One minute he has no idea what the fuck is going on, and the next minute he still has no idea what the fuck is going on but possibly on a different planet. Space travel and all that shit, he gets it, he loves it - he's just not used to experiencing it.
"Thor?" Bucky hears Steve say. Honestly he's still a little fuzzy from the, ya know, speed of light or whatever. Then the immediate lightning and shooting across an unknown sea and city. But he can see from the open terrace that this planet is bright and beautiful, like it's plated in gold. Water as far as the eye can see. They're not on fucking Earth anymore, thank God. Or...thank Thor.
"Captain," a deep voice says. It's booming. Bucky feels it in his chest, his ass, everywhere. "You and your men are safe here, for now."
Steve wrings his hands together. He does that a lot now, without the shield. "It's just Steve now, not - anyway, thank you. It was getting a little hairy. Are the others safe?"
"For now," the booming voice says. Thor is the heavenly voice, Bucky finally puts together. He's massive and blond and scruffy. Bucky believes with all of his vibrating ass that this guy is an actual god.
"Is this Asgard?" Sam asks. "Never thought I'd get to visit if I'm being honest with you."
Asgard? Holy fucking shit. Also, Thor again. Still wow.
Thor smiles. "Asgard welcomes you and offers shelter while we plan a new approach for Mentos."
"Thanos," Steve corrects.
"Ah yes, I know, I just like to belittle him." Thor laughs. "He is beneath me."
Bucky wishes he were beneath him.
"That's a really impressive hammer you have," Bucky stammers out, because at least that is more appropriate than "let me ride you." He blames Wakanda for this. They did too good of a job "fixing" him, and now he's a walking erection again, just like before the war. The first war.
"Bucky," Steve sighs quietly.
"It's really...big," Bucky says, like that makes his previous statement any better. He holds his up his M249, which looks horribly out of place on Asgard. "I have a...gun."
Sam clears his throat. "Sorry, he's a little socially awkward."
"No bother," Thor speaks honestly. He's smiling at Bucky and it's like the sun, it's like the goddamn motherfucking sun. "I am Thor, son of Odin," he says, extending a mighty hand.
Bucky notices that Thor looks to Steve for a moment, who nods yes. Maybe they don't shake hands on Asgard. Makes sense. When Bucky grips Thor's hand, he feels tiny. Surprisingly, he likes it. "Bucky, uh, Barnes. Friend of Steve. And Sam, I guess."
"You guess," Sam mutters bitterly.
Several people - wait, Asgardians - shuffle into the room and their personal space, confiscating weapons and accoutrements. Not just any old Asgardians either, servants to the King. Bucky's not sure how he feels about that, but okay.
"I must be going now, but will send for you at dawn," Thor says with a friendly nod, then leaves them with their keepers.
"Where are we going?" Steve whispers as they're ushered from the balcony further into the palace.
"How the hell am I supposed to know?" Sam whispers back.
Bucky stares in awe at his surroundings. They're moving too fast. His time here will be limited, he knows, but he wants to see it all. He couldn't give two shits where they are going right now, he's on another fucking planet. Literally and figuratively.
Turns out they’re being led to the baths. He gets it - they're dirty, they've been fighting fucking aliens, gotta tidy up the human visitors. But. It's a little awkward.
Sam gets naked first and sinks into the massive pool. "This is nice, damn." Steve smiles contentedly and closes his eyes as soon as he joins him.
So maybe Bucky's the only awkward one.
Being disrobed is a little unsettling for reasons he can't quite remember and doesn't want to. It doesn't seem to bother anyone else so he just goes along with it, quickly submersing himself in the warm water. His arm, while extremely nice and much appreciated, is still a bit new and not tested for whatever mixture of yummy smelling oils and soaps are in the bath for them. Oh well.
They look like a bunch of pompous assholes going for a soak, and Bucky can't help but laugh.
Steve cuts his eyes at him. "Did you fart?"
Bucky laughs louder. "Are there fucking bubbles? No, I did not fart."
"Then what's so funny?" Sam asks.
"An hour ago we were fighting for our lives and now we're in a hot tub the size of Brooklyn on another planet. How are you not laughing?"
"I don't think I can laugh. Or move," Sam says. "I'm chill as fuck right now, like. What is in this water?"
That'd usually make Bucky a little paranoid, but he's calmer than usual himself. "Probably just salts or oils, I'm sure you're fine," Steve says.
Bucky's arm is really shiny in the water. He wants to touch it.
"Okay, well," Sam says, stretching his arms out. "Wake me up when you guys save the universe or something."
It's just so smooth. The old arm was sharp in between the plates, but not this one. He kinda wants to do some bad things with this arm. Good bad things.
Bucky looks at Steve. "Huh?"
"You're stroking your arm."
"Probably thinking about Thor," Sam mumbles sleepily.
Steve snickers. "And his huge hammer."
"Fuck you, too, Rogers."
Bucky smiles through his venomous words. Now he is thinking about Thor. And he never wants to go back to Earth again.
They all wake up together in an enormous bed the next morning. Is it called morning here? Hell, he doesn't even know what language they speak. Bucky will have to investigate.
Anyway, three jerks from Earth wake up in what would appear to be Asgardian night-shirts, a tangled American mess of arms and legs. They smell really nice and Bucky's hair is so soft and shiny that he's convinced somebody snuck in and spent all night brushing the sadness away.
"This isn't normal," Sam grumbles, burying his face in Steve's back. Yeah, that's really not normal, but Bucky has learned by now that Sam is not a morning person. Space travel seems to have no effect on that. "What time is it?"
Bucky shrugs. "Dawn?"
"I don't know how they keep time here," Bucky groans. "It doesn't revolve around the sun, for all I know a day here could be a week back home."
Sam snuggles deeper into his Steve pillow. "Why do you know this? Why does he know this?"
Steve grunts, "Why are you snuggling on me?"
"Warm. Sleepy. Coffee want."
An unfamiliar but pleasant aroma wafts through the air. Sam could smell it if he'd just quit his bitching for two seconds. Bucky sniffs. "Breakfast?"
Sam hisses, "Coffee!"
"No, jackass," Bucky says, climbing off the massive bed. His nose leads him to a tray of unidentified meat, fruit, and bread. "I'm saying someone brought us breakfast. Can we stay here? I think I wanna stay here."
Steve manages to wrangle away from Sam and pads over to the food, rubbing his chest as he walks. "Don't pop a boner over breakfast, Buck."
"As someone who slept in the middle," Sam adds, "I can confirm it was there before breakfast."
Rude. So rude. Bucky crosses his arms. "You're just jealous of my virility."
"Trust me, I am definitely not jealous of that." Steve squeezes Bucky's biceps. "I'm thrilled about your virility. I would make love to your virility, except that I don't want to."
"Same," Sam agrees, still in bed.
Bucky makes a face like he's about to grumble, so Steve hugs him. "What good is having a best friend if we can't make dick jokes?"
"Love, support, intelligent conversation..."
Sam pushes his way between them, grabbing some sort of citrus fruit. "Dick jokes," he confirms.
Bucky's just not going to win this one, it seems. He's been relearning the concept of friendship these last few months, and okay, maybe it does feel nice that people care enough to show an interest and poke fun at his new discoveries and pleasures. And not just Sam and Steve, he’s also grown close to T’Challa and especially Wanda - he misses her already. He hopes she's okay.
And back to reality. "We can't go meet with Thor in nightgowns," Bucky says. "Where are our clothes?"
Nowhere to be seen, obviously. They all scour the room and can only find clothing items that look far more Asgardian than any of them should be allowed to wear.
Sam frowns. "I guess, uh. These are our clothes."
"There's no pants," Steve moans. "Loki wore pants, I know they are aware of the fashion."
