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Political Toys

Chapter Text

Threading the fingers of his right hand through his long brown hair, Bucky checked the arrivals board against the information on his phone. The information for the plane flashed ‘Arrived Gate 23C.’ Turning, nodding to his wife, Bucky broke into a sprint towards the distant gate, not wanting to leave his brother standing and waiting. Frustration built as he maneuvered among other people, stumbling around a small family taking most of the corridor, spread annoyingly over the space. “Twenty-three C, Nat,” he called, not looking to verify she remained with him. He had seen his brother only a handful of times over the years and now the vagaries of flight travel promised to make their first real meeting a negative, stressful encounter. He hoped TJ understood.

Natasha followed several steps behind her husband, weaving through the crowded airport with ease and grace. Her eyes scanned the area, trying to see if she could spot Bucky’s twin. “James . . . over by the window to the left,” she called out.

Nodding, Bucky veered in the direction his wife suggested. Spotting the man with nut-brown curls and light grey-blue eyes, Bucky smiled in relief. TJ was his identical twin, though the years and personal tastes dictated different hairstyles and some physical differences and such. Sliding to a halt in front of the other man, Bucky ran his right hand through his hair again, his left curled in what seemed to be an uncomfortable twist at his side due to a car accident some years before. “TJ! You made it!” He ignored an odd twist low in his gut as a response to finally being reunited with his twin, nothing more.

TJ broke into a grin as he saw his twin; though they didn’t know each other very well, having been separated shortly after birth due to their parents’ divorce, TJ had always felt a bond with his brother, a deep longing he never thought much into. “Bucky! Hey!”

Stepping close, Bucky pulled TJ into a one-armed hug, using his good right arm. “How’s Uncle Bud and Aunt Elaine?” Bucky asked dutifully, “and cousin Doug and Nana?”

“They’re busy, as usual. Mom is thinking about running . . . again,” TJ sighed and shook his head.

“Lord help the Republicans! She’s a hell of a Democrat!” Bucky chuckled, letting his brother go, a reluctance in the action that Bucky had to bury. “Hey, you haven’t met Nat!” Bucky turned towards his wife with a smile.

Just then, Natasha walked up beside her husband and offered TJ a smile; she didn’t acknowledge the reluctance Bucky had shown when pulling away from his twin.

“This is my wife, Natasha. Nat, my twin brother, Thomas.” Bucky looked from one to the other, praying the pair would get along. Nat could be very standoffish if she didn’t like someone.

TJ beamed at the redhead and offered his hand to her, “please, call me TJ, it’s an honor to finally meet you.”

Natasha took TJ’s hand and shook it; mirroring the brunet’s smile, she said, “it’s great to finally meet you as well, TJ.”

“Natsha’s from Russia originally,” Bucky supplied. “And TJ’s escaping from the DC social whirl.” Bucky reached for TJ’s baggage claim ticket, beginning to step towards the baggage claim area so they could get going; he wanted to get his brother home so they could really reunite, though he had to push away the thrill of excitement that swirled low in his gut at the idea. “She teaches at the Academy, too.”

Following his twin, TJ smiled, “really? Is that how you two met?” He stepped up to the luggage carousel and watched for his bag.

“Actually, yeah, met a few years back when we both began teaching there. She gave me pointers for my Russian language classes.” Bucky chuckled. “But you two won’t be able to avoid each other. After school productions will fall to you both, since you teach music and she teaches dance and drama.”

TJ looked at Natasha and smiled widely, his pale eyes sparkling, “that’s great!”

Natasha laughed and nodded, “yes, it will be a lot of fun. Luckily, our students actually take their classes seriously.”

TJ grabbed his duffel bag as it approached them on the carousel.

Bucky checked the ticket in his hand and nodded, handing it back, fingers lingering in a brief brush over TJ’s. “Need to show that to the guard so you can claim your bag. Are you shipping anything or do you have more stuff coming in this flight?”

Shrugging, ignoring the gentle hum of pleasure that came from Bucky’s lingering touch, TJ took the ticket and hitched the duffel onto his shoulder, “this is it, actually. None of the stuff in DC was actually mine.”

Following his twin, Bucky frowned softly. “Well, you can move in with Nat and me until you find a place. Things are expensive in New York, TJ, “ Bucky warned. He wondered just what stuff Uncle Bud and Aunt Elaine had prevented TJ from keeping and why. One duffel seemed hardly enough to hold clothes, books, pictures, and the other stuff an adult usually amassed over the years.

