Steve Rogers would forever be the love of Bucky Barnes’s life. He thinks of Steve every now and then, the memories bittersweet. Sometimes it’s a small reminder that makes him smile; other times it‘s a knife in his gut, slicing the memories out and leaving him morose for days.
It’s been ten years since Steve walked out. Bucky knows now he deserved it; he was young, impulsive, and took Steve for granted. They were barely twenty, and Bucky thought they’d be together forever.
The depression had crippled him; he’d joined the army to escape, he’d sought help from a therapist, and he’d healed. He was now one of, if not the best, pilots in the United States Air Force. The army had enabled him to go to college, and he’d graduated with a masters in aerospace engineering.
Bucky’s proud of where he’s at. If he gives himself permission to think about it, he likes to think Steve would be proud of him too; Steve always told him he was destined for great things.
“Don’t sell yourself so short,” Steve laughed, looking up at Bucky, his head in Bucky’s lap. “You could change the world, Buck. Just give yourself a chance.”
Bucky just smiled. “You’re so goddamn optimistic. It sickens me.”
“You love me,” Steve laughed, and leaned up to kiss him. Bucky did love him, so fucking much.
A few months ago Bucky had been promoted to the rank of Captain and retired from active duty. He’d offered his expertise in developing new planes, which his superiors had eagerly accepted, offering him a senior position in their engineering division.
Which led him to today. He was in the back of a military vehicle, on his way to meet with the famed Tony Stark, widely considered one of the most brilliant engineers in the world and one of the most notable philanthropists. Stark routinely provided the Air Force with consults and upgrades, everything environmentally friendly and sustainably produced. Stark’s company allegedly had zero carbon footprint, which Bucky found pretty incredible.
As Bucky steps out of the car, none other than Stark himself is waiting for him, which is surprising; he’d always pegged Stark to be stuffy, or elitist. Stark’s in a dressed down suit, hair swept back perfectly, and a neatly trimmed goatee on his face. He looks like he’s at best six or seven years Bucky’s senior, which is also surprising; he’d always imagined Stark to look vaguely like an old hippie.
“Captain Barnes,” Stark says in greeting, a smile on his face as he extends a hand for Bucky to shake.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Stark.” Bucky accepts the hand and shakes, smiling as well. “Heard a lot about you.”
“Likewise,” Stark says with a smile, which doesn’t make sense, but Bucky brushes it off. He’s sure his superiors mentioned his background before coming here. “Shall we?”
Bucky follows Stark into the building - a large, slightly ostentatious tower, but the engineering behind it is something Bucky’s read up on a bit. He’s impressed. Stark leads him to an elevator and up into a spacious office, where he gestures for Bucky to sit on a couch, taking a seat next to him.
Again, Bucky is surprised; he hadn’t expected Stark to be this casual.
The meeting is long, but productive; they talk for enough time that Bucky loses track, segueing from business to slightly more personal topics without even a slight hitch in conversation. Stark’s a good conversationist, and Bucky’s actually disappointed when the meeting winds down.
“Anyway, come by sometime for a drink,” Stark says as he closes up his laptop and sets it aside. “Got some new ideas for jets I didn’t show you I think you’d like to see, too.”
Bucky’s not surprised anymore; Stark has effectively broken down any preconceived notions Bucky had. He nods, a smile on his face.
“Great.” Stark stands up, a smile on his face as he reaches out to shake Bucky’s hand again, pulling out a fancy looking cellphone with the other. “You don’t have to, but I’d rather not go through the military to get ahold of you.”
Bucky rattles off his personal number without any hesitation, and that’s slightly surprising; normally he’s less free with giving away personal information, but there’s something disarming about Stark, who punches it into the phone.
“I’ll call you,” Stark says, gesturing for Bucky to the elevator. “Sometime next week?”
“Sure,” Bucky smiles. “Sounds great.” Stark nods, a smile on his face.
As he heads back downstairs and out of the building, Bucky realizes he’s looking forward to it a lot more than he would’ve expected.
True to his word, Stark calls him a week later, inviting Bucky out to a club for a casual, non business outing. Bucky doesn’t hesitate to meet him; they’ve exchanged some friendly texts here and there since their first meeting, and Bucky’s (not really) surprised to realize he likes Stark, a lot. He thinks he can consider Stark a friend now.
Still, things like a private car being sent for him are unexpected. The driver opens the rear door, and Stark is sitting there, waiting with a glass of what looks like bourbon in his hand.
“I can drive myself places,” Bucky chuckles as he climbs in. Stark just grins and hands him the glass.
“This way’s more fun.”
“I suppose so.” Bucky looks him over, feeling a little inadequate at how well put together Stark always seems to look.
“Eyes up here, solider,” Stark quips, and Bucky just laughs, cheeks pink.
“Caught me,” he says, taking a sip of what turns out to be the smoothest cognac Bucky’s ever tasted.
“Hey, can’t say I blame you,” Stark chuckles. “I’m a catch.”
Bucky laughs, taking another sip of the cognac. “Sure are.” He wonders if Stark means to flirt, but Bucky doesn’t mind. “So where are we headed?”
“Just a little place I know,” Stark replies, reaching for the liquor bottle to refill his own glass. They fall into another easy conversation as the car drives, Bucky deciding after another glass of cognac that he‘s definitely working on a crush on Stark. He wonders if Stark’s single.
He isn’t sure he wants to ask; better to not risk the disappointment.
The “little place” turns out to be a private club, and Bucky isn’t usually one for this kind of scene, but they end up having a good time anyway. It’s quiet enough for more talking, and by the end of the night Bucky’s starting to contemplate risking that disappointment.
As they climb back into the waiting car, Stark’s phone goes off. He pulls it out, offering Bucky an apologetic smile. “Other half,” he explains, apparently replying to a text.
Well, that’s that. Bucky pushes down the disappointment he feels; it’s not like Stark would’ve been interested in him anyway.
“Yeah?” He tries to muster up some interest, but he really couldn’t care less about whatever woman Stark’s seeing. He feels like that makes him petty, but he’s had enough to drink that he doesn’t care. “You in trouble?”
Stark laughs. “Nah. Just asking if it’s worth waiting up.”
“Don’t let me keep you,” Bucky says, trying for a smile.
“Not a problem. Getting married next weekend, I think it’s just pre-wedding jitters.”
Nothing quite like compounding that disappointment. Bucky nods; he has no reference point at all. “Well congrats,” he manages, and he thinks he’s doing a decent job of disguising his feelings.
“Thanks,” Stark replies, answering another text and then stowing the phone away. “Got plans? Come join us.”
“What?” Bucky asks, stunned. “You’re joking.”
“Not this time,” Stark grins. “Seriously, why not? Weddings are fun. Good excuse to get drunk.”
“I think you just like trying to get me to drink too much,” Bucky laughs, aware he’s being flirtatious, but it’s slightly out of his control. “I appreciate the offer, Stark, but I’m sure you don’t want me there.”
“Tony,” Stark corrects, and shrugs. “Your loss. Invitation’s open, and for the record, you’re wanted there. Never met someone that had such an appreciation for what I do.”
“So it’s all about ego,” Bucky teases, and Stark (Tony) just laughs.
