The asset had a mission. Capture Tony Stark and transfer him to the closest Hydra facility alive. Injury to target acceptable but not encouraged. The asset understood what that meant: anything more than a light bruise would be punished.
It was a long standing mission. Hydra knew patience, was willing to wait years for their opportunity to come. Other operatives before the Winter Soldier had been sent, all of them for unsuccessful seduction-- apparently the target was not as undiscriminating as Hydra originally thought. Thus, the asset. The Winter Soldier. B… he knew his name started with a ‘b’. He didn’t know what he thought about this, this sense of self he was gaining quicker after every wipe. He referred to himself as the asset when asked-- ‘B’ in his mind-- and kept his mouth shut about what the handlers would classify as a malfunction that required recalibration.
Tony Stark might help him. Then again, Tony Stark had been in Hydra’s eye since he was a child. They would not give up on neither him, nor the Winter Soldier so easily. Allies would be necessary, and B had none. Tony Stark would, but he wasn’t certain that that help would be given to him.
When he was deployed for the mission-- solo, intercept in Afghanistan while en route from a weapons demonstration to the US base-- he hadn’t decided what he was going to do yet.
In the distance, he heard an explosion and gunfire. His instinct was to run towards the sound, but over this flat of land, sound carried. With his enhanced hearing added on top of that, he wouldn’t make it before the fight was over, even if he was running as fast as he could.
He paused, staring down the length of road Tony Stark was meant to come from. If there was a disturbance, he would change routes. Delay. Maybe his convoy had left early and the attack was on them. B found it unlikely-- military schedules, after all-- but he needed to double back, regardless.
He found wreckage, and surveyed the scene. Planned, but that wasn’t a surprise. It was… too planned. The hummer at the front of the convoy had been blown apart, and the last one had received a similar fate. The middle ones however, had been left suspiciously clean. Oh, there were bodies and countless bullet holes, but B didn’t believe they ran out of missiles.
When transporting a person of interest, you put them in the middle of a convoy, it’s the safest position for them. Standard procedure. Hydra had done their research for this mission, and the only person who was here that wasn’t usually, was Tony Stark.
B readjusted the plan for a search, and started.
B was beginning to hate this landscape. Revision: he had begun hating this place two and a half months ago; he had long since reached hatred, it wasn’t beginning. Sand was getting into his arm, the wind made it impossible to clean, the days were too hot and the nights were too cold. His left side was an amalgamation of pain and malfunction.
He was beginning to hate Tony Stark-- possibly useful or not-- for being so hard to find. Of all the terrorist cells to be captured by, it just had to be the one that was the best at avoiding detection.
Hydra had extracted him a month in, but after a mild debriefing, had sent him back in without any sort of maintenance or new instructions. They barely bothered punishing him, more focused on him being out there searching for the target.
And when he finally found Tony Stark, he didn’t even find him. He fell from the sky and at B’s feet. Literally.
He pulled up short, staring in disbelief at the man wearing bits of metal around him like a suit.
“Hello there,” Tony fucking Stark said mildly, his voice scratchy either from disuse or dehydration. “Mind giving me a hand?” B guessed it was dehydration. Disuse didn’t seem like his style, no matter how much he already wished it was.
In any other situation, B would have shot him. He didn’t for two reasons. 1. He had orders to bring him in alive and unharmed. 2. It couldn’t be a joke about his prosthetic arm because it was covered. He humored himself for a moment though, pretending like he could. B reached a hand down, fisted it in the middle of Tony Stark’s tank top, and yanked him up.
With a comical bounce, he was standing now, leaning involuntarily into B for support-- and also because B still had his hand in the other man’s shirt.
“I have been looking for you,” he growled, “for three months in this miserable place, and I didn’t even find you.” Who knew how much longer it would have taken him to find the target? Another three months? He scowled.
Tony Stark held his hands up. “Sorry Tall-Dark-And-Handsome, I promise I wasn’t trying to hide.”
“Hmph. C’mon,” he said, and-- without waiting for a response-- he grabbed his wrist and dragged him along. When Tony Stark stumbled, he paused, got a water packet from his bag, shoved it in the target’s free hand, and started pulling him on again. “Drink it,” he ordered.
