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Princes of the Universe

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“Wow,“ Clint says, awed, and whistles appreciatively as he swings himself onto the bench next to Steve. “Wouldn’t mind getting a taste of that.”

Steve looks up from his drawing to see Bucky, casually leaning back against his motorbike with a cigarette between his lips and his hair flopping into his face all roguishly, basking in the heated glances that are getting thrown his way like the complete attention whore he is.

At Clint’s anticipatingly arched brow, Steve snorts out an amused, “Forget it.”

Clint shoots him a sceptical look. “Don’t tell me he’s straight. A leather jacket that tight isn’t a straight man’s gadget.”

“First of all,” Steve sniffs, defiantly raising his chin, “judging a person’s sexuality by the clothes they wear is a shitty thing to do and you should know better, Mister Socks In Sandals-“

“One time!”

“And no,” Steve continues, ducking his head to hide his grin, “Bucky is very gay and very open about it. But he also happens to be very unavailable.”

As if on cue, the door to the engineering building opens and Tony stumbles out, arms full of folders stuffed with papers and ready to burst, glasses hanging hazardously off one ear and shirt wrinkled to such a degree that Steve’s fairly sure he’s slept in it at least once already.

Bucky spots him a moment after Steve, face splitting into a huge, goofy smile as he flicks away the butt of his smoke and jumps up, jogging over to Tony and cupping his face in both hands as he bends down for a kiss.

“Wait,” Clint says, confused, “you mean- those two? They’re, like, a thing?”

Steve’s merely chuckles. “Watch.”

They can’t hear what’s being said, but Bucky starts taking some of Tony’s folders, then relieves him of his bag and slings it over his own shoulder, fixes Tony’s glasses and brushes his lips over his forehead before taking Tony’s hand and linking their fingers as he leads him over to the table Steve and Clint are sitting at.

Tony, meanwhile, is beaming up at Bucky as if he’s hung the moon, oblivious to anything else going on around them.

“They’re disgustingly cute together,” Clint whispers and Steve barks out a laugh, quietly says back, “You have no idea.”

Bucky doesn’t really hang around with Brock and his buddies, but they are on the football team together and that’s apparently enough for them to invite Bucky to ‘teach that fucking kid who’s boss’.

“What are you talking about?” is all Bucky has time to ask before Joe and some of the other guys approach, a pale, shaking guy hanging limply between them.

“Let’s show that nerd how we do things around here, yeah?” Brock grins and claps Bucky on the back, glancing back over his shoulder with a scowl when Bucky grabs his arm. “What?”

“You’re going to beat him up?” Bucky demands and then, when Brock nods, adds an incredulous, “Why?”

Brock looks at him as if he’s stupid. “Have you seen that guy?”

Bucky has, as a matter of fact. And he quite likes the sight of him, too.

“Yeah, no,” he says, holding up his hands, “I’m not doing that.”

“You’re on our side, Barnes,” Brock hisses threateningly, “or you’re on his.”

Bucky shrugs and punches him right in the jaw.

The scuffle doesn’t last long, Brock and his goons fleeing the moment they think they can hear one of the teachers, but both Bucky and Nerd Guy have some new scrapes and bruises.

“Sorry about them, they’re assholes,” Bucky apologises as he helps Nerd Guy back to his feet, hooking a finger under his chin to tilt up his face and wincing in sympathy. “Come on, Steve’s probably got some band-aids and stuff in his backpack. Punk gets into a shitload of fights. Oh, I’m Bucky, by the way. I’d say it’s nice to meet you, but, well, circumstances coulda been better, I suppose.”

Nerd Guy just blinks at him for a long moment, assessing, but then his bloody lips curl up into a shy smile and holy crap, he’s really cute.

“I’m Tony,” Tony introduces himself. “And, uh, thanks. For not, you know, being an asshole.”

“You wanna go get a slice of pizza after we’re all patched up?” Bucky blurts, immediately mortified, but Tony’s smile widens and yeah, Bucky definitely already has it bad.

“You could just tell him,” Steve suggests, because he’s obviously decided to be insane and unhelpful. “Tony likes you. A lot.”