Frowning, looking between Natasha and Bucky, TJ licked his lips nervously, “I . . . I was just gonna stay in a hotel for a few nights until I found a place . . .”

A surge of near panic surfaced at the idea that TJ wouldn’t be close, would be in a hotel somewhere. “It’ll be cheaper to stay in our spare room, TJ. Save you hotel costs until you find an apartment or roommate or something. Nat? Didn’t one of the teachers have a roommate who left overseas to the Army recently? Hill, wasn’t it?” Bucky looked at Natasha, “Certainly not Rumlow . . . even if Rollins is in jail.”

Natasha shook her head, knowing, even though she’d just met TJ, that Maria Hill and TJ would not be compatible roommates , “I don’t think Maria is a good . . . fit, James. And no, we are not letting TJ stay with Brock, over my dead body.” The small redhead growled the last portion of her sentence, looking angry.

Glancing at his twin, Bucky nodded. “Of course not! Brock’s an ass.” He put his right hand on TJ’s shoulder and smiled, the feel of his brother so close at last soothing him. “We’ll help you find something. Some of the other teachers might know someone who wants a roommate.” He wondered if his best friend still had his extra room available or if he’d filled the space yet.

Still looking apprehensive, though a spark of excitement lit in his eyes at the idea of sharing a space with his twin, TJ looked at Bucky, “you’re sure? I really don’t mind staying at a hotel . . . I don’t want to impose . . .”

“We have a spare room, TJ, it’s no imposition!” He chuckled in return. Bucky flagged down a taxi. “You can make it up by buying food, okay?” He hoped that TJ would agree; Bucky wanted, almost needed, his brother close to hand after all those years apart.

TJ nodded, smiling wide at his brother, “okay . . . as long as you’re sure . . . thank you.” TJ had always wondered what it’d be like living with his biological twin.

Gesturing into the cab, Bucky grinned. “So, ready for the start of school next week?” He slid in after his twin, arms brushing and thighs pressed together.

“I guess?” TJ laughed, leaning slightly into his brother’s body; he’d always gravitated towards any human touch, but Bucky was different. It felt right being so close to his brother, “never actually taught before . . . so, we’ll see.”

“Well, the former music professor, Peggy Carter, was really organized. She’ll have left lesson plan suggestions and advice on each returning student. She was from a military family.” Bucky leaned over to tell the driver where to take them. He sat back, right arm going instinctively around his brother, damaged left hand capturing Natasha’s hand. He didn’t say why the academy hired TJ instead of their former teacher.

“Do you know why she left?” TJ asked; he had wondered why the academy had hired him . . . he had no experience teaching and the offer had seemed too good to be true. The smaller brunet curled into Bucky’s embrace, fighting the instinct to nuzzle against Bucky’s neck.

Bucky glanced at Nat then grinned at TJ, comfortable with TJ’s response, despite the newness of holding his twin so close. Bucky was a normally outgoing man who didn’t mind hugging or close contact, so being able to cuddle his brother, and not get rejected, was at the least pleasant. ”Yeah, she went back to England to get married to her childhood sweetheart.”

“Oh,” TJ smiled, nodding, “that’s nice. England is beautiful.”

“Peggy was from London,” Bucky added, “so, I guess she and Liz wanted to settle down in a familiar city.”

“She was gay?” TJ asked softly; he’d been worried that working in a private academy he’d have to keep his sexuality hidden or risk offending parents.

“Bi-sexual, actually.” Laughing, Bucky nodded. “Still is, I’d guess.” His laugh dropped off and he sighed, “but there’s a nasty rumor that the Admin was relieved to not offer her a tenure.”

Grimacing, TJ nodded again, “I suppose that hiding my sexuality is kinda pointless, huh?”

“You did come out publicly when you were fifteen, TJ. I think the Admin knows you’re gay,” Bucky pointed out. He glanced to Nat for her opinion.

Natasha nodded, looking thoughtful, “probably. Most of America knows you’re gay,” she looked at TJ.

“Yeah,” TJ sighed and then shrugged, “they knew when they hired me . . . so, it shouldn’t be an issue, right?”

“I’d think as long as you don’t flaunt it. You know, act normal, not stupid,” Bucky smiled hugging his brother briefly. “It’s not like gay guys throw themselves at anything masculine.”

