When Rhodey walked into the kitchen from where he was sleeping on the couch, he was not expecting to see a strange man sitting at Tony's dinner table, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. Especially not after it just being himself and Tony in the place when he passed out.
The man was dressed in a bathrobe, tank top and pajama pants with a black glove on the hand holding the newspaper up. The right hand was gloveless and holding a cup of coffee inches from the stranger's lips.
The mug was placed gently on the table and and the paper was folded up and set down.
"You must be Rhodey," the stranger said, standing up and walking around the table. "I'm glad we're finally meeting. I've heard a lot about you." The stranger raised his hand for a handshake, but Rhodey just ignored it.
"Who the hell are you and how did you get in here?"
"Oh, Tony must not've told you about me. I'm-." The man was cut off by Tony walking into the room.
"Bucky, what are you doing here? How did you get in?"
"You climbed in through the window again, did you?"
"You're going to slip one of these days, and you don't have Cap's shield to break you fall."
Bucky snorted. "Stevie doesn't even have his shield."
"What do you mean?" Tony asked and Bucky took a sip of his coffee while pointed at the coat closet by the door. Tony gave Buck an are-you-fucking-kidding-me? look while Rhodey got up and went to check the closet. When he opened the door, he let out a little gasp and went to pick of the shield.
"How'd you get this?" He asked, shocked.
"Sam and I have been playing a little game of 'keep away' with Steve. We each hold onto it for a few hours and then pass it off so he can't find it. I broke in so I could hide it. And so I could sleep in your bed. I'm surprised you didn't notice me in there." The last part was said to Tony.
Rhodey just looked shocked and confused while Tony looked amused. After a moment, Rhodey put the weapon back into the closet and closed the door, walking back into the kitchen.
"Well, I think it's about time the two James' in my life meet. Rhodey, meet my boyfriend, Bucky. Bucky, this is the best friend I've told you about, Rhodey," Tony said, introducing the two.
Rhodey eyed Bucky down, and was shocked when he didn't react. Bucky just smiled nicely and shook his hand.
After a few minutes, Tony and Rhodey were sitting in the Living Room talking while Bucky started breakfast.
"How the hell did you meet him and why have I never heard of him?" Rhodey demanded once he was far enough away that no normal person could eavesdrop.
Tony decided to be honest with his friend, but still withhold crucial information. "You've probably heard of him, just not from me. But Steve introduced me to him, and I never told you about him because he's sort of shy and not really the biggest people person, and I knew that as soon as I told you about him you'd want to meet him." Which was all true, he just decided to not mention the last time they introduced him to a new person, which was Clint, he got a gun aimed at his head. According to Bucky, Clint looked like Peirce when he first met him like 40ish years ago.
"Well I've met him now, so tell me about him? What does he do? How old is he? How do you know he's not just a gold digger? How did Steve meet him? Tell me anything? And why does he look so familiar?"
"Well, I have no idea how he meet Steve, I just know that they've been friends for a while. I'm not really sure how old he is, I've never bothered to ask him because I don't find it important. You probably saw him in passing or at one of my parties. I know he's not a gold digger because he's never asked me for anything and I don't really give him anything, and he works for SHIELD so he making good money," Tony explained, being as vague as possible.
Rhodes wasn't having any of that shit. "But what did he do before he worked for SHIELD? Did he join right out of college? Was he recruited from the army? What?"
"Well, I'm not sure how much Bucky would want me to tell you..."
"Tell him whatever!" came a yell from the kitchen. "I'm sure he'll look up whatever you don't tell him about me!"
Rhodey was impressed that he could hear them all the way in a different room and over the sizzling of whatever he was making.
"I'll just stay vague and you can fill him in on what you want to!" Tony shouted back.
"Whatever!" Came the reply.
"So..." Rhodey pressed and Tony hesitated before responding. "Tony, just tell me the truth."
"He's a...mercenary?" Tony said, hesitating at the last word and looking over at Bucky who shrugging in the kitchen.
"Yeah, close enough," he called.
"What does he mean by 'close enough'?"
"Nothing, nothing at all."
Rhodey looked like he was about to start an argument, trying to get the truth out in the open, so Bucky just decided to come out with the truth. He walked into the room, said, "Mercenary is a nice was of saying that I used to be an assassin," turned around and left again to the kitchen.
"Did he just say assassin?" Rhodey breathed out under his breath, not wanting to be overheard.
"Yep. And he was wonderful. If I told you some of the kills he made, you would recognize them, but I can't because it's classified."
"Then how did you find out?" There was a paused. "You hacked SHIELD, did you?" Tony nodded. "How many time have I told you not to do that?"
"More than I can count," Tony said and the other man rolled his eyes.
"Just... tell me more about the man dating my best friend. Does he treat you nicely?"
"He's an old-fashioned gentleman. Nice, sweet, adorable, he even courted me. He treats me amazingly and makes sure I take good care of myself and get enough sleep. A few nights ago he even carried me up from my lap and made me take a nap that wasn't on my work bench."
"That was very nice of him, and I'm glad he makes you take better care of yourself. Anything else you want to tell me about him before I go hound him for the answers you aren't giving me?"
'Shit,' Tony thought. 'He knows I'm keeping stuff from him.'
"Well, you should never play poker with him, he has an amazing poker face and I can never beat him. I think he might cheat though, since I have never once won against him. He also speaks multiple languages, and is the best fighter since Steve Rogers himself...Ummmmm," Tony started to think of more things to say to fill the space between now and when Bucky would announce that he's the Winter Soldier.
