1965-05-18 - Common Ground
Summary: Tony and Bucky bond during another night in the lab.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
bucky tony 


It's another night down in the lab. Tony's in his pullover and jeans. Sleeves rolled up, a look of intense focus on his face, he has just cleaned Bucky's arm, and now he's examining it with a small frown. "The trick is going to get an adhesive that will make the skin move like real skin, but you can take it off without leaving a bunch of residue that's going to gather gunk."

And Bucky's down to his jeans, shirt off, since even singlets obscure the graft line, and Tony might need to examine that. He's in the chair, comfortable enough for the moment. "Yeah, I was gonna ask about that. Because even with the cover to keep stuff from getting into it…..it'll have to be maintained."

"Yeah, we're going to have to be able to remove it," Tony says. "The nature of this stuff is getting into chemistry, and I know a chemist who's years ahead of his time. You know him, Parker? College kid, friendly neighborhood hero, eats like he's got a hollow leg? He's helping me out on this skin project. I'm just trying to figure out the best way of handling the removal and maintenance. Ideally, you should be able to take it on and off like a glove, but without something to fix it in place, it's going to mess up your grip and won't look quite as real as it should."

"I think I've met him," Buck says, uncertain. He ods. "Exactly. Maybe we could have a seam that hooks in to the plates. Or even under them," he suggests. "If it aligned specifically with them, rather than just sitting on top like a sleeve, it'd be less likely to slide around, maybe?" His hair's loose, for the moment, down around his shoulders.

"Maybe," Tony says. "I don't want anything messing with your freedom of motion, though." He looks around for notes. "I need to see what that kid's got so far on this. He was talking about a spray on skin that would close wounds. Great for the battlefield, not so much with you. Though a temporary skin that could be sprayed on would conform to your arm just about perfectly, and if it can be discarded and replaced, that's a problem solved. I just want to know if what he's got adheres to metal."

"Damn, Mr. ….Tony, can you imagine what he could accomplish with that?" Buck's momentarily starry-eyed at the thought. James Buchanan Universe. "I mean, for the guys out there now….we're gonna go to war in Vietnam I know it, and…." He trails off, returning to the problem at hand. His hand. "That might work. Disposable, usable for other purposes…."

Tony smiles, just a crooked tug of his lips, and he says, "That kid's going places. The way he described it to me, and the math checks out, we're looking at a lot of boys coming home alive and unmutilated. Then there's the prosthetics I'm working on that'll give those that lose a limb options. One day, there will be fully functioning robotic prosthetics just like this arm." He taps it with a knuckle. "Won't have to be a super soldier to make it work, either."

There's that smile again - he's gone from that grim cyborg assassin to Steve's old buddy, that grin of utter delight. "Man. Do whatever you need to to make that happen. I love the idea of this technology being turned around to fuck the Russians….sorry about that," he adds, blushing at that slip. No Steve here to scold him anyhow.

Tony's brows lift. "Sorry about what? Your sentiment is spot on. Relax, Barnes. My dad hung around soldiers. I've heard it all." He continues organizing notes. They do manage to get scattered around the place when he's in the midst of doing what he does. Casually, as if it's no big thing, he says, "I'm finishing off my weapons contracts and not renewing them. The whole company's going to shift toward the greater good. Prosthetics, body armor, means of survival, not killing."

That has Bucky pausing for a long silent while. Then, he says, clearly reluctantly, "…..I don't think you should do that. I mean, for what's worth. I'm not a scientist or a politician. But….this is cold of me, and Steve hates it when I say things like that, but we're going to need brains like yours behind offensive weapons."

"I'll do consulting," Tony says, "R&D if the price is right, but even though I know the war machine will just keep churning out more ways for people to blow each other up, my name won't be on those missiles. I'll continue to look for better ways to wage war for as long as people continue to do that sort of thing. I just won't be using resources in mass production. Those are resources I could use on better things."

