“You are the saddest, most miserable being in all of New York tonight. I’m willing to bet good money on it.”
Bucky looked up from his seat near the window front in the common room of Avengers Tower. Tony Stark, the source of the charming comment no doubt, had just thrown his suit jacket over the bar chair by the kitchen island and was currently loosening his tie. The business day was officially over.
“You’d loose that money, Stark. I’m pretty sure Clint’s is out doing involuntarily dumpster diving again, so…”
“No, no. You got it all wrong. He gets a weird kick out of that so it’s still you defending that title, misery man. Congratulations.”
“And what’s it to you?”
“Oh it’s pitiful. Do you ever like go out or something? Even Cap had gotten of his ass four month in.”
Begrudgingly Bucky acknowledged that Stark was in fact right. It had been almost half a year now since he had, not without great length of encouragement by Steve, moved into Avengers Tower and while the first few month he had been to unsure, instable and skittish to even consider any form of evening activity beyond what could be done from the safety of his rooms.
A few weeks ago however he had started to be bored out of his mind, by his lack of activity. When he had asked Steve, bless his soul, what one could do in this brave new world for amusement outside of the admittedly luxurious walls of the Tower, he had told Bucky to not push himself.
Also the rest of the residents tiptoeing around him like he was a spooked animal tried his patience more then he was willing to admit. They meant well.
“You know what?” Stark interrupted his train of thought. “You, me, tonight. Dinner and a movie and for good measure we’re hitting the clubs afterwards. If we come home before 3 a.m. you’re officially uncool and deserve to be sulking in front of these windows.”
Later he would blame the shock about the statement, or more it’s undisputable finality, however at the moment the only thing Bucky was able to utter was: ”What? I… what? Are you… asking me on a date?”
Later he would also realise that the predatory grin that spread across Stark’s face at that very moment should have been his first warning. But hey, you live and you learn.
“First and foremost I’m asking you to get off your beautiful ass and at least pretend you’re a living human being. If the formality of a date helps you with that, sure.”
While he was speaking Tony had taken of his waistcoat and toed of his shoes. Now he was unbuttoning the top buttons of his shirt and the action was downright obscene, bearing in mind what he had just offered.
“I’m… you… Stark I - what - I don’t know what…”, Bucky managed but Stark interrupted him.
“Ok, so no date, fine. Pity, but fine. You’re not getting out of the original program though.” He bowed to pick up his shoes, disappearing behind the couch for a brief moment. “I expect you down in the garage in 45 minutes. Wash your hair, put on something nice. A shirt is obligatory, a tie is not.”
With that Tony reclaimed his suit jacket of the chair, opened the fridge to take out a water bottle and turned towards the elevators. Just when the doors were about to close, he turned around to where Bucky was still sitting by the windows.
“44 minutes and counting, James.”
- - -
43 minutes and 26.38 seconds later, not that anyone was counting (JARVIS totally was),
Bucky stepped out of the elevator at garage level.
Tony was already leaning against one of his town cars, waiting patiently and looking illegally good in his more casual combination of slacks, jacket, shirt and sneakers. In Bucky’s opinion even his casual look was more dressed to the nines then anything else.
It made him even gladder that he had consulted with JARVIS in order to figure out what “something nice” meant in Stark-speak.
“I should order JARVIS to have someone burn all your filthy sweaters, considering how good you look in a suit.” Stark greeted him.
“If I find just a sock missing tomorrow I will personally dismember you. Don’t touch my stuff.”
Stark only grinned at the threat: “Kinky. A little bit brutal for my taste, but anything that proves an existence beyond being Rogers BFF is fine by me.”
Rolling his eyes only resulted in the brightening of the infamous grin. “Ok, get in. I have a reservation at a nice Greek restaurant and then we can decide what movie we want to see.”
Bucky did as he was told, closing the door carefully and before he was even able to reach for the seat belt Stark was speaking again.
“Don’t forget to buckle up. I know it wasn’t mandatory when you learned driving, but if I get pulled over it’s only for speeding. I have reputation to loose.”
“Do you ever shut up?”
“I love to listen to a good story if someone tells one; the telling part being essential. You haven’t offered a lot of your vocabulary yet. I’m more then content if that changes soon, because running a one man entertainment show all night is possible to me, but very exhausting.”
“And where, oh master entertainer, should I start?”
Stark had driven out of the garage while ranting about not being willing to be a one man show for Bucky and pulled neatly into the flowing traffic, as far as Bucky could tell not even a little over the speed limit.
“I don’t know?” Tony said and overtook three cars in front of him. “Books?”
