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While Tony had chosen not to barge in on the suspicious silence that blanketed the kitchen when he came through, he'd only saved his curiosity for Sam.

"So, what were you two talking about?" he asked, accepting his coffee and taking a long sip. "Mm, I forgot you make these. So good."

"I was talking to him about you, just like I'm gonna talk to you about him," said Sam, looking annoyingly smug to have been given the opening.

Tony might have miscalculated.

"I'm not awake enough for this shit," said Tony, shoving his face into his coffee. He turned to open up the hood of Sam's car, contemplating the space he had available and how to get all the important mods to fit.

Sam rolled his eyes but allowed it, coming up beside Tony. "Well, while you're ignoring me for my baby," he said, voice growing softer and more serious as he went on, "I just want you to think about what you're expecting out of Bucky, and what you actually want, deep down in that same place where you keep your Linzer cookie cravings."

"He doesn't want that," said Tony, a reflex as ingrained as the rest. "I'll take what he offers and be happy."

Sam huffed. "Tony." When the silence stretched out, Tony looked over at him, straightening up and peering over his coffee cup. "You need to tell him what you want, because you're both idiots but you're idiots who could be good for each other."

Tony felt something warm in his heart. "You heard him, Sam. He's got that bff he's half gone for. I don't -- I can't just lay myself out there hoping for long term only to lose in him a month or two when the pining is too much and he goes back to his friend."

"That friend's gonna come out here looking if he takes that long," said Sam, but he looked pensive. "Just tell him. He can't make the decision if he doesn't have all the facts."

Tony looked grumpy. "I don't want his friend out here stealing my man away, either." He took another sip of coffee and made himself enjoy it, and then sighed. "Look, I'll talk to him, because I'm sure you lectured him into talking to me, but then you can't get mad at me if I settle for a fling."

"As long as you tell the truth to him and to yourself," said Sam, "I won't get mad for however long it does or doesn't last."

"Yeah, okay. So, how hidden do you want this stuff?" asked Tony, gesturing toward the car, which was currently stylishly but flashily tricked out in a way that practically screamed 'illegal modifications.'

"I would like the car to be dark silver instead of red and gold," said Sam, holding up his hand to stop Tony's protest. "You can use a little red for accents, but no gold."

"As I will be the one supervising the repainting," said JARVIS, "I will keep to your preferred palette."

"Thank you," said Sam with a huff. "You can keep the spoiler and the running lights. I like those."

"And you can turn the lights off," said Tony with a chuckle. "Okay, I'm guessing once it's a quieter color you'll want... Hm, the body mods aren't actually illegal." Tony walked around the car, keeping his eye open for what could be minimized rather than disguised. "With a boring monochrome look, that stuff will all blend into the rest of the car."

Sam nodded. "And you might hate it, but dark silver will blend right into New York traffic and keep me from being a ticket magnet." He pointed to Tony's favorite, and by far the most illegal, part of the car. "Those extra side engines have got to go, though."

Tony sighed. "You don't street race anyway," he said. "I suppose I can just sell them to someone else."

"You can do something to keep up my good time coming out here," conceded Sam, "but it can't be big obvious zoom rockets."

Tony laughed. "Yeah, okay, I have a few ideas I've been wanting to test, anyway. Zoom rockets off, subtle cruising speed enhancements on."

"Man, I am not gonna ask what trouble you've been cooking up," said Sam, shaking his head. "Do you need me?"

Tony gestured over to the freight elevator. DUM-E and You rolled out, with Butterfingers hiding downstairs; he'd grown a little agoraphobic in his old age. "I've got these two. Go enjoy my bathtub; if I need extra human hands I'll have JARVIS send one of you up."

"As long as you aren't gonna alter yourself instead," said Sam. "No extra arms."

Tony chuckled. "Extra arms are how we get supervillains," he replied by rote, this familiar banter worn smooth and comfortable from use.

"That's right," said Sam. "I'll send your boy up with more coffee in a few. Don't let DUM-E poison you."

"Yes, Dad," said Tony, sticking his tongue out at Sam and holding his coffee close, even though he'd already drained half the cup. "Now go away, I have a car to fix."