His lips thin out, but then Buck inclines his head in assent. We'll see how long that lasts. "I'm glad," he says, finally. "I hope….I hope it'll make you more easy with yourself, if that makes sense?" Tony's getting the full on sad eyes from Buck, though he doesn't seem to realize he's doing it. Poor little cyborg feels for you, Tony.

Tony eyes that look, then drops his gaze to the notes in his hands. "Yeah, well," he says. "I have to wonder about how much of our boys coming back mangled would be from friendly fire. People get careless out there. Maybe I'll sleep better at night knowing the last thing they saw wasn't my name plastered on the thing that killed them. It's selfish, but at least what we build from here on out will help people."

He's still looking at Tony. There's the smile again, more tremulous now. "Good," he says. "YOu're going to revolutionize medical care, if you turn your talent that way."

Tony musters up a small smile. "Someone's got to work on the end part of war, what our boys come home to and how we take care of them. I just have a feeling it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better." He finally organizes the notes to his liking and sets them aside. "So what's your play? And Rogers', if this whole thing turns sideways? We can't just go after their guys."

"The Russians? I don't have a plan as yet," Buck confesses, wryly. "Still waiting on the wizard. And working on the kids themselves. I'm….really wary of how far we can go before we get nto formal act of war territory. Like I said, I got as far as I did last time b ecause a lot of the Russians thought I was still their agent."

"Yeah, well don't get caught," Tony says, giving Bucky a clap on the shoulder. "If they think we're sending our super guys against them, they'll send their super guys against us, then all the little guys suffer. But I don't need to tell you that."

Bucky notes, with a sort of wistful expression, "There's one of 'em I wish I could get to defect. He goes by Vanguard, and he's like….the one uncorrupt guy in Russia. They're gonna put him up against a wall and shoot him, I just know it."

"If you think you can get away with it, do it," Tony says. "It's not the guy's fault he was born over there. If he's a good guy, it's like you say, you might just be saving his life." He starts cleaning up the work benches, but then finds a bit of repulsor tech he left lying around, and he starts messing with it. "We can always use people in the know."

"Amen," Buck says, getting up to put on his t-shirt. "I kinna wanna see what your suit'd do to Omega Red, but if we got to that point of conflict, we really would be in World War Three territor." He looks grim again.

Tony looks up from his gadget to watch Bucky. "Yeah, it's too bad we can't call time off to spar, but it doesn't work that way. Besides, I'm not sure I could hold back. Not after what those sons of bitches did." He glances down, and he resumes taking apart the doo-dad in his hands.

"I know I can't," Buck's voice is bleak. "And you know, that's really weird for me. …..I haven't fought angry hot in years. Winter….he doesn't get angry like that. HE fights to survive, if he's threatened, but he's not ideological. You can't offend him other than by fucking up. He has no morals. He stalks and kills cold. And in the war…..it wasn't like some boy's adventure, but we knew we were doing the right thing. This…..this is personal. My body. My kids."

Tony nods and says, "Yeah, when it's your body, it gets pretty damn personal." He rubs at the glowing blue disk visible through the thin fabric of his shirt. "I can't even imagine if they'd used my DNA to create children. I can barely see past what they did to me." He looks at Bucky. "I've found out I can fight pretty damn hot."

He looks to Tony, struggling for calm. "Yeah," he says. "I guess you'd know, if anyone would. How….how'd you get that, if you don't mind me asking? I don't know all your story. Just the stuff in the papers."

Tony is quiet a moment, studying Bucky. Then he starts messing with the repulsor tech, powerless in his hands without some connection to the arc reactor. "I was in Berlin," he says. "Just doing some business, shaking hands and being seen at a few parties. It should've been an unremarkable trip, but I got nabbed by the Soviets. They wanted me to work with them on a few projects. I said no. A few words were exchanged, a bullet, which shattered so it didn't kill me immediately. They left me to die amidst all this stuff they brought me to build their weapon. So I made this." He taps the blue disc again. "To keep the fragments of that bullet from reaching my heart. It keeps me alive. It powers my suit, and it's an interesting bit of tech. But I feel it, all the time, and I remember less and less what it was like when I didn't."

