Chapter 1: Natasha
Natasha saw the gun a split second before Bucky did.
The pair had long since been separated from the rest of the ground team and were both exhausted.
Bucky had been knocked down and was dazedly getting to his feet when he saw Natasha move towards the man with the gun.
A shot rang out and time seemed to slow a little.
Natasha's knife slid across the man's throat like it was butter.
The man dropped, choking on blood and Bucky finally got to his feet.
As he stood, Natasha fell.
Eyes wide, Bucky rushed the few feet to her, sliding to his knees.
Blood welled up, soaking the front of her suit and dripping into the dirt below.
He rolled her quickly to her side, gently probing her back. Exit wound.
He lay her on her back and without thinking about it, clamped his metal fingers down on the wound.
They curled around her ribs and she inhaled sharply as he added more pressure.
"I know, I'm sorry, I have to control the bleeding." He touched the comms in his ear. "I need a med team at my location, Agent Romanoff is down. Gunshot below the ribs, exit wound, losing blood fast."
"Buck-" Natasha winced, swallowing back the taste of blood.
"You're okay, keep looking at me." He murmured, almost glad he couldn't feel her blood coating his fingers.
The redhead blinked, taking a moment to speak. "I'm clocking out."
"No you're not. Eyes on me, Romanoff." Bucky said firmly, tightening the grip around her ribs.
Natasha gasped and grit her teeth, shuddering with the pain.
"You're okay, talk to me. Tell me what you want to do when we get home from this shit show." He urged, free hand squeezing her shoulder.
"Shower." She muttered, breaths hitching as the drowsiness started to win out over the pain.
"Well duh, what about food? Burgers, pizza?" His hand slid from her shoulder to her cheek.
"Mmm, burgers." She hummed, voice slurring.
"Yeah? What else do you want to do?" He tapped her cheek, watching with worry as her eyelids fluttered.
"Talia, stay with me." Bucky pleaded now as her eyes slipped shut and didn't open.
He kept his grip on her wound, other hand sliding to measure the pulse at her neck.
He cursed, but the soft thrumming was somewhat reassuring.
A few moments later the med team showed up and Bucky stumbled back, staring in horror as Natasha's blood dripped from the metal fingers into a pool at his feet.
His hand covered in blood once more.
He started to spiral.
Hours later, sitting with his friends as they waited for information, the doctor took Bucky to the side after delivering the good news to the team.
Natasha would be fine.
"If you hadn't kept pressure on the wound, she would have bled out before our team got there." The doctor glanced at his metal arm, the blood long since scrubbed frantically away.
"I...saved her?" The man frowned, lifting his head.
When he went to bed that night, he didn't shove his arm under the pillow with such revulsion as usual.
He'd saved Natasha's life with that hand.
It was a start.
Chapter 2: Clint
Hey guys! I'm so glad you enjoyed the first chapter and I'm very excited to bring you this! TW's for general mentions of blood and violence etc
Dzheyms-James in Russian
Bucky dove to the floor, cursing and rolling to narrowly avoid getting ran through.
Whatever the hell these bastards were, they sure loved their big pointy sticks.
Oh, and to make matters even better, they could literally climb the buildings.
They were like a twisted version of the Spider kid Tony had introduced them too, needing nothing but themselves to shimmy up buildings and attack.
Tony had done what he did best and took to the skies with Rhodey, who by pure chance had been at the Tower when the mission had been called in.
Shield was scrambling to gather the others but Wanda was MIA, Sam was laid up with a fractured ankle and Peter was...Peter shouldn't be anywhere near this shit storm but he'd probably show up soon anyways.
Clint and Thor had taken to the tops of building, both doing their own thing and stopping the creatures before they reached their destination.
The Hulk moved from building to building, smashing anything that escaped Hawkeye's arrows or Thor's lightning.
That left Bucky, Steve and Natasha on the ground, unusually the least busy of the pack.
These aliens seemed obsessed with the buildings and the people trapped inside.
They had Shield teams in a good chunk of the buildings, shooting at anything that managed to get inside.
But whatever the creatures needed the humans for, it clearly wasn't good.
