Tony wasn't sure that there was actually such a thing as hell, at least one that he wasn't currently living in but if there was he knew he had a one way ticket. After all wasn't "thou shall not lie" pretty high up there on the list of punishable offences?
It was only one lie and it was told out of love not some twisted form of malice. But do intentions really matter when the result is so disastrous?
In the five years since he had been kidnaped by Ulltron and the children forced to take on their parent's burden, no one had said anything. The only three souls alive who knew the truth—Bruce, Betty, and himself—had come to an unspoken agreement. This lie was kinder and so it would become the truth if the real truth died with them.
But then they came. The Avengers of the past had had to come forth to defeat a time traveling foe.
Tony couldn't even pretend it hadn't hurt to see them alive and well, like his own demons made flesh. But what had really hurt was one particular face in the crowd. Barnes. Tony was proud of himself; every fiber of his body had screamed at him to punch the son of a bitch—to take him out of the equation now before he could betray them all, but he somehow managed to keep his wrath under wraps. It wouldn't have helped the matter at hand and the Avengers wouldn't have understood even if it would make him feel a hell of a lot better.
He wasn't the only one who was ridding the same train of thought as he was. None of the kids said anything and neither did Bruce or Betty.
"That was Bucky Barns?" Torunn asked once the Avengers were well on their way back to their own time. "I hate him."
Tony knew they all did and with good reason.
"We all get what's coming to us. Especially that son of a bitch." Bruce muttered.
What he hadn't noticed was Betty's deep scowl at the words. Maybe if he had all this could have been avoided and one of the people he loved most wouldn't have had his entire world shatted around him.
James couldn't sleep—his restless mind wouldn't let him. Today had been a very mixed bag for him. They had won and gotten to meet the Avengers but not the Avengers they wanted. None of them had gotten to meet their parents. Perhaps that was better in the long run…but still he would have given his right arm for even a few minutes with his father.
Unknowingly his feet had taken him to Tony's little corner of the cave they all lived in. Maybe it would help to talk about it with someone who understood.
He stood at the door way and was about to knock when the few candles that illuminated the room flickered and three distinct silhouettes danced across the walls.
"You should not have said that about him Bruce," Betty said quietly. She was the only one who had the guts to chastise Bruce, probably because she was the only one who could calm him down if he got angry.
"What would you have me do? After what he did—"Bruce asked, a definite edge to his voice.
"Did you ever consider that there may have been another explanation for what he did? Especially in our world—nothing is ever what it seems. Would it be so hard to believe that maybe it was a clone or he was drugged, or maybe," she said turning to Tony, "your people weren't as thorough in cleaning out the Winter Solder programing as you thought."
"Do you know something that we don't?" Bruce asked curiously, and James found himself interested as well. he knew it was rude to listen in like this but he couldn't seem to peel himself away from the shadows and make his presence known.
"What?" Betty asked before realizing what they were asking, "No, of course not. I just don't think it's a good idea to insult him like that."
"Are you a Bucky fan now, Betty?" Tony asked, trying and failing to keep the edge out of his own voice.
"I've only met the man a couple times but I can do the math Stark! Steve would forgive your lie, and maybe even Bucky too, but can you honestly tell me Natasha wouldn't have your head on a pike for it if she were here?"
James's mind was spinning. What lie would have angered his mother so much? Tony didn't lie; not to them. Sure, there were a lot of things he hadn't told them but that's different…
"But she's not here!" Tony snapped, "She's dead along with the rest of them. I've raised James since before he can remember and I know what the truth would do to him. He's impetuous and broody, just like his father. It would destroy him."
That didn't make sense. Every story James had ever heard about his father had said that he was a great strategist with a heart of gold. Wasn't that almost the exact opposite of impetuous and broody?
A sinking feeling settled in his gut that rivaled that horrible moment when they found Ultron's trophy collection. A dark voice whispered in the back of his mind that he should run; that the words that came next were ones he didn't want to hear and could never be taken back.
"If more of us had survived, the lie would never have stood. Too many Avengers would have laughed there ass off at the thought of Steve and Nat as a couple." Bruce said wistfully.
What the hell were they talking about? Unless… no! Tony would have told him, he wouldn't—couldn't have lied about something like this.
"Nat and Bucky were too much in love for anyone to believe she and Steve would go behind his back." Betty muttered and James could no longer hide in his ignorance.
"What?" James shouted from the doorway and all three adults turned to look at him.
"Oh shit." Tony muttered.
This was just a little dribble I wrote right before work as a way to move through writers block. I'm a big Bucky fan and so when I saw what Bruce said in Avengers #6, I started to think. Bucky and Nat are just too cool of a couple and when I saw who James's parents were supposed to be, I couldn't help but think that someone had a bit of explaining to do.