Pairings/Characters: Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff (Natasha/Pepper mentioned), Thor Odinson, Steve/Tony, Clint/Phil
Continuity: The Avengers (2012)
Genres: Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Spoilers: For Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and The Avengers (2012)
Summary: Steve is shocked into a vivid flashback about Bucky.
Date Of Completion: January 21, 2013
Date Of Posting: May 10, 2013
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2366
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2012 LJ Sixth Anniversary Fic Request Meme for digitalwave, who requested Steve/Tony. Prompt: Author’s Choice. :) Also, written for this prompt request at avengerkink.
The entire series can be found here.
From on high,
In a pool,
The party was in full swing at The Biltmore. The mayor of New York wanted the chance for photo opportunities and to bask in the reflected glory of the Avengers. Nick Fury decided some good publicity for the Avengers Initiative wouldn’t hurt. Most people were grateful to the heroes for defeating Loki and the Chitauri, but there were always the naysayers. Some were grumbling that the Avengers should pay for the damages to the city. At any rate, the party was a charity event for the clean-up of New York and would help quiet the critics.
The one percent of the city had paid extravagant sums for tickets. The buffet was lavish and a chamber trio provided elegant background music. Fury had not allowed any Avenger to beg off, so all were in attendance.
Bruce was wearing a dark-blue suit provided by Tony, who was dressed in a fawn-colored suit with a yellow silk tie and Gucci loafers. Natasha wore a slinky black sequined dress and an emerald necklace and bracelet loaned to her by Tony. Thor and Steve were in costume, Steve not wanting his identity to be known yet. He had lost his mask during the Battle of New York but not many people had seen him without it. Clint wore his leathers, feeling more comfortable in them than a suit. He went out on the balcony of the sixth-floor ballroom for some cool air and to call Phil back at the Tower.
“Hey, Phil, how ya doin’?”
“Great. Very comfy here on the sofa.”
“Pepper and JARVIS taking good care of you?”
“The best. She ordered pizza and we’re watching a movie.”
Tony came out onto the balcony and smiled at Clint. He had a drink in his hand and looked a little tipsy.
“It better not be Robin Hood.”
“No, it’s not. Oh, thanks, Pepper.”
“What’s going on?”
“Stop being jealous. Pep and I are just friends, aren’t we, honey?”
Clint grumbled but was smiling. “All right. Just don’t stay up too late.”
“Yes, Mom. How’s your party?”
“Fine. The buffet’s decent. Good roast beef, crisp salad, some veggies that aren’t cooked to mush.”
“Thanks for the restaurant review.”
“Seriously, keep your hands to yourself, buddy. You don’t want the Black Widow mad at you for getting fresh with her girl.”
“Ha, ha. Enjoy the party, Hawkeye. Oh, and Hawk?”
“I love you.”
Clint’s smile was radiant. “Me, too.”
Phil laughed and clicked off.
As Clint put away his phone, Tony took a swallow of his drink. The ice rattled in his glass. “How’s Phil doing?”
“Fine. He and Pepper are having more fun than we are.”
Tony laughed. “I’ll bet.” He peered over the side of the railing. “Too bad I didn’t wear my armor. It’s a nice, open lane for flying.”
Clint gazed down at the street below. “Not too high up.”
“Not for a Hawk, eh?” Tony smirked.
“Man, are you lucky having your guy here.”
“I am.” Tony looked inside as if he could catch a glimpse of Steve.
“And in costume, too.”
“Yeah, Phil did a good job with its redesign.”
“Lucky for you he made sure the pants stayed tight. Quite a view, huh?”
Tony smirked again.
Steve mingled with the glittering crowd, thankful that his U.S.O. days helped him with all this schmoozing. He was also glad for his mask. He could hide behind it with a smile and kind word and allow his true personality to remain safe.
Though Bucky would say Cap is a lot like me, and he was right. A lot of Steve Rogers is in Captain America, but I’m sure that most people would be surprised that I’ve got the hots for Tony Stark.
Thoughts of Bucky were always bittersweet. Steve declined a glass of champagne presented by a waiter and instead picked up a glass of sparkling water from the bar. He glanced over at the cloakroom. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was watching over his shield so that he wouldn’t have to carry it around. He smiled as he passed Thor, who was surrounded by a bevy of admirers of both sexes. Carrying Mjolnir around was no problem for him.
