Chapter Six

Bucky jerked out of his light doze the moment he heard the slightest rustle of the hospital sheets. His eyes darted over to the bed where Tony lay. The werewolf had refused to leave the entire time they'd been there, never once leaving whatever room the genius was in unless it was absolutely necessary. The rest of the team had arrived before Tony was even out of surgery and Steve had joined Bucky for his vigil. The vampire was now leaning over the form on the bed, having taken his turn on watch so Bucky could at least try to catch some rest. The werewolf was beside him in an instant.

Tony was still far too pale, but he was starting to get some color back. Bucky didn't like how frail he looked. Hospital beds always seemed to have that effect on people, he thought. His hair looked darker than ever and the werewolf knew there were a whole myriad of bruises under his hospital gown, not to mention all the lacerations along his side forming what looked like an abstract spider web. It was the first time he'd shown any signs of movement in the past four days. His face was scrunched up a little bit now and Bucky reached out for him, cupping his face with a hand and running his thumb over the genius's cheek.

"Tony? You with us?"

Honey colored eyes squinted up at him.

"Bu…?"

The werewolf grinned.

"Hey there. How are you feeling?"

Tony's gaze seemed to drift a bit before coming back to him and the man attempted a smile of his own. It was barely even a twitch of his lips.

"Really…really out of it."

He coughed a bit to clear his throat and gasped from the pain. Medication could only do so much, after all, and it was marked on the genius's chart that he didn't want any narcotics. Bucky was pretty sure there was a story behind that, but he wasn't about to ask. Steve grabbed a cup of water off the side table and held the straw to Tony's lips so he could drink. After a few gulps, he took it back. They'd been warned about giving Tony too much water right off the bat and his body rejecting it.

"What happened?"

The genius's hand fluttered weakly against the sheet like a downed bird and Bucky wrapped his own fingers around it, lifting it to press a kiss to the palm. Tony hummed his approval and relaxed a bit more into the bed.

"You got hit," Steve supplied. "It was an anti-aircraft missile at close range. The suit took a direct hit to the left side and you went down like a rock." His jaw spasmed with how tightly he was clenching it. "I'm still amazed the armor held up as well as it did."

Tony grinned, the warm rum scent of pride rolling off of him in waves. His eyelids had started to drift shut again, but he forced them back open.

"The suit's okay?"

Bucky snorted because of course, of course, Tony would ask about the suit after waking up in a hospital bed.

"It'll need some repairs," he informed the inventor, "but nothing you can't handle. I'd prefer you designed the next one so it didn't splinter off fragments into your side."

Tony hummed, eyes sliding closed again before being forced back open.

"'sposed to absorb more of the impact. Less gets transferred to me. I can make the armor more durable but I'd feel more of the punches." He hummed again and closed his eyes. "Probably would have ruptured…a few organs…"

Steve grimaced down at the sleeping figure and Bucky couldn't say he felt much better.

"I know," the vampire swallowed thickly, "I know I can't make him stay out of these fights but watching this…Seeing him like this…"

He shook his head in disbelief. Bucky reached out to grip his shoulder.

"He's tough, Steve. He'll be alright."

The vampire couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from the bed.

"Yeah, but for how much longer?" He finally looked at his best friend. "The rest of us, we've got all these enhancements to keep us safe. Hell, I'm practically indestructible! Tony doesn't have any of that."

"You're right," Bucky nailed him with a steely gaze, "but he keeps up with all of us anyway. Half the time he leaves us in the dust."

That brought a smirk to Steve's face, but he still turned away.

"I just need some fresh air. Gotta clear my head. I'll be back soon."

Bucky frowned after him but let him go. He didn't have any idea what was going on in that head of his. He hoped he didn't do anything stupid. He turned back to the bed when the fingers in his hand gave a little twitch. Tony wasn't waking up, just moving in his sleep. Bucky would keep an eye on Steve, but Tony was his main concern at the moment.

The genius woke up again every few hours after that, still as groggy as before and head all out of wack. He never stayed awake longer than a minute or so before drifting back into unconsciousness. Bucky hated it. He just wanted to be able to take Tony home and put him to bed and curl around him and never leave. The Wolf had gotten on Tony's hospital bed more than once before the full moon was finally over, but it wasn't like holding the genius in his arms.

It wasn't until early the next morning that Tony seemed to start coming back to himself. He woke up quietly, quietly enough that it didn't wake Bucky from where he sat in a chair and slumped over the side of the bed. The werewolf only woke up because of the fingers carding themselves through his hair. Steve had returned to the tower to check up on things there, so it was just the two of them. Bucky lifted his head to smile at the genius and the fingers fell away.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."

