
“If you don’t mind, Steve, my assistant has some things to go over with you while you wait,” he says as they leave the conference room and he spots Pepper nearby, a file folder tucked under one arm and a cup holder filled with coffee cups in the other hand.
“Oh, uh, sure,” Steve says.
Pepper walks over to them with a warm smile, and holds the cup holder up. “Coffee?”
“Yes, thank you Pepper,” Tony murmurs and takes one of the cups gratefully, more for something to do with his hands than anything else.
Bucky thanks her quietly as he snags his own cup, and shoots Steve a reassuring smile before following after Tony towards the elevators. Pepper guides Steve over to a pair of comfortable armchairs by one of the windows overlooking the bridge. Tony pretends like he’s not internally freaking out about being alone with Bucky.
He presses the button for his personal lab once they’re on the elevator, and it starts its descent, quick and smooth.
“What kinds of measurements are you going to need, exactly?” Bucky asks while they wait, and he’s staring right at Tony when Tony chances a quick glance at him.
“Arm length,” Tony answers, because these are safe topics. Much better than him opening his mouth and blurting out something completely mortifying. “Your right arm, and what’s left of your left arm. Unless you’d rather not be symmetrical? Wait, no, nevermind that’s ridiculous, it’d be terrible for your balance and your body in general, ignore that. Ahem. I’m also going to do some scans, nothing too time consuming I promise. You won’t even have to get into a machine for it.”
“How’s that work, exactly?” Bucky says, sounding a little bit incredulous and a lot intrigued, a grin tugging the corner of his mouth up. “No one told me I stepped into a sci-fi movie.”
Tony lets out a startled burst of laughter, and he shakes his head. “Well, I don’t have a tricorder if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Don’t sound so disappointed,” Tony grins. “I’ve got something much better.”
“Sure, sure,” Bucky chuckles, and then they’re at Tony’s lab.
The wide-eyed awe on Bucky’s face is, in a word, gratifying , and Tony basks in it. He heads for the equipment he’ll need, depositing his coffee cup on the desk and letting Bucky look around. There are holographic projections up from a different project, still, and Tony watches from the corner of his eye as Bucky studies them, his own coffee cup abandoned on a cart covered in tools.
“This is fuckin’ neat,” he declares after a bit, and turns to beam at Tony. “Always loved science and shit.”
“Yeah? This place has nothing on my set up at home,” Tony tells him, and gestures him over, holding up a tape measure. “Arms up, rock star. J, start the scans, please.”
“Of course, Sir.”
“What the fuck?” Bucky squeaks, spinning around to look for someone who isn’t there. Physically, at least. Tony only feels slightly bad about it.
“That was JARVIS, my AI,” he explains proudly as he reaches out to nudge Bucky’s arms back up. “Told you what I’ve got is better than a tricorder.”
“Yeah,” Bucky mutters faintly. “ Skynet . I-Robot .”
Tony grins as he takes measurements. “JARVIS isn’t that sophisticated yet,” he says.
“As you say, Sir.” JARVIS replies dryly.
“Are you comfortable with removing your prosthetic?” Tony asks then, finished with the first set of measurements.
Bucky lets his head drop back down from where he’d been staring up at the ceiling, and he grins a little crookedly at Tony. “Yeah, sure,” he says lightly, and grabs the hem of his shirt, pulling it over his head in one fluid motion, like he’s used to removing his shirt all the time for complete strangers.
Tony’s mouth goes dry, and he swallows thickly when Bucky smirks slightly at him. “Right,” he manages, and clears his throat. “Okay, uh. Do you need help with it or?”
“Nah, I’ve got it,” Bucky laughs, and starts to remove it after tossing his shirt over his right shoulder.
“Okay, cool, good, very good,” Tony babbles, curses himself silently, and shakes his head. “Hey J, wanna put on some music, drown out all this silence?”
JARVIS says nothing, and a moment later the first notes of Four Souls, off of Nuclear Winter’s very first EP, filter through the speakers. Tony’s face goes hot and he bites his cheek hard to stifle the mortified sound trying to escape his throat. He glares at the nearest camera briefly before glancing back at Bucky to gauge his reaction.
“I can’t believe anyone has our first EP,” he says, bewildered, his prosthetic in his hand.
Tony’s blush darkens a bit more, and he holds his hands out for the prosthetic. Bucky passes it over, then crosses his arm over his chest to cup the neoprene sleeve protecting his skin from chaffing. Tony carries the prosthetic over to a table for JARVIS to take scans of.
“I’ve been following your band since the beginning,” Tony admits sheepishly, and shrugs self consciously when Bucky’s gaze snaps over to him. “I was at the bar you guys got your start in, one night, and was super impressed, picked up your sample CD that night.”
He fidgets with the prosthetic, avoiding Bucky’s gaze. “I didn’t even know you were missing your left arm until that Rolling Stones magazine spread, after you guys made it big. I - I hadn’t planned on saying anything to you, didn’t want you to think you were getting special treatment because I’m a fan. Or to think I was just using this as an excuse to get to meet you.”
Bucky snorts. “I kind of figured it wasn’t any of those things, pal. The guy I talked to about being selected said there was a small panel picking from the candidates.” He shrugs when Tony looks at him. “I was curious, you know? I knew there were at least a hundred different candidates, and I asked how people were being selected. He told me, even showed me a picture of the members of the panel.”
Tony ducks his head, smiles to himself a little. “Sounds like you were talking to Don Blake? He does that photo thing.”
“Right,” Bucky chuckles, “so I knew you had no say or input. I definitely do not suspect you of ulterior motives.”
“Ah, well, that’s - um, that’s good. I’m glad to hear it! Obviously,” Tony babbles, swallowing. “Because I have none! My motives are crystal clear! Like glass! I didn’t even know you were one of the participants until a month ago!”
“Tony,” Bucky interrupts, voice gentle and a tad amused. “I get it, relax.”
Tony covers his face and groans. “Oh god, I’m sorry. This is precisely why I wasn’t going to say anything.”
Bucky chuckles. “You shoulda seen me the first time I met Rick Allen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ,” he says. “Don’t sweat it, Tony. It’s pretty flattering, really.”
“Yeah, for you,” Tony mumbles, but shoots him a grateful smile. “ Okay , back to business before your boyfriend thinks I abducted you or something.”
“He’d be jealous, honestly,” Bucky replies.
“Wha-” Tony says faintly, staring blankly at him. Bucky smiles, the corners of his eyes crinkling, and Tony shakes his head. “Never mind that. Stand still, please? J, start those scans.”
“So, do I get your guitar if the doctors fuck up your surgery and you can’t play it anymore?” Clint jokes, standing with the rest of band around Bucky’s hospital bed. Natasha elbows him hard in the gut.
“Come on dude, not cool,” Sam chastises.
Bucky just laughs and shakes his head. “Not a chance, Barton,” he says, “I’ll fucking learn how to play with my feet before I let you anywhere near any of my guitars. Besides, you don’t even play the guitar. Stick with your drums, little drummer boy.”
“Aw, spoilsport,” Clint pouts.
“Unbelievable,” Nat sighs, and reaches out to grip Bucky’s hand in hers, giving it an affectionate squeeze.
“You guys need to stop worrying so much,” Bucky sighs, relaxing back into the pillows. “I’ll be fine. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll be stuck using the prosthetic I’ve always been using?”
Steve sighs from the other side of his bed. “You guys are supposed to be distracting him from his obsession, not reminding him of what could potentially happen.”
“I’m just saying ,” Bucky starts in, again. “You were starin’ at his hands, too! Tell me they weren’t -”
“Do you see what I’ve been dealing with?” Steve sighs, and smiles at Bucky when he huffs. “Stark’s cute, and sure he’s got nice hands, but that doesn’t automatically make him your angel.”
Sam covers his face with a hand, shoulders shaking with silent laughter. “I thought you were shitting me, Steve,” he manages.
“Hardly,” Steve says dryly.
Bucky scowls. “Well it could make sense, don’t you think? Come on, Nat, back me up here! He’s pretty high-profile, he might not want all the media attention our angel’d definitely get if he came forward.”
Nat grins. “Don’t you mean your angel, Barnes?”
“Yeah, fine, whatever, my angel. The point remains!”
Someone clears their throat then, and everyone turns to the doorway to see Tony Stark standing there. Bucky winces internally, and hopes the man hadn’t heard too much of the conversation. Tony smiles, sweetly shy, and comes into the room.
“Hi there,” he greets. “Just wanted to check in with you before the surgery, see how you’re feeling.”
“Doin’ alright,” Bucky answers with a grin. “Got these jerks to keep me company.”
“I see that.”
“Steve asked us to distract him,” Clint offers brightly, and pushes up from his chair, holding his hand out. “Guess he was gettin’ annoyed of Barnes prattling on about his angel. Clint Barton.” He steps forward and holds a hand out.
Tony blushes again and reaches out to shake Clint’s hand. “Tony Stark.”
Clint grins. “We know.”
“Clint ,” Bucky sighs. “Stop antagonizing him. Sorry about Clint, he’s a little asshole. ‘Course, all drummers are.”
“Hey!” Clint protests, and Sam and Nat both laugh.
“I have a friend who plays the drums,” Tony says. “I can confirm he’s an asshole.”
“Ha!” Sam crows, elbowing Clint. Tony smiles brightly at them.
Out of the corner of his eye he sees Nat cover her mouth, and Bucky huffs at her, amused. He knew she’d be smitten with Tony at once, and it hasn’t even been five minutes since he walked into the room.
Sam and Nat introduce themselves, then, and because they’re both also assholes they suggest Tony might have better luck than them distracting Bucky from “his angel”. Bucky’s kind of gratified, even through the embarrassment, to see how flustered that makes Tony. He hopes it’s more because Tony’s actually Iron Man than anything else, but the blush is cute regardless of the cause.
“Are you ready, then?” Tony asks, once his friends have backed off, ushered by Steve out of the room, and Bucky smiles.
“Yep. Little nervous, but I’m ready,” he confirms.
“Well, Dr. Cho is top in her field. You’re in good hands,” Tony reassures him.
“That’s always nice to hear,” Bucky says.
“Dr. Cho said she thinks you’ll only need the one surgery, which is excellent news,” Tony continues. His fingers snag the back of one of the visitor's chairs and pulls it closer to Bucky’s bed. He sits, straddling the back with his arms crossed along the chair back. “We want a full six weeks before we fit you with your new arm, give you time to heal up properly.”
A smile lights up Tony’s face. “Glad to hear it. Once Dr. Cho’s cleared you after those six weeks, you’ll get to come by the labs and I’ll fit you with your new arm.”
“You know, I never asked,” Bucky muses, “but what’s it gonna be made of?”
“Oh!” Tony exclaims, expression flicking through emotions too quickly for Bucky to track before settling on a mix of apologetic and enthusiastic. “Did you know we’re working with doctors in Wakanda? They’re decades ahead of everyone else, so the opportunity is really exciting! But anyway, a Wakandan metallurgist found an alloy that’s both incredibly lightweight and durable. They let me at it, and I’ve built a few robotic arms with it in the first phase of this trial.
“The weight of the prosthetic, though,” Tony continues, on a roll, his eyes bright as he explains, and Bucky’s mouth goes dry at the sight of him, the way his hands move fluidly in the air as he talks. “The first iteration was tested out by one of the top biologists working for SI, Dr. Connors. He assures that he didn’t even notice the weight, like your body doesn’t notice the weight of your own arm? It’s what we want, of course. If the metal of the arm is too heavy it’ll cause the wearer pain, and a whole host of other problems long-term.”
“Yeah,” Bucky agrees, when Tony pauses, and thinks about the strain he feels after long days. “Thank you for telling me about it, Tony, that’s actually really interesting to know.”
Tony ducks his head, a light flush working its way along his cheeks, and he smiles softly, glancing up at Bucky through his lashes. “It is, isn’t it? Not many people think so, which is silly, but to each their own I guess.”