"Yeah, yeah," said Sam. He waved and walked away and out of Tony's brain almost entirely while Tony booted himself up into car mode.

Tony started talking to JARVIS, refining his new ideas, finalizing specs for the production queue while he directed the bots to start disassembling where applicable. Arms rose smoothly up out of the garage floor and the car shifted upwards, not enough to put anything in the engine compartment out of Tony's reach, but enough that the bots could access underneath the chassis, too. He left the bays closed for now, despite the mild weather. He didn't want to be interrupted while he played in the pool of pure creation that he so rarely got to dip his toes into, at least anymore.

He and JARVIS were arguing cheerfully, all the car's panels pulled off and half the engine disassembled, when Bucky came up from below. "Whoa, are you sure you're gonna have that done by tomorrow?"

Tony grinned. "If that's coffee and cookies, I sure will," he said, making grabby hands in the direction of the cup and plate Bucky was holding. "Don't worry, the bots are helping, and JARVIS has his own units in the painting booth." Tony waved vaguely in that direction, the room already sealed while the paint crew was working.

"If you say so, doll," said Bucky, setting the treats to one side and coming up to Tony. "So, I gotta ask, because Sam is makin' me..."

Tony pulled him down into a soft kiss, stiff surprise melting into liquid want, his lips sweet and plush against Tony's and the stubble a sensual scrape against Tony's fingers. "Sorry, wanted to do that first."

Bucky laughed and pulled Tony close, both arms firm and both hands going down to cup his ass. "Don't ever apologize for that," he said, leaning in for a second luxurious kiss, this one hot enough to curl Tony's toes and make his pants tighter. "How long are you gonna wanna keep me, Tony?"

"As long as you'll stay," said Tony, surprised into honesty but the shy sincerity in Bucky's murmured words.

Bucky smiled, the most honest smile he'd shown Tony yet, full of delight and hope and tinged with wariness. "I hope you still mean that in a few weeks when I've cooked through my whole repertoire."

Tony chuckled. "As with bedtime fun, I'm given to understand that some things become favorites, and there's always new ways to spice things up on the internet." He kissed Bucky one more time, then gave in to his other bodily craving and made for the treats.

Bucky laughed and let him go, giving his ass a final squeeze on the way. "You are so much trouble," he said, shaking his head. "I got a soft spot for that, I guess."

"You would have to," said Tony, making a happy sound to find the cookies still warm, and the coffee dusted with cinnamon. "Wow, you are really spoiling me today."

"That's the plan," said Bucky fondly. "All right, I'm gonna go use Sam's phone to tell my bff to cool his jets, and then get the lasagna in the oven."

Tony made a noise of approval, mouth full of delicious, fresh baking. The chocolate chips were gooey and the cookie was soft and he was in heaven. Especially after that very nice kiss. Kisses. He spent a few long moments daydreaming about Bucky's mouth while he finished off the treat, then he washed the cookies down with the last of the coffee and got back to the grind.

He had a car to fix, because he wasn't going to get to do much of anything with that mouth while Sam was here.


JARVIS helped Tony time it so he had a nice long break just in time for the lasagna to be done. Bucky and Sam looked up, surprised, when Tony came down into the kitchen. "So, how much time do I have to clean up here?"

"I still gotta do the bread," said Bucky. "Go wash up and change."

"Not a full Stark shower, though, it's only gonna take ten minutes," added Sam with a chuckle. "I'll set the table."

"Not a full shower, I've got work to do still. You know I always burn the midnight oil on your stuff, Samsonite. Gotta keep my courier happy, especially now that I've got another mouth to feed." Tony gave Bucky a soft, short kiss and winked at Sam. "Back in a tick, boys."

"Nothing more than that!" Sam called after him. "I didn't send him to you to have to deal with PDA!"

Tony closed the bedroom door on the sound of Bucky's laughing protests, and he couldn't help but smile. A quick clean-up later and a fresh shirt to go with it, he emerged smelling slightly less like motor oil and followed the scents of tomato sauce, cheese, and garlic into the kitchen, where the table was now set and a bottle of actual wine had been opened.

