After the dust and settled, and broken relationships had been repaired - never to be the same again, but perhaps, like the Japanese art of repairing broken pots with molten gold, to make the damage beautiful; better for it, we moved back into the tower. Barnes too. Of course Barnes too. Cap's best buddy, his End of the Line, of course he went where Steve went. No doubt he was intent on making sure they couldn't lose each again.
But you know what? Fuck that. Fuck being the one who loses out, just because Barnes couldn't have the decency to stay dead. Steve is mine now. I lost him once, it fucking SUCKED, I'm not doing it again. I'm Iron Man, and I'm Tony Stark. I don't walk away from a fight, I don't just give up, and I'm a selfish, self-centred man. No one touches my stuff.
So I set about letting Barnes know the score. Marking my territory, so to speak. I've always been handsy and a bit possessive, so I just...ramp it up a bit. Drape myself over that perfect body at every opportunity. Nuzzle into his neck while letting my hands roam over his pecs and abs. Movie nights see me curled in Steve's lap, twining my fingers with his, whispering filth in his ear, watching his blush deepen and him shift uncomfortably in his seat - till he finally snaps and hustles me out of there, muttering about us needing our sleep while the team grin knowingly at us.
Throughout it all, Barnes watches us; face blank but eyes dark and intense. He seems to take in every movement, every caress, every kiss, never looking away despite how much it must hurt. But still the stubborn bastard doesn't give in. He continues to hang around Steve like an obsessed fan; dragging him out (away from me) on what anyone else would call dates - walks in the park, trips to the movies to catch up on what they've missed, to terrify restauranteurs who've been crazy enough to offer "all you can eat" deals.
So I step up my game. Move on from "slightly inappropriate PDA" to "outright obscene PDA". With Friday's help, I make sure Barnes catches us in various states of arousal and undress around the Tower - Steve pressing me up against the hallway, his mouth attached to my neck, my legs wrapped round his waist while he grinds his clothed crotch into mine. Me, sliding down to my knees in front of him in the gym showers, his head thrown back and eyes squeezed shut while he groans my name. Him, bent over the kitchen counter, while I slide one hand down his pants - the other cupped round his throat, just squeezing lightly - to tease gently at his asshole and make him hiss and try to beg. You'd think the upstanding Captain America would be horrified by the very idea, and maybe he would, but Steve Rogers? Steve Rogers is a bit of a kinky slut, and seems to get off on the thought of getting caught.
And Barnes? Every time he walks in on us, he freezes, stands utterly motionless while his eyes blaze with unreadable emotions, and just watches for a few moments, before stalking off without saying a word.
His little outings with Steve ease off after that, in fact he rarely leaves his room. Steve worries and fusses, of course, but Barnes himself assures him he just "needs some time to work some stuff out."
I don't feel guilty. I don't.
Magnanimous in victory, I ease off on my campaign, so the moment when Barnes breaks was actually unplanned and unexpected. Steve and I had just spent the whole night fucking; me into him, him into me, over and over till we're a sweaty, sated mess, and afterwards, knowing my super soldier's appetite for food as well as sex, I leave him in the shower to raid the communal kitchen, there being nothing but coffee in the penthouse.
I'm bent over the fridge, wearing nothing but a towel and several love bites, when I hear a gasp behind me, and I turn to find James behind me, motionless with that intense expression again. But this time instead of stalking away he's stalking towards and I suddenly have the feeling that I've been taunting a predatory animal and should run, run NOW, but before I can I'm slammed into the wall, Barnes' metal fingers cold against my bicep as he leans into me, eyes wild.
"Can you just, not...PLEASE" he gasps, and it does sound like a plea, not a threat, which makes no sense. "You have no idea what it does to me, when I see you with him, it makes me crazy, I just want...I want..."
"Bucky?" and thank fuck, it's Steve, because this, this was not something I was prepared for, Barnes looks truly desperate and I've no idea what he's going to do next.
It turns out be dropping me like a hot rock and muttering "shit. I'm sorry Stevie. I'm so fucking sorry" before running from the room. Steve is on me then, scooping me up and holding me to him and holy shit, I'm shaking, I'm actually trembling, when did that start?
"Tony, baby, are you ok? What happened?"
"I've...honestly no idea" I reply, and it's the truth, because that did not feel like the confrontation I might have expected with Barnes. And Steve, my master strategist, the man with the plan, narrows his eyes at the doorway Barnes just ran through and says "I think I do" before leaning down to give me a passionate kiss that would've had me dragging him back to bed had I not been too busy freaking out.
"Trust me?" he asks when he breaks the kiss.
"Always", which makes him smile like I've given him a precious gift.
"Then go back to bed and wait for me. If I'm right, this won't take long."
It may not have taken that long, but the combination of our earlier activities and the adrenaline crash means I'm asleep by the time Steve gets back to our room, and I'm woken by him gathering me into his arms.
"So I figured out what was wrong with Bucky. Jerk's in love with you."
I start to answer before I really register what he said. "Of course he's in love with you Steve, I know that, everyone knows, but you love ME don't you, don't you? Please say you still do, because I...wait, what did you say?"
"Pretty dumb for a genius", and Barnes - James - steps out of the shadows and only Steve's strong grip stops me tumbling off the bed in shock.
"You've been driving me crazy since I got here, punk. Seeing you all over this one, wanting to see more, to touch, to feel, to be with you both? Yeah. You could teach Hydra a thing or two about torture."
"I don't understand" is all I manage after a moment or two of feeling like I'm burning up in the heat of James' gaze.
"We both have a thing for feisty brunettes" whispers Steve into my ear, "and baby, you're so very easy to fall in love with. So what do you say? Let us love you? Both of us?"
I manage to twist round in his arms, needing to see him when I ask "what about you? Are you ok with this?" He grins, and shrugs slightly. "I'm used to sharing with Bucky. He's my brother, I'd give him everything I have to make him happy, and I know you will, baby. Just like you make me happy. So why can't we all be happy together?"
There's nothing but sincerity and love in his big blue eyes, so much I could drown in it, and as I turn back to James and see the hope in his, there's only one answer I can give. I link the fingers of my right hand with Steve's and reach out to James with my left.
"Ok. Yes. Of course."
Later, as we lie tangled together over a sleeping Steve (turns out it is possible to wear even him out if there are two of you trying hard enough), James give me a tender kiss, and asks: "Sit on my lap next movie night? Let's see how much PDA Stevie can take from us before he snaps", and I laughingly agree.
Somehow, I doubt it'll be much...