“Yeah, well, I told you already didn’t I? I like science and shit like that,” Bucky reminds him. “I was pretty handy with a wrench, too, in high school. Grew up pretty poor, so I earned extra cash fixing stuff when I could.”
“You like fixing things, Bucky?”
“Sure,” Bucky shrugs awkwardly. “It was fun taking stuff apart and putting it back together with my own two hands. Doesn’t go as well for me, now, but that’s okay. I can still play the guitar, and that’s what matters.”
“Yeah,” Tony hums. He straightens back up, his eyes flickering over Bucky, from his head down to his toes hidden by the thin hospital blanket. “Well then, if you feel confident using just your right hand, I’ll teach you how to take your arm apart and put it back together, when you get it.”
Bucky blinks, a grin splitting across his face. “Really? I’d like that, I’d like that a lot.”
Tony’s smile, small and pleased, is beautiful .
Shit , Bucky thinks faintly as he smiles back, Stevie’n’I don’t stand a chance .
“Buck, c’mon, stop prodding at it!” Steve sighs for the fifth time that morning, and lightly smacks Bucky’s hand away from the arm’s anchor point when Bucky keeps trailing his fingers along the edges where metal meets skin. “Dr. Cho told you not to play with it.”
They’re on their way home from the latest post-op checkup with Dr. Cho and her team, and they’d finally decided they could remove the bandages. There’s a long list of instructions Bucky’s supposed to follow, folded up and tucked into Steve’s jacket pocket. One of those instructions was to not poke at the anchor .
“But it’s so neat!” Bucky whines, slumping back into the leather upholstery of the limo seats. “It’s embedded in my flesh, Steve! I’m a literal fuckin’ cyborg!”
Steve hides a grin. “You’re ridiculous.”
Bucky pouts, and Steve chuckles softly, carefully putting his arm around Bucky’s shoulders to pull him into his side. He tilts his head back against Steve’s bicep and comes along, grumbling wordlessly. Sitting opposite them, Peggy smiles fondly as she works off her phone.
“There’s another interview request,” she says after a bit, glancing up from her phone. “It’s with Loudwire , they want to talk about your feelings about IronMan6870’s notable radio silence since the start of the ‘angel hunt’ as they referred to it.”
“What?” Bucky asks, sitting up.
“Ah,” Steve grimaces. “I thought it was weird you hadn’t said anything,” he mutters. “Iron Man used to post a video once, maybe twice a month, but since #FindBuck’sAngelofMusic took off there hasn’t been a single upload. There’s no mention of a planned hiatus anywhere, either.”
Steve watches him warily, only sparing a brief glare Peggy’s way when Bucky’s expression settles into that guilty clench of his jaw, his brows pulling down over his eyes. Peggy winces a bit in response. They both know what’s most likely going through Bucky’s mind, and it’s certainly not good.
“Hey,” Steve says softly, shifting so he can slide his hand down Bucky’s arm to grip his hand. “Hey, don’t do that. Maybe Iron Man just hasn’t had the chance to post anything, or something unexpected came up and they haven’t given their YouTube stuff much thought because of it.”
“Or Iron Man got spooked,” Bucky counters gruffly, but squeezes Steve’s hand in thanks.
“Or maybe you’re right in your hopes and Tony Stark is Iron Man. He’s been busy with this project, hasn’t he?” Peggy offers.
Bucky grunts and rolls his shoulders in a shrug. “I can dream, I guess.”
Steve snorts. “Been doin’ more’n dreamin’, Buck,” he teases, and Bucky smirks at him.
“M’not the only one,” he points out, then turns to look at Peggy.
“Tell them I wanna do the interview,” he declares, then narrows his eyes a little. “I wanna do it now .”
“Now? Barnes, what -”
“Tell ‘em it’s now or never,” Bucky interrupts, and Peggy narrows her eyes at him, mouth pressing into a thin line, then returns her attention to her phone.
“What’s going through your head, honey?” Steve murmurs, studying his profile.
He shifts, turning towards Steve, stubbornness in the line of his shoulders and the set of his jaw. “You know me well enough, Stevie,” he says instead of answering, and Steve heaves a sigh.
“I have seen some of the comments, Steve,” Bucky mutters. “On that video alone. Who knows what kinds of stuff’s being sent to this person through direct message? What if people’ve been harassing the guy to the point they don’t feel like they can continue posting content? That’s my fault, Steve.”
“It is not,” Steve protests, loudly. “You don’t control what assholes on the internet do!”
Bucky scowls. “Yeah, but I didn’t exactly remind everyone to be fuckin’ respectful, did I?”
“You shouldn’t have to remind people to be fuckin’ respectful!” Steve retorts hotly, edging closer to yelling than necessary. He takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, and uncurls his right hand from the fist it’d balled into. “It isn’t your job to remind people to be respectful. It’s their job to remember to be respectful. If people are harassing Iron Man that is not your fault.”
“Fine,” Bucky growls, then sighs heavily through his nose. “Fine, but I’m still gonna call ‘em out.”
“That’s fine, honey, but you shouldn’t blame yourself for other people’s actions.”
Bucky opens his mouth to respond, and Peggy clears her throat. They twist back around to face her, and Steve feels a little guilty for forgetting she was in the limo for a moment. Peggy quirks a brow at them, quietly amused, and holds her phone up.
“I emailed the magazine,” she says, “and they’ve agreed to do the interview today, if you’re willing to do it on camera, too, for their website.”
“Yeah, sure,” Bucky agrees immediately, “that way it’ll reach more people.”
Peggy smiles and nods. “I figured you’d be fine with that. We have to be at their New York branch in two hours.”
“Where’s it at?” Steve asks, and peers out the tinted window to his right at the heavy traffic.
“Manhattan,” Peggy answers, her smile turning a little mischievous. “A block away from SI’s offices.”
Steve chuckles at the broad, pleased grin that spreads across Bucky’s face, though he’s just as pleased as Bucky.
“Good, means we can drop in on Tony,” he says happily. “He promised to start showing me the inner workings of my arm.”
Peggy snorts and rolls her eyes, twisting to knock lightly against the partition. A second later it rolls down to reveal their driver, Scott, and the bumper-to-bumper traffic ahead. Steve can see Scott’s eyebrow quirked in question in the rearview mirror.
“Barnes wants to go to Stark Industries,” Peggy says.
“He gonna ask Stark out on a date, finally?” Scott jokes, twisting around to shoot them a wicked grin. “My friend interns at SI, you know; he’s mentioned seeing Barnes around a few times. Constantly flirting with Stark. Rogers does it too.”
“He’s cute,” Bucky mutters, and Peggy sighs heavily, glancing to the roof briefly before giving Steve a Look .
Steve shrugs, unrepentant, and decides her look isn’t disapproving so much as deeply disappointed they haven’t actually asked Tony out yet.
“I don’t know why I put up with the two of you,” Peggy says.
“Aw Peg, you love us,” Steve says with a saccharine smile.
Peggy shoots him a flat look, though the corners of her mouth are twitching, fighting a smile.
“I think the three of you would make a hot threesome,” Scott offers into the silence. Peggy covers her face with a hand.
“Thanks, Scott,” Bucky laughs. He glances over to Steve, blue-grey eyes dark, and Steve has a pretty good idea what’s on his mind. He lets his eyelids drop half-mast, and Bucky’s eyes darken further.
“If you two start snogging in the limo I will beat your arses,” Peggy threatens.
“You’re no fun, Peggy,” Bucky grumbles, tearing his gaze from Steve’s.
Steve tries not to pout.
Twenty minutes later, they pull up to SI. Steve and Bucky climb out of the limo, assure Scott and Peggy they’ll be fine, yes, we can walk the block to the magazine’s offices, Peggy, relax , and walk into SI’s lobby. They’ve been here a few times before, all but one of them for meetings regarding Bucky’s prosthesis, but neither of them recognize the secretary sitting behind the desk when they approach. The nametag pinned to her chest says her name is Erica.
“Can I help you?” Erica asks politely, looking up from her computer screen. Her eyes widen, when they catch on Bucky, and it’s clear she recognizes him.
“We’d like to see Tony Stark, if he’s available,” Bucky says, leaning against the desk, all lazy smiles and Brooklyn drawl.
Erica flushes, and Steve bites back his amused snort. “I - I ah, I can check to see if he’s available,” she manages after a moment, clearing her throat with a little shake of her head.
“Thank you,” Bucky murmurs.
“You’re a menace ,” Steve sighs fondly.
“Mm, yeah, but you love,” Bucky hums, and turns to lean his elbow on the edge of the desk while they wait. He gives Steve a sly look, watching him from beneath his lashes.
Steve huffs. “A menace ,” he reiterates.
“Mr. Stark is currently in a meeting,” Erica interrupts then, sounding apologetic. “I’m afraid he doesn’t have any available time today, Mr. Barnes. You’ll have to make an appointment with his personal assistant.”
“Is there any way you can get ahold of him?” Bucky asks, rolling on the desk so he’s facing her once again.
Erica’s face shutters a bit, and she shakes her head. “No,” she says firmly. “You’ll have to get in contact with his personal assistant. I can give you Ms. Potts’ card.”
Bucky sighs and straightens up, scrubbing his hand through his hair. “Shit, alright. I’m part of the prosthetic study,” he says.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” Erica repeats.
Steve nudges Bucky gently. “C’mon, Buck, he’s busy.”
“Yeah, I know, but -”
“Buck ,” Steve repeats.
At the same time, a voice comes over the intercom.
“It’s okay Erica, you can let them up. They’ve got clearance to my lab. ”
All three of them startle, glancing around. “Mister Stark!” Erica protests immediately. “They’re not on the list!”
“Oops, sorry, knew I was forgetting something ,” Tony says. “ Let ‘em up, Erica. ”
“Well, okay,” Erica says dubiously. “If you’re certain, Mister Stark?”
“Of course I am. Oh! Can you have badges made for them? Mr. Barnes’ll be back quite a bit over the next few months. I imagine Mr. Rogers, too. They get full access to my labs and the prosthetic lab. ”
“You don’t have to see us if you’re busy, Tony,” Bucky says then.
“Nonsense, ” Tony replies immediately, “ Never too busy, Barnes. Get your asses up here .”
“Mister Stark,” Erica yelps, and shoots a woman walking across the lobby an apologetic look.
Erica sighs and stands from the desk, motioning for Steve and Bucky to follow after her. “Full access to Mister Stark’s labs gives you access to the private elevator,” she explains as she leads them to an elevator tucked away from easy view. “If you stop by the desk before you leave, you can pick up the badges.”
“Oh,” Bucky blinks, thrown. “Thank you.”
“Thanks,” Steve adds, and smiles when Erica glances at him. “I hope you have a nice day.”
“Thank you,” Erica replies with a slight frown, her gaze darting between them.
The elevator doors open up, and Steve ushers Bucky into the car before she can fully connect the dots. He’s done a decent job staying out of sight, so to speak. The public knows Bucky’s got a boyfriend, they just don’t know who . Steve’s not ashamed of their relationship, he would endure any kind of hell to prove to Bucky he’s not, if Bucky asked, but Bucky hasn’t and Steve’s not very keen on being in the public eye. Not yet, at least.
“I can have Dougan slap her with a gag order,” Bucky offers when the doors close behind them and the car starts upwards.
“No,” Steve shakes his head. “No, it’s fine.”
“I mean it, Buck,” Steve cuts him off, and smiles reassuringly at him. “Promise. It’ll be fine.”
Bucky sighs, leans back against the wall, and studies Steve. “I know you’re not comfortable with the fame thing, Stevie.”
Steve steps into Bucky’s space, leans into him, pressing a kiss against Bucky’s jaw once he’s close enough. “Don’t worry, Bucky. People’ll figure out who you’re dating eventually. It’s inevitable. Really, it’s a miracle the paps haven’t gotten pictures of us together. We aren’t exactly subtle.”
“Yeah, true,” Bucky snorts and wraps his arm around Steve’s waist.
