The collected Avengers, Guardians, Wakandans, and sorcerers were basking in a rare moment of quiet. With the threat of Thanos looming they weren’t exactly relaxed, but there was finally time to breathe. Eat. Catch up.
Bruce and Thor stood a little ways away, studying the cliques of heroes.
“Where should we go?” Bruce whispered. “Tony?”
Stark was out of his suit, speaking animatedly to Peter who was nodding vigorously, unmasked but still suited up.
“We shouldn’t. He’s speaking to his...son?” Thor tilted his head in question. “Did Stark always have a son?”
Bruce sighed. “I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Both of them continued searching.
“Natasha?” Thor volunteered hesitantly, wincing even as he said it.
As if she could hear them (she probably could), she turned her gaze towards them both, burning them with the heat of her glare.
“Nope, nope, not there, never there,” Bruce babbled anxiously, guilt and fear flooding through him in equal measure.
“Ah!” Thor smiled broadly. He slapped his hand at Bruce’s back, propelling him forward. “Captain!”
Allowing Thor to lead the way, Bruce watched as Steve looked up, greeting them with a wave. He was out of his uniform for the moment, instead wearing black underarmor and black athletic pants. The all black outfit paired with the thick beard and longer hair made Steve - disarming, wholesome, lovely Steve - seem dangerous. If Bruce was being honest, he looked like trouble. Sexy trouble. But trouble nonetheless. The image of dangerous sexy trouble was only exacerbated by the scowling, leather clad man sitting next to Steve. The long haired brunet was sharpening a knife, glowering at the blade like it personally offended him. Bruce scooted so Thor half covered him.
“Hey, Thor,” Steve smiled. Even with the new look, he still smiled with the same genuine pleasure they remembered. “Hey, Bruce. This is Bucky.”
The longer haired man nodded once with a frown before returning to his knife sharpening. Thor and Bruce shared a silent look that agreed to ignore it. It was still better than the frankly terrifying glare Natasha had graced them with.
“How’ve you both been?” Steve asked, tone interested and concerned at once.
Bruce and Thor shared another look before going off on the story of what happened with the Grandmaster, Sakaar, Hela, and the destruction of Asgard. When they finished, Steve was blinking at them owlishly, mouth faintly parted.
“Oh, wow. Jeez. I’m glad you’re both ok.” He took a moment to shake his head and run a hand over his face. “I’m glad you were able to escape that planet. And save your people. And turn back from the Hulk.”
His mouth opened and closed a few times like he wanted to say something else, but couldn’t really think of the right words.
Thor beamed. “Thank you, Steven. We were pleased as well. But enough about our daring adventures, both valiant and cosmic in nature. How have you been?”
Bruce knew that was the wrong question to ask as soon as the words were out of Thor’s mouth. Steve’s expression shuttered, eyebrows furrowing, blue eyes darkening, and mouth thinning into a flat line.
“Oh, nothing to worry about,” Steve grit out. “Nothing compared to what you’ve all been through.”
“Nonsense,” Thor slapped him on the shoulder. Steve didn’t even blink and Bruce was more than a little jealous at his composure when subjected to Thor’s violent affection. “It’s not a contest. I merely wish to know how you’ve been.”
“I don’t want to bother you guys with it.” There was a brittleness in his gaze and Bruce felt his face contort into a sympathetic wince. This was going to be bad if Thor didn’t catch the hint. “It’s nothing, really.”
“Thor,” Bruce muttered. “Thor, leave it.”
Thor frowned, not recognizing the warning signs of a man ready to explode. “Please, tell me all about the last two years! You’re my valued friend and shieldmate, Steven. I would have you share your adventures with me.”
Steve inhaled sharply and Bruce tensed. Beside Steve, Bucky stilled, blade held over the stone rather than grinding against it.
“You want to know what happened?” Steve asked, tone hardening.
“Of course!” Thor smiled widely. Bruce wondered if slapping him would be too obvious.
“You really want to know how I’ve been?” Steve’s words rose in volume, gaining momentum for the inevitable.
“Yes?” Based on the sudden hesitance in his tone, Thor had finally caught on that something wasn’t quite right with Steve. Too bad about the timing.
“So get this,” Steve begins, hands moving in aggravated gesticulation. “First, I slipped up and caused an international incident that put Wanda under some dangerous scrutiny. That’s on me, Wanda did the best with what she had and she managed to save hundreds of people on the ground. But people died and I take full responsibility for that. In response, Tony sells us out to the government. And ok, I get it. Oversight is important. Accountability is important. But the government has proven time and again that they’re vulnerable to agendas and corruption and injustice. I mean, not like we tried to drop a nuclear bomb on New York. Not like we built helicarriers with the ability to mass kill citizens. Hell, I’m pretty sure I stopped that one. Not like we created a murderous AI, that was all Tony - I know he forced you into it, Bruce, stop trying to apologize. So not only does the team get ripped apart by political power playing and manipulation by a psychopath, but most of them end up in a super secret extrajudicial prison in the sea. Which, by the way, is run by the guy who keeps trying to hunt you down.”
“What?! Ross?” Bruce gawked, accusing eyes looking for Tony who was...nowhere to be found.
“Yeah, Ross. Secretary Ross who doesn’t give a shit about justice and instead just wants to hurl everyone with abilities into a goddamn super secret extrajudicial prison in the sea.” Steve sucked in a large breath, not yet finished. Thor watched him the way he watched the many, many fires, collisions, explosions, and implosions he’d seen - rapt, concerned, and just a little turned on.
