And here's the last part of this story! I hope you like it, please let me know what you think, that would be awesome!
I don't own the characters or places!
Steve tried his best to keep the guilt in check, but so far, it wasn't really working. He'd overheard the last part of Tony's conversation with T'Challa, even if he didn't intend to listen. But once he heard Bucky's name, he couldn't help it.
He'd already feared that Bucky's appearance might influence his relationship with Tony. After all, he'd known all along that Tony wasn't a fan of Bucky, considering how important he was to Steve. But hearing that Tony would do anything to prove that Bucky was innocent, just because he was important to Steve...
He loved Tony with all his heart. And it hurt to know that Tony might be unhappy just because of him. Because he wanted Steve to be happy. That's not how it should work. They were a team. Nothing should stand between them. Especially not Bucky. Or the things Bucky told him.
When he thought of that again, Steve felt sick. He knew that he had to tell Tony the truth soon, but he didn't want it. He knew that his lover could react impulsive at times and knowing that Bucky was the one who killed his parents would most certainly lead to a strong reaction. They couldn't afford that right now. Not with Zemo and what he was planning. They had to work together. Also with Bucky, if they could get him out of that damn cell.
A small voice inside his head told him that he needed to tell Tony the truth as soon as possible. After all, Zemo knew everything about that night as well. He could use it to tear them apart during a confrontation. However, Steve decided to ignore that voice for now.
"What's wrong?" Tony asked quietly. They had nearly reached the conference room where the others were already waiting for them. "You're so tense."
"Because of what Bucky said." Steve tried to avoid the subject, but of course Tony saw right through him. There was an unhappy frown on his face, but he remained silent. Steve wasn't sure if this was better or worse than an argument.
But then they reached the room and all thoughts of Bucky and Zemo vanished for now. Natasha, Rhodey, Sam and Everett Ross were all looking at them expectantly when they entered the room and sat down.
"What's up, Steve? You look troubled." Sam also didn't look happy. Maybe because Steve had refused to tell him what Bucky said when Tony and T'Challa weren't there to hear it as well.
"Bucky has told me something quite disturbing." Steve began, but he was interrupted.
"Before you tell us what's going on, let me inform you that Thaddeus Ross will be here in about an hour." Everett Ross said. "Apparently, all of his flights to Europe got cancelled and once he was here, he didn't get a train from Paris. Also cancelled. So he's in a really bad mood."
For a few moments, the Avengers stared at him silently. Then, Sam started to laugh and the others joined him soon. They all knew that this was JARVIS' doing since Tony told him to cancel Ross' flight. Steve was sure that Tony only said two flights, but from the looks of it, JARVIS had cancelled far more than that. It was a surprise that he even managed to arrive here before everything was over.
In the meantime, Ross and T'Challa only frowned at them. Steve noted that they exchanged a look and T'Challa shrugged.
Soon, they all got serious again. "Bucky says that there are more Winter Soldiers." Steve started without hesitation. If Secretary Ross would arrive in an hour, they didn't have much time left. "Zemo wanted to know their location and how to wake them up."
"You mean that there are more of those insane, brain-washed killers out there?" Ross repeated incredulously.
He nodded seriously. "And from the looks of it, Zemo is already on his way to wake them."
"Maybe JARVIS can slow him down." Tony muttered and began to type on his phone furiously.
"We have to follow him." Rhodey declared.
"So what are we waiting for?" Sam asked impatiently. "If Bucky told Zemo where he has to look for them, we'll find it as well!"
"It's a bunker in the north, Bucky knows in which region it is." Steve confirmed. "Though he couldn't tell me the exact coordinates. He's only been there twice, a long time ago."
"But the region will help, won't it?" Sam frowned.
"Only if you want to search hundreds of kilometres of snow and ice." Steve sighed. "Bucky says that he can find it once he's there."
"Doesn't sound very convincing." Ross muttered. "Are you sure that he doesn't just search for a way out?"
"We can't do this without him." He declared. "If he really woke those soldiers, only Bucky knows how to defeat them. You saw him in action and know how good he is."
"So you are telling me that you want him to accompany you to that place?" Ross laughed dryly. "Nice try, Captain."
"JARVIS is already looking for signs of that place." Tony was still looking at his phone, but Steve knew that he was listening to their conversation. "If he finds something, we don't need Bucky." Steve noted that Tony didn't sound very hopeful. From the frown on Rhodey's face, Steve knew that he noticed it as well.