Bucky groans and throws an arm over his face, feebly kicking at Steve where he’s sitting at the end of Bucky’s bed. “Not like that, he doesn’t.”

Steve does that super annoying eye-roll thing of his, adding his long-suffering ‘Why am I even friends with you?’ sigh for good measure. “He really does, Buck.”

“You can’t know tha-“ Bucky begins exasperatedly, cut off by the pillow Steve chucks at his head.

“There’s a science fair this weekend,” Tony mumbles into his book, not looking up at Bucky as he talks. “I’m allowed to bring someone and I thought maybe you, uh, you would like to go? With me?”

“Like a date?” Bucky asks and then immediately claps a hand over his mouth because he hadn’t meant to say that at all.

Tony lowers his book at that, eyes wide and expression a little panicky. “We don’t- I didn’t mean to- forget I said anything,” he stutters, chin wobbling dangerously. “I thought- Steve said- I thought maybe you liked me back, but it’s fine if-“

“I do,” Bucky almost yells, taking one of Tony’s clammy, trembling hands between both of his. “I really do.”

Tony’s face remains drawn into a sceptical frown, so Bucky shuffles to his knees on his chair, leaning over the table they're sitting at to brush a chaste kiss over Tony’s cheek, too nervous to linger even though pulling back is the last thing he wants to do.

But he does, greeted by Tony positively beaming at him, eyes bright and ears red, and that’s awfully nice, too.

They have their first proper kiss when Tony walks off the stage at the end of the fair, first place ribbon pinned to his shirt and chest puffed out proudly, Bucky immediately reeling him in for a hug and whispering a quiet but sincere, “Congratulations, man.”

“Thanks,” Tony smiles and Bucky moves in before he’s even fully aware of what he’s doing, intent on tasting Tony’s obvious joy and happiness.

Tony makes a surprised sound in the back of his throat, but then his hands shoot out to grab at Bucky’s arms and his mouth softens under Bucky’s.

It’s wet and clumsy and Bucky loves every second of it.

He’s still touching his lips hours later, long after they’re both home again, knowing and not caring how dopey he must look to the rest of his family.

“Exactly how many sisters do you have?” Tony asks under his breath, seeming a little overwhelmed by the force of nature that is all of the Barnes siblings combined.

Bucky catches Charlie out of mid-air when she launches herself over the back of the couch, tipping her over backwards so she’s hanging upside down from his arms, giggling madly. “Just the three,” he explains, laughing when Tony mouths a disbelieving three.

“This is Charlotte, everyone calls her Charlie,” Bucky introduces his youngest sister, setting her back down on her own feet and giving her butt a playful kick to make her scamper away, shrieking with laughter. “Over there is Katherine-“

“Katie,” Katie interjects from her position in front of the TV, never even bothering to glance up from her video game.

Bucky rolls his eyes and turns back to a slightly stunned-looking Tony, reaching out to lace their fingers together and tug him toward the kitchen where Rebecca is perched on the counter, bag of potatoes forgotten at her side in favour of the phone she’s got wedged between her ear and shoulder so she has her hands free to paint her nails.

“And this is Rebecca,” Bucky says and, at the dirty glare that earns him, quickly amends, “she goes by Becca. And that’s everyone.”

“Hold on a sec, Hillary,” Becca interrupts her friend on the other end of the line, letting her gaze wander over a visibly squirming Tony before proclaiming, “He’s cute. Nice catch, lil bro.”

Tony’s mouth falls open, tips of his ears turning bright red, and Becca smirks, holding her fist out to Bucky for a bump.

“You family is-“ Tony starts later when they’re upstairs in Bucky’s room, sprawled across the floor with their legs tangled and comic books propped up in front of them, trailing off as he thoughtfully chews his bottom lip.

“Crazy? Intense? Annoying? Embarrassing?” Bucky supplies, answering in kind when Tony flaps a hand at him.

They fall back into silence after that until Tony says, “Present. They’re present. I like it.”

Bucky rolls over on top of him and Tony surges up into the kiss, maybe a little desperately, only interrupted by Charlie’s disgusted, “Ew!” from the direction of the doorway some undetermined time later.

