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246. Bucky Barnes

~Despite everything people knew about Tony Stark and all the things people had found out, he had managed to keep one secret. You. You were Tony's best kept secret. The only ones who knew about you were the people closest to Tony, him moving permanently into the tower meant you were going to have to introduce yourself to a few new people. He wasn't nervous... much. I mean, it's not every day you find out Tony Stark has been keeping his live-in chef hidden for about six years.
~
"Tony, I hope you realize how difficult it is to keep your refrigerator stocked! These guys eat everything!" you huffed, hands settling on your hips as you glared at the appliance like it had offended you first hand. It sort of did, but it put a smirk on Tony's face none the less.
"We're growing boys, what can I say?"
"Clip your sass, I have to go out... Again! Do you even know what your pop-tart budget is? Seriously, Thor is a beast." you muttered, storming off with your purse. Tony shook his head, getting back to his updates on the tower. That was of course, until Steve came in carrying a raggedy looking man, with even more raggedy looking hair.
"You're not supposed to bring in strays, Cap. We've talked about this."
"Shut it, Tony!" Steve snapped, in no mood for Stark's usual sass. "I need your help. You remember Bucky?" The name rang a bell in Tony.
"Shit." Tony jumped up and helped Steve take the man into Tony's lab. There was a more intimate one that was reserved for him and Bruce for special projects. When Tony opened the door, Bucky's head snapped up and he looked around frantically like a cornered animal. He started thrashing about when his eyes landed on a sterile metal table.
"NO! I'm sorry! Don't wipe me again!" His voice was raw from lack of use and Steve felt his pulse quicken under his fingertips.
"Bucky, no one is going to do anything but help you here! I promise. Tony's going to run some diagnostics on you, no needles, no injections, no pain." He held his friend’s shoulders tight in his hands, trying to will truth into him by way of his stare. Bucky's breathing slowed only slightly, but he allowed them to continue helping him onto the table.
"Bucky, my name is Tony Stark. I am going to be helping you." He was smart enough to realize that Bucky needed to be aware of everything he was doing. He was trying to help, he didn't want to scare Bucky deeper into the rabbit hole. "If you have any objections to anything I do, say the word and I'll stop." Steve was impressed at the professional bed side manner that Tony was airing right now. "Now, I'm not a great doctor, but I have a good friend who is. If it's alright with you, I'd be more comfortable if he were here to help out." He said carefully, eyeing the shell-shocked man. Bucky nodded slowly, cautiously, ready to snap at any given moment.
It was going to be a long day.
~
When you got back, there was no sign of Tony. There was no sign of anyone in fact. You sighed, putting up enough groceries to last a normal family of six for weeks, but you knew better, they would probably last a few days. You dusted your hands on your pants after you had put away the last box of pop-tarts, and started to look for Tony.
You saw his lab door open and frowned. You hoped everything was alright. You walked up to the door peeking inside and stilling immediately. There was a man lying on his back staring at you while Tony and Bruce ran tests and Steve nervously glanced up to see what had tensed up his friend.
They all stared at you like you were an alien, you had only met Bruce. Oh no. What had you gotten yourself into?
Steve remained calm, knowing if he lost any control, Bucky might jump. Tony was a blessing.
“Hey, Y/n, can I get a coffee?” Tony asked, looking back over his new potential team-mate.
“Of course, would you guys like anything? Tea, juice, water?”
“Tea, please.” Bruce smiled kindly at you.
“Coffee, if you wouldn’t mind ma’am.” You nodded at Steve and looked back over to the man whose eyes hadn’t left you since you popped into the room. You knew who he was of course.
“Bucky, do you want a drink?” you asked softly, face set into a gentle smile.
“Water.” Your face split into a grin and you left the room to go get them their drinks. Only a moment later you came back, carefully balancing everything on a tray. Tony plucked off his coffee with a wink, Bruce with a smile, and Steve with a thank you. You took Bucky’s water and offered it to him. He slowly took it from you with a nod, taking a tiny sip, testing it to see if you put something in it. Not tasting or smelling anything he deemed it safe and downed it in a few gulps. You turned to leave, but the firm grip on your wrist stopped you. It was cold and sure to leave a nasty bruise.
They all froze, but didn’t chance moving.
“Yes?” Your calm voice betrayed the fear that flared up inside you.
“Don’t- don’t leave.” You saw the fear in Bucky’s eyes. It reminded you of a scared child.
“Alright. It’s okay. I’ll stay.” You tugged over a chair and plopped down, smiling softly at Bucky. “Hey, Steve, why so far away?”