Not only are there no pants, there are no undergarments either. The fabric of their robes is heavy, yet soft and comfortable, muted in color but rich and vibrant all the same. It reminds him of a brief moment in his past, a mansion in the south of France. Bucky swirls his hips, letting the clothes rub over his butt and thighs. Underwear - overrated.
As promised, they're summoned by an actual warrior goddess and a feisty ginger man in armor for their meeting with Thor. Steve's struggling with his garments, walking with wide legs and a grimace on his face. "Steve?"
"M'fine," he responds quickly, though obviously he is not fine.
"You sure?" Sam bites his cheek, swallows a grin. "Why're you walking like that?"
"I'm just." Steve flushes. "I'm very sensitive in. Places. "
The warrior goddess blatantly turns her gaze to Steve, slowly admiring him from head to toe and back again. Steve blushes even more at her approving smirk.
Of course, that jerk will talk about everybody else's dick, but mention his own and he can't form a sentence. "Not a fan of freedom ballin'?" Bucky asks.
"Dick jokes?" Bucky says. The ginger glances at him with a quirked brow. "Like free ballin' but it's Steve, so."
Now everybody looks at him.
" America, " he says. Jokes aren't funny if you have to explain them. Bucky Barnes is an awkward, unfunny man. He sighs. "I hate all of you."
Bucky has always had laser sharp focus, loving to set his sights on something with an endgame in mind.
He doesn't want to shoot Thor. Although, that would probably be easier than wanting to nail him.
Also, he's talking about really important things and Bucky should be paying attention, not picturing himself in Thor's undoubtedly massive bed with The Hammer on his chest, holding him captive.
So, these Infinity Stones. Thor's explaining the locations and powers of the six stones, and what sort of destruction Thanos can cause with the ones he's already acquired. This shit has gone from bad to oh fuck they're all going to die, fast.
Hmm. The Hammer on his back. That's even hotter.
"Bucky?" Steve's looking at him, concerned.
"I wasn't thinking about the hammer," Bucky whispers quickly. "Swear."
He is, he is.
"The Soul Stone is here. The Tesseract is here," Thor says. Bucky feels the blood drain from his face just at the name. "Thanos will come for them, and we will be ready."
"We," Steve says in his Captain America voice. He looks first at the hairy redhead, Volstagg, then to the goddess, Sif, before leveling his gaze at Thor. They expect them to fight with them, join their army.
Sam asks, "Can we beat him?"
Thor nods. "It will not be easy, but I do not accept defeat."
"We use the stones you have," Bucky says. "They're weapons."
"Yes, but they are powerful elements that few of us can control," Thor argues. "They serve their purposes and violence should not be one of them unless absolutely necessary. Too dangerous."
Bucky frowns. "And relying on swords and shields isn't?"
"My sword and shield has served me just fine in the past," Sif answers, offended.
"Yeah?" Steve looks at Sif with a new appreciation, then scowls at Bucky. "Yeah. All I really want is my shield."
"Look," Bucky sighs. "I'm just saying, I've fought against bastards that use this shit to make weapons. Vaporized half my platoon into thin air right before my eyes. You can't...just-"
Steve places a gentle hand on his wrist. "It's okay, just breathe."
"I'm-" He looks at Steve's hand, sees what's alarmed him. Bucky's gripped the chair so hard that the arm is breaking under his fingers. "Out of line. Sorry."
"I have had to learn to value the opinions of others, even if they do not reflect my own. A hard lesson." Thor smiles. "You three are warriors, men of honor. I will not rebuke you for your experiences."
"Thank you," Sam says. He looks uneasy.
Bucky doesn't know what to think, certainly not what to say. He can't keep from watching Thor, who looks at him like he knows Bucky's past - all of it, even the parts he can't remember. And yet he still called him a man of honor. Killing is honorable, as it has been for centuries. It's what they do. And it's fucked up.
"I'm deferring to Steve on this." Sam cuts his eyes at Steve. "As usual."
"Me too," Bucky adds.
Steve sighs scornfully, but it's not like he can deny his role as a leader. He can run but can't hide from it. "We'll fight, under my instruction. Sam’s and Bucky's skills are specialized, they won't be on the front lines."
"I trust your judgment as a captain and friend, Steven." Thor claps his hands excitedly. "It is settled! We will laugh in the face of our enemies, bathe in the tears of naysayers, uh...I always lose track of where I am going with these. We will..."
"Be victorious?" Steve tries.
"We will be victorious!" Thor booms with a laugh.
Sam mutters, "Is he always this excited about war?"
"It's actually why he was banished to Earth," Volstagg answers.
Sif snickers. "No man, woman, or army can quench his thirst."
Thor's laugh fades. "Funny."
Sif rises from the table. It commands attention from everyone though she seems like she's just fine working from the shadows. Bucky can appreciate that. "I'm famished," she says. "Steve, you are in need of a shield, you said. Have you ever trained with sword?"
"I d-do," Steve stutters, rushing to keep up with her. "A sword? Shit. No?"
"It is high time you learned, then."
Volstagg grunts. "Lady Sif has always had a thing for blonds."
Thor shoots him a look.
"Interesting. She'd eat Steve alive," Sam laughs. He and Volstagg stand together and head to the exit. "So, you guys got a Netflix equivalent of some sort? Wifi?"
Bucky hears Volstagg echo, "Netflix?" But he's too busy returning to his awkward turtle status to make a joke. He's alone with Thor. Thor's alone with him. Could it be anymore obvious...that he's totally fucked...
He's gotta get out of there without tripping over himself, drooling, or saying something stupid.
"Are you hungry, Bucky?" Thor asks.
The nickname sounds ridiculous in Thor's accent and Bucky wants to die. "God yes," he answers, and immediately wants to die more painfully.
"You don't guard your words, I like that," Thor says.
"Well, in therapy-" Bucky starts, then stops immediately because you just don't go around talking about being in therapy. At least, he doesn't. Shouldn't. Something. "I mean. I'm trying to find a balance. Between sharing too much and not enough. Still not there yet, most of the time I just have verbal diarrhea."
Thor leads him out of the room and in the direction of the others. "You are funny."
"Thanks, I think." Bucky wrings his hands together. He wants to talk, but wants to not make an ass of himself. "Will you bring the others here? The Avengers?"
Thor frowns. "Possibly, but they are fighting his army as well. It would be selfish of me to think our battle to be of higher importance."
"Right," Bucky says softly. Life has a way of sucking him into these situations - war, elite forces, goddamn assassin, and now reluctant hero. And every time, he doesn't quite fit the mold. "Sorry you got stuck with the knock-off squadron."
A palm the size of his head pushes against his chest. He is strong but Thor is stronger, keeping him in place. "You are valuable," Thor says. "You would not be here if you were not."
Say something profound, Bucky thinks. Woo him with your brain, your battle-tested humanity. You're a badass with a fucking vibranium alloy arm and good hair.
"Holy shit, you're beautiful," Bucky sighs instead. Because he can look into Thor's eyes, he can smell him, he is touching him, and he's so far gone he's practically back on Earth again. He wishes he could remember the last time he was so smitten. Maybe he can't remember because he never has been.
Fuck, he just told the fucking Prince of Asgard, an actual demi-god, that he is beautiful.
Bucky groans in despair. "Oh God, I'm sorry, that was, like. Verbal cholera. Dysentery. The Plague. I have no idea what the fuck is wrong with me."
Blessedly, Thor doesn't toss him from the palace. Instead he pats Bucky on the chest, his eyes crinkling with a hidden smile. "All is well, friend. I believe you to be quite beautiful as well."
Does that...beautiful probably means something else entirely here. Obviously. It has to.
