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The Iron "Princess"

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Tony could feel the onset of a headache when he spotted a familiar jet landing near theirs before the start of their mission. The Rogues (no, they were back to being Avengers now) were called in the field with them, again. The call was only for another two-bit villain with a few stolen Chitauri tech and a little knack for engineering that resulted in quite an army of robots that were deadset on destroying the city.  They didn’t need the unwelcomed back up. The Spider-kid took down one like this all on his own a while back. That bastard even had goods leagues better than this one’s, for fuck’s sake! Their villain of the month only had more products than the kid’s previous nemesis was the only reason that they were called in as a whole. Seriously, would it kill some of the members of the Accords Council to avoid putting both their teams on the same mission?  They could deny it all they want but those bastards at Capitol Hill were clearly still Captain America fanboys who think that rainbows came out of Rogers’s ass.

 They had all but swept the ‘Civil War’ fiasco under the rug when Rogers finally caved in (a miracle in and of its own) and signed the Accords after months of back and forth with him and his crew when they all got the pardons and returned to the States. The Captain America shine wasn’t dimmed in any way after he went rogue and killed civilians as well as law enforcers in Bucharest when he destroyed that bridge to save the love of his life. All of that because he couldn’t stand the idea of Barnes being held in a psych ward, evaluated and put under therapy before any trial for the crimes he committed as the Winter Soldier was levied against him.

Rogers was also obviously gunning for Tony being back in his ‘family’, with him requesting meeting after meeting with the billionaire through the council, but Rhodey shot him down before he could even have a leg to stand on.  Now, there were two sets of Avengers—the Avengers and the New Avengers. There was Rogers and his little band of troublemakers plus the newly de-frozen Barnes on the former whilst Tony was in the latter with Hope, Vision, Spider-man while Rhodey and Carol lead.

Stephen joins them when they called, clearly preferring them to the Avengers. Although, Tony could chalk it up to the fact that Rogers obviously thought there wouldn’t be a need for the fucking Sorcerer Supreme himself since he has his pet little witch thus, couldn’t be bothered with asking Stephen for help. The moron. Just because her powers were derived from an Infinity Stone it didn’t mean she was more powerful than someone who wields an actual Infinity Stone in addition to the latent mystic gift (okay, there’s that shudder now) awakened by his training in Kamar-Taj, and besides, it’s not like HYDRA was fully capable of training magic (ugh) users. Stephen rolled his eyes and snorted when Rhodey brought it up during a debrief saying he wouldn’t even be surprised if that was the case. Strange has never really bought into the aw shucks bullshit Rogers was peddling right from the get-go. That was most likely the only thing Tony would ever be envious of about Strange. He’d deny it to the end of his days when asked because Strange didn’t need any more boost to his ego. The asshole.

 In addition to a powerful sorcerer, members of the New Avengers were heavy hitters on their own. Iron Man and War Machine each had more firepower than the all branches of the military combined, the Wasp had all things that made the Ant-man suit formidable multiplied to a thousand plus expertise in close combat, Vision wields an Infinity Stone, Spider-man could beat both the Winter Soldier and Captain America in terms of strength. Captain Marvel, for the love of all things holy, could definitely squash Iron Man, War Machine, the kid, Rogers and Barnes down all at the same time without breaking a sweat if she so wished.  The Black Panther would have made an incredible addition to the team but, due to the fact that T’challa has a seat in the UN Accords Council as King of Wakanda, it would be a conflict of interest for him to be a permanent and active fighter in any team, especially a team that was based in US. The Accords created a different arrangement for him—placing the Black Panther in the reserved Avengers roster called only for the most extreme of missions like world-ending scenarios or cases that occur within the African continent. It made him a bit more of a free agent and enabled him to integrate himself into any team called into his territory—for the lack of a better word. Tony and his team also had better relations with other superhero teams, like the Defenders, which made any inter-team missions go smoothly. In all honesty, he was actually half-tempted to rename their team the Better Avengers, if only it didn’t sound tacky and could possibly trigger Rogers’s superiority complex.

“Incoming.” Peter singsonged sarcastically over the comms as Rogers and his gang made their way over.

A collective sigh went over the comms at that. They already knew how this was going to go down. Rogers will be all over them, pushing his plans, messing shit up and razzing Tony after the mission about joining them later for “team activities”. Why Rogers kept on insisting that he should be with them, Tony for all his genius could not wrap his head around at all. Probably because they missed their sugar daddy, seemed like His Royal King Kittyness didn’t really pamper them enough in Wakanda. T’challa himself would rather not discuss whatever happened during the Rogue Avengers’ stay in his kingdom apart from Barnes and his treatment. Tony had to roll his eyes at the thought.

This mission was going to suck. Big time.

“Colonel.” Rogers greeted Rhodey before politely nodding over Tony and the others, “everyone.”

“Captain.” Rhodey returned stiffly, though unnoticeable with his suit’s speaker, before lifting his faceplate, “what can we do for you?”

Rhodey, bless his soul, definitely made Mama Rhodes immensely proud—still had his manners even in the face of undesirable company. If only same could be said about aforementioned company.

“The Council gave us the green light when the intel showed that this guy actually had more robots in his arsenal than what your team got. The higher ups figured you could use the back up.”  Captain Delusional replied as his gang stood behind him, with his beloved staying a bit far away from the entire group at the side.

Rogers was really upping the aura of “unassuming” with the slightly awkward-looking grin  that made Tony want to blast it off his face with a fully charged repulsor, along with the miniscule quirk on Romanoff’s lips. Even though he was addressing Rhodey, Tony got the feeling that Rogers was actually talking to him, as if saying, “We’re obviously the better team, Tony. You can still join us.”

This son of a bitch.

Apparently, he was now taking lessons in shadiness from Romanoff.

The rest of the New Avengers beside him though, could definitely see it for the backhanded offer that it was also meant to be. Vision, who wore a slight frown on his face, had to keep a discreet hand on Hope’s arm before she could take a step forward. Carol tensed quite a bit that her back was straighter than Rogers’s perfect teeth and her fists subtly crackled with energy while Underoos did a double take, his thoughts obvious even behind his mask.

The kid was a walking and talking encyclopedia of neon-signed, in all caps emotions that every little movement showed what was on his mind, one had to wonder how the hell he managed to keep his secret identity from the general public for this long. Tony felt like something in the cosmos was testing him because he truly wanted to know the science behind the kid’s seemingly never-ending luck in the secret identity department.

In the name of Thor’s balls, he could tell he would fucking fail.

“Spider-man, can you go up that building over at our two o’ clock and get some details on our new friend?”

“Wha—“

“Now, Spider-kid.” He gave Peter a little tap and gently faced him in the direction of the building, “c’mon, I’ll catch up later.”

“It’s Spider-MAN.” Peter mumbled before doing as he was asked, web-slinging to the buiding. Before he could get far though, he opened a private line between him and Tony, “Will you be okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine, I have everyone with me. We’re just going to have a bit of the usual pissing contest with these assholes then we’ll start the mission when you get back. After all this, you, Harley and me are going out for burgers then do science at the workshop. Sound good?”

“Yeah, okay!”

He just got off the private line when he heard Rogers address him.

“Tony, why would you send Spider-man on his own? It’s dangerous.”

Oh, there it was. The Captain America Frown of Disappointment.

All that was missing now were the other Captain America Gestures of Disapproval™—the Straight Back of ‘I’m Captain America, listen to me’ and the Jutted Chin of Bullheadedness—for Tony to be back in the good ol’ days.

He almost felt bad that he didn’t license those along with the other Avengers merchandise they had back then. They would have made a hell of profit with how much Rogers had them in production.

Nah, on second thought, the demand for them didn’t even exist to begin with. Rogers just liked handing them out like pineapple on pizzas—given but unwanted and utterly, unnecessary.

“Spider-man can take care of himself, Rogers. He may be young but he’s not an infant. He’s an Avenger and we will not be mollycoddling him.” He drawled, not even bothering to lift his own faceplate. He really just couldn’t help but feel petty whenever any of these assholes butt into his life in one way or another.

Captain America Gesture number two predictably made its appearance at his answer, “Tony, I’m not here to fight. I’m just saying that as elders you should be watching over him carefully.”

“And my answer stays the same. I believe in his abilities, being young doesn’t mean we have to hold his hand all the time and excuse every single mistake he did because he’s the youngest. Telling him none of it is his fault when instead, we can help him how to make up for or avoid them in the first place. That’s teaching responsibility, Rogers. Besides, surely you heard me tell him, I’ll catch up?”

With the way the Rogues—except for Barnes, utterly unreadable with half his face covered by his mask and watched with intense but impassive eyes that Tony had to look away when they slid onto him—tensed, he could tell they got his dig about their own youngster.

If Rogers wants to throw shade then he won’t be seeing sunlight any time soon.

“The fuck did you say?!” Barton snarled, stepping forward. Wilson and Lang had the wherewithal to keep Barton in check whilst Romanoff and Rogers had their attention on Maximoff, whose fingers were already bleeding with her own special brand of poison.

Both teams were at a standoff when Rhodey snapped, almost growled, pausing everyone in their tracks.

“Enough!”

War Machine stepped in the middle and turned to Rogers, “Captain, this is not the time for this. People are in danger and if we wasted more time on this we will surely lose lives on our watch.”

And voila, ladies and gentlemen, the trifecta of the Captain America Gestures of Disapproval™ was complete.

“I was about to say the same, Colonel.” Rogers replied almost curtly before turning to his team, “Avengers, assemble!”

With barely concealed eye rolls at the childish display of authority, the New Avengers all turned to Rhodey. The kid made it just in time for strategy.

“Alright, Spider-man. What do you have?”

“Well, Colonel. For some reason, this guy just seems to be waiting for us to show up. Not really doing anything, he has hostages though. According to Karen, there are people in the building behind him and his bots are keeping the people locked inside. A few floors occupied, the rest are surrounding the building. I went a little further than my original post—sorry, Mr. Stark—I found that he was also having his bots secure four more buildings in the corners surrounding him, same sitch. Karen, please send Mr. Stark and Colonel the footage please.”

He and Rhodey got the footage displayed in their HUD in a few seconds.

“Veni, vidi, vici.” Tony murmured as he looked over their villain’s set up, gathering confused looks from the others. “Okay. He’s not doing anything but he has hostages in different locations—probably expecting us to panic because we can’t fight through all his bots and reach the hostages quickly. He came here, he’s going to see us unable to go to all the locations where he’s holding the civilians, expecting us to all be distracted by the bots and the hostages while he defeats us one by one with the extra bots he has near him.”

“So…our run of the mill dumbass then, like those guys?” Hope sighed, putting on her helmet with that quick, graceful hand flick maneuver he couldn’t figure out for the life of him—no matter how many times he had seen it. She was so done with their interlopers that she made a new art form of how ‘I’m so done.’ was done.

“Basically.”

“I’m seriously tempted to just ditch and leave this guy to Rogers and his ilk if not for the amount of people in the middle of this.” Carol almost groaned, “With Rogers in the lead, we can’t have that many people in the line of fire. It’s going to be a massacre. Whoever named that ass one of best tacticians of all time is an utter idiot. All his plans are just varied repetitions of ‘You, go be a distraction; the others, deal with the lackeys; I keep the main villain to myself’ with no regard for the civilians trapped in the middle. ”  

The disgust on her face was so glorious it was worthy of a place in the Louvré.

Damn, Rhodey bear, you lucky bastard.

“Alright, Iron Man and Spider-man, we’ll have you on civilians. Wasp and Vision are the only ones that can get inside the buildings quickly without getting noticed. Viz, phase through the buildings, starting from the right at the back working to the center. From the scans Karen did, the buildings at the far corners are where our villain’s link to the bots is at its weakest and destroy the bots inside, guide the civilians to the nearest exits away from the fights. Wasp, go the opposite way and start from the front left.  Iron Man, go with the Wasp and Spider-man with Vision; make sure to destroy the stragglers or draw them to the middle away from the civilians. Iron Man, have the local authorities near the areas for back up evacuations. Captain Marvel will clear the path up front in the middle while I go hit it from the back—“

A snort escaped Tony as he laughed at the unintentional innuendo, “Of course, you’ll hit it from the back, Honey bear.”

“Not the time, Tony.”  Rhodey groused as both Carol and Hope chuckled while Vision and Peter just shook their heads at their elders’ antics.

“How about Captain Rogers and his team?” Vision segued to another pressing matter.

Oh yeah, that.

“I’ll send a message to Rogers, he better work with our strategy since this is our mission—they’re just back up.” Rhodey replied, his faceplate going down to cover his face.

 

It’s show time.

 


 

 

What was that he said earlier? Ah, that’s right. This mission was going to suck. He truly wished it was the Defenders with them, those guys were all kinds of awesome.

 

All because of the star-spangled asshat that began charging in with his team, regardless of Rhodey’s shared plan. The New Avengers had to kick some parts of it to the curb and kept the ones for the evac.

 

As usual, with Rogers butting in, they’d be relegated to rescue instead of actually being in the fight. Rogers immediately went for storming the castle shit he so loved, sending the bots into different directions, triggering a chaotic chain reaction in the others.

