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Generally Bucky doesn’t really do dates. He used to like meeting new people and doing new things but so much has happened since he was in his early twenties that has changed… everything really. So his being on a date is a fluke of epic proportions and shockingly it’s going well. Tony is easy to talk to and adorable, but given that this is a first date Bucky lets the usual anxieties around relationships dissipate a little in favor of just enjoying the moment. First dates yield no real pressure and it’s been a long time since he’s had a good night out. Probably years if he’s honest.

“So Rhodey has this whole ass tank and drops it as his superior’s feet and is like ‘is this what you’re looking for?’ And that’s how he got promoted,” Tony says, shaking his head.

Bucky laughs, “how is it possible to lose an entire tank?” he asks.

Tony shrugs, “no clue but if you’ve ever met the people Rhodey works with you wouldn’t be surprised. Seriously, I’ve met rutabagas that are smarter.”

“I knew a kid in high school who wanted to go into the military and he once asked what a planet was,” Bucky says and he laughs as he watches Tony’s soul die a little. He’s so expressive, which is something Bucky likes given that it takes the guesswork out of their interactions.

“Please tell me he failed the psych eval,” Tony says.

“I don’t think he did, but he ended up not going into the military for some reason. Now he’s a flat earther.”

Tony wrinkles his nose, “is that the stupid fuck that shot himself into the sky to prove the earth is flat?” he asks.

“No, but if they knew each other I wouldn’t be surprised. Nothing about that guy surprises me anymore,” he says. Once someone asks what a planet is faith in them is impossible to have.

“How does a person not know what a planet is? We fucking live on one,” he says.

“If it helps explain things I’m certain he was dropped on his head as a baby. I mean so was I, but I at least have enough remaining brainpower to figure out what a planet is,” he says.

Tony shakes his head, “I don’t get these people. How can you think the earth is flat? Do they also think the sun revolves around the earth? Do they live in the fifteen hundreds?” he asks, clearly lost on the logic there. Bucky considers, for a moment, proposing a theory that flat earters are actually the result of time travellers from the future dropping people from the fifteen hundreds in the modern time line but he’s not sure Tony would know he’s joking. He saves it for Steve later because he’d get a kick out of that even if Sam would give him an unimpressed look like always.

“There’s also this theory that forests don’t exist,” Bucky says instead just to get the pleasure of watching Tony basically short circuit. He starts laughing as Tony blinks a few times, trying and failing to find the logic in that. “In the theory’s slight defense the people who believe in it think that trees used to be like ten miles high and what’s left are basically shrubs. So I mean if you ascribe to the weird logic of mountains being tree stumps than it does make a strange kind of sense.”

“No. No it does not make any kind of- trees do not grow that big,” he says. If he wants Bucky can explain everything else that went with that theory but he doesn’t. Mostly because he’s said too much weird shit already but Tony, unfortunately, picks up on that. “How do you even know all that?” he asks.

He winces, “I spend a lot of time researching conspiracy theories. I don’t believe in any of them but at this point it’s a hobby that I know a lot of stuff about.” Sam likes to make fun of him for it but he likes baseball and can reproduce a stupid amount of knowledge on it too. Everyone has weird stuff. Steve has a weird thing for Pintrest projects but Sam doesn’t make fun of that even though he spends an unhealthy amount of time on the site.

Why?” Tony asks, clearly baffled.

Bucky shrugs, “I got bored when I was in the hospital after I lost my arm so I ended up in one of those Wiki suck holes and spent seven hours reading on Dyatlov pass and it sort of spiraled from there. Once I spent like five hours reading theories on how Bigfoot is an interdimensional being,” he says like a fucking idiot. And here things were going well and he had to off and reveal how weird he is. Actually it might be for the best, his strange love of conspiracy theories is probably one of the less odd things about him and certainly the least problematic thing he has going on in regards to relationships.

“And interdimen- you know what, I’m just going to leave it at that. Better than Pepper’s weird habits- she thinks that paperwork is a sufficient replacement for pets,” Tony says, clearly not agreeing with this at all.

“I have a friend who’s a snake person,” Bucky says and Tony makes a face. “Yeah, I agree but he has like ten and he loves them all.” Thor is… well, Thor. He’s a difficult guy to explain given that he looks like a dude bro but acts like a medieval knight and also likes snakes for pets and that doesn’t even touch on his Norse myth themed family. It occurs to Bucky that his friend group is not exactly normal, which is really only confirmed by his taste in dating partners. He likes to think Tony is a better choice than Brock but he doesn’t let himself think much beyond that. Relationships don’t have a tendency to work out for people like him. But he does like Tony even if he knows this is doomed anyways.

Tony shakes his head, smiling, “you lead an interesting life, Bucky,” he says and Bucky laughs a little.