"Oh, now, this is true love," quipped Tony, taking a look at the vintage. "Good choice, Samwise."

"Don't look at me, I don't know shit about wine," said Sam.

Bucky smirked. "JARVIS helped," he said. "We used a little in the sauce, so it should all be harmonious."

"Clever boys," said Tony, taking a seat and folding his hands in front of him, the very picture of patience. "Is it ready yet?"

The timer on the oven started beeping, which made them all laugh, and Bucky pulled out the fresh loaf of bread. He sliced it longways, slathered it with the garlic butter he had waiting, sprinkled on a generous helping of cheese, and stuck it back in the oven. "Give that a few minutes, and we'll be good to go. You can serve us up some lasagna if you want."

"Can do, Buckaroo," said Tony cheerfully. He stood up and started to cut nice big portions, giving Bucky double after serving himself and Sam. "Is two enough?"

"That's perfect, thanks," said Bucky, his face going pink.

"Bucky has had several extra small meals while cooking, mostly things out of the back of your cupboards, and has been keeping his metabolism well-supported," said JARVIS helpfully. "We have discussed his nutritional needs and will be balancing his diet as best we can during his stay."

"Good job, honey," said Tony, blowing a kiss to JARVIS's camera. "You eat what you need, Robocop, you're doing plenty to work it off." The kitchen was clean as a whistle despite all the activity, and there were Linzer cookies cooling on two different racks, enough to keep Tony's sweet tooth happy for a while. There was also a stack of tins to one side, which Tony assumed was the chocolate chip cookies, including Sam's tithe and, Tony guessed, some to send off to the mystery friend as well.

"Thank you, Tony," said Bucky, embarrassed but sincere. "I ain't met many normal people who understand about the cybernetics thing."

Sam cracked up laughing. "Tony is one of the least normal people I know, so you still haven't."

Tony huffed but shot Bucky a wink. "I have my own dark secrets, don't worry about it. Also, as you're perfectly aware, I've got a mod." Tony tapped his chest twice. "DUM-E makes me these special shakes to keep myself in shape."

"I restocked him, too," said Sam. "JARVIS says you skip 'em sometimes, and you know you can't do that too much. One a day, no exceptions."

Tony sighed. "You've been talking to Pepper again, so unfair," he said, flopping back down in the chair.

Bucky pulled the bread out of the oven with his metal hand, not bothering with an oven mitt, which made Tony curious about its tolerances. It was an unusual bit of tech, but he didn't want to get too invasive about it, not with the other kinds of invading he'd rather do to Bucky's body. Or have done to his own, Tony wasn't picky.

Just horny.

"Just lemme cut this and we can eat," said Bucky. "Bird-brain, pour the wine."

"Asshole," said Sam fondly, but he did so, getting three generous glasses out of the remainder of the bottle. He sat with Tony and said, "Bucky takes pretty good care of himself, but two appetites like his is a lot to support, so they rely on powders too much. It'll be good for him to cut back to once a day."

"So you're saying we should both have one smoothie a day, no more," said Tony with a laugh. "DUM-E will be thrilled."

"I will teach him Bucky's formula as well, sir," said JARVIS, smug as anything. "That doesn't require the chlorophyll filtering."

"Are you still having problems with that?" asked Sam sharply.

Tony huffed. "Shut up, yes, but it's fine," he said. "JARVIS keeps track for me and I don't go over 5%."

"Don't make me sic Rhodey on your ass," said Sam, looking stern. "Anyway, I guess this means you got your algae farm going?"

Tony chuckled. "Yeah, the lower levels are all going strong now. If I cared enough to go vegan, I could probably be completely independent out here." He yawned. "Right now it's all research stuff, though, nothing you can eat except my supplements."

"You got more levels?" said Bucky, sounding surprised. "I mean, I guess I didn't think about it." He brought the bread over, giving them each two cheesy, garlic-scented sections and putting the plate on the table next to himself.

"Yeah, there's stuff deeper in the cliff, too," said Tony, gesturing with his fork, though he hadn't yet dug in. "Actually the level between my lab and the surface is all bots, that's where JARVIS does my fabrication. I can get in there to do repairs when everything's shut off, but it's not designed for safe human habitation."