So it was the ground teams job to try and stop the aliens from getting up the buildings in the first place.
But these animals could jump high and literally stick to the fucking brick, so they were having a near on impossible go of it.
Bucky touched his comms. "Guys this isn't working. We're not stopping anything from down here."
"We need lifts, either to the tops of the buildings or inside." Steve tilted his head towards the sky.
A crackle of static then, "I'm coming down. Better be ready." Tony flew quickly through the air, landing beside Bucky and grabbing both his shoulders before shooting back up.
Bucky was placed on top of a near building and then Tony was flying off to take Steve and Natasha.
Bucky was immediately in the middle of it finally, and from his vantage point, was managing to do a whole lot more damage than on the ground.
Even if he did a feel a little woozy as he stepped to the ledge of the building. Heights weren't exactly his idea of a good time.
He wasn't sure how long the fight had been going on when he heard a strangled cry to his right, and it wasn't coming from the comms.
He finished with the body he'd been holding and looked over at the next building.
Sandy hair and a discarded bow caught his gaze through the sun rays shining off the windows of opposite buildings.
Bucky cursed as he saw one of the creatures on top of Clint, the first of hundreds to finally get the drop on the hawk.
It happened in seconds; Clint's knife sliding through the creatures skin, the howl of an animal in pain, a roll of bodies as Clint fought to get the creature off.
Hitting the edge of the building and Clint kicking the alien off, clambering to his knees, back against the sheer drop of the building.
The creature lunging at him, both swinging backwards, losing their balance and tumbling over the edge of the building.
Bucky was moving before he even knew what was happening.
He slid the grappling hook from its position in his suit, firing it across to the other building.
In less than twenty seconds, Bucky was careening over to the side Barton had fallen, praying.
That he hadn't lost his grip, that he wouldn't be looking over the ledge to find his broken body on the floor.
"Clint?" Bucky rushed over, noticing the one hand gripping to the ledge of the building.
A soft grunt in response as Bucky looked over the edge.
Clint was hanging on for dear life, knuckles white, face twisted, panic in his eyes.
Bucky immediately jammed his feet into the ground, kneeling and lowering his metal hand into the air.
"The arm you're not using, very carefully reach up. Take my hand. I'll get you up, Clint."
The archer fought the urge to look down. He loved heights but not like this, never like this.
As Clint lifted his arm from his side, his teeth gritted at the pain in his hand from holding up his entire body weight.
It became clear very quickly that Clint's grip was slipping by the second and that every movement he had when lifting his arm, sent more pressure through his fingers.
Bucky had a split second to decide because Clint was slipping and in just a few seconds, he would be falling.
Bucky leaned over the ledge, metal hand wrapping around the material of his suit.
It was risky; the suit could tear and Barton would fall. But he was falling either way.
Fingers firmly entangled in the material, Bucky pulled up and backwards quickly.
He fell back and thank the lord, Barton fell on top of him.
Both exhaled shakily and it took a good minute for Clint to catch his breath enough to roll off Bucky and sit up.
"Jesus, that was way too close. Thanks." The blonde flexed his fingers, wincing. He would be feeling that for a while.
"Of course. Just do us a favour and stay away from the ledge." Bucky shook his head.
Clint had the grace to look a little embarrassed. "Well, we both know that's not gonna happen." He grinned, panic over as he reached for his bow.
"Now, c'mon, we have asshole aliens to stop."
Clint wasn't put out at the least as he explained his near death experience later that evening.
Tony, Bruce, Clint, Natasha, Bucky, Steve, Thor and Rhodey sat around the main living room of the tower, beers or whiskies in hand as they wound down after the day.
Natasha had her arm around Clint, her eyes dark. When he finished the account of the near fall, she smacked him around the ear. "You're an idiot, Clint, I swear to god if you pull a stunt like that again." She hissed.
Clint laughed, but did flush a little. "No promises, babe."
Natasha just tutted and gripped him a little tighter, looking over to where Bucky sat.
"Thank you, Dzheyms." Her fingers trailed through Clint's hair. "I owe you."
