Bucky and Tony lay side-by-side on the overtly large mattress, Tony’s mattress; it always struck Bucky as a lonely thing to lay on when alone. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac filters in through Bucky’s laptop speakers, the house empty but for them, the two teens in a relaxed haze of each other’s presence and Nicks and Buckingham’s overlaid voices. Bucky can hear each one of Tony’s shallow breaths, can feel where the mattress rises before dipping beneath Tony’s weight, senses the Tony’s fidgeting hands never able to remain still - a body and mind bursting with a million ideas and possibilities, never stilling. Restless. Brilliant.
Bucky feels himself drifting, eyes fighting to remain open, when Tony speaks.
“Do you believe in love?”
“I do…” Bucky doesn’t turn his head, but feels his heart flutter knowing Tony’s eyes, intense and beautiful, are on him. “Do you?”
Tony falls silent, long enough for Bucky to turn to him, their eyes meeting, “yeah…yeah, I think I do.”
Something about the way Tony says it, makes Bucky think it’s a rather new realization, and he isn’t sure how to feel about that.
“Do you…” Tony trails, pink tongue darting out to wet plush lips, “do you love someone?”
“I’m…” Bucky can’t decide if his heart is floating or falling, suddenly feeling vulnerable, he changes course, “is this about Christine?”
Tony swallows, dark eyes search Bucky’s face, mouth opening to speak when the shrill ring of Tony’s phone cuts him off, and Bucky doesn’t know if he’s relieved or devastated that Tony doesn’t answer his question. Bucky reaches for his beer on the bedside table, tipping the bottle back to spill whatever was left into his mouth, and thinks; with you, yeah…it’s hard not to believe in love. Bucky falls back onto the bed, bouncing ever so slightly and realizes the song’s over, he can’t help but feel like it’s foreshadowing something; a metaphor, perhaps - the signal of the calm before the storm.
“We're getting married.”
Bucky feels his heart fall out from under him, can almost describe the feeling of the dying organ spluttering blood onto his ankles as it harshly lands onto the floorboards; despite himself, Bucky knows he frowns, and quickly tries turning his expression neutral once more. Staring at his best friend, the brunet almost gives into the urge to smack him, because how could he do this? How could Tony do this? Anthony Stark, who was under the spotlight before he could ever walk, who knew how to face the public without every losing his suave smile; who was an unrivaled genius in everything he did. Tony Stark, who was a lovable idiot that cared far too much and worked too hard for others’ approval; who snarked at those he loved, who trusted those same people so fiercely it was somehow humbling. Tony, - his Tony - who made Bucky feel too many things, who drove him crazy in all the best ways possible; who trusted Bucky with everything he had, because Bucky had done the same.
Tony…who now left him gasping for air on dry land with his heart on the floor.
“Everheart and I...we're getting married,” Tony repeats, but even as he says it, he doesn't look too fond about the news.
“Are you kidding me?” Bucky questions, but his patience is wearing extremely thin - which doesn't happen, like, ever…not with Tony.
Bucky was aways the calm ‘mama bear’ of their friendship, always rational - if a little too protective. Bucky was the one who would rip bullies off Steve and wail on them for every raising a fist to who he felt was his little brother; who learned sign language so Clint wouldn’t feel awkward that sometimes, it was the only way he could bare to communicate. The same guy who played therapist with Sam and Nat when they were at each other’s throats, and was never anything less than kind to Tony because he deserved it damnit! No matter what the genius believed.
What’s happening to him?
“You've only been dating her for three months, Tony, and you're only eighteen! You can't even drink real champagne at your damn reception!” Bucky roars, staring at his best friend as if he'd lost his mind.
Tony shrugs, a strange heaviness in his shoulders that Bucky had never seen there before - Tony was always so carefree…always so happy; this Debby Downer demeanor wasn’t like him, at all.
Bucky steps forward, and has to bite back the urge to scream when Tony takes a step back.
“Why...why are you really doing this?” Bucky asks, voice far more kind now - controlled, at least, if shaking. “C’mon…what's really happening?” He adds after a moment, pale eyes searching the teenager’s face, trying to find something, anything, that would explain this.
The smaller brunet swallows thickly, avoiding the older teen’s eyes by looking everywhere - anywhere - else, “my start up isn’t going anywhere, no one wants to invest in a kid’s idea for a green energy company, and my parents…they want this, and I’m not…not with anyone, so…so what does it matter?”
Bucky feels his world still; he’s doing this because of is parents? Bucky wants nothing more than to punch Howard right in the jaw, shake Maria and scream WHY?! So many things about what Tony says, the way he says it, makes the brunet’s stomach twist uncomfortably. Tony believed in his start up for years, believed in it with everything he had, and now he’s just…giving up?
“Tony, doll, this…this isn’t you,” Bucky tries, with a forced smile, and feels his heart bleed out it’s last beat when Tony flinches at the endearment - at the little pet name he’d loved for years.
