Work Header

less than satisfactory

Work Text:

Tony is all about science.

You know, creativity and intelligence and all the fun stuff that made things go. And if he was honest with himself, he was pretty good at it too. And really good at using every day things to do, well, every day things.

That’s how Bucky gets hit in the eye with a pickle jar lid. (Now that he thinks of it, Bucky gets hit with a lot of bottle caps/jar lids/blowtorches [the blowtorch was one time, Bucky. God, just let it go])

“Oh. My. God.”

Bucky just stares at Tony.

“I am so sorry.”

Tony puts down the flat headed screwdriver and the now-open jar of pickles, then walks the four steps over to the door, where Bucky stands. “Like, so sorry.” His fingers trace the already developing bruise with a feather light touch. “Uh, I should have an ice pack around somewhere. Hopefully.”

“I’m fine,” Bucky says. “It’ll go in about a day. Why were you using a screwdriver?”

“To open pickles?” Tony asks from over by the freezer. “’Cause I couldn’t do it with my hand. Anyway, it worked, didn’t it? Although the casualty count is higher than I anticipated it to be. I’m blaming you for that entirely, by the way. You were standing in the way.”

“You were using a screwdriver to open a jar of pickles. I hardly think I’m in the wrong here.”

Tony grins. “You gotta do what you gotta do.” He picks up his screwdriver and pickles. “Hey, you want one?”

Bucky shakes his head. “Hate pickles.”

“Um. What?”

“They’re just glorified cucumbers,” Bucky explains. “Swimming in vinegar and about five times more expensive.”

“You are correct,” Tony says, pointing his screwdriver at Bucky. “But they taste so good.”

“Vinegar and lies , Stark. That’s all they are.”

“Man, what did pickles do to you?” Spiderman asks, dropping down from the ceiling. Tony’s used to it.

“Peter,” Tony hisses. “Mask, you idiot.”

“Aw, crap! Sorry, Mr Stark,” Peter says. “You didn’t have to say my name though.”

Bucky watches the exchange. “You’re Spider-boy?”

Man ,” Peter corrects. “Spider-man.”

“Right,” Bucky says, nodding seriously. “Spider-baby.”

Peter sighs heavily. “Whatever. Yeah, I am. Can I trust you?”

“Trust me to what?”

“Not tell anyone,” Peter says. “Seriously, my aunt would kill me and then kill Mr Stark just for luck if she found out.”

“What? Why would May kill me ? She loves me!” Tony exclaims. Peter turns on him with an incredulous expression.

“She knows you’re the one stealing all my time. Obviously she’d target you,” Peter say. “Its an obvious conclusion.”

Bucky grins. “Don’t worry, Tony. I’ll protect you.”

“Gotta protect yourself first,” Tony says, prodding the bruise on Bucky’s cheekbone.

Peter fishes a pickle out of the jar. “Anyway, you never answered. What did pickles do to you? And what do I call you?” He asks Bucky.

Bucky shrugs. “You call me anything other than Winter Soldier. And pickles are the worst food.”

“Alright, Brian,” Peter says. “And pickles are good. Shush.”

Brian ?”

“Hey! You said anything,” Peter says, holding his hands up in surrender.

Tony cackles.




Tony doesn’t have bad ideas. Really.

It’s just- well, the lid wouldn’t come off, so he had brought out an laser saw. Which, yeah, in hindsight, wasn’t such a good idea.

So, maybe he’s lasering the top of a beer bottle off.

It’s really quite brilliant, actually. The laser cuts through the glass in a second, without any splinters of it splashing into the actual drink. Tony didn’t think anything could go wrong this time.

Bucky just has a habit of standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Its surprising he never sees it coming.

The beer lid flies off, with an impressive amount of force, and hits Bucky slap bang in the middle of his forehead.

“Seriously, Stark?” Bucky says, peeling the metal cap off his head. There is a lovely looking bruise already forming where it landed.

“Sorry?” Tony offers up weakly, sheepishly.

Bucky grumbles something unintelligible under his breath, rubbing over the bruise. It’s settled from angry red, to a dark purple already.

“Wow,” Tony says. “You really do heal quick, don’t you? Quicker then Steve, even.”

Bucky shrugs. He flicks the beer cap onto the counter and it slides over to Tony with a dull ‘ tinggg’ . It’s surprisingly accurate, landing right next to his left elbow. “Super soldier serum for you, I guess.”

“But they were different types of serum. How could they have had pretty much the same effect?” Tony questions. “Hell, Bruce tried to do it and look how he ended up!”

“Well, if I ever find out, you’ll be the first to know, Stark,” Bucky says. He rubs over the bruise once more (it’s going greenish yellow already. Tony is a little bit jealous. He wants super soldier serum.), frowns in Tony’s general direction with amusement dancing in his eyes, shakes his head and wanders out.