"You never owe me, Natalia. I'm just glad I got to the clumsy idiot before he fell." He smiled.
"Hey! I'm right here." Clint grumbled, but smiled too.
The fact Bucky was calling him an idiot was actually a good sign; it meant the man saw himself as part of the team instead of just a tag along.
Steve sat beside Bucky and he couldn't have looked prouder, his arm slung around Bucky's shoulder as his metal hand rested on Steve's thigh, without him even realising it.
The blonde leaned forward, muttering quiet enough for just Bucky to hear. "I think you're amazing." He pressed a kiss to the underside of his jaw and Bucky hummed, tilting his head back.
"Really?" He murmured. "Why don't you show me how amazing?"
Steve cleared his throat, a light flush across his cheeks. "Well, excuse me everyone, Bucky and I are gonna call it a night."
Bucky was full of love and pride in himself and as Steve took his metal hand in his, he barely noticed that the man usually took his other hand.
Later that night, laying on top of the blankets with Steve, Bucky let the hand trail over warm skin for just a moment before closing his eyes.
Chapter 3: Steve
Hey guys. I know it's been a while. I didn't intend to take such a long break (for me at least) from writing but it just happened. I've been busier than usual and have been suffering with the exhaustion side of my illness. Any time I opened the laptop or phone to write I got overwhelmed and didn't even start. So sorry about that. I may be updating less than one time a week now or more, I wish I could know but yeah. I hope you enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Steve didn't get ill, not really.
Flu, stomach bugs, colds, nothing human born bothered him anymore.
But alien diseases were something else entirely, and sometimes not even a super soldier could fight off those kind of illnesses.
Whatever they'd last fought had brought some kind of disease with them and somehow for once, Steve was the only one who had caught it.
It may have had something to do with the sheer amount of alien goo that had covered him when they'd finally gotten home.
Whatever it was, the morning after the fight, Steve had woken undeniably sick.
It wasn't a good feeling, something he remembered too well from childhood but he'd thought he'd never really feel again.
Had hoped he'd never feel again.
It was much like human flu in that Steve woke up way too warm, sweating, shaking.
His head pounded as his eyelids fluttered open and as he sat, his stomach rolled and he had to run to the bathroom to throw up.
Now, a few hours after waking, Steve was huddled under a mountain of blankets in his and Bucky's shared bed.
Bucky sat up beside him, waking the man every hour to force water into him since his immune system was already working overtime to fight the bug, they didnt need him getting dehydrated on top of that.
Steve would then drift back into that uneasy, restless sleep.
Bruce had given him some meds, but with Steve's metabolism, he was burning through them in less than an hour.
It was down to Steve's own body to fight off the infection, though Bruce and Tony were down in the lab trying to figure out if there was anything else to be done or even if they could work out approximately how long the illness would last.
"Steve-" Bucky murmured, gently shaking his shoulder and helping the other man sit up a little bit so he could drink the glass of water Bucky held up to his lips.
"How can I be hot /and/ cold at the same time?" The blonde murmured, tiredly leaning his head against his boyfriends shoulder.
Bucky chuckled lowly, smoothing his flesh hand through sweaty strands of hair.
"Because you're sick, love." The brunette hummed. "It won't last forever. You'll be as right as rain in no time."
Steve sighed, clearly feeling very sorry for himself as he started to kick off the first layer of blankets.
"Too hot?" Bucky asked, helping to peel them off and placing them at the end of the bed for when he would next need them.
"Yeah." A pause. "Lay down with me?"
Bucky had so far been sitting up against the bed frame, alternating between reading a book and fussing over Steve.
"Of course." He let Steve get comfortable before settling on his side behind him, his flesh arm cushioning Steve's head.
The blonde hummed and shifted his back closer to Bucky's front.
"Still too hot, Stevie?" Bucky asked softly against his ear.
"A little." Was the hoarse reply.
"Do you want me to get you a cold cloth?" He whispered.
"Mm no. No moving." Steve grumbled.
Bucky sighed and bit the inside of his cheek for a moment. He knew what Steve was hinting at with that comment. Although, maybe he was reading too much into a simple sentence.