They've been trying to reach each other via kindness and common cause. But now there's that moment where there's that real resonance - Buck unthinkingly reaches out to touch that glowing circle, with gentle fingertips. "Yeah," he says, softly.

Tony blinks in surprise, but he sits quite still. Beneath the thin fabric of the pullover, the thrumming disc is cool and hard like glass in metal frames. He takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and he looks down at the reactor, then up to Bucky's face. His usual facade of wit is gone, if only for a moment. "I've always been the sort to feel alone in a crowd of people, but I knew in that moment there was no one coming to save me except myself."

It's the mortal hand he's touching Tony with, human fingertips. A nod at that. "I….there's part of me that's angry at Steve, sometimes. At SHIELD. At my old buddies. I know they all thought I was dead. It wasn't their fault. But….part of me wants to know why, if they were all such big heroes, they couldn't save me." He takes a breath. "That's not to say everyone didn't help. I've been shown so much goodness, especially considering what I've done. You, Steve, Kai, my boss, the Doctor, so many in SHIELD. My girl. But…..really, the first one to make a crack in all of it was Pepper. I'll owe her forever." That they have in common, too. Knowing that a certain redhead was too good for them, but loved them anyway.

Tony smiles as Pepper is mentioned, but without the snark mask, the pain in his eyes is a vicious and palpable thing. He glances down, and it's almost a mercy. "I think the worst part of it, worse than the bullet and cutting out pieces of myself to put this thing in, is how illuminating it was, just how alone I was. Strip away the parties, the women, the hangers on, and I was nothing. I was no one. Just some unlucky schmuck dying in a room somewhere. The press would care for as long as the story ran, and my shareholders would care until I got replaced."

"Jesus Christ," Bucky says, and there's a hint of the fond exasperation Tony's heard him use on Steve, when Steve is being particularly mulish. Then he's wrapping his arms around the engineer in a rough hug.

Tony starts as Bucky hugs him. He's not expecting it, and he's stiff and tense. He remains so for a moment, about to object to that exasperation, but then he just lets the gadget clatter to the work bench, and he hugs the soldier, hiding his face in his shoulder.

He can't hug most of the kids - so few will endure it. Like dogs who've only ever been beaten or kicked. Though a few do come for comfort.

James smells of warm metal and the solvents just used, of soap and shampoo and sweat and clean human. He simply holds Tony, gently, but firmly. Not restraining him if he tries to withdraw, of course. Steve's held him the same way, as has his girl. Time to pass on some of that comfort.

Tony doesn't smell like alchool, perhaps surprisingly, though that might change after a night like tonight. Feeling things this deeply, while this connected to someone, it's bound to shake him. He continues to hug Bucky, though. Some dim part of him remembers what it's like to be comforted. His mother, though she would never fully understand his mind, didn't need to to just be there.

His voice is rough as he says, quietly, "I shouldn't let it get to me. It happened a long time ago. But I wake up sometimes, shaking, because I can still feel my flesh coming off as I cut it away."

"I remember them taking the rest of my arm. I had it nearly down to the elbow, they didn't have to do what they did, weave it into my body like this," His voice is quiet. "They didn't use painkiller. They sedated me so I couldn't fight, and I passed out from the pain a few times. But….I remember it. It still gets to me." His voice is tight with misery. "So there's no should or shouldn't. It is what it is. Neither you nor I can ever forget. Not when we wake up and go to sleep with these things in us. Things that other people put there."

Tony hugs Bucky tighter as he listens. "Yeah, when you're working with nerves, you can't block what they're feeling." Because it was that cold of a decision, the scientist in him knows this. "I couldn't use anything that would cloud my mind. Didn't have it anyway." He lets out a shaky breath. "Rogers is the best guy you'll ever find, but he doesn't get it. He got to choose what happened to him."