“You’re telling me. I met a celebrity sitting on a step drinking my coffee before you tried to offer me like fifty thousand dollars because you thought I was homeless and then asked me out. That’s my record for the weirdest encounter I’ve had, by the way. Except maybe that one time I ended up at the president’s bachelorette party,” he says. But Steve knew Peggy through that time he worked with Angie.

Tony winces, “in my defense you really did look like a homeless guy. No offense,” he says.

Bucky shrugs, “I get that a lot actually. Sometimes kids mistake me for Jesus,” he adds just to make this date even weirder. Thankfully Tony doesn’t react by acting like his strange nature, his true nature, is some kind of problem to be solved though. Instead he takes Bucky’s weird interests and stories in stride and asks more about them. Its nice to have someone take a genuine interest in his life even if Bucky is sure it won’t last once Tony gathers the true scope of Bucky’s oddity.

*

On principal Tony doesn’t do dates because they’re mostly a waste of his time and efforts. People that weren’t interested in him due to his celebrity or bank account usually held no interest in him at all not that he blames them much. His personality is… lacking. And beyond that since taking Peter in two years ago his life as been a bit of a mess trying to figure out how to raise a teenager who has lost so many people that are close to him and, on top of all that, is trans. Its not a subject Tony ever put much thought into before Peter but when he had finally made the leap to come out last year Tony had had to unlearn a lot of stuff and figure out how to adjust to his kid quick.

Of all the things he didn’t expect out of that it had been the reaction of the public essentially telling him that letting Peter transition was tantamount to child abuse because for some reason at fourteen- now fifteen- Peter was too young to know his own damn gender. Aside from Tony finding that absurd- he’s sure most people can figure out their fucking gender after fourteen years- all his research said the same thing. Not allowing a trans person to transition led to depression, anxiety, and a suicide attempt rate so high Tony literally cried when he applied it to Peter. He couldn’t in good conscience decide that he knew better than his kid only to result in a forty percent chance in him attempting suicide. They talked and as it turned out Peter had done his own research and Tony didn’t see the harm in at least allowing Peter the space to explore the whole gender thing.

The difference had been night and day as far as Peter’s mental health. He had gone from being quiet, reserved, and depressed to a generally happy, bubbly teen with a bright mind and a brighter future. That had been all Tony needed as far as proof went to know that Peter transitioning was the right thing to do. But the media blowback had been immediate and harsh and try as he might it’s difficult to keep Peter from it. The fact that Peter remained happy and healthy after all of that did more to reaffirm that he made the right choice but it had left him in a relatively dateless state. Between Peter’s unexpected issues, mass media blowback, and his regular work hours he didn’t have time for dates. So Bucky had been something of a fluke and he’d also been an impulse decision. Not bothering with dating isn’t exactly new to him, but dating a guy is something new to him entirely.

Tony hadn’t expected their date to go well but Bucky had been charming in kind of an odd way, and he treated Tony like a normal person instead of a celebrity. It made him alluring in a way Tony hadn’t known he’d been interested in until that moment. He thought the date would be a one off thing and then he’d go back to his regularly scheduled mess but that’s now how things happened. Instead Tony ends up staring at his phone for an embarrassing amount of time after his date wondering what the hell the etiquette around this stuff is. Its Peter all but falling through the door that removes his attention from the blank message to Bucky.

“Hey dad,” Peter says casually and Tony smiles, still unused to, but warmed by the title. He hadn’t really put much thought into being a father, and for a long time he had no interest in kids because he was selfish and then because he hadn’t had the time but adopting Peter is probably the best decision he’s ever made. “How was your date?” he asks, bright and interested.

“Fine,” Tony says, underselling it. Bucky had been great really- mostly because of how unusual he is in a way that’s not also creepy, and he’s funny. His phone buzzes and he immediately looks over in a way he never does given that most of his phone activity is Pepper trying to get him to do paperwork and thankfully its not Pepper but a text from Bucky.

This raccoon is straight up trying to steal my prosthetic

The text is accompanied by a picture of a raccoon with its little paws around the wrist of the prosthetic trying to drag it off. Tony can’t help but snort and start laughing as he imagines the raccoon trying to drag the body part away. His phone buzzes again and there’s another picture of the raccoon holding what Tony has to assume is a fake eye.

He settled for this glass eye I had lying around instead. I’ve named him Rocket.

Who even has fake eyes lying around? But then Bucky also has a plethora of knowledge on conspiracy theories too so in his defense this doesn’t seem out of character for him.

“Guess it went better than fine if you’re laughing at his texts. Unless Pepper said something funny but she usually calls,” Peter says, standing a little on his toes like he could see Tony’s phone from where he’s standing. He can’t, obviously.