“Don’t call me that when- just don’t,” Tony rasps, as though the words were bring torn from him, and wraps lithe arms around himself in a piss poor imitation of a hug - one Bucky is dying to provide. “There really is no point to anything I do without-” he stops, the words seemingly caught in his throat before clearing them, ending his answer differently. “It won’t be so bad, white picket fence and all, my dad even said this would mean I could help with SI projects again. It’s the American Dream, right? I mean, who doesn’t what to live the American Dream?”
That’s the thing, Bucky thinks as he watches Tony bolt out of his room, but can’t find it in himself to stop the young man, that ‘dream' is your nightmare.
The music pounds through Natasha’s house, almost deafening in it’s volume, but the drunken teens around him could care less as they laugh and sway to the beats. Bucky is nursing his fourth - fifth? - beer when Tony stumbles up to him, the ever-present Christine Everhart missing from his side; Bucky can’t deny he feels relieved for it, and catches his best friend before the fiery teen can fall onto the floor. Tony clings to him like a limpet, and Bucky doesn’t hesitate to wrap a muscled around around his waist, the familiar feeling of right reverberating through him at the feeling of Tony pressed against him.
“You okay, doll?” Tony giggles, face pressed into the crook of Bucky’s neck, hot breath ghosting over his collar bone and Bucky bites back a groan. “What was that sweet thing?”
Tony pulls back his head far enough to meet Bucky’s eyes, hazy honey brown meeting storm blue, “I l’ve it when ya call m’ those names.”
Bucky grins, bright and easy, the way only Tony can make him feel, “yeah?”
Tony nods, perfect teeth biting at even more perfect lips, “yeah…I really do.”
Something shifts between them, right then, like all the air’s suddenly been sucked out of the room and suddenly Bucky feels Tony - really feels him. Is surrounded by him, somehow. Feels the way Tony clutches at the front of his Henley just that bit tighter, the smile slowly slipping from his face, morphing into…something…something else. Bucky doesn’t even know he’s moving until he feels Tony’s nose brushing against his own, until his cupid’s bow ghosts over his own, the smaller’s breath hitching. Can almost feel Tony’s lips against his own, his mouth waters in anticipation to taste- the sudden, deafening cheer rips them apart, the two teenagers jumping apart and whip around to see that Natasha had brought out Clint’s birthday cake.
“I-I…I should go,” Tony rushes out, turning - not too steadily - to leave, and Bucky…Bucky lets him.
Why did he let Tony leave?
It seems to be a pattern…letting Tony slip through his fingers.
It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? Only a matter of time until Tony was truly out of Bucky’s grasp.
Christine hadn’t invited Bucky to the wedding, but Steve forced him to come all the same as his plus one, and despite being unable to sleep the night before, he goes. Bucky hadn’t spoken to Tony since the teenager had ran out of his room, unable to find the courage to reach out to him during their month apart - the longest they’d ever gone without speaking since they’d met - and what made it worse, somehow, was that Tony hadn’t tried to reach out to him, either.
“Steve, I shouldn’t be here,” Bucky tries, for the hundredth time, stepping out of the blond’s car dressed in a rented tux - because he could never have afforded it, otherwise.
The blond sighs - huffs, really - and whips around, the glare in his blue eyes almost making Bucky take a step back, almost.
“Buck, you have to stop him,” Steve states, his words pleading, yet brooking no room for argument.
“You have to stop Tony from making the biggest mistake of his life, Bucky.”
“This is his choice, Rogers,” Bucky glowers, because it was, wasn’t it? Or maybe you’re just being a coward, Barnes.
Pushing past his friend only to be stopped by a tight fist around his upper arm, whipping around the brunet is about to yell at Steve to let him go, because there was no way Bucky could put a stop to this, not when Tony…not when Tony didn’t-
“He’s in love with you, Buck.”
That’s just…that’s just not fair, and the words almost break him.
“He clearly doesn’t if we’re at his wedding, Steve!” Bucky seethes, voice leveled but strained - forced. Weak.
“Don’t be stupid, he’s in love with you and you know it, Christ, Tony has been head over feet for you for as long as I’ve known him!”
“No he’s no-”
“And I know, for a fact, you’re in love with him too,” Steve’s words halt Bucky in his tracks, both body and sound - he never thought someone could figure him out so easily. Leave it to Steve to be the one to crack his head on straight, Bucky thinks, mirthless.
“Let me go,” Bucky whimpers, trying to wrestle his arm away from the blond, blinking down at the floor because he will not cry damnit! “If he loved me, he wouldn’t be doing this,” his words are harsh, biting, but breaking, his heart about to shatter all over again - he feels the tears burning his eyes, threatening to fall, but can’t find it in himself to fight them off.
“He wouldn’t be in there if he knew you loved him, Buck.” Bucky stills, meeting his surrogate brother’s eyes, Steve looking almost as broken as he felt, “sometimes people get tired of waiting for the person they love to love them back, because until they do - if they ever do - all that person feels is pain.”
