[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 20 Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe Rating: R Notes: Yes, you can totally toast with food. Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 20: Without Us Breaking Down Author:yuuo Word Count: 5017 Summary:Bucky was already seated at the table nearest the kitchen, waiting for the cupcakes to cool enough to be frosted, when the first of the others filtered back.
here's to us here's to love all the times that we fucked up here's to you fill the glass 'cause the last few days have kicked my ass so let's give 'em hell wish everybody well here's to us here's to us -Halestorm
Bucky was already seated at the table nearest the kitchen, waiting for the cupcakes to cool enough to be frosted, when the first of the others filtered back. Bruce had returned almost immediately, giving Bucky his tools. Sharon was first in, looking artificially awake.
"There's coffee brewed," Bruce said, motioning to the kitchen. "Leave the cupcakes for later, they're still cooling and Bucky says nobody gets to ask about them."
"Damn right," Bucky said, too distracted by the recorder to put a lot of emotion into that. He'd let Bruce handle that for now. With a disgusted noise of frustration, he rested his forehead on the back of his wrist, keeping his tools and glove away from his face. "She really did a number on this thing."
"Who did what?" Sharon asked, walking back in with a cup of coffee that smelled brewed way too strong to be healthy for a normal human.
Bucky waved at the recorder. "Kitty had a tantrum last night and threw the recorder across the room. I can fix this, as long as nothing's melted, and I'm not finding anything out of the norm here, but she also flash-fried the camera downstairs."
Sharon sat down next to Bruce, hiding a sneer behind her cup. "You know, when I was her age, if I ruined someone else's toys, I was grounded for a month."
Bucky thought he heard something else in that statement, something in her voice that sounded very unsurprised about the melted camera and the broken recorder. He let it go- she had just woken up, and they were all starting to expect bad behavior out of Kitty.
"And I was hit with a switch," he said, going back to work. "Neither of which we can do with this particular kid."
"That seems a little extreme," Sharon said. She set down her mug. "Okay, since we have a camera that's no good and a recorder that's temporarily no good, that leaves me with only one thing I can really ask about. What's with the cupcakes?"
"No one gets to ask," Bucky reminded her. "I'll explain later, after food, this is fixed, and everyone's down here, not in that order."
"I smell cake," Maria said, joining them about then. "So this is what you meant by having baking to do."
Bucky held up a finger with a sharp 'shht.' "Those are secret, they remain secret. Go get something to drink while I fix this."
"Not much of a secret when we can smell them," Maria said, passing by the table to the kitchen. "Should I start breakfast? Steve shouldn't be far behind us."
"I'm not," Steve said, entering. "Okay, what happened to that camera and what am I smelling?"
"Coffee," Sharon said, sipping hers.
Bucky turned his head back towards the kitchen. "Maria, would you bring Steve a cup of tea?" Then he pointed a tiny screwdriver at Steve. "You, sit." When Steve looked geared up for an argument, Bucky sighed and pointed to the spot next to Sharon. "Steve, please. Sit down. Explanations forthcoming, but not until everyone's seated and has something to drink."
"Since I already know," Bruce said, getting up. "I'm going to take my turn at cooking breakfast. You can catch the others up on Kitty's bad behavior."
Steve groaned. "What else did she do?"
Bucky tilted the piece of recorder he was working on up. "You mean besides this?"
Maria joined them with a cup of coffee. "Bruce is watching the kettle for your tea, Steve," she said quietly, between Sharon and Bucky.
"Thank you," Steve said, barely taking his attention off the recorder. "So can you fix that?"
"Doing it now," Bucky said, going back to his work.
"Okay, so Steve knows what happened to that thing," Maria said. "How about sharing with the class?"
Steve sat back, crossing his arms. "Bucky and I were talking in here last night," he said. "Good talk, no yelling, before either of you worry."
"I knew about that. You two ended up on the couches," Maria said.
Sharon looked at her, then between Steve and Bucky. "Really?" She looked pleased by this, a small and hopeful smile on her face.
"Mmhmm," Steve replied. "It's a start." Then he motioned to Bucky, or rather, the recorder. "Kitty apparently didn't like us talking over her, so she let us know by sending a big spark through the wires to behind the picture. Shock exploded out from behind it. The picture was toast, and that hit the opposite wall."