“Need both hands for that.”
B stopped and let him go, turning towards him with his arms crossed over his chest to wait.
He guzzled it down and started shucking the remaining pieces of metal. “Who are you anyways? Not a local, obviously. Not military.”
“Shield,” he answered gruffly. Hydra’s sworn enemy, and much more likely to get Tony Stark to follow him. B didn’t particularly want to knock him out and carry him the whole way, but he would if he needed to. Kidnapping was always easier if the mark didn’t know they were being kidnapped.
“Shield?” he repeated, not familiar with the name, and B felt frustration well up inside him. Did this man have to be so difficult?
“Previously the SSR,” he tried, hoping it would work because if it didn’t he’d have to haul Tony Stark over his shoulder for the entire journey, and that would not be pleasant. Internally, he started at that thought. Since when had he been so free with emotions? Not even a minute in Tony Stark’s presence, and he was losing the habits Hydra had tried so hard to engrain in him.
Free from B’s inner thoughts, Tony Stark’s face cleared and he nodded in understanding. “Didn’t know they rebranded it. Okay, so- um, where are we going?”
“The closest base, now come on.” He started walking again, trusting that he would follow-- he did.
One thing B learned very quickly, was that Tony Stark never shut his mouth. At first, it grated on him, but by the second day, he found it comforting. Not that he was going to tell the man that, but it was nice to see someone so… resilient. B didn’t delude himself into thinking that Tony Stark would not have made it home without his assistance.
In the stretches of silence, where Tony Stark was tired of talking, B would find himself thinking about what he liked about him. His resilience, obviously, his mind, the way he didn’t need anybody else, even if it was clear he wanted others around. There was also a lot about Tony Stark’s appearance that pictures hadn’t captured. His eyes were entrancing, he walked like he knew exactly how good his butt looked, and smiled as if it was a dare. Physical attraction was… new but familiar for B; he let himself look.
“What was that metal you were wearing?” B asked that night as they settled in the mouth of a cave.
“Fashion, of course. Who knew terrorists living in caves had such strange style?”
B gave him a flat look. “Right. Matches the new flashlights,” he said, giving a pointed look to the glowing light in the man’s chest.
He made an aborted move to cover it with his hand, grinning wide and fake at him. “Aw babe if you wanted to get me naked, all you had to do was ask.”
B did want that, or maybe just to touch his butt, but like hell he was going to say it. “You should be yourself,” B said. “Looks better on you.”
His smile dropped, and he pinned B with a hard look. “What would you know about it.”
“Didn’t say I did.”
“Then shut up,” he snapped, laying down where he was, which was too far from B.
B sighed. “Are you trying to freeze to death?”
“Haven’t died yet.”
“I won’t mess with your shit, now get over here before you die of stupidity.”
Tony Stark glared at him but moved closer-- though not close enough. With a return glare, B grabbed him and pulled him all the way in. They both ignored how the other’s presence calmed them. Part of the way through the night, B woke to him wiggling about, unsettled, and guided the other man’s head to his neck. A few breaths and he calmed, nuzzling closer in his sleep. B took a whiff of his own, and found sleep much easier than he usually did.
He didn’t think about it. Physical attraction was one thing. This was something far more dangerous.
“Sorry about last night,” Tony mumbled.
“It’s fine,” B said, surprised to mean it. One week. Seven little days, and he… cared. Cared about Tony, how he was feeling, and what happened to him. It had changed him from ‘Tony Stark’ and ‘the target’ to simply ‘Tony’. “I’ve had worse.”
“Still,” Tony said, shifting uncomfortably. “An elbow to the gut can’t be comfortable.”
B hesitantly smirked at him, trying on the expression. “I’ll take what you give me.”
Tony blinked, and just when B was starting to think he’d made a mistake, Tony grinned and it was real. “Why Mister Shield Agent B, I do believe that was a joke.”
He rolled his eyes and held out a food pack. “We need to get started if we want to reach the town by tonight.”
Tony made a face at the ‘meal’, but took it and started walking when B did. It was a faster pace than they’d been keeping previously, but B wanted to get Tony to a half-decent bed if he could. There wouldn’t be much point in passing through the town if they didn’t stay for the night. It was also the turning point.