"Wait a second." Natasha threw in. "If Bucky can't tell anyone where that place is, how can Zemo find it then?"
Ross gestured at her. "Good point."
"Zemo has the journal." Steve explained. "It's all in there. Where to find them, how to wake them up, everything."
"But why did he need your friend then?" T'Challa asked.
"The part about the other soldiers is coded. He didn't know how to translate it until Bucky told him how to do it. It was added later, after the experiments with Bucky were finished."
"There's something you're not telling us." Tony said suddenly and Steve's heart sank. Did he really have to mention this now? "The others, they're not exactly like Bucky, are they? Otherwise, the parts about them wouldn't be coded in that journal while the pages about Bucky can be read by anyone." Relief washed over him when Tony mentioned this. So he didn't decide to talk about his secret yet.
"Yes, they are." He confirmed. "That's what Bucky said."
"You can't expect me to believe all this." Ross said sceptically. "There's this place somewhere in the north with more of those Winter Soldiers. Your friend knows where it is, but he can't tell you. He has to accompany you there. To me, it sounds like he told you all this just to get out of his cell." He turned to Tony. "Can you find something soon?"
"Doesn't look like it yet." Tony muttered. "JARVIS is scanning the region Bucky told Steve and he looks through old Hydra files, but there's nothing yet. And he lost track of Zemo, he just vanished, but it looks like he's heading towards Siberia. Would fit the region Bucky named."
"Siberia? That's it?" Ross asked incredulously. "You know that it's a pretty large region, right?"
"That's why we need Bucky." Steve stated. "Only he can guide us there."
"I can't just let him out of that cell!" Ross protested loudly. "I would lose my job."
"Your job against the lives of hundreds or thousands of people." This time, it was Rhodey who spoke. "I don't think we have a choice there." He muttered unhappily.
"Yeah, it seems to." Tony sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "JARVIS has stopped Secretary Ross' train. But I fear that it will only delay his arrival here for a few hours."
"We'll need more than that, won't we?" Rhodey asked doubtfully.
"If you will let us go and don't want to lose your job, there might be a possibility." Natasha said and smiled at Ross sweetly.
"Whatever you're thinking, forget it." Ross narrowed his eyes at her.
"It would be easy for the five of us to take you down. You'd look completely innocent." Natasha leaned forward. "We would be even nice to you."
"You won't just tie him up." To their surprise, it was T'Challa who spoke now. "Not as long as I'm in here."
"Then we'll take you down too." Natasha's eyes were shining when she thought of that challenge.
"Won't work." Tony muttered. "You didn't see him fight in that suit yet, Nat. Just forget it. And we won't harm Agent Ross."
"Thank you." Ross muttered, but he was looking at T'Challa instead of Tony.
"We have to make a plan now!" Steve urged the others. "We don't have much time. Zemo might be nearly there!"
Ross sighed. "It might sound completely insane, but I believe you." They all stared at him again and even Tony looked up from his phone. "I can't let all of you go. When Ross arrives here, at least some of you have to be here to answer questions."
"I think Tony, Bucky and me should go to Siberia." Steve suggested without hesitation. "Together, we'll be able to deal with those soldiers."
"You want to leave me here?" Sam asked loudly. "You can't be serious!"
"Most of us should stay here." He explained. "And we'll be fine."
"So you'll let us deal with the uncomfortable questions again." Natasha sighed.
"We'll be back as fast as possible." Steve promised.
"Ross will be furious when he gets to know what you're doing." Rhodey noted.
"We'll make him understand later. We really have to leave now." Otherwise, they might be there too late.
"Then, you'll also have to think about the Accords again." Ross warned them. "People are getting impatient." He stood up. "So it'll be just the three of you?"
"If it wouldn't be important, I would never let you open the cell of that man." T'Challa said to Ross and turned to Steve. "I bet you won't let me come with you?"
"I think it would be better if you stay." Steve said hesitantly. He looked at Everett Ross. "We'll bring you Zemo."
"You better do that, Captain." Ross said seriously and Steve noticed that he sounded tired now.
"I organized us a plane." Tony said suddenly. "And I got your suit, Steve. Also something bulletproof for Bucky."
"Did I ever tell you that you're awesome?" Steve kissed him.