"How did you even build all of this?" asked Bucky, sounding very impressed.

Sam was too busy shoving bread in his face to comment, and Tony chuckled. "I ordered the materials as part of another project and diverted them under the table, and most of the build was done in stages over years. I didn't just pick a direction and set down, I've been working on a bolt-hole for a while. Things made it necessary for me to hide out here sooner than I'd hoped, but it was finished enough to move in."

"That's why he still needs me. He hasn't figured out a way to make robots grow him the good food." Sam chuckled and shook his head. "You're somethin' else, Tones."

"You said you do your own desalinization?" asked Bucky, taking a bite of the lasagna and looking very pleased with himself.

Tony turned away from Sam's backhanded compliment and nodded. "Yep, that was one of the early installations, it's way down at the bottom of my cliffside home." He finally took a bite of the lasagna and nearly whimpered with how good it was, rich with tomato and meat, full of cheese and herbs and garlic. "Wow."

Bucky actually blushed.

Sam, on the other hand, looked proud as anything. "Didn't I tell you? Totally worth the trip." He took a bite himself and made a happy sound. "Now that's the stuff."

Tony laughed. "Yeah, you're right." He gave Sam an overly sincere look and singsonged, "Thank you very much for sending me a new friend."

"I made him talk to his roomie, so hopefully that'll keep you from getting a bonus friend in a few weeks," said Sam with a chuckle, "but you're welcome. Just don't suck face in front of me."

Tony cracked up when Bucky said, "Hey!" and gave Sam a smack on the arm. "I'll have you know it's not his face I wanna suck."

"You can suck whatever you want of mine, gorgeous, but not in front of our Cupid, here. He's got a delicate angelic constitution." Tony gave Bucky's knuckles a kiss and went back to his food.

"Damn right I do," said Sam. "And it's gonna need regular infusions of Bucky's cooking, so you better not break each other."

"Eat what you got before you demand more, ya chuckle head." Bucky gestured with his fork and returned to inhaling his food.

They all fell to, complimenting Bucky more by silence than words, though Tony couldn't hold back by the time he was on his third piece of cheesy garlic bread. "I don't know how you made this so delicious, but I want you to know that you don't even have to put out if you want to stay here feeding me forever."

Sam snorted but didn't comment.

Bucky smirked. "Maybe, but you've gotta put out if you want my special morning after breakfast," he teased.

"Square deal," said Tony, feeling very pleased with life. He stuffed the last of the bread in his mouth and rubbed his hands together. "Right, car."

"Go on, I'll bring you something special and caffeinated in a few," said Bucky, shooting him a wink. "I'm gonna start the brownies tonight, if you're gonna be up that late."

"A genius' work is never done," said Tony, snagging another slice of cheesy bread on his way out. He heard them start talking again as he headed upstairs, but the words were just random sounds his brain was parsing in weird ways. After all, he'd never introduced Sam around up at SHIELD, and he'd have had no way of knowing Steve fucking Rogers otherwise.

Tony hadn't thought of Steve in ages.

Whatever friendship, let alone more, that might have been between them was destroyed along with SHIELD when Cap failed to fully execute Tony's plan to destroy all three helicarriers. At least Tony had been smart, fast, and sneaky enough to disable the third carrier's long-range guns, but a lot of people had died before that had happened, making a bad world even worse and sending Tony into hiding.

Rogers probably hadn't thought of him, either, given that he thought Tony was one of the many casualties of HYDRA's plan, rather than the top of their current hit list.

"Fuck, this is depressing. JARVIS, music me. I need to scrub my brain with classic rock and future tech." Dwelling on the past he'd given up forever did him no good; it was time to get back to work on the future he was trying to create.

The music came up and the holograms with it, and Tony took a second to center his brain on the right focus before spinning it back up into full rev. He forgot everything but the tech as he tugged and pulled and prodded at the light model. He yelled, "Fuck yeah, I am a genius!" and did a little dance around the dismantled car when things finally coalesced into a perfect working model.