They eat, they drink, they strategize. They eat and drink more. What Volstagg refers to as Asgardian mead leaves Sam drunker than shit, sharing war stories with Sif and the Warriors Three - Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun - about the desert and Vanaheim and how their leaders could be royal assholes. Bucky's feeling pretty good himself, and even Steve is tipsy enough to be making googly eyes at Sif without any regard for how much everyone is going to mock him for it later.
Although, Bucky's not doing too much better in the googly eyes department. He does manage to keep his mouth shut until Thor steps out to speak to someone. "Steve. Steve, Steve, I gotta tell you something."
Steve takes a sip and makes his face look serious. "Whassat?"
"I think I might be gay," Bucky says, loudly. "Like. Super gay."
"Wow," Steve deadpans. "I don't believe it. I'm honestly so surprised right now, I never saw this coming."
Bucky grumbles, "You're an idiot."
"Hey Sam!" Steve yells. "Bucky just said he thinks he might be," he pauses, dropping his voice to a whisper, "gay."
Sam falls on the floor. Pulls himself up again amidst laughter from his new friends and stares Bucky down. "Please tell me you're not just figuring this out now. You're not, are you? You are! Oh man."
Then Sam's all over him, pulling him into a rather handsy hug. "I'm proud of you, asshole. This is what I mean when I say you can't be afraid to want things. Get you some, fuck that big blond demi-god."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, let's not, ya know," Bucky chuckles nervously, pushing Sam away. "Let's not go that far."
"If I may ask," Volstagg interjects. "Is this a tradition in your culture, to announce that one has chosen a gender in which to mate with?"
"Well..." Steve scrunches his face.
"It's the byproduct of a patriarchal, heteronormative society," Sam states. Everyone stares at him, wide-eyed. "What? I know things."
"Fuck the patriarchy," Sif says proudly as Thor joins the group again.
He raises an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
Steve raises his mead to her. "Fuck the patriarchy."
"Oh God, Steve's gonna try to marry her," Bucky mumbles, planting his face into his hands.
"Ah, might as well. Fuck the patriarchy!" Thor shouts, stealing Bucky's mead to raise in the air. "Why are we fucking the patriarchy?"
Sif belches. "Because the pretty one wants to literally fuck the patriarchy."
Fucking... fuck. Bucky moans, "Do you ever...just...want...to die..."
Steve shoves him. "Bucky, no."
Bucky shoves him back. "You're one to talk, crashed any planes in the Arctic lately?"
"Gentlemen, please. Save the fighting for the real war." When Thor speaks he makes everything sound noble and godly. He sips from Bucky's mead and makes a face. "This tastes like Frost Giant piss, why did you give them this shit?"
Well. Maybe not.
Thor steals Volstagg's pilsner and slides it to Bucky with a wink. He takes a sip, immediately noticing a difference in the beverages. This is smooth and spicy, going straight to his head and toes. Fuck, it's good. "Bastards," he says, leveling a teasing glare at the Asgardians.
Apparently Sam couldn’t care less that he's been drinking the Asgardian equivalent of Bud Lite because so drunk that he's floating in the clouds and tasting colors. And Steve is one drink away from telling Sif he wants her to kick his ass and then make it feel better. No one is paying attention to Thor sitting on the border of Bucky's personal space, smiling at these fools.
Why is nobody noticing? Somebody save him before he offers to have Thor's babies.
Thor leans on his elbow. "Steven mentioned to me that you're a sharpshooter."
Bucky gulps a mouthful of mead. "Yeah."
"How do you see?" Thor asks seriously.
Bucky blinks. "What?"
"You hair," Thor says. He toys with an errant lock of Bucky's hair. "You wear it loose. Does it not impede your vision?"
Dropping his chin, Bucky laughs to try to cover the fact that his entire being is combusting. But if there's one thing you don't fuck with, it's Bucky's ability to shoot. He tells his libido to chill the fuck out and steadies his gaze at Thor. "Well, maybe I'm just that good."
"Oh?" Thor quirks an eyebrow. "Are you proficient with a bow and arrow or are your skills limited to cold steel?"
"I can shoot with a bow and arrow," Bucky exaggerates. What he means is that after he got his new arm, he and Clint blew up some shit with explosive arrows.
But still. His aim was excellent.
Thor nods like he's humoring Bucky. "You know the gravitational pull is different on Asgard than your planet, making any velocity calculations you have ineffective."
"I did know that," Bucky says. "But don't worry. I can adjust."
Thor snaps his fingers. "Just like that?"
"Faster," Bucky replies smugly.
Thor's looking at him like he's an entire feast he wants to devour. Who'd have thought being a math genius would be the thing to tip him over the edge? "I have a lady friend on Earth, Jane. A brilliant and quirky astrophysicist. Don't believe she has ever used her brains to plot bullet trajectory, however."
So Thor has a nerd kink. Nice.
"That you know of," Bucky points out.
"Fair. I do not see her often, it is possible she has taken up a new hobby." Thor smiles but doesn't look particularly happy.
Bucky takes a huge gulp of mead and talks straight out of his ass. "Long distance relationships can be hard. Especially between planets."
That makes Thor laugh, loud and guttural. "One would think me mad, wouldn't they? But though I do care deeply for her, it would be selfish to burden either of us with what you call a relationship."
"'Cause of the planet thing, I get it," Bucky says. "It doesn't make you sad?"
"It does not make me happy," Thor answers. "But Heimdall can see into the souls of all within the Nine Realms and he tells me she is well. That is enough."
Bucky nods. "Right."
"And besides, it would not be aboveboard for me to say you are beautiful if my heart was already promised to another."
Bucky whimpers, fucking loud enough to be heard by most in his company. Damn. The good mead is doing shit. Bucky feels a little more than alright and has nothing smooth to say in response to Thor. "You used to have long hair," he says. Like an idiot.
"But you could see, right?" Bucky awkwardly touches a strand of hair resting against Thor's cheek. "Did it not, 'impede your vision'?"
"I wore it in a traditional Asgardian style," Thor whispers, like it's a secret or something. "I could show you sometime, if you'd like?"
Yes yes yes yes yes. Is Thor flirting with him? Thor's flirting with him. Bucky can't speak. He used to be smooth, goddammit. Now he's an open-mouthed loser that can't even manage an "uh huh" when under the gaze of arguably the hottest fucking dude in all of the Nine Realms.
Thor chuckles at Bucky's silence and claps him on the shoulder, rising from his seat next to him. "You entertain me, Bucky."
Well, that's...maybe good. Bucky downs his mead and asks for another.
Days on Asgard are definitely not 24 hours long. Or maybe he's just sleeping an unhealthy amount. Blame it on space travel.
Bucky has no clue what time it is when he wakes up in a giant bed snuggling Sam - not who he wishes he was snuggled up with. He grunts his dissatisfaction but is too lazy to move.
"I'm very uncomfortable with you spooning me, ya know," Sam grumbles. He still sounds - and smells - drunk.
"Is this because I said I might be gay?"
"No. It has more to do with your essence as a whole."
Just for that, Bucky squeezes him harder.
"Steve's not here." Sam pats the bed on the other side of him. "Guess they're still working on a game plan."
"I'm here," Steve says from a chair near the terrace, startling both Bucky and Sam into upright positions. Ow. "We have a plan, of sorts. Which is saying something considering we drank enough to drown California today."
"And?" Sam asks.
Steve sighs. "I'm still waiting for them to agree to give me pants. I think maybe they're playing a joke on me."
"Seriously. That's the only plan you have. Pants. "
"No," Steve frowns. "But it is a definite necessity in order to enact the plan."
Bucky wonders what would happen if he just...stepped off the edge of the planet. Would he fall into the abyss? Would Thor and his hammer fly to rescue him? It might be worth the risk.