They’re silent for the rest of the ride, and don’t actually part until the doors slide open to reveal a short hallway with floor to ceiling glass along the left-hand side. Bucky heads out, and Steve follows behind him, studying the lab through the windows curiously as they go. It looks like organized chaos, and reminds Steve of Bucky’s music room whenever he gets inspiration for a new song.
He spots Tony in the middle of the room as they approach the door, surrounded by holographic displays around his head like a halo, his arms raised like a conductor as he flicks through them. The sight is breathtaking , and Steve stutters to a stop a few steps from the door, awed. Bucky shoots him a look over his shoulder, equal parts knowing and smug.
“What a sight, huh?” he teases, and turns back to the door, rapping his knuckles against the glass twice.
It takes a minute or so before Tony seems to realize they’re there, but as soon as he does he turns fully towards them with the brightest grin. He says something, and then a light Steve hadn’t noticed before turns green and Bucky pulls the door open. Sound assaults them as soon as he does, and Steve winces against it.
“Sorry!” Tony shouts, and a moment later the music is at a much more manageable volume. “What brings you guys by? Everything good with your arm?”
“Yeah,” Bucky replies. He pulls the sleeve up over the anchor point. “Got the bandages off an hour ago!”
“Oh, it looks good,” Tony says, his eyes lighting up even further, and he comes closer, silently asking if he can touch. Bucky nods, and Tony starts prodding gently at the base. “Looks so much better than I imagined.”
Steve smiles, and turns to inspect the lab a bit. It’s the first time he’s been here, and Bucky definitely wasn’t exaggerating about stepping into a sci-fi movie. Everything’s so sleek and next world Steve feels a little dizzy.
“You alright over there, Steve?” Tony asks, pulling Steve from his thoughts. He looks kind of amused, definitely a tad pleased. “You’re looking a little shell-shocked there.”
“No, no I’m good,” Steve says as he turns slowly to take the lab in again. “This place is amazing , Tony. I thought Bucky was just messin’ with me when he said it feels like stepping straight into Stark Trek .”
Tony’s smile is dazzling. Steve wants to paint him, like this. He doesn’t think he’d do Tony justice.
“Bucky-bear talks about me?” he asks, and though it’s clearly meant as a joke, Steve can see the genuine pleasure at this fact shimmering in Tony’s eyes. It’s obvious Tony admires Bucky. Steve thinks maybe that’s one of his favorite things about Tony.
“You bet your ass I do,” Bucky answers. “You’re gorgeous and smart, two of Steve’s favorite things.”
Steve snorts fondly. “Stop being an ass, Buck,” he says, and smiles at Tony. “He’s not wrong, but you can ignore him.”
“Okay,” Tony blinks, glances between them, and frowns. “I feel like I entered the Twilight Zone here, guys. Or was I mistaken when he introduced you as his boyfriend?”
“Not mistaken,” Steve tells him.
“Right, okay, so,” Tony licks his lips, frowns thoughtfully, glancing at Steve and then at Bucky. “Am - I’m not imagining this, right? You two are sort of - sort of flirting with me , yeah?”
Bucky steps closer to Tony, and smiles softly at him when Tony looks back at him. “Not if you don’t want us to be.”
“Uh -” Tony flounders, blinking rapidly. “Wow. Um. This is my life now, okay. Well then. I - I’m flattered, I am, like whoa , but I - if you mean anything by it I - it’s. If it’s just all for fun then, well, okay, I -”
“Tony, hey,” Steve interrupts softly, surprised by Tony’s reaction. “It’s okay, alright? It can mean whatever you want it to mean, Tony. If it’s making you uncomfortable, then of course we’ll stop, but whatever it means is up to you , okay?”
“Okay,” Tony squeaks, flushes, and clears his throat. “Uh, okay. Cool. Um. Flirting. Flirting is fun! Harmless fun! I’m all for that! I flirt with everything! Just ask Pepper. She says I even flirt with my inventions. Speaking of which!” He claps his hands together and spins around towards a table to Steve’s left.
Bucky meets his gaze, disappointment and acceptance in his eyes, before turning after Tony. Steve bites his lip, watching them, a little disappointed and a lot curious. He’s not sure what to make of Tony’s reaction, other than it’s not a bad one .
They’ve gotten bad reactions from people. Both together and individually. This wasn’t - that.
“Steve called me ridiculous,” Bucky is saying, when Steve tunes back into the conversation.
“But you are a cyborg, by definition!” Tony says, and turns to give Steve a squinty-eyed, disapproving look. “Do you have something against cyborgs, Steve?”
“Nope,” Steve chuckles and joins them by the table where - he notes - a robotic arm is lying. “Just Bucky.”
Steve sends him a shit eating grin. “What? You are ridiculous. You wanted to name your band Antidisestablishmentarianists, Bucky. I remember that. Clearly.”
Tony blinks, then starts laughing, the sound bright and delightful.
“Hmph,” Bucky sniffs and turns his nose up at Steve. “I wasn’t the only one.”
“You were the only one aside from Natasha who could pronounce it sober, though.”
“Oh my god,” Tony wheezes, wiping his eyes. “I’m just - shit, I’m picturing you guys on stage in the early days, closing out your set and shouting ‘thank you, we are the Antidisestablishmentarianists!’’
“It was supposed to be ironic,” Bucky grumbles, but he’s smiling. “Because we’re actually in full support of disestablishment!”
Tony’s laughter redoubles.
Steve smiles and leans over to press a kiss to Bucky’s cheek. “It makes a better album title, I think.”
“Yeah,” Bucky sighs, smiling at Tony.
“Okay,” Tony manages, eventually, without breaking into renewed giggles, “okay. Steve makes a good case. You are a little ridiculous.”
“But it works,” Bucky counters, and winks.
“Yep!” Tony says.
“At least he doesn’t deny it,” Steve murmurs, and smiles when Tony flushes again. He opens his mouth, ready to flirt a little more, when his phone vibrates in his pocket. He sighs and checks it, then makes a face.
“What?” Bucky asks, coming close enough to rest his chin on Steve’s shoulder.
He holds his phone up for Bucky to see the screen. “Peggy thinks we’re incapable of keeping track of time.”
Tony cocks his head to the side, smiling crookedly. “You two have somewhere you need to be?”
“Not for another hour and ten minutes,” Bucky mutters.
“Don’t sound so petulant, you’re the one who wanted that interview done today,” Steve reminds him.
“You’re doing an interview?” Tony asks, sounding surprised. “I thought you were avoiding all that stuff until after.” He gestures at Bucky’s arm with a shrug.
“That was the plan,” Bucky admits, straightening from his slouch. “But something was brought to my attention and I thought it prudent that I address it.”
“Oh,” Tony murmurs, studying Bucky. “Must be important.”
“It is,” Steve answers, shooting Bucky a look, “to Bucky, at least. I think he’s overreacting, a little, but he’s worried , and he wouldn’t be Bucky if he wasn’t I guess.”
Tony raises his eyebrows. “Sounds a little concerning, if you wanted an outside opinion. From someone who has no idea what you’re talking about.”
Bucky snorts and glares at Steve. “It’s probably nothin’, I probably am overreacin’ a bit, but.” He shrugs. “I wanted to do the interview as soon as possible, just in case I wasn’t.”
Steve smiles and wraps an arm around Bucky’s waist, pulling him closer. “One of the reasons you’re such a great person, Buck.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Bucky mutters.
“He’s right,” Tony says, and smiles. “I always thought you seemed like a nice guy, from all your interviews and the stories about you. One of the reasons I kept following Nuclear Winter.”
A week after the interview with Loudwire, Bucky’s phone chimes with a notification alert at three in the morning. He glances up from his notebook and the various lines of song he’s been working on since noon the day before, groaning at the stiffness in his neck and back. His phone chimes again, and Bucky reaches for it.
The notification is from YouTube, and his heart gives a little stutter-skip of excitement when he sees it. Everyone - save Steve - would most definitely tease him for it, but the night after that interview he’d gone home and created a private YouTube account just so he could subscribe to his angel. He’s been toying with the idea of maybe introducing Steve to his fans with it, maybe, in the future. If Steve ever feels comfortable with the public knowing who he is to Bucky.
Bucky clicks on the notification, and it takes him to a new video. His heart’s in his throat as he waits for it to load, curious to see if Iron Man will talk at all or if it’s just going to be another song. He hopes Iron Man talks - he wants to hear his voice something fierce - but honestly, Bucky’ll be content with just music. It means he hasn’t accidentally scared the guy off.
Where in the world have you been hiding? Really you were perfect. I only wish I knew your secret; who is this new tutor?
It takes a moment, but when it clicks Bucky laughs so hard his stomach aches.
“Okay, so, you’re a cheeky bastard,” he pants, wipes at his eyes, and restarts the video.
Steve wanders in halfway through the song, eyebrows high on his forehead. “What’s so funny?”
Bucky grins at him and holds up his phone. Steve comes closer, squints, then snorts, laughing under his breath as he presses a hand over his eyes. Bucky hums.
“Just uploaded,” Bucky tells him. “Cheeky.”
“It really, really is,” Steve agrees, and sits next to Bucky on the couch. “Is there anything in the description?” he muses, and plucks Bucky’s phone out of his hand.
“Dunno, didn’t get that far,” Bucky admits, and relaxes against Steve’s side.
“There is,” Steve informs him after a brief moment. His mouth twitches a little.
“Well, what’s it say?” Bucky cajoles. “Huh, what’s my angel of music have to say?”
“Standard disclaimer nonsense,” Steve murmurs, then smiles. “‘Hey, so sorry for the impromptu hiatus’, he says,” Steve reads, glancing up at Bucky briefly, “‘It was and wasn’t unexpected. I would’ve warned you all in my last video, but I’d been so busy with a project at work I forgot to mention I might disappear for awhile.
“And before any of you ask, I know members from Nuclear Winter saw my cover of their song, and I know they’d like to meet me. I haven’t decided if I’m going to reach out, though, so please respect that. In the meantime, enjoy this Phantom Of The Opera cover.’ Well,” Steve finishes, and looks back to Bucky. “At least you know Iron Man’s absence wasn’t because of you.”
Bucky sighs, relieved, and waves his hand at Steve. “Come on, then. Out with it. Tell me you told me so.”
“ I would never ,” Steve gasps, with a shit-eating grin, and bumps their shoulders together. “But I did tell you it wasn’t your fault.”
“Yeah,” he murmurs, then scowls when a thought worms its way to the front of his mind, insistent and annoying.
Iron Man could be lying it says. Bucky sighs.
“What’s wrong?” Steve asks, turning his head to watch Bucky worriedly. “You hurting?”
“No, m’fine,” Bucky assures him, gives him a tired smile, “just an intrusive thought.”
“Well, tell it to fuck off,” Steve says with a scowl. He looks the way he always does, when Bucky’s mind reminds them it’s an enemy, like he’d fistfight Bucky’s brain if he could.
Stubborn jackass, he thinks fondly.
Steve turns back to Bucky’s phone, a frown of concentration sliding over his features as he starts tapping at the screen. A minute later, there’s a video of kittens and puppies playing. Bucky tries not to snort, and leans heavier into Steve’s side, settling in to watch. Predictable or not, Steve knows what works wonders.
They watch videos of kittens and puppies for a good hour, until Steve’s head drops to rest on top of Bucky’s and he starts snoring softly, the phone propped up on the coffee table. The last video ends, the screen goes dark, and Bucky contemplates waking Steve and going to bed.
Instead, he thinks about Iron Man and the interview he did. The woman interviewing him had seemed a little aggravated, in the beginning, which, Bucky can understand. He did sort of demand for the interview to be ASAP. They might have been keen on doing it, but he’s certain they’d figured they’d have more time to prepare.
At least he’d known exactly what he wanted to say.
“I apologize about demanding this interview today, but I felt it was important to talk about immediately. I’ll probably rehash this on Twitter later, because I’m serious. I don’t know what caused Iron Man’s radio silence, and I can only hope it’s not related to the sudden attention Iron Man’s gotten with the whole #FindBuck’sAngelOfMusic thing. I hope that’s not why, at least, I hope that’s not the catalyst.