Because for whatever reason, his metal arm ran colder than the rest of his body.
His fist was clenched at the side of his body and he inhaled carefully.
It wasn't like he'd never touched Steve with the hand before, but it was usually during the heat of the moment when they were...getting busy and rarely ever gentle touches with full thought behind them.
"Buck, you know it's okay if you don't want to. But I do know you would never hurt me." Steve murmured.
So not reading too much into it then.
"I already have." The man whispered, swallowing back the rise of bile in his throat that came whenever he remembered the bad things he had done.
"You weren't you then. You would never hurt me know. It's just an arm, Bucky." He said softly.
An arm that had killed and tortured a whole lot of people.
But Bucky could feel the heat coming from Steve, even through the material of his shirt and if his boyfriend didn't want him to move...
Bucky slowly lifted the hand from his side, flexing the fingers for almost a minute before bringing it up.
He pressed the flat of the palm against Steve's burning forehead, touch feather light.
Immediately Steve exhaled, his eyelids fluttering shut. "Mm that feels good."
Bucky smiled softly, ever so slowly settling a little more weight into his touch. "Sleep, Stevie."
And he did.
The next few days were spent much the same; soothing Steve's fever as best as they could, feeding him water and soup, crackers when his stomach felt better, watching shitty day time TV and keeping close to one another.
When they hit the three day mark, Steve's fever broke and they could finally venture outside of the room.
That evening, with most of the team across the sofas as they watched some old film on the tv, Natasha passed him a mug of tea.
Without thinking, he reached to take it, metal fingers wrapping around the handle instead of the usual flesh hand.
It wasn't until later that night, Bucky realised how second nature it was becoming to use the hand like it was any other.
Maybe one day using the hand wouldn't surprise him or shock him anymore.
Maybe one day the mere thought of that hand wouldn't send shudders of revulsion, guilt, terror and shame down his spine.
Probably shorter than the others. I apologise and will try to do better next chapter. Thank you all for sticking with me. Please drop a comment if you enjoyed they make me so happy. Until next time ❤
Chapter 4: Bruce
Hey guys! I know it's been a long time, I've been struggling with ideas if I'm being honest. I wanted to come up with something good and not rushed, so I took some time to think. But I'm back with a new chapter and I hope you enjoy!
Bucky wasn't entirely sure what had woken him up. He jerked awake so often, from nightmares or anxiety or any other reason, that it had stopped bothering him.
Sighing, he tried to settle back behind Steve, eyes falling shut.
A moment later, he was wide awake again.
The noise coming from somewhere outside their room had been loud, and Bucky had no idea how Steve had carried on sleeping.
Steve's super hearing was even better than his own, but damn that man could sleep through the end of the world. Nearly had once.
Bucky carefully pushed the covers off of him, feet planting against the floor as he got up.
Another crash from outside had him rushing to the door, pulling it open and slipping out into the hall.
He hadn't woken his partner, because he doubted whoever was making those noises was some kind of big threat.
All of those in the Tower had problems, and sometimes needing to throw things or slamming something too hard and watching it break, were just small ways to deal with some of those problems.
Bucky assumed someone was upset or angry, and taking it out on the kitchen, where Bucky could tell the noises came from, was how they were coping.
Either that or Natasha had slipped into the past again, and if that was the case, it was best Steve was nowhere near it.
When Bucky got to the kitchen, he realised very quickly that it hadn't actually been either of the options he'd been thinking.
Instead he was greeted by the sight of Bruce, hunkered down, back pressed to their snack cupboard.
His arms were wrapped up and over his head and Bucky saw as he took a step closer, that his skin was rippling green. The sleeves of his pyjama shirt were steadily ripping into pieces.
"Bruce-" the man called softly, watching as green, panic filled eyes flashed up to his own gaze.
Bruce had come a long way from the first time they had met. Most times, turning into The Hulk was now different. Bruce and the big guy were both in control, it was never just Hulk taking the wheel.
It meant that when Bruce changed, it wasn't the sheer drop that brought pain and damage anymore.
Nine times out of ten.