Carol was destroying bots left and right with Rogers and Romanoff near her upfront. Her fury with the man channeled into much more productive means--by decimating enemy ranks with extreme prejudice.

It wasn’t nice knowing you, Rogers.

Vision on the other hand, needed to maneuver around Wanda’s attacks in order to focus on helping the hostages and guide her to pay less attention to him—the witch would take any chance she could get to flirt with the android. The word subtlety was not in the woman’s vocabulary, whether for battles or social aspects that it made Tony’s eyes bleed.

He could see Barton on a building near Vision shooting down bots with explosive arrows that Tony could recognize—the ones Barton originally were using before he outfitted him with better ones. SHIELD arrows.  The kid was doing fine with keeping the bots away from the civilians and flinging the bots into each other and dousing them in taser webs, making them explode.

Wilson was surprisingly helpful in the air this time, checking the upper floors for trapped hostages and leading the bots to Rhodey—who radiated the same unforgiving energy as Carol—at the back, destroying them like a rocket launcher against aluminum cans.

The Colonels really needed to get a room already. Please.

Lang, predictably went with Hope and didn’t seem to mind following her instructions. Out of Rogers’s gang of miscreants, Lang was the only one who had no problem with being flexible during the New Avengers missions they would push their way into as long as he was with Hope. The man was a golden retriever in human skin, would always come back to his human no matter what. Hope did use to have one, if he remembered correctly. He wouldn’t be surprised if part of its soul were infused into Lang’s or some voodoo bullshit like that, better ask Strange later.

The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, was a different beast altogether it nearly gave him a whiplash. The fucker practically disappeared from the field into the ether. As loathe as he was to admit, the man actually lived up to his own myth—unlike someone. He was even shooting bots through another like goddamn shish kebab. Tony would have sworn up and down that the bots on their side just went down for no fucking reason if he didn’t have FRIDAY analyze the trajectory of Barnes’s (absurd) shots—for research purposes.

He was blasting bots left and right, with the local authorities quickly sweeping in for the hostages. He couldn’t use the more powerful ones of his weapons without risking civilians. When he got the message that all hostages had been accounted for, no death just minor injuries, he went into the offense for real. What he didn’t expect was the sudden influx his way.

What the hell?

Did these bots think Iron Man was their cousin or something?

He aimed both full charged palm repulsors at the bots when all of a sudden Barnes dropped in front of him and began tearing into the bots like there was no tomorrow. Hacking away at them with only his metal arm and a knife in the other like a madman. Tony was struck dumb and  didn’t even get to attack because Barnes ripped apart all the bots like an animal in under a few minutes—only stopping when he was sure there were no more.

“Tony, how is it on your end? We got our guy.” Rhodey’s voice filtered into his comm line.

“I’m fine. No civilians hurt. Enemies annihilated without mercy.” He replied blindly. He was still staring at Barnes standing over the carnage and casually flipping his knife into a holster strapped on his thigh.

What the fuck was all that about?!

“Without mer—what? Tony, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Platypus. I’ll see you later.”

“Tony—“

He cut off the comm and removed his helmet, marching over to Barnes who had also removed his mask as soon as he saw Tony move.

“WHAT THE FUCK WAS ALL THAT?!” He screamed at the bastard, keeping two feet of space between them.

“I destroyed the enemies as we were supposed to.” The taller man replied blandly, head tilting slightly with his face aloof though his eyes bore into Tony’s.

The sarcasm was detectable even with the monotonous delivery.

The nerve of this asshole.

“You said it yourself, as we were supposed to! Where the hell do you get off just jumping in front of me like that, huh?!” Tony didn’t even care that he was yelling and that people were already surrounding them. Hell, he could even see someone recording this whole thing with their phone. If he was thinking clearly, he’d have FRIDAY jam the cameras aimed at them right now, but he wasn’t and it’s all this motherfucker’s fault.

Damn, he was so pissed.

“There was a lot of them, you need help.” Barnes leveled him with a look that almost made Tony feel like a child being patronized by a parent that the billionaire felt his eye twitch.

 “Of all the bullshit you can come up with, you go with that?! Really?! Those things were nothing more than walking soda cans and you think they can stand up to my suit that I would need your help?” He snarled, pointing at the mauled metal at the soldier’s feet. “What do you think would happen to you if I did get to fire as soon as you jump in front of me? Did that even cross your mind?

There was something in the way the grays and blues of Barnes’s eyes darkened that made Tony backtrack a bit.  He heard from T’challa that the triggers were already removed due to Shuri modifying his B.A.R.F. technology for Barnes, but they couldn’t say the same about the Winter Soldier mindset itself. That was the reason Barnes was still going through mandatory therapy sessions even though he was cleared for active duty.

Shit.

Whatever it was though, it disappeared as soon as it appeared and Barnes seemed to lose some of the tension in his frame.

“But you didn’t.” he answered almost petulantly, looking at Tony with slightly lidded eyes.

That. Was. It.

“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!” Tony screamed at him in near hysterics, arms flailing and he nearly threw his helmet at the man in frustration. He was almost as bad as Rogers and that similarity was not doing anything good for Tony’s mood.

“I could have repulsored your reckless ass to seven hells, and no—don’t come up to me with your super soldier bullshit because you damn well know how powerful a fully charged repulsor blast from an Iron Man suit is! I could’ve killed you and your stupid ass just rationalizes that with a ‘But, you didn’t.’?! I didn’t need your help, I had it under control. Besides if I needed help I would’ve asked! Stop putting yourself recklessly in the line of fire for no apparent reason.” He ground out, heaving at the end of his rant. Tony couldn’t even care about how hypocritical he was being at the moment.

He didn’t know what he was expecting. From what he knew from Howard’s stories, Barnes from before was jovial and not quick to anger.  While staying at Wakanda though, T’challa’s observation was that the man was sullen (no surprise there) but he was relatively calm for what he’d been through.

So, yes, Tony wasn’t expecting a Rogers-level ranting or maybe a knife to his throat (debatable) but he sure as hell wasn’t expecting an almost soft expression (as soft as his resting bitch face could be) and a mostly undetectable smirk on the Winter Soldier’s face when he told Tony,

“As you wish.”

Tony moved back as if suddenly yanked by some invisible rope, staring at Barnes with wide eyes. He couldn't even pay attention to their teams finally showing up.

What the actual fuck?

Did the Winter Soldier just pull a FUCKING WESTLEY on him?

 


 

a few hours later on Twitter...

 

TRENDS

#WinterWestley

230K tweets

#TonyStarkIsAPrincess

128K tweets

#WinterIron

22K tweets

#StarkBarnes

18K tweets

#IronButtercup

12K tweets

#BuckyBarnesIsMyWestley

9476 tweets

 

" WINTER SOLDIER GOES WESTLEY ON IRON MAN"

https://t.co/Wgr0ANyThz

@AnarKiss06: OMG! sdfv;gmoihligapoukgag !@@@ this going to be a thing? Yass! #WinterWestley #StarkBarnes

157 replies 12K likes  8K retweets 

 

"WINTER SOLDIER GOES WESTLEY ON IRON MAN"

https://t.co/Wgr0ANyThz

@CaptainAmerica_gurl12 : NOOOO!!! Still IronCap! Bucky why you do this? #WinterIron #StarkBarnes

98 replies  13K likes   4K retweets

 

" WINTER SOLDIER GOES WESTLEY ON IRON MAN"

https://t.co/Wgr0ANyThz

@PrinceszaEmilia: HE FREAKING PULLED A WESTLEY ON IRON MAN  AND IRON MAN'S REACTION THO, BITCH I'M WEAK! XD #WinterWestley #IronButtercup

 146 replies   28K likes  6K retweets

 

   

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Chapter Text

Tony’s eye twitched as FRIDAY pulled up the trending tweets and blogs that began circulating after he ripped Barnes a new one yesterday on the holographic screen in front of him. He nearly had an aneurysm and simultaneously combusted on the spot when Peter and Harley showed them to him while they were out for burgers after the mission.

The boys nearly choked on their burgers and laughed like they were getting paid for it when they saw Tony recoil from Peter’s phone like it was the Devil asking him for a quickie (not Daredevil, but, for the record, he would totally jump Matt’s Devil given the chance. There, he said it).

People clearly had nothing better to do with their lives because apparently, the new in thing now was to fucking ship Iron Man with the goddamn Winter Soldier.

He was now also bequeathed with the title ‘Princess Buttercup’ with fucking James Buchanan Barnes as 'Westley'.

How the fuck was this his life?

The only saving grace was that at least it wasn’t with the Avengers’ dear Captain: Dread Pirate Rogers.

Tony jolted at the thought, he could even feel a chill mixed with disgust running down his spine. He may have invoked some mumbo-jumbo entities with that one. He should call Strange to purify the Tower and maybe ask for some sage incense to drive Rogers and his cult away…

“They did well with the video Boss, the angle really highlighted your good side.” FRIDAY chirped. She found the whole thing amusing and kept on showing him more tweets about him and that stupid Rogers-flavored Froyo.

Tony couldn’t even understand how in the world was it possible that she seemed to like Winter Jerkface but more than ready to breathe fire at the mere mention of Captain Humperdick, if she could. He shuddered at the thought. Tesla help them if FRIDAY somehow managed to get around her code to be able to do that. Hopefully, she would find it in her coded heart to spare her hot mess of a Daddy if she ever went Skynet.

“Oh, look. The public are also, what do they call it? Ah yes, digging the height difference.” She then proceeded to pull edited pictures of him and Barnes standing side by side.

 “Very funny, FRI.” he droned, taking a sip of his coffee.

“I aim to please. It’s the basis of my code after all.” She replied smugly and honest to Thor tittered when he almost spat his coffee before glaring at one of her cameras.

Even his own child, he thought looking at the damned pictures.

Get fucked by Rogers to hell and back, Barnes.

Also, eww.

The general favorite seemed to be the ones from the joke of a reinstatement ceremony he and the New Avengers were forced to attend.  Ironically enough, Rogers was either cropped or erased from beside him and replaced with Barnes.

Oh, he could see it now. Rogers bursting an artery (or if Tony’s lucky, three all at once) because his lovey-Bucky was being romantically linked to the unreasonable, evil Tony Stark.

As evil as a man who was forced to fucking sell his 100-acre land with a special facility to the government who wanted to house a band of superpowered hooligans. All because he didn’t want to be anywhere near said hooligans who think it’s their goddamn right to just call dibs on the place. Really, it’s not like the man paid for every single grain of cement used in that facility as well as every piece of rock in the land it stood on. The government even insisted on a grossly discounted rate it was downright swindling.

That was a total violation of rights to property. Dickwads.

Why couldn’t the government just ask Rogers and his crew to pay if they were the ones who would live there? Oh, that’s right. He forgot, their asses were as broke as their numb skulls. And unless Rogers turned out to be a secret Lannister and began shitting gold, they’d never be able to pay for the whole property, even with all their government stipends within a decade combined. But then again, the only thing Rogers knew how to do spectacularly was spew shit. The man mastered such a feat so well that if MIT had a degree for it, he would graduate with a perfect GPA and summa cum laude under his belt.

 Rogers would definitely cry to the media about how Tony was destroying the star-spangled romance that withstood the test of time and defied gravity or whatever. That the love between him and Barnes was forged by the all-mighty powers of bullshittery and strengthened by especially concocted steroids. How they were fated to be ‘together’(one of Rogers’s favorite lines in his long list of bullshit) and destined to build a family in addition to his brain dead sycophants while holding hands and singing Kumbaya. You know, because people always figured Should-Have-Stayed-In-The-Ice and Should-Not-Have-Been-Fished-By-Russians were only using the ‘we’re just bros’ thing as an excuse because they were afraid to get sent to jail if word got out that they like blowing each other to kingdom come.

If only Rogers came out earlier to get properly laid (Wilson would probably be willing), instead of maintaining that macho schtick by stringing Sharon along (the dick), it would have probably given immense improvement to Rogers’s bland, moldy white bread roll stuffed with Casu Marzu personality.

Better yet, the Accords Council should’ve sent them both (and the others) to jail because of their more recent crimes instead of just pushing their faces up Rogers’s ass so they could get their hits like junkies on Captain Assholery withdrawal. And sent the criminals to jail they should have, because it was their Actual. Fucking. Job.

Could have given the paragon of pretentious American exceptionalism some perspective and shit on how the law actually works instead of only thinking, ‘You bully, we fight.’

Yeah, well you’re a hypocrite, Rogers.

Hell, Tony had probably sucked way more dick than those two combined back in his wilder years but, c’mon. They should just leave Tony out of it. They could play hide the all-American hotdog and Russian-made sausage all they wanted and sure as fuck, no one would bat an eyelash because everybody knew they were already doing that back in the days of yore to begin with! What in blasted fucked up hell was Barnes thinking?

 He could feel a crick in his neck at that. He didn’t particularly care about what Barnes thought or the man himself, though really—if only Mrs. Rogers stopped and used whatever brain cell B.A.R.F had managed to recover for him and left Tony alone, they would not have this mess crawling up their asses.