“Books? Do you even have time to read?”
“Audiobooks are a thing, though I also have little time to listen, now that you mention it. But don’t mind me; this is about you. What’s the last good book you’ve read?”, the inventor asked and turned left, avoiding the parked taxis neatly. He was a very good driver, Bucky realised, manoeuvring New York rush hour like he did.
“I just finished the Hobbit…”
“I said good, ugh.”
“Ok. I know what I want to talk about. Let’s talk about how only irredeemable nutcases take the car during rush hour here. That’s an interesting topic, don’t you think?”, Bucky said as the car stopped at a traffic light yet again.
This time Tony’s laugh was honest.
- - -
“I feel radically underdressed.”
“You’re rolling with me, love. I’m the dressiest accessory on the entire West Coast. You’re fine.”
“Did you really say rolling?”
- - -
“Can I interest you in some dessert, gentlemen?”
“Are the Ekmek Kataifi* as good as I remember them?”
“Sure and made just this morning.”
“Great. We’ll have those, David. Thank you.”
“Anything within my power and then some, Tony”
David, their waiter, turned to take their order to the kitchen, but not without blushing ever so slightly at Tony’s wink.
“Of course you’re friendly with the waiter. What did I expect?”
“He’s very good with his tongue.”
“I honestly don’t know when you are joking and when you are serious.”
“I’m dead serious.”
- - -
At the same time that Tony and Bucky stumbled crying in laughter out of a movie theatre in Brooklyn (apparently being Tony Stark did excuse repeated, loud complaints about the lack of scientific accuracy in the sci-fi flick they’d decided to watch, but hacking the servers of in order to enlighten the audience about the reality of dimension travel had been pushing it) a very confused Steve Rogers entered the media room of Avengers Tower back in Manhattan.
“Has anyone seen Bucky tonight, because I haven’t seen him since I left for the Triskelion this morning.”, Steve asked into the room.
Clint and Thor, who were playing a racing game, both simultaneously shook their heads and Bruce who passed behind Steve with a mug of tea and a newspaper in hand didn’t know either. The Captain found Natasha in the kitchen, frowning at the red tie that was carelessly draped across the fruit bowl.
“No I don’t know where Bucky is, sorry Cap.”
“How did you…”
“You’ve passed the kitchen three times within the last ten minutes, looking more and more lost and concerned every time. It’s not a stretch.”
Mentally hitting himself against the head for forgetting about JARVIS, Steve thanked Natasha and ignored her mumbled: “If I find one more tie in a place it shouldn’t be, I’m going to suffocate Stark with it.”
“Sir has taken Mr Barnes out approximately three hours ago to, quote, “paint the town red, ‘cos boy, does he need it”, unquote.
Steve didn’t know what was more concerning, that Tony had taken Bucky out for what sounded like a night of StarkPartying or that Natasha actually snorted when JARVIS finished his explanation.
“Oh god. I have to… why did he even agree to that?”
“Sir was very insistent.”
“That’s so irresponsible. I have to find them, Natasha help me?”
The spy just shrugged: “I suppose JARVIS has a list of Tony’s favourite clubs somewhere, right?”
“Good, yes. I’m getting my motorbike.” With that Steve left the kitchen, leaving behind an open question and a bemused Avenger.
“Even better, Ms Romanov, I’m fairly sure I can provide you with the two most likely establishments you can find Sir at tonight. I will text the addresses to you as Captain Rogers seems to be in quite a hurry.”
“Between us J; I think he’s overreacting.” Natasha sighted and went to get her shoes and motorbike helmet.
- - -
The club Tony had chosen wasn’t anything like the clubs Bucky remembered from before. Needless to say he wasn’t an idiot and therefore well aware that clubs and dancing had changed immensely since then.
It was still… overwhelming.
Luckily the billionaire seemed to be just as comfortable in the deafening, crowded environment that was the dance floor as in any classy restaurant or almost seedy movie theatre. He just grabbed Bucky by the hand and led him through to crowd towards the bar.
Not the worst place to start the last stage of the night, Bucky found.
- - -
The more likely place out of the two on JARVIS’ list was a bust. Tony Stark hadn’t been seen there or anywhere around the neighbourhood tonight. Steve was beginning to panic again and Natasha couldn’t help but marvel how not even the AI coded by the man could predict him perfectly.
- - -
Several drinks and a few encouraging words from Tony later, Bucky agreed, if only hesitantly, to “hit the dance floor”. Both men had left their suit jackets in the car and didn’t look horribly out of place. The notion that Tony would not have cared if they had was strong though.