“I am known for it,” he agrees, and Bucky wonders how terrible of an idea it’d be to go to the wedding. Apparently he and Tony are friends now, which makes Bucky wonder how many actual friends Tony really has; he’s rich, powerful, and really attractive, which is exactly the kind of man that attracts others to him not because of who he is, but what he can give them.
“All right, fine, you win.” Bucky says, feeling like he might regret this, but he can be a good new friend and suck it up. “I’ll be there, just tell me when and where.”
“Great.” Tony’s grinning. “Make sure to tell everyone you’re there because you worship me, Barnes.”
“Bucky,” he corrects with a laugh. “I’ll be sure to let every guest know I’m only there because I’m a Tony Stark fanboy.”
“That’s the only reason you’re invited,” Tony agrees with a smirk. “And one day you’ll explain to me how ‘Bucky’ comes from ‘James.’”
“Next time,” Bucky chuckles. By this point the car’s pulled up to his apartment, and as they exchange goodbyes and Bucky heads upstairs, he’s feeling a bit better about this. Weddings are no big deal.
When the day of the wedding actually arrives, Bucky has vague second thoughts. He still thinks it’s a little strange that he’s attending the wedding of someone he barely knows, but he and Tony have met up for lunch a few times, plus they’re in regular contact now for the Air Force.
He dresses in his best suit and heads to the country club where the wedding is. When he arrives, valet takes his car and he’s directed to what looks like a giant park, large tents pitched and plenty of people milling around.
A sign proclaiming “Stark-Rogers Wedding” appears as he walks into the roped off area, which sends a twinge through him; count on a wedding to remind him of Steve. He takes a seat in the chairs, fiddling with the buttons on his sleeve as the rest of the guests fill in and the ceremony starts.
Bucky finds weddings in general to be boring; not that he doesn’t like the idea of two people celebrating their love, but they’re always so over the top. He looks up to the altar, surprised to see Tony’s not up there; while he’s far from a wedding expert, movies have taught him the groom’s always waiting up front.
The music changes, and the guests start standing up. Bucky follows suit, watching as Tony comes into view from the side opposite of where Bucky’s sitting, and now he understands why Tony’s not at the altar. The person whose hand he takes, while smiling like the sun, is the tall blond guy whose face Bucky can’t see.
Well, good for Tony. Bucky plasters a smile on his face, because Tony’s his friend and is happy, and Bucky can be happy for him. And honestly, he is.
Then they turn to walk to the altar, and Bucky sees the face of the man that’s about to marry Tony.
Bucky isn’t sure what the hell he did to deserve this, but fuck the universe. Fuck him for thinking this was a good idea.
Fuck Tony for inviting him.
And fuck Steve Rogers for being the one marrying him.
It’s the most difficult hour of Bucky’s life. He knows he can’t leave, even though he wishes he could; Tony couldn’t have known that his now husband (the thought makes Bucky’s stomach twist) and his new friend have the past they have.
Bucky knows he should be over Steve by now. It’s ridiculous that Steve can still make him feel like this after so many years, but he really did think he was over Steve.
Apparently “over” just means “ignoring feelings and pretending they don’t exist.”
Maybe it’s just because it’s a wedding; as the ceremony progresses, Bucky can’t help but feel...not possessiveness, but the feeling that this was the life he was supposed to have with Steve. That this, all of this, should’ve been his.
It’s an entirely unproductive train of thought. He dismisses it, because if he dwells on it, it’ll make him miserable. And if he was supposed to have this life with Steve, he’d have it.
He debates skipping out on the reception, but he knows he can’t without offering an explanation and he thinks, “Your new husband is my ex that I’m apparently still carrying a torch for,” isn’t a great one. He doesn’t want to hurt Tony, and at a minimum, they’re still going to have to communicate on their projects.
Smile still plastered on, he sucks it up and slogs through the reception, making sure to keep his distance from anyone that might recognize him for fear of his presence causing a scene.
But of course Tony seeks him out. Bucky pulls him into a hug, because really, he’s happy for Tony, and Steve is mercifully absent.
“Congrats,” Bucky smiles, genuinely happy for Tony now that Steve isn’t in view.
“Thanks. Ridiculous, isn’t it? All the formality and fancy shit,” Tony laughs. “But you know me, I like to throw a good party.”
“It’s great,” Bucky replies, clapping Tony on the shoulder. “Does this mean I’m on my own with our project while you two honeymoon?”
“Postponed,” Tony says with a shrug. “Once you and I are all finished up, then it’s happening.”
“I’ll try not to keep you too long,” Bucky chuckles, a spike of...he isn’t sure if it’s fear or what, shooting through him when Tony’s face lights up in a way that can only mean Steve is behind him.
Goddamnit. Tony reaches out a hand as Steve approaches, saying, “This is the guy I’ve been working with, from the Air Force. Captain-“
“Bucky?” Steve asks softly as he turns to see him standing there. Bucky’s never felt more uncomfortable in his life.
“Hey, Steve. Congrats, man.” He shoves his hands deep into his pockets for lack of anything better to do.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Steve asks without any accusation in his voice. He seems genuinely surprised; Bucky can see the emotions flitting across Steve’s face like they’re written there for Bucky to read. They always used to joke that Bucky was the one person Steve could never pull off lying to.
“Tony invited me,” Bucky replies. God Steve looks amazing, Bucky’s heart aches right now. “If it’s too weird, I’ll go.”
“Well this is awkward,” Tony interjects, looking between the two of them. “Steve, did I invite an ex to our wedding or something?”
Steve just nods, staring at Bucky with an unreadable expression on his face. Or maybe Bucky’s pretending he can’t read it because if he could it’d hurt too much.
“Look, let me save everyone the trouble and head out,” Bucky says, and Tony looks like he’s about to protest, but Bucky holds up a hand. “I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.”
Steve’s still just staring at him. Bucky can’t even look at him. “Tony, I appreciate the invite,” Bucky goes on, clapping his shoulder again. “I’ll catch up with you Monday on the project. You guys have fun, and really, congrats. I’m happy for you both.”
As he turns to leave, he hears a soft apology from Tony to Steve. He quickens his pace, making it out to the parking lot when a hand falls on his shoulder to stop him.
It’s Steve. Bucky steps back, at this point ready to just bolt.
“You didn’t have to go,” Steve says, voice quiet.
“You don’t want me at your wedding,” Bucky replies. His heart’s in a fucking vice right now. He needs a strong drink. “It’s really okay.”
“I may not have, but Tony did,” Steve replies, which doesn’t make Bucky feel any better. “And if I’d known you were who he invited, I’d have wanted you there.”
“Why?” Bucky isn’t sure he wants the answer. “For Tony, right? Steve, you don’t have to tolerate me just because Tony wanted me there. Trust me, if he’d told me your name, I would’ve stayed home.”
“Maybe it wasn’t just for Tony,” Steve says, which confuses the hell out of Bucky. “Glad to know that you’re too much of a coward to see me, though.”
“Yeah, that’s definitely it,” Bucky replies, unwilling to get into a fight; ten years ago, he would’ve argued the point simply for the sake of arguing, but he’s too tired to do that now. And he knows that there’s some truth to what Steve said.