He lays his human hand on Tony's hair, lightly. "Exactly. One of Zola's guys told me that, later." A little laughter. "Exactly. Steve's been hurt, he's fought and lost, but he's never had his self taken away from him. He's never been helpless like that. His choice…..you didn't know him before it. He was the ricketiest little runt you ever saw. When I shipped out for Europe, I was genuinely afraid Steve was gonna get sick and die while I was there. When he stopped writing because they intercepted his letters…..I thought he had, for a while."

Tony laughs a little and says, "Yeah, Dad said he was a little thing. He wasn't sure he'd survive the procedure." He's relaxed now, just holding onto someone reaching out to him. For the moment, that angry, gnawing loneliness is held at bay. "Man, he's so bullheaded. I don't know what I'm going to do with him."

No hesitation, no shame in it. Buck's learned ( in hard schools, indeed) the value of touch without pain or the assumption of sex. "Be patient,," he says, with an almost whimsical lilt to his tone. "He comes around eventually, when it's right. When he has to. I know he's like a goddamned stump, but even his roots can be pried up eventually."

There is something freeing about that, touch without pain or assumption. He draws away only slowly, when it's natural to do so, though he retains the relaxation he's gained. "It's a good thing he's a good man," he says. "Though I guess he wouldn't have the job if he wasn't."

"HE wouldn't. He's always been that way. I had to rescue him from so many fights, because he could not stand to see anyone bullied. Couldn't deal….and he couldn't fight for shit. Guess who ended up defending him?" He cocks a bright eye at Tony.

Tony laughs quietly, his shoulders shaking. "Oh, that's rich. That's a mental image that'll keep me warm for a long time. Cap couldn't fight. So how did he respond to the new bod? Did he ever say? That's got to be jarring, coming to and you're not like yourself anymore."

"I never have asked him. He seems so comfortable with it. Like he's what he always knew he was meant to be. Watch the way he moves when he trains or fights - he's not just strong and fast. He's *sure*. He's precise. He knows it. Admittedly, I didn't see him when he was first changed and training, but…." HE trails off. "He couldn't fight for shit as a kid," Buck reiterates, shaking his head. "Me….it was different. It was in stages. I didn't realize, at first, that Zola had succeeded. I thought all the muscle I put on during the war was from training and fighting."

"Maybe he was trying to fight with a body he didn't have," Tony says. "I had to learn how to fight before fighting in the suit. Fortunately, I had a trainer. One of my hobbies, growing up, when I wasn't taking apart things in my dad's lab. In fact that's probably why he got me the trainer, to keep me out of his hair for a few hours a week." He looks to the gadget on the work bench. "I never had to hit anyone, though. Not until that night in Berlin. I didn't do too badly. There were just more of them."

Bucky gives him an upnod at that. "I bet not. It's not like the movies. Numbers will getcha, almost every time. Believe me, I know." How many times did he have to run that gauntlet in training? How many times did he have to fight until beaten down, as man or beast? "You should train with me and Steve, sometime. It'd be good for you."

Tony holds up his hands and says, "You two are super soldiers. I'm just a guy with a suit. I don't mind going through maneuvers, but the moment you put any punch behind them, I go flying. Sparring with the shit on, though, that could be interesting."

His eyes gleam at the prospect. "THat could," he agrees. "I'd love to see you go up agains Steve and the shield with tha."

Tony smiles slowly. "Sure, I'll go up against Cap. Loser buys a round? Isn't that how these things usually go? You can be the judge. Maybe you and I can have a go. I'm interested to see what that arm can do."

"You're on," Buck retorts, without hesitation. "I bet I can get Steve to at least give it a try. And sure, I'd like a go, myself."

"Tell him it's for the good of the team," Tony says. "He won't believe it if I say that, but if it's coming from you…" He clasps his hands together and says, "Hey, let me see what kind of weapons you're working with these days. I wonder what I can do to soup them up."

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