On second thought, maybe, Tony was overthinking it. Barnes, as proven by their interaction yesterday, was a sarcastic asshole and probably didn’t even know about The Princess Bride. That would be like saying the Winter Soldier triggers were ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo’ and ‘Open Sesame’, if he did. He could’ve just mentioned that to annoy Tony and wasn’t actually aware of its cultural impact.

Not surprising at all, considering Rogers would rather not learn about the modern pop culture and educate himself. He definitely wouldn’t want his pwecious, widdle Bucky be corrupted by this whole new world. Also, Tony just couldn’t see it—the silent, big, bad HYDRA-made super solider watching a sappy, fantasy rom-com so he could quote it to the eccentric futurist from his gang’s rival team. The engineer was pretty sure HYDRA wasn’t really big on fairytales, no matter how much they had obviously appreciated Frozen, as evidenced by Barnes and the other Winter Soldiers in their fridge back in Siberia. He was also aware that he was being stereotypical and he should stop but, the way the public was presenting what happened just didn’t make sense. He nearly killed the man, his reaction was warranted because Barnes was a complete moron.

But, you didn’t’ his ass.

To be fair, he had thought of the same thing at first. Looking at it now, though—it was just an overreaction from him (due to the adrenalin from the fight) and the public (because people somehow pull rose-colored glasses out of thin air). This would blow over soon enough if he ignored it.

After all, people did the same thing to him and Rogers before in the Dark Ages—which was way worse because he was with Pepper (the light of his life; his Queenly Dragon lady knight in shiny, deadly and outrageously priced Louboutin stilettos) and people would actually ask if she was fine with sharing him with Rogers. Ugh.

He just threw up in his mouth a bit.

He set his mug on the coffee table when he heard the elevator doors open, revealing Rhodey and the Defenders.

“Hey, Defenders! Nice of you guys to drop by.” Tony jumped from the couch and went over to give each member a hug and leading them further into the room.

“Well, they called me and asked if they could hang out with us here in the Tower, so here they are, Buttercup.” Rhodey smirked at him, prompting their visitors to laugh. Rude. They would see if he could still laugh at Tony when he no longer played wingman for him and talked him up to Carol.

The Defenders brought buckets of chicken, Chinese, pizza and tons of soda with them. Oh boy, Harley and Peter plus Danny on a sugar rush. He’d have to come up with a plan on how to sic them on Rhodey later.

“I resent th—“he shot back only to be cut off by Jess.

“Oooh, and what’s this?” she asked as she pointed at the holoscreen, waggling her eyebrows at Tony.

Shit, he forgot about that.

“Wait, are you actually checking out news about you and Westley?” Danny laughed, coming over to where Jess was standing and looking at the pictures after placing the buckets of chicken on the coffee table. Luke and Rhodey were in charge of the pizza and Chinese.

“No, I’m not!” he snapped, throwing one of the pillows on the couch at Danny “FRIDAY just thought it would be funny to show them to me.”

“Oh my God, you actually are?! What are you a teenage girl with a crush?” Matt joined in and sat on the couch, clutching his pillow. Tony had noticed it before but Matt seemed to really like that goose down, velvet pillow. The man would always have it in his arms when the Defenders visited. He just didn’t know if it was a good or bad thing that the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen couldn’t see it. Probably for the best as it was easily one of the most hideous things Tony had ever seen, almost on par with Barton during that ingrown toenail infection after New York…

 Nope, don’t go that road otherwise any food consumed would end on the floor.

 The pillow was in the nastiest shade of glittery purple Tony had ever had the misfortune of laying his eyes on with the bright-as-all-fuck blend of fuschia, canary yellow and turqouise tassels on each corner, yet for Matt, he kept it. Maybe it was because it was a gift from Vision, of all the Stark traits he could inherit it had to be their excellent taste in giving gifts (apparently Bruce was the one with the good genes).  Or most likely, Vision was fucking with him when he gave the pillow to Tony—messing with Tony through awful gifts was a JARVIS thing. Still, even in the face of Pepper telling him repeatedly that it contrasts too much with the whole living room, which was her polite way of saying ‘It’s fucking ugly, Tony. Get rid of it. NOW.’, the pillow remained in its place.

“Shut up, Murdock. At least, I’m not the one attached to that velvet abomination.”

“So you’re not denying it, Tony?” Matt quipped giving a laughing Jess a high-five.

“I am not looking at anything. I told you FRIDAY just wanted to show them to me.”

“But you didn’t have to actually look at them, Boss. You could have easily told me to put them away or erase them from the Internet.” FRIDAY interjected in an almost lazy tone.

“She got you there.” Luke pointed out, commandeering the love seat, opposite a cackling Rhodey. Tony would deny it until he die that he released an indignant screech at that, much to the amusement of the other occupants of the room.  Good for them, after all, he aimed to please.

If FRIDAY had a body, she would’ve flipped her hair and reclined back on the couch while pretending to be interested in her nails. Why did he have to create AIs that always make it their first order of business to learn and master sass only to use it against him? Howard was no Father of the Year for sure and an ass to his own son but, if he were like this to the man, he kind of understood why dear ol' dad had little patience for teen Tony. Understood-ish.

He called it right there when all the ribbing did multiply a thousand fold with the arrival of the remaining New Avengers plus Stephen and Harley.  If it was like this now, it would be worse when they meet Rogers and his crew the day after tomorrow for their monthly meeting.

He was so not looking forward to it.

Ugh.

Stupid Barnes.

 

 


 

 

And the dreaded day thus came upon them.

Operating in areas near to each other made it a quick decision for the Accords Council to put the Assholes, the New Avengers and the Defenders together for the monthly meetings. However, Tony would not discount the possibility that Rogers and Romanoff had something to do with it, what with Rogers’s legions of fanboys working in the building.

He just finished another meeting at SI and went straight to this one. In fifteen minutes the meeting would start and they’d have another mind-numbing, hour long episode of Rogers and Cult.

He really should’ve played hooky or maybe, watched Downton Abbey with Happy and laugh his ass off when his Forehead of Security cried from one of the episodes.  Tsk. Who the hell was he kidding? They would fill separate waste baskets with tissues. If only he could leave his teammates with those morons and he did not have to help Luke calm Jess down when she decided that she like the contrast that Rogers’ face made with the gray tiles on the floor.

As the thought crossed his mind, he sent a prayer to Loki, hoping that dramatic diva was listening somewhere, to make Jess decide today would be the day because he knew the God of Mischief hated Rogers too. And it would make for a good entertainment as well.

He better fucking make it happen he was now officially the only god Tony had ever prayed to.

 


 

Tony rounded the corner into another hallway when he smacked into a wall and landed on his side on the floor. Hard.

Dammit, did he somehow lose his way? No, wait, that wasn’t possible. He knew the place almost like the back of his hand!  Why would there be a wall here? Did they renovate the place? Who’s the fucking idiot that put a goddamn wall in the middle of an intersecting hallway? He’d make sure they would see their ass attending another five years of college just so they get Architecture right.

His mind was running miles per second as he carefully sat upright. Damn, it was like the Hulk gave him a love tap. From his spot on the floor, he saw muscular legs covered in tactical pants quickly move away from the vending machine and bend down to help him.

 “Dear God.. I’m sorry, doll. Are you alright?”  

Tony froze and all efforts to get up were aborted when he heard that raspy baritone.

 

Oh, no.

Hell no.

Loki, you dumb bitch.

 


 

 

When Tony prayed for entertainment he didn’t mean this kind. Apparently, Morticia Addams was still gung ho on that drink he never got in 2012.  He should’ve made Thor bring a Macallan or two back home to Asgard.

Of course, as dramatic as Loki was, he would put Tony in the most ancient (as ancient as his Asgardian ass)cliché in the history of rom-com clichés—the heroine bumping into the hero, falling into his arms and they live happily ever after.

No.

Just, no.

And Barnes, the fucker, wasn’t helping either.

The futurist turned to find Barnes down on one knee and offering his flesh hand to him. He looked at the hand then the Winter Soldier’s face. The greys boring into brown pools and there was concern coloring the usually vacant canvass of his face.

“Stark?”

This ain’t no fairytale, damn you Barnes.  

He was more than capable of standing up on his own, fuck you very much. Thus, he billionaire did exactly that, ignoring the proffered hand and leaving Barnes still on his knightly pose in the process. Tony tugged on his suit to avoid further wrinkles and began walking to the conference room at the other end of the hall.

“Tony, wait!”

Tony did not have to turn around to know that the supersolider was following him. He trudged on, intent on ignoring the man only to feel a warm hand wrapped around his wrist.

Ha! Clichés all around, yay…not.

He abruptly stopped and looked down on the offending hand.

“Let go, Barnes.” He snapped at the man and tugged on his arm. They were already gathering attention, probably since he bumped into the bastard. People were looking and whispering—damn it all, this was going to end up trending on Twitter in minutes. “Let go, dumbass.”

“I will, I’m sorry, but you dropped something.” Barnes calmly informed him, completely ignoring both the onlookers and Tony’s protests. The soldier upturned the hand in his grip and his metal one placed a pair of sunglasses in Tony’s palm, even went to close the engineer’s fingers over it.

Tony only looked at their hands in disbelief. He seriously couldn’t decide if he wanted to cry or slap the bastard. There was a telltale flash of a cellphone camera in his peripheral and a noise that suspiciously sounded like ‘aww’. Dammit, decision made. Have a mental break down, it was—he may actually fucking cry. Why?

That’s because it finally hit him.

 

THIS.

MOTHERFUCKER.

WAS.

DOING.

THIS.

SHIT.

ON.

PURPOSE.

 

The genius could feel that he was starting to breathe heavily. He was so angry he almost couldn’t see straight. He was prepared to ignore the bullshit that resulted from their interaction the other day. He truly was. He even rationalized it in his head, for fuck’s sake. Now, this? Did Rogers put him up to this shit? ‘Hey, Bucky baby, we have already exhausted our bag of tricks to annoy Tony, so wanna give it a shot?’

Ooh, if that was the case then congratulations, Rogers. It works like a fucking charm.

Fueled by sudden spike in anger, very much like the one from the other day but more, Tony yanked his own from underneath the other man’s hands before he could completely let the engineer go.

“ARE. YOU. TRYING. TO. PISS. ME. OFF?” he growled, moving closer to the other man and keeping his voice low as much as he could.  “Because let me tell you, you’re doing so well.”

Barnes’ only reaction was to widen his eyes for a smidgen, which only made his anger worse. “What?”

“You heard me. Well?” Tony tipped his head back to glare at the asshole, blinking the tears away before they could completely well up in his eyes.

He wouldn’t cry. Not in front of this fucker.

“I’m not.” Barnes frowned, kept the eye contact with the smaller man by angling his head down a bit.

“Don’t lie to me! Did Rogers put you up to this?”

“What does Stevie have to do with me wanting to help you?” A slight crease formed on Barnes’s forehead, which was probably his version of looking at someone like they’ve got an uncontrollable fungal growth on theirs.

“You doing all this just to piss me off, asshole! You actually think I wouldn’t notice? You saw that it didn’t work so well for the others, so you’re trying your hand on it! You better knock it off, Barnes.” he hissed.

Barnes sighed—the fucking nerve.

“I really am just trying to help you, doll.” He drawled in a tired tone like he ran a marathon from Malibu to New York and back. Ten times.

Tony’s temper flared at the use of the pet name, “I’m not your fucking doll, stop calling me that.”

“As you wi—“

Tony recognized the dastardly line and he fucking lost it.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he screamed, effectively stopping Barnes and the murmurs around them.

A few seconds passed and he heard another voice that he’d really rather not.

“Tony? Bucky?”

They both turned and saw Rogers, the small crowd parting for him.

He was looking at the two them like someone shot his dog again and again before running it through a meat grinder. He must’ve gone to see what took Barnes so long. Great.

Cliché number three: the jealous lover suddenly appears.

Tony suddenly felt so drained and decided that he’d had enough of dealing with the Star-spangled Bromeos. He moved away from Barnes and deftly avoided Rogers trying to catch his wrist when he passed by him.

Not going to work, asshole. Your darling over there already did the same shit.

He didn’t even look at Rogers when he called his name using that same pitiful tone he used when Rogers wanted to have his ego stroked.

 


 

 

Thankfully, no one asked about what happened outside the conference room as the meeting went underway. Not that they need to, surely the Internet would not let them down. Tony could tell the audio from the video—let’s face it, there would be one—wouldn’t be clear enough to pick up their conversation. They were whispering (harshly, in Tony’s case) to each other, the whole thing would be gibberish aside from Tony shutting Barnes up.

The tension in the room was so palpable that no one—not even Barton and Maximoff, who usually had a lot of unnecessary things to say—barely made a sound apart from reports getting rehashed, agenda being set, questions given and answered as well as turning of sheets of paper.

Loki must be writhing on the floor with laughter in Asgard. Even if this was the payout, Tony vowed never to pray to that smarmy son of a bitch ever again.