Steve drifted over to the buffet. The turkey slices looked promising. He smiled as he thought of his lover. Tony loved turkey. Maybe he would get a salad or two to go with it. He still marveled at how plentiful food was since his de-thawing. He’d grown up often hungry due to poverty and the general malaise of the Depression, and in the war it wasn’t always easy to have food readily available when you were on the march. The rations the Army provided were enough to keep a man going but were not especially tasty, and if you ate them too quickly, you would be hungry for while.
You had to ration the rations, Steve thought in amusement.
“Enjoying the spread?” Natasha asked as she came up to the table and took a plate.
“It really is a good buffet.”
Natasha chose a salmon finger roll, black olives, Spanish rice and a few scoops of crisp salad with chives, orange slices and tomatoes. She appreciated good food, too, after growing up in Russia where it was only plentiful for upper Party members.
“Are you looking for Tony?”
“Yes.” Steve bit appreciatively into the fresh turkey. “Have you seen him?”
“I saw him go out onto the balcony.”
Steve finished his plate by the time he crossed the room and handed it to a waiter. He saw Tony out on the balcony and smiled, but his smile froze in the next instant.
“I’m going inside for some of that buffet,” said Clint. “You coming?”
“Nah, I’m enjoying the fresh air. It’s a bit stuffy in there,” Tony replied.
Clint smirked and went inside. He was immediately collared by a tipsy socialite and by the time he extricated himself from her clutches and reached the buffet, Natasha was on her second salmon finger roll.
“How are you doing?” she asked. Clint could be the life of the party but she knew that he could tire of crowds.
“Great. How are you doing?” If Clint tired of crowds, Natasha could barely abide them, though she was getting better.
“I’m fine. Food’s good.” She sipped her wine. “What were you and Stark talking about?”
“Nothin’ much. Just shootin’ the breeze.”
“Chilly out there.”
Clint laughed. “Sure is.”
“How’s Phil doing?”
“Great. He and Pepper are snuggle buddies on the couch.”
Tony enjoyed the fresh air. He was pleased to see so many lights twinkling in Manhattan again. The destruction had been so massive that it had been overwhelming in the beginning. Now inroads were being made in the clean-up.
He leaned over the railing to absorb the full effect when he felt it begin to give way under his weight.
Steve burst out onto the balcony as shock coursed throughout his body. As Tony went over the side, Steve saw Bucky as he fell to his death in the icy mountains as the train roared down the tracks. Steve desperately reached out his hand.
“Grab my hand!”
Bucky’s cry echoed throughout the canyon as he grabbed Steve’s hand. Steve pulled with all his might, Bucky scrambling onto the train. Steve pulled him into a hug and held on, careful of his strength.
“Hey, it’s all right. I’m fine.”
“Thank God.” Steve was trembling.
“Thanks for the save.” Bucky’s voice was warm as he caressed Steve’s back.
“I saved you.” Steve was dazed. “I saved you this time.”
“’Course you did. And I appreciate it, believe me.”
When they parted, Steve searched Bucky’s face. “You’re really all right. I saved you.”
“Sure you did.” Bucky smiled. He cupped Steve’s cheek and looked at him with shining eyes. “My hero.”
Steve knew that Bucky was teasing but he didn’t care. Bucky could always bring out the best in him. He grasped his old friend’s shoulders.
“I saved you this time.”
Bucky looked at him with an odd expression. “Are you all right, Cap?”
Steve smiled. “Sure I am, Bucky. Sure I am.”
Tony felt fear rush up through him as the railing gave way.
I don’t have my armor!
He barely had time to cry out before a strong hand was offered and Steve yelled, “Grab my hands!”
Tony managed to grasp Steve’s hand and was pulled up out of danger and into a strong embrace.
“Hey, it’s all right. I’m fine.”
Tony could feel Steve trembling. At first surprised, he realized that even the combat veteran could be shaken up by something like this. It had been too close for his comfort.
“Thanks for the save,” he said warmly as he caressed Steve’s back.
“I saved you.” Steve sounded dazed. “I saved you this time.”
“’Course you did. And I appreciate it, believe me.” That was an understatement. You would’ve been a Stark pancake if Steve hadn’t come along.
They pulled back from each other and Steve searched Tony’s face. “You’re really all right. I saved you.”
“Sure you did.” Tony felt the need to lighten things up. He cupped Steve’s cheek. “My hero.”