“I know it’s still trending, and I keep talking about seriously wanting to meet Iron Man, but if that’s not what Iron Man wants I can respect that. I only hope my fans are respecting that, too. I’ll admit that I hadn’t even known Iron Man went silent after that until my manager informed me your magazine wanted to do an interview about it. My first thought was that I’d managed to chase the poor bastard off the internet, indirectly, and if that’s true, that was never my intention. I genuinely love Iron Man’s cover of my song, and I think Iron Man is incredibly talented. I’d love to meet them, I really would, but if my fans are or have been hounding them to the point they’re avoiding their account or the internet or whatever, I apologize. I like to think the Nuclear Winter fanbase is more respectful than that, but I know there are people out there who aren’t, or who think they’re doing me a favor or have forgotten that behind it all is a human being who has their own feelings.
“So, I guess this interview was more for me than for you. It’s me telling you guys out there that I appreciate the enthusiasm and effort, but please don’t harass Iron Man. If Iron Man is willing to meet me, that’ll be amazing, but if not then that’s fine too. I’ll respect that, and if I can then you guys can too.”
“Stop thinkin’ so hard,” Steve slurs, startling Bucky from his thoughts.
“Thought you were sleepin’,” Bucky grumbles, and shakes the memory of the interview away. “Was tryna decide if I should wake you or just let you sleep here for the night.”
Steve snorts and shifts, straightening up and jostling Bucky from his comfortable position leaned up against Steve. “S’mornin’, Buck,” he points out around a yawn, and gestures at the clock hanging on the wall that reads 5:09, accusing.
“Oh,” Bucky huffs, blinks, and sighs. “Shit. Sorry.”
“Shuddup, you’re the one who didn’t get any sleep,” Steve mumbles.
“Yeah, but you coulda been sleepin’ in a bed ,” Bucky grumbles.
“Slept on rocks for months at a time,” Steve counters, standing up with a low groan. “Bed’s still too soft.”
Bucky grimaces and concedes the point. Because Steve does have one, and Bucky’s all too familiar with it. He watches Steve stretch his back out, trying to shake the thoughts from his head.
“D’you think Tony’d be annoyed if we showed up again?” Bucky asks thoughtfully.
Steve considers him with a knowing little grin. “You too, huh?”
“Well,” Bucky shrugs, relieved. He’d suspected, but it’s nice having the confirmation. “I like ‘im.”
“Me too,” Steve agrees, and starts for the kitchen. “We ought to talk to him, you know, Buck. To clarify that we’re interested in dating him, because right now he thinks we’re bein’ friendly and not much else. Just friendly, harmless flirting. He’s also probably under the assumption that neither of us are interested in anything beyond friendship.”
“But I hate talkin’,” Bucky complains, craning his head around to see Steve’s arms reaching into the cupboard. “Feelings are the worst.”
Steve snorts, and the sound of porcelain on marble echoes it. “Neither of us are the best at it, but baby, we have to , if we’re both serious about dating Tony, which I think we are?” Bucky nods, and Steve sends him a small smile. “I know we never - we never actually discussed it, but we’ve also known each other since we were six. We shoulda talked about it, but well.”
“Yeah,” Bucky sighs, and shoves himself to his feet, trudging into the kitchen a little sullenly. “Given that we’re, y’know, talkin’ about talkin’ to Tony, I’d say it’s safe to assume we’re both serious about dating Tony.”
“Yeah, no shit,” Steve huffs, grinning. “Nat’s always sayin’ communication is important, and she’s right, but doubly so if we’re going to be in a polyamorous relationship.”
Bucky wrinkles his nose and slumps against the counter opposite Steve, watching as he starts the coffee pot. “Yeah, I know. Guess it’s a good thing I’m back in therapy, huh?”
“Possibly,” Steve agrees, and turns to face Bucky, arms crossed over his chest as he leans back against the wall. “Probably. Group’s been pretty helpful for me.”
“Mm,” Bucky hums agreeably. “I’m glad.”
“Honey,” Steve starts, sighs, and hunches his shoulders up a bit before letting them sag. “We’ll be takin’ it all slow. Gotta find out if Tony’d even be interested in dating the both of us, first.”
“I think he is,” Bucky says. “Seen the way he looks at us when he thinks we ain’t lookin’.”
“We still have to make sure,” Steve insists, though there’s a slight smile curling his lips.
“Tony?” Pepper’s voice calls from - somewhere , possibly the door to the shop, Tony’s not sure - and JARVIS cuts the music.
“Hey!” Tony protests, because it’s routine at this point, and pops up from beneath one of his worktables.
Pepper spots him and sighs fondly, shaking her head as she moves over to him. “You’ve been in here for less than a half hour and already you’re a walking disaster,” she mutters wryly.
“I’d be offended, but really, I know when I’m beat,” he says cheerfully, and snags a - dirty, of course - rag from another table to wipe at his face. “What’s up?”
“Erica says Steve Rogers and James Barnes have been visiting you at SI nearly every day this week,” Pepper says, and clucks her tongue when Tony’s only managed to smear the grease around his face more instead of cleaning it off. “I thought that was awful funny, given that I’m the one who does up your schedule, and I know you weren’t scheduled to meet with Mr. Barnes until next week.”
“Well,” Tony hedges, his face growing warm, “I might have told them they’re free to drop by me whenever, at my SI lab?”
He sighs in defeat and makes his way over to the sink in the back left corner, careful as he picks his way around the various detritus littering the floor. Pepper’s long ago stopped scolding him for running around barefoot in his workshop, and Tony feels he’s proven that shoes are overrated at home tenfold. He hears Pepper’s heels clicking along the cement as she trails after him.
“Oh, Tony,” she chuckles, all too knowing and fond, and Tony makes a face at the cabinets over the sink, a little embarrassed. “Why don’t you just invite them to hang out here? They obviously have an interest in being your friend.”
The way she says it, like she thinks it’s something other than friendship they’re aiming for, makes Tony pause with his hands under the water - for so long that he accidentally scalds himself. Tony yelps and yanks his hands away from the stream, shakes them as he turns to peer at Pepper. She smiles back, eyes crinkled a little at the corners.
“I’ve considered it,” Tony admits, frowning down at his hands. “Just seems presumptuous, a little, and I haven’t known them for all that long.”
“Well, nobody said you had to invite them to this workshop,” Pepper points out. “You’ve got a perfectly good penthouse you three could hang out in.”
Tony turns back to the sink and readjusts the water temperature. “I guess, but,” he shrugs, watches his hands as he soaps them up, “What are we supposed to do , Pep? I show Bucky how to maintain his arm, and Steve stares at everything in the lab while I do that. We chat a little, sure, but it’s not - it all seems more business than casual.”
“You know, I’ve never seen you this unsure of people before, I don’t think,” she says softly. “You really like them, huh?”
“What kind of question is that, Pep?” Tony snorts, and rinses the soap off. “Of course I do, they’re - well, it’s Bucky Barnes , Pep, and Steve’s pretty interesting too. They’re both, I, huh, I don’t know, I don’t know the right words to explain it. Them . They don’t treat me like - well, they treat me like Tony , not Tony Stark .”
He sighs softly and shuts the water off, flicking it from his hands a bit before grabbing a clean towel to dry them off with. When he turns back around, Pepper’s studying Tony intently, mouth pursed and brows drawn in. It’s a little unsettling, if he lets himself think about it, because Pepper’s always been good at seeing through his bullshit, almost as good as Rhodey.
“I’m glad they do,” she says finally, softly, and gives him a little smile, her brow smoothing out. “Not enough people do.”
Tony smiles wryly. “No shit,” he huffs. “But I guess now’s a good time, to do it, I think. I don’t need to be at SI for a bit yet, and I’ve already gotten my work done for my thesis besides. I was just gonna spend some time playing - well, I’ve got a list of songs I wanna record.”
Pepper shakes her head. “You haven’t told him,” she snickers, “I know you haven’t. Why not?”
“I - what, no, I don’t. I’m not going to, there’s not any reason to,” Tony stammers, then scowls at her, dropping the towel on the counter behind him, stalking around her and towards the workshop entrance. “No one needs to know. I should never have told you about that thing, when I started.”
“Aw, Tony,” Pepper chuckles, walking beside him. “Don’t be like that. You’ve seen all those interviews and tweets he’s posted, I know you have. Bucky wants to meet you. It sounds a lot like he’s pretty impressed with you.”
“He’s impressed with Iron Man ,” Tony refutes, pushing the door open. He heads up the short staircase to his penthouse, and makes a beeline for the kitchen.
Pepper heaves another sigh, and walks over to the couch. “ You , Tony. You’re Iron Man.”
“Howard would have a fit,” Tony points out, weakly. They both know Howard wouldn’t actually give a shit unless it somehow affected SI’s stock.
“ Tony ,” Pepper says, then huffs. “Fine, fine, I’ll drop it.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to tell Rhodey,” she reminds him.
“Ugh ,” Tony groans, and thunks his head against the cabinets once before getting into it to make coffee.
Iron Man is a lil shit<3 #FindBuck’sAngelofMusic#youthinkyou’resofunny
Iron Man is such a cocktease #FindBuck’sAngelofMusic
some1 pls put me outta my misery ;P
“Damn , Tony,” Bucky whistles, looking around the penthouse.
Beside him Steve exhales softly, a small little sigh of disbelief. He digs a sharp elbow into Bucky’s side, jerks his head towards a baby grand piano partially hidden in a little inlet to their left. A strange twist of pleased satisfaction surges through him, warm and heavy as it settles in his gut.
“I’m used to a certain standard of living,” Tony says as he comes out of the kitchen with a bowl of popcorn and a tray full of drinks in his hands.
“This place is huge,” Steve says with a shrug. “I grew up in a storage closet compared to this. Buck, too.”
“Our apartment is a shoebox,” Bucky mutters, a touch petulant. Steve shoots him a Look .
Tony shrugs, looking sort of sheepish, and walks over to the couch. The couch that’s set into the floor . Bucky’s a little jealous, if he’s honest. It looks beyond comfortable. Bucky would probably never leave it if it were in their apartment.
“Feel free to sprawl,” Tony tells them as he tucks himself into the left corner of the couch.
Bucky and Steve eye each other briefly before hopping onto the couch. Bucky sighs happily, wriggles until he’s comfortable, and grins lazily. “This is a nice couch,” he mumbles.
“Yes,” Tony agrees with a little laugh. “JARVIS, I promised to show them a sci-fi show that’s not Stargate or Star Trek. You know what I want.”
“Indeed, Sir,” JARVIS’ voice replies.
“JARVIS is here too?” Bucky asks excitedly, perking up.
Tony beams. “Of course he is! He runs the place, and my private workshop a floor down.”
“That’s pretty neat, Tony,” Steve says, and smiles that smile .
Bucky watches Tony’s face flush as he ducks his head, and he bites his lip to keep from doing something incredibly dumb .
“Right! Show! Watching, us! Hit the lights, J,” Tony says, overly loud, and the lights dim at the same time the tv comes on.
They settle down, Steve pressed close to Bucky’s right side, warm and solid. By the second episode Tony’s sprawled out himself, though Bucky suspects it was a subconscious thing, glad as he is that Tony’s relaxed. Bucky can feel himself start to relax, too, and it’s nice, he thinks, his mind drifting, chords and bars and lyrics gathering and scattering.
He comes back to awareness with two sets of eyes on him, both men grinning a little, and all at once Bucky realizes he’d been humming under his breath.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, sheepish, and Tony’s grin widens.
“Do you always do that?”
“I - uh, sorry -”
“Don’t be!” Tony interrupts, and a half-second later there’s an explosion on screen that has all of them jumping.
Bucky snorts, covers his face, and Steve and Tony start laughing with him.
“Take it as a compliment,” Steve says, once they’ve calmed down, and smiles softly at Tony. “He only does that when he’s comfortable.”