It’s fairly easy Tony had said, meaning the dancing. He had told Bucky to forget about steps and routines and partners, because the only thing that mattered the slightest in here was the rhythm (it had sounded a lot dirtier somehow when the engineer had said it, it’s a talent, really).
“To me it honestly just looks like vaguely rhythmic dry humping.”, he had told Tony leaning in close so the genius could hear him.
“Very cynical, yet accurate. Let’s go dry humping then.”
Moving (dancing his mind provided) was really no big deal once you allowed the crowd to drag you in, having Tony by his side who dropped the few inhibitions he had left like a hot iron once he had set foot on the dance floor also helped immensely.
Tony looked good dancing enclosed by the other guests in the club, there was no denying it. Fluid movements to the song playing, never stumbling into the people around him and dexterously avoiding flying hands from the more careless, or more intoxicated, dancers around him.
Bucky decided it was time to get a grip and let himself have this moment. The evening had been great fun so far and with Tony right there smiling at him under the flashing, colourful lights he began to see the appeal of it all.
- - -
Crowded was an understatement, Steve thought as he and Natasha entered the club. The bouncer, a friend of Tony’s (who would have guessed), had confirmed that the billionaire and a second man with longer, dark hair, that had been pulled up (what?) had entered about 40 minutes ago.
Steve began to push his way through the crowd towards the bar. Natasha knew better.
“By now they will be dancing, let’s go up to the gallery. We’ll be able to get a good look over the dance floor.”
She needed about seven seconds to spot the two men in the crowd. Their shirts were just that little bit to elegant to blend into the moving, sweating mass. The rest though did fit right in. They were dancing close, very close in fact, Tony had thrown his hands over Bucky’s shoulders and the latter had his hands on Tony’s hips. It was the perfect mocking of slow dancing, Natasha thought.
“Doesn’t look like he needs much saving, don’t you think?”, The spy yelled at Steve, managing to sound smug like no one else would have managed to.
Steve was rendered speechless.
Only his mouth hanging gaping wide open was missing to complete this glorious tableau, Natasha thought, and behold she must have been very good in a former life; Bucky had pulled Tony impossibly closer, leaned in and kissed him enthusiastically.
After a brief moment of what is happening the engineer responded, deepening the kiss.
Quite a bit later Steve turned to his friend, finally coming out of his state of shock.
“I think we should go, leave them… yeah let’s go back to the Tower.”
Natasha just patted him on the back and began to manoeuvre them back towards the entrance.
- - -
Tony and Bucky returned to the penthouse in Avengers Tower at 4.17 a.m., not that anyone was checking (JARVIS totally was).
It's the morning after the night before and one person isn't taking last nights occurrences overly well. Spoiler: It's neither Bucky nor Tony.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Tony woke up snuggled to something cold and metal.
Generally speaking this of course was not a rare occurrence, considering how frequently he fell asleep in the workshop, overworked and tired beyond belief. It was only due to JARVIS' incredible foresight that he yet had to burn down one of his buildings with an involuntarily abandoned soldering iron.
The issue was however that he was 95 percent sure that he had not been to his workshop at all last night, therefore the chances of him dragging a part of a project up into bed with him were slim to none. This was confusing, he was to sleepy to make any sense of the situation. He needed more data. And coffee, now. Please!
„If you let go of me I might just get you some.“ the piece of metal said, while moving slightly.
This was odd. Tony’s life might be weird, but this was just a bit too… oh… fuck!
The sudden realization did a admirable job of waking him up properly. The inventor untangled himself from his bed partner quickly, chuckling about his own silliness.
„For a moment I thought you were particularly lovely wrench,“ he told Bucky, who watched Tony’s return to the land of the aware with fond amusement, “but this is so much better, naturally.“
„It sure is. I highly doubt your best wrench would fetch you coffee the morning after.“
„Twenty bucks say I can invent one that will.“
„I’d loose my money. I’ve seen you work and I’m not stupid.“
„Never said that, James. Case and point: I don’t invite dumb people to bed with me.“
„Yeah. Sure. I bet all of those models back in the day had great hidden talents.“, Bucky scoffed, swinging his legs out of the huge bed with a minimal struggle with the sheets.
„You’d be surprised.“ Tony muttered, sitting up.
He took a moment to watch Bucky, correction: to watch Bucky’s ass, as he picked up his underwear where he had abandoned it last night. Or rather this morning, his mind supplied.
