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This, You Protect

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“Middle of the night fights and unexpected reunions are exhausting. Are you hungry, Bucky? I’m starving. I don’t know what’s open at three am. Maybe we can get a pizza?”

“I can cook.”

“You can cook?”

“I can cook.”

“Buck, when did you ever care about food that wasn’t steak or chocolate?”

“A man can change. I mean, I have had a whole life separate from you and your omniscient gaze.”

“Unlike me, apparently.”

“Hey, you had a 2-year reprieve. And look at the trouble you got into.”

“Um.”

“Right.”

“So what are you cooking, then?”

“My specialty is grilled cheese.”

“Grilled cheese.”

Amazing grilled cheese.”

“Bucky, that is not cooking.”

“Bet you a week’s coffee you’ll change your mind. Bring me the contents of my refrigerator.”

20 minutes later

“There is a salad inside my sandwich.”

“Shut up and eat, Steven, your manners are terrible.”

5 minutes later

“I was … wrong. Completely, entirely wrong.”

“Told you I can cook.”

“How much, exactly, do you spend on coffee in a week? In dollars, Bucky, not creepy grins.”

 

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“So you talked back to me that whole time you were listening in.”

“Yep.”

“You talked to me.”

“Of course.”

“Why the hell didn’t you come talk to my face?”

“It was mission non-compatible, Steve. Surveil and protect. Can’t make with the protecting so much when you are (a) standing on top of me all the time, (b) making me sleep, or (c) getting your ass handed to you at Mario Kart. I am currently doing a terrible job at my mission, and it’s all your fault.”

“You are a doof.”

“Your doof.”

“My doof?”

“You made me this way, with your total inability to watch your own back.”

“I always wanted a doof of my very own.”

“Well merry fucking Christmas.”

“You know I said I was gonna –“

“Punch me in the mouth. Yeah, I heard.”

“You heard that. Too.”

“Of course, I have very good equip- OW! Goddammit Steve!”

“Buck I swear to God if you ever.”

“I’m not ever, pal.”

“You damn well promise.”

“I’d bring out our sappy old chestnut, but then we’d both just cry.”

“Sam would say expressing our emotions is healthy.”

“No, Sam would say we’re both a couple of weepy nutcases. But it’s a look that works for us.”

 

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“Shut up, Tony Snark.”

“Oh no you didn’t.”

“Oh no I did.”

“O.M.G., Regarding Henry, I’m so proud of you!”

“Gee whiz, your approval. Just what I’ve been dreaming of for a century.”

“Rogers! Rogers, your boyfriend is reaching an inspiring pinnacle of sarcasm. We are going to be best bros forever.”

“I’m not –“/”He’s not –“

“Yeah, yeah, river in Egypt, whatever. Just pack in that awkward conversation we were gonna have Darth Vader, it’s pointless now. I am your adoring slave.”

“But that’s not how human –“

“Nope, nothing, done, adoring slave. The end.”

“Can’t wait for the play date.”

“See? This is what I mean.”

“Who the fuck is Darth Vader.”

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“You don’t have to watch us spar every time, Nat. Bucky’s not going to hurt me.”

“I like it. You fight well together. It’s almost as good as the ballet.”

“Pretty sure ballet is not that violent.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised. Next time ABT mounts Mayerling or Manon, I’ll take you.”

“I want to see that.”

“You’re invited too, Barnes, of course. You’ll like it. Put your sparring to music and it could be like a MacMillan piece. It’s as if you read one another’s minds.”

“I can read minds.”

“What?”

“Steve’s mind, anyhow.”

“WHAT?”

“It’s not hard. It’s all the same thing. It’s all ‘wonder how many more pushups I can fit into my schedule. Got any fire fights for me to run straight into? I like doing the most foolhardy, stupid-ass thing imaginable, especially if explosions are involved’.”

“Bucky!”

“That sounds … plausible.”

“Natasha!”

 

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“Here, Commander Data, I made this for you.”

“Why.”

“Figured you need it. This way you don’t have to actually speak to the human-type people.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“What. You don’t. Why does he not understand that it destroys all the fun when he agrees with me? JARVIS, warn Rogers. No, on second thought, don’t.”

“Aw, Bucky. Did Tony give that to you?”

“Yep.”

“You don’t have to wear it.”

“I like it. Makes my position clear.”

