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Sparks Fly

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For a scary smart guy who had a reputation for being a playboy, casanova, good time guy, Tony Stark was about as insightful as a box of rocks.

Even Sharon could tell that Bucky was flirting, and that Tony was missing it. Completely and totally ignoring the fact that he was being flirted with. Well, probably not ignoring it; ignoring something was an active action, a decision. This was Tony not seeing what was right in front of him. Probably distracted by the shiny technology in front of him.

Bucky had a better chance of getting his attention than most given that the shiny tech was attached to him. She rolled her eyes at Tony from her position on the other side of the room, “get out of my light, Carter, please.”

“I have bug bites on my bug bites,” Tony was complaining, slapping at another mosquito.

“They have good taste, can they help it, you just smell good,” Bucky said. Bucky did not have mosquito bites, which, Sharon thought, was decidedly unfair. Although it was hard to tell if they avoided him because of the biogel in his bloodstream that kept the hydraulics in his arm lubed up, or if there was something else other about him that drove them away.

Even things larger than a mosquito didn’t want to fuck with the Winter Soldier.

Sharon waved a can of bug spray at Tony. “Most of us have sense enough to wear bug spray. West Nile, it’s a thing, Stark.”

“I am going to build you a custom workshop,” Tony said. “Complete with air conditioning and some sort of security features. The two of you are a walking opsec nightmare.”

“You’re not enjoying the great outdoors?”

“The outdoors would be a lot nicer if there was a roof over, walls around it, and it was climate controlled,” Tony said. He closed the panel on Bucky’s shoulder and thumbed the locking mechanism. The arm whirred happily and Bucky flexed his hand. Tony’s fingers lingered on the metal. “You really should have me build a backup.”

“What, like a spare tire?”

“I’m just saying, this is the second time in a month that I’ve dropped everything to come repair bullet holes,” Tony said.

“You don’t have to wait until I get shot to come visit,” Bucky pointed out.

“Besides,” Tony said, blithely ignoring Bucky’s invitation, “there are just so many upgrades I could do, if we weren’t pressed for time. Come on, lemme build it, would you? Please, please?”

“You come to festival and I’ll think about letting you build me a spare arm.”

“Shaaaron,” Tony whined.

“Try chocolate,” she suggested, picking up Alpine and making kissy noises. Alpine merped and stuck both paws on Sharon’s mouth. No kisses! “Bucky’s a complete slut for chocolate.”

“Huh,” Tony said. He leaned back to look. “You really don’t look like have a sweet tooth.”

“So what do I look like?” Bucky wondered.

“Like someone who eats raw piranha for breakfast.”

“Ha. Ha ha. Come on, come to the festival,” Bucky said.

“Right, okay, fine, since you asked so nicely. And I don’t want you to use my bones to pick your teeth after your breakfast of raw piranha,” Tony said.

“Great,” Bucky agreed, leaning over and kissing Tony’s cheek lightly. “It’s a date.”

It was not fleeing the room, it was a strategic withdrawal. Sharon knew that, because Bucky would tell her, later, that that was exactly what he’d done.

“Did he just ask me on a date?” Tony demanded, turning curious eyes up at her.

“How are you a grown up, superhero and you need me to spell things out for you?” Sharon wondered.

“So, uh, he likes me?”

“This is not fifth grade and I am not going to play messenger boy for you,” Sharon said. She managed to get Alpine to cuddle in the basket of her arms, making nonsense noises at the cat.  

“No, no, I’m asking you to be my tactical adviser,” Tony said. “So, advise me. Is this like, a hanging out with friends thing, or an actual date date?”

“Things do not get more impressive and important just because you say them twice,” Sharon said. “I’m not going to tell you if he likes you, likes you or if he likes you, likes you. Figure it out.”

“I need good data,” Tony protested, laughing and throwing an oil-stained rag at her. “Come on, you know I suck with actual relationship things.”

“It’s a date, moron,” Sharon told him.


Well, it was sort of a date, Sharon decided, because Bucky insisted that she come with them, which made it more like a hanging out with friends thing. And because Bucky needed the moral support, he told her.

“Like, what if he’s not havin’ fun, you know him better than anyone else,” Bucky said, picking through his wardrobe for the third time that day.

“It’s Tony,” Sharon said. “If he’s not having fun, he’ll make fun. That’s what he does. He was partying while you were still stuck in a Hydra tube. Believe me, the guy knows how to have a good time.”