"Tony, stop beating around the bush and just tell me whatever it is you're holding back" Rhodey said, getting annoyed with the vagueness of things.
Tony let out a deep breath. "You know how SHIELD fell a little while back before it was built back up again?"
"Yeah, of course. It was the whole thing while Hydra being inside SHIELD and the only way to get them out was to restart."
"Yeah, that exactly. Well, he was a big part of that." Tony paused and Rhodey was left impressed. Then Tony continued. "He just wasn't on our side."
Rhodey's hand went to his gun holster on his waist, flipping off the safety. "Explain or I'll shoot first and ask questions later."
Before Rhodey knew what happened, his gun was out of his holster and in the hands of the enemy, now pointed at the back of Rhodey's skull. "You were saying?" Bucky asked with a smug grin on his face. Tony groaned and ran his hands down his face.
"Buck, we've been over this! You can't just point guns at people!" Tony said, getting upset and annoyed. He stuck out his hand. "Give me the gun, Buck."
Bucky rolled his eyes and flipped on the safety before passing the gun to his boyfriend.
"Fine, I thought this conversation was best hand without weapons anyways, that way were all on equal ground."
Rhodey watched in utter confusion, as Bucky started taking knives, guns, and even a grenade or two off his body and handing them to Tony, but when he removed his bathrobe, standing there in just pajama pants and a tank-top, Rhodey stood there in shock.
Tony made a 'hand it over' gesture and he just shrugged.
"I can't remove my arm, Tony," Bucky said and Tony rolled his eyes. That's when it processed in Rhodey's mind. His arm wasn't a normal arm. It was completely made of metal, but it moved like a legit arm.
The first thing that came out of his mouth was a sentence covered in annoyance. "Tony, I thought you said you didn't give him anything but you made him a fucking arm?"
Tony looked shocked at the outburst, but Bucky responded with a level head.
"Oh, this?" Bucky said, flexing his metal arm, causing the plates the ripple, "Tony didn't make this. I had this long before I ever met Tony."
"What? But how?" Rhodes stuttered out, slightly embarrassed.
"Let's eat while we talk," Bucky said with a polite smile, gesturing to the table that had three places set on it, covered with pancakes, bacon, and fruit. There was also syrup, forks, plastic knives, and glasses full of orange juice.
They all sat down.
"So, old are you? Tony said he didn't know," is the first thing out of Rhodey's mouth.
"Wow, Bucky, breakfast is really good. Thank you," Tony said, taking a bite of the pancakes, using his plastic knife to cut it.
Rhodey wasn't impressed with the change of topic but he didn't argue. Whatever they didn't tell him he'd get the file on this 'Bucky' and find out for himself.
"No, Tony, there's no need to change the topic. He's just going to look in my file, so let's be honest." Bucky turned his head to look at the other James. "I really don't know how old I am. I was a POW for quite a while and went into a cryochamber for years at a time. They would take me out when I was needed to kill people because, let's be honest, I'm the best sniper in the world." There was a smug grin on Bucky's face at the 'greatest sniper' part. There was a look of shock on Rhodey's face at the 'POW' and 'cryochamber' parts.
"You were a Prisoner of War? And cryochamber? You were frozen?"
Bucky nodded and spilt the beans on, well, everything. "Yeah. About seventy years ago I fell off a train and lost an arm. I was captured by Hydra and they gave me my metal arm and brainwashed me into killing for them."
Rhodey took a few seconds, thinking this over. "Seventy years ago?"
"You fell off a train."
"Your name is James but you go by Bucky."
"You know Steve Rogers."
"He's my bestie, yeah."
Rhodes paused for a second before talking again. "You're James Buchanan Barnes, AKA Bucky Barnes, best friends with Steve Rogers. A member of the Howling Commandos. Born March 10th, 1917. In the 107th, captured in November, 1943, saved by Steve Rogers. You died in the winter of 1945. I knew you looked familiar. It was the hair that throwing me off." He said it all in a rush, in complete shock-and-awe because of the fact that he was sitting across the table from the James Buchanan Barnes of the Howling Commandos, who was supposed to be dead.
"I keep telling him to cut his hair," Tony complains, running his hand through Bucky's chin length hair.
"And I keep telling you that's not happening."
Rhodey was still in shock about everything. "But-But you're James Buchanan Barnes. You're a war hero. You're a legend. You're-." Bucky cut him off.
"I'm no war hero, not anymore. My wrongs outweigh my rights," Buck said in a serious voice. "Do you remember the time Steve Rogers fought someone on the interstate? Someone dressed in all black with a mask?" Bucky asked and Rhodey slowly nodded, taking a deep breath. "That was me. I also attacked him on the helicarrier. I tried to kill him, Sam and Natasha multiple times. Hell, I pointed a gun at Clint not that long ago because he looked like on of my old handlers. I've killed a lot of people. I maybe a legend, but not in a good way. Ever heard of the Winter Soldier?" Bucky asked and Rhodey nodded again. "That's me."
"Well it's lovely to meet the War Hero James Buchanan Barnes, AKA the Winter Soldier," Rhodey said, sticking his hand out across the table. "I'm James Rhodes, AKA War Machine."
Tony and Bucky smirked at the change of topic. Bucky stuck his hand out and shook the other James'. "Nice meeting you, War Machine. Love the name."
"Now, tell me how you met my best friend."