Tony’s home is different.

In the ten months they’ve been together now, Bucky has only ever seen Tony’s mom once, gliding through the foyer - and Bucky will never get over the fact that his boyfriend lives in a freakin’ mansion - in a cloud of expensive perfume on her way out to some sort of party or gala when Tony and Bucky had walked in.

She’d absently patted Tony on the head and completely ignored Bucky’s presence before disappearing without a word.

It had taken Bucky more than an hour, a foot rub and, as a last resort, a few minutes of tickling slash wrestling slash making out to cheer a gloomy Tony up again.

And Howard, well, Bucky has heard him yelling at someone from down the hall, but that’s as much interaction as he’s had with the man so far.

What a big house without any parental supervision is really good for, though, is the sort of teenage experimentation that simply isn’t possible with three nosy sisters and a very strict ‘the door stays cracked open at all times’ rule.

It’s a lot of uncoordinated fumbling the first time around and they barely get out of their pants and boxers before it’s all over already.

But Tony’s relaxed and soft after, affectionate and a little needy in an absolutely adorable sort of way, and Bucky is all too happy to indulge him with cuddles and sleepy kisses.

“This is the food we’re going to have at our wedding,” Tony moans, shoving another huge bite of cheap, greasy pizza into his mouth. “It’s perfect. I might never eat anything else again.”

“I’m sure that’ll go over just swell with our guests,” Bucky snorts, using his thumb to swipe away a drop of tomato sauce from Tony’s bottom lip. “Any other wishes, future bride of mine?”

“Chocolate fountain,” Tony supplies without hesitation, then, when Bucky’s words properly catch up with him, adds, “I’d look stunning in a dress and heels, thank you very much.”

Unable to help himself, Bucky draws him in with a hand fisted into the collar of his shirt, ghosting a brief kiss over Tony’s lips. “I love you.”

“Same,” Tony hums, giving Bucky another quick peck before reaching for Steve’s plate and sulking when Steve slides it out of his reach.

They’re eating dessert when Bucky realises what he did, what he said, head snapping up to see Steve smirking at him knowingly.

“It’s about time,” he says and Bucky throws a straw at his stupid face.

Bucky’s sixteen and tipsy, giggling between taking sips of his drink, humming at whatever the guy next to him is saying.

“So, that’s a yes?” Karl - Kevin? Kyle? - asks and runs his hand up Bucky’s arm, giving the top button of his shirt a playful flick.

Bucky squints at him. “What?”

“You wanna get out of here?”

“Why?” Bucky frowns at him and gulps down the rest of his lukewarm rum and coke, coughing a little at the taste.

Kevin sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You wanna fuck or not, James?”

“Oh,” Bucky exclaims, “no. I have a boyfriend,” he smiles, craning his neck to see across the sea of bobbing heads, spotting Tony curled up on one of the couches with his tablet on his knees, completely engrossed in whatever he’s reading.

“Him?” Kevin demands incredulously, shaking his head. “Man, you could do so much better. How about I show you a good time, show you what you’re missing out on, huh? Geek Glasses over there never has to know.”

Kevin’s outraged yelp when Bucky tosses his own beer in his face is incredibly satisfying.

He makes his way across the dance floor, wrinkling his nose at the sweaty bodies bumping into him left and right, and flops down next to Tony, wriggling around until he has his head in Tony’s lap, Tony’s fingers in his hair and Tony himself looking down at him fondly.

“What did Captain Douchebag over there want?”

“Said your glasses were geeky,” Bucky huffs, offended. “I like your glasses. They’re cute. You’re cute. I love you, babe, because you’re cute. And smart. And you’ve got nice hair.”

Tony laughs softly and Bucky sighs contentedly at the kiss being pressed to his forehead.

“We should get you some water,” Tony suggests, making Bucky whine and turn his face into Tony’s stomach.

“Don’t wanna.”

“Well, I do,” Tony says, gently nudging Bucky up into a sitting position. “You coming along?”

As if Bucky’s able to deny Tony anything.