„I’m going to be blunt, because I hate few things more then the awkward dance people do around each other in situations like this. I generally escape it by, well, literally escaping.“
„I’m all ears.“
„That is one weird mental image. Also: Don’t interrupt me, I wasn’t finished.“
„No surprise there.“
„Shut it! I meant to say: Let’s skip the awkwardness altogether. I feel we’re the wrong kind of people, in the wrong kind of situation for embarrassed avoidance.“
„Sounds good. Do you want pancakes for breakfast? If we hurry Stevie’s still in the kitchen and we don't even have to work for it.“
One look at the clock JARVIS showed on the window confirmed that it was in fact still quite early.
- - - -
Steve had dreaded this very moment ever since he and Natasha had left the club last night. In order to avoid both his best friend and the resident genius he had hurried his morning run and bath routine, hoping that after last nights bender both Bucky and Tony would sleep way into the morning.
No such luck for Captain America these days of course.
Just as he flipped his second pancake, Tony strutted into the communal kitchen sporting an impressive bed head. He went straight for the coffee machine, grabbing two mugs from the cabinet. Steve did not like the implication at all.
„Make me one too, Cappuccino, will you?“
„As soon as you smell Steve’s pancakes I cease to exist, do I?“
Internally Steve almost jumped out of his skin. Bucky had appeared in the door, addressing Tony with the bright, mischievous grin Steve had missed so dearly.
„You’re right. Where are my manners?“ Tony replied. he held out the second mug for Bucky to grab on his way to the fridge. „Forgive me?“
„Only because it’s you.“
„Aww. How sweet.“ Clint commented from the top of the fridge. The he suddenly smirked and Steve was ready to beg any higher power in the universe on his knees that Hawkeye wouldn’t say what he thought he would.
„Was the dynamic the same last night?“
„I hate to disillusion you, birdbrain, but he was talking to the coffee.“ Tony said between sips, just as Bucky stated: “I was talking to the coffee you know?“
„At least they agree. No concerns about an unhealthy relationship there.“ Natasha deadpanned from behind the newspaper.
Steve was ready to crawl back into bed and never get out again. He couldn’t do that of course. If Tony didn’t already know about his little overprotective freakout last night, he would inquire surely if Steve behaved weirdly now.
He settled for a warning look towards Natasha instead.
„Are you actively trying to kill the rainforest, Romanoff?“
„I enjoy the subtle opportunity to collect kindling alternatives for when I burn this place to the ground, Stark.“
Tony pulled a face. „JARVIS?“
„Check the sprinklers, please! And restock the fire extinguishers. I have yet to learn when she is kidding and I’m not taking any chances."
- - - -
„I really don’t know what you’re freaking out about.“, Natasha said. She had just flipped Steve onto the gym mats again.
„I’m not freaking out.“ Steve murmured from the floor.
„Sure. What was I thinking? You weren’t weird during breakfast at all and you’re totally on top of your game. I’m having a really hard time beating you.“
„What exactly is bothering so much about the two of them getting along anyway?“
Steve uncapped a bottle of water and threw her a second one, which she caught with ease.
„It doesn’t bother me that Buck and Tony get along. Not at all. In fact I’m glad they do. He seems way happier, more like…“
„So it doesn’t bother you that they get along, it bothers you that Tony could do what you couldn’t.“
She almost caught at how genuinely shocked Steve looked. A little more and he would have choked dramatically on his water too.
„No! God, no. That would be horribly selfish. Do you think I’m such a terrible friend?“
„I don’t.“ He looked skeptical. „I really don’t.“ she reassured him, putting the bottle back on the floor and sitting down on the mats. „I still don’t get your obvious unease then. Try to explain it, I hate not understanding.“
„Look. It’s like this: “ Steve sat down next to her and folded his arms. „On the one hand I’m really embarrassed about mistrusting both of them the way I did. Tony is, despite his behavior sometimes, a responsible adult who has proven his trustworthiness over and over again and Buck is very capable of making his own decisions. My own reaction bothers me, Natasha.“
„On the other hand, despite just telling you that it bothered me that I tried to baby two grown adults, I can’t help but worry about where Bucky’s and Tony’s relationship is going to go from here and how that is going to affect me and the team. I mean it’s pretty obvious that they… uhhmm …well.“
Natasha nodded. „It’s painfully obvious that they fucked, oh, don’t wince at that I’m just telling it how it is, it’s also pretty obvious that neither of them is in love or harboring feelings for the other and that worries you.“
„Pretty much, yes.“ Steve contemplated for a moment. he looked a lot like a confused puppy, Natasha thought. It was oddly endearing. „Is that old fashioned?“
„No. Not any more then liking butter pecan ice cream best.“ she grinned.