The other one consisted of times like these; panic changes.
Those times Bruce changed, things could go very wrong.
They had the green room a couple of levels below, far better than anything Shield had ever come up with because Bruce had designed it himself, with Tony's help.
It was best to get Bruce down there, as the man had even told then all himself.
"Okay, you're okay." Bucky stepped over to him, crouching low. "We're gonna get you down the room, yeah?"
Bruce was shuddering, breaths coming in ragged little gasps, his body moving and changing just enough to really start to worry Bucky.
Bruce couldn't speak so the other did what he did best; took charge to try and help him.
He wasn't sure they'd even be able to make it to the elevator, never mind down to the green room.
They all knew the lullaby, though Tony was far better at it than the rest of them, but they still had yet to find a proper way to get Bruce to calm down /before/ he changed, not after.
Running out of options, as Bruce hovered around the edges of a panic change, Bucky made a decision.
He tugged the other man forward, metal fingers wrapped around the ripped material of his shirt.
Bucky sat behind him, pulling Bruce back against his chest.
His metal arm wrapped around the man's chest from behind.
It was some sort of half hug, half just making sure Bruce stayed there. He was struggling against the change, not struggling against Bucky so he took that as a good sign.
With his arm locked around Bruce, Bucky used the other to brush back the other man's hair.
His rested his chin on a heaving shoulder, murmuring lowly. "You're okay. I don't know what's going on, or what happened, but you are absolutely okay. Take a deep breath and go through that meditation thing you're always trying to get me to try. Just breathe and relax, I've got you. You won't hurt me, you won't hurt anyone. You tell Hulk that now is not a good time. You are in control now. You can do this." He was rambling, he knew that, but he hoped it would force Bruce to listen to him, and to focus on his words instead of whatever was happening inside his head.
Bruce still struggled for breath, skin rippling with green but his body was no longer straining and growing.
"That's it, deep breaths." He splayed the fingers of his metal hand across Bruce's chest. "Just follow my breathing, nice and slow. You are in control, Bruce. You can control when and where you change, and that is not right now." His voice was soft and warm, his spare hand still brushing through messy curls.
They sat like that for a long time, Bucky repeating his words until it was some sort of mantra and eventually, Bruce began to echo the words too.
The green had faded until just Bruce's eyes shone with it. His breathing was slower and less ragged and he was sinking back against Bucky. He still trembled, but he knew that was plain exhaustion.
"Do you want to go lay down?" Bucky asked softly, almost an hour after coming to the kitchen.
"It's best if I go downstairs, just in case." Bruce murmured, voice tired and thick with sleep.
"Okay, if you're sure. Do you want Tony to come down and meet you?" Bucky very slowly released the man in his grip and Bruce shuffled forward a little.
"Yes, please." Bruce said quietly, using the counter to help pull him up to his feet, still shaky.
"Jarvis?" Bucky directed this at the ceiling, still a little confused about the voice that came from there.
"Mister Stark will meet you downstairs."
Bucky got up to his feet, rubbing a hand over his eyes. "Do you want some help getting down there?"
"No, thank you. You've helped enough." Bruce met his gaze, wringing his hands.
Bucky shrugged and offered a crooked smile. "I'm glad I could help."
Bruce smiled tiredly, nodding his head as he moved towards the elevator.
Bucky stood in the kitchen for a moment, smile pulling at his lips.
The sun was starting to rise as he walked back to their room.
Once there, he climbed into bed, his metal hand splaying across his own chest.
He lay like that for a moment, feeling the cool metal seep into his shirt and skin.
Smile still on his face, he rolled over behind Steve, that same arm draping over his boyfriends chest.
The fingers spread across the chest below his hand and Steve hummed in his sleep.
The smile still remained as he watched his fingers lightly rub at the material of Steve's sleep shirt.
It was with that smile still on his face, that he fell asleep.
Chapter 5: Tony
Hey everyone. I'm really sorry for how long it's been. For some reason I struggled hard to try and realise what I wanted to do with Tony. I started to write something and didn't think it fit in with this fic so I scrapped it. I'm just going to write and what happens happens.