Tony blinks, mouth working silently, as if he’s got something to say but the words won’t come out. Bucky grins at him, shrugs, and pretends like he doesn’t see the flush spreading along Tony’s cheeks, seeing as Tony’s doing the same for him.
“You have any paper lying around by chance?” he asks, because, well, it’s not like there’s a point in being shy about it, and really he’s been grinding at new songs for weeks now, half-frustrated with the half-formed lyrics and chords refusing to be completed. It’s been awhile since something’s just come to him, in full, ready and waiting to be written down.
“Uh, I’ve got a graph notebook somewhere ,” Tony replies, his voice fading out into that distracted tone he uses when his mind’s gone a hundred miles ahead of his mouth. He climbs off of the couch.
Bucky, and Steve, he knows , stare at Tony’s ass as he does. It’s - well, no one can blame them, Bucky thinks, because Tony’s ass is damn fine . Bucky very much wants to get his hands on that ass. Maybe his mouth, too, if Tony’d be into it. He thinks Tony might like it, or would at least be willing to try it.
“ Buck ,” Steve hisses in his ear while simultaneously jabbing a sharp elbow into Bucky’s side. “Wipe the drool from your mouth, Jesus.”
“Like you’re not drooling over it either,” Bucky rolls his eyes, turns to Steve, and smirks when Steve’s face turns red.
“Aha!” Tony shouts, then, and holds up a battered notebook in one hand as he climbs back down from the bookshelf Bucky hadn’t even - well, he hadn’t known it was there to begin with, but Tony’s quick , he hadn’t even realized Tony was climbing the goddamned thing, must have done in the few seconds he’d turned to goad Steve a bit. He’s a little disappointed he didn’t get to watch.
“Ah, Tony, careful,” Steve chastises, scrambling out from the tangle of legs and crawling off the couch, as if he’ll be able to catch Tony if he pitches backwards. Which, Bucky can admit, he might because he’s still doing it one handed .
“I’ll be fine, relax,” Tony laughs, and drops down the last couple shelves. He spins on his heel and brandishes the notebook at Steve, practically hitting him in the face with it, then huffs at Steve when he squawks, reeling backwards a bit. “Whoa, Rogers, you move quick.”
“Habit,” Steve says and shrugs.
“He’s a great big worry wart, but I betcha you knew that already,” Bucky offers, and gives Steve an innocent look when he sighs and glares at Bucky. “Mother Hen, hoverer. Practically crawled up my ass whenever I got sick.”
“There’s a visual,” Tony chuckles.
Steve’s face is bright red. “Just returning the favor, Buck,” he retorts, a little petulant, pouting. “Acted like my damn nursemaid growing up, I swear.”
“Not my fault you were a sickly little brat,” Bucky shrugs, unrepentant.
“Must’ve been nice, growing up together,” Tony says softly, a little wistful, a little - a little lonely. Longing.
“Yeah,” they agree.
“So can I have that notebook, or are you holding it hostage? I’ll pay the ransom, depending on what it is,” Bucky jokes, and smiles when Tony grins.
“Don’t think you could afford it,” he quips and tosses it onto the couch, following after it.
Steve waits, absolutely staring at Tony’s ass, and Bucky snorts, waggles his eyebrows a bit at Steve while Tony’s distracted. Steve makes a face, then joins them, making sure to put almost all of his weight on Bucky’s right thigh as he does. Bucky grunts and whacks him in the shoulder.
“You two are kind of ridiculous,” Tony muses, watching them with an amused little smile on his lips. “Like giant kids.”
“Only when we’re comfortable,” Bucky replies as he takes the notebook Tony passes him. He glances up in time to catch the flummoxed look that crosses Tony’s face, but he doesn’t elaborate.
there just might be a couple new singles by the end of this ;)
oh does that mean you’ve given up on finding your angel @buckbarnes? for shame! #FindBuck’sAngelofMusic
i have done no such thing. i’m good at multitasking #FindBuck’sAngelofMusic
“I’m just,” Tony says, gestures at the air with a little huff, and shrugs, “I’m gonna let them work it out. Make it - more obvious, that I’m, you know, -”
“Iron Man?” Rhodey huffs. “Short of showing your face, how are they supposed to put two and two together?”
“They’ve been to my penthouse, now, you know,” Tony replies. “Very few people have actually seen this place, it’s - you know that. I thought I’d just set up a camera, and put on a mask, play up the Phantom of the Opera reference, some more.”
“You’re ridiculous, you know that?” Rhodey asks affectionately. “And a great big nerd .”
Tony sticks his tongue out at the camera, just to get an amused chuckle, and gestures to the wall behind him, where a giant Star Wars poster is tacked up. “I know for a fact you have the matching one still hanging at your apartment, Rhodes,” he says, mock serious.
“I never denied it,” Rhodey replies with a grin.
“Better not,” Tony says, narrowing his eyes. “If you tried I’d show everyone the pictures of you in your Lando Calrissian costume.”
“I’d counter that and show everyone those pictures of you in Leia’s dress from A New Hope .”
“Oohh what a threat,” Tony laughs.
“No shame,” Rhodey sighs, fond, then makes a face. “Damn. Times up, Tones, I still gotta call my mom.”
“Aw, damn,” he grumbles half-heartedly, and smiles. “Give your mom my love, ‘kay? And stay safe , Rhodes.”
“Why do I gotta give my mom your love when I know for a fact you call her once a week,” Rhodey complains lightly, but smiles back. “Yeah, yeah. Same goes for you, Tones, take care of yourself. Stop moping and bag those guys, while you’re at it.”
“Rhodey!” Tony huffs, and feels his face go hot when Rhodey makes kissy faces. “You’re mean , what did the Air Force do to my platypus?”
“I’ll talk to you later, Tones,” Rhodey chuckles, and taps the camera lens with a fingertip. “Love you.”
Tony smiles and taps the tip of his nose. “Love you too, honeybear.”
The call disconnects a minute later, and Tony narrows his eyes at the screen. He’d noticed a miniscule lag, at the start of the video call, and ideas had been skittering about the back of his mind the entire time. Nothing concrete, yet, but.
“J, do me a solid and start a new project file,” Tony requests, “and pull up our satellite schematics, save a copy in the file, with the note ‘for calling’.”
“Of course, Sir,” JARVIS replies immediately.
“Thanks, buddy,” Tony mumbles, and stands up, heading for the short flight of stairs leading up into the penthouse proper, straight for the piano. He stops a couple feet away, and frowns thoughtfully at the space, tapping his fingers against his lips.
He’s already got the mask, stashed in a box in his closet, but it’s not - not quite enough , if he wants to keep his identity secret to the general populace. Shadow and lighting will be his friends, once more, and, maybe , a shave. He strokes his chin thoughtfully.
“Hey J, do you think it’d make it too easy for them to figure out, if I shaved?”
“I couldn’t say, Sir, but your facial hair is rather distinctive.”
Tony huffs and pouts at the closest camera. “You are no help .”
“Hey, Barnes, I’m curious,” Clint says, his head popping up over the back of the couch he’d commandeered as soon as Bucky let him into the apartment, stretching out along the cushions and making satisfied sounds Steve never wanted to hear again.
“The answer is fuck off,” Bucky mutters around his pen, and scrapes a hand through his hair with a little frustrated noise, glowering at the notebook Tony’d given him the other week.
Clint snorts and flops back down on the couch, catching Steve’s gaze and winking. “Aw don’t be like that, snookums, I have a valid question!”
“ Clint ,” Bucky sighs, and thunks his head against the kitchen table. “Fine, what?”
“Nat said you and Steve think your little crush might actually be Iron Man,” Clint starts, and Steve frowns at him, suspicious.
He hadn’t said anything, and he’d been pretty sure Bucky hadn’t said anything, either. Natasha, though, he concedes after a brief moment, is frighteningly observant, even when you think you’re being very good at keeping something under wraps, even when you’re making an actual effort . Somehow, she always knows, and if she doesn’t, then, well, Peggy seems to. Steve likes to think they’re just very, very perceptive. It makes him feel a little better about being a shitty actor, which he knows he is.
“I know you’ve got a ridiculous musician boner for Iron Man,” Clint continues, and grins when Bucky snorts. “I was just wondering if your crush on Tony Stark is because you think he’s Iron Man, and what’ll happen to that crush if it turns out he’s not .”
“My interest in Tony has nothing to do with Iron Man,” Bucky says, finally twisting to look at them, glower directed firmly at the couch. “Not that it’s any of your fuckin’ business.”
“I’m just saying!” Clint replies, and pushes upright again to meet Bucky’s glare. “It’d be pretty awkward if you just suddenly stopped flirting with him because you learned that he’s not Iron Man, and therefore are no longer interested in him! You’ll be in contact with the dude for, shit, I dunno? Your arm’s a trial thing, right? You’ll have to interact with him at least semi-regularly for awhile, right?”
“I’m sure Tony would send Bucky’s case to another person working the study, if things became uncomfortable,” Steve interjects, reasonably, then adds, “but like Bucky said, our interest in him doesn’t actually have anything to do with Iron Man.”
“It’d be fuckin’ neat if he does turn out to be Iron Man,” Bucky says, “but if he doesn’t then that’s fine too. It won’t matter either way. The only thing that’ll make things awkward is if Tony turns us down when we ask him out.”
“Good,” Clint replies, decisively, and sinks back down onto the couch. “Peggy would have to kick your ass if you hurt him.”
“How does Peggy - what the fuck are you babbling about, Barton?”
Clint laughs. “Don’t worry about it, Bucky-bear.”
Steve sighs, and finally concedes defeat, shutting his tablet off and setting it aside with the stylus. He’s not going to make any more progress on the storyboard for the next installment of his comic, not with Clint and Bucky sniping at each other. Their friendship will probably never make sense to Steve.
“You should invite Tony out to have drinks with us,” Clint exclaims, interrupting whatever grumbling Bucky had been doing, and they both stare at Clint. He twirls a drumstick in the air over him, a smirk on his face, and Steve has no idea where the drumstick even came from, that had not been in Clint’s hands a minute ago.
“What? Why?” Bucky demands, after another minute of stunned silence, then scowls, at himself. “What are you planning, Clinton?”
“Nothing, James ,” Clint huffs, and adds, “ relax , Steve, I know you’re scowling pensively at me and it’s weird. Stop it. I just thought it’d be nice to have Tony along when everyone meets up for drinks tomorrow! He seemed pretty cool, when I met him at the hospital.”
“I do not trust you,” Bucky mutters petulantly, and Steve ducks his head to hide his grin.
“Hey, it’s not like you’ve gotta worry about me embarrassing you! You embarrass yourself just fine, you don’t need help,” Clint retorts, “or have you forgotten that pitiful puppy-eyed selfie you posted to twitter in the beginning? What was it you said? ‘Make a Buck’s dreams come true?’ Hmm?”
“Clint,” Steve laughs, “you know Buck doesn’t have any shame.”
“Absolutely zero shame,” Bucky agrees, with a crooked grin.
Clint sits back up again just to stick his tongue out at Bucky, then at Steve for good measure. “You’re both the worst, you know that?”
Bucky starts to say something when his phone chimes. He checks it, and grins wide, looks over at Steve with a warm, pleased expression. “It’s Tony. He wants to know if we wanna hang out later tonight.”
“Yes,” Steve replies almost before Bucky can finish speaking.
“Ugh,” Clint groans, but there’s an amused, fond grin on his face. “I can’t watch this, you’re both gross! God damn and I thought Sam was sappy. I’ll let you two get ready to go hang out with lover boy.”
“Uh-huh,” Bucky rolls his eyes. “We all know you’re the sappiest out of all of us. Go buy Natasha a dozen roses and a bottle of vodka, and let her fuck you into the mattress.”
Clint laughs, pushing up off of the couch, snagging his jacket off the couch arm as he passes while shoving his drumsticks into his back pocket, and gives them an exaggerated leer. “You know it, Barnes.”