“I know it is.”
“I said you were right. I’m not here to argue with you, Steve. I told you, I’m happy for you, you’re obviously happy, and I don’t want to ruin your night.”
Steve lets out a long sigh. “Fine. I’m sure we’ll see each other again at some point, since you’re working with my husband and everything.”
Bucky knows that was deliberate, and goddamn if it doesn’t hurt. He knows he’s hurting Steve, but he also knows that if he stays, it’ll get worse. He huffs out a breath and steels himself before pulling Steve into a hug.
“I am happy for you, Stevie,” he says softly as he pulls back. “Really. That’s all I ever wanted for you.”
Steve looks like he’s holding back a lot of emotion. Bucky can’t (doesn’t want to) read it. “Thanks,” he says, just as soft. “It would be nice if you stayed.”
“I can’t,” Bucky sighs. “Stevie, I can’t. It’s- it’s too much right now.” Steve nods, seeming to understand.
“Then you owe me a drink, punk,” Steve replies, punching Bucky’s shoulder lightly.
A soft chuckle is Bucky’s response. “Only if you’re paying, jerk. You’ve got a rich husband now.”
At that, Steve laughs too. “Yeah, I guess I do. Was good to see you, Buck.”
“You too, Stevie.” Bucky swallows down the emotion again and offers a smile before he turns to leave. He drives home in silence, deliberately not thinking about anything that happened tonight. When he gets to his apartment, he pulls out the bottle of cognac Tony sent him last week, and pours himself a sizable glass. He’d looked this bottle up when he got it, and had almost choked at the price.
But that was Tony, he’d realized. Bucky‘s never met someone so generous.
As he knocks back the liquor, he just hopes that the next time he sees Steve, he can handle it.
The end of the following week finds Bucky again, on his way to Stark Industries for a meeting with Tony. They’ve exchanged texts as per usual, and neither of them had brought up the encounter at the wedding.
Bucky’s grateful. He’s deliberately avoided thinking about it, but if he slips, and remembers Steve’s face, he likes to think there was some sadness in Steve’s eyes when he left that night.
He’s sure it’s because Steve felt like he was ditching Tony, but a tiny part of him feels like it was because Steve missed him.
Which is ridiculous. Steve was the one that walked out.
It’s better if he doesn’t think about it. Tony’s waiting for him as he walks in, equipped as always with a glass of cognac. Bucky smiles as he accepts it, ignoring the wedding band visible on Tony’s hand, and pulls Tony into a brief hug.
“Good to see you,” he says as he sits down. Tony plops down next to him, taking a long drink of the cognac.
“I could live off this stuff,” he says appreciatively, setting the glass on the table. “How've you been?”
“Can’t complain,” Bucky lies, but there’s some truth in it. He hasn’t been wallowing, anyway. Tony arches an eyebrow.
“Liar,” he says without any heat. “Listen, I’m- well I’m sorry for what happened at the wedding, which was entirely not my fault, but also not my intention.”
Bucky’s slightly alarmed by the fact that Tony can already see right through his lies, but it seems like Tony’s just genuinely apologetic.
“No harm done,” Bucky replies easily, downing an overlarge gulp of cognac. “Really. I just hope I didn’t put a damper on your celebration.”
“Could’ve been worse,” Tony replies with a shrug. “Was sorry to see you leave, but I get it. Small world, though.”
“You’re telling me,” Bucky sighs. “You make him happy though, I could see that much. I’m glad you two have each other.”
Tony smiles a sad sort of smile. “Thanks. Let’s not torture you anymore with talking about him, though. Ready to see the new schematics I drew up?”
Grateful for the change of topic, Bucky throws himself into the conversation, time passing quickly now like it always does.
Bucky finally takes his leave late in the afternoon, but the day had been productive and Tony acts like nothing ever happened over the weekend. As he drives home, he thinks he might actually be able to get used to this.
Tony doesn’t wait long to head home after Bucky’s gone; he still isn’t sure how to deal with this. He knows this wasn’t something he could’ve anticipated, but he still feels like he should’ve.
Well, no help for it now. He collects the glasses and bottle and sets them aside, and decides to call it a day.
He knows Steve’s getting off work early today, so hopefully he’ll be home when Tony gets there. The thought brings a smile to his face; Steve was promoted recently at his architectural firm, thanks, in part, to the work he’s done on Stark Tower.
It’s how they met; Tony had contracted the firm to help design it, and after looking through some portfolios, had chosen Steve based on his work. The rest, as they say, was history.
Tony hums in thought as he drives, remembering the conversation they’d had the night of the wedding, when everyone had finally gotten the hell out. Steve had been (understandably, Tony thinks) upset, but Tony hadn’t been sure if it was because Bucky had left, or because Bucky had been there in the first place.
And of course, in typical Steve Rogers fashion, he’d brushed it off. Said he was fine, that it’d been a decade since he’d seen Bucky and it didn’t bother him.
Which was, of course, the most ridiculous lie Tony’s ever heard. It was obvious that it was hard for Steve to see Bucky again, and while Tony might not necessarily be worried that it’s because Steve still has feelings for Bucky, it’s certainly not “not bothered.”
Tony’s not sure what to do about it, or if he even needs to do anything. Bucky’s become a good friend; Tony doesn’t have enough of them. He’s fun, unassuming, appreciates good liquor, and if Tony’s being honest, nice to look at. Not that he’d ever stray from Steve (anyone that’d want to is insane), but he can appreciate an attractive man.
So that means he’s stuck trying to find a middle ground between the two of them, and he’s not sure if that’s a fair thing to ask. He doesn’t want to give up his friendship with Bucky, but Steve’s his husband, and that’s his priority.
The answer, he thinks as he steps onto the elevator to take him up to the penthouse of the tower, is to just talk to Steve. He just doesn’t know if Steve will want to talk, and if he does, if he’ll be honest.
He hopes the answer to both is yes.
Steve’s in a plush chair facing out the window, sketchbook in hand, which is just so Steve that Tony can’t help but smile. He walks up, silent, and bends down to kiss Steve’s cheek. Steve doesn’t even flinch, instead turning his head to capture Tony’s lips.
“Whatcha drawing?” Tony perches on the arm of the chair, peering down at the sketchbook.
“Nothing in particular.” Steve sets the sketchbook aside and pulls Tony onto his lap. “Good day? Wasn’t expecting you for awhile.”
“Just the one meeting. Since I’m the boss, I decide when I leave,” Tony smirks. He’s not usually one for this much affection, but Steve brings it out of him easily.
“Well I’m glad to see you,” Steve replies, arms twining around Tony’s waist comfortably. “Good meeting, then?”
“Yep. Went over some new jet designs; as long as they’re approved, and they will be because they’re mine, we’ll sign a contract next week.”
“Jets, huh? That means you were with Bucky.” Steve doesn’t sound jealous, or...anything, really. Tony sees no reason to hide it, but he wasn’t going to go out of his way to bring it up. He hums an agreement, and Steve just nods.
There’s a long moment of silence that feels very pregnant to Tony. He’s not sure if he’s supposed to say anything or not.
“Once the contract’s signed there won't be any more meetings,” Tony offers after a minute, and Steve lets out a breath.