"I hope this means you're ready for a snack?" said Bucky, from where he was leaning against one of Tony's parts cabinets, a tray steaming next to him and smile on his face, shy but fond.

"Absolutely," said Tony. "JARVIS, if you would?"

"Already going to fabrication, sir," said the AI with great satisfaction. "The new door panels are finished, and the paint will be fully cured in time for reassembly."

"Good job, honey bunny," said Tony. He danced his way over to Bucky and planted a kiss on those soft lips, pleased when Bucky responded by pulling him close for another. "Mm, what did you bring me?"

"Coffee and Linzer cookies," said Bucky. "They're ready to eat now. There was assembly to do."

"Much like Sam's car," said Tony with a chuckle. He stole another kiss and stayed close, snuggling up to Bucky's side while he grabbed a cookie and his drink and tried both. "Oh, cinnamon and, what is that?"

"Little bit of vanilla," said Bucky proudly. "Goes with baked goods. Sam got us a nice big bottle and I've got a trick to get just a tiny bit."

"My clever cyborg," said Tony, pressing a kiss up under his jaw. "Well, it's delicious, the cookies are perfect, and I need to enjoy this moment so I don't get all overwrought about my childhood." He was determined not to get all mushy over cookies that tasted almost like Ana Jarvis used to bake for him as a kid. He had science to do, or at least assembly, now that his genius had been spent.

"J, are we gonna be able to modify this for Pep?" Tony asked, after he finished off the cookie.

"I believe you'll be able to apply it to the power coupling you've been having trouble with on the emissions project," said JARVIS. "I've left a note in the file for you to look over tomorrow."

"You're the best," said Tony, saluting him with the coffee and leaning into Bucky just a little more. "How long is my window for a break?"

"It will be 37 minutes before fabrication is complete enough to commence reassembly," said JARVIS. "I will alert you when it's ready."

Tony turned into Bucky's arms and kissed him, all warm and slow and sweet. "Whatever shall we do?"

Bucky chuckled, low and warm, and pulled him in for another hot kiss. "How about we get t'know each other a little, sugar?" And then, defying Tony's expectations, he asked, "What's your favorite color?"

Tony was surprised into a laugh, and he hugged Bucky close and started to tug him over to the little waiting area. "Bring the cookies, please."

Bucky laughed with him, snagging the plate. "Yeah, okay, but I really do want an answer."

"Hot rod red," said Tony, once they were settled on the big, cushiony couch. "I also like black a lot, and gold." He cradled his half-empty coffee and kept shameless contact with Bucky, acknowledging if only to himself how much he missed such closeness. "You?"

"Black, mostly," admitted Bucky sheepishly. He had his metal arm around Tony, and rubbed the back of his own neck with the other hand. "Um, red sometimes, and silver?"

"So, mostly compatible but separate jewelry, got it," teased Tony. "Not that we're going to be sharing wardrobe choices much."

"You're not that small," protested Bucky, but his eyes were dancing with amusement. "You'd only have to cuff the pants, what, four times?"

"Hey!" said Tony, giving him protesting lick to the tip of his nose. "Don't look a gift engineer in the mouth! I've still got calibration work to do on that arm of yours."

"Oh, doll," said Bucky, nuzzling at Tony's cheek and jaw, "that ain't all I want in your mouth."

"That was terrible," said Tony, rolling his eyes but unable to stop grinning. "So what's your favorite cookie, anyway?" He ate a demonstrative bite of his own.

"Snickerdoodles," said Bucky. "You've got all the stuff for 'em, so I'll make those next."

"Good job me, I guess," said Tony with a chuckle. "What's on tomorrow's menu?"

Bucky kissed his hair. "Sam found me some fish, so I'm gonna make some fish chowder. Clams still mostly aren't available, but there's a couple of local fisheries that do good business."

"Well, clams and oysters are filter feeders, so those populations will take a long time to be food-safe again," said Tony with an expressive shrug. "Maybe you'll stick around long enough to help me plan the food bits of my villain lair, though really it's a lot of work to do even a small fishery for two people."