Sharon tilted back to look at the wall. "I don't see any damage. Did she fix it again?"
"Immediately," Steve said. "At least she cleans up after herself."
Maria sighed, setting down her coffee and resting her forehead in her hands. "Please tell me the IR camera picked up something."
"That's the second problem," Bucky said, still distracted. He forced himself to stop and look up at her. "She hit that, too. It's a pile of melted plastic. I dunno what got under her skin, but it really annoyed her."
"I'm beginning to wonder if we should tell Tony this place isn't safe until he can figure out how to exorcise her," Maria said, then glanced upwards. "Or until he finds a way to convince her to leave us alone."
Bucky went back to the recorder. "That last one we can do ourselves," he said. "We just gotta find out what she wants to say besides 'wah wah I dun wanna!' when asked. We'll try this one more time, maybe just leave it out during the day, somewhere we don't tend to go, then tonight at dinner, listen to it."
"Out in the atrium, maybe?" Sharon said. "Or a classroom? We tend to stick to in here or the lounge, so those places are out."
"And I don't think the uniform room or any other room with a lot of electronic equipment we rely on would be a good idea," Maria added. "If she throws another temper fit, we can't afford for her to fry the locks on our uniforms so we can't get to them."
"Or our main computers in the watch tower."
Bucky wasn't quite done when he spoke up, interrupting the flow of the conversation. They'd have to deal with it. "Can someone run up to the work room and get me the electronics tape? It's thin, black, should be in the table drawers on the right side of the workbench, middle drawer."
"I'll do it," Steve said, getting up. "But only if I get to find out what you were baking in there."
"Everyone gets to know after breakfast. Go get me my tape."
With a frustrated noise directed at Bucky, Steve headed out of the cafeteria.
"It's a birthday cake for Steve, isn't it?" Maria asked. "It's the Fourth, that's his birthday."
Bucky scowled at her, not lifting his head from being bent over the recorder. "Everyone gets to find out after breakfast, and that is the story you stick with when Steve's around, got it?"
"I lost track of the date," Sharon said. "I forgot it was the Fourth. Too bad we don't have a grill, I do a pretty mean hamburger on the grill."
"Steve doesn't like being fed traditional Fourth of July foods," Bucky said, going back to fiddling with the last of the circuits in the recorder. "And no, it's not a cake. He hates those, too. He prefers to not be reminded of his birthday. Too many jokes to be made after he became Captain America."
He straightened, stretching his back until he felt something pop between his shoulder blades. "And I'm not a hundred percent certain acknowledging it at all is going to go over well this year. It's not been an easy few months for us."
Then he dropped his arms, setting down the tools in his hands, then took off his left glove. "And he's old. We senior citizens don't like being reminded of our ages."
Maria propped her chin on her fist, looking at Sharon. "You could always make him feel young again."
Sharon wrinkled her nose in annoyance. "He remembers me well enough, I think. We've been going over a lot of things, there aren't many holes left for us. But he still insists on waiting. I think I'm going to be wearing a diamond before he sleeps with me."
Bucky waved one arm at the door that Steve retreated through. "I'm not in there right now, you could always try to convince him to let you sleep with him in the literal sense. Might make him sleep a bit better right now. But yeah, you'll be wearing a ring before anything else, I think. He was raised Catholic, that little 'abstinence before marriage' thing probably isn't going away any time soon."
Sharon sat back and crossed her arms. "I just had to pick the good boy, didn't I?"
"You love him for it."
"Lucky for him."
Steve returned, just in time to have missed that little conversation, with tape in hand. "Here's your tape, Bucky."
"Thank you." He took it from Steve's offered hand, then started taping the two pieces of the recorder together, carefully matching up the insides before putting the tape into place.
Once the recorder was back in one piece, he held up, frowning as he judged if it was actually ready for testing, or if he should open it back up and check again. He finally decided to test it, turned on record, and held it out to Maria. "Say something for me."
Maria stared at the recorder, quirking one eyebrow, then looked past it at him. "You should know that if you wave something in my face without permission, I am likely to bite."