"Steve," Sam sighs. "Can you just..."
Steve straightens in his seat. "Thor says the attack is imminent. Sif will stay with Thor, lead the Asgardians against whatever aliens Thanos might bring with him. The Warriors Three are to help the Einherjar protect Odin’s Vault and the Tesseract. We have one mission - protect Heimdall."
"Protection?" Bucky rubs his eyes. Looks like nap time is over.
"Three of us to shield one guy?" Sam asks. "Must be important."
"Yeah." Steve nods solemnly. Bucky thinks he knows more than he's giving away. "Must be."
Nothing in Asgard is low key. Bucky asks for a snack and ends up with a five course meal, none of which is eaten by any of the Asgardians. Whatever, though. Not like the three Earth bros can't eat the whole table by themselves anyway.
Sam heads off for a test flight to determine his speed and breath control in the unfamiliar gravity, Steve follows Sif like a lost puppy dog when she mentions that she has something special for him, and Bucky burps. Obviously he's the least productive of the three after eating.
"Sounds like you've just made room for more."
Funny how he and Thor always end up alone together. Convenient even, like it's done on purpose.
A fruit of some sort flies at Bucky's face. Luckily for his nose he has cat-like reflexes, catching it in his flesh hand. "In some cultures, burping after a meal is considered a compliment, ya know."
"Better out than in, I always say." Thor tosses the same type of fruit from hand to hand before crunching down on it, proceeding to talk with his mouth full. "Or was that the green guy that said that?"
"No, no. The ogre. Shrek? I watched it at Stark's place with Natasha. She quite likes children's movies."
Interesting. Not knowing how to respond, Bucky takes a bite of the apple-like thing. It's good. Apple-y. "Can I tell you something, Thor?"
"Is it about Mjolnir again?"
Thor holds his hammer up. "Mjolnir."
"Oh God." Bucky hangs his head. "No, I. I was just going to say that your planet is beautiful and I wish I could take the time to see more of it. But, ya know. Infinity Stones and shit."
"They are a bit of a distraction." Thor chomps another bite and places the fruit on the table. "Come. I have something for you and the Falcon, we will have a quick tour on the way."
If Thor says come, Bucky's gonna goddamn come and not even remotely think about making a dirty joke.
Okay, so he does think about it. He has no shame whatsoever.
Even being as perceptive as he is, Bucky can't recall every detail of the palace that Thor explains in lightning-fast - haha - succession. The beauty of it all still overwhelms him, slows the mind. The visions are what he wants to remember, not the history.
Finally they reach a smallish room, many floors above the main halls and bedrooms. What it lacks in luxury, it more than makes up with the view from the terrace. Bucky can see everything - the Hall of Asgard, the Bifrost Bridge, Valhalla. Mountains, valleys, water, planets. Steve, shirtless, sword-fighting with Sif on the training grounds below.
"What an idiot," Bucky mutters.
Thor chuckles. "I do believe that Lady Sif gave him the option of shirt or pants. I dare say he made the correct choice."
"What about armor?"
"Good question," Thor says. "If I had to guess, the armor makes it more difficult to distract her with his impressive pectorals."
Bucky snorts. "Even with that spectacle, this view is amazing. Unlike anything I've ever seen."
"It is," Thor agrees, but he's not looking at his kingdom. He's looking at Bucky.
He tries to make a joke, something like "if only I had my iPhone, this would be my most popular Instagram picture yet," but thankfully Thor's presence has rendered him speechless. Again.
"You," he manages to squeak out, "have something for me?"
"Yes, of course." Thor abandons the terrace, stepping into a doorless closet. "This is little more than a storage space, but instead of journeying by myself, I wanted to share the view with you. When we were children, my brother and I used to sneak up here and peruse the armor before staring into the night for hours."
This is the first time Thor has mentioned his brother, but thanks to Steve he knows all about Loki. "Is he here?" Bucky asks. "Your brother. Or would he be more of a liability than an asset?"
Thor frowns, dropping a few items of clothing on a rickety chair. "He is, as I have heard Midgardians say, paying his penance. In a way most suited for him, that I hope will benefit us all."
Then Thor's eyeing a pair of pants, holding them up to Bucky's hips. "These should work. The armor is fairly standard. Would you like to dress? Or are you shy for an audience?"
"M'not shy," Bucky grumbles, pulling the pants on under his robe. "Do I also not get the option of a shirt?"
Thor shrugs playfully. Well, okay then. If Steve can try to impress an Asgardian warrior with his man tits, then so can Bucky. He shrugs the robe off of his shoulders and steps out of it, then politely picks it up and folds it before handing it to Thor with a devilish grin.
In return Thor makes no effort to pretend like he's not staring, which is only slightly unnerving. "You are missing something."
Bucky raises his eyebrows. "Shirt? Armor? Balls of steel?"
Thor hums. "I was thinking something more like...a proper hairstyle."
So. The thing about the Hair.
Bucky wasn't actually expecting Thor to be the one to braid it, but here he is, in a lovely parlor - elegantly adorned with scented candles and gemstone encrusted niceties - with a raging boner and a demi-god's hands in his hair.
Don't they have people for this? Hair people. Stylists. They probably have a fancier name here. Hair Preparers to the Gods or something.
Basically, Bucky's trying to think of anything but Thor's hands and the itch he could scratch if he just...pulled...his...hair.
"You are enjoying this," Thor says. Bucky has an immediate red alert - the boner has been spotted - but it's a false alarm. "You seem to be at peace, content. Even with the impending war and possible demise of the Nine Realms."
Thor - so optimistic. Hopefully Steve leads the battle cry, damn.
"I don't want to seem thirsty for violence or anything," Bucky prefaces. "But to me it's simple. You win, or you die. So what do I have to be anxious about? I have only one job to do - survive."
"You do not fear death?"
Bucky closes his eyes, tilts his head back a bit to enjoy the warmth of the candles and Thor's fingers deftly preparing him for battle before answering, "No."
"I have literally been to Hel and back, so I can see why one would." Thor finishes clipping Bucky's hair and sweeps it behind his shoulders. "I am glad to have one as fearless as you fighting on my side."
Bucky laughs. "Uh, thanks." Maybe he shouldn't explain that he's more afraid of intimate human interaction than dying.
Thor pats him on the shoulder and Bucky moves to stand up. "May I kiss you for luck, Bucky?"
Bucky freezes. He's hearing things. "I'm sorry, what?"
"May I kiss you?" Thor repeats. "For luck."
Fearless. Brave. Do it. "Yeah," Bucky breathes. "Yeah."
Bucky expects thunder and lightning when Thor cups his face and tenderly brushes his lips against his own. And it's close, it's goddamn close. The most memorable, yet innocent, kiss that Bucky can ever remember.
Thor smiles. Bucky licks his lips, staring up with wide eyes. "Ya know, I've had like, eighty years of shit luck, I might need-"
Hint - taken.
Bruising kiss - initiated.
Bucky - happy.
Never let it be said that Sam Wilson isn't the smartest out of their merry band of misfits.
He takes one look at Bucky, flushed cheeks and an irrepressible grin on his face, and immediately calls him out. "You kissed Thor!"
"Could you not-" Bucky drops Sam's pants, shirt, and armor before him. "Why you gotta be so loud?"
Sam looks around the empty room. Looks at Bucky. Rolls his eyes.
"Anyway." Subject change. "How was your test flight?"
Then Sam proceeds to gush about the power upgrades he was given, how Asgard has a fucking drop-off where the planet ends, and the literal rainbow bridge. Bucky's daydreaming about Thor's abs when he realizes Sam's directing a question at him. "No," he answers, just because that's his standard response to Sam.
