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A Little Lost Along the Way - Part II

Title: A Little Lost Along the Way - Part II
Fandom: Captain America/Avengers
Series: To Rewrite History
Pairings: Steve/Bucky
Warnings: Canon-typical violence, a bit of implied angst
Word Count: 4043 (13,409 total)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, the good guys would kick ass.
Summary: Steve doesn't even hesitate when Bucky falls.

Part I



Several Years Later


The outfit is the first thing that Tony notices. It’s even tackier than his armor and since he’s painted red and gold like a walking ad for Gryffindor, that's an impressive feat. But this guy apparently decided that flags were meant to be worn instead of flown above ugly-ass government buildings and he has the go-go boots to match.

Honestly, it kind of looks like he stole one of the replica Captain America suits from the snobby mouthful that is the Museum of the City of New York and if he did, Tony has to applaud the man’s audacity. That's the sort of thing he would have done in his younger days, probably in a booze-fueled drunken stupor, and Tony’s kind of annoyed that he never thought of it. Because this would have been the ultimate revenge against the perfect soldier, that paragon of virtue whom his father could not shut up about.

But audacity or no, New York is an awful place for civilians at the moment so he changes course to get the idiot out of here. Along the way, Tony takes out another group of Chitauri headed toward 38th street and informs the rest of the team about his change of plans.

“You'll need to cover my sector until I get back,” he says to a stream of furious Asgardian curses and Barton's “Roger that.”

Of course, when he gets closer, Tony starts to wonder if this guy actually needs rescuing at all. Because he's taking down Chitauri like he fights aliens for breakfast and that shield of his is breaking the laws of physics on every bounce. No normal metal can channel kinetic force like that and Tony nearly falls out of the sky when Jarvis says the thing's Vibranium.

“All right, then. This is getting weird,” he mutters, flying over to confront the other man. While the guy seems to be on their side at the moment, anti-alien doesn’t necessarily mean pro-Avenger and he’s tired of getting stabbed in the back.

So he hovers a few meters away and targets the stranger with one of his smaller guns as he demands an introduction in his best hero voice. Obviously Tony’s not actually going to shoot the guy if he's a normal human, but he really wants to know what the hell is going on. Not that things become all that clearer when the man replies.

“I'm Captain America. Didn’t you recognize the outfit?” he yells back with a sardonic grin, casually smacking another Chitauri from the air. “What kind of history are they teaching kids these days?”

“You can't be Captain America. Captain America is dead.” Tony retorts even as his mind threatens to derail. Admittedly the man looks the part but he spent months studying Erskine's serum during one of his rebellious college phases and there was nothing about immortality. Which means this guy has to be crazy no matter how sincere he seems.

“I'm afraid the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated,” a new voice drawls above Tony’s head before another man drops down into the street. He's dark where this fake Captain guy is blond and there's a fancy rifle slung across his back.

But at least he's dressed more sensibly than his partner, wearing the all-black ninja version of the latest combat gear. Tony recognizes the man's body armor as one of his own designs and he's pretty sure that rifle is a limited edition prototype which should have been under lock and key. Not that the guy seems particularly concerned about flaunting a stolen weapon in front of its real owner, grinning up at Tony with a cheerful little wave.

“Long story short, we were frozen and captured and woke up in the twenty-first century a few years ago,” he explains airily, Tony’s jaw threatening to drop at this insane litany. “But that's a conversation for another time, Stevie, 'cause we’ve got a flying whale inbound.”

“All right, Buck. You know the drill,” the fake cap says to his partner, the two men suddenly acting like Tony's not even there. He's actually a bit insulted at how quickly they dismiss him because come on, he's Iron Man. Only these guys are way more interested in their flirty banter than in their audience.

So the pair moves into position in the middle of the street, the dark haired one tossing the blond his rifle with a grin. “Watch my baby for me, will you? I'm rather fond of her.”

“You're ridiculous, you know that,” the other man replies, rolling his eyes but still catching the gun anyway. He tosses a knife back to his partner – well Tony says knife but machete may be more accurate. “Try not to damage your arm any further; you know I'm still shit at maintenance.”

“Hey, you've done pretty well for a fossil,” his friend replies, spinning the blade around his fingers like some kind of circus dude. “Without you I'd have been running around one-handed years ago.”

This may actually be the most surreal moment of Tony's life. Seriously. He’s had some weird encounters but nothing beats sitting in the middle of an alien invasion while watching a guy dressed like Captain America banter with a Special Forces ninja who thinks machetes are a valid throwing knife. Though what really grabs his attention is the flash of metal when hippie hair removes the glove from his left hand.

“Jarvis scan him,” he mutters. “Hell, scan them both.”