Steve is the one who comes to talk to him.

“Is something happening between you and Bucky?” He asks.

Tony freezes, his back to Steve, where he’s working on a prototype for some new Hawkeye arrows. “I didn’t know you could get in my lab.”

“Oh, you gave me the passwords before.. Civil War,” Steve explains, “I didn’t forget, and you didn’t change them.”

Oh. Right. “So, are you here to yell at me about something?” Tony asks. He still hasn’t turned around.

“Have you done anything that warrants yelling?”

Tony huffs, “I’m sure you’ll find something. You always do.”

Steve doesn’t disagree. “Have you been, I don’t know, hitting Bucky, or something? Every time I see him, he has a bruise or a cut, and its always after he’s been with you.”

Tony’s fingers clench around the arrow. “No? I haven’t been hurting him deliberately at all.”

“So you have been hurting him?”

“Not deliberately,” Tony emphasises.

“But you have been hurting him?” Steve repeats.

“Fine, yes! Maybe, whatever,” Tony grumbles. “It’s not my fault.”

“That doesn’t sound very promising,” Steve says. His voice has dropped about an octave, and in different circumstances maybe it would have made Tony weak at the knees. As it is, it makes him jump and then tense, and then flinch when Steve slams his fist on his worktable. “Dammit, Stark. What are you doing to him?”

“Jesus, Steve!” Tony yelps. He gathers Clint’s arrows into his arms. “Explosives, here! You’re lucky that disruption didn’t kill us all!”

“What are you doing to Bucky?” Steve repeats. “Answer me!”

“Nothing!” Tony yells back. “Abso-fucking-lutely nothing! And that is the honest to God truth. I swear on apple pie and all things holy.”

“How do I trust you?”

Tony ignores the harsh pang those words send into his heart. “Obviously, you don’t,” he says. “But surely you can trust my tech. You’ve relied on it to save your ass more times then I can count, so maybe you’ll trust Friday.”

Steve frowns, looking confused.

“Friday, pull up the blowtorch incident,” Tony mutters. “Video please.”

Tony was trying to pull his smallest blowtorch from the little cubby he kept it in. The small shelf was chock-a-block with other tools and work items he rarely, if ever, used.

It reminded Tony that he needed to get better storage.

Bucky knocked on the door of the lab, and Friday obviously lets him in, because the door hisses and opens.

His eyes dart around for a moment before finally landing on Tony, crouched down and muttering words one probably shouldn’t repeat.


Tony waved a hand behind him haphazardly. “Bucky? Be there in a second.”

Bucky darted forward to catch the wrench Tony had knocked off the table in his greeting. “Careful,” Bucky muttered, and it looked like he was half talking to the tool.

“Are you talking to my equipment?” Tony asked, not waiting for an answer before he heaved and said “Hahah! Got it-“

The blowtorch practically flew out of the cupboard, hitting Bucky high on the cheekbone. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to phase him. Instead, he just levelled Tony with an unimpressed glare.

“That was not supposed to happen,” Tony said feebly.

Friday shut the recording down after that. Steve looks barely convinced.

“See? It’s not deliberate,” Tony says.

“Sure,” Steve mumbles. “Anymore examples?”

Tony lets out a heavy sigh. “Sure, whatever. Friday, strawberry incident please.”

Friday starts up the next series of footage willingly.

“Morning, Stark,” Bucky said, rounding the corner.

Tony, in the kitchen, jumped about five feet in the air and started pelting Bucky with the strawberries he had been cutting.

It took him a minute to calm down and realise there was, in fact, no threat.

Honestly, his face when he realised he had been throwing fruit at Bucky was priceless. Bucky’s was pretty funny too.

“That how you greet all the boys?” Bucky asked, flicking a stray piece of strawberry from his forearm.

“Only the cute ones,” Tony said, voice faint. “I’m so- wow. I can’t believe I just did that. I’m so sorry.”

Friday ended the clip when Bucky grinned.

“Thanks, Fri,” Tony says. He turns his attention back to Clint’s arrows. “That good enough for you, Mr Apple Pie?”

Steve is quiet for a minute. “It better not happen again. I’ll be watching you.”

(It happens again five minutes after Steve leaves the room. Tony threw Clint’s arrow at Bucky by accident, who only just managed to catch it in his metal arm in time. Tony half expected Steve to come storming back in, demanding his head on a silver platter).




“Honestly, Tony,” Bucky says.

Tony just grins sheepishly. “It was an accident?”

“It broke my arm! My actual arm,” Bucky exclaims. He sighs and rolls his eyes, snapping his arm back into place. Tony grimaces. “Why can’t you open jars normally?”

“Because, I- Well, I can’t,” Tony admits.