"Man, you got it bad." Sam shakes his head, sliding on his new pants. "I asked how many rounds you had left."
"Oh." Bucky does a quick mental count. "Eighty-six? You'd just reloaded, so I'd guess about fifty in total for you between the two."
Okay, now he's a little worried. Ogling over a gorgeous beast of a dude served as a distraction from a very harsh reality - they're undermanned and underpowered to take on a human army, much less an alien one. Shit. The Asgardians are well-prepared but. Still.
"Damn, I look badass," Sam says, after finally figuring out his armor. "Tell me I look badass."
"You look badass," Bucky deadpans. "I just hope these fucking aliens aren't bulletproof."
Bucky's crossed a lot of bridges by foot in his lifetime. Brooklyn Bridge. Golden Gate Bridge. The Tower Bridge, Ponte Vecchio, Rialto. But none of them were literal fucking rainbows. It speaks to him in a very deep, very gay way.
The Bifrost is basically a wormhole, as he understands it, which is simultaneously awesome and terrifying as fuck. Mortals don't just walk across this thing like they're going for a stroll down to the corner market but here they fucking are, three assholes in Asgardian garbs headed to their impending doom.
That's a little morbid but he's gotta be honest, their chances aren't good.
The attack will happen soon, or so Heimdall has informed Thor and his advisors. But one does not simply fly a spaceship into Asgard - Thanos and his alien bastards will have to use a wormhole. It could be their station, or it could be another. Nobody really knows.
"I see Sif finally let you have a shirt," Bucky says. He's trying to look everywhere but over the side of the bridge and into nothingness. See, this is why he needs as many good luck kisses as possible. He falls off of shit. There's historical documentation for this.
Steve side-eyes him. "How did you know about that?"
"I hear things."
"Thor told him," Sam interjects. "Right before they made out."
"Listen," Bucky says, then says nothing else.
"Nice hair," Steve mutters just as they step before Heimdall so that Bucky can't respond.
Not that he'd have anything intelligent to say anyway, what with his wide-eyed fascination at Heimdall. He's. Wow. Bucky wants to bow or something but that's probably not necessary. At least he's not the only one that doesn't know what to do.
Sam is awestruck, only managing a "Sup" after Steve awkwardly extends his hand and introduces all of them.
Heimdall nods to them and narrows his golden eyes at Bucky. "Nice hair," he comments.
Bucky sighs, "Goddammit."
Heimdall smiles, and suddenly, the silent wait becomes much more comfortable.
Or not. Steve quickly becomes the annoying kid that asks the same question over and over again, because he's antsy and either itching for a fight or desperate to avoid one.
"Heimdall," Steve says for the millionth time.
"Captain," Heimdall says, mildly agitated. "I will tell you when to prepare yourself and your men."
"Sorry, I'll-I'll just sit down."
"I'm not sure we're supposed to talk to him," Bucky whispers.
"You may speak to me." Heimdall adjusts his stance. "You may not annoy me."
"He means well. Just gets a little anxious when not in control of the situation." Sam stands, pacing in a circle. "Will it annoy you if I fly around for a bit?"
Heimdall furrows his brow. "No, I believe that might entertain me."
As much as he loathes to admit it, watching Sam fly with Asgard's Palace and the stars as a backdrop is breathtaking. Steve smiles and Bucky sees the love he has for his friend in his eyes. When all is said and done, Bucky would gladly die up here in this surreal world if it meant those two could live to go home and tell the tale.
Something shifts in the air. Static electricity, negative air pressure, maybe just a stiff wind, but it's a definite change. Heimdall's face remains stoic but he states simply, "Call your friend back."
Bucky whistles while Steve scrambles to his feet, approaching Heimdall in silent anticipation.
"Prepare," Heimdall says, visibly rolling his eyes at Steve's nervous energy.
Sam lands with a stumble. "I don't see anything."
"And you won't," Heimdall warns. "Now the real wait begins."
Initial concerns about the lack of weaponry turned out to be a little premature. As the three of them find while preparing to stand guard, plenty of weapons have been procured for them. It's just...they're alien weapons. Guns don't fire bullets, they shoot arrows with the same speed and precision as a .45 caliber bullet. Steve's sword extends into a double bladed staff with some sort of lightning propulsion that seems eerily like the weapons made from the Tesseract.
Heimdall stands and stares from his observatory, seeing what they can't see and sharing nothing. Bucky closes his eyes and thinks of Thor, of Sif, of the friends they've made that are no doubt in danger. He thinks of T'Challa and Wanda, wondering if they were just pebbles in the path of a monster's journey for omnipotence. If they're all just insignificant pieces of dust in the grand scheme of things.
He opens his eyes, sees a lone figure in black walking across the bridge. There's one hellacious distinguishing feature, however - Bucky's feelings of insignificance disappear at the sight of a bright red skull. "Jesus fuck," he gasps, raising his weapon. "Steve, I thought you killed this guy."
"Yeah." Steve's jaw clenches. "So did I."
"Heimdall, are there any shapeshifters in Asgard?" Sam asks.
"One," he answers. "But he is in another realm at this time."
Steve lowers his staff. "Hold position. Let him come to us."
A cold sweat breaks out on Bucky's brow watching the animal that ruined his life walk casually towards them. He should just shoot him, truthfully. "Steve, lemme shoot him."
"I said, hold."
So he holds, struggling to keep him stomach from churning as that hideous face draws closer.
Johann Schmidt stops at the steps just below them. "Captain," he greets Steve, as if they are old friends. "I am here for the Soul Stone."
"Fuck you," Steve spits. Bucky's proud as hell. "I killed you, remember?"
"No, I'm afraid you merely sent me to another dimension." The Red Skull grins menacingly. "Sergeant, so sorry to hear of your defection from Hydra. You were quite the asset."
"Steve," Sam warns softly. "Do not let this guy get you."
"I won't." Steve gulps. "Bucky, shoot him."
Bucky pulls the trigger, firing two shots at Schmidt. One second Schmidt is there, the next he is gone. The bullets fall dead further down the bridge. "Space Stone," he grits between clenched teeth. "Somehow he's still using the goddamn Tesseract."
Apparently Thanos called some sort of evil villain hotline when assembling his team of interstellar douchebags.
Five seconds later, Schmidt reappears. "Captain," he says again. "I'm here for the Soul Stone."
This time Sam shoots four rounds, but Schmitt disappears again. Five seconds later, he is back.
"No," Steve grunts. Bucky fires, same story all over again.
"One-one thousand, two-one thousand," Bucky counts.
"You're so weird," Sam says.
"Four-one thousand, now, Steve."
Steve jams his staff forward a millisecond before Schmitt appears, piercing him through the heart. His dark eyes bulge in shock. He should've seen that coming, though.
"Off the bridge," Heimdall orders. Steve kicks The Red Skull off of his sword and into the dark abyss below.
"What if he had the Tesseract on him?" Bucky asks.
Heimdall shakes his head. "The Bifrost was destroyed once. After the Tesseract was returned to Asgard, it was used to rebuild the bridge. Its power is everywhere here."
Sam clears his throat. "Ya know. Not to jinx it but I was kinda expecting an army."
"Why send an army when one man will do?" Bucky asks bitterly.
"Speaking from personal experience there?"
Bucky sighs. Even his sigh sounds bitter. "Yeah."
"Well, next time it might be an army," Steve reminds them. "Back in position."
The wait is shorter this time. The next visitor sort of...floats in. Bucky knows him from the fight at the airport in Germany.
"Vision?" Sam asks.
"Your friend The Vision is no longer with us," the purple robot says in a distinctly non-British accent. Steve turns white as a ghost when he hears it. "I am here for the Soul Stone."