„Don’t be rude.“
„No seriously, Steve. It’s perfectly fine that you worry, but I think it’s unfounded. Tony and Bucky both seemed perfectly at ease with each other this morning and were, for lack of a better comparison, bickering like an old couple. They obviously decided that last night was no reason for embarrassment.“
Steve was slowly but surely growing cold, with the sweat drying on him and the ventilation working perfectly. Courtesy of Tony. Natasha got up, holding out her hand for the super solider.
She was already half way out of the gym, when she looked over her shoulder and announced: „By the way: Tony knew something was off when you burned that second pancake. You’re a dreadful actor.“
So. I decided I prefer chapters over a series, not alone because it's very stressful to produce something round and closing each time, but also because titles are hard. I'm lazy sue me. (Don't sue me. I'm not rich.)
Anyway: I'm not sure yet how far I want to take this fic regarding plot. As soon as I learn to write porn I'm definitely gonna add some though. Bare with me.
Bucky and Tony want revenge. Seriously what was Steve thinking?
1. Sorry about the inconsistency with the spelling of Romanoff. I fucked that up in the second chapter and just went with it, because Romanov or Romanova is very strange to me but that's how the tags suggested it.
2. If anybody is thrown off by the quotation marks in the second chapter: That's the way it's correct in german and I forgot to change the language settings. I will fix it when I find time but for now ignore it because that's very labour intensive.
“Something’s off!” Tony proclaimed, entering the living room where Bucky sat on the couch reading the newspaper Natasha had left at the table earlier. “Steve’s a dreadful actor!”
Bucky raised an eyebrow, looking at the man who had just flopped down on the coffee table in an effort to face him properly while also having the luxury of being able to sit down.
“I’m not sure if you are talking about the way he claims to like Clint’s cooking or if this is by chance about how he couldn’t look either of us in the eye this morning, flinched at every poorly thought through pun and blushed at every implication as if it was his dignity on the line.”
“I don’t think I’ve told you, but I really love the way I was right about you being a sarcastic bastard deep down.”
“Also Natasha looked awfully smug behind her newspaper, so you have a right to be concerned. At least in my book.” Bucky had put said newspaper down, watching the engineers grin dim a little at the mention of Natasha being involved. “Also you only say that, because you like being right.” He added.
“Guilty as charged. Who doesn’t? But if our resident killer queen is involved I really want to know what all this oddness is about. Ignorance might just be deadly and this way I can at least be prepared for inevitable doom. What’s so funny about that?”
Tony looked genuinely irritated as Bucky had begun to smile. Not that he minded him smiling; he regretted not having seen his smile any earlier. It was a true thing of beauty, maybe especially so as it was so rare. A little bit like a diamond, only that the assumed rarity and therefore worth of the precious stone was totally calculated and forced and due to this wasn’t an appropriate metaphor at all.
“Not funny, more intriguing the way you, even when you are joking about Natasha murdering you, strive to prepare for the future, to be ahead of the curve all of the time. Steve sure was right about you being a man of the future through and through.”
“I’m going to ignore the way this subtly implies that he told you more then just that and how undoubtedly most of it wasn’t as nice.” He replied and crossed his arms just a wee bit too late to prevent Bucky from seeing his self-conscious fiddling. He chose to overlook it.
“That’s what you took from all that, really?”
“I’ve been told more then once that I’m emotionally impaired.” Tony retorted, waving his hand around in mock annoyance. “Just roll with it.”
“If it helps.” Bucky shrugged.
“Sir? If I may be so bold, you originally wanted to inquire about how Captain Rogers and Agent Romanoff were involved in your ventures yesterevening.” JARVIS chimed in when neither of the men continued the conversation, startling Bucky into grabbing for his ever-present knife.
“Shit! I forgot that robot-butler is everywhere!” he exclaimed wide-eyed.
Tony, who had barely flinched during the entire exchange, shook his head: “Yup, he’s everywhere in the tower and then some places. Also he’s an AI, just so that we’re clear. Don’t call him robot-butler, he takes offence to that.”
“Don’t worry about it, Sergeant Barnes. Sir is exaggerating greatly about my sensibilities again.”
Tony chuckled for a moment, before his expression suddenly turned dead serious. “Wait a minute, J? Involvement? What on earth is that supposed to mean? Are you having secrets from daddy?” he scolded only half playful, causing Bucky to pull a face at the phrasing.