Laughing, TJ nodded and released a deep breath, a jolt of excitement thrumming through him at each and every touch Bucky gave him, “yeah . . . I’m just happy to have a fresh start, ya know? Well, as fresh as a former first son can have.”

“Well, Aunt Elaine did write and say you were having trouble fitting into DC society, but I figured she was just being political or something.” Bucky shrugged. “I’m glad you accepted the job. Uncle Bud said something about holding out for something better, but I don’t see what’s better than a prestigious academy where your own twin already teaches.” He grinned mischievously at TJ.

“He wanted me to teach at a university, his alma mater,” TJ shrugged, looking down at his hands and then back up at Bucky and Natasha.

“A university can’t pay what the private academy can, TJ. Uncle Bud’s just trying to keep you in the niche he built for you and Doug when we were kids.” Bucky shook his head. “Oh, here we are,” he gestured to the building the cab pulled in front of.

TJ looked at the brownstone and smiled, “it’s nice.”

Paying the driver, Bucky waited for Nat to slide out, graceful as always, then followed. He turned and offered TJ a hand out without considering how odd it was for two men; he only knew he loved touching his delicate brother. Bucky smiled at his rather quiet wife. She got that way at times, so he was used to it. “We have half the second floor. The other half belongs to a family that won’t associate with Nat because she’s Russian. We ignore them. Third floor is split into three apartments. One belongs to a nice old lady and her nephew. Another is used by a pair of college girls. And the third is where my best friend lives. You’ll meet him later. His name is Steve. First floor belongs to the super and maintenance and stuff. The attic is rented to some recluse I’ve never met. Wayne, I think?”

Grinning widely at his twin, TJ took Bucky’s offered hand and let him help him out of the cab. When Bucky’s hand enclosed around his, TJ nearly gasped at the intense pleasure that came from such a simple touch.

“Wade,” Natasha supplied, not minding that Bucky offered TJ help out of the vehicle, “he’s a burn victim and doesn’t come out very much.”

After a long moment, Bucky blinked and let go of TJ’s hand. Nodding, he added, “the kid on the third floor, Peter, delivers groceries and stuff, so if you wanna order food and pay delivery, you can call him to do the shopping. I think that’s how Wade does it.”

TJ nodded, slipping the strap of his duffle over his shoulder; he looked up at the building. It was homely and warm, nothing like Aunt Elaine’s large urban home in DC.

Once Bucky let them inside, he led them to the second floor to their side of the hall. He unlocked the door but paused, glancing over, eyes roving over his petite wife then his tall, lean twin.

“I hope you’re not allergic to cats, TJ,” Natasha said, looking up at the taller brunet next to her. “We have one.”

“We have two, Nat,” Bucky chuckled, “a mom cat and her remaining kitten, though Nat’s trying desperately to find a home for the kitten.”

Shaking his head, TJ smiled, flushing under his twin’s roving eyes, enjoying the way his brother looked at him, “nope, not allergic. I’ve always wanted a cat but Mom never let us have one growing up and any apartments I lived in, in DC, didn’t allow pets.”

“Well, maybe after you find a place you can take the kitten,” Natasha smiled at her husband’s twin, at first glance TJ had looked identical to Bucky, but the more she watched TJ, the more differences she could spot. Bucky was thicker, had a lot more muscle mass, whereas TJ was lean, sallower. Their eyes were the same icy blue, but TJ’s seemed slightly wider, making him appear younger - - innocent. And, of course, Bucky’s damaged arm was another significant difference between the two. She couldn’t help but notice the looks and touches that were being exchanged between the two men, the two brothers.

Walking into the apartment, Bucky stopped and scooped up a small grey bundle of fluff with his left hand, able to handle such an insignificant weight as a nine week old kitten. He turned and grinned at TJ, offering the tiny cat to the other man. “Welcome home, TJ.”

TJ smiled, stepping in after Bucky, his eyes inadvertently taking in his twin’s fit form, flushing once he realized what he was doing he moved his eyes away from his brother to take in the space around him, “thank you. I really appreciate all this.” He smiled at his brother and took the kitten.

Wrapping his right arm around TJ’s neck, he pulled his twin closer and hugged hard, giving him an unconscious quick kiss on the cheek. “Hey, you’re my brother,” Bucky whispered harshly. “Anything I can do, right?” He grinned at TJ. Bucky had always been a man who didn’t mind showing his affection for his friends, public opinion be damned.

