Actions

Work Header

Just a Friendly Conversation

Work Text:

Tony was a little surprised to see Bucky sitting in the Maserati parked out front when he got out of his meeting. “Where’s Steve? He was supposed to pick me up.”

“Get in,” was the curt answer.

Tony gave the brunette a quick once over, noting the intensity in his eyes, the flat expression, and the hunched shoulders and concluded that unfortunately, this wasn’t really Bucky, but his murderous alter-ego the Winter Soldier.

When Steve had first dragged Bucky into the Tower, the Soldier had been in charge most of the time and Bucky’s real personality only showed through in brief patches when he felt particularly content and comfortable. These days, Bucky was almost entirely himself again. The Soldier was probably never going to go away, but at least he had decided that Bucky was safe enough with them that he wasn’t needed to protect him all the time. These days, he usually only came out when Bucky felt threatened or during battles when he needed the Soldier’s calm detachment to get through the carnage.

If there was Avengers business, Tony would have gotten a call. Which meant the Soldier’s business with him was personal. And that didn’t bode well for him at all.

Tony thought back to everything he had done that morning before dashing off to his meeting. He had taken a quick shower, got dressed, found Steve in the kitchen reading a newspaper and given him a quick peck on the cheek before heading off to work. He hadn’t actually seen Bucky that morning so he had no idea what he had done to trigger the Soldier. But maybe it wasn’t actually his fault. Maybe somebody else had convinced him Tony was a threat.

He carefully moved his hand over his watch to activate the tracker in it.

“Touch that button and you die,” the Soldier said in that creepy deadpan way of his.

Tony held his hands up placatingly. “Just wanted to let the others know where to find my corpse.”

“I’m not going to kill you,” the Soldier said. His eyes narrowed. “Yet.”

“Well, that’s certainly comforting.” But Tony slid into the passenger seat anyway.

The Soldier pulled carefully out of the lot and started driving a very circuitous route that was probably meant to throw off any possible pursuit and also keep Tony from figuring out where they were going. Well, it was certainly working. Tony didn’t have a good sense of direction to begin with and he was already lost as hell after ten minutes of the Soldier’s driving.

Tony had expected the Soldier to start reaming him out for whatever offense, real or imaginary, as soon as they got a reasonable distance from SI. Maybe start bragging about all the different ways he could slice him into pieces, just so Tony would feel terrified by the time they got to wherever it is they were going. But he didn’t. He drove silently, not even looking over to acknowledge Tony’s presence.

And Tony had never been good with long silences.

“Want to tell me what’s going on?” Tony asked finally.

Without taking his eyes off the road, the Soldier snapped open his knife and held it to Tony’s neck. “Quiet.”

Tony pressed himself back against the seat. “Guess not, then.”

He tried to keep himself occupied figuring out where they were. But the Soldier had taken them on a road out of the city and for all Tony knew, they were halfway to New Jersey by now.

It felt like they had been on the road for hours, but it was probably only fifteen minutes or so before Tony’s phone chirped to announce an incoming text.

“Turn it off,” the Soldier commanded.

“It’s Steve.” Tony held the phone up so the he could see Steve’s concerned text asking where Tony was. “Much as I’ve enjoyed this kidnapping attempt, you have to realize you can’t just run off with me without-”

The Soldier snatched the phone out of his hand, fiddled with it a moment and thrust it into Tony’s face.

Tony sighed as he saw that the Soldier had texted Steve back, assuring him that Bucky had just taken him out for lunch. He had even used the special code Tony used to prove it was him in hostage situations. And Steve simply told him he loved him and to have fun because he was a sucker for seeing Bucky get out of the Tower.

Fuck.

“Problem solved,” the Soldier said, tossing the phone into the cupholder.

Well, he supposed he was just going to have to resign himself to getting murdered in the middle of nowhere now.

He was a little surprised when the Soldier finally pulled over along a wooded stretch of road in the middle of nowhere.

“Out,” the Soldier said.

Tony got out and stretched leisurely. “Oh good, break time.”

He yelped in surprise as the Soldier shoved him back against a pine tree and held his knife to his throat. “Oh, come on,” Tony protested. “You can’t kill me without telling me what I did first. It’s only fair.”

“This is a warning,” the Soldier said. “A reminder of what’ll happen to you if you hurt Steve.”

“Oh my god,” Tony said. “You dragged me all the way out here just to give me a shovel speech?”

He wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

The Soldier’s narrowed. “Shovel speech?” he repeated as if he sensed a trick of some kind.

“You know, the best friend speech?” Tony dropped his voice an octave and puffed out his chest. ’I’m the super scary best friend and I’ll hit you over the head with a shovel if you make one wrong move.”

The Soldier cocked his head to one side and his brow furrowed. “Why would I hit you with a shovel? There are far more efficient ways to hurt someone.” He held the knife in front of his face and eyed in contemplatively.

He looked confused, which was a good sign. When the Soldier ran into something that didn’t make sense under his programming, he usually defaulted back to Bucky. And Tony was really good at being strange and confusing.

“Not really, no,” Tony said. “Just think about it.” He mimed picking up a shovel and whacking somebody over the head. “And then you’re diggin’ up those holes, yeah, diggin’ up those holes.” He turned his imaginary shovel downwards and pretended to strain with the effort of digging.

“What the hell?”

Tony beamed. “Bucky! Back with us at last.” He rapped his knuckles against Bucky’s forehead. “You hear me in there?”

Bucky shoved his hand away. “Cut the crap, Stark. Where the hell are we?”

“Oh. I was hoping you knew. You drove us here.”

“I didn’t-” Bucky groaned. “He took over, didn’t he?”

