Steve POV (sorta)
"It's been a week."
"I am aware, but we have all lost people in this, his loss I imagine hurts worse than any of ours."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you not seen it?"
"The way he looks at Sergeant Barnes?"
He whimpered and hid more in the blanket Shuri had provided for him.
"The same way Wanda looked at Vision, Okoye looked at my brother, you look at Banner. The look of undying loyalty and most importantly, unconditional love."
Steve heard movement and felt someone sit next to him. Natasha apparently.
"That...he also had for Tony once...maybe still.....but I know he cares for Barnes, I just didn't think he felt that....now his behavior makes more sense."
The woman gently moved his hair out of his face, he welcomed it knowing it calmed her to help her friends -the mother hen she was- and it helped keep him calm for now.
"Is Coulson still inbound?"
Steve opened his eyes and watched Shuri check the monitors.
"Yes, he and his friend are on the way, they should arrive soon."
Natasha continued her mannerisms, and Steve finally relaxed abit and succumbed to the exhaustion of the week.
--------~~Meanwhile in a pocket dimension of the soul, space, and mind stone's creation~~--------
3rd Person POV
Bucky missed Steve.
They'd been here for god only knows how long, and not needing to eat or drink kinda freaked him out,but when the Spider kid started having a panic attack he helped him.
Peter was now sleeping with his head on Bucky's thigh, as he watched everyone like a hawk.
T'Challa, Doctor Strange, and Vision were in a deep discussion on ways to escape.
He sighed and looked at the green woman- Gamora, was it?
"I'm not all science-y, is this really a- what'dya call it? pocket dimension?" too emotional to hide his Brooklyn accent.
"Yes...it would explain the reason for how different this place is..." she looked at Peter curiously.
"Is he your son?"
Bucky froze. Son? The hell? Why? Oh.
"No, though I'm fairly sure he may be Tony's?"
"Who is Tony? Is he here?"
"Oh, right...different worlds...he's not here, so I guess he's alive...very famous inventor on my world, an....old friend's son..."
"Your world...is Earth?"
"Yeah...I'm still trying to process the multiverse thing this kid told me about..." he gestures to Peter.
"There is something else on your mind though, I can tell", Bucky sighs and makes a face.
"I should have told Steve I loved him."
"My best friend" he looked at Gamora, she seemed confused.
"Your best friend?"
"You love him?"
"Since we were teens..."
"And he doesn't know?"
"Never told him..and now, I don't think I'll ever get to..." he huffs and pets Peter's hair.
"That is very sad...you are good with the boy" she gestures to his hand absentmindedly petting the teen's hair.
"I've always had a soft spot for kids and small people, always had to look after Steve and my little sisters...I used to tell Steve I'd want a brunette son like me and a daughter with red hair like my sister Becca..."
"Parental protective instinct...Did you get that wish?" she asks curiously.
"I have a surrogate daughter, she had red hair, now blonde....Natalia."
"I think I'm getting attached to Peter here" he smiles sheepishly, she chuckles.
"It would seem so" she smiles, "Thank you."
"You made me realize that this isn't completely horrible."
"Uh...You're welcome" he chuckles.
"I needed that laughter, I think it gives me more hope that this can be fixed..." she says seriously, nodding and walking off to talk to Quill.
Fury notices the green woman leaving Bucky who then puts his focus completely on the teen sleeping on his lap, a protective tenseness to his body, he carefully approaches the man from behind, Bucky pulling a dagger on him just before he could clear his throat.
"Sorry, reflexes..." he says simply as he lowered the dagger after seeing who it was.
"Known the boy for around a week and already attached?" he huffs a chuckle, "How old is he anyway? 12?"
"16. And that's how long it took to get attached to Natalia..."
"So, you really are 'Yasha' then?"
"I only remembered when they woke me back up before this new war...didn't get much time to talk to anyone, it was strange seeing her with blonde hair now though..."
"I've seen it in black"
"Speaking of, what do you think of him?"
