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5 times Tony gets the Shovel Talk, and 1 time he doesn't

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Steve looked over at his family, grinning at Tony who was still pouting at the knowledge that everyone had known they were in a relationship.

He laughed as Rhodey called him out on it “Really, Tony, you're just going to sit there and sulk?”

Tony spoke petulantly “I wanted you to be the first to know.”

Rhodey softened, smiling softly at his brother, as Clint snorted and looked at Tony “If you wanted to keep it a secret, maybe you guys shouldn't make out in every room in the tower.”

Steve blushed and looked at Tony who was grinning now, Tony turned to Clint “Don’t be jealous, because you're not getting any.”

Clint sputtered as Steve clapped his hand over Tony’s mouth “Maybe, it would be best if we keep some secrets from them.”

Clint laughed and turned to look at Bucky, who had been staring at Tony all evening, looking like he didn't know if he wanted to hug him for getting Steve out of his funk, or punch him for the way he got Steve out of his funk.

Natasha rolled her eyes as she got up to hug the both of them, whispering a congratulations, as the others followed suit, it had been a long six months, letting Steve and Tony think they were keeping it a secret.


Clint walked into the kitchen, grumbling about super-soldiers, and their unholy waking times, and stopped, blinking once, twice, and shaking his head, no, the image was still there.

“Buck, what the hell are you doing?” Clint asked incredulously looking at the other super-soldier, and Thor, who’s hammer was positioned directly above his arm, thankfully the metal one, not the flesh and blood one.

“I need to break my arm.” Bucky replied casually.

Clint stared at him, blinked again, before tuning out “No, you know what, I’m not dealing with this shit today, if anyone asks I’ve gone back to bed.”

Buck nodded before turning back to Thor, and Clint walked out of the room, the tail-end of the conversation reaching his ears “I need you to hit it, but don’t permanently damage it, I do need it.”

“Do not worry, Shield Brother, I will endeavour to do my best.”

Clint shook his head and slumped into his bed, someone could wake him up when all this shit was over and done with.


“I need you to fix my arm.”

Tony startled and jumped up from his chair, and turned to look at Bucky.

Tony stared at the super-soldier, looking down at his arm, then back at his face, which was resolutely staring at anything but him.

Tony gaped at the mangled arm, it looked like it had been run over by a car, then stuck in the garbage disposal, and spit back out.

Tony resigned to the antics of his team, asked the familiar question “Do I want to know?”

This pulled a small smile from Bucky, who was trying to look angry and failing miserably because of the pain he was in.

Tony gestured at a chair, and said “Welcome to the house of horrors.”

Bucky climbed into the chair, rolling his eyes at Tony, who sighed dramatically “No-one appreciates the length I go to, to make you ingrates happy.”

Bucky levelled Tony with a look that spoke volumes at how familiar he was with a dramatic Tony and settled comfortably in the chair.

Tony asked JARVIS for the back-up arm, and Bucky settled into the familiar routine, before the comfortable silence was broken by Tony’s curious “So, you want to tell me why you deliberately broke your arm?”

Bucky’s head snapped up to look at Tony, who was looking at him curiously.

Bucky cleared his throat “I wanted a chance to speak to you… without Steve around.”

Tony raised an eyebrow, before settling down, he’d learned that it was best for Bucky to start talking on his own terms.

Bucky’s hand clenched and he made a few false starts, before he settled into his words.

“The first time… the first time he nearly died, I couldn’t believe it, how was this punk who didn't care if someone was three times his size, he'd still take you on, how was he going to be defeated by the cold?” Bucky laughed humourlessly “It wasn’t right.”

“I was angry for so long, at everyone and no-one, and then I went to visit him, and he was weak, he couldn't move, Doc said it was his last christmas, and Stevie, he laughed, in his face, I decided there and then come hell or high water I was going to protect him.”


Tony stared at Bucky’s tortured face, his eyes shadowed by his memories, and squeezed his arm, Bucky turned to look at Tony and spoke slowly and deliberately “If that means bullies, enemies, friends or even lovers, I will.”

Tony whispered “End of the line”, Bucky nodded before he continued.


“Stevie, he wants, no, he needs to see the best in everyone, he so desperately wants to believe that I’m still his Bucky” Tony nodded, smiling fondly.

“but I’m not, the things I did…”

Tony interrupted with a swift “The things they made you do.”

Bucky looked at him smiling softly “He is part of me, no matter how hard any of us try to pretend, the things… the things they made me do, they don’t leave you, I can still hear their screams.”