"I don't know nothing about that kinda stuff," said Bucky, pressing a kiss to Tony's temple. "But I'm not afraid of hard work."

"I already knew that, Bronco." Tony turned up into a kiss, powdered sugar sweet on his lips. "So, is the fish chowder another personal favorite?"

Bucky laughed. "Yeah, but you'll like it, too. Sam said he might be able to get me some herbs soon, if you've really got somewhere to grow 'em?"

"I might," said Tony. "For now, we can build a window box for the living room or put some planters out under the awning here. The hydroponics labs are still a couple of secret doors away from your clearance level."

"Just like my tragic backstory," agreed Bucky, sounding lighthearted despite the haunted look that passed over his features. "We'll get there, or we won't, but planters would be nice. Maybe your kids can design 'em?"

"I really hope you mean JARVIS and not the bots. They've got a little personality but I don't really want to see what their design aesthetics would look like." Tony chuckled at the thought.

"I'll put it in the work queue," said JARVIS dryly. "Perhaps the other 'kids' will enjoy having an art project."

"Oh, no," said Tony, with a wide-eyed laugh. "You made him sarcastic. We're doomed."

"It's not really any worse than 'honey bunny,'" Bucky pointed out. "And you did make them, didn't you?"

"I suppose it is a bit like having an adult child," said JARVIS.

Tony snorted a laugh. "I am not going to think of you as my kid, J. That's just too weird, sorry. The bots, sure, but you're something else."

"Business partner, maybe," said Bucky, giving Tony a kiss. "You're a real sweetheart, darlin'."

Tony huffed a laugh. "Don't go playing up that accent on my account," he said, but deep down he agreed it added a little to Bucky's charm. "Anyway," he said, eating the last bite of cookie with a flourish, "what herbs are you thinking of?"

"Oh, whatever Sam can get his hands on. Maybe some mint, rosemary, thyme, those're all pretty easy. Basil, too, good for lots of stuff."

"There are a number of good designs available for growing herbs for home use," said JARVIS. "There are ceramics in our stores which can be altered for this manufacturing use, though it might strain our supplies."

"Pep owes me a shipment of goodies, anyway, once I get caught up on her task list," said Tony. "Maybe we can put the right kind of clay on that order?"

"I am certain Miss Potts can provide," said JARVIS.

"Good job, J. I'll get my ass in gear and deliver on those revisions she sent so you can have new goodies." Tony snuggled into Bucky. "No one thinks it's weird when the auto shop gets a truck full of industrial-looking deliveries, and we're close enough to the highway that it's a good pit stop for the trucks."

Bucky chuckled. "I guess you must get some customers out here. How come no one came today?" he asked, peering at the sunshine and desolation outside.

"I didn't light the sign," said Tony. "No sign, no one thinks I'm in business."

Bucky thought about the tall 'Auto Shop' sign that he'd followed from the highway, down the winding road to this cliffside fortress. It looked like any little auto shop from the outside, with maybe enough space for working on two cars if someone lived in part of the building. The paint job was just weatherbeaten and sun-faded enough that, if it had been dark, Bucky would definitely have assumed it was abandoned. "Yeah, I can see that," he said with a wry chuckle.

Tony kissed him again, finishing off his coffee with a sigh. "I should probably put a pot of coffee on, if you're not gonna keep bringing me treats."

"Tell you what," said Bucky, stopping him from standing with another kiss. "I'll keep bringing you treats until I go to bed, and then I'll put on a pot of coffee when I come to say goodnight."

"I like this plan," said Tony, kissing him very warmly indeed. "I really like the part where you're not trying to guilt me into going to bed early when there's work to be done."

Bucky shrugged. "You're a grown man, Tony. Besides, I wanna get rid of Sam so we can share that big tub of yours later."

"I like that part of the plan even better," said Tony. He snuggled up for a few more promising kisses, but soon enough JARVIS was interrupting with his report that the first parts were ready for Tony to inspect and finish.

Tony sighed and then stole one last kiss. He got up and stretched, feeling something pop in his back enough to at least give the illusion of relief. "All right, let's go down to the workshop for the next part. I'll start reassembly once everything's ready to go."