“Who’s gonna hug you, Buck? Besides me. Anyone else is too afraid of getting murdered.”

“It’s good to be prepared.”

“I’m not going to stop hugging you.”

“Hafta. I’m wearing a sign. Says “NO HUGGING’ right on it.”

 

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Morning

“Barton! Barton come here, stand with me. I’m testing something.”

“What’s with all the potted trees everywhere?”

“They’re Barnes traps.”

“What?”

“You watch. If there’s a tree around, Barnes will go stand under or behind it. Every time. Hilarious.”

“What happens if there’s more than one tree in a room?”

“That’s the joke! I’m hoping this is where we find out that arm’s detachable. If it comes off, I’m grabbing it.”

“Yeah, and this is where I leave. I like having all my skin intact and attached to my body.”

“What? I’m not going to keep it. He won’t let me run any tests!”

Evening

“Dammit, where did all my trees go?”

“Hey Tony, thank you.”

“For what?”

“For giving Bucky all those trees. He really likes them. He dragged them all into a corner of our apartment and set a lamp and a chair in the middle. It’s like his little reading forest. He’s been in there all afternoon.”

“He took them?”

“Oh. Oh, I’m sorry Tony, he said they were for him. Did he steal them? I’ll pay for them. I’ll talk to him about it.”

“No. No, it’s fine, they’re his, it’s fine. I hate him and he steals all the joy from my life, but it’s fine.”

 

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Plain text: Tony

Italics: Steve

Bold: Bucky

 

Put your hand there.

That doesn’t feel right.

Maybe try a different angle.

No, that’s no better.

Try here, then.

No, it definitely won’t fit there.

I think it might fit if you grease it up.

Yeah. Yeah, that might work. Seems tight but doable.

Are you sure there’s no way to find out on the internet how to do this?

Uh. You’re assuming I checked.

Oh my god, I can’t take it, I’m coming in. How do two grown men … wait.

What are you doing here, Tony?

Just … wanted to say hi? Have a knife held to my throat? Now that both of those are done, I’ll just. What are you actually doing?

Putting together a bookcase, jackass. What did you think we were doing?

Um. Having sex?

You thought we don’t know how to have sex? Like there was no sex in the 1940s?

Give him a break Steve, you know no one had sex before 1968. Before then, people procreated by means of spores.

Oh that’s right. Very messy.

Terrible.

Shut up.

Not very genius-like of you there, Stark.

Plus, look at us. We’re titans among men. Our biceps are three of the most awesome human arms in existence. Plus there’s the whole wholesome/wounded bad boy duo act. We pretty much cover all preferences.

Except ladies.

Right. Except that. Otherwise, come on. Look at us. Even I want to do us, and I hate touching.

That’s like five times as many words as I have ever heard you say.

Wait, what?

Like you never thought of it.

Ah ha!

Shut up, Tony.

I had surveillance equipment. I *know*.

Bucky.

Ha ha, he’s pulling the Cap voice out.

What.

Confirm past tense on surveillance.

Con … firm?

Confirm past tense on surveillance, Bucky.

Ooooooo.

SHUT UP TONY

Shutting up, don’t mind me, I’m barely even here.

Look, if you’re just going to stand here, you might at least help with the damn bookcase.

We are not done talking about whether you’re surveiling me, James.

Ha! James!

You’re a mechanical genius, right? So you can figure out these directions.

We are *so* not done talking about it. Privacy is a *natural right*. I mean, a HYDRA agent is not going to crawl out of the shower head, for pity’s sake. I get that you have your mission, but really –

Where did you get this thing, IKEA?

Yes.

Forget it, man. Not even JARVIS can decipher these. You’re on your own.

No Stark, don’t leave. Wait. Aw, dammit. Fine. Let me just sit down, will you? I’ll take my lecture like a good boy. Jesus.

You’ll take down all the surveillance, Buck.

Deny.

Don’t ‘deny’ at me, I’m not your mission imperative.

Nope, you’re my mission.

We live in the same apartment!

Look pal, if you’re gonna make me sleep, you’re gonna have ears on you.

I am a fucking superhero, Bucky. I can actually defend myself.

Inaccurate adjective.

Shut *up* you jerk, I am trying to make a point.

Yeah well, I’m trying to distract you from it.

You are such a pain in the ass.

I learned from the best.

Ugh.

Confirm.

Uuuuuugh.