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Bag of Tricks

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From the corner of his eye, Bucky sees you absentmindedly put yet another pen cap into your mouth as you sit in the conference room, intently listening to Steve’s lecture. Your left hand rests on a yellow memo pad, right hand scribbling as Captain America drops words like “cooperation”, “teamwork”, and “fucking cooperation” for good measure.

“Question.” Tony cuts in.

Bucky internally huffs. Here we go.

“Not that this isn’t a rousing sermon, Cap,” Stark tilts his head at Steve’s crossed arms, “But I think the teamwork issue isn’t applicable to everyone- so I’d love to leave and get back to my usual routine of genius-ing.”

“That’s not a question, Stark,” Bucky replies, immediately grumbling when Tony flips him the bird.
With a grand twirling motion of his wrist, Tony takes a deep bow and turns towards the door. Steve is quicker, sidestepping so that his broad body blocks the exit.

“C’mon Rogers, get that Dorito-shaped back of yours out of my way.”
“Tony. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Fucking cooperation.”
“If he’s cussin’, he must he really be upset,” Sam interjects as he takes a large swig from his bottle. The top is one of those “sports caps”, and the sound of Wilson sucking it squeaks its way deep into Bucky’s head. His skin crawls at the screech. Sam smirks proudly.

On your memo pad was a huge cross-hatched cloud that illuminated a surprisingly pleasing block-lettered note: FUCKING COOPERATION. Squiggly rays shot from every corner underneath each team member name. Obviously the ones less inclined to behave on mission were bolder than others. You stick your pen in your mouth as you flip the flimsy page over and regard the men arguing in front of you, fingers drumming on your pad.

“We done here?” You begin to chew on pen and pen cap alike, only intelligible because the corner of your mouth is carefully stretched enough to let words escape.

“No!” Steve calls crossly, swatting away Tony’s mock jabs to his sides, “We are not!”

You tongue the pen cap further into your mouth in annoyance, molars grinding down on the grey plastic. Bucky watches it travel from one side of your cheek to the other as you pull the pen itself out and show Steve your drawing.

“I get the message!” Impatient tapping with the chewed end leaves damp paper on the pad with each pat, pat, pat contact. “Look, FUCKING COOPERATION. Here’s all of us… mm,” you pause to suck on the inside of your cheek as a sharp canine slips and makes a small cut. When you resume talking, Bucky can see the pink tinge smeared across your teeth and on the tip of your tongue. It unsettles him that you are repeatedly so careless. It wasn’t a coincidence that the “Fucking Cooperation” meeting was held with the four of you.

Bucky thinks he’s going to lose it in this damn glass room, surrounded by Tony (a self-important asshole), Wilson (who seems to live to annoy him), and you (an idiot, hand to God). Once you swore that you’d strayed because there was a room full of rodents and that you really had to free them before the building exploded. He didn’t have the heart to tell you that they were likely all rabid and that he was dispatched to pick them off on their way out. Another time you literally walked into a den of feral cats.

You had the worst habit of putting all sorts of devices in your mouth and your outfit was never complete without a cut lip. During an infiltration of a HYDRA base in St. Petersburg, you “found some candy” and Bucky nearly had an aneurism sticking his hand into your mouth and wrestling with you to pull out two goddamn cyanide capsules before you killed yourself.

Bucky feels the vein in his head about to pop as Wilson spews yet another remark, “My question is what am I doing here because Cap- as you know, I live and breathe synergy,”

“Oh shut your shit,” Bucky snaps.

“Barnes, language,” Tony replies without missing a beat.

Wilson carries on, “Look man, just because you and Redwing don’t get along doesn’t mean you have to take it out on me.”

“Hey! You fuckin’ men- I was talking earlier!” You slump down in the chair, throwing your hands in the air, the memo pad flapping about. The pen goes back in your mouth along with the pen cap, which is completely mangled at this point. “I cooperate, okay? I always follow direc--”

“If by following directions you mean wandering into a forest, then yes, you do,” Steve corrects. Everyone in the room snorts in agreeance, which only makes you more indignant.
“What! That only happened like three ti- HEY DON’T INTERRUPT ME!” And you’re up again, hands slamming onto the wooden table, memo pad discarded completely on the floor. Steve is bracing himself for your tirade when suddenly you freeze like a statue. The clatter of the pen draws everyone’s eyes on the table as a sputter comes from your throat.

“What was that?” Tony asks

Your eyes are scanning the room wildly, one hand pounding on the table, the other clutching your neck. Bucky is launching himself across the table before he can realize it as he throws his weight over his palm. He’s behind you in an instant with his flesh fist clenched tight inside of his metal hand, careful to not break all of your ribs as he pulls in and up. All you can hear is the metal plates shifting and clicking along with the ringing in your ears. Your teammates are moving all around in blurs and far-off, muffled shouts.

A sickening hurk follows every pull as your body coils itself around his hands. He does it two more times before the chewed up pen cap launches itself out of your throat and flies across the table. Steve catches it easily before realizing the prize he’s holding onto is completely soaked with saliva and drops it.

Sam throws his bottle, which Tony snatches from the air and unplugs the top. Before you can catch your breath, he’s squirting a stream of Powerade down your throat which immediately burns a trail into your stomach. Once more, you slump around Bucky’s hands and groan deeply as he slides onto the floor on his legs.

“F.. Uh... goddamn... that was..” you force out a single cough and grab onto Bucky’s arms as you try desperately to anchor yourself to reality. The exasperated huff from behind you is one you’ve heard many times during your life, and it surprisingly does help a lot in this moment. If anything could remind you that you were alive and well, it was Bucky’s absolute disappointment in your existence. You take a shuddering breath, “That... was fucking teamwork, gang.”


The sigh is replaced by a loud groan as Bucky pushes you off his lap with an unceremonious plop.