"Of course, sir. I have taken the liberty of putting the parts that require your attention most at the front of the queue," said JARVIS, sounding quite pleased with himself.

Bucky chuckled. "Your computer's real smart. Did you really make him yourself?"

"I did, but I made him to learn, so he's evolved into this," Tony gestured toward the speakers, "on his own. I did not program the sass."

"I can't imagine where I might have picked it up, sir." JARVIS sounded more amused than annoyed, however, so Tony went with it.

"It's a mystery," said Tony, rolling his eyes dramatically. "All right, down we go." He led Bucky down and gave him a kiss at the top of the stairs, hopeful for another coffee soon.

DUM-E and You had preceded him down in the cargo elevator, and were bringing the first pieces out of the fabricator hatch, laying them out on an empty worktable for Tony. Diving into the work, he forgot everything but his own engineering as usual: ordering the bots around; wiring and soldering; and making sure everything fit together as it was meant to, though he wouldn't be able to test the full function until it was all assembled. JARVIS had put his music back on without being asked, and kept the holograms to hand so Tony could check tolerances and make sure he wasn't wiring anything out of spec, now that they'd finally gotten the specs to theoretically work.

Bucky arrived while Tony was in the middle of soldering, so he left a kiss, a plate of bread and cheese and fruit, and a big mug of honeyed coffee with Tony instead of interrupting further.

Tony thought he could fall way too hard, way too easily, if Bucky was always this supportive. Then he thought that he had to get back to his work, and found that he'd eaten between tasks, fingers picking at the food without his brain's input. The coffee was gone, too, so Tony gave a big stretch and checked in with JARVIS, who assured him he only had two more easy parts to finish before he could take another break and go get himself some sugar. Several kinds of sugar, preferably.

A half-dozen solders and a tiny bit of grinding later, and Tony tossed his goggles aside, grabbed his dirty dishes, and headed downstairs to see what the boys were up to. He announced himself by saying, "You two better not be playing strip poker without me," heading for the kitchen sink with his dishes and dirty hands.

"You only wish you could get a load of all this," said Sam, without even pausing whatever he was doing.

"I have a video game system?" said Tony, as his brain caught up to what his eyes were seeing.

Bucky chuckled. "That explains why JARVIS had to tell us how to hook it up." He was also doing something with the colorful characters onscreen, though Tony wasn't really sure what. "Go wash your hands. We'll have a midnight snack once I'm finished creaming Sam."

"You wish," said Sam, doing something that made Bucky swear.

"Just you wai-- hah!" said Bucky, sounding triumphant now. "Eat that."

Tony shook his head and went back to washing his hands, though he left the dishes for Bucky as agreed. He'd normally be leaving them for future Tony, so it wasn't like it was a hard habit to form.

Once Tony got his hands and face mostly free of grease, he tossed the incriminatingly grungy dish towel down the laundry chute and got down the coffee beans to start grinding. Sam was swearing now, and they were both accusing the other of cheating, so Tony figured the match was about over, whatever it was.

"What're we gonna have, besides coffee?" he asked.

"I ain't havin' more coffee," said Bucky. "I want to sleep someday, not have an anxiety attack."

"Yeah, that's all you, man. I'm gonna sleep like a baby while you get your genius on," said Sam. Then he swore again while Bucky crowed, and they both tossed the controllers onto the coffee table, gently but clearly done. "Man, you are too good at that."

"Uh, duh," said Bucky, shoving his shoulder against Sam's. "Anyway, that pot of coffee is all yours."

"Excellent," said Tony, adding more beans to the grinder. "Tony-grade high octane coming up."

"I'm gonna make us all somethin' sweet," said Bucky, getting up and sauntering over to Tony for a kiss, looking very pleased with his life. "You got any requests?"

"Hm, something I can use to lure Sam back later," said Tony. "I can tell we'll want fresh stuff more often."

"Sliced bananas in caramel sauce in crepes with Nutella," said Bucky with a smirk. He pulled a bowl of something out of the fridge, and Tony laughed when it turned out to be already-prepared crepe batter. "If that sounds good to you?"