Steve rolls his eyes, also shoving to his feet, and heads for the bedroom to put on actual clothes instead of his old, frayed pajama pants and paint-splattered Nuclear Winter shirt. Bucky and Clint jabber at each other for a few minutes longer before Clint heads out, and Bucky joins him in the bedroom.
He watches Bucky from the corner of his eye thoughtfully as he changes into a pair of jeans, half-lost in his thoughts, listening to the jangle of Bucky’s belt. “We should ask Tony out tonight,” he suggests when Bucky puts on a clean shirt.
“Yeah,” Bucky hums, combs his fingers through his hair, then turns and raises his eyebrows at Steve. “Well, how do I look?”
Steve snorts, smiling, and shakes his head. “You know you look as gorgeous as you always do.”
Bucky grins, licks his lips with an exaggerated wink that makes Steve roll his eyes fondly, then wrinkles his nose. “I’m gonna brush my teeth real quick,” he mutters, heading for the bathroom.
Probably a good idea , Steve agrees privately, thinking about what he’d seen Bucky eating for lunch. Fish, onion rings, and some unpleasant smelling Russian dish that Clint brought over. Bucky loves it, Steve knows, but he always makes Bucky brush his teeth and maybe do a couple rinses of mouthwash before he’ll let Bucky kiss him. Having good breath is probably ideal, when asking someone out for the first time.
While he waits, he checks his phone, and perks up a little when he sees the notification from YouTube, clicking on it to take him to the latest video from Iron Man as he carries it out of the bedroom and into the bathroom.
“Iron Man posted a new video,” he says, flipping the toilet lid down and sitting on it. “Title says it’s a Black Sabbath/Ozzy Medley.”
“Ell pla et en,” Bucky demands around his toothbrush, bends his head over the sink to spit the toothpaste out, and turns expectant eyes on Steve.
Steve laughs and presses play, setting his phone down on the small counter so they can both watch it. The video starts out dark, with the low bass thrum of Hand Of Doom . Steve scrolls down a little, to read the description, when the video starts lightening up. Bucky smacks his shoulder with the back of his toothbrush, and Steve takes the hint, scrolling back up.
“Buck,” Steve says, breath catching, shocked, when he sees Iron Man , a mask over the top half of his face, the bottom half obscured, hidden by shadow, standing in an eerily familiar room, a bass strapped over his shoulder. It’s - well, there’s reasonable doubt, and Steve’s more than positive that’s intentional.
“I see it, Stevie,” Bucky mutters, with an excited little hitch to his voice, “I fuckin’ see it.”
After maybe a minute the music cuts out, and a modulated voice says, “ I am Iron Man .” There’s a brief shift, the shadows moving just a little, and there’s a flash of Iron Man’s mouth, the slightest hint of a smirk, the facial hair around it, and then it’s gone again, once more obscured by shadows as the music picks up with the guitar solo from Iron Man .
“That cheeky fuckin’ -” Bucky huffs.
“He thinks he’s so clever,” Steve agrees, laughing softly.
“I knew he was a smartass but this is - I’m gonna fuckin’ kiss him so hard,” Bucky grumbles, and resumes brushing his teeth.
Steve chuckles, leaning back against the tank of the toilet to finish watching the rest of the video.
you think you’re so clever, don’t you Iron Man? #IronManisalittleshit #findBuck’sAngelOfMusic
Tony paces. He hates pacing, hates the obvious, visible expression of nerves, of anxiety. Normally he channels the energy into something else, something more discreet, easily hidden. But now, he can’t. He’d had JARVIS upload the newest video an hour ago, just after sending a text to Bucky inviting him and Steve over for movies. It’s all out of his hands, and now it’s just a matter of time.
So, he paces.
Iron Man watches him from her perch on top of the bookshelf.
“I don’t know if I want them to figure it out or if I want them to remain clueless,” he tells her, running his hands through his hair and then grumbling at himself a second later, patting it back down.
“Sir, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Rogers have arrived,” JARVIS announces, then, and Tony whines softly.
“Right, okay,” he mumbles, clears his throat and pulls his hands away from his hair. Hopefully he hasn’t done too much damage to it. He’s afraid to look. “Thanks, J.”
“Indeed, Sir,” JARVIS replies.
Tony stops pacing, takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Well… Maybe they haven’t seen it, yet?”
“Seen what?” Bucky’s voice asks behind him, and Tony yelps, spinning around to face the elevators.
He trips over his own feet, and stumbles, only to be caught by Steve.
“Um,” he bites his lip, “thanks for the catch, Steve.”
“No problem, Tony,” Steve replies, voice warm and amused. “I have no problems catching you. Especially if you’re falling for us.”
Tony laughs nervously, face heating up. “Well, you two make it so easy,” he jokes.
“Back atcha, gorgeous,” Bucky says, and smiles.
Iron Man chooses that moment to jump from the bookshelf, landing neatly between Bucky and Steve and Tony. Bucky jerks backwards a step, wide-eyed, then snorts when he registers Iron Man. She meows at him, and weaves around his legs.
“That’s right,” Tony exclaims, finally pulling away from Steve’s hands with a grateful pat to his chest, and crouches down to scoop Iron Man into his arms. “You two haven’t met Iron Man.”
Bucky makes a little choked noise, and Steve snorts. “You named your cat Iron Man?”
“Of course I did!” Tony huffs, squinting at Steve suspiciously. “Why wouldn’t I? It suits her.”
“Well,” Bucky interjects, and holds his hand out to Iron Man to sniff, “pleasure meeting you, Iron Man. Even if you’re not the Iron Man I’ve been hoping to meet.”
“Buck up, Buck,” Steve teases, stepping closer to Tony and offering his hand to Iron Man too. “She’s cute, Tony.”
“She’s a menace,” Tony says affectionately.
“Must take after her owner, then,” Bucky muses, grinning. “Cute, and a menace?”
Tony huffs and hides his smile in Iron Man’s fur. “I am not a menace,” he mutters.
“I’d beg to differ,” Steve says, and reaches up to press his fingertips against Tony’s cheek, lightly, just a ghost of a touch. “We’ve got a question for you, Tony.”
“Uh - What - What kind of question?”
“We’d like to ask you out,” Bucky answers.
Tony’s eyes widen, and he glances between the two men uncertainly. Both of their gazes are serious, hopeful, and Tony’s not quite sure what to do with that. This was - he knows they’d been flirting with him from the very beginning, but he’d really thought it was strictly friendly, like how he and Rhodey sometimes are.
“That is - Um, that is not at all what I thought you were going to ask,” he admits, and loosens his hold on Iron Man when she makes an unhappy mrowing noise.
They smile gently back.
“We figured as much,” Steve says softly. “We realized you really weren’t picking up on our intentions, and that that was our fault. We told you the flirting could mean whatever you wanted it to mean and we mean that, but we should have made it clear that we would’ve liked it if it could be serious. So now we wanted to make it clearer, that we’re interested in you, that we weren’t just flirting for fun. Though the flirting has certainly been fun.”
“And before you go thinking it, it’s not just because you’re Iron Man,” Bucky adds.
Tony makes a strangled noise, sucking in a breath. “R-right,” he squeaks. “Okay, that’s - that’s good, to, uh, to know. Um. You’re not - mad ? That I didn’t - ?”
“Nah,” Bucky smiles, and reaches up to brush his thumb across Tony’s bottom lip. “You have a right to your privacy, and I got the impression that Iron Man wasn’t expecting any of what happened to happen.”
“Yeah,” Tony mumbles, and chuckles softly. His face feels like it’s on fire. “That was… Unexpected.”
Steve's smile softens, and he takes a step closer, completely in Tony's space now, eyes bright and hopeful. “So, what do you say?”
Tony blinks, licks his lips, eyes flicking between Steve and Bucky. “I - I’d really love to,” he says, looking down at Iron Man. “I really would, but -"
“Sweetheart,” Bucky interrupts softly, “we'll take it slow, yeah? We're still gettin’ to know each other, true, but that's what dating’s for anyway.”
“What about the - your image, Bucky, the band? What would that do, dating two people? You'd have to - it'd have to be a secret, and that -”
“I would never ask you to be a secret,” Bucky replies. “I will never ask that of you. Music execs told me I'd never make it in the business being outta the closet, and I didn't let that stop me. Hell, I'm doing better than they ever thought I would anyway. The rest of the band, they all know that I'm polyamorous, that Steve is, and they told me a long time ago they'd support me - they'd support us - if Stevie’n’I started dating anyone.”
“You can have time to think about this, Tony,” Steve murmurs when Bucky pauses, voice gentle. “We both understand this is big. Bucky and I have some pretty heavy baggage, we're both combat veterans. On top of that, Bucky's famous, and it'll mean something different than if he and I were just a coupla average Joes you met on the street.”
“I don't need time,” Tony mutters, eyes back on the top of Iron Man’s head, “I just never thought you'd - that this was even a possibility.”
He glances up once more, and is met with soft, pleased smiles aimed his way. They stare at each other for several long moments, Tony’s face growing steadily warmer beneath their scrutiny, the fond affectionate warmth in their eyes. Iron Man mrows again, and wriggles out of his arms, breaking them all from their thoughts, all of them turning their gazes to watch her trot over to the kitchen.
“So,” Bucky starts, startling a strangled laugh out of Tony. He smiles at him, and reaches his hand up to brush his thumb over Tony’s bottom lip again before nodding towards the couch. “I think we were promised a movie night?”
“Y-yeah,” Tony stutters, smiling, flustered, and shuffles over to the couch, his heart racing and butterflies fluttering in his stomach.
“Are you okay with cuddling with us?” Steve asks as he flops down into the couch. “It’s okay if you’re not, but I’d really like to cuddle with you.”
“Ah, I - yeah, yeah I’m more than okay with that,” Tony manages, and yelps when Steve reaches a hand up to wrap around his wrist, tugging him down beside him.
Bucky follows close behind, and soon Tony’s sandwiched between them. It’s warm, and comfortable, and Tony relaxes into them much faster than he thought he would. JARVIS starts A New Hope without prompting.
Half-way through, Bucky’s fingers brush along Tony’s jaw, gripping his chin gently and turning his head towards Bucky. Tony blinks owlishly at him, and Bucky smiles before leaning in and covering Tony’s lips with his.
The kiss is soft, sweet and gentle, and Tony sighs into it, makes a little disappointed noise when it ends and Bucky pulls away. Steve chuckles and turns Tony’s head to him, leaning in to kiss Tony. This kiss is a just as gentle, just as sweet, but it’s tinged with want, undemanding but undeniable.
Overall, they’re both good first kisses, nothing Tony ever expected, and he smiles as he settles back down, leaning a little heavier into Steve’s side, feeling emboldened enough, even, to reach out and grab Bucky’s hand. Bucky smiles and threads their fingers together, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. Steve’s arm comes up to wrap around Tony’s shoulders, and when Tony glances over he catches Steve’s gaze.
Tony smiles again, and turns back to the movie.
Bucky’s phone ringing wakes Steve at ten in the morning, after a long night of working on his comic, and he groans as he pushes himself up on his elbows to look for it. He spots it on the bedside table, on the charger, and Bucky nowhere in sight.
With a sigh, Steve rolls to Bucky’s side of the bed, and grabs the phone, answering it before it can go to voicemail.
“‘lo? Who’sit?” he asks, voice scratchy and rough, and he flops back into the bed.
“Steve?” Tony’s voice asks, sounding amused. “Did I wake you?”
“Hmmm, yes,” Steve agrees, “but s’okay. Hearing your voice first thing, s’nice.”
It’s been nearly two weeks since they’d asked Tony out, and since then Tony’s been busy with his company. They’ve kept in touch through texts, but Steve’s missed his voice.
“Sure,” Tony laughs softly, “I’d wager there are nicer things to hear first thing in the morning, but I’ll let you live with your delusions. Is Bucky there? I need to talk to him about his arm.”
Steve yawns, raising his head to glance around the room again. “Dunno, I’ll check.” He gets out of bed, grumbling discontentedly as his bare feet hit the cold wood. “Is his arm ready?”