Tony made to interrupt Bucky, but Bucky continued “I remember everything, the people I killed, the people that made me kill, but I also remember what they taught me, how to kill a man with nothing more than your hands, how to kill a man without him even knowing anything had happened until he was dead”


Bucky’s eyes were as emotionless as his words, and Tony stopped JARVIS’ warning, and stared at Bucky, he could see the sorrow in his own eyes.


“They taught me how to hurt, for no reason other than to hurt someone, they taught me how to torture a man for days, weeks, months, how to bring him to the brink of death, the point where he was begging, sobbing and pleading for death, and I refused, then I bought them back, made them think they had been rescued, until they were healed, and then it would start all over again.”

“They taught me that if you actually wanted to kill a man, you don’t kill him, you break him, he does the killing all by himself.”

“I like you, Tony, honestly I do, but Stevie, he’s my brother, and I swear to you, on every brother I ever lost, you break him, and I will break you, shatter you into a million tiny pieces, and no-one will even know who Tony Stark was.”

Tony and the Winter Soldier stared at each other, Tony straightened in his seat, and spoke softly “Come back to us.”

Tony repeated the same phrase for the next 10 minutes, and slumped softly when he saw his eyes clearing, he was more Bucky now, less Winter Soldier, but he could see him, still lurking in his eyes.


Tony grabbed Bucky’s arm “Steve and I, we… we have our fights, we are the only people who get under each others skin, and know which buttons to press, but we burn brighter than anything else, I love him, with everything I have, and if you knew how hard it was to say them words at the start, then you know how far we've come. I can’t promise anything, but Bucky I love him, and will do, until my dying days.”

Bucky scanned Tony’s face, looking for any hint of a lie, when he was satisfied he nodded, and held out his arm, Tony settled into the familiar routine and smiled when he heard “Stevie’s my brother, but you are my friend, so don’t let that punk mess you about either.”


If after that, they were closer than ever, the lingering tension gone, then no-one was going to complain.




Steve laughed as he pressed a kiss to a grumbling Tony’s head “I’ll see you in a few hours, Buck still hasn't gotten over the fact that the Giants moved, I’m taking him to see our old neighbourhood.”

Tony watched as Phil walked into the room, and smiled, it was always fun to mess with Phil.

Steve rolled his eyes, smiling fondly at Tony “Play nice.” Steve left the room, smiling at the indignant response “I always play nice.”


“Agent, what can I do for you, I’m afraid Pep isn't here, she’s…”

“JARVIS, where is Pep?”

“Ms. Potts is on vacation, something about needing a break from her boss.”

“You know what JARV, I'm going to re-programme you…”

Tony was interrupted by Agent coughing and turned back towards him.

Tony paused looking at his face, and then looked at the tiny black box Phil was holding, a little black box that looked suspiciously like a…

“Taser, new tech, Hammer created it.” Agent said matter-of-factly, still smiling his bland little smile, which Tony would never admit was scarier than Fury on a bad day.


Tony scoffed, placing a hand over his heart “Now you’re just trying to hurt me.”

Phil’s bland smile, turned sharper, and scarier, which Tony didn't know could happen.

“I have three seasons of SuperNanny recorded, my taser is fully charged, created specifically for you, don't give me a reason to use it.”

Tony’s smile froze and he stared at the taser like a deer in headlights, before looking at Phil “Just for me, you didn't have to do that Agent, I’m afraid I’m in a committed.”

“Taser, fully charged, Stark.”

Tony nodded and groaned as Agent’s minion dropped more paperwork on his already overflowing pile.

Tony looked at Agent with a betrayed look, Phil smiled his little bland smile and left the room

Tony stared at his back, shuddering and then groaning when he saw his paperwork. He’d take Agent on his worst day, rather than look through these pointless documents.






“Sir, Mr.Barton is requesting your presence in the shooting range.”

“He’s requesting my presence, Clint never asks for anything, he just drops down from his hidey-holes and drags me wherever he wants to go.” Tony grumbled good-naturally.

“Sir” JARVIS spoke humour colouring his tone.

Tony walked into the shooting range and froze, the room looked like a hurricane had blown through it, Tony squinted at the targets and his mouth fell open “Are those…”

“I believe so, sir” JARVIS answered

The targets had been replaced by life-size cutouts of him, and each one had an arrow in it, all in differing places, none looking particularly comfortable. Tony winced as he saw one, Clint was asking for his custom arrows to be replaced by SHIELD.