"It sounds amazing, go for it," said Tony, turning to get a proper kiss now that Bucky was within reach. "Perfect fuel for my hard work. All the prep is done, so it's just assembly and then testing in the morning."

"Will you sleep?" asked Bucky, curious rather than accusatory.

"He'll get a little," said Sam, coming in to poke around in the cupboards. "He'll crash for a few hours, send me off, and then drag you to bed and fall asleep on you after."

"Yep," said Tony. "Unless you object to the last part of that plan."

"Sounds good to me, sugar," said Bucky, smirking. He turned to Sam and pointed. "Now be useful or be somewhere else."

"I can slice bananas," said Sam, washing his hands pointedly.

Bucky sighed and did the same, the two of them moving easily around each other in the small kitchen, despite the space Tony took up with his coffee-making. Tony took the time for three big pour overs into a thermos, and a fourth straight into his mug. He found himself smiling as he worked, the fiddly motions familiar and soothing even with the extra background noise. He didn't know Bucky that well, yet, but his instincts kept telling him that Bucky was good people, and he hadn't yet had a reason not to trust them.

Plus, Sam hadn't steered him wrong yet.

He wondered briefly what Sam would've made of Obie, but the whole idea was beneath his notice, dammit. That asshole was gone, and good fucking riddance to him for trying to steal Tony's tech and blowing himself up in the process. Tony took a deep breath and tried to let that anger go, finding it clung to him in a different way than his feelings for Howard's bad parenting, or Steve's poor life choices.

But he could still mostly let it go.

"You okay, there, doll?" asked Bucky, sliding up behind him with a hand, first, and then a full-body hug and a kiss to Tony's shoulder.

Tony chuckled. "Just tugging my brain out of the rabbit hole," he said, turning to get a kiss properly. "I can't fix other people's mistakes, I can just move on and stop wasting energy being angry about them. Especially the dead people."

"Oh, sugar," said Bucky, kissing him again very sweetly indeed. "We all gotta work on that one."

Tony let himself drown in Bucky's sweet kisses until his timer went off, and he had to turn back to finish off his coffees. Bucky went back to his cooking, too, and soon enough there were crepes and cups of herbal tea for them to go with Tony's coffee break.

"So," said Sam, sitting back on the couch and looking between them. "Once Tony finishes with your arm, what's he gonna trade you for cooking and cleaning?"

"You mean besides room and board away from everyone else?" asked Bucky pointedly.

"Upgrades to the arm, duh," said Tony. "Not to mention his car, which could use some love."

Sam chuckled. "And now you two can talk it out," he said pointedly. "Y'all were just gonna ignore it otherwise, I assume."

Bucky gave him a flat glare that would have put lesser men into a faint. "I don't actually need your supervision for all my relationships."

Sam gave him a dubious look. "Bucky, I have met the kind of guys you form relationships with. You really, really do."

"Hey!" said Tony, while Bucky buried his face in his hands with a snort.

"No fair bringin' that asshole into this," he protested, but it was weak.

Tony rubbed his back. "Let's just take the free therapy while he's giving it," he suggested, shooting Sam a wry look. "He could be giving us shit instead."

"Oh, I'm gonna do that, too," said Sam.

"Yeah, he really is," said Bucky, with a resigned sigh. "But I'm gonna have banana crepes with Nutella and he will have none."

"You and me both, sugar britches," said Tony, clinking their forks together. "And if he's not careful, he won't get any goodies for breakfast, either."

Sam put up his hands in immediate surrender. "I'm just tryin' to make sure my two good friends have a good start."

"Uh huh," said Bucky. He pointed his fork at Sam with a sharp jab. "You just want to make sure you come out smelling like a rose no matter what shit goes down."

Tony snorted. "There will be none of that, it's not my kink," he protested, but he was trying hard not to laugh as he said it. "Hopefully that's not a dealbreaker, Buckingham Palace."

Sam looked between the two of them, Bucky giggling and Tony smirking, and said, "I already have regrets."

"I don't," said Bucky, looking shy all of a sudden, eyes on his food.

Tony bumped shoulders with him. "Me, neither."