Letting his twin pull him into a hug, TJ’s smile grew wider and he looked over at Bucky, his cheek tingling slightly from where Bucky had kissed him. Back in DC, his family hugged and gave polite kisses. . . but nothing had felt genuine, everything had been so forced. But with Bucky? TJ could feel that Bucky was genuinely happy to help him. TJ always loved any type of human contact, his body thrived with it.

“Here, give that bag to Nat,” Bucky instructed, smiling at his wife with a wink. “So, that’s the kitten. If you’re thinking of adopting her, you might wanna get to know her.”

Natasha didn’t even wait for TJ to hand her the duffle, she simply slid it off his shoulder and then carried it into the guest room. TJ grinned, cradling the kitten close to his chest as he started petting it’s soft grey fur.

Bucky nodded, reaching over to stroke the kitten, too, his hand caressing over TJ’s. Reluctantly he drew his hand back, fighting the surge of unexpected desire in his groin. Flushing, Bucky laughed off his odd response. “Not even named yet. Best advice is to say her name and rub your cheek on hers, over and over. She’ll get used to you and her name quicker that way. Great way to bond.”

Smiling at Bucky, TJ nodded; he’d have to think of a name for the little kitten. TJ looked around the space again. Seeming not to notice his twin’s desire though TJ himself was thrumming under all the touches, his body aching for something more . . . something intimate. He quickly tried to shove the thought away, knowing he shouldn’t be having such desires for his twin.

“As you can see, that’s your room,” Bucky gestured to the spare room Nat exited. “And that room over there is mine and Nat’s. Bathroom there,” he pointed with his right hand, his wedding ring glinting; due to the damage on his left hand, he’d had to switch which hand held his ring. “And the living room is separated from the kitchen by the island right there. We tend to eat at the island or in the living room. Nothing formal here.”

“That’s great . . . I’ve spent my whole life being formal,” TJ laughed, he watched his twin’s every move . . . he couldn’t seem to stop looking at Bucky.

“If you wanna watch something specific, we can argue it out, but we can record shows, too, so shouldn’t be a big problem. There’s a TV in your room, too, if you wanna escape us.” Bucky turned and gestured to the entire apartment. “Not a bad set up, really.” Bucky truly hoped TJ would decide to stay with him and Nat.

TJ shrugged, petting the kitten and smiling as it began to purr loudly, “it’s amazing, really. I like it a lot.” He felt whole being with his biological brother once more, being so close to his twin.

“Nah, what's amazing is that if you go out back a block you’ll get to the campus of the academy, so we can walk to work.” Bucky smirked, as if he’d arranged such a surprise on purpose.

“That’s really good news,” TJ laughed, “I hate driving or taking public transport.”

“Well, no real parking in this city, so public transport or your own feet are the best options. Cheaper just to walk.” Bucky headed for the kitchen. “Hungry, TJ?” Bucky really needed to distract himself from the odd interest; he felt it must be due to their sudden, instinctive closeness. Bucky only really felt close to two other people and was sexually attracted only to those two. His body must be confused by having a third person shoved into his sphere of comfort.

“Sure, I can eat,” TJ nodded, once more watching Bucky’s backside, how the lean muscle rippled under his twin’s shirt.

“Can you cook?” Bucky glanced over smiling. “I can teach you a thing or two about cooking, but Nat’s the real whiz in this family.”

“I may be spoiled but I’m not invalid,” TJ chuckled, “I can cook.”

Nodding, Bucky said,”burgers and breakfast are my specialties.”

TJ followed Bucky into the kitchen, Natasha walked up behind her husband and wrapped her arms around Bucky's waist. She pushed herself onto the tips of her toes to kiss the back of the brunet's neck, letting her lips linger on the skin there for a few moments. She had been quietly observing the twins, how they interacted with one another; Natasha was shocked to see that her husband seemed sexually aroused . . . she wrote it off as a biological reaction to all the touching the two men had been doing. She turned to look back at TJ, giving the other man a wink she said, “this guy makes a mean omelette.”

Bucky hummed in appreciation of his wife’s attention. Placing his right hand over one of her’s, Bucky grinned at his brother. “If you’re tired, we understand, TJ. Just let us know if you need anything. And watch out behind you. That’s Sascha, the momma cat. She’s stalking you, probably for holding her precious baby.”

Glancing over his shoulder, TJ looked at the larger cat that was watching him intently. Setting the kitten back on the ground, TJ straightened back up and looked at Bucky and Nat, “yeah . . . I guess I should probably unpack some things . . . I promise I won't be here long, I'll start looking for places right away. But, I really appreciate you two for letting me stay here.”