B had taken the long way around, both because it was longer, and because it was safer. If this had been an ordinary mission, he wouldn’t have hesitated. But Tony… he wasn’t going to bring him to Hydra, and not because of what Tony could offer him. He knew that Tony could keep him safe, could take care of the arm, and that he would if B simply asked. All those reasons? Not why he was doing it. Hydra would hurt him, torture him to try and break him like the three months with Ten Rings hadn’t been able to. They hadn’t even gotten close, and B would not let Tony go through that amount of pain. He wouldn’t. So, when they got to the town, they would contact the US military base. Tony had told him about Rhodey, and B hoped he was as trustworthy as Tony believed. They would reach the town tonight, and by the following night, Tony would be in a military hospital, getting the treatment he needed.
That was the plan, at least. A sandstorm came tearing through, and B barely managed to pull them out of its path. They were still in the cave’s mouth, and B tried to pull Tony further in, but he wrenched his arm free.
B looked at him in question, to find Tony staring at the cave in well-concealed fear.
“We’re going in?”
“Why can’t we stay right here like we have been?” he asked, voice edged with panic, his composure starting to drop.
B moved closer to him, and tried his best to be comforting. He barely knew what it looked like, let alone how to do it though, so he didn’t hold his breath that it would work. “Because there weren’t storms before. No one else is here.” He paused. “I’ll protect you.”
“I don’t need protecting,” Tony said, but B could see him relax slightly, even as he walked further into the cave.
B didn’t doubt that what Tony said was true; he didn’t need someone else to protect him. That didn’t make B want to do it any less, though.
The object in Tony’s chest lit the cave sufficiently, and B coaxed him into eating more horrible field rations. “Talk to me,” Tony said.
Tony shrugged. “Talk. Tell me about yourself. Anything to keep me distracted from this.” He waved the package distastefully.
“When we get to town, they’ll have a radio you can use to call your friend.”
“Well that’s good, but not what I meant. What’s your name? I can’t keep calling you Shield Agent B, it sounds like there should be a Shield Agent A around, and there isn’t.”
“I’m not with Shield,” he heard himself say. He clenched his jaw tightly, waiting for Tony to lash out.
Instead, he took another bite and calmly said, “Fine, Regular Agent B. Who are you with then? Or are you a mercenary? Cause I got to say, someone as pretty as you could have a much more cushy job in the freelancing business. Less sand, more roses. Probably the same amount of smelly rich people though.” Tony chewed, looking at B contemplatively. “Anyone ever told you you look like Bucky Barnes?”
B became completely rigid.
“Um, I didn’t mean it as an insult.”
“Bucky?” he repeated.
“Yeah Barnes. You know, Captain America’s right hand man in World War Two?”
It was Tony’s turn to freeze. “What?”
“Hydra, they- fuck.” He covered his face with his hands, feeling the sand gritting in his left arm. “Fuck,” he repeated, with feeling.
“Hydra’s gone,” Tony said, but cautiously, like he wasn’t too sure about that anymore.
Bucky-- because god that’s who he was-- let out a humorless laugh and hunched in on himself.
“Apparently,” he growled. His mind was running, zipping through memories like they’d always been there.
“You didn’t know?”
“They didn’t exactly tell me,” Bucky grit out. He heard Tony move, then felt a light touch on his shoulder. He moved suddenly, wrapping his arms around Tony’s middle to bring him in and squishing his face in Tony’s stomach. “I’m not- I’m not going to, but I was- they wanted me to bring you in. I’m not bringing you to Hydra, I swear I’m not.”
Tony didn’t flinch, just put his hands on Bucky’s back and rubbed at it comfortingly. “I believe you.” A minute later, both of them still in their makeshift hug, he said, “This is the strangest date I’ve ever been on.”
“This isn’t a date,” Bucky said, voice muffled in the filthy tank top Tony was stuck in.
“Relax, Bucky it’s just a joke,” Tony said, as if Bucky didn’t realize that.
“I could take you on a date a helluva lot better than this. Don’t mar my pristine dating record with this bullshit.”