Tony grinned. "You could do that more often, though."
After saying goodbye to the others and promising them that they would keep them updated on their doings, they followed Ross to Bucky's cell.
"Would you please stop that?" Steve asked.
"Stop what?" Tony asked innocently.
"I have no idea what you mean." Bucky said simply.
"You stare at each other like you want to rip off each other's heads." Steve sighed. "We're here as a team, remember?"
"He hit me with your shield." Bucky noted.
"You were about to strangle my boyfriend." Tony grimaced. "Also your best friend, by the way."
"That wasn't me."
"I know. Doesn't change it, though."
Steve glared at them. "Could you at least try to be nice to each other?" He sat down next to Tony. Luckily, the jet could run on autopilot for now. He hadn't been surprised to see that Tony had organized them a Stark Industries jet.
He wrapped an arm around Tony's shoulder. "Let me introduce you officially. Bucky, this is Tony Stark, the love of my life. And Tony, that's Bucky Barnes, my best friend."
When Steve looked at them expectantly, they shook hands.
"Even in that short time we had back in that cell, Steve wouldn't stop talking about you." Bucky said and his lips twitched.
Tony chuckled. "I've been listening to stories about you for years now."
"I hope only the good ones." Bucky muttered.
"Of course." Steve confirmed. To his surprise, Tony and Bucky started to talk then. First, Tony was still tense and didn't look happy, but soon, he relaxed. Most probably, because Bucky wouldn't stop talking about Steve as a friend and nothing else. Once, he even mentioned that they were a beautiful couple.
Steve had expected to feel better now that they got along well, but instead, his anxiety was rising. Because he still didn't tell Tony about Bucky's secret. Maybe it would make everything even worse? He tried to figure out a way to tell Tony the truth, but he couldn't decide if it would be better to tell him now or later when they had a chance to be alone. Honestly, Steve still feared that Tony might do something to Bucky.
This time, Tony seemed to notice Steve's tension since he started to draw random patterns on his back. Bucky also glanced at him from time to time. Most probably because he didn't take part in that conversation. He also didn't really listen. He thought that he'd heard Howard's and Peggy's names, as well as the Avengers, but he wasn't so sure.
"We're nearly there." Bucky's voice took him back to reality. "Steve, are you alright?"
He looked up to notice that they were alone. Tony was flying the jet now. He swallowed. "I didn't tell him about it yet, Bucky." He whispered, afraid that Tony might hear it.
Bucky frowned. "Maybe you should do it, Steve. After all, we're going to face that man soon."
"And what if he's angry at you then?"
"Then it's alright." Bucky said simply. "I know that I'm responsible for this. Hell, Steve, I feel guilty! I knew Howard and knowing that it was me who killed him..."
"You aren't responsible for anything here." Steve cut in. "You're a victim."
Bucky laughed dryly. "Try to tell that the others."
"Guys, we're there!" Tony called. "At least that's what I think."
It was true, there was the entrance to a bunker. In front of it stood a truck.
"This is it." Bucky confirmed. "And apparently, Zemo is already here."
"Not longer than a few hours, I think." Tony muttered.
"Long enough to wake them."
"Tony, before we go in there, there's something I need to tell you." Steve said and breathed in deeply.
"Is that why you've been so quiet ever since you talked to Bucky alone?" Tony asked slowly. There was fear in his eyes and Steve hated that he was responsible for this.
"I didn't know how to tell you..." He hesitated.
"Steve, you can tell me everything." Tony took his hands. They were still in the jet while Bucky was already outside, looking for possible threats.
"I know. I just didn't want you to get upset..."
"Maybe it would be easier if you just tell me what's bothering you?" Tony suggested softly.
"Bucky told me more than just the story with the other Winter Soldiers." Steve blurted out. "Zemo wanted to know something else. He asked for a mission report. December 16, 1991."
Tony's eyes widened when he realized which date it was. "But on that day..."
"It wasn't an accident." Steve whispered and tightened his grip on Tony's hands. "I'm sorry that I didn't tell you right away, but I just feared..." He broke off and shook his head. "I should have told you."
"So Bucky..." Tony was shaking his head now and Steve knew how difficult this most be for him. "He killed my parents?"
"The Winter Soldier, not Bucky." Steve whispered weakly. "I'm so sorry, Tony."