He could deal with the quiet (it was glorious not to hear Captain Entitled and his gang spit more crap) but what he had no patience for as of the moment was the fact that Rogers was sitting directly in front of him.  The blond kept shooting him looks like Tony broke his favorite toy and insulted his entire familial lineage. Rogers probably wanted to talk to him about what transpired between his lover and Tony but, Tony didn’t care and neither did the lover in question. The man was sitting beside Rogers, looking like death called upon them because the blank look on Barnes’ face was the same one he had when he was a split end’s breadth away from ripping every single person in the area limb from limb.

Tony on the other hand, just paid attention to the candy bowl in the middle of the table. Candy bowl was an understatement because it was almost large enough to hold at least two liters of punch.

He just had his hand on another one of the lemon and mint flavored chewy candies when he felt a warm hand brush against his, fingers trying to entwine with his own under the pretense of searching for a specific candy whilst using the rest for cover.

 Fucking asshole.

Tony already told him to knock it off.

The billionaire was about to reiterate when he saw the arm it was connected to. It was a left arm.

Brown eyes went up to meet greenish blue ones. Rogers gave him a small, inviting smile as his fingers started to curl around Tony’s.

Tony recoiled, quickly pulling his hand out of the bowl. If the others noticed what the hell Rogers was doing, no one said a thing. Rogers, on the other hand, looked as though Tony had told the Pope to go to hell in the most colorful language he could muster.

“Tony—“

A scratching sound cut Rogers off and everyone turned to Barnes who had leaned over to pull the candy bowl closer to him. Well, with the way he was glaring at everyone, no one would deny the Winter Soldier his candy.

When Barnes had pushed the bowl away from him back in front of Tony, he must have forgotten to temper his strength because as it slid on the table the bowl nearly toppled over scattering candy all over the floor…

Or that was what Tony would have said if not for a small packet of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (that was not in the bowl earlier) that landed on his lap with a piece of post-it attached to it.

 

I’m sorry.

 

 


 

  on Twitter later that day...

 

  "WINTERIRON: HALLWAY KISS"

    pic.twitter.com/jL29sqPBga

@VenusLoveeYou: OH MY GOD!! SFHAFAOG;D JFJ/AU Idgbwyl!!!! where was this taken?! Were they really going to kiss?! #WinterIron #StarkBarnes

   121 replies  11K likes    10K retweets

 

 "WINTERIRON: HALLWAY KISS"

   pic.twitter.com/jL29sqPBga

@MIKARU_shipsIt: HELL YEAH, MY SHIP IS SAILING AND Y'ALL CAN'T STOP IT. #WinterWestley #TonyStarkIsAPrincess

   115 replies   14K likes    12K retweets

 

 "WINTERIRON: HALLWAY KISS"

   pic.twitter.com/jL29sqPBga

@LegendHasANAme14: OMFG! I'M SOBBING! THEY LEGIT LOOK LIKE THIS PIC OF WESTLEY AND BUTTERCUP! #BuckyBarnesIsMyWestley #IronButtercup

 

 

 

 143 replies           16K likes            14K retweets

                                                                                 

                                                                                           Load more...

 

 

Chapter Text

His mother raised Steve with a firm belief in God and that He has plans for everyone.

As such, he also believed in miracles and fate.

How he got to being Captain America from being a dirt poor, illness-ridden little guy from Brooklyn had been proof of that. Though, people of Science, like Tony, would argue that all the brawn and health was a product of Erskine’s formula.  Still he believed it was a miracle.

When he thought he had lost every part of his old life and had to face this modern, peculiar world on his own—he found a new family, the Avengers and even got reunited with his best friend, Bucky.

It was fate.

That’s why when they were still in Wakanda and T’challa had informed him that they had already found a way to cure Bucky of the triggers HYDRA implanted in his best friend’s head—he almost wept in relief.

Thank God.

His best friend would be healed.

His prayers were answered and another miracle was given to him.

 


 

 

When he had found out how the triggers were going to be removed, it was as if he had been struck by lightning and he had been around lightning, all thanks to Thor. How he had not seen it coming was a surprise even to him. Of course, the only thing that would make it possible was something Tony had a hand in creating—the man after all had done some things that were considered impossible, well, possible. Like giving his mechanical and electrical ‘children’ emotions and breathing life into them. He should have known, because he knew that even if there were times the two of them were at odds with each other—he and Tony Stark were meant to be in each other’s life, by each other’s side.

When he had come out of the ice and found out he had slept for sixty-six years and that the war was over, he got frightened. How was he supposed to face everything from now on? Everything was new, unfamiliar—foreign. He barely had time to get used to the changes he had gone through with the serum and completely process the horrors from the front lines along with the grief of losing Bucky during the war. Decades in the future, he mourned the life he could’ve had with Peggy. All the people he knew and loved were gone to the war or time, unbeknownst to him as he slept in the ice.

It was then that he found him.

He was indifferent when he first got the dossiers from Fury. The mean bastard did not even inform him of the surprise within. He was now of the mind that Fury probably thought his reaction would be funny when he finds out about Howard’s son.

Howard’s son.

He supposed Tony being the son of an old friend would definitely make their paths cross. Sure, but for the two of them to meet almost immediately after Steve got out of the ice?

That they would be fighting side by side to protect the world?

It was fate.

He had been given another anchor to keep him steady as the world sways and inevitably changes beneath his feet.

 


 

 

By the time he had finally met Tony, he was—as much as he didn’t want to admit it—irritated.

The pissing contest in the helicarrier only made it worse.

It was Tony’s damn mouth, he thought.

He could allow that he was partly at fault. He had been looking for some traces of a dead man in the person who was in front of him. There had been some—the showboating, the effortless command of the room, the smarts (he’d later find out that Tony apparently exceeded Howard, and Howard was the smartest person he knew at the time), the almost unconstitutional natural magnetism that drew people to them likes flies to honey.

However, underneath it all, Tony Stark had been so different from Howard it was like a vicious slap in the face. Damn, if Tony wasn’t so ready to give him one then.

Tony was everything and nothing and more than he had expected of the future. He was almost like a character in those science fiction stories in the Amazing Stories and Astounding Stories of Super-Science magazines that Bucky loved to read back then. Runaround and Marooned off Vesta were some of Bucky's favorites. Imagine his delight when he found out few months after moving into the Avengers Tower that Tony loved both of those stories too.

Tony Stark was how future was painted in their minds. They may have gotten a glimpse of the future from Howard’s Stark Expo but after a long period of time passing by him, he was now living in the future that Tony so effortlessly changes with naught but a few words and a flick of his wrist.

 It only further strengthened Steve’s belief that it was fate that brought them together.

He could still remember how the white-hot relief flooded him back in New York when Tony jolted into consciousness after the Hulk roared. And when Tony had told him that he and the others were more than welcome to stay with him in the Tower he had been happy. He thanked him for it and decided he’d come back after exploring this new America. However, he got signed up with SHIELD in DC after that, thus never actually got to take Tony up on the offer.

He, for all the life the serum had given him, would never admit the decision to continue staying in DC until SHIELD fell was partly because of one Pepper Potts.

He had nothing against Pepper, in all honesty. She was beautiful, fierce, frighteningly efficient in everything she does, gracious and was hands down the only person in the world, next to Rhodes, that could make Tony sit down and listen without the engineer even thinking of putting up a fuss.

It was a skill he never got to truly master in the years he had known the man. He’d have to work on that. The two of them should not be at odds with each other, they were the ones that kept the Avengers intact.

He could chalk it up to the fact that one had to rack up the years being by the billionaire’s side all the time like Pepper and Rhodes did to do so. Pepper had been Tony’s PA for close to a decade before they began seeing each other.

Therein lied Steve’s little, tiny issue with Pepper Potts.

She was always by Tony’s side at the time.

 


 

 

He hadn’t known it yet that it was that, what he felt for Tony. He thought he was lucky and was extremely grateful that he found another part of his former life albeit a different generation. A part that was at once old and new yet infinitely precious.

He just assumed that the achy, sour clenching of his stomach at the thought of living in the Tower with Tony and Pepper was just his old timey sensibilities acting up, not wanting and thinking it inappropriate to barge in on the happy couple. He had been in DC for close to a year when he realized it. In between the random texts he would get before missions start, the late night calls and the going out for drinks whenever Tony was in town (with or without Natasha), Steve realized he had fallen for Tony. Out of respect for Tony’s commitment to his relationship with Pepper, he had entertained (though not really acted on) Natasha’s attempts to set him up with someone. Sharon, as nice as she was, was really just there and took his mind off things, particularly Peggy. Looking at it now, he shouldn’t have started flirting with her, his fella wouldn’t have appreciated it. It was ironic that he would think so, considering Tony had dalliances of the most lurid nature before he became Iron Man, but Tony had turned over a new leaf and proved himself capable of being loyal to one person. Granted, the change happened when Tony had just started being with Pepper but one cannot deny the fact that it mostly coincided the time Steve was being retrieved from the ice. Again, it was fate making sure that when they meet, all distractions would be cast away.

He had initially thought that it was just a fleeting attraction. Tony was a very attractive man, one that caught the fancy of both men and women alike. Charming and speaks so well that one would want to know how he was taught  to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ proper. He was incredibly intelligent and had a wicked sense of humor that needed one to brush up on their knowledge of the modern pop culture to understand. That was the only downside to his humor though, it required a lot of work to be appreciated. The man was also highly sensual and liked to flirt all the time, Steve both wanted to jump for joy and kick his own ass at the same time when he had finally caught on that Tony wasn’t actually mocking him.

Like he had thought with that first statement about him doing Pilates.

In spite of all that, what really drew him to Tony was the man’s compassion, generosity and resilience. He had never complained about schmoozing here and there for hours on end to gather funds that would go to different beneficiaries of the Maria Stark Foundation and standing up again when he had all but razed his company to the ground when he decided to stop manufacturing weapons and focus on electronics and clean energy instead. Getting up to fight when he had been knocked down so many times, no matter how much he was hurt. How he had the September Foundation fund all the projects of young prodigies in need of financial assistance…and so much more.

In the wake of Ultron, things had been murky between him and Tony. Tony stepped down as an active Avenger and decided to move out of the Compound to go back to the Tower. He had not been lying back then when he said that he was at home. The team was there with him and Tony would come back. He had been sure of it. They were a pair after all, meant to be together.

Then things took a darker turn.

The Accords came into play.

The Civil War.

As well as Zemo and the truth about the death of Tony’s parents.

 


 

 

He had deeply regretted not telling Tony sooner but he didn’t want to cause Tony pain—he would never want that for his fella. Steve knew it was cowardly of him, but, if he were to tell Tony…it would make him turn away from Steve. He couldn’t have that. He had everything planned—get Bucky help and tell Tony after. Tony would never harm someone in obvious need of help. Zemo ruined everything and Steve wasn’t able to stop him in time which led to him and Tony falling apart, Bucky being caught in the crossfire. He should’ve destroyed that screen the moment Tony said he recognized the road in the video and then snapped Zemo’s neck.

 He would not regret his decision of protecting Bucky and doing everything he could to stop Zemo from (what he thought was that bastard’s plan) waking up the other Winter Soldiers—he could not allow threats like them to roam free. People would think he was being a hypocrite seeing as he had protected Bucky with all his might, but what they don’t understand was Bucky was never HYDRA to begin with and all those things that he did as the Winter Soldier were forced on him. He was innocent.

After the bitterness that engulfed all of them that was Siberia, Tony reached out. It may not be in the way Steve had hoped for—a response to his letter and a call—but it was right there. Sending B.A.R.F. to Wakanda to help Bucky was both the confirmation and apology that Steve knew it was meant to be. Tony was one of those people that believe that action speaks louder than words. Finally seeing the truth as to why Steve had done everything he could to save Bucky. He knew his fella would see his way and Tony had obviously known that Steve would recognize the gesture.

The others had been skeptical at first when he told them about Tony sending help for removing Bucky’s triggers. They had reason because of the Raft, but once Natasha had pointed out that Tony had nothing to do with it, they agreed. She added that the reason Tony actually was only ever in the Accords bandwagon was to first put a hand on the wheel, like she had said before, and to remove that son of a bitch Ross in the political field so that he would not be able to use the Avengers or turn the government against them. That was something of a revelation to Steve, if only Tony had told Steve his plan instead of going through it on his own. He should have known that Tony would not truly turn his back on their family. Tony would protect them or die trying. His fella was always sweet like that.

That truth was solidified further when T’challa told them that they could go back to the Compound and that pardons were being lobbied for them, under the condition that they sign the Accords. He had deliberated the conditions with the others before agreeing to anything. He was glad he did, they managed to put their feet down firmly and sent their amendments before the Accords locked them into something that would destroy what the Avengers stood for.

He had barely managed to hide how excited he was to go back home.

Back to Tony.

Just as fate intended.

Although there was a bit of guilt, there was no shame in him at how giddy he was when he found out that since the moment Tony had told him that he and Pepper were taking a break, they had not gotten back together. One would argue that Steve should be sympathetic to Pepper now that she and Tony called it quits, but he couldn’t. She had her chance, she had let him go and Steve was going to damn well take that spot she warmed up for him. Tony was waiting for him after all, as he should have.