Sascha ran over and immediately nosed at the kitten then, surprisingly, rubbed at TJ’s legs in a crossover pattern, purring lightly. Apparently, she approved of their newest housemate. With a small bat at the little grey fluffball, momma cat herded baby cat away.

“Not a problem, TJ, really,” Bucky confirmed, smiling, left hand settled over Natasha’s around his waist, rocking slightly and enjoying her cuddle; he forced away the curiosity over how it would feel to cuddle with TJ like that. “As long as you need. Tomorrow you should come with us to the Academy. No official classes yet, but the newest freshmen will be starting so their parents like to see the faces of the professors that’ll be teaching their children. While you’re there, you can get the tour, see your rooms and instruments, check out the stage and stuff for performances . . . and see if Peggy left you her normal sound advice.”

“That sounds like a good idea, that way I won't be lost on the first day,” TJ nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. “Do you know if the academy has a piano?” He needed to get his thoughts off of his twin; TJ figured once he settled down a bit more, that the odd desires for his brother would fade away.

“Yeah,” Bucky chuckled and opening the fridge. “A regular kinda school piano, I think. Not sure the brand. Baldwin I think. But it sounds good.”

Nodding, happy with that answer, TJ said, “if it's alright with you, I think I'm going to unpack a bit and maybe try to get a nap or something. Flying sucks.”

“You do that. Dinner’ll be ready in a few hours. Thinking steaks?” Bucky glanced over and licked his lips then turned away, still enjoying his wife’s cuddle.

“Sounds great,” TJ said and thanked his brother and Nat again before slipping away to go unpack. He tried to ignore the spike of jealousy he felt when he watched Natasha and Bucky cuddle; it wasn’t right to feel that way about his brother.


Finishing the tour of the school, Bucky grinned at TJ. “I’ve got a few things to go over in my classroom, but if you want to wander on your own, feel free. Or you can hang in your music room or classroom for when parents come by for this open house.” Bucky said, turning back to go inside keeping his eyes off his brother’s lean form.

TJ watched his brother go and then looked around the hallway, some teenagers wandered the halls with their parents. Taking a deep breath, the brunet teacher continued down the long hallway. The campus was pretty large for a high school and it took a couple minutes before he crossed the quad and entered the large classroom that would be his in just a few days.

The sound of someone walking down the outer hallway came through the open door. A tall, muscular blond man with a narrow waist and bulging arms glanced in. He grinned, his blue eyes dancing, and called “Heya, Buck, nice haircut.” The man kept going, disappearing down the hall before TJ could correct the mistaken identity.

TJ frowned softly, his mouth open slightly from trying to correct the stranger . . . the very good looking stranger; TJ smiled softly, maybe the wrong feelings towards his twin were starting to go away. Shaking his head, TJ walked over to the desk and began looking through the files, hoping that Bucky would be right about the previous teacher leaving some lesson plans.

The lesson book left behind was in neat, legible handwriting. Her notes were precise and observant, with small remarks concerning each student which would be returning. She had even written notes on which instruments might need tuning or replacing by the end of summer and a note that the costume closet would need sorting since the students hadn’t left it in the best shape after the last musical performed there. The woman, Peggy Carter, had apparently loved her job and wanted to smooth the transition in teachers over.

Looking over the notes, TJ nodded and then rolled up the sleeves of his white button-down shirt. He went over to the large closet to begin assessing the condition of the instruments.

“What have we here?” a rasp drawled from the doorway, deep but smoky. A dark-haired man with equally dark eyes lounged against the doorjamb, muscular arms crossed over his sculpted chest. “Since when did you take an interest in music, Barnes?”

Jumping at the unexpected voice, TJ whirled around and took in the muscled form of the other man. Shaking his head, TJ offered the newcomer a smile, “It’s actually Thomas . . . Thomas Hammond . . . Bu - - James is my twin . . . I’m the new music teacher?”

“James, huh?” the man grinned and straightened, stepping into the classroom. “Welcome to Brooklyn Academy, Thomas Hammond. Took over for the Brit, huh?”

“Yeah,” TJ nodded, he stepped out of the closet and wiped his hand on his pants before offering it to the other man, “I didn’t catch your name?”

“Didn’t give it,” the man grinned, sounding friendly enough. “Brock Rumlow, phys ed.” He took TJ’s hand and gave it a firm, but not punishing, shake.