“So you’re not seeing him again, is what you’re saying?”
Tony pauses before replying, because he’s not sure. Sure, Bucky’s become a friend, enough for Tony to (impulsively, yes) invite him to his wedding, but is there a reason to keep in touch after this project is over? He’s not even sure Bucky would want to, honestly.
“Do you not want me to?” Tony finally asks, figuring he might as well just be direct. He’s shit with this kind of thing, and this seems like the fastest way to get this conversation over.
“Do you want to?” Steve asks in response, and Tony just shrugs.
“He’s a nice guy,” he hedges, “we’ve had fun together.”
“So yes?” Steve asks. Tony listens hard for anything that might indicate Steve doesn’t want it, but he’s got nothing.
“I don’t- maybe?” he finally tries, which is about as close to the truth as he can get.
“Tony,” Steve sighs. “I’m not going to say you can’t be friends with him. Trust me when I say no one would understand why you want to better than me.”
“About that.” Tony climbs off Steve’s lap and pulls another chair over to sit. “What happened between you two? I think if I know that, it’ll help me decide if this is a friendship that doesn’t go past this project.”
“Tony, don’t not be friends with him because of me. I told you, I get it,” Steve says firmly. “We just...were young, and dumb. I felt like he didn’t appreciate me, and when I brought it up, I felt like he brushed me off. So I left.”
That doesn’t fit with what Tony knows about Steve, but then again, Steve was a lot younger back then.
“That’s really it?”
“I know, it seems stupid now. I didn’t leave because I didn’t love him, which is why I get it if you want to be friends. He’s a good guy.”
Tony hears the badly disguised longing in Steve’s voice. “You miss him,” he says, not sure if that makes him feel insecure or not; after all, he’s the one Steve married. If Steve still had feelings for Bucky, he can’t believe they’d have gone on this long without Steve doing something about them.
“Sure,” Steve agrees, twisting his wedding band absentmindedly. “He was my first real...anything. I loved him, but not like I want to go back to him. I love you, Tony. I married you.”
Tony sighs. There’s a part of him that wishes they’d never crossed paths with Bucky; he can see that Steve’s hurting. But, he thinks, that hurt might’ve been there anyway, and Tony might never have known about it. Now he’s got a chance to maybe fix it.
“It’s fine if you miss him, Steve,” he finally says. “Seems like he misses you too. You don’t want to try to reconnect?”
“I don’t know if that’s a great idea.” Steve sighs. “How are you not jealous about this?”
A shrug is all Tony can manage at first. “Honestly, no idea. Sounds like I should be, but you not hurting is more important than me being jealous. I think you should at least talk to him, Steve.”
“And if I don’t want to?” Steve asks, but Tony can hear the unasked question. Steve’s afraid of the feelings coming back, Tony thinks. He can understand why.
“Then you don’t,” Tony says simply. “But I don’t think there’s a reason not to talk to him, Steve. Whatever happens if you talk to him, it’ll be okay.”
Steve arches an eyebrow in response. “What do you think is going to happen?”
“I don’t know. But I do know I trust you to be honest with me. And I know that your happiness is the most important thing to me. So if that means Bucky’s in our lives, that’s what it means.”
Steve’s quiet for a long time. “You’re worried I still have feelings for him,” he says, a statement rather than a question, but Tony feels like it’s a question. He shrugs, moving back to sit on the armrest of Steve’s chair and gently carding a hand through his hair.
“Kinda,” he admits, and damnit, this is not how he wanted to start his marriage. “But I love you, Steve, and I know you love me too or you wouldn’t have kept wearing that ring on your hand there. So at least go to lunch with him or something. If you can’t handle it, you can’t handle it. If I can’t, I can’t. Either way, we talk about it. You’re the most important thing to me.”
Steve turns to look at him with a smile. “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Tony. I love you for even being willing to think about something like this.”
“I gotta say, this isn’t how I imagined the days after our wedding,” Tony quips, and Steve just chuckles in response.
“Me either. Hope that just means once we’re through this it’s nothing but smooth sailing.” Steve stands, taking Tony’s hand and pulls him up and into a kiss in one swift motion. Tony melts into it; he’s never been able to resist Steve.
“This is how I imagined the days after our wedding,” Tony grins. Steve grins back. They’ll be okay, Tony thinks.
Steve takes a few days before he reaches out to Bucky; the thought is overwhelming and stressful in ways he isn’t really comfortable acknowledging. He’d come into work today to a myriad of congratulations, which feel just a little hollow right now.
He isn’t sure what any of it means.
When Tony left work for work this morning, he'd specifically mentioned that Bucky wasn’t going to be there today, so at least if Steve calls him he won’t be talking to Bucky and Tony.
He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, pushing his laptop away from him.
Maybe an email would be better. But Bucky had always hated impersonal communication, which made it that much more frustrating when he shut Steve out.
Steve doesn’t think he’ll ever forget the day he left. He hasn’t thought about it in a long time.
“Would it just kill you to act like you give a shit once in awhile?” Steve asked, sick of Bucky’s nonchalance. All Steve wanted was for Bucky to show he cared once in awhile, which was apparently too much to ask. “Or would you rather I just leave?”
Bucky scoffed. “Come on, don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m ridiculous?” Steve asked, seeing red. “You know what, Barnes, fuck you. If you can’t even bring yourself to pretend like you care, I’m leaving.”
At that, Bucky looked surprised. “You’re leaving me over this?”
“I’m not staying with someone that doesn’t support me, no.”
“Steve, come on, you know I do. But this has been going on for so long. I don’t know how to be what you need anymore, apparently.”
Well, that was it, then. Steve sighed sadly. “Fine. Goodbye.”
And he left.
He hadn’t wanted to leave; it was a bluff he’d hoped Bucky would call. When he didn’t, Steve knew that was his answer.
He doesn’t think he ever quite stopped loving Bucky though. And that’s the problem. He was fine forgetting about Bucky, he was able to move on. When he met Tony, it was everything he’d ever wanted out of another person, and Steve loves him, so much. Tony’s generous and kind, he’s supportive, caring, and selfless. Steve knows how lucky he is to have found someone like Tony.
And Tony thinks that it'd be good for Steve to have Bucky back in his life, which doesn't make any sense. It's not like Bucky wants that; if he did, he'd have come to Steve. Steve also thinks it makes no sense for Tony to want his husband to reconnect with said husband's ex boyfriend, but Tony's sometimes inexplicable.
Maybe this will give Steve some closure, then. It probably can't make anything worse.
He picks up the phone, and then hangs it up immediately. This is the worst idea anyone's ever had. He pulls his tablet over and starts sketching out designs for a new project, determinedly ignoring the part of him that's desperate to make that call.
Two hours are all Steve manages to last before caving. He's doing this because Tony thinks he should, he tells himself as he picks up the phone and dials. Not because he wants to.
Of course Bucky picks up immediately. "Hello?"
"Hey, Bucky. It's Steve."
There's silence for long enough that Steve worries Bucky hung up on him.
"Hey, Steve. What's up?"
Steve sighs. He doesn't even know. "Just wanted to see how you're doing," he tries, knowing Bucky will see right through it.