“That’s extremely not reassuring, Sharon,” Bucky growled. “This guy’s dated actual facts movie stars and supermodels.”

“And yet, here he is, going to see fireworks. With you. In Shelbyville, Indiana. Which means he’s at least interested in the novelty part of it. This is new for him. And believe me, Tony Stark is all about the shiny new adventure.”

“So, you’re sayin’ even if things go well, he’ll just move on to the next shiny thing?” Bucky plucked a pair of jeans from the stack and looked at them.

“No -- also, don’t wear the straight legged jeans, you have thighs, moron. Show them off -- I’m saying, he obviously thinks you’re interesting enough to give it a shot, which means not the same old, same old that he’s used to.” Sharon reached past him to grab a set of slim-fit boot cut jeans. “Wear these, and one of your red shirts. You look good in red, he likes red. And don’t wear those crappy black boots, dig something out from under the pile of torn shirts you haven’t bothered to throw out. Pretty sure I saw a nice pair of brown boots under there.”

“Why, these boots don’t go with my eyes?”

“No, you cannot wear shop shoes on a date,” Sharon said. “They don’t go with your guns.”

“I’m not taking a gun on a date.”

“Don’t even lie to me, Barnes,” Sharon said. “You and I both know that all three of us will have more weapons than some small countries. None of us are stupid.”

“Dating is complicated in the future,” Bucky complained. “Use’t be I just went to a dance hall and asked some pretty person to dance. Bring ‘em flowers the next day.”

Sharon tipped her head a little. “There should be dancing at the festival. And Tony will love flowers. Nothing’s changed.”

“Except maybe me,” Bucky said.

“Except you.”


Sharon slid into her position just as the elevator door opened. There weren’t many hotels in Shelbyville, and Tony was in the nicest, but it probably still wasn’t anything like what he was used to. But both she and Bucky had done security sweeps before he’d gotten there, and she already knew that the sightlines were.

“Look, I want to look at the 4H stalls,” Sharon had told a protesting Bucky. “And you should definitely take Stark on your bike. He’ll get a kick out of that. So, I’ll just go a little early and look at baby cows that I know Stark doesn’t want to see. Go pick him up and I’ll meet you boys around 6 for completely unhealthy fair food dinner.”

She knew she had been lying. Hell, Bucky probably knew she had been lying.

“I can’t believe I am being a single mom to two guys who are older than I am,” Sharon muttered to herself. She lifted the binoculars to her eyes and settled in to watch events unfold.

Bucky had, in fact, gotten flowers. They were even nice flowers, Sharon could tell. No plastic wrapped grocery store bouquet; Bucky’d actually gone to the florist and gotten a nice little arrangement, some sort of blue orchids and purple filler flowers. Either the florist had good sense or Bucky had a good eye.

She snorted.

Had to be the florist. Bucky had the artistic sensibilities of a weasel, despite having spent most of his formative years being best friends with an artist. Get the man a gun, and he could wax poetic. Flowers and dates, and he turned into a bumbling idiot.

Whatever. She watched as he exited the elevator and knocked on Tony’s hotel room door.

A moment later, Tony opened it, wearing tight jeans, a rock band tee, and a sport jacket. Typical Tony clothes when he was comfortable. No sunglasses, which meant he was, in fact, trying.

They exchanged a few words. Tony took the flowers, jerked his chin. Come on in, that gesture said. Sharon shifted over and trained her glasses on the window; there was a tiny space between the blinds and the edge of the window she could use. Adjusting the focus, and it was like she was in the room with them.

Tony spent a few moments fussing over the flowers while Bucky stood there looking like he had absolutely no idea what to do with his arms.

Tony admired the flowers from a few different angles, whipped out his phone and took a picture. Right after that, Sharon’s phone buzzed.

Ha. Tony had texted her the picture, with some sort of untranslatable emoji message.

Very nice she texted him back.

Tony poked his phone a few more times, pocketed it, and offered Bucky a slender box wrapped in silver paper with red ribbons. She watched as he unwrapped it. Chocolates.

She checked her phone again.

You can stop watching, mom. We’re fine.

Sharon laughed. You caught me. Have fun, boys.

I like you better than Nat. She won’t admit when I’m right. See you at the fireworks.