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By Hook or by Crook

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Bucky’s orders were simple. Infiltrate the palace, kill the king and queen, escape in one piece and receive his payment. It wasn’t the hardest job he’s ever taken, in fact, it didn’t sound difficult at all. Bucky’s had to do much more, in a much smaller time frame than this and he made it out perfectly fine.

After being forced into this line of work, Bucky figured out early on that he was good at it. Practically made for it even.

Bucky received his orders a week in advance, which gave him plenty of time to figure out a satisfactory plan as well as having an extensive amount of time to scope out the palace to try and learn the routines. As long as he followed through, he’d be able to get paid and not have to take any more jobs for a while. Hell, he might even be able to get out of the area and find a new way to earn money. He was good at the job but that didn’t mean he loved it.

Bucky managed to scope out the place in two days, which left him five more days to complete his mission. He was feeling strangely confident as he made his way through the palace grounds on the third day.

Of course, Bucky wasn’t expecting the Prince to be the one to fuck up his mission. The Prince of the Stark Kingdom was stupidly popular. There wasn’t any information about him in the report, but after being in the Kingdom for two days, Bucky had heard a lot. Apparently, the Prince slept around, had a lot of parties and was away for the next month, which Bucky thought was going to make his mission so much easier.

The fact that the Prince wasn’t even supposed to be there and the fact that Bucky hadn’t noticed that his information was wrong meant that he was insanely pissed when he almost literally bumped into the Prince while on his way to the Kings Chambers.

As soon as Bucky saw him, he grabbed onto the other man and had him up against the wall with his dagger against his throat and his other hand over his mouth.

The first thing Bucky noticed about the Prince was that he looked tired like he hadn’t slept in a week tired. The second thing was that he was dirty. Soot, grease, and sweat were caked onto him and he probably hadn’t bathed in a week either.

“You’re not going to struggle or yell. If you do, your body will join the others,” With the mask covering the lower half of his face, his voice was slightly muffled but the Prince shouldn’t have a hard time understanding him.

Instead of nodding, the Prince rolled his eyes. Shocked, Bucky let his hand drop away from his mouth. “Did you just roll your eyes at me?”

“You couldn’t have come up with something, I don’t know, scarier?” The Prince replied, and then lashed out. His free hand hit Bucky in the neck and when Bucky backed up a step, the Prince grabbed his other hand and twisted. Bucky grunted in pain and quickly kicked out with his leg, hitting the Prince and sending him hard onto the floor.
“You’re stronger than you look,” he commented, rolling his shoulder and quickly advancing.

“Listen,” the Prince quickly said, “I know exactly why you’re here. How about, I pay you triple and we call it a day?”

“You don’t even know how much they’re planning on paying me,” Bucky replied and tightened the grip on his dagger.

“I have an idea. I can easily pay you triple of whatever the organization that’s holding your sister hostage is paying you. ”

That got Bucky’s attention. He slowed down. “How do you know about that?”

The Prince shrugged and got to his feet, dusting himself off. “I know a lot of things. I also know that the only reason why you haven’t done anything yet is because you're unable to take them down alone, no matter how hard you try. So I’m offering you my help and maybe we can both get what we want.”

Bucky looked the Prince up and down, pondering his options. “What’s the catch?”

“I’ll pay you triple to help me take down the organization forcing you to take these jobs and in return, you’ll help me find and take back what they stole from me. That’s it that’s all. After we both go our own ways, you stay away from my parents and we’ll both be happy.”

It seemed too good to be true. Bucky stuck out his hand. “Alright Your Highness, we have a deal.”

The Prince smiled and shook his hand. “Just call me Tony,” he says. “Now, I need at least an hour of sleep so I’m sure you can find a way out of here without alerting anyone just like you came in. Meet me here tomorrow, same time.” With that, Tony pats him on the shoulder and walks away.

Bucky is left feeling… dumbfounded.

***

The next day, as Bucky slowly makes his way through the palace, he can’t help but feel likes he’s the one at a disadvantage. The Prince, or Tony, seems to know everything about him and his situation whereas Bucky knows next to nothing.

The one thing he does know is that it’s stupid of him to take the deal without even questioning Tony at all about what’s going on. This plan of his could get himself and his sister killed, or Tony could betray him and have him locked up for almost killing the King and Queen. However, if he can get one step closer to cutting ties with this organization and getting his sister back, he’ll take it.