"You're a lousy liar, Steve. Good try, though. What's really up? I'm kinda busy."
"Tony said we should talk," is all Steve can manage, the sound of Bucky's voice seeping to the back of his memory and dragging feelings he'd long thought gone back with it. "He said you guys really hit it off, thinks we should reconnect.
Another long silence. "What do you think?" Bucky asks, and goddamnit, Steve doesn't know. He wants to, so badly, he misses Bucky more than he'd ever thought possible, but missing him doesn't erase the hurt.
"I don't know," Steve sighs.
"Then why did you call me?" Bucky asks, sounding exhausted. "Steve, I know you're not really interested in reconnecting, don't force yourself to do it because Tony thinks we should. You're not hurting my feelings."
Well then. Steve isn't even sure how to reply to that.
"Do you want to?" he finally asks, because he needs to know. Bucky just sighs.
"I don't want to say yes if that means you're going to do something you don't want to do," Bucky replies. Steve can picture his face right now, and it sort of kills him.
"I think we should," Steve finally says, even though he's split on whether or not he actually thinks he can handle this. "If nothing else, I think we both need some closure. Just coffee, nothing fancy, no pressure. If you want."
"Yeah, that's fine. I'm busy today, but we can do tomorrow if you want."
"That's fine." Steve sighs, and they exchange numbers and set a place to meet the following afternoon. Steve just hopes this doesn't turn out to be a big mistake.
Steve spends most of the next morning thinking about his impending coffee...not-date with Bucky. Aside from the few moments at the wedding, he hasn't seen Bucky in years. The thought is paralyzing, and Steve really hasn't given himself permission to think about why.
His eyes light on the wedding band on his finger, and he takes a breath. He's not cheating on Tony. Tony encouraged this. He's just reconnecting with one of Tony's friends. That he used to date. That he thought he was going to marry.
This is absolutely fine. Not a bad idea at all.
His mom used to say everything happens for a reason. Steve wonders what she’d say to this.
Well, no sense in dwelling. When the end of the day comes he packs up his computer and his tablet, and definitely doesn’t take the long way to the coffee shop.
Bucky’s waiting for him, offering a hesitant smile as Steve walks in and takes a seat across from him.
“Hey,” he says, and now that Bucky’s in front of him, Steve can’t fathom why he thought this was anywhere close to a good idea. Bucky looks amazing, and Steve’s heart aches.
“Hey,” Bucky replies, passing over a cup of coffee. “On me. As long as your tastes haven’t changed.”
“No,” Steve says softly, taking a sip from the cup. “How’ve you been?”
Bucky shrugs. “I survived. You?”
“I mean you were at my wedding.” Steve feels so incredibly awkward. “Nothing much else to say.”
“Yeah, this was a bad idea,” Bucky sighs, taking a long drink from his coffee. “You’re not here because you want to be. Tell Tony that once our contract’s signed he can lose my number, I won’t bother you guys again.” He sets the cup down and moves to stand; Steve reaches out to grip his arm instinctively.
“Wait,” he says, and Bucky freezes, looking surprised. “I am here because I want to be. I’m just. Fuck, Bucky, can’t we talk?”
“This?” Bucky gestures between them. “This is not talking, Steve. This is awkward, and painful. Neither of us want to do this, so please, let’s just give it up.”
“I know,” Steve sighs. “I’m sorry, okay? It’s just. A lot harder to see you than I thought.”
“You were the one that left me,” Bucky retorts, but he sits back down.
“I know.” Where Steve is now, he’s...well he’s not sorry he left Bucky, because of what he gained, but it’s hard not to wonder where they’d be if he hadn’t. “I’m sorry I hurt you, Buck. For what it’s worth, I didn’t- I was hoping you’d tell me to stay.”
Bucky snorts. “And here’s me wondering why the hell you walked out on me like that. You were trying to get me to call your bluff? Real mature, Rogers.”
“I was what, twenty two?” Steve shoots back, defensive. “I wasn’t the one that couldn’t have given a shit that their boyfriend needed support, Barnes.”
“I was trying to support you!” Bucky hisses, eyes narrowed. “Steve, I was ready to take a third job to help put you through that fucking school. Maybe I wasn’t always around, or always the best boyfriend, but I was trying the best way I could to make sure you could keep going to school because your happiness was important to me.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that when I told you what I needed from you, your response was that you didn’t know how to be what I needed.” Steve’s heart hurts. He’s pissed at everyone - himself for not being past this, Bucky for not stopping him from walking out, and Tony for thinking this was a good idea.
“Steve,” Bucky sighs, the fight seeming to leave him, “Steve, goddamnit, I’m sorry, okay? God, Steve I lov- I loved you so fucking much, I would’ve done anything for you. I thought you really meant it, and I thought I deserved you leaving me.”
“Goddamn you,” Steve lets out a long breath, the fight leaving him now too. “Goddamn you, Bucky.” He lets out a mirthless laugh. “We were so stupid.”
“We were,” Bucky agrees, voice sad. “Who knows where we’d have ended up if you hadn’t walked out. Or if I’d stopped you.”
Steve isn’t sure this is a productive conversation, but it’s cathartic. “I can’t say I’m unhappy where I ended up,” he admits, because he wouldn’t trade Tony for the world. “But I know what you mean. We were good together.”
“Just you and me, against the world,” Bucky agrees with a sad smile, reaching out to grip Steve’s forearm. “I really am happy for you, Stevie. You deserve to be happy, and I know Tony makes you.”
“Think we can be friends, for his sake?” Steve asks, not sure if he knows his own answer to the question. He knows he misses Bucky, but there’s a part of him afraid to go down the road of friendship. He’s afraid he’ll end up wanting more.
“Can we?” Bucky asks, sitting back and taking another drink of his coffee. “Can we, honestly?”
“I’d like to think so,” Steve says, because he knows the thought of not seeing Bucky again is unbearable. “Why couldn’t we be?”
“Because you’re married, and I never fucking stopped loving you,” Bucky says bluntly. Steve feels like he’s been punched in the gut. “I’m not saying I’d ever try to do anything to mess up your relationship with Tony, please don’t take it that way. But I think it’d be hard for me.”
“You know I never stopped loving you either, you punk.” The admission actually helps. Steve feels like they’re on the same page with how they feel, which might make it easier to work through it.
Bucky just smiles sadly. “I wish it’d been enough. You’re so much more than I ever deserved.”
Steve just shakes his head, expression mirroring Bucky’s. “We both made mistakes. I miss you, Buck. Can we try this?”
“I feel like I’m going to regret saying yes, but yes.”
At that, Steve truly smiles. “Okay. Then we try it.” He pushes away some of the sadness as they fall into an only slightly forced conversation, deliberately avoiding the topic of Tony, and Steve’s marriage to him.
It’s almost like old times. Bucky talks about his time in the military and Steve talks about his own work, not all that surprised when Bucky listens with rapt attention. Steve thinks he’s trying to make up for seeming disinterested all those years ago.
After an hour, Steve’s phone chimes with a text from Tony. He glances at it and flips the phone over while flipping the switch to silence it.
“You don’t have to ignore him,” Bucky says, nodding at the phone. “It’s fine, Steve.”