"Ultron," Steve grumbles. "You're supposed to be dead, too."
"Humans," Ultron laughs. "Always thinking in binary terms. Alive, dead. Good, evil. Male, female. Your right is the only right, your dimension is the only dimension. Simple-minded creatures."
Bucky grunts, "Can we just kick him off the bridge, too?"
Sam rolls his eyes. "He floats, though."
"The Mind Stone is in his head, it powers him," Steve says. "Take it out, take him out."
"Why do I think that is easier said than done?"
Vision - Ultron - literally passes through Steve's body, floating to Heimdall. Yeah, catching a dude that you can't even touch? Not easy. The three follow and surround him, but Ultron seems to have met his match with Heimdall.
"A god among men," Ultron says to Heimdall. "Does it offend you that these weak simpletons have been entrusted by your King to protect you?"
Heimdall's golden eyes flash before he pulls his sword, swiftly decapitating the android. "No," he responds.
Just...like that. "How?" Steve sputters.
Ignoring the question, Heimdall uses his sword to pry the stone out of the robot's head, then tosses the remnants of the android off the bridge. "I cannot keep the stone. Which of you can be trusted with this?"
"Sam," Steve and Bucky say in unison.
"Fuck me," Sam mutters, but accepts the stone, tucking it into a pouch on his jetpack.
"Alright." Steve twirls his sword. "Who's next?"
As if on cue, the Bifrost observatory shifts. Splits like a kaleidoscope, there's four, five, six of everyone. The world is a sphere. There's a new dude with terrible eye makeup, a gaudy necklace, and culture appropriating clothes in every triangle. Bucky's getting really tired of this shit.
"Lemme guess," Sam says. "You're from another dimension."
"I am Kaecilius," the weird guy says. "I have come for the Soul Stone."
"Shocking," Bucky remarks dryly. "No one engage, with this trippy shit going on you might attack the wrong person."
"Who are you again?" Steve asks.
"I am Kaecilius."
"No, I got that part," Steve retorts. "Just wondering why Thanos thought you were cool enough to be in his league of extraordinary assholes."
With a twist of his hands, the necklace Kaecilius is wearing glows and the world turns upside down, then backwards, like riding a rollercoaster in reverse. Bucky's not gonna puke, he is not. Gonna. Puke.
"I'm gonna puke!" Steve yells.
"Steve, if you puke I swear to God our friendship is over!" Sam yells back.
The spinning comes to a jarring halt. Kaecilius is gone. "What the fuck?"
Then the observatory shifts again, just like before. They went back in time, maybe. The emo baddie is gonna pop up again, any second. But, they can change time, right? History doesn't have to repeat itself.
"The stone," Heimdall says to Sam. "You can control it, to a degree."
"I don't know about that," Sam replies uneasily.
"Yeah, pretty sure the stones will kill any human that tries to wield it," Bucky adds.
"Fantastic," Sam mutters, but he pulls the stone out, clutching it in his fist.
Poor Steve, he's aqua green and cross-eyed but he pulls out his best Captain voice. "Do it."
The world is a sphere again. The guy's eye makeup is still terrible.
"You are Kaecilius," Sam says. "You're here for the Soul Stone."
Kaecilius tilts his head. Says nothing.
Sam continues. "That's a nice necklace you got there. What is it, emerald?"
"The Eye of Agamotto," Kaecilius answers. "An ancient relic that controls the flow of time."
Bucky stares, wide-eyed. "Holy shit, Sam, how are you doing this?"
Sam shrugs. "Fuck if I know."
"Do not stop," Heimdall urges.
Sam draws in a deep breath. "Okay, Kaecilius. I want you to give the necklace to my friend Steve, here." He nods to Steve. "But first, I need you to get rid of this crazy funhouse shit you got going on."
Kaecilius nods. The observatory shifts backs into place as he approaches Steve, pulling the necklace over his head. He places it in Steve's hand, turns on a heel, and walks off the edge of the bridge.
Because they're apparently littering the universe with mythical scum today.
Sam holds his hands up innocently. "Look. I only thought, hey, you should take a flying leap off the bridge, I didn't actually tell him to do it."
"I buy it," Steve says, placing the Eye of Agamotto gently around his neck. "So how did we go from protecting Heimdall to holding two Infinity Stones?"
"Three," Bucky corrects. "The Tesseract repaired the bridge, right? It must be here."
"The cube in Odin's Vault is a decoy," Heimdall confirms. "But the correct number here is four Infinity Stones."
Steve, Sam, and Bucky look at each other, then around the Bifrost, then back at each other. Finally, to Heimdall, whose golden eyes flash like a devious smirk.
"Oohhhhhh," they all say.
Bucky gazes toward the Palace. Only two stones left. And no clue what is going on with Thor.
They anticipate two more visitors that do not come. After all the excitement, silence is paralyzing. This has gone on long enough and just needs to end.
Steve frowns. "Do you think they're okay?"
"Sure," Bucky lies. "They're gods, right?"
Heimdall hears the exchange and doesn't refute his statement. So, they must at least be alive.
Sam nudges Steve. "Think we got a code purple."
Further down the bridge, a purple giant and four...somethings dressed in black are walking towards them. No, running. Shit.
Heimdall raises his sword. "Thanos."
"Fuck," Bucky mutters. "Fuck fuck fucking fuck. Where is Thor?"
"Chill, loverboy," Sam grunts. "We're 3-0 right now."
Yeah, Bucky thinks, against henchmen. This is the Big Boss, the endgame, the part in the movies where the music gets all tense and shit. Chill? Please. Loverboy? Goddamn, he hopes so.
Sam raises his guns. "What do we do?"
"What we always do," Bucky says.
Steve nods. "We fight."
Sam jets into the air as Steve and Bucky take off running at full speed. Thanos and his goons have no weapons - they don't need them, not when Thanos has his gold gauntlet with red and purple stones in it.
Steve smiles. "Love you, pal."
"Ah, fuck, this isn't the end of the line, is it?" Buck groans, but he smiles back. "Fucking love you, too."
They both dive under Thanos, Steve on the left and Bucky on the right, slamming into the alien goon squad like a couple of bowling balls. Sam's above, drop-kicking sons of bitches like he was born to do. This is what they do best, the down and dirty fighting that everyone else uses magic powers to avoid.
The triumphant feeling doesn't last. Neither Steve nor Bucky are quick enough or strong enough to stop Thanos from reaching into the sky and latching on to Sam's wings. The sick thud his body makes when it slams into the bridge reverberates in Bucky's bones; before he can stop himself, he's leveling a left-armed punch at Thanos, connecting with the gold gauntlet on his hand. The metal cracks on impact - not his hand, but the gauntlet.
"Vibranium, bitch," Bucky sneers at the look of shock on that ugly purple mug, wrapping his fingers around Thanos' fist to bring as much damage as possible.
"Pity to waste it," Thanos remarks dully, lifting Bucky by the neck as if he's as light as a feather and flinging him over the side of the bridge and into a sea of space.
So this is it, he thinks, as the cool air caresses his face. He was always meant to fall. Surrounded by stars, this time, is a much better view.
His momentum jerks to a halt in mid-air. "Not this again," he grumbles as he's ripped up, forced to retrace his final few minutes in reverse. Bridge, punch, slide, run, panic. He's back with Heimdall, and Steve, and Sam is okay. They can just barely see Thanos off in the distance. The difference is this time, Steve is clutching the stone around his neck in fear.
"Goddammit." Steve closes his eyes. "I don't know how I did it, I just knew I had to."
Sam is shaken but wraps a tender arm around Steve's shoulders. Bucky refrains from mentioning that he'd damaged the gauntlet before Steve threw them back in time, loosened at least one of the stones. He felt it, it was in his hand. Still does, actually.