“Tony didn’t want me getting in the way.” You shot a glare at Tony, but he smartly ignored it.
“Tony was wrong, come sit next to me. I’m Y/n, by the way.” Steve sat next to you, worry ever present on his face. He shook your offered hand, not mentioning how it was an angry red from where Bucky had grabbed you.
“Nice to meet you.”
“You as well. It’s nice to meet you too, Bucky. How are you feeling?” There was something soothing about your voice, he couldn’t find any lie or malice in it. There was no sarcasm, only care.
“Lost.”
“It’s not a great feeling. I hope that changes for you soon.” Tony and Bruce looked up at the heart monitor, taking note of how Bucky’s blood pressure was lowering to a normal level. It had been high since they put the device on his finger.
“Me too.” A ghost of a smile touched his lips.
“Steve, come on. I’m disappointed, Tony is always talking about how you never shut up.” Tony sent you a playful glare, but continued taking notes on Bucky’s vitals and running diagnostics on the remnants of the chemical formula HYDRA used to wipe him.
“That doesn’t surprise me.”
“Good, I would be disappointed if it did. Why don’t you tell us a good story? Bucky, do you have any suggestions? I bet you know some dirt on Steve.” Another smile graced Bucky’s face.
“You’d be right about that. But what kind of man would I be if I ratted out my best friend?” His voice was deep and gravelly. You huffed, crossing your arms and leaning back in your seat.
“I have to respect an answer like that. Looks like I’ll just have to wait and see if I can get it out of Steve.” You turned to wink at him. Steve let out a short laugh. You had diffused a great amount of tension that had been in the room. Bucky had relaxed more and it made everyone step off the edge. It seems all they needed was a bright smile and some gentle words.
“Bucky, it looks like everything is working out of your system nicely. Just take it easy for a bit.” Bruce advised, kind smile on his face.
“Here, take her with you. She seems nice at first until she starts sassing you. Plus, she makes a mean everything. I’m sure you two will need help cooking for eight.” Tony smirked. You rolled your eyes.
“I will be happy to help in any way I can.” The sweet smile on your face was sincere as can be.
“Bruce and I will finish up in here, Steve why don’t you take her to your floor. Show her around.”
~
The night had gone off without a hitch. Steve and Bucky had ended up falling asleep in front of the TV with an empty bowl, which had contained ice cream, in front of them. It was nice, seeing them so relaxed. They had both been on edge during dinner, not that you blamed them.
It had to be difficult having someone you don’t know come into your space and just start cooking for you, especially when you haven’t really trusted many people. You understood and didn’t hold it against either of them.
You had carried most of the conversation. Steve had been polite enough to make small talk with you and Bucky chimed in occasionally. It could have gone much worse than it had. You did notice that Bucky’s eyes hadn’t really left you at all since you had walked into the kitchen carrying groceries. Perhaps it had been some time since he had met a girl who hadn’t run away from him in fear.
You cleared the table of dishes and got to work as quietly as possible, not wanting to disturb them. You were sure they had had a long day. Steve had been gone for a while looking for Bucky and this was his first day back too. You were happy for both of them, they had their best friend back.
When you cleared the coffee table, there were eyes watching you, and you had a feeling they belonged to a certain long haired super soldier.
“Hey, Bucky. Sorry if I woke you up.”
“It’s alright.” You nodded, and continued clearing the area.
~
That’s how it went for a while. Bucky would stare at you whenever you were in the room, watching as you moved about. It probably should have bothered you, but it didn’t in the slightest. You were happy to distract Bucky from whatever his thoughts were. You could only imagine the horrors he had to relive every day when he was the Winter Soldier.
He started saying more and more each day, becoming more of the person he used to be. But there were times he would forget himself. One of those times, Steve had not been around to help.
Bucky had fallen asleep on the sofa and you had started moving about, getting ready to make lunch. You were heating up a skillet when pained screams made you jump. Without thinking you rushed over to Bucky, not thinking about the possible encounter with death that you might have to face with such an action.
“Bucky! Wake up!” You grabbed his face, smoothing your thumbs over his cheeks. His hands gripped your wrists and his eyes snapped open.
“Who are you?” He looked lost and scared. His expression was enough to make your heart ache.
“I’m Y/n, I’ve been helping out you and Steve with the kitchen. I’m your friend.” His face darkened at the word friend.
“I don’t have friends.” His speed was no match for you, the next thing you knew your back was slammed against the wall, his chest pressed tightly to yours as he held your hands above your head. “Who are you working for?”