Welcome to the longest chapter yet! I hope you enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It seemed like Bucky was in for another sleepless night. He wasn't all that surprised, though it had actually been a couple of weeks since the insomnia had really kicked in.
When it hit 2 in the morning and he was still wide awake, Bucky clambered out of bed, pulled a shirt over his head and headed out into the hall.
When the sleepless nights came, it was always a toss-up as to what he would do until the morning. He had somehow taken up baking? Natasha had wanted to make traditional Russian cookies one day and Bucky had offered to help out. He'd found that it was actually calming. Measuring and stirring and tasting and cleaning up afterwards.
Natasha had only smiled at him, watching as he got stuck in, and the next day, the kitchen had been filled with any possible baking tool one could ever need. He'd gotten completely into it that morning and without realising a whole day had passed and there were shit tons of cookies, cupcakes and brownies on every possible surface.
They'd been eating those treats for a week straight. Not that anyone had had anything bad to say about it all. Clint had been very pleased.
But Bucky didn't feel like baking. In fact, the horrors behind his eyelids that forced his brain into overdrive, had left him feeling off kilter and vaguely nauseous.
The idea of cookies made that worse.
He could go swimming. It was always a shame that the massive pool on one of the lower levels rarely got used.
But that seemed like too much effort and he wasn't in the mood to go and get changed.
Already in sweatpants and a shirt, he decided the gym was a good idea as any.
He was nine times out of ten always alone when he went there so early. Sometimes Steve came with him, sometimes Natasha was already there. If anybody was there, he was expecting it to be the redhead, he was not expecting to see Tony going to town on a punching bag.
His form was off and his face was pinched with something Bucky couldn't determine, but he was definitely going for it with everything he had. It seemed like he was most certainly not in the mood for interaction so Bucky grabbed a towel and his water bottle from the shelf and headed over to one of the treadmills.
Tony didn't seem to even notice that Bucky was there, which was somewhat troubling but a lot of them got caught up in their heads. It was often harmless but Bucky decided to keep an eye on the other man just in case.
Using the hair tie from his wrist, he pulled his hair back from his face and secured it. Eyes on Tony, Bucky started out his pre-run routine.
The whole process took about ten minutes, because the last thing he needed was Natasha laughing at him if he pulled a muscle. Again.
During one of the last stretches, arms above his head, he noticed that Tony hadn't once stopped wailing on the bag. That in of itself was pretty impressive, because the bags they had were pretty damn heavy and Bucky had no idea how long Tony had been there doing the same thing.
The man seemed out of breath and a little flushed but he looked to be...okay, from what Bucky could distinguish.
Something in him murmured softly, not yet. If he went over too fast, Tony would reject both any help offered and reject the very thought that anything was wrong.
He knew that wild, half glazed look. The one that contained so many emotions that he could almost see the very essence of them flitting in the brown orbs.
Also, Bucky noticed, Tony hadn't even wrapped his hands up. He could see how red they were, could almost see what the result would be later; bruises, maybe cracks in the skin, blood.
But despite all that, Bucky had to move slowly. Tony was a wild animal contained in human skin and he was likely to bolt if tested too early.
So Bucky turned on the treadmill, settling on a very low setting before hopping on and starting to walk.
He kept his gaze on the numbers flashing across the screen, though he couldn't help but continue to flick his gaze up and look over at Tony.
That continued for another twenty minutes. He felt weird, like he was staring far too much, but Tony didn't even notice once. He was starting to think that maybe the situation would go better if Bucky went to get Bruce, or Nat, or someone the other man trusted a whole lot more.
But then there was a sharp shout and a string of curses from the other side of the room.
Bucky's head snapped up and he immediately stepped off the treadmill and onto the floor. Tony was still swearing, clutching one hand in the other, breathing hard.
Bucky took a couple of cautious steps towards him, "Tony?" He asked quietly.
Tony stiffened, frantic gaze pulling from his hands. For the first time that night, he finally noticed Bucky. "Fuck."
"No thanks, you've got Bruce for that." Bucky said, voice still pitched low. He gestured at Tony's hands. "Want me to take a look at that?"