“It’s rude,” Steve says, and Bucky just shakes his head, a genuine smile on his face.
“Just answer him. He probably wants to make sure I haven’t made you cry yet.”
At that, Steve chuckles. “Not this time.” He flips the phone back over (a Stark Industries proprietary, state of the art design) to open the text.
Having fun with your boyfriend?
Steve rolls his eyes and types back, Not my boyfriend, but yes. For the most part.
Do I need to kick his ass?
Steve laughs. No, we’re fine. Just talked out some stuff that happened. You finished for the day?
Yep, but come home whenever, no rush.
Got it. Thanks.
"He's threatening me, isn't he?" Bucky guesses, but when Steve looks up, he's smiling. "You look really happy, Stevie. I'm really happy for you. I mean it."
"Thanks," Steve says, and now that they've talked some, Steve's glad they did. "Means a lot, especially coming from you."
"Make sure he knows that if he hurts you, I'll kill him," Bucky says, still smiling. "I'm glad we did this. I think I needed it."
"Me too," Steve admits, downing the rest of his coffee, which is ice cold now. "You can come by if you want. I'm sure Tony'd like to see you."
Bucky hesitates for a moment, and Steve wonders if he's pushed too far, but then Bucky replies, "Sure."
"Are you?" Steve asks, and Bucky nods.
"Yeah. I mean, if we're going to try to be friends, I might as well get used to you two together."
Steve nods slowly. "If you're sure."
Steve opts to take Bucky at his word - there's no sense in not, and he knows if Bucky really didn't want to come, he wouldn't. He considers offering to drive Bucky, but it's not like Bucky's never been there, and he wonders if a mental break is a good idea anyway.
He feels guilty. He's not entirely sure why, but this whole lunch felt like a betrayal, even though Tony was technically the one who suggested it. Maybe it's because of the nature of their breakup; neither one of them apparently wanted the other to go. Steve knows, in a tiny corner of his mind, deep down where he can't quite acknowledge it, that if it weren't for Tony, he'd probably want to work things out with Bucky and try again.
Which is, of course, unproductive. Steve loves Tony, and isn't interested in a life that Tony isn't in. Eventually the feelings will dissipate.
As he drives, Bucky wonders how good of an idea any of this was. He thinks it helped, but it's still hard.
He feels ridiculous. It's been ten years since he and Steve broke up, but learning that Steve did it to make a point cut really deep. He knows he meant it when he said he was happy for them; he is. Steve deserves someone like Tony. Tony's a good guy, he deserves someone like Steve.
Which is fine. He's fine. He can get over this; he got over it once before. Or at least he thought he did.
There's a part of him that wants to run; it'd be easier. Never see Tony again (which would hurt), never see Steve again (which would hurt more, but is probably best in the long run) and just get over everything.
It's fine. He'll figure it out. For now, he's just...going to go along for the ride and see what happens.
As time passes, Tony thinks they settle into a comfortable routine; Steve and Bucky spent weeks dancing around each other before Tony finally exclaimed that he didn’t care that they still had feelings for each other, because he doesn’t. They'd relaxed a little after that.
It’d surprised him, to realize he didn’t care. He always figured he’d be the jealous type.
He thinks it helps that Steve and Bucky don't really flirt (they do, but nothing excessive or anything that's ever made him uncomfortable), don't really touch on their shared past, and rarely does Tony feel like a third wheel. He’s never felt like one in a romantic sense, but there’s always that keen feeling of missing something when two old friends share an inside joke, which he'd never blame either of them for. It's impossible to have a history and not make other people feel left out of that loop once in awhile.
It had been hard, at first. Bucky would come to the tower and they’d drink, have fun, and enjoy each other’s company, but some nights Steve would lay in bed for hours, sleep eluding him. Those were the nights Tony hated most, because there wasn’t anything he could do to help, except be a comforting presence.
Tony hates not being able to fix things.
Finally, it seems to settle. Tony isn’t sure what changed, but he’s not going to complain. It’s been a couple months now, and things have felt better for at least a couple weeks. Tony wonders if Steve and Bucky finally kissed and made up.
It’s an odd way to think about it, he realizes. But it’s something he hasn’t been able to shake free in his mind. Their relationship is easy, and they’re familiar around each other, and Tony’s not jealous. Which he never would’ve expected. They’re like two halves of the same whole, and seeing them together just feels right.
But Steve’s still the most amazing partner Tony could ever imagine. Tony doesn’t feel like a thing has changed between him and Steve; if anything, their relationship has improved.
And he absolutely does not think Steve is cheating on him, either. He knows if he talked to anyone else about this, they’d immediately assume Steve and Bucky were sleeping together, and Tony knows that it’s not an illogical assumption, but he just doesn’t believe it. He’d never be able to explain why.
It gets to the point that he decides he needs to at least talk to Steve about it. He waits until Bucky’s gone for the night (he spends most evenings at their penthouse now), and they’re nearly ready for bed.
“Hey. Question.” Tony tosses his shirt in the direction of the closet. Steve looks over, and god, Tony loves him. He’s just...Steve. He’s perfect.
“No, I am not going to pick that shirt up,” Steve smirks.
“Not what I was going to ask.” Tony flops back onto the bed, waiting until Steve’s next to him. “You and Bucky. You’re not fucking, right?”
“What?” Steve asks, sounding scandalized, which is exactly the reaction Tony didn’t want. He winces.
“I just mean if you are, I’d like to know,” he says, not missing Steve’s eyebrows shooting into his hairline even in profile. “I don’t think you are, really, but sometimes things happen and I’d rather know so I just figured if it had happened, we could talk about it. But I don’t think you are."
“So you don’t think I’m cheating on you,” Steve says slowly, pushing himself up onto an elbow to look at Tony, and really, Tony's never noticed how interesting the ceiling pattern is, “but you’re asking if I am anyway?”
Another wince. When Steve puts it like that, it does kind of hit the ear wrong.
“Maybe?” he tries, sitting up to face Steve. “I’m just saying that if it did happen I don’t think I’d mind, because it’s you two, but I’d like to be kept in the loop?”
Steve just shakes his head. “You’re ridiculous. I’m not sleeping with him, and I have no plans to.”
Good, that takes care of Tony’s next question. He plows onward. “Do you want to?”
“Why would I want to?” Steve asks, incredulous. “Tony, you’re my husband. I don’t need, or want, to sleep with anyone but you.”
“Yeah, I know that, but I’m just saying if you do want to, I don’t really think it’s a big deal,” Tony replies, feeling like he can’t control the words anymore. “I know you love him.”
“Tony,” Steve says, sliding close to him and sitting up to cup Tony’s cheek. “Tony, I love you. I don’t know where this came from, but if Bucky’s making you uncomfortable then him hanging around so much stops. You are the most important thing to me.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing,” Tony says, words still falling from his lips without his consent. “I can’t explain it, but I’m not jealous of it. I don’t even think I could be if I wanted.”
“Do you want me to sleep with Bucky?” Steve asks, and Tony’s just made a huge mess of this talk. He doesn’t think he actively wants Steve to sleep with Bucky, but it also feels like something that should happen, and he’s not sure why.