As he rounds the corner, he finds himself looking at Tony, who looks quite different from the other night.

This time, Tony actually seems well rested and clean. He’s wearing comfortable yet obviously expensive clothing and fuck, he looks very attractive.

Bucky feels his eyes rake up and down the length of Tony’s body appreciatively and quickly has to stop himself from looking but the damage is already done. Tony’s face is knowing when Bucky risks another glance.

“There might be some time for that later,” Tony says, his voice taking on a teasing manner. Bucky huffs in reply and Tony seems to catch on and gets right down to business. “Follow me, I have some people I’d like you to meet.”

Tony leads Bucky down a long hallway and into a room, where multiple people are already comfortably seated by a table. Bucky cautiously enters the room and is immediately greeted with chaos.

“You!” A familiar red-headed woman snarls as she stands and with remarkable precision, throws a dagger, aiming right for his head. Bucky, lightning quick, ducks and throws himself out of the room, mentally berating himself for being so stupid, so hopeful that one thing could go right for him. He hears Tony shouting for everyone to calm down and is about to get the hell out of there when something tells him to stop.

“Barnes is here because I asked him to be here. Now, if everyone would settle down so I can explain, that would be wonderful,” There’s a moment of quiet mutterings of agreement before Tony speaks again. “Barnes you can come back in now, I can assure you no one will be throwing knives.”

Bucky slowly gets to his feet, feeling his heart beat thump quickly in his chest. He peeks into the room and decides he really doesn’t want to be in there, so he leans against the doorway, feet planted firmly apart just in case he needs to make another quick exit.

Tony eyes him but thankfully doesn’t say anything, “Everyone, meet Barnes, Barnes this is the family,” Tony starts going through the introductions and Bucky listens attentively. There are Thor and Steve, who are the heavy hitters of the group. They’re both very well trained in hand to hand, much like Bucky himself. Then there’s Natasha, who Bucky quickly recognizes once he can actually get a good look at her.

There was an incident almost two years back where Bucky was on a mission to take out a very rich and powerful man and Natasha got in the way. He was able to incapacitate her, but it probably left her with a nasty scar and it explains her throwing the dagger. Natasha is another amazing fighter, but her better skillset is the stealthy kind. Tony introduces Pepper, who is Natasha’s partner and has been known to do some spy work. The next two people are Clint and Phil. Clint being the best archer the kingdom, and maybe the entire world has to offer and Phil being his partner and the mastermind behind the whole group coming together. Then Tony introduces, last but not least, Bruce who is an alchemist for the group and makes some frankly terrifying but useful potions. As soon as the introductions are over, Tony quickly moves the subject onto the most important matter.

“We’ve been following the progress of this organization for almost a year now. I was in the middle of transporting some of the weapons I personally made and they managed to ambush my convoy steal them. I only really wanted to take them back but then Phil was able to find out more about it and I realized it would be better for everyone to take the whole thing down.” Tony shoots Bucky a look.

“We don’t have all the information we need so we’re going to need to infiltrate it and then attack, hopefully within the next two months, which is why Barnes is here.”

All eyes slowly turn to him and Bucky feels as though he needs to say something, but he’s not sure what.

***

The next two hours were spent with Phil going over every little detail they all need to know and with Bucky having to share as much as he knows about the organization, which is more than they knew before but definitely not enough information to take them down quickly.

Once the meeting is over, Bucky is left feeling drained. There was so much information to absorb and him being the odd one out didn’t help either. Bucky is the first one out of the room, even though he was barely in it to begin with and quickly makes his way down the hallway.

A tug on his arm stops him short. When Bucky turns to look, Tony offers him a small smile. “You don’t have to go anywhere, we have plenty of rooms in the palace,” he murmurs.

Bucky scoffs, “And have Natasha slit my throat while I’m sleeping? I don’t think so.”

With a laugh, Tony squeezes his arm. “I wouldn’t let her,” He says.

And then, Tony leans up and plants a quick kiss against Bucky’s lips.

Bucky reels back, eyes widening in shock. “I’ve been wanting to do that since I met you,” Tony admits and the hope for his future builds in Bucky’s chest.

“Maybe we should do it again.”

“I’m going to have to agree,” Tony laughs and leans in again.