"Language Barnes, I meant do you think he can get us out?"
"Stevie did that to you guys too? I don't really know, he seems to think he can though"
"I suppose that we will just have to wait and see then, right?"
Bucky nods then curls over Peter protectively when he hears the mercenary in red- Deadpool drop from his tree, growling as the man passed.
"Not a fan of Wilson I take it?"
"Apparently that guy flirted with Peter before all this, didn't know how old he really was, I don't trust him"
"No one knew Spider-man wasn't an adult"
"I did, first time I ever heard his voice when he caught my arm"
"I had to process that when I realized he was a kid, I froze, couldn't believe Stark brought a kid to his war..."
"At this point I'm not surprised by anything Stark does, he was the Merchant of Death for so long, even supplied some weapons to Deadpool's crew before he was Deadpool" definitely a story there but he'd research it or ask about it if they got out of this.
"I have words for Stark when we get out of this"
"I'd assume as much, protective as you are"
Bucky huffs, continuing to pet Peter's hair, a tear or two falling.
"I miss him."
"Anyone with eyes can see that Barnes, and it doesn't take a genius to see how you feel about that man."
"Am I that obvious?" he winces.
"Rogers isn't great at noticing affection, Stark has been obsessed with him since he was young, screwed up alot, I think he might regret a few things he's done now."
"I know I wouldn't be able to catch that light"
"He adores you"
"Not the way I want...." he makes a face, the kind of self loathing he is capable of was depressing, even to an outsider like Fury.
"You two really are old"
"I know the world is different..."
"Which I'm not"
Fury laughs then, patting him on the back before walking away leaving Bucky to his thoughts.
--------~~A Week Later~~--------
Bucky made sure the kid went before him so he could watch him to make sure he was safe.
Peter looked around the compound, spotting Tony, "Mr.Stark!" he calls excitedly, Bucky's eyes zero-in on him and he stands protectively in front of Peter.
"Uh, Bucky?" Peter taps his shoulder, Bucky shakes his head.
"Mr. Stark is-" he's cut off.
"Why are you standing in front of the kid? Get away from him Barnes." Tony spat.
"Because he's a kid and I need to protect him" Bucky growls.
"He has Me" Tony sasses.
"Mr. Stark, I don't think-" Peter tries.
"Step away from Peter or I swear I will blast you through a wall" Tony raises his arm with a gauntlet and Bucky raises his fists.
"Guys Stop!" Peter yells trying to hold Bucky back, he hears the repulsor and they are pushed by Steve, who deflects it with a shield, Bucky holding Peter protectively as he looks up.
Steve was pissed.
T'Challa comes over, speaking in calm tones "Mr. Stark, please calm down, Sergeant Barnes has been very protective of young Peter since we were in the other world, like a parent, he is unhappy with you having involved a child in a previous fight and most likely very angry and uncomfortable with the situation, especially with you having hurt the one he loves." the last words catch Tony off guard, he looks at T'Challa.
"Excuse me? What?"
Steve looks at T'Challa fully too, 'Who is he talking about?'
"You hurt his beloved one, Mr.Stark"
"He isn't capable of love!"
"Mr.Stark, to my understanding, he has been in love with Captain Rogers since they were young"
Bucky's head snaps up to meet three pairs of eyes, he panics, his secret was out, his breath comes harshly and he barely registers Peter's voice trying to calm him down, he gets up to run but falls as a burning sensation shoots through him and he drops, unconscious.
"He was gonna run so I stunned him."
Peter grabs Bucky and webs Tony's feet to the floor before he can move, "He protected me in there!"
Steve helped Peter get Bucky to an elevator to take him to a bed.
"We have much to discuss Mr.Stark" T'Challa says as he cuts the and free from the webbing with his panther claws, he then leads him to a meeting room.
"What all do you know, that I don't King?" Tony huffs, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I am no genius, but I learn quickly and I pay close attention to my surroundings"
"Sergeant Barnes adores the Captain, he is a very protective individual who protects as he breathes, he protected Peter while we were in that place because he was worried for the child, he was also very honest with him about who he was, what he remembers, what he doesn't, how he feels about everything, everyone..." T'Challa paused to let the man speak.