"And we let him out of that cell." Tony muttered darkly. He breathed in deeply and Steve couldn't interpret the look on his face. This didn't happen in a long time. Normally, he could read Tony like an open book. They understood each other without words. His heart started to beat faster in fear. Would he lose him now?
"I'm so sorry." Steve said. "I didn't know, I promise." He tried to fight the panic that threatened to overpower him. They were on a mission, he had to focus now. However, it was so hard when there was this distant look on Tony's face.
"Steve..." Tony started hesitantly. "I don't blame you." He ran a hand through his hair. "It's a lot to take in right now. You know this for how long now? Three hours? Maybe four? How could you think that I'd be mad at you?"
That's what did it. Without thinking about it, Steve wrapped his arms around Tony and kissed him. First, it was a hesitant kiss, but soon, it turned more passionate. When they parted, they were both breathing heavily. "I love you." Steve whispered. "I didn't tell you often enough in the past days. It's just that so much happened..."
"It's fine." Tony replied. "I think we should talk about this later. We're on a mission, after all."
"Are you sure that you can go in there together with Bucky after what he did?" Steve knew that he sounded insecure.
"Only one way to find out, isn't it?" Tony tried to let it sound playful, but he failed. "Look, Steve, I won't hit him again. At least not yet. Maybe when we're all in New York."
Steve just wanted to ask if he really planned to take Bucky to New York, but in that moment, he called their names. "Everything's fine here, let's go inside."
"I love you too, by the way." Tony smiled slightly. "And now let's go." He stepped into the Iron Man suit and made his way to the bunker.
"So you told him?" Bucky asked hesitantly when they followed him.
"I did." Steve confirmed.
"Seems like he's taken it quite well?"
"If I can hit something in there, I'll feel better." Tony said and they both looked at each other sheepishly when they noticed that he'd listened to their conversation.
In the end, there wasn't much for Tony to hit. Zemo didn't wake the Winter Soldiers – he killed all of them. A shot in each head while they were still frozen. He didn't want to cause more chaos in the world and Steve already asked himself what Zemo was up to when he understood his plan. Because he wanted to show them a video.
He moved to Tony's side and took his hand. It felt strange because Tony was wearing the Iron Man suit, but Steve didn't care. He didn't have to say a word to make Tony look at him instead of the screen in front of them. Bucky also seemed to understand Zemo's plan since he didn't hesitate and destroyed said screen before the video even began.
After this, it wasn't difficult to get a hold on Zemo and tie him up. They even let Tony hit him on the head to make him fall unconscious. After this, they made sure to collect as many proofs about this Hydra facility as possible. They had to make others understand that Bucky was innocent. And of course they also had to restore Everett Ross' reputation. Steve would feel terrible if he'd get fired because he helped them.
On their way back, Tony was unnaturally quiet. "How are you feeling?" Steve asked softly when he sat down next to him.
"I don't know." Tony sighed. "I've been asking myself what really happened in that night for so many years. I always thought finding out the truth would make me feel better. But it doesn't. It just makes me angry... and sad. Knowing that Hydra was responsible for all this." Steve noticed that he said Hydra and not Bucky. "I'll be fine, don't worry about me." He smiled slightly and Steve was relieved to see that it was an honest smile.
"Zemo wanted to tear us apart with that video." Steve whispered and took Tony's hands again. "I bet he expected you to lash out at Bucky and start a huge fight."
"What would you have done? If it would have come to that?" Tony asked curiously.
"I would have stood between the two of you and told you that you're being stupid." He said slowly. "Though I fear that it wouldn't have worked."
Tony grimaced and laughed. "Nope, I don't think so. Your soldier friend over there wouldn't stand a chance against me."
They both glanced at Bucky who was sitting as far away from them as possible in the jet. At Tony's words, he looked up and raised his eyebrows sceptically. "Maybe we should try that someday, old man."
Tony raised his eyebrows. "Don't talk to me about being old. As far as I know, I'm the youngest person in here."
Bucky laughed. "You don't look like it."
"As soon as we're in New York, I'm going to show you what this old man can do!" Tony exclaimed.
This startled Bucky. "New York?" Steve also stared at his lover.
"Yeah, of course. You can't expect us to let you in that cell forever." Tony said simply.
"After everything I've done, I wouldn't blame you if you did." Bucky muttered darkly.