"Um," Bucky says, uncurling his fist to reveal a purple stone. "Make that five Infinity Stones."
"The fuck?" Sam says, looking at the stone.
A bolt of lightning shoots across the sky, and Thor lands elegantly before them. "The fuck?" Sam asks again.
"I apologize for the tardiness, friends." Thor nods to Bucky. "Companion."
Is a choir singing Hallelujah? Bucky's pretty sure he hears Hallelujah.
"Sif? The others?" Steve asks, clenching his sword.
"We've just managed to contain Thanos' army. They are fine." Thor points his hammer to the circular expanse of sky in the Bifrost observatory. "Now, Heimdall!"
Heimdall jams his sword into his viewing stand as Thor slams his hammer into the bridge, propelling all but Thanos at the other end into the night sky. A vacuum forms as the circle behind them spins and turns like a self-contained tornado. And that’s when the bodies start flying into the observatory.
T'Challa, and Wanda, and...Loki?
"Loki." Steve straightens his back, ready for a fight. "I thought you were in prison."
Loki rolls his eyes and says sarcastically, "You're welcome," before plunging back into the vacuum.
Bucky can't help it, he hugs Wanda and even T'Challa. Steve does the same, and then Sam. Sam spends some extra time with Wanda, giving her the Mind Stone for safe keeping. Her face falls - she knows what this means.
The circle spits more people out, with Loki again. Penance, Thor had said. He had been on Earth, finding recruits. This time it's Natasha, and Stark, and the Spider kid that stand up in the observatory looking stunned. Right after they land, Steve's Captain America shield flies through the hole and straight to his arm.
"Anybody else ever drop a little acid in college? No?" Tony says, to no one in particular. "Well, it's a lot like that. Wow, look at you three. It's like Spartacus v. Alien up here."
"Tony." Honestly, so many people sigh that name that Bucky's not sure anyone but himself didn't.
"Cap. Steve." Tony holds his armored hands up and gestures to Steve. It's obvious that he's still trying to be an asshole but his composure is breaking before everyone's eyes.
"I know," Steve says. "I missed you, too."
Thor slams his hammer on the bridge again to slow Thanos as more people, and...animals? Fall in. No seriously, there's a white guy. A very attractive green alien lady. A gray dude with red designs on his skin. And a raccoon with a gun and a little tree on his shoulder. Surprisingly, it's just the raccoon/tree combo that throws Bucky off.
"What're you looking at?" The raccoon snarls. The tree waves an arm-branch and smiles.
"Um," Bucky stammers, because. Well, the raccoon fucking talks. He nods to his weapon. "Nice gun."
"Yeah, same." The raccoon cocks his gun and strolls forward. "Who's ready to end this motherfucker?"
Bucky decides then. He likes the raccoon.
Loki starts to head back for more but Heimdall stops him. "Too dangerous."
"I'll be fine," is Loki's cocky response.
"Not for you, Loki," Thor says as Heimdall removes his sword and closes the circular tornado thing. "We will fight with what we have."
"So, what do we know?" Natasha asks as they huddle into a quick circle.
"We got a fuck ton of Infinity Stones and he's only got one," Sam says. "But he could still kill us all with that one."
"Sounds like fun," Natasha says with a wink.
"We got a plan?" White Guy asks.
"Kick ass, take names," Tony says.
"Or," T'Challa speaks up. "Do whatever is necessary to save our planet and everyone else's."
"I'm ready, yeah." The Spider kid is antsy, wiggly. "This is amazing, even more exciting than that one time at the airport in Germany!"
Gray dude looks confused. "I don't understand what the red thing with stripes is saying."
"It doesn't matter," pretty green alien lady says. "We have to throw everything we've got at Thanos. He will not go down easy."
"Okay." Steve claps his hands. "Wanda, can you try to get in his head? Confuse him."
She nods. "I can try."
"Tony, Nat, Sam, Bucky, uhh..."
"Rocket," the raccoon says.
"Okay, Rocket," Steve continues. "I want you all back, firing when open. T'challa and the three that came with the raccoon and the tree, physical backup in case he penetrates our forces. Spiderling, don't get too close but shoot as much of that nasty shit at him as you can."
"Aye aye Captain."
"Thor, offense." Steve holds up his shield. "Me and Loki, ugh, defense. Go."
Everyone splits. Bucky finds a spot with good a sightline and watches Thor spin his hammer and knock Thanos in the gut. It has very little effect on him. When Thanos moves to attack, Loki tries to freeze him; he shatters that easily. Thor retreats and the shooters fire like they're a team that's practiced this a million times before. It's a shame that the body armor or wrinkled skin or whatever it is that makes Thanos so untouchable renders their attack useless.
Steve launching his shield like a frisbee straight into his head just pisses him off, because yeah, that's really what they need right now.
"Wanda!" Steve yells.
A warm sensation that can only be equated to being slapped in the face by the sun swarms over everyone, knocking even the strongest of them to their knees. Bucky sees red and then black, then nothing.
He's breathing, though. He's still got that going for him. "What the fuck, guys," he moans, rolling to his back. "I'm blind."
"Open your eyes, then," T'Challa says. He's leaning over Bucky, pulling him upright. The kitty costume protected him from brunt of the impact.
Bucky blinks and refocuses to see everyone clamoring to their feet, mostly unharmed. "Was that from the stone?"
"The Aether, yes," pretty green alien says beside. "I'm Gamora, by the way." She points to White Guy and Gray Dude. "Peter, Drax. The little spider boy is Peter too, it seems. Must be a popular name with your kind."
"He was an apostle," Bucky says.
Gamora tilts her head. "Who?"
"What?" Non-arachnid Peter asks.
"Nevermind." Bucky shakes his head. "I'm Bucky."
"Cute." Gamora smiles.
"Yeah, adorable," Tony chimes in. Bucky growls. "Okay, you want me to-yes, okay fine, I'm sorry for trying to kill you. There. Now, can we find a way to fix this?" He points to the chaos just a few feet away.
Steve swinging a sword to cut spiderwebs before Peter is yanked into Thanos' grasp, Thor attacking, Steve attacking, even Loki looking like he wants to get in on the action. Wanda holding her head in frustration. That reminds him a little bit of himself, struggling to will his own demons away to another world when they're beating loud against his skull. If only it were that easy.
Tony points past Heimdall. "It's a wormhole, right? Theoretically, if we could overpower him we could send him to some abandoned planet, right?"
"Only one of the Nine Realms," Sam corrects. "Not another dimension or something."
"Sam!" Bucky shouts. "The Red Skull, Ultron, that other fucker. They came from other dimensions. The Bifrost can't send you there but the stones can."
"No new dimensions," Rocket grunts.
"No, I think the murder bot is onto something." Tony furrows his brow. "If I had time, in a lab, with Friday, maybe I could make one. But not here."
Sam looks Bucky in the eye, nods to Wanda. "There's only one of us that I trust to do this without fucking up."
Yeah, Bucky thinks. He nods and rushes to Wanda's side, crouching down to get in her line of sight. "Hey, kid. You alright?"
Wanda shakes her head, no. "He's too strong, I cannot-even with this," she shows her hand and the stone, "I'm powerless."
"Maybe not. Have you ever tried manipulating space, time, reality or whatever before? Make a wormhole or new dimension?"
"No," she sighs. "But Vis, he - we talked about the power of this thing sometimes. I know what he did to Ultron with it."
"Think you could do that to this guy? He's kinda ruining everybody's day."
She steels her gaze. "Yes. But not while he still has that. "
The gauntlet, with the one remaining stone. "Sure, no problem. I got this."
Bucky most definitely does not got this.