"And how did Peter take it?" Tony asked tensely.
"The boy accepted him, even with all his flaws, he even lectured Barnes about all the reasons why Hydra and everything he'd done for them were not his fault, he felt honored to be protected by someone who had been through events that by all means should have broken him, but he had kept his heart even after...."
Tony thought about this for a moment, then thought about something else and felt his stomach knot.
"Barnes loves Steve." Tony says quietly.
T'Challa nods, Tony fidgets "Does Steve- Did Steve know?"
"Probably not until I accidentally revealed it"
"Is Steve ever going to forgive me?"
"I believe he has, all that is left is to forgive yourself Mr.Stark." T'Challa says sagely, giving him a pat on the shoulder before leaving Tony to think about everything he'd said.
Tony sat in the nearest chair, running a hand through his hair.
"What am I going to do?" he asks the empty room.
Steve hovered worriedly around the couch by Bucky.
"He told me alot about you in that place..." Peter says softly.
"Yeah. He kept remembering stuff, and he thinks the beard looks weird on you, he likes your hair though..."
Steve pinks at that, "Really?"
"Yeah... He likes you alot you know?"
Steve fidgets, "You think so?"
"I know so, he loves you, he would get all bright talking about you too, it was strange to see someone who was so feared once, so vulnerable like that, when he got really sad about not telling you how he felt, he looked like a kicked puppy..." Peter rambles on about what Bucky was like, what he talked about or remembered.
Steve listened as he kept an eye on the older man while he slept.
A short while after Peter finishes he speaks again, "I'm not afraid of him, you know?"
Steve looks at the boy who smiles softly.
"He's a relatively normal guy, just has PTSD, anxiety, and alot of personal space and control issues...given his past it makes sense...Also makes sense why he needs you for balance, but he also needs stability y'know?"
"You know Mr.Stark liked you alot once?"
Steve sputters, "W-wh-What?!" he squeaks.
"And Viz told me Wanda said you liked him too once"
Quietly, "I...still do..."
"Oh...you know, if you three would work out your differences you could have a beautiful relationship"
"Google 'Polyamory'... I think if given enough thought and time, because you each have something the other two don't you three would complete each other.... I'm gonna find food Cap, Bye!" the teen leaves in a hurry after his stomach growls.
Steve watches the teen as he leaves, utterly flabbergasted.
"What the Hell?" he asks the air, then curls up with a Starkpad to do research, periodically checking on Bucky.
After a while he decides to shave, having thought about what Peter said.
After he's shaved he returns to his living room to find Bucky awake.
"Hey Buck" he says softly, Bucky turns to look at him, and gasps.
"Stevie? You... you shaved" the brunette says quietly, eyes wide but relaxing quickly.
"Yeah... How are you feeling?" Steve asks, making that innocent face he does as he sits next to Bucky.
"Because of me?"
"Why ain't ya runnin' for the hills?"
"Because I may, sorta, love ya Buck"
Bucky gasps and and looks at him in shock, he smiles sheepishly.
"How long? Wait no- Why- When?" Bucky stutters.
"Kind of always, even when I liked Peg- she reminded me of you- I loved you, because you're the most amazing person I've ever known, you've made it through things that no one could come back from and come out with the same tender heart you had before, and as for when I faced it, about an hour ago when Peter lectured me about hiding it and pointed out some things..." he sighs, looking at Bucky through his long lashes.
"You faced your feelings because a 16 year old cornered you" Bucky smirks.
"A 16 year old" Bucky smiles.
"Shut up" Steve gives him a half-hearted push.
Bucky laughs and pats his shoulder, "I love ya too Punk"
"Buck" Steve pinks.
Bucky hugs him, he hugs back, clinging to him like a lifeline, which- he kind of was, wasn't he?
--------~~To Be Continued~~--------