TJ blinked, Brock Rumlow? Was this the man that both Bucky and Natasha had seemed not to like? Dropping his hand, TJ rubbed the back of his neck and nodded, “P.E., huh? Guess we won’t cross paths all that often.”

“Shame,” Brock said, checking over TJ’s lanky frame. “But there’s always meetings and lunch and assemblies and after work. You like dancing? There’s a great club over on eighth.”

Flushing under Brock’s gaze, TJ cleared his throat and shrugged, “I . . . uh . . . I don’t do much clubbing or anything - -”

Brock interrupted TJ’s excuse with a knowing smirk, as if he didn’t believe a word of TJ’s excuse, “I know a couple girls we could take. You ain’t too bad looking, so you’d be popular.”

“Thanks?” TJ’s brows furrowed, the more time he talked with Brock, the more he understood Bucky and Nat’s dislike of him, “but . . . like I said, clubbing isn’t my scene . . . and neither are women.”

“Whatcha mean, women ain’t your scene?” Brock laughed as if he thought it was a joke. “You can’t be a monk. Though your brother certainly was before he snatched up that sweet redhead.” But something about the way Brock eyed TJ said the darker man knew something he wasn’t sharing.

TJ’s eyes narrowed slightly as he looked at the burly man in front of him, “I’m not a monk . . . I like men, and don’t speak about my brother or his wife like that, it’s disrespectful,” he honestly hoped the admission would make Brock uncomfortable and he would leave.

Letting his eyes rove over TJ again, more leisurely, Brock stepped closer. “Really? Now, that’s good news . . . your brother’s a damn prude,” he verbally pushed again.

A shiver ran down TJ’s spine and he backed up, away from Brock, until his back hit the wall behind him. Trapped, TJ looked at the other man, “I’m afraid it’s not good news for you, Brock. And, really, I’d appreciate it if you stopped talking about my brother like that,” the smaller man tried to keep his tone firm but his eyes kept darting to the doorway behind Brock, hoping someone would come in and get this asshole out of his classroom.

“If your brother hadn’t gotten my best friend fired for teaching, I might respect him.” Stepping a bit closer, leaning in, Brock drawled, “and why wouldn’t it be good news for me? I could show you one hell of a time, Thomas.”

“I’m sure your friend deserved it, then,” TJ snapped and added, “because I’m not interested,” TJ said bluntly, his pale eyes snapping back to look at Brock.

“Course you are. I saw the interest in your eyes the moment you saw my tight ass.” Brock grinned wider. His manner got more relaxed, more possessive as they remained closeted in the classroom alone. “And since you weren’t here to see what happened, I’m gonna have to go with your brother is still an ass . . . a nice, tight ass, but an ass.”

“Look, I’m telling you I’m not interested - -” TJ snapped, eyes flashing. The possessive tone, the dominating demeanor scared TJ, “and maybe you’re the ass, Brock.”

“And this is the music room,” a man’s voice sounded in the hall, followed by a woman’s.

“You like music, that’s great!”

A dark-skinned man looked in and his eyebrows rose at the sight of the pair of men. A woman and younger girl were right behind the new man. The man smiled, “hello? Brock, who’s this?”

Brock instantly backed off, almost as if burned, and shoved his hands deep in his pockets with a shrug, turning his back on TJ as if the man held no interest. “New teacher. Hammond.” He slunk from the room in a hurry, not even glancing at the parent and freshman standing there.

TJ released a breath and shook himself; slapping a smile on his face, he walked over to the trio, “TJ Hammond, I’ll be teaching music this upcoming year.”

Grinning, a slight gap between his upper front teeth, the man offered a hand. “Sam Wilson. ROTC. Glad to see the position filled so quickly. Just showing one of the new cadets around. She’ll be in the general classes for most of the day and in the cadet classes in the evenings.” Sam grinned at the parent and student, who stayed quiet either from politeness or nervousness.

Shaking Sam’s hand and then both the parent’s and student’s, TJ said, looking to the teenager, “looks like you’ll be having a busy schedule.”

She nodded. “I’m working hard to become an officer, sir.”

TJ was definitely not used to someone calling him ‘sir’ and he wasn’t quite sure if he liked it, however, he gave the girl a smile and nod, “that’s good. Will I be seeing you in any of my classes?”

“If you teach piano, sir,” she said and offered a nervous smile. “I’m not the band kind.”

“I sure do,” TJ grinned, “it’s actually my instrument of choice.”