Bucky slowly pulled the recorder back, staring at her as horror swept through his brain. He clicked stop. "You're terrifying."
"I try to be."
Bucky shook his head, then hit playback on the recorder. Maria's frightening warning came through loud and clear, but Bucky's voice before that was a bit garbled from the distance between him and Maria. He swore. "Okay, so it still needs some work." He turned it off and set it down. "Later." He leaned back towards the kitchen. "Hey, Bruce, how's that thing that nobody gets to know about yet coming?"
"You can come commence Phase II if you want," Bruce called back. "You'll be done just in time for breakfast."
"Perfect." Getting to his feet, Bucky pointed his finger at Steve, but looked around at both of the girls, too. "Nobody enters that kitchen, understood? I will throw pots and pans at the person who does."
Steve held up his hands in surrender. "I know when not to go into the kitchen," he said. "Go commence Phase II."
"As long as it's not old Hydra weapons," Maria said.
Steve groaned. "I thought that sounded familiar."
"The only former Hydra weapon around here is me," Bucky said, then looked very pointedly at Steve. "Emphasis on former. So relax, there's no death involved."
Steve didn't look particularly impressed with the Hydra joke, if one could call it that, but he didn't say anything about it. Too soon. Bucky hadn't been thinking when he said it until it'd already been said. He'd tried to save it, but it didn't look like he had.
Dear brain, stop and think occasionally.
Retreating into the kitchen, Bucky felt the compelling need to stop at the closest wall where he wouldn't be seen by the others and beat his head against it. So he did.
"I heard," Bruce said, voice quiet, startling a few years off of Bucky's lifespan. "I think any other time, it would've been okay, so don't feel bad. Old habits."
Bucky sighed, thunking his head one last time on the wall and leaving it there. "I'm an idiot."
"Not necessarily," Bruce said, turning back to whatever he was making. It smelled good, whatever it was, and whatever it was included some sort of bread that was cooling on the counter next to the stove. "I make jokes like that about the Other Guy sometimes. Makes it easier to deal with him." He motioned to Bucky. "Come take care of that frosting."
Reluctantly, Bucky walked away from the wall and counted out the cupcakes, saving one back for the not-pink frosting, then divided the rest out. There was an odd number, and looking at how much blue frosting compared to white frosting there was, white got the extra cupcake.
He was done with the blue and just turning to the white cupcakes when Bruce spoke up, once again doing bad things to Bucky's strung tight nerves. "You might wanna hurry up," Bruce said. "Breakfast is almost done."
Bucky picked up his pace, setting aside the unhappy feeling and the images and colors in his head that were accompanying it, pausing only to look over at the stove. "What're you making, anyway?"
"Misal Pav," Bruce said. "It's normally spicy, but I'm being considerate of Sharon's stomach and cutting out quite a bit. Really wish I could share the backwater stuff, but I don't think she could handle it."
"She's got an abnormally sensitive stomach," Bucky agreed with only half focus, most of his attention on hurrying with the cupcakes.
Bruce made a noise that neither agreed nor disagreed. "Sharon had her gallbladder removed when she was sixteen. Some people who have problems with their gallbladders, or have had them removed, sometimes have trouble with spicy foods. There's more to it with her, I'm sure, but that doesn't help."
Bucky shook his head, setting down another frosted cupcake on a serving tray. "Once again, I marvel at how crazy our species is. We survive removing an entire digestive tract organ and just avoid spicy foods afterwards."
Bruce smiled, grabbing a bowl and holding it over the pan while dishing a portion of food into it. "And just think, there are people who purposely have half their stomach sectioned off so they can lose weight."
"Humans are nuts," Bucky said. He looked at Bruce. "Just take my bowl out, I'm almost done here. My food won't be cold before I'm done."
"I'll just leave your bowl in here for you to carry out yourself."
Bucky watched as Bruce balanced the other four bowls in his hands- Bucky was sure Bruce had to have worked as a waiter at some point -and maneuvered around Bucky to the kitchen door.
"Jesus, Bruce, you could've had Bucky help you," Sharon's voice came floating into the kitchen.
"He's finishing up in there," Bruce replied. "Take one of these bowls, please."