Tony laughed, a little relieved though Bucky didn’t know why. “Alright, you win, this isn’t a date.”
“Damn right.” A minute later, “Can we just- sleep?”
Bucky laid down, pulling Tony on top of him like the world’s heaviest yet nicest blanket.
“I won’t let them hurt you again,” Tony said quietly. “I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I- I felt you should know.”
Bucky just breathed. He thought about saying something to thank Tony-- god knew the man deserved that and a hell of a lot more. “Okay,” he said, some minutes later. His voice sounded too loud and sudden in the quiet of the cave, but Tony nodded against his chest, unbothered.
When Bucky woke up, he felt that Tony was still with him. He took a deep breath, his hand running up and down Tony’s spine. For all that he’d begged him to stay last night, he half-expected Tony to be gone when he woke. Hoped, perhaps, that Tony would have a well working sense of self-preservation. That he was wrong was both worrisome and comforting.
Ignoring his conflicting emotions, he resituated Tony on top of him to be more comfortable, and waited for him to wake. They could afford a late start today, and Tony deserved-- more than ever-- the comfort available, no matter how scant it might be.
He could tell when Tony woke, not much later. His breathing pattern changed, and he wasn’t quite as relaxed as he’d been while sleeping.
“You okay?” Tony asked, some time later.
“Better than I was this time yesterday.” That wasn’t saying much, but they would take what they could get.
“So you… remember everything?”
Bucky took a deep breath, Tony not proving a challenge to his super strength. “Yeah.”
“Are we turning around or…?”
“No the town, it’s,” Bucky licked his lips, “the long way around. Harder to get to Hydra from there, easier to reach the air base.”
Tony paused, and it felt loaded gun. Bucky just didn’t know if it was aimed at him or not. “Were you ever going to bring me to Hydra?”
“I… at first yeah. Maybe. I--” he cut himself off again. He had planned on taking Tony back. He’d also thought about grabbing Tony and leaving for his own gain, but even while he’d been thinking that, he had been making his way towards the Hydra base, pushing his ‘betrayal’ of the organization to be a decision made later rather than sooner. “I planned on it,” he settled on saying. “Eventually.”
Tony nodded, as if he expected that. “Are we getting up soon?”
“Yeah, just wanted to let you get some sleep.”
Tony stood, carefully climbing off Bucky, and stretched. Bucky watched the flex of the muscles in his arms, wanting to see them up close and intimate. “Well, consider me slept.” He held a hand out to help Bucky up, and Bucky took it for the opportunity to touch him.
He couldn’t decide if the rest of the walk went quickly or slowly. Time slowed and rushed as he thought about his time with Hydra. All he knew was that he was surprised when he saw the town on the horizon.
They went to the little store in town first, grabbing some food and water and toiletries when Bucky saw how Tony eyed them longingly. It wasn’t much, but Tony looked happier for it-- or maybe that was the fact that he was so close to making it home.
The man behind the counter directed them to the radio, not wanting to argue with Bucky when he-- as Tony called it-- murder glared at him. The radio was easy to find, easy to use, and Tony’s friend got the signal soon after they called. Maybe the universe was doing them a solid, letting everything happen without issue. Bucky was wary, but he wasn’t going to question it. If things wanted to go well, by god he wasn’t going to stop them.
The motel they booked-- like the store, the only one in town-- wasn’t as secure as Bucky wanted, but, as Tony pointed out, nothing would be as secure as he wanted. Tony promised that when they got back to the States, Bucky would see that his house was perfectly safe. Now that he was definitely going to see it, he was holding Tony to that. He simply would not let Tony live in a place that Hydra could so easily hurt him. But again, Tony had comforted him.
Tony pat the questionable bedspread with a teasing grin aimed at Bucky. “Our first bed together. I haven’t sat down yet, but I promise, mine’s better.”
Bucky had expected Tony to flop on the bed after so long without anything coming close to a proper one. First the cot in the cave with Ten Rings, and then on the ground with him. Instead, Tony was looking at it with something akin to longing. He wanted it, but he wasn’t sure he could have it.