Tony ran a hand through his hair. "Look, we didn't have the best start. Honestly, I hated you the first time Steve even said your name. From there on, it didn't get better. I know that it was stupid and unfair since we didn't even know each other. But when we talked earlier, I realized that you're actually not that bad. That night when my parents died..." Tony hesitated. "That wasn't you. I get that now. So I don't blame you. No hard feelings."
Steve knew how difficult it must have been for Tony to say this and he grinned at him. "You're incredible, you know that?" He whispered into his ear.
Tony chuckled. "Normally, I can be pretty resentful. Be happy that I've got a good day."
"You're not angry?" Bucky looked more confused than ever.
"Oh, I am angry, believe me. But not at you." Tony emphasized. "What a pity that there are no more Hydra facilities left to destroy."
"Maybe you can be mean to Secretary Ross once we're back, that might make you feel better." Steve suggested.
"That won't be a nice conversation." Suddenly, the smile on Tony's lips vanished. "It won't be easy to make them understand everything."
"Everett Ross is on our side." Steve noted.
"But he's in trouble as well since he let us go." Tony reminded him. He looked at his phone. "Rhodey says that Secretary Ross is really angry. He also suspects that we're responsible for his problems to get to Europe." He grimaced. "He's not wrong about that."
Bucky moved closer to them. "How did you do that?" He asked curiously.
"Might have cancelled all his flights and train connections." Tony said absent-mindedly.
At the astonished look on Bucky's face, Steve couldn't hold back a chuckle. This made him look confused. "What's going on?"
"Tony is a genius." Steve said simply. "You'll get used to that."
"Guys, I think we need a plan." Tony said suddenly. "Secretary Ross told the police to arrest us as soon as we step out of this jet."
"The others aren't arrested yet?" Steve asked hopefully.
"They're not allowed to leave that conference room." Tony grimaced, but then his face lit up. "I've got an idea." He looked for a contact on his phone and made a call. "Hey Happy, you have to do something for me..."
The other Avengers, T'Challa, Everett Ross and Secretary Ross were sitting in that conference room when Tony and Steve walked in. They were both wearing their normal clothes again and Tony grinned when everyone stared at them in surprise.
"How did you get past the guards?" Secretary Ross demanded to know. Steve thought that Rhodey hadn't told them the truth. That man wasn't just angry. He was furious.
"Oh, you mean the nice men outside? We just walked past them." Tony said simply.
"They didn't even try to stop us." Steve added. The others were all looking at them curiously and there was a small smile on Everett Ross' lips. Yes, he definitely wasn't that bad.
"Where's Barnes?" Secretary Ross demanded to know.
"Waiting somewhere, together with Helmut Zemo. He's still unconscious, but should wake up soon." Tony said lightly. "They'll only come in if we tell them."
"You had no right to leave this place! Especially not with him!" Ross shouted angrily. Then he turned to Everett. "This will really make you lose your job!"
Everett Ross sighed. "You mentioned this about twenty times by now."
"Twenty-three." T'Challa corrected him firmly and they exchanged a small smile, even if Everett looked tense. Steve decided to wonder what happened between them later. Right now, he had to focus on their biggest problem.
"We have proofs that Bucky Barnes is an innocent in all this. He was controlled by Hydra all this time. We left this building with him to stop someone called Helmut Zemo, who wanted to wake more Winter Soldiers from Hydra to spread chaos in this world." In the jet, they had decided not to tell them that Zemo had killed the soldiers.
"I would like to see that." Secretary Ross muttered. It was obvious that he didn't believe them.
"Then lean back in your seat and have a look at it." Tony said simply and on the screen in the conference room appeared images of the Hydra facility. No one was surprised when Tony just hacked into the computer in this room without doing anything.
The next hour, Tony and Steve explained everything about the project 'Winter Soldier' and how they had been able to manipulate Bucky. Even if the others already knew the basics, they were surprised to see how much information they'd gathered in such a short amount of time.
"If you still don't believe us, you can ask Helmut Zemo." Steve finished their report. "Though I doubt that he'll tell you something useful."
"I'm used to lying suspects." Secretary Ross said simply and turned to Everett. "Lock him into a cell. We'll question him later."
Everett Ross raised his eyebrows. "We? I thought I was going to lose my job."