“Yep,” Tony said cheerfully. He carefully shoved the dropped knife aside with his foot. “It wasn’t that bad actually. He just wanted to give me the shovel speech. You know, the ‘hurt Steve and you’re dead’ speech.”

Bucky groaned even louder and put his head in his hands. “Oh, god, this is embarrassing. I’m sorry, Tony. I really am.”

“I get it,” Tony said. “Steve’s your best friend and you feel protective of him. And the Soldier’s made it his job to do all the protecting.”

Bucky gave Tony a sheepish look. “Well, at least he seems to like you.”

“He doesn’t like me. He threatened to kill me if I broke Steve’s heart.”

Bucky shrugged. “Could have been worse. He could have told you you weren’t good enough for Steve and he’d kill you if you dared talk to him again.”

“Right,” Tony said. He hadn’t thought about that.

Bucky cleared his throat. “Promise not to tell Steve and I’ll take you out to lunch.”

“Deal,” Tony said. He climbed back into the passenger seat.

Bucky put his hands on the wheel and hesitated. “You have any idea which way you guys were headed?”

Tony sighed and fished his phone out of the cupholder. “Jarvis, give Bucky directions to the nearest burger place.”

 

——

Tony did his best to put the incident behind him. It wasn’t Bucky’s fault that he had a split personality now. And he was definitely doing his best to control the Soldier. It was just going to take time for him to really be in control, like how Bruce learned to manage the Hulk.

And besides, when Bucky was the dominant personality, he was one of Tony’s favorite people. He told embarrassing stories about Steve, drank almost as much coffee as Tony did, cussed his way through every Mario Kart game, and could always be counted on when Tony needed a drinking buddy. He was just awesome enough that Tony could put up with the occasional attempted murder.

Tony had almost forgotten about the incident a week later, but he quickly remembered when he walked into the kitchen and found the Soldier lounging around while drinking a beer. Or more accurately, taking up the spot with the best vantage point of the kitchen and looking menacing as he leaned against the counter.

“I didn’t do it,” Tony said immediately.

He had been a pretty damn good boyfriend all week, if he did say so himself. Steve wanted to wait a few weeks before they started having sex and Tony had been a good sport about it. Hell, he had even taken Steve on a date to a boring art museum just because he knew Steve would love it. So he absolutely didn’t deserve another threatening repeat.

“I talked to Steve,” the Soldier said.

“About what?” Tony asked warily.

The Soldier took a sip of his beer. “I threatened to hit him over the head with a shovel.”

Tony did a double take. “Holy shit, there’s a sense of humor in there.”

The Soldier gave him a hard look and Tony took a step back.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with having a sense of humor. Doesn’t diminish your scariness at all.” If anything, it made him scarier. It was one thing for the Soldier to threaten him and an entirely different thing for the Soldier to do it just for the shits and giggles.

The Soldier snorted and took another sip of his beer. “You two are an effective partnership.”

“Uh, thanks?”

The Soldier nodded. “Romance is usually a hindrance in battle, but now that you’re dating, I’ve noticed that the two of you function as a unit. It doesn’t make sense, but I approve of anything that increases our efficiency in battle.”

“Wow,” Tony said. That was practically a ringing endorsement from the Soldier.

“Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment,” the Soldier advised. “Or I’ll reconsider my position.”

“Oh, absolutely not,” Tony said quickly. “I’m strictly business in the field.”

The Soldier gave him another long, appraising look and then nodded. “Mission accomplished.”

Tony watched him blink and then revert back to Bucky, all the tension going out of his body.

“Hey, Tony,” Bucky said. He took a swig of his beer and immediately grimaced. “Ugh, Heineken. Don’t know how he stands drinking this crap. It tastes like sewer water.”

Tony grinned as he pulled a bottle of Angry Orchard out of the fridge. It never ceased to amuse him that the two personalities didn’t share the same taste buds.

Bucky took a long drag from the bottle and sighed. “Ah, Jesus. He didn’t threaten you again, did he? Don’t know what’s come over him all of a sudden. You and Steve have been dating for what, a month, month and a half now?”

“I think he actually threatened Steve this time.”

Bucky raised an eyebrow.

“The fucker actually wants us to stay together. I still can’t wrap my head around it, but you may be right. He may actually like me.”

“What’s not to like?” Bucky wiggled the fingers in his metal arm. “You’ve upgraded this baby so many times. And you’ve given him so many toys to wreak havoc with. After Steve, I’m sure you’re his favorite.”

“That’s the thing,” Tony said. “Steve’s more than his favorite. He’s pretty much the only person he actually trusts. How can he think I’m good enough for him?”

Bucky shrugged. “You make Steve happy. And as far as I’m concerned, that makes you good enough for him.”

Tony grinned with relief. “Thanks, Buck. You’re my second favorite too, after Steve of course.”

“Cool,” Bucky said with an impish smile. “You’re my third favorite, right after the guy who came up with this stuff.” He tipped his bottle towards Tony.

“Seriously? I’ve made my own sustainable power source and you’re still more impressed with hard cider?”

“It’s good mixed with Fireball,” Bucky said cheerfully.

“Oh, you just wait,” Tony said. “I’m going to create the awesomest alcohol in the world. Everybody will love it, regardless of what they drink. I’ll unite the whole world in a drunken celebration.”

“Is it going to get Steve drunk?”


“Duh,” Tony said. “Steve’s part of the whole world, isn’t he?” And from all the stories he had heard about the trouble little Steve got into drunk, he was dying to see Steve’s drunken escapades in person.

“Okay,” Bucky said. “You’re officially my second favorite person in the world. Now let’s go get Steve drunk.”