Fic where Bucky is doing his thing post Cap 2 and one day he looks up and Tony Stark is standing in the mouth of the alley. And Bucky’s like, okay, he’s here because of his parents, or project Insight or whatever but instead Tony’s just like “So does Cap like Asian cuisine? Italian just seems overdone, you know? I guess we could stick to all-American fare but that seems trite.”
And Bucky’s just like… “um?”
"I guess I could take him to that fusion place. Do you know fusion? Oh god, you don’t know your own name, what am I asking?"
And Bucky just kind of squints at him and he’s like “Don’t take him anywhere pretentious. If you genuinely want to show him something new, he’ll have a good time.”
And Tony’s all “Thanks for the advice, wing-man! I’ll catch up with you later and tell you how it went!” And he takes a few steps before he pauses and asks “Do you need anything? You kind of look like you need something. A shower mostly.”
Bucky just narrows his eyes. “I’m fine?”
"You need money. I’m going to send you money."
And Bucky just shakes his head like yeah, definitely Howard’s kid, geez but a couple of days later a private courier finds him at his safe house in Prague and delivers the shiniest, blackest AMEX card in the world.
Bucky resists the temptation for five whole days.
(Tony keeps popping up for dating advice “Should I take Steve dancing?” “Sure if you want a 230 pound super human stomping all over your feet and stammering apologies.” “Is it weird that I kind of do?” and “So is Steve gay or bi or what?” “You’ve been trying to date him for six weeks and it just occurred to you to ask?” “Whatever, I don’t care if he’s straight, he’s totally Tony-sexual.” “He does have a critical weakness for smart-mouthed assholes.”)
"You can come back with me you know," Tony says one day. He’s rocking up and down on the balls of his feet, watching Bucky pour kerosene over the back porch of one of Hydra’s commanders (there’s no one else in the house, he’s made sure, he’s not what they made of him anymore). Bucky hasn’t used the AMEX card in a couple weeks, but Tony always finds him. Bucky’s probably bugged, but he can’t bring himself to care. If he gets killed at least Stark will be able to find his body. He has the vague notion that Steve would probably want to know if he was dead.
"I know," Bucky says as he pours out the rest of the accelerant and tosses the can away.
"I have a pool," Tony says. "Well, technically I have seven of them. Eight? Twelve if you count the hotels. And king-sized beds with down-filled comforters. Fully stocked kitchens with gourmet chefs.Working showers.”
"For a guy trying to make time with my best friend you are really obsessed with my personal hygiene."
"You have to shower before you can come inside my tower," Tony said. "And also that arm. Ew. Jesus, I can hear the servos straining from here. Hydra’s engineers should be ashamed."
"They’re all dead," Bucky said as he fished his matchbook out of his pocket. "Everyone who knew anything about how this thing works. I made sure of it."
If he’s expecting Tony to be shocked, he’s disappointed. The billionaire just shrugged. “That’s probably a good plan, really. What?” he asked. “You’re talking to a man who blew up everyone involved in what they did to me. Like I can judge.”
It’s a fair point. Bucky flips the match over his shoulder. “Right, so I was reading about this fusion stuff.”
Tony keeps tracking him down - and he tells Steve, of course he does, Bucky doesn’t eve try to tell him not to. But he doesn’t want Steve to come yet. Stark is… Stark is different. Stark doesn’t care about the man Bucky used to be, and he never knew the inhuman machine the Winter Soldier had been. Stark doesn’t want anything from him except advice. Stark isn’t disappointed in what Bucky is making out of the wreckage of his former lives.
So he tells Stark to tell Steve not to come. And Steve - it takes a couple of near-misses but Steve listens. If Bucky ever goes too far off the map Steve will come looking to make sure he’s still alive, but that’s… reassuring. Sometimes Stark passes along messages. Mostly they don’t talk about Steve except in the context of Stark’s ongoing attempts to seduce him.
Bucky knows Steve somewhere deep in the back of his mind and the pit of his stomach. He knows Steve without knowing how he knows. And everytime Stark shows up and bemoans his lack of progress, Bucky has to bite his tongue from telling the man that Steve is so obviously smitten that even in Stark’s biased and self-deprecating accounts Bucky can tell that Steve’s just dragging this out for shits and giggles and it’s basically a done deal.
One day in March he sees a picture of Steve and Stark on the cover of the CNN front page. Stark is gesturing wildly and Steve has one arm around his waist. He’s looking at Tony with an expression that most people only aim at adorable kittens and their spouse of fifty years.
It’s a good look on him.
Bucky takes out his shiny black AMEX and books the first flight he can find to New York.