Secretary Ross shook his head. "You'll get promoted. Apparently, your decision just saved the world from a serious threat."
Everett stared at him for a few moments before he nodded. "Well, alright." He took a deep breath, trying to process what just happened. Then he turned to Tony and Steve. However, his eyes stayed on T'Challa for a few moments before he did. "Where is Zemo now? And Mr. Barnes, of course. I think he deserves an apology."
"They're on their way." Tony said simply. "Someone might want to accompany Mr. Zemo from the car to his cell. Or carry him, I should say." He grinned.
"I'll deal with that." Everett Ross left the room.
Secretary Ross sighed. "Now that this is settled, there's something else we need to discuss."
"The Accords." Steve said immediately.
Ross nodded. "None of you has signed them yet."
"There wasn't a chance." Natasha said simply. "Or did you forget what happened?"
"No, I didn't. But now would be the time to make a decision. Either you sign the document or you'll retire. It's up to you."
"The team isn't complete." Tony threw in. "We can't make that decision just now. I hope you understand this. But shouldn't the Avengers get a chance to discuss this first?"
Secretary Ross stared at him darkly. "You already had the chance to talk about it, Mr. Stark."
"But things have changed." Tony emphasized. "Mr. Barnes is here now and we didn't tell another member of the Avengers about the Accords yet." He looked at Ross innocently. "You can't expect us to make such a big decision if we're not complete."
Steve would have liked to laugh, but he made a serious face. He hoped that Tony's strategy worked.
Ross turned to T'Challa. "What about you, prince T'Challa."
"I have to think about it." He replied politely. "I must return to Wakanda as soon as possible. The funeral of my father will take place soon. And then I'll have to take over the throne." He looked at Tony and Steve. "I will discuss things with the other Avengers on my way home." They all looked at T'Challa in surprise when he said the last words, but no one said anything.
"If you all won't sign this document, we'll lock you up." Secretary Ross shouted. Apparently, his patience was running thin.
"Is that a threat, Secretary Ross?" Rhodey asked calmly.
"It would be necessary to prevent you from doing more damage."
"We'll tell you about our decision next week." Tony said simply. Then he turned to the others. "Maybe we should leave and give Secretary Ross time to deal with Mr. Zemo? Bucky is already waiting for us outside."
"Good idea." Sam muttered and without saying goodbye, they all left the room.
"You don't plan to sign that document anymore?" Tony whispered to T'Challa.
"I might have realized that it would be wrong." T'Challa said thoughtfully.
"You could get in trouble as well if you refuse." Steve reminded him.
T'Challa laughed. "Wakanda can look after itself. Don't worry about us. You, on the other hand, should be careful from now on."
"They won't lock us up." Tony said simply.
"How can you be so sure?"
"There might be this press conference in a few days..." Tony grinned.
Now they all looked at him suspiciously. "What have you done, Tony?" Natasha asked.
"I didn't do anything." He emphasized. "Pepper, on the other hand, might have thought that it would be good to tell the world the whole story." He held up his hands. "I didn't know about it until a few hours ago!"
"Damn, that woman is smart." Sam noted.
"But will that work?" Steve asked doubtfully.
"It could." Rhodey sounded thoughtful. "We'll have to see."
T'Challa chuckled. "Maybe you will be alright after all." They had nearly reached the door and three people were waiting for them. Bucky, Happy and Everett Ross. When T'Challa saw Agent Ross, he smiled. "Would you excuse me? I want to talk to Mr. Ross in private before I head back to Wakanda."
Tony grinned at him. "Not at all." When he winked at T'Challa, Steve knew that something was going on between the future king of Wakanda and Everett Ross. He wondered if Tony and T'Challa had talked about it when he found them outside.
"I would say goodbye to all of you, but somehow, I have the feeling that we will see each other again." Everett Ross said.
"Thank you for your help." Steve held out his hand. "Without you, we wouldn't have been able to do this."
Ross chuckled. "It just nearly cost me my job, not a big deal."
"Don't forget that you got promoted." Tony threw in.
"Yes, still hard to believe that. I assume we'll keep in contact, Mr. Stark?"
Tony nodded. "Would make things easier for the future." They all shook Ross' hand. When Bucky was standing in front of him, Ross raised his eyebrows.
"I have to apologize for causing so much trouble." Bucky said seriously.