“Yep!” Tony answers brightly, “and I’ve got the okay to make the attachment from his doctor and physical therapist.”
“He’ll be pleased to hear it,” Steve says, shuffling out of the bedroom.
He finds Bucky in his music room, headphones on as he scribbles in a notebook. Steve still finds it surreal to see Bucky writing with his right hand, but it is what it is.
“Found him,” Steve tells Tony, and walks over to the desk Bucky’s sitting at carefully. He raps his knuckles against the wood by the notebook, and smiles when Bucky blinks up at him. “Tony’s got some good news for you, Buck.”
“Put me on speaker,” Tony orders, and in the next moment his voice is echoing through the music room, reprimanding Butterfingers.
“I hear you’ve got some good news for me, doll,” Bucky says, smiling brightly at the phone when Steve sets it down on the desk.
“Yes! I do!” Tony replies brightly, and Steve can picture the bright, delighted smile he can hear in Tony’s voice.
“Is it that you’ve got some time off and can come over?” Bucky asks
“Ah,” Tony says, sounding a bit guilty. “Sorry, not quite. But you and Steve can come over. In fact, it’s rather necessary for you at the very least. Unless you’d rather not get your arm?”
“My arm’s done?”
Steve smiles at the excitement in Bucky’s voice, in his eyes. “That’s awesome, Tony!”
“Ha, yeah,” Tony agrees, his voice going soft, sweet, a little shy. “I thought - after we get the arm attached, and go through all the required tests, that maybe we could all have dinner?”
“Yes,” Bucky answers immediately, eager, and Steve stifles a laugh, because really, he’s just as eager as Bucky is to spend time with Tony.
“I’d love to have dinner, Tony,” Steve says, giving Bucky a look. “Thank you so much for inviting us.”
“Wha- of course I’d - it’s - we’re dating, why wouldn’t I?” Tony mutters, sounding flustered. Steve wishes he could see his face, see if he’s blushing.
“Yes,” he agrees, fondly, “but we both know how busy you are.”
“Hmph,” Tony huffs, softly. “I’m not - very good at relationships, in that I’ve had exactly one, but I know - I want this to work, with us, and making time for us to spend time together is kind of important.”
“I’m - we’re real glad to hear that, Tony,” Steve murmurs, sharing a smile with Bucky.
“When can we come over?” Bucky asks, startling a laugh out of Tony.
“Either you’re eager to see me, or eager to get your arm,” he jokes, “you can come over now, if you’d like.”
“‘s the first one,” Bucky says, “we’ll be over in a half hour.”
“Oh,” Tony breathes, then, “o-okay, I’m - yeah, I’ll be here.”
Bucky watches Steve fiddle with his dog tags absently as he watches Tony and Bucky put his new arm through its tests, a thought forming in the back of his mind. An idea that’s distant, something too soon, really, to be having, but there all the same. Something he’ll save for later, when the timing’s more appropriate.
“I’m half-surprised you’re not sketching right now, Stevie,” Bucky says, and smirks a little when Steve starts and flushes guiltily.
“I’ve got paper and a pen around here somewhere, if you’d like,” Tony offers, pulling his hands from Bucky’s arm and turning on his seat to smile at Steve. “I bet it’d be better than sitting there bored out of your mind.”
“I’m not bored,” Steve protests, and his blush darkens. “I’m enjoying watching the two of you.”
Tony blinks. “Oh, well,” he mumbles, and there’s a faint blush spreading along his cheeks. “Carry on, then, if you want.”
“I’d love to sketch you while you’re playing,” Steve says, with a shrug, “if we’re talking about what I want.”
“Playing - right, okay, uh,” Tony ducks his head and turns back towards Bucky, refusing to meet Bucky’s eyes. “Maybe. I don’t normally play for people, exactly, but I’m willing to make an exception for you two.”
“Yeah?” Bucky murmurs, low and soft, and smiles when Tony glances up at his face. “I’d like that a lot, Tony. You’re a fantastic musician.”
“I’m decent,” he mutters, shrugging a little. “I could - I could play your song, for you?”
“I’d - yeah, I’d really like that, Tony,” Bucky agrees, glancing back over to Steve. “We both would.”
“Well, okay, that’s - that’s settled then,” Tony says, reaching over to pick up a tiny screwdriver. “After we finish with your arm. Just this last adjustment, I think, and we’ll be good.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Tony smiles once more before refocusing on Bucky’s arm, making whatever adjustment it is he’d wanted to make before tightening the screws up and scooting back. He directs Bucky through a few stretches, watching Bucky’s arm with shining eyes, a broad smile spreading across his face.
“It’s good? Feels good, no pain?” Tony asks, practically bouncing in his seat.
“No pain,” Bucky confirms, and laughs when Tony practically throws himself at Bucky, his arms wrapping around Bucky’s neck.
“It works,” Tony mumbles excitedly, “Howard said it would never work, but it works! It works it works it works !”
Bucky’s smile softens, and he carefully wraps his arms around Tony’s waist, marvelling at the way his arm moves, the fluid way his hand curves over Tony’s waist. The dexterity of his fingers. “Yeah, baby, it works,” Bucky agrees hoarsely.
“You did great, Tony,” Steve says gently, coming over to them. “It looks good. Feelin’ good, Buck?”
“Yeah,” Bucky grins, and reaches out with his left hand, crooking his fingers to beckon Steve closer. “Feelin’ real good.”
Steve laughs, and steps into their space, wrapping his arms around the both of them.
One of Tony’s bots, DUM-E, Bucky thinks, comes over, beeping at them inquisitively.
“Group hug,” Tony says, muffled against Bucky’s shoulder. “Hunks of metal and bolts are not squishy enough for group hugs.”
“Aw, don’t be like that, Tony,” Steve chuckles, and reaches out a hand towards the bot. “Little fella’s more’n’welcome to join in.”
Tony presses his face tighter against Bucky’s shoulder, hiding his smile. “Mmph.”
“We were promised a show,” Bucky murmurs, a few minutes later, and lets Steve and Tony pull away from him.
“I guess you were,” Tony agrees, ducking his head. “Can’t go back on my promise now.”
He leads them out of the workshop and up a the short flight of stairs, then out into his living room, where the piano is tucked neatly out of the way. Bucky spots a lighting rig that’d been hastily shoved into a corner, and grins a little, giddy to have that added confirmation, actual physical evidence. Tony ignores the mess, pausing to scritch Iron Man behind the ears as he makes a beeline right for the piano.
Steve, when Bucky glances over to him, is practically drooling, watching Tony with wide blue eyes as he sits at the bench and lifts the key cover. If it wasn’t for the fact that Steve stares at him the exact same way whenever he’s got his guitar out, Bucky might have never considered Steve’s thing for musicians until this moment. As it is, he just smirks at him briefly before returning his attention to Tony.
“I know I promised to play you a song, and I will! But I was thinking, do - I shouldn’t sing too, right? I mean, this is Bucky’s song, he could sing while I play the piano, and I think that’d be very neat? Better than me singing and butchering your song more -”
“You should absolutely sing,” Bucky interrupts with a little huff, and privately vows to reorganize the face of every single person who made Tony feel this way. “Maybe you never heard, but the whole hashtag ‘Find Bucky’s Angel Of Music’ happened because, when I was pestering the hell out of Peggy, I mentioned that Natasha said you have the voice of an angel and I ain’t never contradicted it because it’s true .”
“No need to flatter me,” Tony mumbles, ducking his head. “I’ll - I’ll sing, just, ah, don’t be too surprised if it’s not as good as you seem to think I am? I’m not really used to singing in front of people. Just my camera and JARVIS. And the bots, when I’m in the workshop, but I also don’t really notice when I start singing down there because I’m busy.”
“It’s not flattery,” he protests. “But if it helps, just pretend we’re not here?”
“Right,” Tony snorts.
“Pretend like you’re just filming for your channel again,” Steve suggests gently, and smiles when Tony shoots him a skeptical look. “We’ll be quiet, right Buck? We can keep out of your line of sight, and it’ll be like it’s just you and JARVIS and the bots. Like there’s nobody listening. Just the camera.”
Tony flushes, but nods, and inhales shakily as he turns back to the piano. “Gonna warm up a bit. Maybe it’ll help, at least.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Bucky murmurs, and follows Steve over to the couch.
They sit on the edge of it, crammed together at the corner so they can see Tony unimpeded. Tony starts after a moment, some arpegios to warm up his hands, then slipping into something else, almost seamlessly, and Steve practically melts against Bucky’s side. Bucky’d make fun of him, but he’s too busy staring at the way Tony’s muscles shift in his back as his hands fly over the keys. He’s distracted enough by it it startles him when Tony starts singing.
Steve’s hand grabs his, lacing their fingers together, as they sit there, listening, watching Tony. It’s even better than watching the video, and it almost - it almost feels the same as it did the first time he’d ever played this song for Steve. Not quite, but close .
Too soon, in Bucky’s not so biased opinion, the song is over, and Tony trails off, glancing over his shoulder, looking a little nervous. Bucky pushes to his feet and closes the space between them quickly, coming up with something to say and discarding it the next second. Tony blinks up at him, smiling a little, uncertain, and Bucky can’t help it.
“Angel, I’d really like to kiss you right now,” he blurts. “Can I?”
“I - I mean, duh , I would, I would very much like it if you kissed me,” Tony says. “You don’t have to ask, neither one of you.”
“Well,” Bucky says, reaching up to cup Tony’s jaw as he leans closer, lips so close to Tony’s they brush together as he speaks, “we’re both pretty big on consent.”
“That’s mmph-!” Tony starts, and Bucky cuts him off, fitting his mouth over Tony’s.
Steve chuckles, and moves to stand beside him, gently guiding Tony's face towards Steve and pulling him into his own kiss when Bucky pulls away. Tony makes the softest startled noise Bucky’s ever heard, and he watches fondly as Tony melts into the kiss. He needs a notebook.
He has a song to finish writing.
One Year Later
“There are a lot of fucking people here, Bucky,” Tony says, peeking out at the crowd.
Nuclear Winter’s first concert since the band went on hiatus for Bucky’s arm. It sold out an hour after the tickets went on sale, not that Tony’s surprised, and the reality versus the idea hadn’t quite hit him. Not until he saw the crowd.
“You’ll do great, baby,” Steve reassures him, wrapping his arm around Tony’s shoulders and pressing a kiss to his temple. “I bet everybody out there already loves you.”
“You don’t know that!” Tony squeaks. “There was a lot of unpleasant comments mixed in with all the praise on that video -”
Bucky cuts him off with a kiss, hands coming up to cup Tony’s face. “Shh, c’mon angel, it’ll be alright. If you really don’t want to do this, you don’t have to, but I’d love to introduce you this way.”
“Don’t forget, sweetheart,” Steve adds, his hand squeezing Tony’s shoulder, “Bucky’s singing Christine’s part. Just imagine him in a dress.”
Tony snorts and brings his hands up to wrap around Bucky’s wrists. “That will not help me the way you think it might.”
“Hm is that a hint?”
“It just might be.”
“I wouldn’t look quite as pretty as you in a dress, darlin’, but I’m willing to give it a try,” Bucky smiles, and leans in for another kiss.
“You three are so gross,” Sam complains as he wanders by.
“You’re the gross one,” Bucky shoots back, and lets his hands drop from Tony’s face, taking a step back when Nat comes up to them.
“Here’s your mask, Antoshka,” she says as she hands it to him, and Tony groans.
“I thought it was a joke! I thought you were joking !” he whines.
Steve and Bucky chuckle, and Nat just smirks as she turns to wander over to Clint, ignoring the people scrambling around backstage the way Steve, Tony, and Bucky have all been ignoring them. Tony pouts at them, then sighs, staring down at the red half-mask with golden trimming. At least they're his colors.
“No one will recognize you, angel,” Bucky promises.
“Yeah,” Steve agrees, shifting so he can grip Tony’s chin lightly. “You shaved, and, really, your facial hair is the most defining part of your look.”
“It makes you look like a baby! Steve and Bucky are cradle robbers!” Clint hollers.