“Basically I’m a war criminal now,” Steve told them with a forced sort of calm. “And I had to break into that prison to set everyone free so they’re wanted criminals too. We've been on the run since then. And to top it all off the love of my life, who ran away from me for several years before this just so you know, decided to go into cryofreeze immediately after I got him back, but no big deal right?”
A metallic clatter had Thor and Bruce looking over to Bucky who was gaping at Steve in complete shock, eyes wide and jaw dropped. His knife had fallen uselessly to the floor.
Steve didn’t even glance at the dumbfounded man, instead rolling his own eyes. “Don’t act so surprised, Buck. I single handedly attacked a Hydra base for you. I let you shoot me like three times. I basically told the UN and my friends to fuck off so I could find you. It’s not news.”
Ignoring Bucky’s sputtering, Steve looked over his shoulder. “Nat! Vodka!”
A large bottle with Cyrillic script on the label soared straight at him. Snatching it from the air, Steve opened it and shouted out a “Thanks, Nat!” before guzzling it down.
Bruce and Bucky watched with undisguised horror while Thor nodded his approval.
Bottle completely empty, Steve set it down with a clink. He breathed in deep and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Noticing Bruce’s alarmed expression, he gave the man a tight smile. “If I drink it all in one go I can almost feel something.”
“That’s, that is- god, that’s not good,” Bruce stuttered. Thor placed a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“There we go. That’s nice,” Steve closed his eyes and sighed, limbs loosening. When he opened his eyes, he glanced at the place where Thor’s hand still rested on Bruce’s shoulder. His eyebrow rose mischievously. “So you and Thor now?”
“What?” Bruce paused, brain failing him. He might as well be the big guy for all his mental processing skills at that moment. “No, no- that’s-”
“We aren’t-” Thor continued.
“He’s not-” Bruce’s hands came out as if he could push the implications away.
Bruce shook his head aggressively. “I’m way too old for him and-”
Thor froze. He turned to Bruce, incredulous and offended. “I’m over one thousand years old.”
Bruce sighed. “That’s not-”
Steve watched them with a half smile, moving only to catch another bottle Natasha threw at him. He popped it open and downed the contents just as quickly as the first.
“I am many centuries older than you,” Thor challenged. “Is this- Are you worried about your age, Banner?”
“What- why-” Bruce waved indistinctly. “This is not about my age, it’s about how we’re not a couple.”
“You brought up your age. You made it about your age. Is that really all that bothers you?” Glee spread across Thor’s face.
“Why do you suddenly sound interested?!”
Thor puffed up. “It’s not sudden.”
“It seems sudden to me.”
“Well, it’s not.”
“You barely even like me,” Bruce denied.
“That is untrue and, frankly, a little hurtful.”
“Then why not tell me sooner? We were in space for a long time, Thor. A long time!”
“I will have you know that I was getting over a break-up among a great many other things. And I didn’t want to upset you.”
“Well too bad, I’m upset!”
“You know,” Steve drawled, ignoring the pointed stare and beckoning gestures Bucky sent him. “If you guys are ever interested in adding another person…”
He trailed off and indicated to himself with a careless wave. Bruce and Thor stopped bickering long enough to ogle the captain, their eyes roving up and down his form.
“Just for the record,” Steve whispered, smelling of vodka but looking painfully sober for the amount he drank, “I’m a hundred years old and haven’t gotten past first base. So feel free to change that.”
“Steve,” Bucky growled. “Stop. Propositioning. People.”
“What’s your problem, Buck?” Steve scoffed. “Not like you want to do anything about it.”
“You never said you wanted me to!” Bucky shrieked at once.
“Oh, bullshit,” Steve challenged. “How about when we got drunk on my seventeenth birthday and I told you I wanted to lick your jaw? How about that winter I got real sick and I told you I loved you more than anyone in the world? How about those times we shared a bed and I ground my skinny ass into your crotch?”
Bucky’s hands came to clutch at his hair, metal arm whirring in his distress. “You were drunk! Sick! Sleeping! I didn’t know you wanted me to-to-”
“I let you stab and shoot me even when you didn’t remember me.”
“You’re a very heroic person!”
“You’re an idiot,” Steve told Bucky emphatically. “Nat! The hint of a buzz is long gone!”
“We’re out!” Natasha shouted back.
“Dang it,” Steve sighed. He looked to Bruce and Thor, the two men having a silent argument that was mostly in the eyebrows. “If you guys want some time alone, there’s a corner over there that’s pretty private.”
The two made to have another conversation, but Bucky cut across them.
“It’s going to be occupied, don’t bother,” he snarled. Grabbing Steve’s hand, Bucky intertwined their fingers and tugged, a flush high on his cheeks.
“Bucky?” Steve stared at their joined hands, the fragile, desperate hope in his voice making him sound small.
“You said I’m the love of your life,” Bucky muttered. “And you’re mine. Time we did something about it.”
“Bucky.” Steve’s grin stretched wide, blinding and bright like sunshine.
“Come on, punk. You’ve got some bases to round and a jaw to lick.”
Bucky pulled a now docile Steve into a far corner where they disappeared, ignoring the other heroes and their inquisitive looks. Clint slid Natasha a wad of cash. Only the occasional muffled shout gave away that they were there at all.
Bruce and Thor watched them go, mouths agape.
Thor recovered first, watching Bruce from the corner of his eye. “Banner.”
“Yeah.” Bruce’s eyes widened as a loud moan, not stifled hastily enough, echoed through the space.
“I don’t particularly mind the lack of privacy.”
“If you would like to, you know…”
“Oh my god.”
“That wasn’t a no, Banner.”
“Oh my god .”