There was a couple thumps with the distinctive sound of glass getting hit, then a scrape of chair, then two more thumps.
"So what's he doing in there?" Steve asked.
"I can't tell you," Bruce said. "Doctor-patient confidentiality."
"What did he do, bake someone's spleen?"
Bucky paused, bowing his head, shoulders shaking with the effort keep his laughter silent. Oh Steve.
"Uh, no, not the spleen."
Bruce. Please. Trying to finish frosting cupcakes. Stop that.
"You'll find out when you find out," Bucky called back into the dining room, setting down the second to last cupcake, fully frosted.
"That's no fair!" Sharon called back. "You made something that smells yummy."
Good acting, Sharon. No wonder you managed to play bodyguard twice for so long to Steve without being caught.
Bucky finished frosting the last cupcake and set the tray aside. Just Steve's left. "Deal with it," he said, digging into the tiny bit of not-pink frosting. His breakfast was taunting him, sitting next to him and smelling delicious. His stomach prompted him to hurry up.
Yeah, yeah, three seconds. Don't stage a mutiny here.
The not-pink cupcake frosted and set aside from the others, Bucky grabbed his bowl with the piece of bread or whatever that was floating on top of it, and left the kitchen to join the others. "You all have no patience," he grumbled, taking a seat next to Maria.
"I was being patient," Maria said, raising an eyebrow in his direction.
"You get served second, then," Bucky said, starting to eat before his food stopped steaming.
"Second. Now eat."
Steve gave him a suspicious look, more certain than not, and Bucky would be surprised if Steve had already figured out what he'd made and why. He had to have looked at his phone to know the time at some point that morning; if he'd missed the date, he was blind or willfully ignoring it.
Oh well. At least he was playing along. Which told Bucky that the gesture was welcome, or at least not unwelcome.
Sharon made an appreciative noise. "So I'm gonna guess by the flavor that this is Indian food," she said. "It's good, and it's not spicy, so it's not going to make me suffer. Lemme guess, there used to be four different types of chilis in here?"
Bruce chuckled around a bite of food. He swallowed before answering, and that swallow sounded like it was taking some effort with that laugh choking it. "The original recipe called for chili powder, yes. There were other things in there."
"They make such good food in India," Sharon said. "But they apparently love to destroy their insides with it."
"Not everything over there is spicy," Bruce said. "Native cultures just work with what they have and some areas have spicier local flora and fauna than other places. This particular version of Misal Pav is fairly mainstream and watered down for tourists. I know a recipe I got from a woman whose son had been sick. I got called in, got him through a horrible case of the norovirus, he wasn't keeping anything in and he was getting dangerously dehydrated. She gave me her family's recipe as thanks, since she didn't have money." He gave Sharon an amused look. "It would destroy you in seconds."
Sharon stopped and poked at her bowl's contents with her spoon. "I have no doubt about that," she said. "What'd she put in there, Satan's breath?"
While Bucky smothered a laugh and Steve just rested his forehead on his hand and didn't bother smothering his laughter, Maria actually outright choked on her food, forced to drop her spoon back into her bowl and pound her fist against her chest and cough hard enough that Bucky was shocked food didn't follow that horrible noise up.
"Not going to die on us?" he asked, like the amazingly sympathetic boyfriend that he was.
Maria nodded, face red, coughed a couple more times, inhaled a large breath, then exhaled it slowly. Then she pointed at Sharon. "How many times have I told you not to do that to me?"
Sharon looked not one bit apologetic. "I wasn't looking at you, I didn't know you were in the middle of a bite this time!"
"You do it on purpose often enough," Maria grumbled, looking back at her food like it was suddenly the enemy.
Steve looked between them, spoon halfway to his mouth. "What's this about?"
Since Sharon seemed to only want to smile smugly and go back to food, Maria did him (and Bucky, who was equally curious) a favor and explained. "When we visit each others' apartments for dinner, she has this routine she thinks is funny where she says something like that while I'm in the middle of a bite, just to try to make me choke."
Steve gave Sharon a mock scolding look. "You are a bad woman."
Bucky sincerely hoped that Sharon would take that opening.
She flashed an evil smile and bedroom eyes at Steve. "I could show you how bad I am. It's your birthday after all."