You wanted to cry. “I work for Tony Stark as his personal chef. I’m on loan to you and Steve.” He brought your joined hands off the wall before slamming them back against it. You hissed at the pain but kept your stare level with his.
“Why do you keep mentioning that name!?”
“Bucky, Steve is your best friend. You’ve known him since you were children, you grew up in an orphanage together.”
“Stop it! Stop lying to me!” In his shouting he had loosened his grip. You freed your hands and returned them to his face.
“I’m not lying to you. Your name is James Buchanan Barnes. You are in New York in Stark Tower. Look around you, this is the floor of the tower you share with Steve Rogers. I’m making lunch for the both of you. The only people in this room is you and I. I have no defense training and can barely kill a fly. There is no threat here, Bucky. You are safe.” His hands had returned to your wrists, with a much softer hold. Those bright blue eyes were boring into your own.
“Y/n.”
“Yes, that’s me. I’m right here, Bucky, I’m not going anywhere.” You hid your surprise when he closed his eyes and leaned into your touch. “I’m here for you, Bucky. It’s alright.” He sighed and your back met the wall once more as he leaned his entire body against yours. His hands found your sides and you sifted your fingers through his hair.
“Y/n. I’m sorry.” He nuzzled his face into the side of your neck, your hands coming down to rub at his back.
“It’s alright, Bucky. I’m alright and so are you.” His fingers flexed on your hips and you weren’t sure how well you suppressed the blush that you felt was on your face. Then his hands were cupping your cheeks. The metal felt cool against your skin, but you found it didn’t bother you at all.
“Did I hurt you?” He looked at your hands and saw the bright red you were sporting around your wrists, particularly on your right arm. He frowned and held your arms gently. “I’m sorry.” It was a pained whisper and you blew out a sigh through your nose.
“Bucky, you calming down, is worth more to me than a few bumps and bruises.” You held his cheek gingerly, soft smile ever present on your face.
“You’re too nice, Y/n.” He rested his forehead against yours, not wanting to give up this wonderful feeling of being close just yet.
“Only to those who deserve it.” You were really starting to enjoy how he felt against you, strong and warm. The fact that his eyes never left your lips was also an interesting development.
“You say that knowing about what I’ve done.”
“And I mean every word. I will trust you, Bucky Barnes, because that’s who you are. Not the Winter Soldier. You’re just Bucky.” God, that smile was going to kill him. Instead of claiming your lips, he settled for wrapping his right arm about your waist, holding you close to him.
“What if I forget?”
“I’ll just have to get you back again then won’t I? I’m sure Steve would love to help. He is your best friend after all.” Had you always smelt so warm, so sweet? It reminded him of sunlight. Was this just him rediscovering you or had you always been like this? Had he held you like this before? You seemed comfortable in his hold, perhaps he had.
He remembered Steve well enough, but you were a little foggy. He remember you bringing him water and being so kind, always kind, never rough even when he had been rough with you.
Were you two together? God he hoped so, he wanted desperately to kiss you, but he wasn’t sure if he was allowed or not.
“Are… are we a couple? Is that why you’re so nice to me?” His heartbeat quickened. What if you weren’t? What if you were just a naturally nurturing woman?
“That depends. Do you want to be a couple?” Your eyes were so sincere, he couldn’t remember a woman ever being this kind to him. Not the nuns in the orphanage, or the women he dated. You were so soft. So breakable.
His metal hand stroked your cheek and you held it close to you, unafraid. He nodded, closing his eyes and enjoying this warmth you made wash over him. He remember being frozen and unfrozen, always cold, even if his body had been warm.
“Bucky, why are you crying?” Your hands were so gentle. How long had it been since someone had touched him with love?
“I hadn’t noticed. I think they’re happy tears.” He hadn’t opened his eyes. You were too bright.
You smiled at his unfaltering voice, deep and rich in emotion.
“Oh, Bucky.” He felt a soft pressure on his cheek, his eyes popping open to see your closed ones and your lips firmly planted on his cheek. It was warm where you had kissed him, and something about the situation just felt right.
~
You weren’t exactly sure where all of these feelings for Bucky came from. You gained such comfort from his stare, you felt a need to protect him, to hold him… to love him. When he started smiling more, your heart was practically bursting with happiness. It was wonderful to see his eyes alight with joy.
Whenever Steve would leave the room, Bucky would come up behind you and wrap his arms around your waist, holding you close. It always felt so nice to be so close to you. Steve never mentioned how he would walk back in and spot you both, leaving again with a smile.