Tony smiles a little, responding to Bucky. “It went really well, yeah. He’s funny and a little weird and its nice that for once someone isn’t trying to put on some kind of show for me.” Usually people act the way they thought he’d enjoy for whatever reason and it’s obvious that Bucky has no interest in doing that. Tony is grateful for it because he finds people acting certain ways for his benefit annoying and tedious.

“I didn’t even know you weren’t straight,” Peter says and Tony shrugs.

“Yeah. Kind of always had a preference for women so it was easy to hide, but uh. People weren’t really fond of any kind of gay people when I was a kid. But I figured if I spent my time telling you to be who you actually are I should probably lead by example.” And boy were people surprised, especially those irritating fan boys who glorified his time as a war mongering, alcoholic, misogynist piece of shit. Why the hell anyone would glorify that he has no idea but it had been somewhat pleasant to let go of that after all this time even with the strange amount of blowback to it. Bucky, miraculously, seems completely oblivious to any speculation around his sexuality and hadn’t even brought it up on the date. He’s grateful for it too.

Peter smiles and walks over to him and hugs him, “well I think that’s great,” he says and Tony frowns, hugging him back.

“Thanks, I guess,” he mumbles. It’s an unexpected reaction but not an entirely unwelcome one. It takes a moment for it to occur to him that of all the people in his life he told mostly accidentally on Twitter Peter is the only one to have given him any kind of positive reaction and he hugs his kid a little harder, appreciating that Peter would go out of his way to be supportive. He figures everyone else either figured it out already or just didn’t care- its not like he thinks either Pepper or Rhodey really give a damn about his sexuality but he thought they’d at least have a reaction. So Peter’s hug is nice and he appreciates it.

*

Steve tries to shove food at Bucky while he leans away, having no interest in whatever Pintrest recipe that is. “Steve I’m not hungry, I just ate, I told you this,” he says, trying unsuccessfully to get away from the food.

“How’d your date go?” he asks, all but dropping the plate in Bucky’s lap and he sighs. Guess he’s eating twice.

“Pretty good actually,” he says. Tony has kept in near constant contact with him since too, which he hadn’t expected. He had sent that raccoon text on a whim and Tony had responded quickly and he hasn’t really stopped.

Because Steve knows Bucky well he picks up on what Bucky isn’t saying. “So why aren’t you happier?” he asks, raising an eyebrow.

Probably because relationships have never made him happy, but that’s another argument all together. “I uh… didn’t really tell him about the asexual thing,” he says. Things were going well, he didn’t want rejection to happen that fast because he likes the attention. So it’ll blow up in his face pretty much like always, but for now he wants to enjoy it while it lasts.

“So what?” Steve asks like it’s that easy. Sure he’s fine with it, and he doesn’t have to deal with an asexual partner who doesn’t really have much of an interest in sex. It’s easy to be supportive of something you have no experience with but when you’re living it its something else entirely. Bucky knows more than most that people are fine with things at a distance, but have them live it and suddenly they aren’t nearly as supportive.

“So you know how many people have told me that I should have told them that from the beginning so they didn’t waste their time?” he asks. None of them had ever been concerned with wasting his time, or trashing his sexuality and his feelings straight to his face because… they were horny? He just doesn’t get that. Enjoying sex sure, wanting it sure, but telling someone they’re romantically worthless and, on one occasion, the equivalent of dating a golden retriever? That’s harsh.

Every single person he’s told has treated him like he’s an anomaly, a freak that should either just get over his sex problem or make peace with being romantically secluded for the rest of his days if he didn’t settle in with a nice monk or something. After all that it’s hard to tell people about his sexuality from the get-go. It’s difficult to hear how little you’re worth as a romantic partner over and over again if you have no interest in sex. So he’s stopped saying it even if it only really staves off the pain for a little longer.

“Those people are assholes, Bucky. You shouldn’t listen to them,” Steve says.

He’s right, sure, but it’s hard to follow that advice when one hundred percent of the people Bucky has dated in recent years have dumped him and treated him like a leper. At a certain point he didn’t have much choice but to start wondering if maybe they’re right about him not being right for relationships. Its not like Bucky disagrees with people desiring a sex life; he just doesn’t understand why being in a relationship means someone else’s sex drive suddenly becomes his responsibility. People don’t like sexual entitlement outside of a relationship, but inside of one now its fine because it’s expected. Or at least that’s what he’s learned over the last decade. Its why he’s avoided dating for so long and Tony had been an impulse decision he probably shouldn’t have made given the guy’s fucking legendary sex drive but here he is making dumb life choices as usual.

“Easy for you to say,” Bucky mumbles. Its easy for anyone who isn’t in this situation to just tell him to ignore it because he’ll find someone and they’re probably right, but how many times does he have to feel like a freak before it happens? And why should he have to do that to begin with?