“Of course, sir. Shall I focus on the arm or would you like complete identities?” Jarvis asks, before correctly interpreting Tony's impatient grunt. “Never mind. I have facial recognition calculating and if you give me a moment I will gather their DNA from the blood on the ground. While you wait, here are the results of my initial scan. As you can see, the brunet’s arm appears to be a robotic prosthetic, relatively simplistic by our standards but hooked into his spine to allow finer mobility.”

Despite the AI's disparaging remarks, Tony is actually rather impressed by the tech he's seeing here. It's definitely a step above anything on the market, though he can see a few points that obviously need repairs.

Man, I want to get my hands on that, he thinks, drooling over the idea until Jarvis interrupts his happy place.

“Excuse me, sir. You will want to look at this.” Tony switches his display over to the results of the AI’s calculations, sending the prosthetic arm's blueprints back to his lab along the way. Though what he sees quickly pushes all thoughts of tinkering from his mind.

“Are you serious?!” he asks, voice reaching a most unmanly pitch.

“Indeed, sir. That is Steven Grant Rogers, also known as Captain America, confirmed to ninety-eight percent certainty, and the man with him appears to be one Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, formerly of the 107th regiment. Both men were declared missing in action after falling from a train during World War II, but despite the numerous search parties, their bodies were never found. Additionally, sir, Captain America's shield was stolen from SHIELD's special weapons vault just over four years ago by an unknown burglar.”

“Holy shit. That's actually Captain America!”

“What do you mean, Captain America?” Barton cuts in over the comms, which is when Tony realizes that he hasn't muted anything. “Like the Star-Spangled man in tights Captain America? Christ, Coulson would have flipped his shit.”

“Are you kidding? I'm flipping my shit over this,” Tony retorts, caught between a fanboyish glee and the decades' worth of resentment buried beneath his skin. However, at the moment the fanboy is winning as he watches Captain America and his sergeant face off against a Leviathan.

Neither man seems particularly worried about the alien fish bearing down on them and Tony is too awestruck to think about helping as the pair trades a short nod. Then Barnes is running forward, three huge steps taking him to Rogers who catches him on his shield and catapults his partner over the monster's head. Definitely a ninja, Tony thinks as the man does a twisting triple flip through the air, the gears in his arm whirring audibly.

He lands on the Leviathan with the grace of a gymnast, slamming his blade into the creature's eye as he falls, and the combination of momentum and robotics buries the weapon deep. Barnes shoves it in until he hits the brain and twists, before leaping back to the ground as the monster drops out of the sky.

“You still keeping track of our kill count? Because I'm pretty sure I'm winning,” he calls back to Rogers, wiping the blade clean on his leg before strutting back his way. Honestly the man wouldn't look out of place on a high fashion runway – Tony would know – but the blond just matches Barnes' smirk with a smile of his own.

“Sorry, Buck. I got distracted by your ass again,” he jokes, leaning over to plant a kiss on the other man. Like an actual kiss: lips and tongue and obvious familiarity and Tony gets to choke on his spit again.

“Okay. Captain America is gay. I can work with that. Sure. You didn't just break my world or anything,” he mutters a little frantically until Natasha’s voice in his ear snaps him out of it.

She says that she’s figured out how to close the portal, which is the best news that Tony has heard all day. However, before he can even think about celebrating, this good news is followed by much worse news and that’s just not fair at all. Of course, it’s just like those dickwads on the World Security Council to cut their losses but that doesn’t mean Tony’s happy when Fury calls him up to mention that there’s a nuke headed New York’s way.

“Well shit,” is pretty much his response to that announcement and he interrupts Captain America’s little love-fest with a shouted, “We’re not done here by a long shot but I have to go take care of a bomb.”

“Don’t worry. We've got this covered,” Rogers replies, waving Tony off as Barnes pulls out his rifle and starts shooting down the next wave of aliens. “You can ask us questions to your heart’s content once we’re not being invaded anymore.”

“Deal. Shawarma in twenty then,” Tony says before zooming off toward the harbor, Jarvis already calculating missile trajectories.

The final minutes of the battle pass in a blur of cold and darkness, a failed call to Pepper and the sickening sensation of his armor dying piece by piece. But he has to do this, Tony has to prove himself a hero if even he couldn’t have said why, and he holds onto consciousness until he sees the nuke ignite. Only then does he allow himself to fall, bits of the Chitauri fleet raining down around him as the world fades away.

His last thought is an apology – to Pepper, to his father, who fucking knows – and then there is only blankness until the Hulk shocks him back to life again.

Tony comes to on the hard concrete of some New York avenue, the worried faces of his team staring down at him. Natasha and Clint both look exhausted and even Thor’s shining godness has gotten a bit scuffed, but at least everyone seems to have made it through more or less unscathed. Of course, Tony soon discovers that he’s entirely incapable of standing under his own power, but that’s the whole point of having allies and the Hulk has just yanked him to his feet when Captain America jogs up.