She did. Good girl. You don't disappoint.
Steve didn't answer at first, staring her down like there was some sort of battle of wills going on that was probably just Steve's brain deciding if he remembered enough to argue with his Catholic upbringing.
"You might wanna take her up on her offer," Bucky said, acting like he was barely paying attention, but his focus was on every word and policing his tone, trying to make sure he didn't overstep boundaries that were still in place that hadn't been there once upon a time. "I'm not planning on living with Maria forever, you might not get another chance for awhile."
Sharon leaned over to rest her head on Steve's shoulder and bat her eyelashes up at him. "I'll be nice, I promise. I'll break out the gags later."
"Okay, I think that is now a hard no," Steve said, lifting his shoulder to push her back into a sitting position. He took another bite, then pointed his spoon at her. "You sabotage your attempts at seducing me all on your own with jokes like that."
She stuck out her lower lip. "It was just a joke," she said, laying on the pouting routine thick. Bucky had to resist the urge to laugh. At Steve's incredulous look, she dropped the pout and gave him a real frown of frustration. "Steve, you're not Catholic anymore and I'm not hearing or seeing any signs of a ring coming my way. At this rate, I'm going to buy a star spangled vibrator and call it Cap."
Bucky was not the only one at that table trying really, really, really hard not to laugh at that.
Steve, for his part, had to put his spoon back into his almost empty bowl and prop his head on his hand, peeking out at her from between splayed fingers. "The worst part here is that I think you would," he said. He sighed, dropping his hand. "I'll think about it. Bucky's right, I'm not gonna have privacy in there much longer."
"There's always my room," Sharon pointed out. "Not to put your decision off longer."
"Can we possibly not discuss this with the others?"
"Steve?" Bruce said. "We've been talking about each others' intimate lives with each other almost since you moved to the Tower. Believe me, this is nothing we haven't all heard a thousand times."
Steve stared at him blankly a second, frowned, then shook his head once in surrender. "We have, haven't we? All right, conversation continues then."
"Oh good," Sharon said. "Because I want to promise I really will be nice to the cute virgin."
Steve gave her a look of great consternation. "You make me tired, Sharon."
"Actually," Maria interrupted, "with a super soldier's endurance, you'll probably make her tired long before she tires you out."
Steve looked between her and Bucky a few times. "Okay, conversation over." He looked at his bowl. "And I think breakfast over, too, actually." He looked at Bucky. "When do I get whatever you made in there?"
"As soon as everyone tells me they're up for a bit more food," Bucky said. "Since you know what I made is food. I don't want anyone to feel guilty for not being able to eat any of what I made. We'll wait until later in that case."
"I have room for dessert," Maria said.
"I was careful about portions," Bruce said, standing. "I knew there'd be anarchy if what you made wasn't brought out as soon as possible. So we should all have room."
Bucky stood up. "You're a wise man, Bruce," he said, grabbing his empty bowl and Maria's. "We'll get the breakfast mess cleaned, then I'll present my baked goods. They're damn good baked goods, so I expect worship and praise afterwards."
"Just go get them, Bucky," Steve said. "Before your ego rages out of control."
That earned him a cranky look. "I'll make sure you get fed last," Bucky said, not at all meaning that. Steve got his not-pink cupcake first.
"I'm sure I'll live," Steve said, handing his bowl to Bruce.
"Only if I let you," Bucky muttered under his breath, entering the kitchen before the words were out of his mouth. He pointed at the not-pink cupcake when Bruce came in and looked at him. "He says one word about that being pink, I'm beating him with a sock full of marbles."
Bruce pursed his lips in an attempt not to laugh that was only half successful. "You better go find those marbles then," he said, heading to the dishwasher.
Bucky followed. "It's red," he grumbled.
"Not really," Bruce said, loading the dishes he had into the dishwasher. "It's not really red. Not quite that pastel shade of pink it started at, though."
"Hmph. It's not pink." Bucky helped Bruce with the rest of the dishes, then straightened from leaning over the dishwasher's bottom rack. His back cracked in the process. "Think you can get the serving plates with the blue and white cupcakes?" he asked. "I'll take the red one in to Steve." Then he frowned. "And it's red, not pink."