For a moment Bucky thought he would agree, but then his gaze hardened and he turned back to the punching bag. This time the punches were sloppier, harder.
"Tony, come on man, you might've broken something just then." Bucky sighed, stepping to the other side of the punching bag when Tony ignored him.
If he wasn't ready to stop, the least he could do was hold the bag to try and minimise some of the damage.
His hands, metal included, tightened against the bag, holding it firmly in place as Tony continued.
The only noise for the next ten minutes or so were Tony's soft grunts and the sounds of his ragged breathing.
Bucky knew it was only a matter of time before the ticking time bomb exploded. He braced himself for it.
It didn't take as long as Bucky thought it would.
Instead of hitting the bag next time, he pushed it with all his weight, a frustrated half scream leaving his lips.
Bucky stumbled a step back, getting his footing back as Tony struck the bag again.
"Easy, Tone, hey-" Bucky moved towards him, a small shiver down his spine. He knew that. He knew exactly how Tony was feeling. Exactly.
He wracked his mind for memories, how Steve and Natasha had stopped these attacks before.
Tony was cruising to do a lot of damage to himself if Bucky didn't de-escalate it.
So despite all the warnings screaming in his head, Bucky reached for him.
His flesh hand touched Tony's shoulder and the man immediately turned those fists on Bucky.
Not wanting to hurt him, but knowing how unbelievably guilty Tony would feel if he really hurt Bucky, he captured the hand coming towards him as gently as he could.
Tony growled low in his throat, eyes flashing with something dangerous. Now his attention was focused on Bucky and the man knew that he wasn't seeing Bucky, he was seeing a target, seeing something to attack, to let his frustrations out on.
Bucky understood. He took a couple of hits, barely feeling them because they were so frantic.
"Tony, hey, I know you're not really seeing me right now and that's okay. You do what you need to do." Bucky breathed, taking a small step back as Tony advanced, more shoving him than actually hitting him.
"You're okay." Bucky said quietly, getting increasingly worried, not for himself, but for the frenzied gasps of air Tony was attempting to take. Also worried for the fact that Tony might turn those hands on himself and really hurt himself.
The man had almost backed Bucky up against the wall when Tony’s fist slammed into the plaster beside his head. It happened once more before Bucky knew he had to stop it. He’d broken many of his own knuckles that way and Tony’s hands were so important to him and his work.
Making a decision, Bucky remembered Steve's arms around him and he mimicked the memory. His metal arm wrapped around Tony's torso, secure but not tight enough to hurt, and he brought them both to the floor.
Tony struggled immediately and Bucky loosened his hold to determine whether Tony was struggling because he was scared and/or triggered or because he felt like he should struggle.
Bucky could easily tell it was the latter when Tony, after the grip had loosened, didn't make any move to get up or run.
Bucky tightened his hold, bringing Tony against his chest.
"You're okay. You're okay, try and take a deep breath for me." Bucky murmured, leaning his chin against Tony's hair.
Tony shuddered, a whimper building up in his throat. His gasps were frantic and ragged, one bleeding hand clutched to the place his reactor used to live.
Bucky spoke softly, half rocking them both. "Deep breaths, Tone. I know you can do it, nice and slow." The fingers of his metal hand rubbed up and down Tony's back.
"Just like that, again Tony, match me, okay? In....and out...." Bucky blew out his breath and started again, soothing and quiet and trying to get Tony to mimic it.
"There we go, okay. There we go." Bucky's legs braced Tony on either side, his flesh hand against his chest and the metal hand on his back.
"You're doing so good." The man murmured, unthinking about the actions he took with the hand that had haunted him. That hand had killed the parents of the man sitting nearly in his lap. But Tony wasn't recoiling from that hand, in fact he was leaning into the touch, needing the touch.
The first few months of living at the tower had been rough, understandably so.
Even though Bucky had not been himself, his hands had still taken the lives of Tony's parents. Bucky had apologised so many times, they'd spoken about it on numerous occasions. They were friends now. Something Bucky had never thought possible. And now, amazingly, they were at a stage in their relationship where Bucky could comfort the other man.