"I'm glad you did." Critical eyes swept over the genius's frame. "You seem to be feeling a bit better."

Tony grimaced.

"I'm certainly feeling much more aware of how much pain I'm in. I remember waking up a few times before now, but not much. I know I got hit. What happened after that?"

Bucky moved from his chair to sit on the edge of Tony's hospital bed, his hand taking hold of the genius's.

"Steve and I got to you pretty quickly. We weren't far away. The Wolf stayed with you while Steve went for help."

Tony frowned up at the ceiling.

"I think I remember that, a bit. I dunno, it's pretty fuzzy."

"You were out of it. I'm surprised you remember anything at all."

Tony's brow furrowed as he frowned deeper.

"Did Steve get in a fight with the paramedics?"

Bucky snorted a laugh.

"It wasn't really a fight, but there was definitely some tension. It was more like he stopped a fight between them and the Wolf."

The genius's face cleared and he nodded in understanding.

"They wouldn't let you on the ambulance. I imagine the Wolf wasn't a big fan of that decision."

"Steve cleared it up quickly enough. After that it got better, for the most part."

One dark eyebrow rose and Tony's eyes glimmered with humor.

"For the most part? Do share."

Bucky snorted and leaned down to kiss the man softly of the lips, ignoring the genius's pout when he pulled away. They needed to be gentle for now. As soon as Tony was well again, they could move on to more exciting things.

"About the third shift after they finally got you into a room a nurse tried to remove the Wolf. It could have ended quite badly if Natasha hadn't intervened. The good news is that Clint nearly shot the nurse with an arrow."

"That's the good news?"

Bucky just shrugged and gave the genius a wry smile.

"Well, the Wolf sees him as pack now, so yeah. Oh, and the Wolf also appointed one of the paramedics to your permanent care. I'm pretty sure you're going to have to keep seeing him for a while."

Tony's chuckle quickly turned into a grimace and Bucky frowned, feeling terrible that he couldn't do anything more than stroke the other's hand in comfort.

"Okay, no more funny stuff. It hurts to laugh."

Bucky brought the hand in his grasp up to lay kisses all along the knuckles.

"Sorry."

Tony just rolled his eyes.

"You've got nothin' to be sorry for. Tell me more about this paramedic."

"His name's Charlie, some young kid whose brother is a werewolf. He treated the bullet wound and apparently the Wolf took a liking to him."

Tony's entire body froze and Bucky realized just a little too late what he'd just said and what that would mean.

"What bullet wound, exactly?" the genius asked with a forced casualness that promised disaster if Bucky even so much as thought about lying to him or trying to play the whole thing off.

The werewolf grimaced.

"It was nothing serious, I assure you."

"Oh, no, you just got shot. Why would I think that was serious at all?"

Eyes narrowed into a glare were sweeping over Bucky's form, trying to locate the wound and Bucky shifted with a sigh so Tony could see the bandages around his upper thigh.

"It was a through-and-through before the paramedics showed up." He grinned nastily. "The guy who did it wasn't so lucky."

Tony was squirming closer, moving despite his obvious pain, and Bucky pressed him back down.

"You still got shot," the inventor whined, even as he gave in to the werewolf's insistence.

"I'll be healed up in another week, tops. Don't worry your pretty little head over it." He nipped the end of Tony's nose. "Just worry about getting yourself better so you can come home."

The look Tony gave him was wide and pitiful.

"I could go back today. I'm sure Bruce is more than capable of taking care of me. He's a doctor!"

Bucky leveled him with a decidedly unimpressed look.

"If by 'doctor' you mean witch doctor. You're staying here until the hospital releases you."

Tony pouted.

"Pepper put you up to this, didn't she?"

"Haven't talked to her," Bucky grinned, "but she's been on and off the phone with Steve. These orders are all mine, doll."

"Oh, well, we all know how well I am at following orders."

Bucky smirked.

"I think you'll follow these."

"Really now?" He sounded skeptical. "What makes you so sure?"

Bucky leaned in close and trailed the tip of his nose along Tony's cheek, nipping at the man's skin as he went.

"Because I have plans for you when you get home, and you're going to want to be nice and well rested for them."

He could practically see the way the lust rushed through Tony's body. He could definitely smell it. He rumbled low in his chest.

"Yeah, that would be…pretty good motivation, I guess."

"You guess?"

Tony's hand rose up to tangle itself in his hair and the man dragged him down for a kiss.

"I'll be the best damn patient you've ever seen in your life."

Bucky snorted but kissed him again, smirking.

"Good boy."