"Of course it isn't," Bruce said, then frowned. "Do your joints usually pop like that? I'd think someone with your physiology wouldn't need to crack their joints."
Bucky shrugged. "Just my back. It's not that the bones in my spine are weaker than the rest of me, I just like cracking my back."
"Yes, but how does it get out of alignment to crack back into position?"
"Because I shift to move them on purpose," Bucky said, turning to the cupboard to get out a saucer to put Steve's not-pink cupcake on. "Like I said, I just like the feeling of my back cracking. Leaves the muscles feeling relaxed."
Bruce stepped over next to him and picked up one of the serving platters. "I didn't realize you had that sort of control over your muscles to purposely move your vertebrae around."
Bucky glanced at him. "You think Hydra wouldn't give me that kind of control?"
"I didn't think it was possible," Bruce said. "But then, you like to defy what I think is possible."
Bucky turned to him fully, leaning on the counter with Steve's not-pink cupcake in one hand. "Bruce, you turn into a green rage monster when you get too upset, but a super soldier being able to flex his back muscles in a way that shifts his back out of alignment purely for the sake of getting to crack the bones back into place is somehow not possible?"
Bruce stared at him. Then he scowled, and picked up the other cupcake platter. "You know, the doctor's supposed to be the right one here."
Bucky shook his head. "I know my body better than you, Bruce. Now, if we're done discussing my body's weirdness, I'm going to go give Steve his red and not pink cupcake and you can follow with the others."
Bruce grumped at him, but motioned for Bucky to move and go first.
Argument won and a smug grin on his face, Bucky headed back out into the cafeteria. "Okay, everyone can quit bitching that I'm not sharing my baked goods," he said, walking around the table to get to Steve. He set the saucer down in front of him. "And I'm not singing happy birthday to you, but happy birthday."
Nobody seemed to be paying attention to the cupcakes Bruce set down; even Bruce seemed to have his focus on Steve more than the cupcakes. While Bucky was forcing his tone and body language to be as relaxed as possible, inside he was on edge. One night of talking and then sleeping on the couches wasn't necessarily the end of the fighting. In fact, far from it. There was still a major hurdle for them to get over, notably Steve, but Bucky wasn't without guilt.
Which made the offering of baked goodies as a birthday present a potentially dangerous thing to do.
Steve stared at the cupcake a moment, then looked up at Bucky. "You baked me a pink cupcake this year?"
Bucky sneered. That tone was all the old Steve, so he felt comfortable throwing out some mock annoyance. "It's not pink. It's red. It took up all the red food dye to make that frosting red."
Steve scrunched his face, one eyebrow raising while the other went down into a look of incredulity. "Bucky, that's pink. I don't know where that food dye came from, but that's not red. It's pink."
"You should've seen the pastel color it was with only a few drops of dye," Bruce said, disrupting that teasing turning into genuine anger.
Steve looked back down at the cupcake. "Okay, this is closer to red than that," he agreed. "But it's still kinda pink."
"Not pink," Bucky argued.
Steve looked up at him out of the corner of his eye. "This is eighties pink."
"Red. Don't blame me that darker red requires something more than grocery store food dye. But it's red anyway. That's not pink."
Steve's gaze went back to his cupcake. Finally, he picked it up, peeled off the paper, and toasted Bucky with it, as if it were a glass of wine instead of a cupcake. "Not pink."
Bucky smiled. "Damn straight." He waved his hand over the platters that Bruce had sat down. "Okay, you can all have some. And yes, Steve, I did go for a red, white, and blue scheme this year. This is the first year I've had food dye for my frosting."
Steve made a pleased noise around a bite of cupcake. Before he even finished swallowing, he spoke up. "It's your buttercream frosting. Good, I was hoping it was when you brought this out."
Bucky patted his shoulder. "I knew it was your favorite. And you got extra compared to the other cupcakes. So happy birthday."
Finally swallowing, Steve once again lifted the cupcake slightly in Bucky's direction. "Thanks." He poised the cupcake to take another bite, glancing up at Bucky before doing so. "Just remember, I'm getting you back for the star spangled theme."
Bucky moved back around to sit. "So the star spangled man has a plan?"