“Not necessarily a secret, Sir. I was never instructed to neglect informing you should you ask. I simply didn’t find an opportune moment until now and the matter didn’t seem of any urgency whatsoever.”
“Well I’m asking now.”
“Last night, some time after you and Sergeant Barnes had left the property, Captain Rogers was looking for Sergeant Barnes and, upon learning that you had taken him out for the evening, decided it was irresponsible of you to do so. He and Agent Romanoff went looking for you after I assisted them in narrowing your possible current location down to two of your favorite nightclubs.”
The two men stared at each other blankly.
“Also, the red tie you wore yesterday is now decorating Agent Romanoff’s reading lamp. I am supposed to advise you to not drape your clothes across the fruit bowl if you would like to keep them.”
“That… that explains a lot.” Bucky broke the silence that followed.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to laugh, cry or be really pissed about Steve’s lack of trust. Wait a minute. No! I’m lost.”
“If it were before… “Bucky mused. “You know? Before everything happened and Steve would have pulled something like that I would totally have gotten back at him some way. I mean I love him. He’s my brother, but the man has zero faith in either of us and that is really rude.”
“So, let’s get revenge?”
“Count me in.” There was that striking smile again; this time with a tentative mischievous edge to it. It had Tony wishing he had known the man before Hydra had fucked him over so royally. “What were you thinking about?”
“Oh, I have an idea. Several in fact, so there’s totally room for mix and match and possible improvement, but l say we wait a little longer and avoid the topic entirely around Steve for maximum impact.”
“What if he tries to talk about it?”
“Good point. I like the way you think, James, we are going to achieve great things together.” Tony rubbed his hands together in anticipation, then moved to sit down next to Bucky on the couch in order to be able to use the hologram table. “Try to avoid the confrontation? A few days should be enough.”
Bucky looked at the smaller man and couldn’t help but let his manic energy and enthusiasm draw him in.
- - - - -
“I ran into them plotting in the kitchen again.” Steve sat down next to Bruce at the lab table. “That’s the second time today and the fourth time in the last three days. They are up to something.”
Bruce removed a test tube with an alarmingly purple liquid inside from the flame of the Bunsen burner and considered Steve for a moment. “I think you’re paranoid.”
“Bruce, please, you know Tony better then most of us. He’s spend all the time he’s not working, and granted that isn’t that much but still, with Bucky and they always sit somewhere giggling and when I ask them what’s so funny they always tell me about a scientific inaccuracy in a movie that I’m pretty positive neither of them has actually seen.”
“Tony and I do that too.” Bruce shrugged “Watching an awful movie and pointing out its blatant flaws, I mean. It’s pretty funny, actually.”
“Yes, I know…”
“Hand me that spatula, please?”
He reached over and grabbed the tool which Bruce used to scoop up some equally odd looking powder to drop into the purple liquid.
“Steve.” He turned towards the Captain. “Tony and James get along great and from what you told us about him from before that is no wonder. That doesn’t mean that either loves you any less. That they slept together also didn’t hurt anyone, in fact the team dynamic has actually improved as far as I’m concerned. It’s a good thing. We were in desperate need of a good thing and this is a good thing and we’re allowed to enjoy it. Even you.”
- - - - -
“They’re up to something, aren’t they?” Clint asked Natasha from the uncomfortable end of a headlock.
“Stark and Barnes?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Thirty bucks say they found out about Steve’s little freak out and want to get back at him. Also stop choking me please, I tapped out like five minutes ago.”
- - - - -
Arms, one metal, one surprisingly smooth skin, closed around Tony from behind.
“Only three people in this place are crazy enough to hug me while I’m wielding a blowtorch, however only one of them has a metal arm. Hello.”
“You’re barefoot. You don’t get to tell me shit about workshop safety.”
“I see and accept my hypocrisy.” Tony turned of the blowtorch and Bucky released him, so he could turn around. They smiled at each other for a moment.
“Ok, out with it. You’re dying to ask something; I can feel it.” Tony prompted.
“How much longer do you plan to wait? The anticipation is killing me.”
“You know what? Let’s do it tomorrow. It’s my turn to cook dinner anyway so it’s as opportune a moment as we’re gonna get one.”
Interlude, because I felt very guilty about not continuing this work in such a long time. It's very cheesy and I might have been slightly tipsy when I wrote it, meaning I am to be held accountable for nothing.
By the way: The prank is mostly finished in my head and that means I might actually finish this in the next few days.
Dinner, meals in general actually, among people in a living arrangement like the Avengers’ were strange affairs to say the least. If they managed to get together for a proper meal at some time, and that was a big if, it was chaotic at best.
