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Serve and Protect

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"Captain Rogers."

Steve snaps to attention. "Colonel Carter."

Peggy smiles and sits at Steve's table. "At ease, Captain." He slides his tray to the side, giving Peggy his full attention. It's easy to smile back, but he never forgets she's his boss. Always has been, unofficially, from the moment Steve entered training at Camp Lehigh. "I have an assignment for you." She brings up a mission screen on her tablet and slides it in front of him.

Steve swipes through the files. He's not sure what to make of the information. There are dossiers on the executives of Stark Industries and the Stark family, schematics of their New York headquarters and Stark's mansion, weapon specs, personnel files. "I thought we were allied with Stark Industries? Didn't they help found SHIELD? They provide our weapons and tech."

Peggy nods. "We are, they did, and they do." She swipes back to the executive board. "Something's rotten and Howard doesn't see it. Ever since Maria died..."

She pauses. Her face is a polite mask but her sudden, sharp inhale gives her away. It's been four years and she's still grieving. Steve can't fault her for that. He would never. He knows the sting of loss too well. Peggy and Maria were close, almost sisters. Maria Stark's death had shocked everyone, particularly given the circumstances.

"Their numbers are off," Peggy continues. "Not enough to make it obvious, unless you've been keeping a close eye on the company. We suspect they're double-dealing. I'm sending in a team. I want you to lead it."

Steve taps his thumb against the edge of the tablet. He bites his tongue, metaphorically. He's not one to go against orders.

Peggy smirks. "Spit it out, Rogers."

He hadn't noticed the tension in his shoulders until it eases. "Wouldn't this kind of mission be more suited to Romanov?"

"She's already established deep cover in SI's legal department. I've sent Barton in as IT. Your job—the job of your team—is to be the diversion. There have been threats made against the family. SHIELD will be loaning its resources," she gestures at him, "until the threat has been uncovered and neutralized. You'll be interfacing with SI security. Howard has already approved full access."

Steve nods. He can do security. After eight years special ops and two years as a SHIELD field agent, posing as a security guard is cake. He's already got a few names in mind for the job.

"Gather your team. Briefing at 0600 tomorrow. We're due at Stark Industries at eight."

She rises. He stands and salutes. "Yes, ma'am."

Peggy starts to leave but pauses. When she turns back, she seems uncertain. "I would consider it a personal favor if you would keep an eye on my godson as well. Some of the threats mention him specifically."

Steve nods. "We'll keep him safe."

She claps his shoulder. "You're a good man, Rogers."

He picks up the tablet and deposits his tray in the appropriate bin on his way out the door. He needs to find Bucky.

* * * * *

"Saaaaam," Bucky whines as he stumbles through the door, "make Steve stoooop."

Sam shakes his head with a grin and sets aside his book in time for his boyfriend to crawl on top of him. He presses a kiss to the top of Bucky's head. "What'd mean old Stevie do this time?"

Steve rolls his eyes at both of them. He secures the door and moves through the apartment putting away shoes, keys, and gun in that order. "He's being a baby," Steve shouts from his bedroom.

Bucky lifts his head long enough to shout back, "Am not." He nuzzles Sam's chest. Sometimes Sam wonders if Bucky is part cat. He's affectionate to those he likes, aloof to everyone else, and deadly when he wants to be.

Steve is definitely a dog. He comes back to the living room in a t-shirt and sweatpants, grinning wide like a Golden Retriever with a treat. "You can whine all you want, you're second on this mission."

"You want to get up, babe?" Sam asks.


Sam is a bird because he's above all their bullshit. He shoves Bucky onto the floor, earning him a surprised "Hey!" from Bucky and a high-five from Steve.

"You can either complain about me getting up or have dinner. Which do you want?"

Bucky's head pops up. "Fooood?"

"Yes, food." He pulls a container of marinated chicken out of the fridge and starts the oven.

Steve, being the only other responsible adult in the apartment, joins Sam in the kitchen, though not until after aiming a fond "Idiot" at Bucky.



"Boys!" Sam interrupts their name calling before it gets out of hand. They can go for hours. "Do I have to separate you two?" He hands Steve zucchini, yellow squash, and an onion to be diced then fishes a baking dish out of the cabinets.

"Yes, please, keep that punk away from me." Bucky wanders into the kitchen and wraps himself around Sam's back. "Then I don't have to go on Steve's stupid mission."

Steve raises an eyebrow and shoots Bucky a look. "You want to tell Peggy you're not going?"

"I'd like to keep my job, thanks."

"Then stop complaining."

"I don't know why you aren't complaining. Do you really want to be a glorified babysitter?"

Sam slides the baking dish with chicken over to Steve so he can toss in the vegetables. He washes his hands and then turns to face Bucky. "This a classified mission or are you planning on filling me in?"

Steve puts the baking dish in the oven and starts the timer. "We've been temporarily assigned as additional security for the Stark family."

"What?" Sam has never been more envious of someone in his life. "Really? You get to meet the Starks? I mean, I know you already know Howard, but his kid is like this super genius. It's amazing."

"Not you too." Bucky pulls three beers from the fridge and pops the caps with his prosthesis. "I forgot you were a Stark fanboy." He leads the way back to the living room while they wait for dinner to cook.

"Proudly," Sam says. He grins at Steve. "Do you think you could get an autograph?"

"Howard's or Anthony's?" Steve asks.


Bucky maneuvers Sam onto his lap and hides his face against Sam's neck. "Stoooop."

Sam swats him on the arm. "Put on your big boy pants. What's so wrong with being a security guard? You've done a bunch of shadow missions. How is this any different?"

"Rich people are obnoxious. God, have you seen what those two get up to? The tabloids make bank every time one of them steps out in public. If it's not the old man being a letch and womanizer, then it's the kid partying and blowing stuff up."

Steve rolls his eyes. "They're not that bad. Howard's still getting over his wife and Anthony's not doing anything we didn't when we were kids."

Bucky stares at Steve. "He blew up a building. There was no one in it besides himself but Old Man Stark donated enough to build a half a dozen new buildings to cover it up. The idiot's lucky he's not dead."

"Or worse," Sam added with a grin, "expelled."

Steve laughs and Bucky groans. "I hate you all," Bucky says, though it's an obvious lie.

"Sure you do, sugarplum. Keep telling yourself that next time we're on opposite shifts and you're whining that the bed's too cold without me."

"You're so mean to me." Bucky punctuates the words with a line of kisses up Sam's neck. "It's a conspiracy." His hands start to sneak under Sam's shirt.

"Nope." Sam stands and moves to an armchair. "You've got homework."

Bucky's grin is full of promise. "What if I didn't have homework?"

"Then I'll give you a blowjob."

"Sam!" The fake horror in Steve's voice is ruined by how hard he's laughing. "Really?"

Sam shrugs. "I know how to motivate my boyfriend."

Bucky groans and goes to grab his tablet from his work bag. "Fine, fine."

Sam looks over at Steve. "So, about those autographs?"

Steve grins. "I'll see what I can do."