Steve looked so relieved that Tony’s stomach clenched. Did he really mean that much to Steve? The star-spangled Avenger grasped Tony’s shoulders.
“I saved you this time.”
Tony began to worry. Something was wrong. “Are you all right, Cap?”
Steve smiled, the kind of smile that always hit Tony right in his wary heart.
“Sure I am, Bucky. Sure I am.”
Tony felt as if the arc reactor had jolted his heart. With a dawning sense of horror he started at Steve.
Clint burst out onto the balcony. “Are you guys all right?”
Tony grasped Steve’s arms. “Get Thor, Hawk. We have to get out of here fast.”
Clint looked at Steve. “Okay.”
“Buck?” Steve murmured.
Tony forced himself to smile. “Everything’s okay, Cap." He grabbed Steve’s arms.
Thor and Clint came out onto the balcony. “What is wrong, Tony?” asked Thor.
“We need a lift back home. I’d rather not go through the crowd.”
Thor picked up on Tony’s mood and said, “Verily, let us be off.” He rotated Mjolnir and put his arms around Steve. Tony grabbed onto Thor’s raised arm and the Thunder God flew off into the clear night air.
Tony held on tight but was confident that Thor wouldn’t let him fall. Steve was silent and that worried Tony.
Thor alighted on the Tower balcony and Tony immediately took charge of Steve. He brought him inside as Thor followed.
Steve was dazed as Tony led him gently to the couch. He removed Steve’s cowl.
It struck Tony how young Steve looked. He had barely been in his twenties when he’d gone off to war like so many of his fellow soldiers.
Bucky was his best friend. He was lost on a mission just before Steve wound up in the ice.
“It’s okay, Steve.” Tony put a hand on his lover’s shoulder.
Thor said, “A word, my friend.”
Tony gave Steve’s shoulder a squeeze and moved away with Thor. The Asgardian spoke uncharacteristically low in volume.
“Steve believes you are his old friend who died in the war?”
“Yeah.” Tony rubbed his face in a weary gesture.
“Clint tells me that you nearly fell off the balcony when the railing broke. He must have been sent back to that moment when Bucky fell to his death from the train during their mission against HYDRA.”
“You know the details about that?”
“Of course. It is all in Steve’s S.H.I.E.L.D. file.”
Tony frowned. “I read his file but didn’t see that.”
“It was an extensive file. Perhaps you missed it.”
Tony was dubious about that but he could have missed that detail. He tended to read so fast that he missed things. Still, it disturbed him that he had missed such an important detail.
“We must be gentle with him,” Thor said.
“Yeah. Maybe we should call Fury? He has shrinks on the payroll.”
“Let us wait just a bit. I think you should talk to Steve.”
“Wouldn’t that be dangerous? He thinks I’m Bucky.”
“Yes, but he might come to his senses naturally. I have seen this sort of reaction before. Let us at least attempt it before we notify Director Fury.”
Tony decided that he would take Thor’s suggestion. Fury would eventually find out (the bastard knew everything) but for now Steve was safe here at the Tower. He and Thor went back to Steve.
Steve looked up at Tony. “Bucky?”
Tony felt his stomach clench. “Cap, listen, I…”
“I saw you fall.” Steve’s eyes were wet.
Tony sat beside him and put a hand on Steve’s arm. “I know. Steve…”
Steve’s eyes were now dull. “I couldn’t save you. I watched you fall. It’s like it happened just yesterday. I…remember you straining to grab my hand and…” He closed his eyes and tears fell down his cheeks. “I saw your face as you fell,” he whispered.
Tony wanted to pull Steve into an embrace but wasn’t sure if she should.
What was Bucky to you, Steve? Best friends, practically brothers like Rhodey and me, or something even more?
He felt a twinge of jealousy, but those were his insecurities rearing up. Of course, Steve would care about Bucky. They grew up together, didn’t they? That was one fact he hadn’t missed in Steve’s file.
The tears began to flow faster, shocking Tony. He had never seen Steve cry before.
“I couldn’t save you,” Steve said brokenly. “With all my new strength, I couldn’t save you, after all the times you’d saved me.”
“It’s all right, Steve.” Tony squeezed Steve’s arm. “It’s really all right.”
Steve placed a hand on his own chest. “I feel an ache deep inside. I’ve lost everything!”
Thor’s face reflected his sorrow as he knelt in front of Steve and lightly touched his leg. Tony pulled Steve into an embrace this time as his lover wept for all had lost.