"It seems like it wasn't your fault." Ross said simply. "Just make sure that you get rid of this brain control or whatever it is."
"Dr. Banner is already thinking about it." Tony explained.
Ross nodded. "That's good. Now if you would excuse me? There's an important conversation that's waiting for me." His eyes wandered to T'Challa.
After saying goodbye one last time, they all left the building. Tony reached for Steve's hand and he squeezed it.
"I can't believe that this really worked." Steve said. "I really thought that they would force us to sign the Accords or try to lock us up."
"Pepper is a genius." Tony grinned. "She organized things very well."
"Remind me to buy her flowers for this."
Tony laughed. "I think flowers alone wouldn't be enough. But don't worry, she doesn't want anything. I offered to buy her things very often when she accepted to become CEO of Stark Industries, but she always declined."
"She's too modest." Steve muttered.
"Please don't let her hear that." Tony begged.
"Anything you want." Steve answered with a smile.
Two weeks had passed since their return from Europe. The interview with the press had been a full success and soon, the entire world had protested against the Sokovia Accords. The UN couldn't do anything when the Avengers, as well as king T'Challa of Wakanda, refused to sign the document.
Bucky was living in the Avengers compound now and he got along well with the team. Especially Wanda seemed to like him very much. Tony and Bruce were working on a way to stop Hydra's mind control on Bucky. Since they had the diary about the Winter Soldier, they were getting closer to succeeding with each day.
Next to that, Tony had discovered something interesting when he'd visited the tower in New York a few days ago. Or someone, to be more exact. Actually, he just wanted to visit Agent Hill and inform her about the things they had found out in Siberia. However, something else caught his attention.
Peter Parker was a kid with very special abilities. He called himself Spiderman and Tony had been fascinated by him immediately. He didn't talk to him yet and was still watching his steps closely, but Steve knew that he wanted to contact him soon. And honestly, he also would like to meet the kid. He'd never seen powers like his before. Maybe he would be a good addition to the team someday.
Right now, Tony and Steve were standing on the roof of the Avengers compound and looked at the stars. It was a beautiful night and Steve wondered why they didn't do this more often. "I'm glad that it's over." He said into the silence between them.
"Those Accords would have destroyed everything you're fighting for." Tony noted.
He nodded. "First, I really thought that you planned to sign them."
Tony chuckled. "I could never do that to you. We're a team."
"But you considered it."
"For about three pitiful seconds." Tony ran a hand through his hair. "It would have prevented trouble."
"No, it wouldn't." Steve argued softly. "Bucky would have attacked in Vienna anyway, so it wouldn't have changed anything."
"Probably, you're right." Tony admitted. "I'm sorry for being such an ass about Bucky."
"Language." Steve scolded him and pulled Tony closer. "You don't have to apologize. I have been unfair to you. Once Bucky showed up again, he was all I could think of."
"He's everything that's left of your past, I get it."
"But it's not the past that counts. It's this, right here and now. You are the most important person in my life, Tony." He sighed. "I heard your conversation with T'Challa when you talked about Bucky."
Tony nodded. "I've been wondering how much you heard of that."
"Most of it." He admitted. "I didn't want to listen, but then you mentioned Bucky's name and I couldn't help it." He hesitated. "Would you really have done anything to make sure that Bucky could stay with us just to make me happy?"
"Steve..." Tony began slowly. "Yes. Yes, I would."
"But you didn't even like him."
"Didn't matter. I couldn't be this unfair to you. He's so important to you. I would have understood if you'd have chosen him instead of me." While saying that, Tony didn't look into his eyes.
"What? Tony, you know that I never saw Bucky like this!" He exclaimed.
"I always had the feeling that he was standing between us." Tony admitted. "I know that I was being stupid, but..."
"I never wanted you to feel this way." Steve whispered sadly. "I'm so sorry, Tony. Really." He touched his cheek carefully and forced Tony to look at him again. "I love you. With all my heart."
Tony smiled. "I love you too."
They leaned in slowly and kissed each other. It was a reassuring kiss, with no passion at all. When they parted, Tony smiled. "Steve, there's something I wanted to tell you for some time by now, but it never seemed to be the right moment."
He looked at Tony curiously, but didn't say anything. What did his lover want to tell him?