Bucky understood that feeling all too well, so he sat down first, then beckoned for Tony to join him. Even with springs poking him in the back, it was too soft for what he was accustomed to. Like they’d been doing for the past week, Tony curled up half on top of him, and the added weight helped him adjust-- or maybe that was just Tony. “Better?” he asked.
Tony nodded silently.
They should shower. They both smelled rank, not to mention they were covered in dirt and at least a week’s worth of sweat-- more likely for both of them though, was a full three months’ worth.
Bucky stared up at the ceiling, wondering how long he would have this, before Tony got back to his life. Traumatic situations made people latch onto someone who could give them comfort. Bucky wouldn’t be half as appealing once Tony saw his friends again. He wanted to be okay with that, but… Tony was special. Now that he’d had his attention, he didn’t want to give it up. He wanted to say that he hadn’t always been this selfish, but the truth was that he had. Steve had been special to Bucky too, and before the serum, Steve had barely looked at anyone else. Bucky had been happy for Steve post-serum-- of course he was, the whole list of medical issues had vanished-- but there had always been the niggling jealousy that he wasn’t the most important person to him anymore.
“I was going to take you to Hydra,” he said quietly. It didn’t matter that he’d told Tony that yesterday, it felt like he needed to say it again. “I really was.”
“Then why didn’t you leave this morning? You should have.”
Tony propped himself up on his elbows, giving Bucky a piercing look. “You saved me--”
“I kidnapped you.”
“You saved me,” Tony repeated, “and believe it or not, I wasn’t going to leave you to be captured again and forget yourself just because I was feeling a little skittish. You saved me, and it’s my turn to save you. Are you going to let me?”
“Do you feel like you are well on your way to being saved?” Tony asked, back to teasing.
“You’re a little late for that, doll.”
“I like a challenge.” He laid himself back down across Bucky’s chest.
“I’ve killed people. Murdered them while they begged me to stop.”
“I’ve been the cause of millions of deaths. People would call me the merchant of death and I laughed in their faces.” Bucky blinked in surprise, and Tony rubbed at his side comfortingly. “You’re not worse than me babe. You’re not going to chase me off by listing your sins.”
“I was in charge of a training room. They were teenagers and if they made a mistake, I beat them. If it looked like they weren’t going to pass, we killed them.”
“You know what’s funny?” Tony asked, apropos of nothing.
Bucky didn’t say anything.
“You weren’t in control then, and yet here you are, feeling guilty for things that aren’t technically your fault. And you know what? I’m not the most trusting person in the world.” He snorted at himself. “Far from it, and here I am, laying on you like a blanket. I trust you.”
“Too much,” he muttered, not meaning for Tony to hear it, but really, what was he expecting from someone literally laying on him.
“What do you mean by that?”
He sighed. “That maybe you shouldn’t.”
“Too late for that Bumble Bee. Far too late.” Tony propped himself up again, searching for something in Bucky’s face, though the other man didn’t know what. Whatever it was, he must have found it, because he leant forward and lightly pressed his lips to Bucky’s. “Good?” he checked.
Bucky licked his lips and his hand shifted to the small of Tony’s back automatically. “You shouldn’t,” he said, silently begging for Tony to do it again. Their lips were both chapped, Tony’s a little cracked and bloody from the dry air, but it felt like the best thing Bucky’d ever experienced.
“Shouldn’t,” Tony agreed, shifting so that he was straddling him. “But I want it, and I know you do too. I think we’ve both made worse decisions.”
“That’s not a real good motivator,” he said, but his breath hitched when Tony nosed at his neck. He didn’t want Tony to stop, so why was he trying to convince him to? He couldn’t smell good, but Tony was sniffing like he wanted more of Bucky’s scent than he was getting.
“How about the fact that you’ll finally be able to get your hands on my ass? I’ve seen you looking, and now I’m offering it up on a silver platter.”
Bucky swallowed thickly, hand spasming towards Tony’s backside. “Okay. That’s a better motivator. But--” he stuttered when Tony kissed his neck, right over his bonding gland. “But- um- fuck,” he breathed, “do that again.”