“You can’t?”

“I can’t.”

“Why don’t you ask someone for help then?”

Tony looks horrified. “No! No way!”

“Why not?” Bucky asks.

“Because its.. It’s embarrassing. And I don’t want to waste people’s time. Besides, doing it the way I do is more fun,” Tony explains.

“Fun for you, maybe. I end up covered in bruises all the time,” Bucky grumbles. “Can you at least try to aim better?"

“Tell you what, I’ll coat the walls in magnet. Then the lids will just fly onto the wall.”

“How much sleep have you had?” Bucky asks in disbelief. “If you covered the walls in magnet, it would stick literally everything in the kitchen to it. Not to mention, me!”

Tony’s eyes widen. “Oh, my God. You’re right. I- wow. Sorry. I won’t cover the walls in magnets, then.”

“Thank you,” Bucky says. "Anyway, how much sleep have you had?”

Tony shrugs. “An hour?”

Bucky pinches the bridge of his nose. “How long ago?”

“Sunday? Probably. That sounds about right.”

“Tony. For God’s sake, that was four days ago. How are you even alive right now?”

“Coffee works wonders, Jamesy,” Tony murmurs. “Woah. I guess I am tired.” He sways slightly on his feet, hand darting out instinctively to grab the nearest surface.

“For fuck’s sake, Stark!” Bucky yells as Tony’s half asleep brain makes him grab the lid of the can of sweetcorn Tony had been trying to open with his power drill instead of the counter. The sharp edge of the lid slices a cut into Tony’s palm. The man looks so out of it, the pain doesn’t even register on his face.

“What? What’d I do this time?” Tony asks, slurring his words. He glances at his hand. “Huh. Ouch.”

Bucky grits his teeth and grabs Tony’s unhurt wrist in his flesh hand. He drags him over to the table and physically lifts Tony up onto it. “Stay there.”

Maybe if Tony was more lucid right now, he’d respond. Instead he just nods, smiling softly. His eyes keep drooping shut.

“Friday, where’s the nearest first aid kit?” Bucky asks, swallowing down the panic (what if Tony bleeds out? Shut up, idiot, it’s a surface cut. Barely bleeding, it’s not even that deep. What if he gets an infection and dies? Hurry up and treat the cut, then.)

Bucky tells his inner monologue to shut up whilst swiping the blood off of Tony’s hand with an antiseptic wipe. Tony barely even flinches when Bucky presses on the cut in an attempt to clean it as best as possible.

He holds a tissue on it as soon as possible, pressing until the bleeding slows. When it’s only a slow trickle, Bucky tears a bandaid open with his teeth (ignoring Tony’s sleepy “That’s hot.”) and covers the cut on Tony’s hand.

“Do you need me to carry you to bed?” Bucky asks, screwing the plaster rubbish and the bloody tissue into a ball in his metal hand.

“I’ll just.. Sleep on the sofa,” Tony mumbles, gesturing in the opposite direction to the sofa. “Hey, how’s your arm?”

Bucky frowns, glancing down at the flesh hand. It barely hurts now, the bones already healed. There’s just an angry, angry bruise on his forearm. It would probably go in a couple of days, so he wasn’t worried. At least it looked, and felt, like he had set it right. “It’s fine. Now come on. Couch or bed, just somewhere you can sleep, please.”

Tony doesn’t fight it, just lets Bucky slide him off the table and walk him over to the couch. After dumping him somewhat unceremoniously on the sofa, Tony instantly curls in on himself, in such a way that reminds Bucky of a kitten. The thought makes him grin.

(He has to resist pressing a kiss to Tony’s forehead when the man snuffles a little in his sleep, shuffling until comfortable.)




“Hey, Mr Stark!” Peter announces, bounding into the kitchen, looking somewhat like a golden retriever puppy. The summer sun has lightened his brown hair to blondey-brown, and he’s somehow acquired a purple dip dye since the last time Tony saw him.

“Hey, kid- hey! What happened to your hair?”

Peter brings a hand up to twist through the ends. “This? MJ. You can’t refuse her.”

Tony chuckles. “Suits you, actually.”

Peter blushes. “You think? MJ thinks so too.”

“I think,” Tony confirms. “You hungry? Bucky was making grilled cheese, if you want one.”

Peter perks up (even more, if that were possible) at the mention of food. “That sounds great! If it’s not too much trouble.”

Bucky himself comes into the room, breaking a piece of cheese off into his mouth. “Course its not, Peter.”

“Oh, well then, sure, I guess,” Peter says. “Not too much though, because MJ and Aunt May have ganged up on me. Apparently we’re having a girls’ night, and they include popcorn, pizza and brownies. So I can’t really say I’m complaining, but still. If they find out I had loads of food here they’ll go batty.”