Sam chuckled. “Ah, then I’m sure you’ll both be happy in the coming year. Let me show you both the training facilities.” Sam offered TJ a grin and guided the pair of females from the music room.

After the trio left, TJ walked back into his classroom and slumped into the chair behind the desk. The encounter with Brock replaying in his head over and over again. Why had he told the other man he was gay? It had been a stupid plan that ended up backfiring, but he’d been so angered by the way the other man spoke about his brother that he couldn’t think straight.

TJ’s phone alerted that a text came through.

Pulling out the cell phone, TJ looked down at the screen.

Bucky had texted him, ‘lunch? Meet in the quad.’

Pocketing the phone, TJ hurried out of the room, anxious to see his brother and try to get his mind off of his odd encounter with Brock.

As he hurried down the hall, he passed the tall blond again. The other man grinned and waved briefly, not stopping, “heya, Buck.” He turned the corner down a different hall.

Grumbling under his breath, TJ wanted to shout that he wasn’t Bucky . . . he honestly didn’t even think he and Bucky looked all that similar. Shaking his head, TJ stepped outside, into the quad to look for his brother.

Grinning widely, Bucky waved to TJ. He stood alone in the quad. “Hey, we can go eat in the cafeteria or just get food and disappear into the teacher’s lounge.”

“Doesn’t matter to me . . . well, aside from wanting to be wherever Brock Rumlow isn’t,” TJ grumbled.

“Ah, got to meet him, huh? Real ass, huh?” Bucky frowned and nodded, leading his brother into the appropriate building housing the cafeteria, student store, and other services. “Watch out, he’s trouble, TJ. Very big trouble.”

“Yeah, I know, and he doesn’t know how to take a hint, either,” TJ shook his head, running his fingers through his hair. “Or watch his mouth,” TJ added on a growl.

“Hint?” Bucky looked at TJ, worried suddenly. “He’s been hitting on you? I thought he was straight.”

“Nope,” TJ said quickly, “he’s about as straight as I am. Real pushy too.”

“Funny . . .” Bucky didn’t sound amused. “He was hitting on Nat a few years ago, pretty aggressively.” Bucky paused, as if about to say something then let his voice drop to a whisper, “cornered her in an empty office and nearly raped her, TJ. Be careful.” Bucky slipped into line behind a pair of teachers TJ hadn’t met yet.

“What?” TJ’s eyes widened, “how the hell hasn’t he been arrested?”

Shaking his head, Bucky ground out, “Admin requires more than he said, she said for evidence, TJ. No one else saw.” He looked at his brother. “We got married pretty shortly afterwards and he’s left her alone ever since.” A small smile crossed Bucky’s face, eyes almost gleeful, as Bucky added, “that, and she got away using martial art skills he didn’t know she had. He walked funny for a couple of weeks.”

Frowning, looking concerned, TJ looked at his brother and then around the large cafeteria, “I don’t . . . that doesn’t make sense. If he almost raped her . . . he should be sitting in a jail cell. Not free and roaming around a school full of vulnerable teenagers.”

Bucky sighed. “Yeah, I know.”

Huffing, looking unsatisfied with Bucky’s response, TJ looked around the room again, “where is she, anyway?”

“She’ll be along in a few minutes. Just talking to some potential students. Telling them about the audition process.” Bucky walked two trays down the line, accepting food on both, though not necessarily the same exact foods. “Is Rumlow the only one you got to meet, TJ?”

TJ shook his head, “no, I met Sam Wilson . . . seems like a nice guy. And this massive blond . . . I saw him twice and both times he thought I was you.”

“Massive . . . blond?” Bucky chuckled, looking amused. “Could be Thor . . . he’s pretty massive. Teaches some of the ancient history and languages. Some mythology, too. Started here about four years ago.” Bucky nodded towards a table by the windows. “And Sam’s a pretty good guy. He’s a Sergeant in the Army and works with the ROTC program here.”

TJ walked with Bucky over to the tables and sat down. Natasha slipped in besides her husband a few minutes later.

“They’ll get used to you after a few days, TJ. No one really knows I even have a brother, let alone a twin. Never came up.” Bucky pushed Nat’s tray to her seat and began opening his milk. “You can always tell them you’re not me.” He brushed his hand over her’s.

“Or you two can really start messing with people,” Natasha grinned, opening her juice and taking a sip.