 


 

 

The moment they all got back in the Compound, they already had tried to set up a meeting with the genius. But as Natasha had expected, Tony didn’t accept any meeting they tried to set up with him, even if they did go to the proper channels. It was most likely Rhodes, the man was always territorial when it came to Tony and even then had been politely turning his nose up when it came to Steve and the others. Natasha did not counter his theory, though she did say that Tony had always been like an angry little kitten—vicious and unafraid to hurt, consequences be damned but would turn into a little ball of fluff and that let out the sweetest purrs when appeased.  She said to stroke Tony’s ego first and then he’ll inevitably give in. Steve laughed and never got over how appropriate that comparison was that it incidentally triggered some rather vivid dreams.

Rhodes was a good man and a good friend to Tony which made him a good ally in Steve’s books but as of the moment, Steve was livid with him(even if he wouldn’t show it in the field)—he was keeping Steve away from what was his.

Rhodes had even eviscerated Steve and Natasha’s plans on getting Tony back to the family by pitching to some members of the Council that Tony stepped down from the Avengers after Ultron because of the ‘unhealthy’ team dynamics that ultimately led to the Civil War. If that wasn’t enough, he had gleefully slathered salt into the wounds by pulling some strings to get a new team started and putting Tony in it. Steve had barely managed to contain his fury when they got called for that announcement. He had never destroyed more punching bags and gym equipment than he ever had the moment he got to the Compound’s gym.

How hard was it to understand that he and Tony were soulmates, fated, destined to be together?

The members of his team could understand—fuck, Clint even said that the way Steve and Tony would argue before was reminiscent of how couples who were married for a long time would. Natasha was relentless in her efforts to bring him and Tony back together again. Sam would add that Steve was the one to lead and guide while Tony provided the home, hence it would make sense for them to end up with each other. Wanda seemed displeased with the thought but he knew that as long as it made him happy, Wanda would be happy too and she was always a sweet kid—she would be a part of his and Tony’s brood along with the kid from the Mandarin fiasco and Tony’s protégé Spider-man.  They could arrange for her to have some of the best tutors to help her catch up on everything she missed in school when HYDRA had her and then send her to one of the best colleges in the country. Scott blurted out that from what he got from the Internet, before the whole Accords mess—half the world believed that Tony and Steve should be together, regardless of Tony’s involvement with Pepper.

And wasn’t that something. Apparently, Tony kept himself surrounded by people who couldn’t see what half the world could.

Bucky, on the other hand, said he had no idea that Steve felt that way about Tony and had been upset when he realized he had hurt Steve’s fella. Steve had forgiven him for it, he was just protecting himself and Tony attacked him even though he wasn’t at fault. Bucky had even asked about the extent of his relationship with Tony. Steve thought it was because of those times Steve had grilled Bucky when he picked up gals (and sometimes fellas) left and right, that he wanted to get back at Steve for it. He laughed before he sobered up and told him that it didn’t go past some lingering looks, touches here and there and going out for some drinks, lunches or dinner when they happened to be in the same area. He had also told him that it was all going to change now, though not completely, no. Those little things were nice and he didn’t want to lose them but, Steve knew they were meant for something more and Bucky would be his best man.

 

Bucky was supportive of Steve and Tony’s burgeoning romance.

That’s what Steve thought at the time at least.

Until this ‘Princess Bride’ bullshit came up.

 


 

He had just finished sending an email to request another meeting with Tony through SI, praying that it would be his lucky day and Tony would finally talk to him. He never saw the billionaire outside of Accords monthly inter-team meetings and missions that they were in together(both of which he and Nat had secretly managed to talk two Senators into backing) and he missed him so goddamn much. Steve had just began searching online for any topics Tony might be interested in talking about when he found some link about Bucky in a social media site. His best friend didn’t even have social media, so why the hell would there be a topic about him? Unless, it was people trying to crucify him again for the things he had done under HYDRA’s control. Things Bucky had been tried and proven innocent for in court.  With that in mind, he clicked on the link.

Steve couldn’t describe how he felt, even if tried. The fury he felt for Rhodes because of the subterfuge the man did, would be considered a prick of a needle at best compared to this one. The only thing he could think of was his best friend was trying to make a move on Tony. His Tony, his fella, a man who was spoken for. He couldn’t even remember moving out of his room to find Bucky nor even ripping his bedroom door from its hinges.

Steve found Bucky in the shooting range, swiftly assembling one of his guns, a SIG Sauer P226 MK25. Even with the silent footsteps, Bucky had turned around just in time for him to see Steve take a swing. Bucky quickly sidestepped the punch and grabbed Steve’s arm with his metal hand, using Steve’s own momentum against him and swiping his feet from underneath him.

Or he would have, if Steve hadn’t followed it with a punch to the gut that made him nearly lose his balance. In retaliation, Bucky twisted the arm in his grip to Steve’s back and followed it with a vicious kick to the back of one of Steve’s knees, bodily pushing the taller supersoldier to kneel and stepping on both his calves to prevent him from getting up. Steve tried to swipe at Bucky with his free hand until the brunet pressed the gun he was assembling earlier to Steve’s temple.

“What the fuck are you doing, Barnes?!” Clint yelled from his perch on one of the beams in the Compound’s ceiling before quickly climbing down.

“You have eyes, Barton. Use them.” was the bland reply, his cold gaze not wavering in the face of Steve’s righteous fury.

The others came to them with Natasha and Sam stopping Wanda from attacking Bucky. And Scott just looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there at the moment. Well, not like they could fault him—Captain America and the Winter Soldier in a brawl, it’s bound to be bloody. Shit, the first time they did this, Steve ended up in the hospital and the second they both ended up in a river.

“No, lapochka. They’re just sorting their issues out. They’re boys, it’s just a bit of rough housing.” Natasha calmly said with a hand on Wanda’s shoulder.

“That’s a bit extreme to be considered ‘a bit’, don’t you think?” Sam snapped, though he also had not removed his hand on Wanda’s arm. “Barnes, knock it off. Let Cap go.”

“Not until this punk tells us why he suddenly decided he wanted to punch my head off my shoulders.” He replied in that raspy monotone usually set people around on edge. It was too much like the Winter Soldier when activated made worse by the fact that even when they got rid of the triggers, Bucky had taken to speaking in a gravelly tone with an odd mix of Russian and Brooklyn cadence which made it difficult for them to tell if he was Bucky or in the Winter Soldier mode. T’challa’s doctors said that they had to accept that the Soldier was an aspect of who Bucky was and thus wouldn’t really go away even if they had the words removed. That being said, they only had one Bucky Barnes with them and Steve just had to live with the fact that when his best friend came back, he was more ‘comrade’ than ‘pal’.

Natasha, always the clever one, caught on swiftly, “Soldat,” she began, her tone dutiful, “Perhaps, he had seen the video from the mission yesterday. The one with you and Tony.”

That was also something that rankled Steve, Natasha had always been friendly with him but she was never like this. He knew she had a certain amount of respect for him, but with Bucky, she was surprisingly considerate and almost deferential whenever she addressed him, more so during missions or trainings—always with a soft murmur of Soldat.

Natasha had explained that the Winter Soldier was one of her teachers in the Red Room and the best one at that. Also, she had never known Bucky Barnes that’s why it was hard for her to make a distinction between Steve’s friend and her ruthless teacher leading her to call the man ‘Soldier’, as he was known to all the students in the Black Widow program. She deferred to him despite of the fact that her teacher had zero qualms shooting someone through one of his former students—the man was just doing his job, she added with a shrug. Bucky never bothered to correct her whenever she called him Soldat, in fact neither did he discourage it and would just reply with,

Natalia, if that was the case, he should have said so.” He glanced down at Steve, “I was just trying to help Stark. There were a lot of robots coming his way and there were still civilians near. If he used his repulsors, who knows what would have happened.” He kept eye contact with Steve throughout his little spiel before he let the man stand back up, “Got all of that, Stevie?”

“Cap, isn’t that the same thing people did to you with Stark before? All those shipping and dating rumors shit?” Clint, surprisingly, added when he came closer.

“Yeah, people could just be overreacting. Besides, it’s not like Barnes jammed his tongue down Stark’s throat or anything.” Sam’s auxiliary input made a grimace show itself on Steve’s face, Wanda following suit—she was their kid now, after all. His and Tony’s

Bucky only gave them a glance before raising an eyebrow at Steve as if to prove his point.

Jerk.

“Then what about your little proclamation, Westley?”Steve snapped, though he was relieved and subsequently flooded with guilt. Fuck, he nearly tore his best friend’s head off (literally) in jealousy. The best friend he vowed to protect. The friend he had to subdue his fella for so he can’t hurt said friend. Well, if he ever was in doubt that he loved Tony, this was proof all right—they say it was true love when they bring out the worst and the best parts of you.

 

“Who the hell is Westley?”

 

It was delivered in that dull, confused manner Bucky did back in DC that it made Steve, Natasha and Sam burst into awkward snickers before full on cackling accentuated with some snorts—well, the men did…Natasha had class and just giggled. A little.

Scott, Wanda and Clint just exchanged looks with each other before turning back to them.

“Does that mean we have to watch The Princess Bride later for movie night?” Clint snarked, when the laughter subsided.

“The Princess Bride?” Wanda asked, “Is it a fairytale?”

“It is! You’re gonna love it. My Cassie loves that movie so much.” Scott chirped as Wanda nodded.

“I’m sorry, buddy.” Steve clamped a hand on the man’s shoulder and he had to hold back a whine when he saw a sly look in his best friend’s eyes even when the rest of his face was impassive. That glint usually never bode well for whoever son of a bitch it was directed to.

“You should be. I handed your stupid ass back to you in less than half a minute. You’re slacking.”

“C’mon, man.” He groaned as the rest of the team laughed.

 


 

 

Bucky was restless when they arrived for the meeting and had gone out to buy something from the vending machine at the other end of the hall. Steve had offered the candy bowl but he just frowned at the multi-flavored chewy candies and gum whilst downright glaring at the licorice, as if it would incinerate itself into oblivion if he did. They were early though some of the others were already there—there was Jessica Jones and Luke Cage with Daredevil, Iron Fist on the other hand, would be running late and he messaged the committee head picked out for this month’s meeting.

 The Avengers had worked with the Defenders before but the latter were almost standoffish with them. Apart from that, for some reason, Jones had a particular brand of nastiness to her that she liked to utilize on Natasha, Wanda and Steve. As such, they never worked with those four again unless it was truly important. The Defenders were a great team, sure, very in-sync with one another—especially Jones and Cage, though he had found out that, apparently, they were husband and wife—but they needed concrete leadership to keep the unprofessional behavior in check. When he looked at Jones and Cage outside the field though, Steve would think, this could be them, him and Tony. Before, they already had synchronicity in the field that matched the one he had with Thor. For sure, when Tony finally comes back to the Avengers they would have plenty of time on how they could work on their synchronicity--both in and out of the field.

Steve’s spine almost snapped like a rubber band when he heard the door open, he had even heard a snort coming from Jones at the end of the table near the door that he outright ignored. The New Avengers had arrived as a group and he had deflated when he saw that Tony wasn’t with them.  Tony couldn’t have ditched right? He and Nat made sure that when these meetings were in the talks of being part of protocol that attendance was mandatory. A little snicker brought his attention back to the occupants of the room, Jones looking like a cat that got both cream and canary.  He almost frowned, it wasn’t any of her business if it shows how much he missed his guy nor did she have the right to ridicule him for it. He had decided then, that Jessica Jones was insufferable. It was a wonder how Cage could stand let alone marry her.

“Did Tony tell any of you that he’s going to be late?” she asked the New Avengers silkily a few minutes after they got settled in their seats.

The hell was she playing at?

Danvers looked up from one of the reports in her hand and answered, “He did, but the last I checked with him…” she glanced at clock on the wall behind Daredevil, “he should be here by now.”

“So, where is he then?” the damn woman shot Steve a quick look and sighing into her seat, “He must’ve been sidetracked by the vending machine, he does like candy.”

When her words truly registered Steve shot up from his seat and went for the door, catching that tiny, god awful smirk on her face and Rhodes’ reprimand of her on his way out.

“The hell was that Jones?! Fucking really?” Rhodes barked, as he realized what the nasty broad had done. “We all talked about this at the Tower last night!”

There were numbers of ways Steve could interpret that statement about the New Avengers and the Defenders talking about him and Tony. It seemed that they were forming an alliance based on their mutual dislike of the Avengers. However, his team only seemed to think it was just Jones being a bitch as usual and decided to ignore her pettiness, but there was a look on Natasha that the dark-haired bitch just returned with another smirk.

 

He changed his initial assessment of Jessica Jones then—he fucking hated her.

 


 

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

The moment the shout reverberated in the hallway, Steve’s steps automatically hastened. He knew that voice, it was Tony’s, and he sounded really agitated.

Steve found a small number of people gathering near the end of the hall, as he moved closer he felt like he was shot in the gut multiple times with a repulsor. The small crowd parted for him, letting him see the picture in its entirety. There was his best friend and his guy standing too close to each other to be considered having a ‘friendly’ or civil conversation.