“Bucky,” Steve says softly, “there’s nothing wrong with you.”

He resists the urge to roll his eyes because yeah, he knows that already. Obviously his not feeling sexual attraction and general lack of interest in sex is not resulting in his imminent death, that’s not the problem. The problem is that everyone he’s dated has acted like his lack of interest in sex will result in their imminent death. It gets tiring after awhile. Tony is famous though; the fact that things even got as far as meeting him is a complete fluke. He’s sure that Tony will get bored of him and move on to doing weird celebrity things like joining the illuminati or something. Or being a taking ‘how to person’ lessons like Mark Zuckerberg.

“I know that,” he says to Steve, his tone unintentionally short. “I already don’t care about my asexual…ness. Its everyone else who cares and I can’t solve that with self love or whatever. I guess I just get told I’m a plankton or a dog or whatever until someone realizes that I’m actually human.” Steve winces at that and Bucky guesses that’s a little harsh but he’s bored of Steve’s support without understanding. Its sweet, and he appreciates the effort, but being told over and over again that he should ignore opinions that have a very obvious affect on his life is dumb advice no matter how good a place it comes from.

“Has anyone who’s compared you to a dog even been around one when it’s horny?” Steve asks, frowning.

“I mean… to be fair wanting sex doesn’t really require sexual attraction, which I don’t think dogs feel regardless but you know. Apparently I’m a golden retriever or whatever. And if we’re going with horny canines I think coyotes would be a better example,” he says. He once had a coyote try and go through his uncle’s screen door to try and hump his dog and honestly at the tender age of seven that scarred him for life.

Steve sighs, “I will never forget that screen door incident at your uncle’s,” he says, eyes growing a little wider. Yeah, Bucky would remember that time an entire coyote scared him into having an asthma attack too.

*

Natasha tries to hand Bucky a plate with two cinnamon buns on it and he pushes them away. “I’m not hungry, I ate. Twice,” he tells her.

“Did you actually?” she asks and Bucky sighs.

“Yes. I ate, and then Steve made me eat his terrible experiment that I almost threw up, and I don’t want cinnamon buns now,” he says. Sam thankfully had less patience for Steve’s weird Pintrest food than him and told him that it tasted terrible in the most loving way he could manage. Which was spitting it out and coughing while giving Steve a betrayed look like he was offended that Steve would feed him that. When Steve told him that Bucky ate it he had rudely told Steve that that had been all he needed to know to know the food was terrible.

She considers him for a moment before setting the cinnamon buns down on the coffee table. “So why are you here?” she asks.

Bucky makes an offended noise, “first of all that is rude. Second of all no one else will watch conspiracy theory videos and that ‘aliens’ guy with me. Also Steve’s unrelenting support is kind of annoying me and you’re the only one who gets it,” he says. Though in a totally different way but he’s not going to shoot understanding in the face just because its not the same as his experience.

“Oh my god, why do you even like that guy? His hair is weird. But I’ve been watching some videos on Roswell so I guess we can just pick up where I left off,” she says. “And Steve… is trying to be a good friend,” she adds.

He sighs, “I know that but sometimes it’s exhausting to be told that everything will all work out like life is some kind of bullshit fairytale.” It’s a nice sentiment, and he really does appreciate that Steve is trying to be supportive in the only way he knows how, but the lack of understanding makes it hard to stomach.

Natasha sits back for a moment, taking a second for herself before she sighs. “Yeah I get it. People only really tell you that because they know you, not because they believe their argument.”

Exactly why Steve’s support annoys him sometimes even though he knows Steve is just trying to be a good person. “I just… wish someone would be honest with me for once,” he says. It would be a change to have someone tell him that yeah, his expectations of acceptance are too much or at least give him advice that doesn’t feel like its manufactured. ‘You’ll find someone!’ is such a staged, expected response that people only tell him because they want him to be happy, not because it’s true.

“You want truth?” Natasha asks, considering him in that blank, shrewd way she sometimes does. “Fine. You aren’t going to find someone all that accepting outside of other asexuals and not because people aren’t capable of it. People just don’t get how relationships without sex work. Tell them that’s off the table and they don’t want to make the effort to try and figure it out when they don’t need to. You’re the weird one so they’ll leave you for someone they don’t need to make the extra effort for. Tell your guy you’re not interested in sex and rip the damn Band Aid off. No sense in drawing it out,” she tells him.

Bucky sighs, knowing that’s not what he wants to hear but its true nonetheless. “Fine. Can we watch something on the gay agenda instead of Roswell? I’m not feeling aliens at the moment,” he says.

Natasha rolls her eyes, “you inconvenience me,” she tells him but she complies at least.