With a laugh, Bucky nodded. “Might be fun.” He grinned at his twin. “If Brock confuses us, I can give him a couple of black eyes . . .” Bucky offered.

“Oh, got to meet Rumlow?” Natasha quirked a brow at TJ, looking murderous, taking a bite of the salad Bucky had gotten her.

“Yeah, he’s being a typical asshole, too,” Bucky said, picking up his fork. “Apparently, he’s off pint-sized redheads and onto tall brunets.”

“Whatever you do, just try not to be alone with him . . . he gets handsy when he thinks no one can see,” Natasha offered with a roll of her eyes at her husband’s comment about her size, “complete tool. Thank God, Rollins was fired. Those two together were ridiculous.”

“Steve always managed to keep them in line,” Bucky snorted, frowning. “He’s on vacation. Due back soon but not sure exactly when.”

TJ sighed and nodded, “why hasn’t Brock been fired for sexual harassment?”

“Because he only ever does it when he’s one on one, TJ. No one’s pressed it because they haven’t had proof,” Bucky reminded on a sigh, eating his macaroni and cheese.

Taking a bite of his own salad, TJ shook his head, “that’s not right. If he get enough complaints, it shouldn’t matter, right?”

“He doesn’t get complaints, though,” Bucky looked up. He forced a grin and waved at someone behind TJ. “Hey, Thor, come meet my brother, TJ!”

TJ looked over his shoulder, hoping that the blond he kept running into in the halls would no longer get him and Bucky confused.

Thor was certainly as massive as promised, even taller than the blond TJ had seen in the halls. The man also had longer hair and a more European style of dress. He certainly wasn’t the man from the hall. With a huge grin, the tall, well-built man strode over and said, loudly, “hello, brother of James. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He offered a large hand.

TJ shook Thor’s hand, feeling incredibly small standing next to the very large man, “nice to meet you too, Thor. I’m Thomas, but please, call me TJ.”

“TJ it is. Are you teaching here now?” Thor beamed at Natasha and Bucky then turned back to TJ.

Nodding, TJ answered, “yeah, I’m the new music teacher.”

With a laugh, Thor nodded. “I look forward to hearing your students play. I must go attend my parents and students. Please, excuse me.” The tall Norwegian moved off to a small group of students and parents along one wall.

Bucky grinned. “Thor won’t mistaken you again, TJ,” he chuckled.

“That wasn’t the blond from the hall,” TJ shook his head, taking another bite of his lunch.

Bucky looked mildly surprised and glanced to his wife. “Not many big blonds here . . .”

“Steve?” Nat offered after swallowing another bite.

“Would he be back from England already?” Bucky asked. “He never said he was coming back from the wedding yet.”

Natasha shrugged, “only two men I’d describe as massive blonds are Thor and Steve, and we know it isn’t Thor.”

“Huh,” Bucky glanced at TJ. “Well, it’s probably my best friend you’ve been seeing. I can text him and find out.”

“Rumlow just entered the cafeteria, looking for someone,” Natasha gestured to the stocky brunet with a tilt of her chin, her eyes narrowed in obvious dislike.

Bucky immediately rose to his feet, picking up his tray. “Want me to threaten him, TJ?” he asked softly.

“No,” TJ shook his head, “creep’s not worth it.” He hunched his shoulders and took another bite of his food.

“Okay, grab your trays and we can go back to the teacher’s lounge to finish eating. Don’t wanna lose my lunch.” Bucky gestured towards Brock with his head.

Both Natasha and TJ followed Bucky’s instructions, scooping up their trays to follow Bucky to the teacher’s lounge. TJ hoped they could get out unseen.

Settling at one of the round tables inside the private lounge, Bucky grinned. “Much better. Rumlow doesn’t come in here too often.” He looked up at TJ. “Other than him, you doing okay this unofficial first day?”

“Sure, everyone seems really friendly, and it looked like most the instruments were cleaned and tuned . . . so that’s a relief,” TJ smiled at his brother.

Laughing, Bucky nodded, “sounds like Peggy. She always kept things as neat as if she could do surgery or something in there. And wait until you meet Hill, in charge of ROTC. Then you won’t think everyone’s so friendly.” Bucky scooped up some of his loose hamburger.

Natasha smirked, “I like Maria . . . she doesn’t take anyone’s shit. I’d like to see Rumlow try to hit on her . . . she’d knock him on his ass.”

Bucky chuckled again. “Yeah, now that’s a fight worth getting pay per view for.” Bucky winked at TJ.