“What's more fun than setting things on fire?” Tony asked, fire extinguisher in hand, “you know the feeling you get when you see something go up in flames? Amazing, I highly recommend it.”
“I seriously hope you are not recommending it to me,” Bucky muttered from the soft leather sofa, turning the page in his book. “Try recommending it to someone who is misguided enough to take your advice and go about setting things on fire.”
“So Kaizer?” Tony trailed off, holding the charred bat, voice trailing off.
Bucky scoffed, rolling his eyes, even though the hint of a smile was on his face. “Not Kaizer, Kaizer would actually go and do it and then where would we all be?"
"Probably up in flames," Bucky said, eyes travelling back to his book. It was a good book. A bit on the thicker side, sure, but it wasn't something he hadn't attempted before. Aimed at making him calm, at making him easier to deal with.
"Watcha reading?" Tony asked, draping himself over a spinny chair, shuffling himself over to Bucky. Normally, bucky would condemn him for pushing all his shit out of place, but the sheer look of childlike joy on his boyfriends face prompted him to keep his mouth shut and just… Fix it later, like he always did.
"One hundred things more interesting than setting random objects on fire," Bucky smiled, tight lipped, "It's the third edition in the series."
"Hardy-hardy ha," Tony mocked, picking up a wrench and fiddling with it. "What's the actual name?"
"It's the picture of dorian gray," Bucky said, flipping the book so Tony could see the cover. "Aka 'Vanity, and how it destroyed my life'."
"That sounds like the title to a YouTube video about the dangers of plastic surgery." Tony made a little 'hmm' sound, before looking to the ceiling. "Friday, can you search up-"
"Look, I'm curious and you're just delaying the inevitable and-"
"Boss, I'm pulling up results for 'Vanity, and how it destroyed my life'."
It turns out, there were no YouTube videos titled 'vanity and how it destroyed my life', but Tony was persistent, and had hit a goldmine once he'd typed in dorian gray Memes.
Bucky didn't know how Tony knew what a meme was, he didn't know if it was Peter that had told him, or if Harley had been a bastard and decided to explain pop culture to him. Or if Kaizer had left one of his books on modern culture on the table, but at that point he was too scared to even ask.
Especially once the other man was neck-deep in Memes about a book he was trying to enjoy.
(Truthfully, the picture of dorian gray was good, if a harder read, and Bucky was enjoying reading it, but Tony was an asshole and decided to poke fun at every classic he read. Because he was an asshole.)
"Okay, let's see," Tony laughed sharp and fast. "These are just Memes about Basil's homosexuality? Does he like fuck dorian or masturbate over over his portrait, fondle his painted-"
Bucky grimaced. "God… Fuck no, he may as well have but fuucckk the way you put it is mildly terrifying."
Tony swivelled around, pushing down the hologram. "Okay. Explain it to me. I never read most of the classics."
Sure, Tony had them all on his bookshelf, but that was mainly for Bucky's benefit; any book that caught his fancy went up there.
Tony was no literature nerd, that was sure, but he did occasionally read. Even if he didn't read the sort of stuff Bucky would obsess over, he'd gotten in his fair share of poetry and papers and lore.
"Dorian has the hots for his photo, he's the one who would, and probably has, jacked over it. Basil would prefer to be railed by Dorian. Lord Henry is a creep who looked at young, impressionable Dorian and said 'it's free real estate', you got it?"
Bucky didn't even like Dorian that much, but he could recognise that he had been young and impressionable. If anything, he sympathised with Basil and his never ending angst over nor having his face in Dorian's nether regions.
Lord Henry, in all sincerity, was a creep and probably fantasised about quoting his own philosophy at Dorian as the man sat and defiled beautiful people in the name of art. Lord knows the man had a commotion fit when he discovered Dorian had found his juliet, and Lord knows he was ecstatic when he she'd died.
Tony sighed. "Nineteenth century gays are the fucking worst-"
"You're acting like twenty-first century gays are not the same-"
"Dorian jacking over his portrait is the equivalent to masturbating to pictures of your own nudes, and Basil painting Dorian is the equivalent to taking a really good picture of your mate, and then Lord Henry is your older more popular friend, turning him into a heartless fuck boi."
Bucky dog-eared the page (he was a chaotic heathen and gave no shits about it) and set it on the table. "It's a chaotic masterpiece that was used to put a man in jail, to get the full experience you should watch Maurice and the happy Prince. Truly captures Nineteenth century homosexuality."
"Maurice has young jude Law in it right?" Tony asked. "And I only know that because Jude Law was hot."
"Was?" Bucky scoffed. "He is hot."
"Not as hot as me right?" Bucky shuffled. "Bucky."
"Jude law is hot but he's not Tony stark hot." Bucky stood up, hooking his chin on Tony's shoulder. "And he's not got Tony starks banging personality, or his facial hair, or his bots, or his proficient talent in eating ass-"
"I'm gonna stop you right there." Peter said, eyes wide as he held up a stack of thick books. More classics, Tony observed.
"Look, I'm not saying you should keep that shit out of the lab but keep it out of the lab!" Peter placed the books on a clear surface, backing away. "Mr Barnes, those are the books you ordered, Mr Stark my eyes are innocent-"
"Your eyes tell me one story but your neck tells me another," Tony deadpanned. "I take it your date went well?"
Peter blushed, pulling on the jacket he had forgotten earlier. "Goodbye, Mr Stark." The words were serious, even though his face still held a smile.
"Okay, okay, just wait until dinner tommorrow, then I'll know everything." Bucky laughed, waving goodbye to him, letting Tony out of his grip.
"Thanks for the favour, kid, say hi to Harley and Flash for me."
"Whay about Kaizer?" Peter asked, backtracking a bit. "It's not like I'm gonna see him but…"
"Oh. Kaizer's in trouble right now," Tony said, scribbling something with his finger onto his stark pad. "I'm pretty sure he stole my tazer and I have not fixed the power on that thing yet. Plus, he finished the cheesecake and that's earned him at least three days cleaning-"
"The cheesecake was me." Bucky said absently, thumbing through the book titles. "I couldn't be bothered to go downstairs and get my own so I ate yours, then I ate mine."
Tony blinked once and then twice. "I can't believe you've done this. I'm putting you on cleaning duty for three days."
"He's already on cleaning, for eating your éclairs," Peter said. Bucky cut him a look, before looking back to Tony, shrugging slightly as he smiled. "I'm…. Sorry?"
"You're hungry, is what you are," Tony sighed. "This must be how Basil felt when Dorian went after that girl in the orchid instead of coming to lay in his bed, then fucking that exiled socialite in his den of sin."
"Your analogy didn't really work, but I'll give you props for trying-"
"Maybe it did work and you're too much of a dorian to recognise that it does."
"You don't see me jacking over-"
"Nope!" Peter shouted, making his way back out of the lab. "Goodbye! I don't need to hear that!"
Bucky and Tony shared a look before shrugging.
".... So," Tony started, approximately a day later. "What are you reading now?"
Bucky looked up from his book. "Vanity fair, aka, vanity, and how I used it to better my life."
Tony blinked, then blinked again. "Friday-"