Tony flushes and scowls. “I am two years younger than them! I am not a baby! This is why I don’t like shaving. You better appreciate the hell out of me, James.”
“Aw doll,” Bucky sighs, stepping closer to kiss Tony’s forehead. “You’re as gorgeous without the goatee as with it.”
“Hmm,” Tony hums, and lets his own hand raise to rub his fingers against the thick beard Bucky’d grown out. “Could say the same for you.”
Steve laughs softly and plucks the mask out of Tony’s hand. “Here, I’ll help you get this on, yeah?”
“Right now?” Tony complains, dropping his hand from Bucky’s face to turn and pout at him. “I won’t be going on stage right away!”
“Better to get it on now than have to worry about scrambling to get it on later,” Steve replies with a shrug. “Scrambling doesn’t give you time to enjoy the concert.”
“Yeah, yeah fine,” Tony sighs. “But I want a kiss from you both before you put this ridiculous thing on me.”
“Oh sweetheart, all you have to do is ask,” Steve says as Bucky darts in to kiss him.
Tony whines a little when he pulls back, much too soon in his opinion, but Steve closes in, his free hand coming up to cup the back of Tony’s head. He pulls Tony into a kiss of his own, just as chaste and brief as Bucky’s had been. It’s nice, but Tony wishes they’d had time to really kiss.
“Alright, turn around for me sweetheart?” Steve requests when he pulls back, and Tony complies.
The mask blocks his sight briefly as Steve slips it over his head, but once it’s centered over his eyes Tony can see Bucky smiling at him, his right hand digging into his pocket. “Got a question for you, honey,” he says as he pulls his hand free, holding his prize up for Tony to see.
He blinks in confusion at it. “Is - what? Are those your dog tags?”
“Mmhmm,” he confirms. “I’d like you to have ‘em, if you’d like?”
Steve moves to stand next to Bucky, finished with tying the mask nice and tight so it won’t slip off, and holds up a chain of his own.
“I - what is this? Why are you?” Tony stammers, floored and a little bit confused. A lot confused. “Why are you both giving my your dog tags?”
“Well,” Steve says with a crooked little smile, his head tilting with it, “we were thinking of them as a kind of metaphor.”
“For our hearts.”
“For your - ? Oh! ”
They both smile at him, a little nervous, a lot hopeful. “If you’ll have us, we’re yours, Tony.”
“If - Is - How is that even a question?” Tony demands. “Of course I’ll have you two, you assholes! And - and, you know, you’ve got me, right? That I love you, both of you?”
“Yeah,” Bucky says with a grin, “but it’s always nice to hear it.”
Steve holds his dog tags up with a little smile, making them clink together with a little metallic jangle that’s nearly impossible to hear over the noise of the stadium. Tony ducks his head with a smile, and Steve slips the chain over his head. Bucky steps forward with his own dog tags as soon as Steve moves, and slips them over Tony’s head to join Steve’s. Tony clutches them as soon as they’re both settled over his chest, heart beating hard and fast in his ears.
“I wish I had something I could give you both to - like this, you know? A symbol, I guess.” Tony murmurs, lifting his head to look at them.
“Well, I have an idea,” Bucky replies, and smiles a little sheepishly. “Was - It was what I’d meant when I said we had a question for you. Lost the plot, a little, in the middle there.”
Tony huffs a laugh, brows furrowing. “Oh yeah? What were you going to ask me, then?”
“Move in with us?” Steve answers.
“Move in with - You want me to move in with you guys?” Tony asks, and they both nod, start nodding before he’s even finished speaking. Something a lot like joy bursts in Tony’s chest, and he beams at them. “I would - Yes, okay, yes , I would love to move in with you!”
“Good, I’m glad to hear that honey,” Bucky rasps, sounding relieved, like he’d been nervous, like he thought Tony would say no . Steve looked the same way Bucky sounded, somehow, and Tony throws himself at them before either of them can say anything else.
A few minutes later, a stagehand comes over to them, looking nervous. “Mr. Barnes, you have to be on stage in five minutes, and you still need to be hooked up.”
Bucky sighs and pulls away from them, pausing briefly to kiss the corner of Tony’s mouth before he follows the stagehand. Tony watches him go for a moment before turning to smile up at Steve. Steve smiles back and leans down to kiss Tony.
Clint wolf whistles, stopping beside them, twirling a drumstick around his fingers. Steve and Tony turn to glower at him. Clint just beams back.
“Clint, stop being a dick, it’s time to go out,” Nat sighs, slapping the back of his head lightly as she walks by.
“Enjoy the show, boys,” Sam says as he passes, grabbing Clint by the back of the shirt to drag him along.
Tony grins, and Steve pulls him back against him, manhandling him until he’s leaned back against Steve’s chest. He relaxes against Steve, and smiles when Bucky comes back over. Bucky grins, eyes bright, so full of energy it takes Tony’s breath away.
“See you on stage in a bit, my angel,” Bucky murmurs, and bends down to kiss Tony. He kisses Steve, too, a brief peck, before he winks at them both and bounds out onto the stage to the sound of a screaming crowd.
Peggy makes her way over, then, and stands beside them, smiling. “I hear congratulations are in order,” she says.
“Yep,” Steve agrees. “We won’t be sticking around for drinks after, Peg.”
“Hm,” she laughs, her eyes glinting, amused.
Tony flushes but smiles back.
On stage, the band flits around the stage like a bunch of pinballs. Tony loves it, loves the high energy they’ve always exuded. It’s maybe a quarter of the reason he loved the band in the first place.
The song ends shortly after, and after taking a swig of water Bucky snags the microphone off the stand and swagers over to prop his ass up on the platform Clint’s drums are on. Butterflies explode in Tony’s stomach, which, honestly, ridiculous. He’s not due out on the stage until the end of the concert. The last song, specifically.
“Hello New York!” Bucky shouts into the mic, and even from backstage Tony can see the beaming smile Bucky gives the crowd when they shout back. “What the fuck is up? Look at this fuckin’ crowd, holy shit! It’s awesome, it’s fuckin’ great, and speaking of great! You guys, gals, and nonbinary pals, I’ve got some great fucking news! My boyfriend agreed to move in with me, so I’m fuckin’ pumped about that, and we’ve got a surprise for you later tonight.”
Tony snorts, his face going hotter when Peggy gives him an amused look. Steve squeezes him tight, pressing a kiss to the back of his head. Tony feels like he could fly, maybe.
“So to celebrate,” Bucky’s saying, and looking over to backstage, right at Steve and Tony, “we’re going to play the song I wrote for my boyfriends while I was off recovering and shit. And before there’s any misunderstandings, I sure as fuck did say boyfriends. Ssssssss. Plural. I have two boyfriends. Hello my name is James Buchanan Barnes, I’m a polyamorous bisexual, and me and my two boyfriends are gonna live together! Let’s play some fuckin’ music, yeah?”
“He’s fucking - what a fucking menace ,” Tony sighs, but the smile on his face is so big it kind of aches. “He wrote us a song. You, and me .”
“Yeah, he sure did, sweetheart,” Steve agrees softly, pressing his smile against the top of Tony’s head.
“He just started a media fire,” Peggy sighs, fondly.
“I’m so proud of him,” Steve says, and Peggy punches his arm. “What? You are too, I can see it in your smile, Peg.”
“I know very excellent PR people if you need them,” Tony says absently.
Peggy snorts, and pats his shoulder, looking fond. “Thank you, Tony, I’ll keep that in mind.”
The music sucks Tony in then, and between that and Steve right there with him, he forgets to be nervous about the end of the concert. Until, naturally, the stagehands come over to get him all ready to go out on stage, too. He glances back at Steve, who just smiles reassuringly at him.
“You’ll do great, sweetheart.”
“Sure, sure,” Tony mumbles, fiddling with the dog tags.
“You will,” he insists. “I gotta say, though: your mask looks ridiculous.”
Tony barks out a startled laugh. “Hey, shut up, that’s just mean , I didn’t get to pick it!”
“Yeah I know. Still looks ridiculous.”
“Your face looks ridiculous.”
“Aww but you love my face,” Steve says, grinning widely.
“Hmph, I’m beginning to question that.”
Steve laughs softly, cupping Tony’s jaw between his hands and tilting Tony’s face up for a kiss. “Don’t worry sweetheart,” he murmurs against Tony’s lips, “I love you even when you’re wearing ridiculous things.”
“And I love you even when you’re being an asshole,” Tony grumbles against Steve’s mouth.
“Alright, Tony, they’re ready for you on stage,” a stagehand interrupts.
Steve kisses him one last time before letting him go with a reassuring smile. Tony takes a deep breath, listens to Sam and Bucky talking to the crowd, and follows the stagehand over to the platform he’ll be making his entrance on. He’s nervous, and excited, and he’d probably be an absolute wreck if Steve hadn’t kept him preoccupied. He shoots one last grateful smile at Steve before focusing.
The music starts, and after a bit Tony starts to sing.
The crowd goes wild.
Bucky’s smile is bright and wide and Tony can’t help but smile back. He can’t focus on anything but Bucky there in front of him, singing with him.
It’s like they’re alone, in Tony’s penthouse, with Steve and Iron Man and the bots and JARVIS. No one but them. He forgets to be nervous, that he was ever nervous to begin with.
He sings like there’s nobody listening.
Peggy wakes up slowly, a dull ache throbbing in her skull. She can hear Angie puttering about in the next room, humming pleasantly, barely audible over the sounds of cooking. Peggy’s stomach lurches uncomfortably, a reminder that she ought to cut back on the alcohol at the after-concert bar meetups.
Her mobile rings, shrill and painful, and Peggy bites back a groan.
“Are you up, English?” Angie calls out, and a moment later she pushes the bedroom door open, letting in the scent of freshly cooked sausage and eggs.
“Bloody cruel, Martinelli,” Peggy mumbles while Angie comes the rest of the way into the room, watching her as she heads straight for Peggy’s mobile where it’s plugged in on the dresser.
“You’ve got four missed calls, you know, not counting this one,” Angie says cheerfully. “I was surprised the ringing didn’t wake you.”
“It would’ve, if I hadn’t drunk so much last night,” she sighs, and finally pushes herself up, spotting the glass of water and the aspirin Angie left her. “ Why did I drink so much?” she complains as she reaches for them, and Angie chuckles, bringing her mobile to her.
“Probably because you knew today was going to be hell,” Angie replies, sitting on the edge of the bed.
All at once Peggy remembers the concert, and Bucky Barnes , bane of her goddamned existence. “I’m going to throttle him, Angie. Will you help me bury the body?”
Angie laughs, leaning into peck a kiss to the corner of Peggy’s mouth. “You know I will, but I won’t protect you from Steve’s and Tony’s wounded faces when Barnes turns up missing,” she says.
Peggy snorts and reaches for her mobile. Five missed calls, and over a hundred emails. “Bloody pain in my arse ,” she grumbles.
“Twitter’s blown up, too, you know,” Angie adds, and smiles when Peggy squints at her. “Honestly, they care more about the fact Bucky found his Angel of Music and never said than the fact he told the world he’s got two boyfriends and they’re moving in together.”
“Well,” Peggy purses her mouth, then sighs, smiling. “Good. Hopefully the media will focus more on that, then. Make it harder for the record company to retaliate, the pompous pricks.”
“C’mon, English, worry about that later, hm? I’ve got breakfast done.”
“Yeah, of course, dove, I’ll be there in a moment,” she murmurs. She leans over for a quick kiss, and watches Angie hop up and scuttle back out of the room with a smile before refocusing on her phone. Curiosity gets the better of her, and she pulls up Twitter.
The sheer number of incredulous, excited tweets makes her snort, especially when she sees some of the responses the rest of the band’s given. She’s quite certain she’ll have to print out Bucky’s, however, and frame it. It can be his Christmas present.
i keep seeing all these marriage proposals for Iron Man, but don’t you guys know he’s MY angel of music? i don’t share. well, except for with my bf. ;P