The comical amount of food required to feed two super-soldiers, the two of Bruce, the Nordic god and Clint alone were only the very tip of the iceberg. Natasha was probably the most normal eater the group had to offer and that said something.
Tony excluded himself from this particular statistic, because next to his constant snacking, flying to Europe to visit a tiny hole-in-the-wall spot in Prague just for some fries probably went beyond the scope anyway.
That particular incident might have, at least partially, encouraged Steve to introduce Sunday night communal dinners. Despite some initial complaints about culinary dictatorship (Clint, not Tony surprisingly enough) the idea had really taken with the team and unless the world was ending or somebody was working a deep cover mission again they did everything possible to attend.
Over the month dinner night had lead to a multitude of interesting discoveries, admissions and realizations. Most significantly maybe the fact that, if he didn’t have to work with eggs, Tony was an excellent cook.
- - - - -
“I know you guys love my Mediterranean food, but I really want to try out this Persian dish I got served on my last business trip. It sounds easy enough and it was fucking delicious.” Tony told Thor and Clint over breakfast, frowning when Clint pouted.
“But, pasta, man.”
“There is more tasty food on this planet, Hawkguy. Really, get some perspective.”
“Fine, but if it turns out to suck we’re getting take-out and you’re duty bound to cook the good stuff for at least three more Sundays.”
“Alright. Fine. Somebody’s stressed today.”
Tony shrugged, got up, taking his coffee with him down to the workshop. Despite his promise to Rhodey not to work over the weekend (unless absolutely necessary, because “Come on honey-bear it’s me. I’m way to important to not sometimes work on the weekend. The world might actually end.” ) he had work to do today.
Bucky was already waiting by one of the workbenches when the door to the shop opened for Tony and his coffee.
“Why you had that thing lying around remains a miracle to me and your explanation that “people do that these days” reeks of bullshit.” Bucky grinned, as Tony gulped down his still fairly hot beverage.
“It’s a really odd story actually and it involves not one, but two college-age alcohol binges that I was way to young for.” Tony rubbed his neck uncomfortably, setting down his empty cup next to his screwdriver set and the huge banner that occupied most of his workplace at the moment. “Steve probably told you that I wasn’t the most virtuous young man.”
“And you think I was?” Bucky’s eyes glinted with mischief.
“I was worse.”
“I don’t think so and even if, I don’t care.”
“Aww. You really do care.”
Bucky grabbed for Tony’s hand, taking a step forward.
“Yes, I do and when Steve has been embarrassed, tonight, I would really like to take you out.”
“Me?” Tony almost took a step back, but he caught himself last second. This was James, he liked James, talking to James was easy, this wasn’t going to ruin anything. It could only make things better, actually.
“Is there another Tony Stark down here?”
“Boy, I hope not. I’m going to kill Reed Richards if that ever happens again. That was one of the worst weeks in my life. It was like running around with a really similar, annoying twin and…”
“Sorry. God, sorry, I’m rambling. Yes. Yes, let’s go out. Let’s do it properly.”
“Thank you lord. I was so worried.” Bucky gasped. “It’s really intimidating to ask you that, you know…”
He was cut off, when Tony kissed him.
“Steve is going to explode. This is so great.” He mumbled into the kiss.
Ok, so this is it, the grand finale. I really hope it doesn't disappoint.
Steve stared at the huge, light blue banner that spanned across the room.
Otherwise the kitchen area looked perfectly normal; maybe though the more fitting expression would be usual. Nothing, no, seriously, nothing in Avengers Tower was, by any definition, normal.
Nevertheless, the sight of Natasha and Clint sitting huddled at (and on) the bar, observing the cooking process with terrifying focus, but still conversing about something unknown while exchanging money that was part of an undisclosed bet, was rather common. So was the fact that Tony was currently having two conversations going, while still fussing about the food simultaneously. One on the phone, evidently about something concerning his company, the other a passionate discussion with Bruce about something involving non-combusting heat engines and a suitable substitute for hydrogen peroxide.
Thor having a Skype conference with Doctor Jane Foster, whilst Bucky busied himself with a giant book full of crossword riddles he had found in one of the bathrooms some time back, was so painfully usual that Steve briefly considered hallucinations.
“I’m aware that the view is great, Tony.” Steve said carefully. “But what it has to do with me is beyond me.”
The addressed man looked up from the stove, an innocent look plastered across his face.