"You already know that I've grown up hearing stories about you. My dad was your biggest fan." He rolled his eyes. "I hated you for this. Steve here, Steve there. You were more important to him than his own son." Steve wanted to protest, but he kept his mouth shut. "The first time we met, I wasn't very nice to you, I know that. I couldn't help it, though. Took me some time to realize that you're not that bad, after all." He grinned.
"Do you know how shocked I was when I first realized that I liked you? And not just as a friend. I mean when I realized that I was attracted to Captain America." His eyes wandered over Steve's body and landed on his face again. "Everyone knows that you're beautiful, but I also enjoyed your company. With you, it's always so easy. Even after all this time together, that didn't change. However, I couldn't figure out a way to tell you about my feelings. I knew that you were attracted to men, but that didn't have to mean anything."
Steve chuckled softly. "No, of course not. You're just the most beautiful man I've ever seen. And I spent so much time with you."
"You also didn't say anything!" Tony protested.
"Seems like we've both been stupid." He still wondered where this conversation was heading.
"Yeah, took us some time to get together." Tony agreed. "But ever since, I'm the luckiest guy in this world. Of course we have our ups and downs, but I wouldn't miss any of that. I love you, Steve. With you, I always feel stronger. You make me feel complete." He swallowed. "All those events with Bucky... I feared that it would tear us apart. That I'd lose you."
"You could never lose me." Steve whispered softly. "Though I feared the same..."
"I would have done everything for you." Tony told him.
"I know. But you shouldn't give up yourself for me."
"Then it's good that everything turned out alright and that I actually like Bucky." Tony noted and chuckled. "Makes things much easier."
"It does." Steve agreed.
Tony took a deep breath. "I never thought that I would do this." He laughed breathlessly and Steve realized that he was very nervous. Tony reached for something in his pocket and knelt down in front of him. "Steve Rogers, Captain America, the love of my life. I know that I don't want to spend a single day of my life without you. Will you marry me?"
Steve had expected anything, but not this. He stared at Tony and felt his eyes getting wet. He couldn't believe it. This amazing man wanted to marry him? "Yes, Tony." He whispered and more tears started to fall.
He grabbed Tony's shoulders and pulled him to his feet. Tony made a surprised noise and Steve already feared that he'd hurt him while using too much strength, but then Tony wrapped his arms around Steve's shoulders and kissed him passionately. Steve kissed him back eagerly.
When they parted, he noticed that Tony was crying as well. "I love you." He whispered.
"I love you too, Tony."
Then Tony reached for the ring in the box and handed it to Steve. It was a plain silver ring with a golden stripe in the middle. It fit perfectly, but Steve didn't expect anything else. Once it was on his finger, Steve pulled Tony closer and kissed him again.
"Maybe we should go inside." Tony suggested breathlessly.
"Good idea." Steve agreed and lifted Tony up. He chuckled when his lover gasped in surprise.
Once they reached the bedroom and kicked the door shut behind them, Steve threw Tony onto the bed. Tony laughed and pushed him down onto the mattress with a mischievous grin on his lips. "The things I'm going to do to you." He whispered and Steve shivered.
Then Tony's hands were under his shirt and he kissed him eagerly. They undressed each other quickly, desperate for skin-to-skin contact. In the process, Steve ripped Tony's shirt, but the other man only laughed and pointed out that he had enough of them.
"I still can't believe you're mine." Tony whispered when his eyes wandered over Steve's body hungrily.
"All yours." Steve agreed. "And you're mine."
"Forever." Tony whispered and kissed him again.
That night, they didn't get much sleep. When they entered the kitchen the next morning, the other Avengers weren't surprised to see the ring on Steve's finger. They all congratulated them and to Steve's surprise, Bucky was the first one to hug Tony. "Well done." He whispered to him and Steve grinned.
They didn't sign the Accords which meant that the Avengers were still free to act as they wanted. Bucky was back and declared innocent.
But most importantly, Steve was going to marry the most amazing man in this world.
He couldn't be happier.
The scene with Everett Ross and Thaddeus Ross was quite interesting to write! I couldn't always just say Ross, that would have been confusing. Two characters with the same last name in a seen is quite disadvantageous.
You might have also noticed that I love writing T'Challa and Everett Ross together. Who knows, maybe they'll get their own story in the future?
I'll write a sequel to this, focused on Tony and Steve , though I can't tell you when I'll publish it yet. However, I'll write it, I promise!