He reaches into his pants, pulling out the purple stone. The Power Stone, Thor had told him. Might be time to put it to the test.
"Steve!" Bucky runs to his friend and the pure clusterfuck of mayhem surrounding him. "New plan. Break the gauntlet."
"Break the gauntlet?"
"Break the gauntlet." Bucky walks past Steve, and Thor and Loki, casting a glance back at Wanda. Her nod is just enough of a confidence boost to make him try to get himself killed. Again.
Thanos towers above him. God, that is one ugly sonofabitch.
"Hi," Bucky says. "Remember me?"
Thanos smiles. "Vibranium bitch."
Bucky smiles back, albeit forced as hell. "We accept your surrender."
Thanos laughs and swings a backhanded slap into Bucky's chest, sending him flying back into the arms of Thor. And Steve, but more importantly. Thor.
"I, uh." Thor leans into Bucky, which is entirely appropriate for the situation and not at all distracting. God, it's good to be alive. "That was my line."
"Well, then why didn't you say it?"
"Timing is the key to good delivery," Thor states.
"Good point." Bucky grimaces, climbing back to his feet. See, this is the part where he should proclaim his amorous affections for the protector of the Nine Realms and then save the day. But Bucky sucks at timing and also affection. Instead, he palms the purple stone in his metal fist and barrels it right into Thanos' space balls.
The impact is enough to shake Bucky's bones and drop him to his knees. Thankfully, even alien overlords are susceptible to a crotch shot. Judging by his low whine, he'd found a definite weak spot on the Titan in the process of nearly paralyzing himself. He sees little Peter fly over his head and wrap spider-webbing around the massive arms and chest of Thanos as Steve attacks him low and Thor attacks high.
Scarlet particles float through the air, the winding wisps of Wanda's powers circling around her prey. But they have to get that fucking stone or this will never end. Thor nails it with his hammer. Steve's pummeling the gauntlet with his shield but none of it is enough. They need more power.
Goddammit. He's tired and he really just wants some special attention from Thor.
Bucky sucks up the pain and the rattling in his bones to rejoin the fight, which is quickly becoming a brawl with Thanos and every wannabe Avenger on Asgard. With a ferocious growl, he slams his fist into the gold gauntlet, finishing what he started before he had a crew of badasses at his back to keep him alive.
The gauntlet folds in on itself, releasing the final stone from the Titan's control. Instead of falling to the bridge, the stone liquefies, weaving into the ribbons of red already in the atmosphere.
Steve looks up, panicked. "Wanda?"
"Yes, I know. We're probably fucked," she puts it in her own eloquent way. "Everybody get back!"
There's a flash bang, blinding yellow light, and then nothing. No light, nothing beneath his feet, nothing - just as Bucky starts to contemplate the afterlife, he falls on his ass and sees the stars again. And Steve and Sam and Thor. No Thanos. More importantly, no fighting.
Bucky rubs a hand over his eyes. "Did I black out?"
"You almost got sucked into another dimension," Steve says. He looks annoyed, but it's not like Bucky spends his life trying to make Steve think he's about to die.
"Thanos snatched you up by your ankle." Sam points to the bridge, where a gold encrusted purple hand lay. That's pretty fucking gross, even for someone who's lost a limb twice before. "Steve's gotten damn handy with that sword."
"My hero," Bucky jokes.
"And I pulled you to safety," Thor boasts. His enormous godly hands are still on Bucky's wrists, actually.
"My hero," Bucky sighs dramatically.
Thor grins. "Well, I am mighty."
Sam rolls his eyes, mutters, "God."
"He's that, too." Bucky notices everyone is gathered around, safe and healthy. Not how events usually end when he's involved. "Wanda, you're awesome by the way."
"Hell yeah," Sam echoes amongst similar mutterings. Wanda blushes and curtsies. "But what happened to the other red shit? The liquid looking stuff."
"Oh." Wanda frowns. "I don't actually know."
"I am Groot."
Bucky has no idea who said that or why someone would say such a strange thing. The raccoon - Rocket - sighs at looks at the cute little tree thing on his shoulder. "What, now you say something?"
Steve scrunches his face. "The tree said that?"
Gamora smiles fondly. "It's really all he says."
"I am Groot."
Rocket grunts, "They get it," just seconds before getting blown back in a cloud of black smoke and red light. Groot lands on his feet and shrugs sheepishly.
Bucky's pretty sure he hasn't celebrated a battle victory since 1944. A Hydra base that, given the intel, should have been nothing more than a small arsenal but turned out to have a shit ton of tanks and even more Nazis in it. They just barely managed to get out before Dernier blew it to high heaven. The speed at which he ran out of there was a damn good clue about what that monster Zola had really done to him.
Steve drops a mug of mead in front of him. "Thinking about the Commandos?"
"Yeah," Bucky replies softly. "Sorta."
"It's not the same," Steve says. "But then again, neither are we."
Steve squeezes Bucky's shoulder but his attention is elsewhere. A few feet away, the glow from one of the fire pits lights Sif's face like a beacon in the night. She looks soft and fierce at the same time, the ultimate weakness for Steve fucking Rogers. Bucky chuckles, pushing Steve towards her. "Go, you idiot."
Well, Steve is right - it's definitely not the same. The Commandos were a diverse bunch but they were all from the same planet. Here, he's celebrating with freaking guardians of the galaxy, a King, a god, various other aliens and boring Earthlings like Sam (okay, and himself). Half of them will be going home with Infinity Stones, in hopes of keeping them separated as much as possible. But home, period, won't be easy after this, not for any of them.
Thor makes his way into the crowd, holding Groot. After setting him down with Peter and Gamora, he searches the crowd, smiling proudly to himself. It's ridiculous for Bucky to hope that his face is the one Thor wants to see. But a guy can hope, right?
Really, Bucky's past the point of being subtle with his staring now. He's going to watch Thor mingle and congratulate until he finally makes his way to Bucky because that's what he wants to goddamn do. Besides, he and the rest of the mortals will soon be cast back to Earth, never to lay eyes upon such a glorious creature like this again. It fucking sucks.
Ya know, people call Steve the dramatic one. Bucky's obviously been spending way too much time with the guy.
Soon enough Thor catches Bucky ogling. He excuses himself from a conversation with Sam and Natasha, making a beeline straight for Bucky with a knowing smirk on his face. "I assume you want an update on the Flora colossus."
"Obviously." Bucky plays it cool. He has no idea what the fuck Thor is talking about.
"Groot," Thor says. His smile is as bright as the sun. Bucky wants to tear his eyes away but he can't. He'll stare until he's blind from it.
"Right, right." Bucky clears his throat. "How is Groot?"
"Well. He appears to be a good host for the Aether. His regenerative abilities prevent it from destroying him like it would you or me." Pulling up a seat, Thor pries Bucky's hand from his mug. "Speaking of. How are you faring?"
"Ah, ya know." His eyes flicker from Thor's eyes to their hands and back again. "Still alive, as always. It's a story as old as time."
"I'd love to hear it." A slight brush of a thumb over his knuckles. "Unless you have somewhere to be, of course."
Bucky laughs, his heart beating in his throat. "Everything that I give a damn about on Earth is currently here. Why would I leave?"
"Then don't." Thor shrugs. "I am not my father. You are welcome here, infinitely."
Holy shit. For a brief moment Bucky weighs his options. Earth with Steve and Sam and Wanda, etc. Earth and its memories but also. The other memories. Or Asgard with the potential to get under Thor. Naked. Maybe Bucky can convince everyone else to stay here because this choice is pretty fucking obvious.
Bucky licks his lips, draws the lower one in between his teeth before flashing a smile that would have made his younger self proud. "Earth is totally overrated anyway."