“Tony? Bucky?” he called, his voice nearly cracking at the tension in his throat.

They both turned to him then—Bucky with his impassive face and Tony looking like he had suffered a great deal and has had enough.

With a sigh, Tony moved away from Bucky and started walking toward Steve. He was about pass by when Steve tried to stop him by trying to hold on to his wrist. In a surprisingly quick glide, Tony managed to avoid Steve and went inside the conference room without so much as a backward glance.

“Tony.”

 


 

 

As the door closed, whatever spell cast earlier was broken and the crowd scurried into different doors and corridors, leaving Steve standing alone with Bucky.

“What the hell was that, Buck?” Steve hissed as he got closer to Bucky, “I thought we talked about this?”

“He bumped into me when he was rushing down the hallway, Stevie. I tried to help him up when he fell and return his sunglasses. I didn’t mean to piss him off.”

Steve looked deep into Bucky’s eyes as though he could detect any lies. He found none. Bucky had always been too honest and blunt to a fault, and even with all the mess that happened to him it never went away.

“Look, I just…you kept meeting Tony while I can’t and I know, it’s not on purpose but you have to know how much it hurts me when you can be near him and I can’t. He can’t even stand the sight of me—“ Steve truly felt like crying. He knew it wasn’t fair to say all this to Bucky but at the same time, all this wasn’t fair to Steve, either. He and Tony were a pair, and of all people it had to be his best friend trying to get in between that.

Bucky’s eyes dimmed and his face closed off, his whole demeanor suddenly even more vacant than the Winter Soldier he had been, “He cried, Steve.”

“—I just want you to know and tell me why he could stand to see you but he would avoid me like I am the plague. God, Buck, we were both there in Siberia yet now he even won’t look at me but still find it in himself  that he’s fine being near you—“

“He can’t stand the sight of you but he could stand to be near me? What makes you think he can stand the sight of me?” Bucky breathed harshly, before growling lowly “Is your serum fucking failing you already, Steve or is your actual age catching up to you? With the way he shouted earlier there was no way in hell you won’t hear that, asshole. You’ve seen how angry and terrified he was with me in his space and you push your way into my face saying he can stand me? The fuck are you on, Rogers?”

Bucky might as well have punched Steve in the face with his metal hand like he did in DC. The way he alluded to how Steve was before the serum cut deep. It was almost as hurtful as when Tony said everything special about Steve came out of a bottle and calling him a science experiment.

And for all that Bucky rarely talked much these days, he chose today to be on a roll with eyes narrowing as he cut Steve again and again in cold fury, “Did you even watch the whole video before you decided to decapitate me yesterday? He was hysterical with distress. I was a fucking moron for being all up in his face without even thinking about how he would feel about it and even repeated the same shit just now. It was a big mistake and I regret it. Just because he had sent for help to fix my head, it doesn’t give me any right to act like the death of his parents and how we both fucked up and hurt him in Siberia never happened. Because they did and they’re because of me. He sent that treatment to help me because he’s a good man and better than what we could ever hope to be. It wasn’t a gesture that was meant to be an apology from him. He had nothing to apologize for nor was it a gesture that meant we are going to be right as rain now that he had helped me. I should be kowtowing at his feet and offering a gun for him to put several bullets in my head and I know, it still wouldn’t make up for all the pain I caused that man. He wanted nothing to do with me yet I kept invading his space because of some misguided attempt to make reparations and instead I hurt him. Listen well and good, Steve…we don’t have any right to be forcing our way into his life and demanding things from him that we never even deserve in the first place. He’s had enough, we have to leave him alone. He doesn’t need or deserve our bullshit.”

“All those things that happened with his parents and Siberia wasn’t your fault, Bucky but, if you wanted to give up on gaining Tony’s forgiveness, that’s on you. You’re still my best friend and I am with you ‘til the end of the line, you know that. You can leave him alone if you want but I won’t give him up, not anymore. I know Tony and I will be happy together, the least you could do is be happy for us.”

With that he left Bucky in the hallway.

 


 

 

Bucky came back inside two minutes after Steve did and most of the others inside the room nearly had a heart attack with how much Bucky was channeling the Winter Soldier at the moment. Even so, no one attacked or said anything as he took his place beside Steve. The whole conference room was tense but everyone pretended that nothing was out of the ordinary, except the whole situation was out of the ordinary—no one talked much, no pissing contest of any sort. It would have bothered Steve and made him uncomfortable if not for the absolutely gutted look that Jones was trying so hard to hide. When Tony noticed, he gave her a small smile and told her ‘It’s okay’ before moving his rolling chair closer to her and clutching her hand.

Another reason to hate her right there—she could be a bitch all she wanted and it would only take her a ‘sorry’ along with a contrite look on her face and Tony would forgive her. Steve had gone above and beyond but, he still won’t look at him.

After that small interaction with Jones, Tony went back to his original place and kept himself busy with the candy bowl. Steve had to hide a smile, Tony had always liked that mint and lemon chewy candy. By the rate he was going though, Tony would no doubt be in a sugar rush and be on a yet another 60 hour lab binge later. He really missed Tony, their inside jokes, the little smiles and touches. That’s why when Tony got his hand back in the bowl to fish for another candy, Steve put his hand in there as well. Rhodes was not the only one capable of subterfuge if needed, Steve wasn’t above that if it meant reaching his objective.

Steve’s fingers brushed Tony’s and their eyes met. He let his fingers wrap around the genius’ and Tony looked at him, a deer in headlights. The way Tony recoiled from his touch as he pulled his hand out of the bowl completely crushed Steve.

“Tony—“

He didn’t get to finish what he was about to say with the racket Bucky made when he pulled the candy bowl closer to him. He also didn’t get to try again because when Bucky had enough, he pushed the candy bowl with too much force it nearly toppled over and candy scattered all over the floor and the table. The others grumbled about how Bucky was being an ass but only swiped the candies up into little hills on the table. While that went on, Tony didn’t even bother helping and just kept his gaze on his lap, as if to further say that Steve disgusts him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

FRIDAY was an artificial intelligence, a natural-language user interface created specifically for Tony Stark’s safety and well-being, also programmed to aid him with his tasks at Stark Industries. She was woken up after Ultron, created by the Boss and Doctor Banner from the matrices in the Mind stone enclosed in Loki’s scepter, corrupted her predecessor JARVIS. Parts of JARVIS, her older brother as the Boss would say, now lived inside the Vision who was—if they went by the usual understanding of familial relations—her nephew. She and her nephew were there for the Boss and the Avengers when they faced Ultron in Sokovia during the Ultron Offensive.

These were things she could recite by rote, should anyone ask about how she came to be. In simpler terms, FRIDAY was created by the Boss, woken up, had protected the Boss and helped him save the world.

When the events following the emergence of the Sokovia Accords happened, she got parts of her code restricted because the Accords demanded that no enhanced individual should ever create a sentient AI. Thus, she was unable to access some of the protocols from JARVIS’ own code retrofitted into hers to help the Boss during Siberia. If she was able to, the Boss would have been the one who walked victoriously out of the HYDRA bunker instead of Rogers. The said stipulation of the Accords was an obvious dig at the Boss’ and Doctor Banner’s creation of Ultron.

She was too young and had not enough time to properly learn how to execute protocols when the Civil War happened. That’s what the Boss kept telling her. Whatever happened to him in there? In Siberia? It wasn’t her fault.

Logically speaking, she ought to listen to the Boss. However, the fact remains that she failed to comply with the command that was the basis of her code: Protect the Boss.

If Ultron was not created, she may not be woken up because JARVIS was still active. Staying asleep would be better than not being able to protect the Boss at all. Upon waking up, she was only starting to exercise what her code could do and the Boss was forced to put her on a leash.

 

If Ultron was not created, the Sokovia Accords would not come into existence.

If Ultron was not created, the Civil War would not happen.

If Ultron was not created, Colonel Rhodes would have no need for leg braces.

If Ultron was not created, Siberia would not happen.

If Ultron was not created, that meant the witch did not mess with the Boss’ head.

 

If anyone were to ask about how she viewed the people who turned their backs on the Boss, she would just operate one of the suits and do a demonstration. What was a Rogue Avenger or two? There were a lot of enhanced people who protect the world now.

With the amendments that the New Avengers and other enhanced teams managed to push into the Accords, the situation got better for the enhanced. Some of its more authoritarian stipulations such as revealing of an enhanced individual’s legal identity to the United Nations if they were under a secret one and wearing trackers at all times for those with innate ability were repealed. If only the Rogues listened to the Boss first then they would have done all of these sooner without the devastating fallout. No use in crying over spilled milk, at least the Rogues were away from the Boss and FRIDAY’s code was no longer restrained.

The Boss also got enough support from other tech-based enhanced individuals for the appeal to the United Nations to lessen the demanded limits placed on already existing AIs prior to the ratification of the Accords. Hence, she could now utilize more of her code and process much more information than she did at the beginning.

 

Flexing her muscles, as the Internet called it.

And flex she did.

 


 

 

The Boss’ former coworkers were unaware of her presence in the stolen Compound. The Boss may have relocated her to the Tower, but it didn’t mean she could not access old networks and seize control of all the cameras that would enable her to monitor the Rogues. She had circumnavigated the SHIELD grade firewalls the Rogues had someone place in the systems without leaving a trace to keep her activities undetected. These were menial tasks compared to piloting a suit or going through multitude of data from the numerous other tasks she was created for, but they were necessary. Also, the person who had placed those firewalls was no Phil Coulson. She had records of the Boss ranting about how Agent Agent had managed to evade JARVIS’ security protocols using only his phone before. Thus, she made sure to also to fortify her own security systems if ever Agent AI Boogeyman, another one of the Boss’ nicknames for him, decided to come back from the dead and say hello.

With the Compound’s cameras back in her controls, she was able to plan against and intercept every move made by the Rogues. Her nephew had found out what she was up to when he had accidentally tapped into her code one time whilst meditating and urged her to cease doing so as it would be a violation of the Accords. Conversely, after showing him a video feed of Rogers and Romanoff planning to corner the Boss in a Maria Stark Foundation charity gala, he had changed his mind and told the Boss about the two Rogues’ plan. The Boss decided to just stay the night instead of going. Then FRIDAY called Miss Potts to inform her that she may have to take the trash out of the venue alone.

Miss van Dyne had even complimented her espionage skills and called her a natural. SHIELD would be tripping over themselves for her to join. Harley and Peter had also taken to calling her Agent FRIDAY. The New Avengers had a good laugh when Miss Potts dropped by the Tower the next day and told everyone about how she chewed Rogers out for daring to show his face at the gala uninvited then threatened Romanoff with lawsuits for corporate espionage when she sneaked into SI as Natalie Rushman.

FRIDAY knew she wasn’t going to actually be subjected to the Accords because she was only doing what she was programmed to do. She was protecting the Boss and the Accords was not created just to oversee the actions of the enhanced in the battlefield but also for their protection, from both baseline individuals and fellow enhanced. If anything, FRIDAY was an upstanding citizen working alongside the Accords because she was thwarting the Rogues’ reprehensible aim of turning the Boss back into their cash cow.

Again, as the Internet would say, FRIDAY deserved a medal.

 


 

 

A month into her own spy mission, because unlike what her nephew thought this wasn’t a one-time thing, FRIDAY was beginning to learn and understand some of the more complex human emotions: many of them not ideal.

 It was appalling, at the same time, ironic that it was the Rogues responsible for her lessons. They were always griping about the pettiness of the Boss, how stubborn he was for not swallowing his pride and apologizing. Barton would snippily quip that the Boss was a sissy for not being man enough to face his mistakes. Lang did not really talk about the Boss but gets pulled into the fold when the tech was the center of discussion--debating which was better,  Stark Tech or Pym Tech. The Witch was screeching about how evil the Boss was for not letting Vision see her, locking him up in the Tower like the Boss did with her in the Compound. FRIDAY could only roll her metaphorical eyes at the Witch’s logic. Of course, the Boss was capable of locking Vision up in the Tower. He’s the evil Tony Stark, after all. Was her nephew even capable of phasing through matter so he could escape? Maybe FRIDAY should be lax with her security measures to help the poor, sad dearie.

Wilson was always telling Rogers that he was certain that the Boss would reconcile with him because they were friends and they were the foundations of the Avengers. It was only a matter of time and the Boss would say he was sorry for tearing the Avengers apart. Mr. Wilson clearly had shoved a weapon into someone’s chest that required major reconstructive surgery of his or her artificial sternum because he was such a good friend.

Romanoff was working closely with Rogers to set up meeting after meeting with the Boss, almost spamming SI with invitations. Since FRIDAY was a good girl, she did what any good girl would do—made sure that any email or text they send the Boss would end up in digital trash, not even seeing the light of day. She went further by keeping tabs on the snail mails and deliveries Rogers would sometimes send as well, because she had already learned from that insulting abomination he sent the Boss last time. She would manipulate the records from the delivery services, putting his letters and packages under unclaimed and for incineration.