He felt Tony smile against his skin before obligingly kissing his bonding gland again, the hard edges of his teeth lightly grazing it just to hear Bucky whimper. He held Tony close against his body, and the next thing Tony knew, the world was tilting and Bucky was laying on top of him, pinning him to the bed. “Does this mean you remember what you’re doing, then?” Tony asked.
In answer, Bucky rolled his hips against Tony’s. He’d thought that if he ever got this, he would be slow, take his time kissing every inch of Tony. But god he was tired, and he wanted Tony with a hard ache in his chest that didn’t know the meaning of the word patience.
He kissed Tony again, hard, trying to devour him as his hands undid Tony’s fly. He shoved his hand in without preamble, swallowing Tony’s moan and giving him a hard stroke. He swiped his thumb over the head of Tony’s cock, forcing another moan.
Bucky drew his face away, not wanting to miss what Tony looked like like this, but Tony wasn’t having it. He pulled him back in, kissing him messy, with too much tongue but the perfect amount of desire. His hips thrust up into Bucky’s hand, before he whispered to himself, “Wait. Wait, we have--” Tony pulled away, giving Bucky the gentlest of pushes so he could go to the bag of items they’d bought. “It’s not good, but it’s something.”
When he couldn’t immediately find what he was looking for, he dumped the bag upside down, rustling his hands through the items until he emerged with the small tub of vaseline. He threw it on the bed, shoving his pants off before he climbed on. He laid down and drew his legs up slightly, looking up at Bucky, who hadn’t moved.
He knew that he should be getting undressed too, but his mind was swirling with the complete and utter trust Tony was showing him. He’d had people at his mercy before, but never had it been freely given. Tony knew that, and here he was. Panting, not with fear or pain, but with pleasure and want, staring up at him like he was the only thing Tony wanted in the entire world. His heart was pounding loudly in his chest, and he wanted to do so many things that he wasn’t doing anything.
“You okay?” Tony asked, when Bucky had paused that bit too long that doubt started to creep in.
He nodded before Tony’s doubt could latch on, taking a deep breath as his eyes trailed Tony’s flushed body appreciatively. He leaned down to kiss over Tony’s heart, feeling the reassuring ba-bump under his lips. He almost hadn’t gone back for him, and then he never would have had this. It was the only moment of slow and sweet he was going to have this time, because as soon as he made contact with Tony’s skin again, he was hyper aware of the fact that Tony was naked and hard for him.
“You’re gorgeous,” Bucky said, in between kisses so hard he accidentally made Tony’s lip start bleeding again.
Tony ignored that and said, “Less talk, more dick, c’mon.” It would’ve sounded much more demanding if he wasn’t breathless. He tried to undo Bucky’s pants, but his hands were fumbling.
Bucky grabbed his hands and kissed them, taking his pants off so quickly that Tony mumbled, “My angle was bad,” in his defense. Bucky huffed out a laugh, laying on top of him again and kissing Tony’s bonding gland like Tony had done earlier.
“C’mon Bucky,” Tony said, thrusting up so their cocks rubbed against each other.
He was a world class assassin, he’d made impossible shots and shown more grace on the battlefield than even Hydra had thought possible when he started. ...And he fumbled the fucking container of vaseline when he tried to grab it so it fell off the side of the bed. “Shit.”
A laugh bubbled out of Tony, but he made no indication to move, so Bucky ignored it. In fact, Tony seemed completely content to wait for him to get his act together. When Bucky finally got his hand around the slippery little container, he looked up to see Tony stroking himself in an imitation of how Bucky had been touching him earlier.
“Shit,” he said again, but for a completely different reason this time.
“Stop staring and get over here.”
Bucky scrambled to his feet, climbing back on top of Tony, but waiting until he’d gotten vaseline on his fingers to lean down and kiss Tony. He took him in hand and started to jerk him off, quick hard movements that had Tony digging his fingers into Bucky’s bicep and thrusting up with little whimpers.
Tony put a hand between them, blindly fumbling until he got Bucky’s cock in hand. Bucky’s rhythm stuttered, hips jerking, and he never recovered. They were rutting together, hands moving without tempo until they both spilled over, panting in the quiet of their motel room.
Bucky laid-- well, collapsed-- down half next to half on top of Tony as he caught his breath. “We should get cleaned up,” he mumbled, making absolutely no move to get up.