"What was it today, Tone?" Bucky asked quietly, chin still resting on Tony's head.
They all had their scars, they all had their triggers and bad days and a good handful of them had panic attacks and flashbacks and ptsd episodes. Sometimes Tony's were about his parents, something Bucky detested himself for, though Tony didn't blame him anymore. Some were about falling from the skies, dying in an alien atmosphere. Some were about the terrorists that almost killed him, that tortured him and gave him the shrapnel that had clawed towards his heart. Sometimes it was about Obadiah, plotting against him for so long, stealing the thing keeping him alive, nearly killing him.
Tony shuddered and closed his eyes, grinding the heels of his palms against them. He took a stuttering breath and carefully exhaled.
"Something new." He whispered, shaking his head. "It was...it was like the vision I saw when we fought Ultron. Everyone...Everyone dead but me. Because of me."
Bucky hummed, fingers still rubbing up and down Tony's back. "That sounds awful." He murmured, sighing softly. For a moment everything was quiet. "Who were you fighting over there, Tony?"
"Who am I always fighting, Buck? Myself."
"Oh, Tony." Bucky exhaled, closing his eyes for a moment, grip tightening. Yeah, he sure fucking understood that. "We're a proper bunch, huh?" He chuckled humourlessly.
Tony snorted softly, nodding. "Yeah, you could say that."
"Therapy's not going so well?" Bucky asked quietly.
"Oh it's definitely...going. I guess we'll see." The man shrugged, sighing tiredly, dragging his hands over his eyes. "How long was I here?"
"Before I came in? I have no idea. We could watch the cameras if you really want to know."
"Nah, I don't actually want to know. Jarvis?" He directed at the ceiling.
There was no answer and Tony cursed. "I guess I turned the system off before I came down. I better go re-boot that."
Bucky hummed, slowly shifting their positions. "I'll come with you. I'm sure Bruce'll be noticing you're gone soon."
Groaning, Tony tugged a hand through his still sweaty and touseled hair. "Poor guy." He murmured.
"Yeah, poor sap. Being saddled with such an amazing guy." Bucky rolled his eyes fondly and clambered to his feet. He offered his metal hand out and Tony took it without hesitating, using it to help him up to his feet.
"Get Bruce to wrap up your hands? And Heaven forbid you broke something, he'll put you on bed rest."
Tony nudged Bucky with his shoulder, "shut up, Barnes."
"Make me, Stark." Bucky grinned.
Bucky helped Tony turn the AI back on. Well, he bantered in the doorway and Tony worked.
When they'd done, he walked Tony back to his and Bruce's room. Tony headed inside with a promise he would talk out what had happened with his partner and that he would come to Bucky or one of the others if he needed someone else.
“Hey, Bucky.” Tony paused outside the bedroom door, turning to look at him over his shoulder. “Thank you for tonight. And…I see the progress you make with that.” He pointed at the metal hand resting at his side. “And in case you need to hear it again, because you’re even more stubborn than Cap, you’re forgiven.”
They bid each other goodnight and Bucky walked to his and Steve's room, smile pulling at his lips.
He slid into bed, eyes burning with how tired he felt. Steve shifted a little and Bucky immediately slid his arms around the man, pulling him tight to his chest.
Steve hummed sleepily, placing his own hand atop Bucky's metal one, draped over his waist.
"I love you, Stevie." Bucky murmured against the shell of his ear, arms tightening in an attempt to get even closer to Steve.
Sighing softly against skin, Bucky closed his eyes. He didn't sleep much for the hours that followed, just enjoyed flexing the fingers of his metal hand, brushing it over Steve's hip and stomach and entwining their fingers, sometimes looking at it in the dim light from the window.
Natasha had forgiven him for their past but that felt different. They had both been controlled and brainwashed and it seemed like the horrors cancelled themselves out. But Tony. The only person he physically knew that he’d affected, the only person in his life that he'd caused so much pain to, had forgiven him, wasn't afraid of him or his hand.
Bucky curled his fingers around warm skin and closed his eyes, content.
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