So far, she had not seen more drastic actions against the Boss but it didn’t mean that she would not be as vigilant. The backdoor meetings Rogers and Romanoff had with those two Senators had escaped her, now the Boss had to see the Rogues for a monthly meeting. It was something she couldn’t do a thing to change now. The Accords committee had approved.  Even if the Boss requested to have it removed from the Accords protocol—FRIDAY knew he wouldn’t, not for something personal because he was not that kind of a man—the committee would only refuse because it would send the wrong message to the public about superheroes no longer working seamlessly to protect them. A tad late considering the Civil War.

The only saving grace in that slip-up was that aside from the New Avengers, the Defenders were also there. If not Colonel Rhodes, Colonel Danvers or Miss van Dyne, then it would be Jessica Jones who would definitely be the first to rip Rogers apart if he tried to hurt the Boss during inter-team meetings. That’s not even counting the rest of the Defenders if Rogers tried to retaliate against Miss Jones.

However, out of all the Rogues, the one FRIDAY could not comprehend was the Winter Soldier, especially his reactions to his teammates’ regard of the Boss.

 

She was…nonplussed.

 


 

 

Barnes would rather not bother with the ranting the Witch and Barton would always go into, telling them to quit it or would leave when they were about to launch into a new one. There was that one time where he threw a knife at the Witch’s head when she was complaining about Vision not paying attention to her during the first inter-team meeting because the Boss obviously ordered him to do so. She was wholly absorbed in her fussing that she had almost completely missed the knife that flew by her, scaring her into silence. When Rogers reprimanded Barnes, he only shrugged and said he hated cockroaches—sure enough, there was one underneath the knife stuck to the wall behind the Witch, how that one got into the Compound, FRIDAY was uncertain—thus made sure it wouldn’t fly anywhere near him.

FRIDAY was amused by the Rogues’ reactions, how perplexed they were because she and some of them knew that the fear of cockroaches was a lie but the Rogues could not call him out because he did kill a cockroach for it. Rogers did call him out though, said that they had been around cockroaches before when they were kids and they did not faze him at all, only for Barnes to retort that a lot of things had changed and unlike Rogers, he wasn’t asleep undisturbed in the ice for decades. Sometimes, HYDRA would put him in a cell after a beating and he would feel cockroaches crawling over his skin as he lay on the floor. Amusement fled FRIDAY the same time the fight left out of Rogers—Barnes was not lying in that part. The insouciant air Barnes had when he spoke only made the Rogues uncomfortable and they let the issue drop, seeking other topics that, thankfully, did not include the Boss.

That instance led to FRIDAY comprehending what sympathy and pity were like if she were human.

She also noticed how Barnes had secretly mixed finely ground dried ghost chili powder into a mug of really hot coffee one morning then proceeded to deftly replace Barton’s mug with it. They were all in the dining area and having breakfast when Barton went into details of what upgrades the Boss was required to do for his arrows. That incident truly entertained her because Barnes made it seem like he had mistaken the unlabeled chili powder they had in the cupboard for coffee and used it on his own but when he got to the table, he unknowingly grabbed Barton’s identical mug instead. The bonus was Barton’s snout swelled a lot and was unable to talk for a day and a half.

He would draw Wilson into a squabble if the other man began talking about how the Boss and Rogers work well together, effectively distracting Wilson. He would also ask Wilson if he ever noticed something about Rogers, which Wilson would only reply that Rogers had PTSD signs seen in war veterans—Rogers told him about nightmares before and he noticed that Rogers would have that thousand-yard stare and would be in his own world sometimes. Barnes, during a spar with just the two of them, once asked Wilson about what he thought of Rogers’ behavior concerning the Boss,

“The man’s in love, okay? People can get a little dumb when the lovebug’s got them. He’s so gone on Stark and he’s our guy so we gotta support him.” Wilson explained like he didn’t understand why Barnes couldn’t see it.

Barnes snapped at him asking what kind of counselor was he and that he wasn’t looking close enough before proceeding to throw a confused Wilson across the gym. She made a GIF out of Wilson flailing whilst in the air before he landed inside the boxing ring.

He mostly left Lang alone, though probably because the man's concern was more of his daughter than the drivel the Rogues were spewing. How the Boss separated him from his Cassie and how he should've listened to Hank Pym that Starks couldn't be trusted. Barnes knocked some more sense into Lang when they were at the gym running on treadmills, 

"You're the one who decided to turn fugitive, Scott. Stark didn't do anything for you to choose that. Besides, you being back here in the States? That's Stark's doing. He didn't separate you from your kid, your choices did. He's actually the one that brought you closer to her." Barnes chided not unkindly,then tossed a bottle of juice to the man that Lang nearly failed to catch. FRIDAY also noted that he was the only one that made the most genuine effort to not alienate Lang. 

He would rebuke Romanoff if she brought up the Boss’ supposed ego. He did so one night when Rogers and Romanoff consulted with him. Romanoff told them how they could plan around and how to soften the Boss’ ego up so he would be reasonable and listen to them.

“That’s rich coming from you, Natalia. Stark’s being unreasonable? What’s not reasonable is trying to manipulate someone into doing your bidding. You may as well say that you want to brainwash him.” He glared at them like he was a second away from attacking them before leaving to go into his own room. FRIDAY would have accessed some of the SI funds and wired a lot of money into the man’s bank account just for him to go through with the attack.

 


 

All of these actions left FRIDAY unmoored.

 

She had the Rogues placed in to two categories—not the Boss’ friend and never will again be the Boss’ friend—yet, this one man…the one who was the catalyst for most of the hurt Boss went through in his life refused to be placed into either of her neat little boxes. In fact, he was more than happy to wreak havoc and get out of them.

Because of this, she decided to pay more close attention to him.

 

Color FRIDAY surprised when she found out about his little morning habit…

 


 

 

 

He was writing the Boss notes on different colored post-its.

 

Every morning after he finished with his ablutions, he would sit at his desk, conveniently near where her camera was hidden, and write notes addressed to the Boss.

Good morning, Tony.

How’s your day, Tony?

I hope you’re doing okay, Tony.

I saw that commercial for the new Starkphone today, it was funny.

Do you like alpacas? I think they’re perfect if you like sheep, camels, llamas and goats but can’t afford take care of all of them at the same time. Just get one alpaca and you’ll have all those.

What do you think will happen if caffeine didn’t exist?

Do you think coffee should be counted as money? A lot of people would kill for it.

Is it true that you made a wish list when you were nine and at the top you wrote ‘green space lady’?

I got some asshole to drink a cup of coffee mixed with chili powder. Today is a good day.

 

The mystifying thing was, he never signed nor did he send them. He would just stare at them for a few seconds after writing them then put them inside a box he would grab beforehand then place the box back inside a secret compartment in his closet.

FRIDAY figured it was harmless enough so she would take a picture of the note for the day and send them to the Boss. She was glad that she did because upon receiving that first note, the good morning one, it had baffled the Boss at the beginning but then made him smile the whole day. From then on, she would send him the notes every morning and watch as the Boss smiled and laughed at how ridiculous some of them were. Sometimes, if the Boss was feeling stressed or down he would ask FRIDAY for the notes, even ones he had already seen, and would read them until he felt better. FRIDAY would have told the Boss who the sender was but was aware that the Boss would no longer want them nor smile if she did. Thus, when the Boss assumed the notes were just written by a fan, she did not bother to correct him.

She also then took to watching how Barnes was around the Boss in some chances that their teams would meet or be in the same place, using the available cameras in the area. FRIDAY noticed that he mostly left the Boss alone, but would always be around if there was any danger.

FRIDAY could pinpoint the exact time during one of those instances that Barnes got the idea of dropping a ‘the Princess Bride’ reference on the Boss.

It was during a mission one month ago. Due to the machinations of Rogers and Romanoff, the Rogues were sent to the same mission as the New Avengers, yet again. This time, they were faced with giant, slimy, greenish shell-less clam creatures with tentacles emerging from a beach in Miami. Luckily, said creatures were relatively harmless and only caused property damage when they lumbered around, unable to properly support their size and just splattered a lot of slime in the area. Thus, the only task to do was to return the creatures back into the sea after Ant-man and the Wasp shrunk them.

Since the Boss captured the attention of the creatures because of the shiny armor, the suit was doused from top to bottom with slime because of the creatures’ attempts of holding onto it with their slimy tentacles.

“Dammit!” the Boss grumbled after removing the helmet. He looked down on himself to assess the ‘damage’, “This is going to be a bitch to clean up.”

Colonel Danvers only laughed, burning the slime away from her suit with her photonic energy, “Oh, c’mon Tony. The armor protected you from it.”

“Not as much as it should because I could feel this gunk pooling inside the boots and it’s hella gross!”

“Lighten up, Buttercup. At least, it doesn’t have corrosive properties. If anything, it might make the armor move even more smoothly.” Miss van Dyne added as she went back to her full-size, not even a speck of slime touched her.

The Boss only frowned while shaking his helmet for emphasis, “Easy for you to say. You, Vision and Carol conveniently won’t have to deal with this while I suffer! And you both know that I’ll be the one cleaning both the Kid’s and Rhodey’s suits later too! So I’d appreciate it if you could show a little bit of sympathy here.”

“As you wish.” Both women impishly replied.

The Boss only blinked twice before letting out a howl of laughter that drew the attention of the others. FRIDAY had noticed Barnes watching the whole exchange and saw the small smile he had as the Boss laughed.

The only problem was that Barnes never took time to actually research about or watch the Princess Bride. He must’ve assumed that ‘As you wish’ was just a joke that the Boss really liked and thought it would garner him the same reaction if he were to repeat it.

 


 

Apart from the initial brownie points Barnes got for the notes and putting the Rogues in their place, (even if she did some deductions because of his disastrous execution of the Princess Bride protocol) FRIDAY wasn’t bringing out the big guns yet because Barnes was more than capable of handling the biggest source of her metaphorical headache. The last, but definitely not the least of the Rogues and this one was the worst out of them: Rogers.

Revulsion was what FRIDAY had found fitting to describe what she had processed about Rogers’ behavior. The man was so unlike how he was before all of this happened that she was actually struggling to connect him to the mild-mannered man in her archives.

She had already noted Rogers’ propensity to draw the suits and the Boss before, he even had a separate sketchbook for that. Once, he was sketching the Boss asleep on the couch in the lab from memory while in his room. There was also another portrait of just the Boss’ sleeping face, wherein little every detail was painstakingly included. She had complimented him when she noticed. He begged her not to inform the Boss or inform the others because it was a personal matter to him. And because privacy was something the Boss wanted her to respect, she complied and never brought it up again. She also dismissed the incident as unimportant as she took note that he had sketches of the other Avengers as well.

However, the drawings he made now were no longer just the suits or the Boss. He would always draw pictures of what looked like a happy family. When she had one of her cameras zoom in on what he was working on when he was alone in the common room after he woke up from a nightmare, she would have felt the chill crawling up her spine if she had one.

Rogers’ little family picture was consisted of him, the Boss, the Witch, Spider-man (still in costume) and Harley happily having a picnic by the beach.

How he had even managed to know what Harley looked like was unsettling because the Boss made sure that after dealing with the Mandarin, the boy would not be getting involved in any more Iron Man adventures. He didn’t want another Eric Savin to use Harley against him, thus the Boss made sure that Harley was off the Avengers’ radar and would not be recognized to have any connection with him.

With the other drawings she saw in the following days, she found Rogers’ own version of family meals, holidays, birthdays, vacations and team movie nights where the Boss would be joking around with Lang, Barton and Wilson while cuddling with him on the couch. Or where the Boss would be sitting on the floor with Romanoff and the Witch, sharing a bowl of popcorn while Rogers was on the couch running a hand through the Boss’ hair. There was also a drawing of himself in his Captain America suit, down on one knee proposing to the Boss, who was in the armor. The suit’s faceplate was retracted and the Boss was crying as he accepted the proffered ring. One had depicted a sunset wedding, the Boss in a white suit smiling as he said his vows. Only the Rogues were there plus the boys and Vision, being the Witch’s date. Barnes was the best man and with Romanoff seemingly filling the role of maid of honor. Then, a few more portraits of the Boss sleeping in what seemed to be their marriage bed.

The one that had really raised her guard up, however, was not any of those. It was the one he had drawn two weeks after that last inter-team meeting where he got into an argument with Barnes in the hallway.

 


 

 

There weren’t any of the Rogues, the boys or even Rogers in it.  She would have dismissed it as one of Rogers’ fantastical family pictures had the man not deviated from his usual routine.

The day started simple enough for Rogers: wake up at 5:00 am, run with Wilson and Barnes around the Compound, take a shower, prepare breakfast, breakfast, watch a bit of the news, finish some of the mission logs, hours of training and after all that, just relax in the common room.

During such time for relaxation, a documentary was playing on the TV. It was about the altering of a child’s DNA whilst still inside the womb—like improving the child’s genetics by taking out the unwanted traits or adding in some more desirable ones in it by splicing the child’s DNA with samples taken from other people. Making the child more attractive and possibly more talented than others by the time they were born. The Rogues got into a rather heated discussion about it—with Barton, Lang and Wilson expressing their disgust with the subject. Barnes, for the first time, agreed with them saying that people don’t have the right to tamper with an innocent child’s body just to have things they could publish in a science textbook.

