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Lighting a Candle

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“So, are we going to do something about that, or....?” Tony raised an eyebrow, nodding impatiently towards where Steve and Bucky were laughing in the kitchen, only a few inches between them. 

“I don’t know what you’re referring to,” Natasha responded, refusing to look up from her phone. 

“What I’m referring to is...is that! That right there!” Tony scowled, pointing at where Bucky had just slung an arm around Steve’s neck. 

“They’re making breakfast, man,” Sam scoffed. “You need to learn to mind your own business.”

“Besides,” Natasha cut in, “I spent the better part of three months trying to set Steve up with everyone in sight, and it never went anywhere. I think maybe relationships just aren’t his thing or something,” she shrugged, going back to the game she’d been absorbed in. 

“Or maybe-“ Tony pressed on, “Maybe it didn’t go anywhere because he was, y’know, uh, lighting a candle,” he nodded knowingly. 

“Carrying a torch, dude,” Sam corrected. “And look, maybe they’re a little....touchy-feely, but c’mon, they both thought they’d lost their best friend for....how many years? I say, we cut ‘em a break and let them be.

Tony shook his head. “No way, look, we all owe him, okay? If Barnes is his only chance to do the horizontal tango and ride off into the sunset, we gotta make it happen!” 

“Tony,” Sam said sharply. “I’m telling you, as Steve’s 21st-century best friend, you need to leave this alone. Is there any chance of that?”

“Fine,” Tony sighed dramatically. “I will allow Cap to grow old and gray without ever getting to bone his past-life BFF. Scout’s honor,” he added, saluting Sam while sticking his tongue out.” 

Thank you,” Sam rolled his eyes, grabbing his plate and heading into the kitchen, where Bucky was now perched on the counter, tossing the occasional blueberry at Steve. 

Natasha snorted and raised an eyebrow. “You’re really gonna leave it alone?” she asked. “Just like that, just because of Sam?”

“Hell no,” Tony scoffed, “but if he’s so against helping, I don’t want him knowing what we’re up to.”

“We?” Natasha asked, delicately raising an eyebrow. “I don’t remember agreeing to anything,” she smirked. 

Tony pointed his spoon at her and leaned in. “Seriously? Look at them!” he whispered furiously, jabbing his spoon back towards the kitchen. Bucky was showing Steve something on his phone, glancing at the blonde while Steve chuckled at the phone. “You can’t tell me,” Tony continued, “that they wouldn’t be great together. I know, I know—“ he pressed on, “you’re gonna say that they won’t get it because they’re both guys and they’re from the 1800s or whatever.”

“That’s not what I was going to say,” Natasha leaned back in her chair, on her phone again. 

“But I think,” Tony continued, as though she hadn’t spoken, “we just need to.. expose  them to it a little. Y’know, get them used to the idea, then set ‘em up. So, you in or what?”

Natasha sighed, considering. “All right,” she said after a beat. “I’m in.”