“It’ll be disgusting in the morning,” Tony agreed, also staying exactly where he was.
It was indeed disgusting the following morning-- all crusty and dried petroleum jelly on top of the three months of captivity (for Tony) and searching (for Bucky). The shower wasn’t a place Tony was going to go, so he wet a washcloth and wiped himself down. Bucky eyed the shower for a moment before shrugging, telling Tony that he’d gone longer without one before. Tony didn’t know if it was Bucky’s own trauma at work, or if he was trying to make Tony feel better. Either way, he appreciated that he wouldn’t be the only one of the pair smelling foul, and they packed Tony’s new bag before setting off.
The meeting spot wasn’t far, just enough that no locals would get in trouble for fraternizing with the US.
For all that Bucky was worried something would go horribly wrong, they got on the helicopter and made it to the base without incident. Tony took a shower, and even under the military strength soap, Bucky could tell that Tony’s scent was even better than he’d previously thought. He wanted to rub all up against him, make it so their scents were inextricable.
From the plane in Afghanistan to the US, nothing happened. Bucky couldn’t shake his paranoia though, always looking over his shoulder at ghosts. He didn’t want to call it intuition. He was protective of Tony, knew it from the moment Rhodey had pulled Tony into a hug and Bucky’s fingers itched to pull him away into an embrace he knew for a fact would do Tony no harm. Rhodey was trustworthy, Bucky could see it in the way he talked to and touched Tony, the way he took care of him.
When Tony held a press conference instead of healing quietly, Bucky understood, but couldn’t help his rising panic.
Tony took Bucky’s hand in his own and looked him straight in the eye. “I hate when people say this to me, but I really do think you’re overreacting. We’re home, I’ve shown you all my security, we’re safe here. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Bucky hung his head. “I know.”
“Then what is it?”
“Someone wanted you in Afghanistan. Takin’ you was planned, and they’re not gonna be happy that you’re out. People like that don’t give up, Tony, and nowhere is foolproof.”
“Let’s say you’re right. What would you have me do, Bucky? Lock myself in a fallout bunker?”
The thought had occurred to him, but he knew better than to admit it. He licked his lips, “If I go back to Hydra--”
“But they have--”
“No.” Tony looked angry now, instead of the concerned but understanding face he’d had on before. “What the hell do you think you’ll learn from them that won’t come at the cost of your freedom? Nothing, Bucky, they have nothing.”
“I will raze Hydra to the ground and salt the earth behind them, and you are not going back there for even a second.”
Standing in the face of Tony’s fierce anger at the organization, all Bucky could do was nod dumbly.
“It was just a suggestion,” he mumbled.
Tony’s face softened minutely, and he cupped Bucky’s face. “I know you meant well, and I appreciate it, love, I really do, but it’s nowhere near necessary, and I don’t want you to think we’re missing out on an opportunity, because we aren’t.”
He nodded. “‘Love’?” Bucky repeated, several moments later.
“Well.” Tony cleared his throat, but other than fidgeting in his seat, didn’t move. “You are.”
Slowly, Bucky leaned in to nuzzle at Tony’s throat, right over his bonding gland where his scent was the strongest, the most intoxicating. Tony’s hands slid to Bucky’s back, looking like he was holding him in place as he bared his throat in open invitation.
“You smell like…” a true mate.
Tony swallowed. “I know.”
Tentatively, Bucky grazed his teeth over the gland, feeling Tony shudder in response. “Give me a week,” he said, voice a growl.
“To bond. We’ll find who’s after you, take care of ‘em, and then we can bond. Fair?”
“You don’t have to prove yourself, you know. It’s not the ‘40’s anymore.”
“I know.” Bucky leaned back, only to pull Tony onto his lap. “But I want to make the world safer for you. You’re doin’ so much, and I- I want to help.”
Tony brushed Bucky’s hair away from his face even though there wasn’t really any in his way. “Okay. If it’ll make you feel better, we can wait.”
Bucky smiled, giving him a kiss. “Thank you.”