He drinks two cups of water before passing out in one of the spare bedrooms with Tony fitted snugly against his side.

Bucky stands next to Tony at the funeral, letting Tony crush his hand and cry into his neck as his parents’ coffins are lowered into the ground.

Obadiah, one of Howard’s business partners and Tony’s new legal guardian, comes over afterwards to escort Tony back to the mansion, shaking his head at Bucky when Bucky tries to follow them into the car.

“Tony will call you,” he says and shuts the door in Bucky’s face.

But Tony doesn’t call and he doesn’t answer Bucky’s texts. He doesn’t come to school the following Monday and not even Rhodey knows what’s going on.

Bucky goes by his house but his old access code doesn’t work, the gate stays firmly closed.

It’s three weeks of voicemail messages and even a few letters with ‘return to sender’ stamps later that Bucky hears a knock on his bedroom window in the middle of the night.

Tony is dripping wet from the rain and shivering, eyes red-rimmed and a bruise forming high on his cheekbone.

“What the hell happened?” Bucky asks as he helps him climb into the room, not prepared for Tony throwing himself at him with a strangled cry that quickly turns into desperate sobs.

The noise wakes up Bucky’s parents who are equally concerned about Tony’s distraught state. Together and with the help of several mugs of hot chocolate, they manage to get the whole story out of Tony, told in a small, shaky voice between hiccupping breaths.

“He wanted to send me to some boarding school in Europe, but I refused to go. So he locked me in my room, told me he’d let me out once I was more reasonable and calm. He brought me food twice a day and I pocketed one of the forks, picked the lock. I went through his stuff and he’s been spending my money, the money mom and Howard left me. He caught me and we fought and then he hit me and I ran and came here and I don’t know what-“

Which is when another wave of tears hits him and Bucky pulls him close, wrapping his arms around him and gently rocking them both.

Bucky’s dad calls the police while Bucky’s mom gets some extra sheets and pillows for Tony. He’s allowed to sleep in Bucky’s bed that night.

Obadiah gets arrested thanks to Howard’s paranoia manifesting itself in hidden cameras all around the mansion.

Tony lives in the Barnes’ guest room for the week it takes his uncle Gregory to wrap everything up in South America and fly back to the States.

Bucky likes him much better than Obadiah. He’s got long hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, wears clothes that look like they’ve come straight out of the 1960s, walks around barefoot most of the time and grows somewhat questionable plants in one of the abandoned greenhouses behind the mansion.

Most importantly, however; he’s perfectly all right with Tony finishing his last year of high school at his old school and with Bucky dropping by whenever he wants.

And he makes the most badass brownies.

“Rhodey says it’s weird that we never fight,” Tony announces as he slams open the door to Bucky’s room, throwing his backpack into a corner and crawling up onto the bed, right into Bucky’s lap. “He says normal couples fight. We haven’t fought once in three years, do you know that?”

Bucky gives up on his homework, putting his book and papers on the nightstand and settling his hands on Tony’s hips instead, thumbs sneaking under his shirt. “I don’t wanna fight with you.”

“Right?” Tony throws up his own hands, then tangles one in Bucky’s hair and unceremoniously stuffs the other down Bucky’s pants, purring, “Much more interesting things to be done with our time.”

Bucky agrees wholeheartedly, hooking a leg over Tony’s and flipping them over.

“You used to be this shy, quiet kid with the perfect grades,” Bucky accuses as he pulls Tony out of the school by the hand, glaring at him when Tony has the gall to grin at him. “What the fuck happened?”

“Met this guy,” Tony says, probing at the cut in his lip with his tongue. “Drives a motorbike, walks around in sexy leather. Smokes and thinks I don’t know about it,” he adds, pointedly. “He’s a really bad influence, what can I say?”

Bucky narrows his eyes at him. “Don’t pin this on me, I didn’t make you punch Justin in the face and break his goddamned nose!”

“That was just sheer dumb luck,” Tony preens and Bucky can’t help himself any longer, barks out a laugh and reels Tony in, kissing his temple before resting his chin on top of his head.

“You’re an idiot,” he sighs fondly.