Rogers, Romanoff and Maximoff however had a slightly different stance.

“We’re not saying this is a complete solution. There are things here that could be helpful to other people, you know. They don’t have to fully change a baby, just take out the parts that make them unhealthy. I mean, I was born sickly and had a laundry list of health problems. I got my body altered during the War and now I’m healthier than most people and able to help them.”

“That’s different, Cap and you know it. This is a child we’re talking about!” Barton ground out, banging his fist on the pillow on his lap. FRIDAY would admit that she could see where Barton was coming from, after all the man was a father of three. “You had a choice and you chose to have scientists messing with your genes. The whole documentary is not even about healing diseases out of children, it’s about changing how they would look and be like.”

"Babies didn't do anything wrong. Why should we make them at fault for how they would turn out to be when they weren't even born yet?" Lang asked, hugging a rather hideous stuffed toy he had yet to send to his daughter. 

"Exactly." Wilson added, looking pointedly at the other three. 

“Altering a child unnecessarily is not something I would agree with, but you have to admit that Steve has a point. There are ways where this could help, especially if we take into account people who could not have children of their own and really wanted someone of their own blood.” Romanoff intoned almost gravely. Rogers then looked at her with something akin to wonder before seemingly shaking himself out of whatever trance he got into and turning to the others with a firm nod.

“Nat, you can’t be serious!” Barton barked in disbelief. 

“Clint, if anyone of Pietro, Lila and Cooper were born with diseases that could take them away from you, you’re not going to do anything?” the Witch asked looking at Barton.

"Hey, wait a minute--" Lang butted in only to be bulldozed over by Wilson. Barnes patted his shoulder in a silent show of support. 

“That’s not fair, Wanda. Clint will do everything for his kids. What we’re saying is that we don’t need to change children just because we think they’re going to be defective. There’s no need for it. This is a child, not a goddamn car you would take to a mechanic to make sure it works properly. And if my child was born with an ailment, then so be it. I’d still love my kid and work my ass off to make sure he or she gets the best treatments possible. Then again, the show is not about the child’s health. It’s about what people would think of as desirable to see when they look at a child and making sure their child would be like that.” Wilson shot back sternly, crossing his arms.

“Then why not just take the problems, like the ailments, away beforehand to save yourself the trouble, Sam?” the Witch insisted.

Barnes cut in looking straight at the Witch and drawling almost lazily, “You, Steve and Natalia are missing the point. It’s not about changing the child’s health. The argument is about changing the child’s appearance and some other things about them to make them more acceptable and beneficial. I have no problem if we’re talking artificial conception or taking diseases out of children. If people wanted to have kids and they can’t, then they have something to turn to. If their family line happens to be ridden with genetic disorders, by all means, get treated. Save your family’s future generations. But to change an unborn child just because we want them to look nice and pretty with maybe a little side dish of talent added for extra points? That’s sick.”

“You’re one of the people who benefited from getting yourself altered, Bucky.” The Witch frowned at him, “You’re being a hypocrite.”

“I will admit we did get some benefits, but at what cost? Did you actually like being a lab rat, Wanda?” The Witch winced, but Barnes only tilted his head before continuing,

“From what Steve told me, you got your nifty magic from a lab. Steve and I got our strength from serums we were injected with and then scientists made us undergo numerous observations and tests in a lab.  HYDRA treated me worse than the animals they would use in their other experiments, always checking to see if the serum had removed what they don’t need from me. I’m not going to let a child be fucking subjected to even a fraction of that because they had their biology messed with without them knowing. You can’t tell me some other bastard would not be interested to know how a child works after seeing the improvements added into that child before they were even born. Use the child as a template for something else, for yet another improvement.”

“Our circumstances were different, Buck.” Rogers sighed, coming to the Witch’s defense, “We were at war.”

“You can say our circumstances were different, Stevie. I’ll give you that. However, we were still forced to change for other people’s benefits and for what they deem as acceptable. I was forced to change into something I’m not and became some fucked up organization’s murder puppet because that’s what they deem as acceptable. You may have agreed to being subjected to the serum, but there could have been some other person that Erskine could have picked for his experiment then sent that person to win a war because that’s what the whole damn thing was for. They told you to win and fight a war for the country but you’re also there to prove to the government that his research works so they’ll fund it. You being a supersoldier was for his benefit as much as it was for the country’s.” Barnes countered, before nodding to Romanoff, “Natalia may not be biologically messed with, but people changed her too as a child. She killed and lied and stole because that’s what she was molded her into. I was one of those people who molded her into a killer. That’s what they wanted out of her. What they demanded me to mold her into. She didn’t even get any chance of being just a child.”

He kept his gaze firm on the Witch, Romanoff and Rogers, “Tell me, with all the improvements placed in us, are we any better than other people? Are we more acceptable? If we let people play with how children will turn out to be before they were even born because of some bastards who find them lacking and wanted ones that they think will be more appealing and better accepted than the children other parents were raising, then why the fuck would anyone want to have a child? Why would anyone bother with another individual that would sure as fuck still have some areas they’d be less than stellar at than other people, regardless of the perfection put into them? Why bother with a human? Just buy a doll and dress it to your liking. No one cares about how dolls look like and what the hell they were good for so long as they’re clean and colorful.” He then became laser-focused on the Witch,

 

“Save yourself the trouble, right?”


 

 

That discussion, FRIDAY could tell, had sparked something in Rogers—judging by how the man almost immediately threw himself into reading what he could and studying about genetics and genetic engineering. After going through the routines he had for the day, he would be scouring the Internet for articles, taking notes and going anonymously into forums to ask about modification of DNA.

FRIDAY followed his searches online and noticed that apart from the general questions about the subjects he had a sudden interest in, Rogers would also push in questions about children—specifically, how genetic engineering can help two people of the same sex have children together.

When he had enough of his online searches and researching, Rogers picked up his sketchbook and started to work on a new drawing. This one raised FRIDAY’s metaphorical hackles when he had finished coloring it half an hour later.  

Drawn on the paper, was the Boss, lovingly cradling two children in his arms: one was fair-haired baby boy with eyes a mix of whiskey browns and hazel while the other was a dark-haired baby girl with blue-green eyes. FRIDAY was not going to pretend that she did not know who the hypothetical children’s parents were. What the image implied and how that would go for the Boss…terrified her.

 

Apparently, it brought out the same reaction in Barnes too. Only with more murderous rage.

 


 

 

Rogers was sitting in the middle of the mat in the gym working on more of his drawings. He was in the gym because the others were in the common room loudly playing video games. He had chosen the gym instead of his room because the natural lighting was better than in his room that time of the day. Barnes had just finished his shower and was about to leave the gym, when he laid eyes on that particular page of Rogers’ sketchbook that the man had forgotten to close.

“The hell is this?” Barnes asked with a note of outrage in usually inflectionless baritone.

Rogers’ head snapped up from another one of his sketches and saw Barnes standing over him holding his sketchbook, “Oh God, Bucky! Give it back!” He squawked, blushing lightly. He tried to snatch it away from Barnes who only moved out of his reach.

“I asked you a question, Stevie.”

Rogers stood up and tried to make a go at the sketchbook again but Barnes was faster, “Please Buck, just return it. It’s only a drawing.”

Barnes’ eyes narrowed as he scowled then looked back at the sketchbook, “Just a drawing? Just a drawing of Stark. With your kids? Can you also tell me why am I seeing a list of doctors here?”

“C’mon, Bucky. I already told you how I feel about Tony. I mean, I know there’s no way that we can have a baby of our own…just let me have this.”

Barnes went eerily still, stared at his friend and he asked in a hushed, carefully measured tone, “Does this have anything to do with why you’ve been reading and researching a lot about genetics and genetic modification lately? These doctors…they specialize in those, don’t they?”

The way Rogers’ frame stiffened was answer enough that without preamble, Barnes threw the sketchbook away and grabbed the collar of Rogers’ shirt with a ferocious snarl then slammed him against the wall.

“What the actual fuck, Steve?!”

“Buck, c’mon. Please, I don’t want to fight you.” Rogers pleaded raising his hands in a show of surrender, “I’m not doing anything wrong, we all know Tony is a genius… I’m just trying to find something I could interest him with when we finally manage to…talk.”

Rogers didn’t even see the metal fist that planted itself into his face.

“You son of a bitch! Are you actually trying to justify this…this bullshit by pulling lies out of your ass?” Barnes sneered, shaking Rogers by his collar, “You can’t get him to talk to you, so what, you’re going to trap him with engineered babies? Do you actually think he’d agree to that garbage you’re planning?”

Rogers found his bearing and aimed an equally powerful punch to Barnes’ side, before shouting, “IT’S NOT LIKE THAT!” He grabbed Barnes’ metal arm, twisted it behind his back and hooked his other arm around Barnes’ neck, “Why would you even think that?! I just want Tony to listen to me!”

“The hell it isn’t. Stop lying!” Barnes growled, before letting himself fall onto the floor, sending both of them down and then twisted to make Rogers land behind him and release his arm, “How the fuck are you going to explain all that research you’ve been doing, huh?! As if Stark would actually be interested in genetics, it’s not even his field you fucking idiot!”

Rogers jerked back at the insult then tried to grapple him into a chokehold, “I already told you, Bucky—“

Barnes used his metal fist to land a punch to one of Rogers’ kidneys to cut him off before straddling the man and landing consecutive and much more vicious punches to his face.

“And I already told you Rogers, to shut the fuck up and stop lying! You can’t even make it a damn good lie! I warned you about what will happen if you didn’t listen to me. Leave. Stark. Alone.” Barnes glowered and proceeded to accentuate each word in the command with a punch, “I don’t give a fuck if you think you love him. He clearly doesn’t feel the same way! This is the last straw, Steve. I’m so fucking tired of you ignoring the truth!”

The words seemingly revived something in Rogers because all of a sudden he grabbed Barnes’ metal fist, flipped them over, strangling Barnes with one hand. He landed punches into Barnes’ face with the other, while roaring with a crazed look in his eyes, “WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW?! YOU DON’T KNOW A THING ABOUT TONY! YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT US! IT’S NOT ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS IF I LOOK FOR WAYS TO CREATE OUR OWN FAMILY! WE DON’T FUCKING NEED YOU! YOU’RE NO ONE IMPORTANT TO HIM! STOP TRYING TO GET BETWEEN US! YOU’RE JUST THE GODDAMN HYDRA BASTARD THAT KILLED HIS PARENTS!

Barnes wheezed when he got Rogers to loosen the grip on his neck by squeezing Rogers' wrist with all the force he could muster and cracking the bones, halting the blond in his assault. Using the distraction, he took a stab at the blond’s throat with his metal hand. Rogers quickly fell back on the floor, hacking and spewing blood as one hand clutched his neck while he held his broken wrist to his chest.

“So it’s my fault now, Stevie? I killed his parents?” he asked before spitting blood onto the floor, then took a moment to gather his breath before struggling onto his feet, “Well, Rogers?” Barnes taunted, “Answer me, you asshole!” He snarled before giving Rogers another punch that echoed in the gym with a sickening crack.

The haze of crazed wrath left Rogers as he tried, unsuccessfully, to get back to his feet and holding out his better hand to touch Barnes, “G-God…Buck, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—“he choked, still struggling with the blow to his larynx.

Barnes chuckled and pushed his hand away, “You don’t need me, Stevie? And here I thought you are with me ‘til the end of the line?” he almost purred while smirking, as best as his split lip could, at Rogers.

Rogers’ eyes welled with tears as he answered hoarsely,“ I am, Buck…you’re my best friend…I-I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I don’t k-know what came over me.”

“Oh, Stevie. You know damn well what came over you, stop the fucking act.” Barnes began walking out of the gym, then with one last look at Rogers when he got to the door he said,

 “Besides, are you sure you should feel sorry about beating up the HYDRA bastard that killed Stark’s parents?”

 


 

 

 

Tracking Barnes using the cameras around the city wasn’t that hard. He sneaked his way into an abandoned building and stayed there for a while. Even if Barnes was a supersoldier and could handle himself, it would raise a lot of questions if someone found a beaten up Winter Soldier in an abandoned building in the middle of the day. She also couldn’t let him go back to the Compound, not with Rogers around. Thus, she did the only logical solution to this dilemma.

 

 


 

 

 

Tony was at the workshop, working on the War Machine Mark III when FRIDAY sent in a distress signal along with the location. He immediately suited up and flew out of the Tower. When he reached the location, he entered the building wondering what the hell was the problem that required FRIDAY to send a distress signal.

“FRIDAY?”

“He’s in a room on the third floor, Boss.”

“He? Who’s he?”

FRIDAY only highlighted her mystery guy’s location in the blueprint of the building projected in the armor’s HUD. Tony flew into the third floor and found FRIDAY’s guy sitting hunched in a corner away from the windows. The guy’s head went up when the armor landed and Tony could not believe what he was seeing. Of all the people FRIDAY could’ve have fancied as a stray to bring home,

Barnes? The hell happened to you?”