“Oh good, you’re all right,” Rogers says and no one should be able to sound so sincere even if part of Tony’s mind squees a bit at the knowledge that he cares. “Did you get the guy who started this? Bucky saw the National Guard headed this way so they can help with clean up but we should probably apprehend this Loki fellow before they arrive.”

“Hulk smash puny god. Smash in tower,” is the answer and Tony definitely never thought that he’d see Captain America looking so nonplussed.

“Well all right then, thank you,” Rogers says when he recovers, reaching back to smack Barnes where he’s snickering. “Do you mind if we join you?”

Like any of the Avengers are going to refuse Captain-freaking-America and so the whole group goes traipsing back to Stark tower to collect their wayward god.

Although as it turns out, the Hulk wasn’t kidding about the smashing and they find Loki embedded a few inches deep in Tony’s floor. His interior decorator is seriously going to have a fit when she sees the damage but he’s just happy that the Asgardian surrenders without a fight and he’s been thinking about remodeling anyway.

So once Thor pulls out some fancy magic handcuffs to lock up his brother, Tony drags the Avengers and Co. off for Shawarma because he wants a meal with his new buddies before everybody leaves. Besides, food is a great excuse to keep Captain America and his boytoy close by until he can get around to the interrogation since Tony still hasn’t ruled out the idea of evil clones, time travel, or insanity just yet.

Well, he’s pretty sure he isn’t crazy since everyone else can see them and Clint looks as close to star-struck as that man ever gets. By which Tony means that he’s staring at Rogers creepily from two feet away.

But hopefully Clint will tone that down a bit once everyone is settled and Tony ushers the group through the door of the restaurant like a triumphant king. The others seem surprised that this place is still open what with the alien invasion and all, but that’s just one of the reasons that Tony loves this town. New Yorkers aren’t phased by nothing and the owners probably would have served the Hulk himself as long as he could pay. Though, given the height restrictions, it’s probably a good thing that Banner has regained control.

So Tony bites his tongue until everyone has ordered, the Avengers and guests sprawled around a cheap Formica table with assorted weapons and armor leaning against the wall. But once Captain America removes his helmet, revealing what Tony is not afraid to admit is a very handsome face if you like that sun-kissed thing, he just can’t hold back the questions anymore.

“Okay,” he says, jabbing his hand in their direction. “Battle’s over and you two walking anachronisms have a lot of explaining to do. How the hell are you still alive? How are you still so freaking young? And why haven’t I heard about this until now?”

“I told you, we were frozen and captured and woke up in the twenty-first century a few years ago. It’s not my fault you didn’t believe me the first time around,” Barnes replies with a stupidly charming grin. Up close he’s also far too attractive for a dead soldier and Natasha isn’t the only one enjoying the view right now.

‘Well, I’m sorry if I’d like a little more detail than that,” Tony snarks back, although he doesn’t have the chance to say anything else before the rest of the Avengers chime in with their thoughts.

“I admit that it does seem a bit far-fetched, but if I were them, I would have picked a better lie.”

“You were frozen and survived? My brother is a frost giant; perhaps you share some of the Jotun magic in your ancestry. You are certainly fine warriors in your own right; some of the best that I have seen on Midgard since I arrived.”

“Come on, Stark. You’re really calling Captain America a liar? The man is a national hero.”

“Actually, given some of my research into Erskine’s serum, it is possible that extremely cold temperatures would have sent his body into a state of hibernation until he thawed out again. But I’ve never heard anything about another successful supersoldier so I’m not sure how his friend could have survived as well.”

“Oh, you know: torture, experiments, the usual war time fun,” Barnes says, his blithe smile belying the shadows in his eyes. But the expression turns genuine when Rogers lays a hand on his shoulder, the two men having an entire conversation without saying a word.

‘To be honest, Banner, you probably have a better idea of how it works than we do,” the blond says, taking over the conversation gracefully. “But Bucky was captured by Hydra back in ’43 and I know their scientists were trying to replicate Erskine’s notes by experimenting on prisoners. Only we never realized that anything was different until we fell off Zola's train.”

“I fell; this idiot jumped after me,” the other man corrects, poking Rogers in the side with a frown. “But ever since we woke up, I’ve been able to keep up with him a whole lot better so maybe it just took nearly dying to kick-start my dose.”

“I suppose extreme trauma could have activated the serum if other methods failed; I assume that’s how you lost your arm?”

“Excuse me; I’m way more interested in the part where Captain America apparently jumped off a moving train.” Clint interrupts before Banner can get too far into this line of questioning. “Why the heck would you do something like that? I assume you didn’t know that you’d survive.”

