The room was dead quiet. The SHIELD agents were standing around the room looking completely confused, while the ones holding Bucky seemed to be unsure if they really needed to be holding him anymore. Even Clint had stopped groaning and was staring at Tony, who had his arms crossed and a determined expression on his face. Fury stared right back, making the tension in the room skyrocket.
It was Steve who broke the silence.
"Tony, are you serious?"
"Of course, Cap," Tony replied seriously. "I get why Nick over here wants to lock up Adamantium-Arm over here, but it's not for any good reasons."
"It's Bucky," Bucky muttered, but no one heard him.
"Stark, what makes you think you have the authority to just waltz in here and mess with my prisoners?" Fury demanded.
"He's not your prisoner," Tony pointed out, "and he isn't yours either. He's Cap's friend, and it would just be stupid to lock Bucky up because I have a feeling Spangles would leave the Avengers after that."
How did he know? Steve wondered. Even I wasn't sure.
Fury turned to Steve, and Steve shrugged, not wanting to get involved in an argument between two of the most powerful people in the world.
"So you're saying," Fury began slowly, "that the Avengers will take full responsibility for the Winter Soldier's actions-"
"His name is Bucky," Steve interrupted coldly. Bucky looked at his friend out of the corner of his eye and, though no one saw it, smiled a tiny bit.
"That's exactly what I'm saying," Tony responded, glaring at Nick. "Unless you want to drag Clint and Natasha down to the dungeons too."
How can Tony stand Nick's glare for so long and keep his cool? Steve wondered.
Fury was visibly frustrated, and the SHIELD agents were getting restless. Anyone could tell that Fury had lost the upper hand, and that Stark had pretty much managed to usurp Fury's authority for the time being.
"Fine," Fury eventually conceded, though he was anything but happy about saying it. "You can take Bucky back to Avenger's tower. But if I even hear a whisper of trouble concerning him, he will be gone from your team before you can even blink."
"Whatever you say, Fury," Tony replied casually. He then turned to Steve. "Well? He's your friend."
Steve walked over to the agents that were holding Bucky and held out his hand. "Card, please?" He requested politely. One of the SHIELD agents shakily handed him a key card which Steve than swiped through a notch on the handcuffs. Immediately, the cuffs clicked and opened, falling to the floor. On cue, ever SHIELD agent in the room backed up while Bucky massaged his flesh-and-blood wrist, which was chaffed slightly from how tight the handcuffs had been. His metal arm, of course, was fine.
"You're going to love that arm, by the way," Tony said, looking proud of himself. "Not to brag, but for my first real dabbling in cybernetics I think it went pretty well. That thing won't break as easily as your old one, and I think it connects better with your central nervous system, since I used components like-"
"That's enough, Stark," Fury snapped. "If you want to show off your inventions, you can do it at Avenger's tower, not at SHIELD headquarters." Even though Fury was addressing Tony, his eye stayed on Bucky, who was being perfectly still.
I can tell that they don't trust me, Bucky thought. If I do anything wrong, they're going to put me away. Lock me up. Just like-
"Don't go there, Bucky," Steve said quietly, so quiet that no one else heard.
How did he know what I was thinking?
Steve gave his old friend a small smile. "It's pretty clear when you start thinking about the bad things," he whispered. "You get all white and shaky."
I never noticed . . . I'll have to stop that.
"Steve," Bucky asked, "what are the Avengers?"
"You're going to love them," Tony interrupted. "Now c'mon. I don't think Nick wants us here anymore."
Natasha, Clint, Tony, Steve, and Bucky filed out of the SHIELD headquarters, only getting lost once because Tony tried looking for a vending machine. As soon as they stepped outside - they were in some remote location in the woods - Tony pressed a small button on his car key. Moments later, the sound of a very powerful engine roared through the trees, and a sleek new car pulled up, its silver paint job glistening in the waning afternoon sun. Clint whistled.
"Is that a-"
"Yes," Tony interrupted.
"But I thought-" Clint tried again, but failed.
"Yes," Tony repeated, clapping the archer on the back. "Now let's go. Avenger's tower is pretty far away from here, and last I checked Thor was trying to work the toaster. I'd rather not have to buy a new one for the fourth time this week."
"But it's only Tuesday," Steve said, confused. Tony turned a bleary look on his friend.
I don't know what's going on, Bucky thought, but I think I'm going to like being with the Avengers, whoever they are.
DONE (seriously this time)
Before all of you who really liked this story get all disappointed, I am planning on writing a "sequel" of sorts. Remember, this was the closure I was looking for after the events of CA 2, and I think I finally got it. Thank you to all of my reviewers who are absolutely amazing and awesome and wonderful and fantastic, especially those of you who reviewed multiple times (you know who you are).
So yeah. This story is over, but the next one will be coming out soon as a direct continuation. Basically, it'll be the Winter Soldier/Bucky trying to fit in with the Avengers. For those of you who want more of Sam/Falcon, he will be showing up in that story as well because his character is really fun to write.
Again, thank you so much to everyone who reviewed/followed/favorited my story! Your support meant a lot while I was procrastinating my homework in order to write this!
Until the next misadventure,
P.S. The sequel to this is now up, titled "Innocent". R&R if you want to!