It’s not like Bucky’s a bad guy. Or even unattractive. In fact, he’s probably one of the best people Tony’s ever met in his life. And one of the more attractive.
Maybe he’s projecting his own attraction onto Steve.
"I don't- I mean if you had permission, would you want to?" Tony asks, because now he needs to know and he's not sure why. They drank a lot tonight, maybe it's the alcohol.
"Tony, what is this about?" Steve asks, and Tony just groans because he's not really sure.
"If I say I don't know, is that bad?" he asks in return, and Steve just rolls his eyes.
"Why do you think I need to sleep with Bucky?" Steve asks after a moment of silence.
"You love him. That's what people that love each other do," Tony says, because that seems to make the most sense right now. "I honestly don't know. It's just been stuck in my head, that you should, that you need to, and maybe I wouldn't mind it because I can see why you love him or something. Maybe I'm just too drunk."
"You didn't drink enough to be this incoherent," Steve points out, which...might be true. "Tony, are you trying to tell me you have feelings for Bucky?"
"No," Tony protests, but maybe he is. "Maybe? He's a nice guy."
"Oh my god," Steve sighs, flopping back on the bed. "You're ridiculous. You want to sleep with Bucky, so you're trying to get me to admit I want to so that you don't have to feel guilty."
"Not just sleep," Tony clarifies helpfully. "He- Steve he fits with us. You can't tell me you haven't noticed it."
"So you want a relationship with him." It's a statement, but Tony knows it's a question.
A long groan escapes him and he lays back down, because this conversation was a lot easier in his head. He isn't even sure what he means. Yes, Bucky's a good fit with them, yes he thinks Bucky's attractive (who wouldn't), yes he thinks that Steve and Bucky complement each other well, but does that mean he wants a relationship with them? And for them to have one with him? Or does it work independently of everyone and they're some kind of weird not-love triangle?
"Tony, I can't help you if you don't talk to me," comes the exasperated reply, and why isn't Steve more upset about this? Tony thinks he should be, considering that Tony just said that he thinks Steve and his ex should sleep together, and that they should all be in a relationship. He thinks that's what he said, anyway.
"Okay, how are you not mad at me for this?" he finally asks, turning so he can look at Steve.
Steve just shrugs. "Because it's you. And you're ridiculous, and I love you even though you're trying to get me to hook up with my ex while simultaneously trying to convince yourself that you don't want to. And because it's crossed my mind too."
"Ha, see?" Tony exclaims, triumphant. "You can't lie to me, Rogers, you want to bang him."
Steve's quiet for a moment, and Tony thinks he crossed a line, but then Steve bursts out laughing. He rolls over, nearly onto Tony, and really, that smile could put the sun to shame.
"You're a lousy liar too, Stark," he says, and Tony leans up to kiss him because he's there, and he's perfect. Tony loves him so much.
"Guilty," Tony agrees as Steve settles down next to him. "So did we admit something yet?"
"Yes," Steve chuckles. "But we should talk about it in the morning when you can't pretend to be drunk."
"Rude," Tony murmurs, but Steve is probably right. Steve's always right.
When morning arrives, Steve wonders if he imagined the entire conversation last night. Maybe he was more drunk than he thought.
Tony’s awake, and watching him, and Steve just smiles; he loves Tony so much.
The thought of being with anyone else is unfathomable to Steve. But being with Tony with someone else...well, he can’t say the idea doesn’t have appeal.
But only because it’s Bucky.
“Hungover?” Steve asks, reaching out to pull Tony close. “I can go grab you some water.”
“Nah, I’m good here.” Tony huffs out a contented sigh and settles into Steve’s embrace. “So did the conversation that I think happened last night actually happen?”
“It did,” Steve agrees, pressing a kiss to Tonys forehead. “Breakfast and then we can keep talking about it?”
Steve really isn’t in a hurry to get up, but he also knows he wants coffee. Tony groans in protest as Steve gets up and pulls on pants, but he’s smiling when he comes to the kitchen once the coffee is brewing.
“So.” Steve passes over a cup and sits down, Tony following suit. “Were you serious about what you said last night?”
“Not if you’re going to be mad at me for it.” Tony takes a long drink of coffee, sighing appreciatively. “I don’t know how it tastes so much better when you brew it.”
“I don’t burn it,” Steve quips. “And I’m not going to be mad at you for it.”
“Then yes, 100% serious.” Tony stands up and walks to the counter, returning with the coffee pot. “I can’t explain it, but it’s been stuck in my head for weeks now.”
“We don’t even know if he’d be interested,” Steve points out. Tony just shrugs, refilling both of their cups.
“So we talk to him about it.”
“You don’t think that’ll come off like an ambush?”
“Okay, you talk to him about it.”
Steve isn’t sure that’s the best idea; he’d worry that Bucky would think Steve was trying to cheat. “I don’t know,” he says after a moment. “It could come off as me telling him I want an affair.”
“Not if you say the words, ‘Tony and I would like to date you,’” Tony replies, and Steve can see the barely restrained urge to roll his eyes. It’s a fair point, but he thinks it’d come off better if it came from Tony.
“I think you should talk to him,” Steve says, chuckling when Tony’s eyes go wide. “I do. Then he’ll know you want it and I’m not pushing you into anything.”
“Maybe,” Tony agrees. “Maybe we should both just flirt a lot. See if he’s even interested.”
Steve opens his mouth to reply that’s a terrible idea, when he realizes it might not be. It feels sneaky, though, and he doubts Bucky would fall for it. "I don't think that's a good idea," he finally settles on, because it really isn't; he doesn't like how manipulative it feels. "It'll just make him uncomfortable. One of us needs to just...talk to him."
"And you're sure you don't think you should?" Tony tries, making Steve laugh. He's certain it'd come better from Tony; Tony's the one that brought Bucky back into their lives, and the one that convinced him to stay.
"Yes, I'm sure. Go talk to him."
"You owe me for this," Tony retorts, but he downs his coffee and stands up. "Something really big."
"I'm letting you have a boyfriend, that's not enough?" Steve laughs, shooing Tony away. "Go get him."
Tony makes a face as he walks out, but it just makes Steve smile. He can't believe that they're considering this, but he realizes it feels right. So hopefully, Bucky's willing.
Bucky awakes to the sound of his phone ringing; he groans, and rolls over to silence it, when he sees Tony's name on the caller ID. For a moment he debates silencing it, but it could be important.
"You realize what time it is, right?" he says in greeting, but he smiles when he hears Tony laugh.
"Yes, sunshine. Busy? I want to take you out for breakfast."
That's an odd request; he's only ever spent time with Tony and Steve lately, it's rare that Tony spends time with him alone unless it's work related. He wonders if something's up.
"I- yeah, okay," he says, dragging himself out of bed. "Where?"
"I'll come by and get you," Tony says, which is typical. "Be ready in twenty."
Bucky nods before remembering Tony can't see him. "Sounds good," he says. He hangs up, and starts getting dressed. When he walks out of the building, Tony's waiting for him in a flashy looking car. He gets in, and Tony just smiles at him, which is...weird. Something's definitely up.
"Everything okay?" he asks as Tony puts the car in gear and drives off.
Okay then. Tony's silent as they drive, and Bucky can't stand the silence. Eventually he finally says, "What's going on?"