He had of course noticed a grand improvement in Bucky. He was having less nightmares and joking more. Seeing his best friend coming back was one of the best feelings Steve had had in a long time. So when one day Steve thanked you out of the blue, you were confused. When he looked from you to Bucky, a bright blush lit your cheeks and you stuttered out an “oh.”
“L/n! Why are you blushing?” Tony strolled into the room, looking a little unkempt with oil smeared across his cheek and his hair a right mess.
“It’s the onions.”
“Onions make you cry, not blush. I don’t even see any onions.” Tony took a seat next to Steve.
“Shut up. Just shut the hell up.” You did your best to ignore the smile Bucky flashed you. These men were going to kill you. You just knew it.
“Ooh, someone is testy today.”
“Tony, what do you want?”
“I want you back. I’ve been eating take out for the past two months. I’m scared I’m going to have get my suits let out. That, and I’ve been bored more often. I don’t like it.” He pouted, fluttering his eyelashes at you.
“If I can cook for both you and them, will you be angry?”
“Kid, what if I just make you the Avenger’s official chef?” You let out a sigh of relief.
“Okay, awesome. Is that promotion, or a demotion?”
“Depends. What’s for lunch?” Bucky joined them at the counter, watching you with a small smile on his lips.
“Tomato soup and grilled cheese.”
“Promotion, get to work.” You rolled your eyes and did just that.
“Gosh, you’re so pushy. Careful Tony, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” you advised with a teasing smile, slicing up some tomatoes.
“Oh I won’t. I remember when I pissed you off and you purposely burned everything for a week… and forced me to eat it all.” Tony quirked an amused brow.
“Ahh, yes. Good times.” Steve chuckled.
“It’s nice to know somebody can put you in your place.”
“Shut it, Capsicle, give her time. She’ll get just as sassy with you.”
“Tony, Steve is too sweet and polite to ever piss me off like you do.” Tony huffed at you, looking highly disappointed.
“Alright, what about Frosty over there?”
“Bucky is sweet too. It seems you are the only one who can bring out the southern mother in me.” you laughed out.
“Whatever.”
~
You were relaxing against the cold countertop. Since cooking for everyone, you had started to prep a good deal of food in order to try and make it easier on yourself. It did have a slight drawback though, you were always exhausted afterwards. You felt accomplished though. Prepping a week’s worth of food for a small army was a feat and you allowed yourself to feel proud about your little victory.
You felt one cool metallic hand cover your left eye and a warm calloused one cover your right. You smiled, slipping your hands up to cover Bucky’s.
“Hey Sergeant.” You felt his hands slide down your sides and wrap around your waist, pressing his chest to your back.
“I’d like to show you something.” he murmured, squeezing you softly. You nodded turning around slowly only to gasp.
Bucky had cut his hair. The long locks were gone, replaced by a longer crew cut. You threaded your hands through the shortened tresses, admiring the thick feel of his hair against your hands.
“How do I look, doll?”
“Handsome as ever. How do you feel?”
“More like myself than ever.” Your hand came to rest on his cheek. When had you fallen in so deep with this man? You couldn’t find yourself to care as he smiled softly, eyes locked onto yours.
Your fingers started to trace his lips, soft and smooth to the touch. A mischievous glint appeared in his eyes as he lowered his face to rest his forehead on yours.
“Are you going to kiss me or what?” he smirked. The blush that lit your cheeks didn’t stop your flattered smile. Your hand came to hold his neck, the other cupping his cheek. You closed your eyes and pressed your lips to his, sighing through your nose at the feeling of heat flooding your system. Bucky’s arms tightened around you and you melted into him.
When you felt his tongue tracing your lips, a lovely tremor of pleasure shot up your spine and you gladly parted your lips for him. A slight groan rumbled in his chest as his tongue slipped into your mouth, toying with you.
You could feel his passion boiling over into your mouth and you had never felt more exhilarated. Your head was swimming as he rolled his tongue, almost like purr. The vibration had you gripping onto his shoulder, trying to find purchase in a world that had suddenly started to blank. When his lips pulled away from yours, only to trail across your jawline, you thought only about Bucky. His name was falling from your lips like a prayer.
When he stopped his ministrations completely, he looked over you. Your eyes were shut, lips full and bruised, cheeks flushed and panting. You were gripping onto him like he was your only lifeline.
“You alright?” Your eyes fluttered open, smiling happily.
“Never better.”
 

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