It was amazing what could happen in seven little days. The remains of Ten Rings had been blown to hell in a new, upgraded suit Tony made, Stane was captured by actual agents of Shield, and Bucky was on his way to being a real live person with papers and a driver's license and pretty much everything he needed to exist in the twenty-first century. His return/existence was top secret, but nobody saw him and thought of the Bucky Barnes from World War II, so it was easy.
Bucky was looking down at his brand new ID when Tony walked in and leaned against the door frame. “So.”
Bucky looked up at him and smiled. “Hey. Thanks for-” he lifted the pile- “all this. It’s real sweet.”
“I assure you, my motives were purely selfish.”
Bucky rolled his eyes and set everything on the side table so the couch was free. “You haven’t done anythin’ selfish in the whole time I’ve known you.”
“A whopping three weeks. No offense babe, but I don’t think you have the best sample size to judge this. Ask Rhodey, he has a much better time frame to take from.”
“Funny you should mention,” Bucky said, standing up and walking over to Tony. “I know it’s not common practice, but I did sorta ask Rhodey for his blessing.”
“His blessing,” Tony repeated, hinting at something but fuck if Bucky knew what.
“For bondin’ with you. I know you don’t need anyone’s approval and it’s your decision--”
“Has Jarvis been giving you modern sensitivity training? Has Pepper? I bet it was Pepper, she does this sort of thing.”
“What? She does!”
Bucky took one of Tony’s hands in both of his own. “I just wanna do this right. I know you make your own decisions, and I don’t want you to think that this was me goin’ behind your back or anythin’. But I know how much Rhodey means to you, and if he didn’t like me, it’s kinda no contest what you would choose, y’know?”
Tony cleared his throat, his free hand hanging limply by his side. “I take it Rhodey said ‘yes, please bond with him’?”
Bucky chuckled, moving into Tony’s space. “Somethin’ like that.” In reality, he’d told Rhodey his intentions, and Rhodey had asked if Tony was aware of that. Bucky told him that yes, Tony was, and Rhodey nodded, said it was good enough for him, and that if Bucky wanted to get a beer sometime to give him a call. He also said that it didn’t matter how much Tony liked Bucky, Rhodey would always be his best friend and Bucky would do well to remember that. Bucky had been amused by Rhodey’s jealousy, but was careful not to let it show. In a couple years, he could tease him about it, but at the moment it was probably a bad idea (not that he’d let bad ideas stop him in the past).
“Does that mean the seven days before you’ll bond with me are finally over?” Tony asked, as if he hadn’t been counting the days and wondering if Bucky was going to do actually seven, or eight days (for if he waited until the next Thursday came around instead of today, on Wednesday). He’d been disappointed when day six came and went, and he had decided this morning that if Bucky didn’t say anything by the time he was getting ready for bed, Tony would jump him. He only had so much self control, and Bucky was a goddamn masterpiece. Pepper had her multi-billion dollar art collection, Tony had Bucky. It was a fair state of affairs.
“Yeah,” Bucky said. He cleared his throat, obviously wondering what he should say now, so Tony helped him out.
He stood on his tiptoes and tucked his nose in Bucky’s neck. He hummed happily, moving so his lips were over Bucky’s bonding gland. “Want to go to my room? Well,” he amended, giving Bucky’s neck a quick, tantalizing lick, “our room?”
Bucky swallowed thickly, nodding and following Tony in a daze. “Since when is it ‘our’ room?”
“Since now. Or did you actually think we’d bond and you’d fuck me senseless and then get up to go sleep in a different room.”
“Well when ya say it like that…”
When Bucky woke, his nose was tucked into Tony’s neck, and his body was molded around Tony’s. It was a good way to wake up. He ignored the unpleasant stickiness in favor of the completely pleasant ache that followed mind blowing sex.
He snuggled closer and bit gently over the bite mark he’d made on Tony last night, partly just to do it, and partly for the way it made Tony moan quietly and slowly woke him up.
Tony peeked one eye open, but didn’t see Bucky so he let it close.
Tony, well, grumbled, but he leaned into Bucky’s body behind him, so he wasn’t really mad.
“Wanna sleep in more?”
“Okay.” Bucky kissed the bonding mark and settled in, letting Tony go a bit so he could move on his back to be more comfortable, and snuggling back in.