Tony can’t help but laugh at Peter’s description. “Alright then. We won’t give you much. But you’re like a bottomless pit, what with your metabolism, so I don’t see what you have to worry about.”

Peter shrugs. “Aunt May says she can smell the money on me whenever I come home.”

Bucky bursts out laughing.

Tony does too, laughing good naturedly. “Well, she’ll understand if she ever gets to eat one of Bucky’s grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s like, if someone took Jensen Ackles and Angelina Jolie, melted them into a paste and smushed into between two pieces of solid gold, and then sprinkled it with actual, literal stars, that’s what it tastes like.”

Peter wrinkles his nose. “I’m not so sure I want it now.”

Tony shrugs. “That’s fine with me, kid. More for me that way.”

“I don’t know whether to be insulted or complimented that you just compared my sandwich to Angelina Jolie,” Bucky remarks.

(Tony laughs so hard that he falls forward, planting his hand on a wooden cutting board balancing on the edge of a counter. The pressure forces the loaf of bread on it to go flying up and hit Bucky. Thankfully, it doesn’t give him a bruise this time.)




The next time Bucky catches Tony attempting to open a jar or a bottle, he stops him before it gets too far.

“Woah, woah. Tony, come on now. Maybe let me do it this time?”

Tony glares at him (Bucky takes mental note of the frankly horrific eyebags Tony’s currently sporting). He lifts whatever power tool he has now. “Or you could back off and let me do it my way.”

Bucky tries to take the jar of strawberry jelly. “I don’t want you to get hurt, honey.”

If Tony reacted to the nickname, Bucky didn’t notice. He did notice Tony squeezing the jar harder than probably ideal.

“Tony, come on. Let it go, and I’ll open it for you.”

Tony doesn’t.

“Tony, please. Come on. Put the.. Whatever tool down and let me help.”

“I don’t need help,” Tony says, squeezing the jar even harder.

Bucky makes a mental note to create a line of indestructible jam jars right there and then, because the force Tony is exerting on the glass causes it to explode in his hand. Shards fly up and catch his cheeks and lips, as well as Tony’s upper arms and hands.

“Goddammit, Stark,” Bucky grumbles, forcing Tony over to the sink. He pulls Tony’s hands under the tap, washing away the jelly, blood and glass. Tony winces.

“Any particular reason you keep coming up with violent ways to open things?” Bucky asks, patting Tony’s hands dry with a towel.

Tony shrugs as best he can without flinching. “Just didn’t want any of you thinking I’m weak. I gotta keep coming up with cool things.”

“This is you feeling, what? Insecure?” Okay. Not what Bucky expected. At all.

Tony shrugs again. This time it pulls wrong on one of the shards buried in his cheek, and Tony winces and grimaces. The frown dislodges a piece of glass in his lip, and it falls to the table. Drops of blood follow.

“Christ,” Bucky mumbles, scooping the stray shard into his hand and dumping it in the trash. He painstakingly uses the tweezers someone had helpfully put in the first aid kit to dig all the glass from Tony’s face. It takes longer than he expected.

Before long, however, its done and Bucky can breathe out. “You alright?” He asks.

Tony nods, leaning forward and around him. “My toast!”

Bucky frowns, glancing where Tony is looking. The toast is practically swimming in blood now, and it looks hardly appetizing at all. Tony doesn’t think so.

He just jumps down and over to the bread, to put another two slices in his slightly sentient toaster (long story. Long night, too, actually.)

“You’re not seriously eating toast with a piece of blood soaked bread in front of you, are you?” Bucky asks.

Tony shrugs. “I’ve eaten with a lot worse in front of me. Blood isn’t really an issue anymore.”

Bucky grimaces, watching Tony pop the fresh toast out and slather it in a generous amount of butter.

“Be a dear and grab me another jar of strawberry jelly, will you?” Tony asks. He gestures absentmindedly in the direction of the pantry, and his fingertips brush against Bucky’s arm as he does.

Bucky does as asked, opening the jar first this time and handing it to Tony.

“Thanks, love,” Tony says, sounding entirely distracted by the toast.

When he goes to take his first bite, though, he flinches again. Bucky is up instantaneously.

“What happened? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Tony smiles a closed lip smile. “Apparently I can’t open my mouth that wide.”

“Well that really puts my evening plans out of whack,” Bucky jokes before he can even process what he’s saying.

Tony, thankfully, laughs. “That was quick.” He grimaces again, however, when the movement pulls on his lip.

“Anything I can do?” Bucky asks.

Tony’s eyes turn downright devious. “You can kiss it better?”

Bucky almost regrets asking, but he’s been kind of dreaming off this for a while. So he does, leaning forward over the bloody toast, to press against Tony.

It’s nice, even the circumstances are less than satisfactory.