"What, we can't have a breakfast date?" Tony asks with a sly smile, and now Bucky's really suspicious.
"Since when do we have dates?" Bucky asks, and Tony just grins.
"Well hopefully, since now. If that's something you're into."
"I'm sorry, what?" Bucky's sure he didn't hear Tony right. "You're married. To my best friend."
"Oh, yeah, you can have dates with him too," Tony replies, turning to look at Bucky and winking. "And yes, I am married."
Bucky's just confused now. It sounds like Tony's saying that he and Steve want to date him, which doesn't make sense, because they're married. To each other.
"So why are you saying you want to have a date with me, if you're married?" Bucky finally tries. Tony shrugs.
"Breakfast first. I need more coffee."
Bucky shakes his head, but he waits until they're seated at the cafe before he brings it up again. He takes a long sip of coffee. "Okay, talk. What the fuck is going on?"
"I already told you," Tony says, and Bucky wants to smack him.
"Explain it to me, then," Bucky retorts. "Because it sounds to me like you're saying you want a relationship with me. And Steve. And I'm not sure if I need to hit you for this or not."
"I told you, you get to date him too," Tony replies with a grin. "It's simple."
"Simple isn't the word I'd use," Bucky replies, still not sure if this is some kind of test. "You're saying Steve's on board with this...whatever this is?"
Tony nods. "Yep. You can call him to ask me if you don't believe me, which you clearly don't."
"You're goddamn right I don't believe you." Bucky decides to call Tony's bluff, and picks up his phone to call Steve, who answers immediately. Bucky puts the phone on speaker, trusting the volume of the restaurant to keep their conversation private.
"He's being an idiot, isn't he?" Steve says in greeting.
"Hi, sweetheart, I'm not the idiot here," Tony interjects cheerily. Bucky finds he can't resist kicking him under the table. "Bucky Bear doesn't believe you and I talked about all this."
Bucky takes the phone off speaker and brings it up to his ear. "Hey, Steve. Is this really the conversation I think I'm having, or is Tony trying to figure out if you'd cheat on him with me?"
A moment of silence, and a long, exasperated sigh comes from the other end. "How much has he flirted with you?" Steve asks.
"Enough," Bucky replies. "So...Steve what the fuck? What is going on here?"
"Look, just- just finish breakfast with him, and then will you come back to the tower so we can talk in person?" Steve asks. "It- this wasn't how I told him to do this. Yes, we talked about it and I know what he's asking you. I thought it'd be better if it came from him, I didn't expect him to be...like this."
Bucky relaxes a bit, and finds that he can't suppress a soft laugh. He can picture Steve pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation. "You've been with him long enough to know he's always like this. You want to talk to him?"
"No, I'm good," Steve says, and Bucky can tell he's still got his eyes closed, silently berating himself for not having this conversation instead of Tony. "Just do me a favor and don't make any decisions until you get here?"
"Promise," Bucky agrees, but he already knows if this is serious, and they're both interested, he is too. "See ya soon, then."
Bucky can hear the smile in Steve’s voice as he says goodbye and hangs up.
“So.” Tony’s grinning. “What d’you think?”
“I think you’re both insane,” Bucky replies, which just makes Tony grin more. Bucky takes a moment to imagine having that grin directed at him more, with more than friendship behind it.
It’s not a terrible thought. It’s not even not-a-terrible-thought; the thought of Tony looking at him like that makes his whole body warm. And if he did this, he’d have a chance to be with Steve again.
Steve might have said don’t make any decisions, but unless they throw something at him really out of left field, he thinks he knows his answer.
“It’s like I can read your mind,” Tony remarks, chin resting on his hand as he gazes at Bucky. “Liking this idea, huh?”
“Maybe,” Bucky agrees. “Depends on how this 'date' goes.”
“I’m an excellent date, thank you.”
“We’ll see,” Bucky chuckles, but Tony proves to be as good as his word. He slides an arm around Bucky’s waist as they walk out, which is...nice. Unexpected (maybe it shouldn’t have been), but nice. Tony is a solid presence next to him, fingers looped securely into his belt loops, and Bucky thinks he could probably get used to this.
Steve’s waiting for them when they get to the tower, eyebrows arching when they walk in, Tony’s arm back around Bucky’s waist.
“He behaved,” Bucky says before Steve can say anything, stepping away from Tony, who shoots him a look. “Couldn’t stop that, though.”
A sigh is Steve’s response, but Tony’s just grinning. “Do we even need to talk about this? He’s clearly on board.”
“Yes, we need to talk about this.” Steve says, frowning. He looks at Bucky. “Let’s- c’mon, living room.”
Steve leads them, sitting down on the couch and motioning for Bucky to sit next to him. Bucky does, entirely unsurprised when Tony slides up behind him.
“Tony, for God’s sake,” Steve says, exasperated, but Bucky can see the smile threatening to break free as Tony winds his arms around Bucky’s waist.
“Oh it’s fine.” Bucky relaxes back into Tony’s embrace, figuring at this point he’s made up his mind. “As long as you two aren’t going to try to make me your sex slave, I’m on board.”
“Okay but there’s still things we need to talk about,” Steve protests. “Like…everything.”
“So you are making me your sex slave?” Bucky asks with a sly grin.
“The idea does have potential,” Tony says, smirk evident in his voice.
“Tony,” Steve chastises, turning slightly to Bucky. “You want this?”
Bucky nods. “I think I’d be stupid to turn this down, honestly. What- I mean, how do you envision this?”
“You move in, and we all live happily ever after?” Tony suggests, which makes Steve chuckle. Bucky shrugs; the idea’s appealing.
“Fine with me. I don’t really know what the rules are for something like this,” Bucky says, smiling when Tony’s arms tighten just a bit, “but we’ve kind of already- we’re basically already doing this.”
“True,” Steve agrees. “The difference would just be that I don’t have to smack Tony when he does things like this.”
“And I call you my boyfriend,” Bucky says, but he hopes Steve hears the question. Steve does, of course, smiling at Bucky.
“Yeah.” He looks hesitant, which Tony must notice because he releases his grip and gently pushes Bucky to Steve.
“Go on, officially kiss and make up,” Tony instructs, which makes them all laugh.
“Can I?” Bucky asks softly, and when Steve nods, Bucky leans forward and pulls Steve into a gentle kiss. Steve immediately relaxes into it, and it’s still familiar even after all these years.
He barely registers Steve pushing him back against Tony, but he smiles against Steve’s lips when Tony’s arms wrap back around his waist. Steve pulls back after a long moment, and settles between Bucky’s legs, laying his head on Bucky’s chest.
“Better?” Tony asks, and Bucky can hear the smile in his voice.
“Yeah,” Bucky agrees, turning somewhat awkwardly to look at Tony. That grin is back, filled with a deep affection as Tony leans down to press a kiss to Bucky’s lips, and yeah, he’s on board with this.
Steve’s arms wind around Bucky’s waist as Tony kisses him. Steve holds him close, and Bucky realizes that maybe this wasn’t where he thought he’d end up that day Steve walked out, but in the end, it was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. As they all settle together on the couch, he knows he wouldn’t have his life any other way.