Tony grinned as he saw a piece of paper, held to the wall, by an arrow, he read it aloud

“Hurt him, I hurt you.”

Tony grinned as he pocketed the note, he didn't think anyone was going to compare to Barnes.




Tony sighed as he nursed his rapidly cooling cup of coffee, he had been sitting here for more than an hour waiting for Natasha, they had established a fortnightly coffee date, where they discussed everything apart from Steve and the Avengers.

Tony had come to love their coffee ‘dates’, what he loved slightly less was how often Nat was late, more often than not she’d show up within an hour, give or take, and she always had that smile on her face, the one where she had successfully made someone piss their pants with just her smile.

She also showed up with a choice bruise or two, once she had shown up, after checking herself out of hospital, nursing a broken arm and a concussion, and Tony had to take her back to the mansion as she refused to go back to a hospital.

Tony looked up at the tinkle of the bell, the fifth time in the last fifteen minutes and smiled at Nat, who was finally here, she ordered her coffee before sliding into the booth and smiling at Tony.

Tony paused, it wasn't her usual hello-smile, he sighed, it was her scare-the-crap-out-of-someone smile, “Okay, lay it on me.”

Nat’s sharp smile softened into an actual smile, and she handed him a file, he opened it and looked at the pages, frowning in thought and looked up at Natasha “I’ve seen these names some…”

He stopped mid-sentence remembering where he'd seen the names, Nat’s file, he shook his head and looked at her “Message received.”

Nat smiled, slipping her coat and scarf off, getting comfortable in ‘their booth’, they always picked the same table, the one at the back, where one of them always had a full view of the whole shop, it spoke volumes of how far they had come, that one of them sat with their back to the door, trusting the other to protect them.




Tony was holding a screwdriver in his mouth, as he fiddled with one of the panels on Sam’s wings that had come loose after their last battle.

Sam was sat opposite him, watching every move he made, before Tony stopped, removing the screwdriver and fixing Sam with a look that spoke of Tony’s losing battle with patience.

“Will you stop your bloody fidgeting, I did design these wings, I do know what I’m doing.”

Sam nodded “I know, and I trust you.”

“So, why the hell are you fidgeting, you look like a five year old who needs the bathroom.”

Steve flushed slightly, and Tony stopped what he was doing, all his attention on Sam, who spoke slowly, hesitatingly “Steve saved my life you know?”

Tony laughed softly “Steve’s saved your life, many times, and you have more than repaid the favour.”

Sam smiled wistfully, lost in his memories “I don't mean the battles, it was before that, before everything, when I came back home, after… after I lost Riley, I was just going through the motions, waiting for the days to end, he gave me something to live for.”

Tony smiled sadly at him, and Sam continued “He understood, he’d just woken up in a time where he didn't understand anything, and he didn't have any of his people, he was waiting, waiting to join them, and you, you and the rest of the Avengers, you gave him a reason to live.”

Tony swallowed the lump in his throat, and coughed slowly, smiling softly at Sam, who spoke “I’m with him, to the end, and it’s because of you that he made himself live, and now, I know that he's standing on his own two feet, he’s living for himself and I know that he could go on, even if we were no longer here, but make sure it doesn't come down to that, yeah?”

Tony nodded, and Sam smiled and turned to the TV as Tony went back to the wings.




Tony shifted awkwardly as he looked at Aunt Peggy who was looking at their joined hands, while Sharon had her hand clapped over her mouth, trying not to laugh at their faces.

Steve coughed as he looked at Peggy “Hey, Peg, Tony is…”

Steve was interrupted by Peggy who laughed a weak laugh “I know who he is, he’s my godson.”

Tony smiled at her, and then Peggy turned her head towards Sharon “Sharon, why don't you take Steve to see the cafeteria.”

Sharon turned to look at Steve, and then walked over to the door whispering a “good luck, cuz” on her way.

Tony moved to the vacant seat, and sat, taking Peggy’s hand, and she smiled at him “You look like him, you know, Howard” Tony stiffened “But you have your mother’s heart, so I know that when I’m gone, you are going to look after yourself, and you’re going to look after Steve too.”

Tony nodded and he smiled tearfully at her “I love you, Aunt Peg.”

“And I love you.”

They both turned towards the door, Steve had popped his head in, he smiled at the two of them, and walked in the room, Peggy took his hand and said “Take care of Tony, he has a tendency to work too much.”

Steve grinned as Tony sputtered, claiming innocence.

Sharon looked through the glass and smiled, she was glad that Aunt Peggy had found the closure she never got all those years ago.