“Bucky fell so I followed,” Rogers says with a shrug and somehow it sounds like the most reasonable thing in the world when he announces it like that. “It was worth it.”

He reaches over to take Barnes’ right hand, lacing their fingers together and smiling at the other man besottedly. Not that his boyfriend is any better and Tony is having trouble reconciling the badass ninja who killed a Leviathan with the guy in front of him right now.

Barnes actually blushes as he leans over to kiss Rogers on the cheek, though that could have something to do with the pair’s wide-eyed audience. “You’re still an idiot, punk. But I love you anyway.”

“Huh. Okay, I guess that makes sense.” Clint says after a moment of shocked silence. “But this is all getting way too serious for a victory celebration. So tell me… is the outfit like a propaganda thing? Or do you just really like red, white and blue?”

“God, no. This outfit is awful,” Rogers replies sheepishly. “I just figured you would be less likely to shoot us on sight if I were wearing it so I borrowed the suit from a museum on our way into town.”

“I still think you should have picked the version with the cape,” Bucky adds with a chuckle, shoving his chair closer so that he can wrap his free arm round his boyfriend’s neck. “Though I have to admit, I do kind of miss the original. Stark had a way with tights.”

“Stark?” Natasha asks, arching one perfectly curved brow at Tony like she totally believes that he might sew in his spare time.

“Oh, not him. Howard. We met him during the war and while he was kind of a bastard, his inventions were the shit. You know he’s the one who made Steve’s shield and he designed this one rifle that could…” Barnes trails off when Rogers elbows him, the blond jerking his head toward Tony significantly. “Uh, I mean, no offense?”

“None taken. Kind of a bastard sounds about right,” Tony replies, deciding then and there that he rather likes this guy. “How about you let me take a look at that arm of yours sometime and I’ll consider you forgiven; I’ve never seen tech quite like that.”

“I’m pretty sure you’d be doing me a favor there, but whatever floats your boat,” the other man replies with another crooked grin. “Steve’s been keeping me functional since we escaped from Zola but it’s not like either of us really knows what we’re doing with this kind of thing. Just watch for booby traps, will you? We took out a room when Steve removed the radio receiver and I know there’s at least one kill-switch still active – that’s one of the reasons that we haven’t poked around too much.”

“I’m sorry; did you say kill-switch?” Clint asks, scooting his chair back from the table. “You’re not about to blow up right now or anything?”

“Don’t think so,” Barnes says with a shrug. “And I’ve been punching aliens all day so I probably would have died by now if I were going to. But considering that they were trying to threaten Steve into cooperating, they didn’t exactly give us a manual to this thing. I count myself lucky that I can still use it at all.”

“Okay, who is this “they” that you keep talking about? If someone’s going around kidnapping heroes, I want to know about it.”

Rogers glances over at his boyfriend before answering, the two men having another one of their weird silent conversations. They seem to be arguing if Tony is interpreting the sequence of “eyebrow, eyebrow, frown” correctly, probably about how much they should reveal.

However, the Avengers are content to wait until the pair works it out since their Shawarma has just arrived, everyone digging in with a will. Of course, if Rogers and Barnes decide to keep their secrets they might have a problem, but Tony is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt before he starts accusing folks of anything.

Plus it looks like Captain Morality wins the argument because Barnes sits back with a huff as Rogers starts to talk again.

“All right, well, it's kind of a long story,” the blond starts, looking around the table at his rapt audience. “So I guess I better start at the beginning. How much do you know about Hydra?”

What follows would sound like a conspiracy theory if anyone else were saying it and honestly, Tony still has doubts. But Clint and Natasha back up some of Rogers' story and everything that Jarvis can actually find information on checks out. Which means that there probably is a shadow organization running half the world, something which Tony would have been quite happy not to know about.

Of course now that he knows, he can't ignore it, particularly not when Rogers finishes by asking for their help. “We don't want to put you in any unnecessary danger, but we could use allies if we're going to take Hydra down successfully. This is far bigger than the two of us.”

Tony looks around the table to gauge everyone's reactions since he's somehow become the de facto leader of this team. Banner's hooked already – the combination of a sob story and crazy science more than he can resist – and Clint would probably walk through fire if Captain America asked him too. Natasha is more suspicious than the others but she nods once when Tony meets her eyes and Thor is a sucker for any righteous cause.

Which leaves Tony as the lone hold-out before the vote's unanimous and to his surprise, he doesn't want to be. It's not like Stark Tower doesn't have room for a few more strays – or twenty– and Tony likes Barnes; the man has skills, a wicked sense of humor and, of course, that arm.

Even Rogers doesn't seem too bad once you get past that whole Captain Wholesome thing and so there's really only one option here.

Which is why Tony stares across the table with his best shit-eating grin and says, “What the hell, boys. I’m probably going to regret this, but welcome to the team.”


Finis