“I don’t know why you’d think I have anything to do with this.” He responded, handing Bruce the wooden spoon with a suppliant expression and frowning when the person on the phone spoke up. Steve raised an eyebrow disapprovingly.
The giant baby-blue banner that read: “Congratulations! It’s a boy!” with the word boy crossed out and the cryptic “beautiful skyline, Steve!” added with markers instead of the happy announcement really spoke for itself.
“I wasn’t talking to you. Of course I’m very involved in this project, because I’m in fact head of R&D of my own company.” Tony told the person on the other end of the line, sounding somewhere between tired and annoyed. “You know this isn’t even that urgent, meaning I’m not doing this after hours on the weekend. Why are you even in? Ok. Just call me tomorrow after 10 and remind me to have someone give you a serious raise. It’s Sunday evening for fucks sake.”
He hung up and turned towards Steve. The rest of the team was watching the two of them now like spectators at a high noon duel. Their expressions ranging from poorly concealed amusement (Bucky) to perfectly pokerfaced anticipation (Natasha).
“Oh. I’m getting the Captain-America-disapproves frown. Ouch.”
“So you don’t have anything to do with this absurdity?”
“I never said that.”
“Ah. Alright then.”
“I just really don’t like it how you always assume I have something to do with it as soon as something odd is going on.”
“Since you clearly have something to do with it and there is a good 75% chance that oddities in this tower have something to do with you, I can’t indulge your complaint.”
“Fair enough.” Tony replied with a borderline dangerous grin, just as Jarvis chimed in: “Actually, the chance of occurrences in this building, that specify ad weird or odd, having a direct or indirect connection to Sir is closer to 83%, Captain.”
Clint giggled and Tony showed the ceiling his middle finger.
“He’s got a point though.” Bucky interjected calmly from his place at the table. Up to this point he had observed the banter quietly, a look of pleased fondness on his face.
“The skyline really looks nice tonight, Stevie.”
Steve was about to ask what the actual heck was going on here and who was involved in this confusing nightmare of a team dinner, when the flash of a firework light up common area.
Natasha, Clint and Thor got up from where they had sat down and moved towards the wide window front when it became clear that a full blown firework show was happening perfectly in sight of the tower. Bruce followed quickly, a look of glee on his face as he disposed of the wooden spoon and dish towel he’d been holding unheedingly on the table. The man apparently really liked fireworks.
“What the –“
Tony had moved to Steve’s side and gently put his hand on the Captains shoulder, guiding him towards the window. When they stopped right in the middle of the window front, granting Steve the ideal view over the spectacle, Bucky stepped up to Tony and laid his arm around his shoulders.
“You brought this upon yourself, bud.” He told Steve. “Sorry, not sorry.”
The dreadful feeling of foreboding slowly overcame the latter. Not a moment later he had it confirmed when Clint, who had by far the best observation skills in these kind of situations, began to laugh loudly pointing over the skyscrapers to their right.
A formation of what only could be a type of robot was hovering over the roofs of the buildings. The giant exclamation mark that formed was blinking relentlessly, sure to get everybody’s attention down on the streets and in the buildings around.
Steve watched helplessly as the bots began to rearrange forming the giant, hovering, blinking version of what could only be identified as his shield. Just underneath the statement ”mother hen” made the cause, origin and purpose of this insane spectacle painfully clear.
Everybody who had still an ounce of doubt left only had to take a look at either Bucky or Tony.
“Told ya!” Bucky called over the laughter and exclaims of the four other Avengers, while by his side Tony looked incredibly smug, obviously immensely pleased with how this very elaborate prank had played out.
“You know what you did.” He simply told a flabbergasted Steve.
“As amusing as this is and as great as the media backlash is already, Sir, I believe the food is beginning to burn.” Jarvis announced three minutes of very rapid changes in facial coloring on Steve’s and shameless joy on everybody else’s end later.
- - - - -
“And that’s why sometimes something as insanely complicated to organize and over the top as last weeks’ spectacle is absolutely worth it in the end. Even though I might still be in serious trouble with some of the big shots in politics and homeland security.” Tony tells the journalists with what absolutely passes as an honest smile on his face. This once it might just be one. “Yes, please. Over there.”
“New York Times, Mr. Stark. Does that mean that the light show over the Manhattan skyline, which clearly achieved its’ goal of calling out Captain America for being overprotective, directly correlates to the relationship between you and Mr. Barnes?”
A murmuring goes through the crowd, when Tony grins predatory and gestures to his left: “I’d like Captain Rogers to answer this question for me. I believe his perspective will grant us some very thought-provoking insight.”
Steve buries his face in his hands.