Steve releases Bucky then, his parting words ringing in Bucky’s head as Steve walks into the church, and all he wants to do is scream at Steve that he’s wrong, but doesn’t - can’t. Bucky stands, still and hollow, watching Steve’s retreating back before losing it in the crowd of people that walk into the wedding hall, and wants nothing more than to run away - to forget about all of this. However, he doesn’t. Can’t. This is your last chance, Barnes, his mind whispers, and Bucky swallows thickly past the lump in his throat, how is it going to end? How could Steve know that Tony loved him? What if he was wrong? What if Tony didn’t love him?
“Do you believe in love?”
Bucky walks into the church.
Barnes sits in the pew beside Steve, and despite everything going on around him, the world seems to just blur into a scattering of flashes; each image that does register only hurting Bucky like another stab to the gut. It’s all surreal, unreal, and yet it all somehow moves around him in jarring technicolor. He can’t bring himself to look at Tony, stood at the alter, and probably looking like a dream - it would make it all real, somehow. This is really happening.
It’s only as the hall silences that Bucky’s brought back to reality, watching Christine slowly walk down the church isles like a princess in her wedding gown, and makes Bucky feel sick to his stomach. Bucky doesn’t think he can stomach it, and for a moment, just a moment, he wonders if it’s too late to run away. However, as the minister asks the question no one would ever dare speak up to, Bucky finds himself on his feet.
“-why this couple should not be united in marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace-”
“STOP!” Bucky all but screams, the adrenaline making his body tremble with fear, anxiety, and something ingrained so deep in his bones that it almost hurts. “You can’t do this, Tony!”
The gasps followed by silence weigh down on him. He almost turns to run.
What if he’s ruining Tony’s chance at a proper life? What if this is what Tony wants? What if-
“Don’t second guess yourself, Buck,” a voice beside him whispers, looking to his left Bucky sees Steve’s smile, and breathes deep; he can do this.
Looking back Barnes locks eyes with his best friend - with the moron he’d so utterly fallen for the moment he’d met him - and smiles, it’s wobbly, he knows, but it’s still genuine all the same. Tony’s eye go wide, but they…they don’t look angry, instead, something else seems to flicker within them. Bucky feels his resolve solidify, feeling braver, and pushes on.
“Tony, you’re perfect, from the passion you have for your start up, to the way you fight for what you believe is right and love and trust so hard, so deeply, that you have no idea just how lucky we feel to even know you; all those things- you can’t change them…you just can’t, because they’re what make you you. You aren’t a cold corporate guy, you don’t care what people think, or…or give up on your dreams just because others want you to. You’re brave, kind, so smart and giving, and…and those are just a few of the things that,” Bucky pauses, no longer trying to fight the tears he feels burning down his cheeks, and finally - finally - says the words his heart had been screaming for years.
“Those are just a few of the things that make me love you…” Bucky feels his chest lighten, the confession finally alleviating all the weight of his secret, and smiles - no matter how painful this may all end. “I love you, Tony Stark. I’m in love with you, you…you damn beautiful, perfect, idiot.”
“Finally!” Clint bellows, whooping and shamelessly clapping as the rest of their friends join in with words like; it’s about damn time!
Tony runs off the alter, ignoring the wails of Christine and his father, and meets Bucky who’d run into the isle to catch him; his arms are tight around Tony, and Bucky doesn’t think he can ever let go. Never again. Their friends cheer, Christine and Tony’s father outraged and mortified, the paparazzi present losing their damn minds, but Tony and Bucky couldn’t care less; they finally have each other, and nothing would ruin that.
“TONY GET BACK HERE!” Christine screeches, more furious then actual sadness, red-faced through her makeup with embarrassment.
“I think we outta get outta here before Christine throws everythin’ within arms reach at us,” Bucky rushes out, taking his best friend’s hand in his own, and the two bolt out of the church - laughing as they run.
It’s only once they’re past the church doors, their friends on their heels to help them hightail it out of there, that Bucky whips around and kisses Tony. It’s an excited clash of tongue and teeth, everything they’d held back from saying to each other in that one kiss, and break apart gasping for air.
“And I thought Tony was the dramatic one,” Tony chides, grinning like a fool despite his own tears.
“I have my moments,” Bucky answers, grinning, and dips back down to brush his lips against Tony’s once more.
The kiss is softer this time, gentle, fond and loving; just the way Tony deserves to be treated. Bucky can hear their names being hollered, can hear Steve pulling up his beat up car no doubt crammed with all their friends, and knows he and Tony will go through hell for all this. However, right then, as he pulls away from their kiss to meet expressive brown eyes, Bucky knows they’ll be okay because they - finally - have each other.
“I love you, doll,” Bucky breathes, his voice shaky with nervous and so much happiness he’s sure he’ll burst with it, and warms when Tony brightens at the little pet name.
“I love you too, Bucky,” Tony chokes out, clinging onto the bigger teenager just that much tighter, “God I love you so much.”
Yeah, Bucky thinks as he takes Tony’s hand back into his own, running to Steve’s car, the group of teenager’s tearing down the church’s gravel road, and looks back at Tony who beams at him brimming with love, adoration, and happiness, we’ll be okay.