“You love me,” Tony singsongs, stroking a hand up and down Bucky’s back. “Besides, he deserved it. Has been picking on me ever since middle school. Should’ve done this much sooner.”

“Stop hitting people,” Bucky chides half-heartedly and buries his nose in Tony’s hair.

He can feel the vibrations of Tony’s chuckles against his chest. “No promises.”

Bucky doesn’t remember much from the first few weeks after the accident - a drunk driver pinning him between his car and a store front - apart from a lot of frustrated yelling, crying, lashing out and Tony being there through all of it.

Tony curled up in the hospital bed next to him, grabbing things for him without commenting on it when Bucky tries to reach for them with his missing hand, sneaking him candy bars when the nurses aren’t looking and holding him through the nightmares, humming softly while he strokes Bucky’s hair and brushes the tears away from his cheeks.

The only reason Bucky doesn’t fall too far behind in school is Tony bringing him homework and coaxing him into doing it with promises of kisses and quick, exciting handjobs between doctor check-ins.

They only make the mistake of leaving Bucky’s heart monitor on that one time.

It’s when he walks out of one of his physical therapy sessions to spot Tony sitting in the waiting room, smiling and waving when he sees Bucky stepping out of the room, that Bucky realises that Tony is it for him.

Always has been, always will be.

The thought is not nearly as scary as he imagined it would be.

“You’re eighteen years old, Buck,” Steve reminds him, staring at Bucky as if he thinks he’s crazy.

“So is Tony. Today. It’s perfect,” Bucky insists, whacking Steve over the back of the head when he rolls his eyes at him.

Steve scowls and pinches his side. “This is insane.”

“It’s Tony, Stevie,” Bucky says simply, figuring that’s all the explanation necessary.

With a heavy sigh, Steve sets down his sketch pad. “All right,” he says, holding up a hand to stop Bucky’s whooping. “I’ll be your best man, but I want it on record that I told you, repeatedly, what a stupid idea this is.”

“Noted and ignored,” Bucky chirps happily and pulls him downstairs to the car.

They collect Rhodey - who sides with Steve because he’s lame - on the way to the mansion where Bucky storms into Tony’s workshop and proposes with, “Happy Birthday! I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you and this ring was fucking expensive, so you better marry me, Stark.”

Tony cries a little bit, stubbornly denies doing so, and answers by kissing Bucky senseless, both Steve and Rhodey groaning and possibly facepalming in the background.

All in all, including the drive down and wait at the registry office, the whole affair takes just short of an hour and then they’re officially proclaimed husbands, neither of them able or willing to wipe the stupid grins off their faces the whole drive back to Bucky’s house where their families are waiting with a cake and champagne.

“I think you’re an idiot, but that doesn’t mean I won’t support you,” Steve shrugs at Bucky’s questioningly arched eyebrows, groaning exaggeratedly when Bucky pulls him into a tight hug.

“What he said,” Rhodey pipes up, lightly punching Tony’s arm before hauling him in, too.

No one is surprised in the least when Tony receives his acceptance letter from MIT.

When Rhodey gets into Harvard and Steve decides on a school in Boston to do his bachelor in Media Arts and Animation, Bucky doesn’t hesitate and follows them to Massachusetts even though he has no idea what it is that he wants to do.

College isn’t for him, as he finds out after a semester of working himself to the bone and being miserable the whole time, but he finds his calling when his bike breaks down right around the corner from the Howling Commandos garage.

He asks the owner, Timothy ‘call me Dum Dum’ Dugan, for some tools to repair her himself which, combined with his summer jobs fixing up cars back home, lands him a job that pays well enough and allows Bucky to make his tinkering hobby into a real career.

The money is enough to rent a small one-bedroom apartment near Tony’s campus where Tony proceeds to spend most of his nights, sprawled all over Bucky’s chest and drooling into his neck.

“Are you happy?” Tony asks him one night, propped up on his elbow on the bed next to Bucky, fingers tracing Bucky’s hipbone. “Is this where you saw yourself when you were little?”

“Absolutely not,” Bucky laughs and tugs Tony closer to kiss the slightly panicked expression off his face. “But it’s perfect and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”