Jealousy, Reprised

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Thor and Barton stood frozen in front of you, understandably dumbstruck— how were they supposed to react to an ordinary girl (ordinary to them; Bucky knew better) scolding, berating two Avengers? They were each more powerful physically and politically than you could ever dream to be, but there you were, breathing fire from your spot on the floor. Thor was a god, for Christ's sake, but that didn't seem to matter; your eyes flashed as you continued, your voice low and searing.

"How fucking dense can you be?" you hissed. "How much did you give him?"

The two perpetrators shared a look. Barton shrugged apologetically, but Thor tried to quell your anger. "He's perfectly fine, he wanted to—"

"I can't tell if you're stupid, or if you're just cruel." Your words stopped Thor's excuse in its tracks. "Of course he wanted to, he didn't know any better. That was on you, you're supposed to look out for him—" The anger radiating out of you was so intense that even Thor took a half step back. You were hellbent on protecting this kid, who you'd never met before today, and who really didn't need your protection considering he was an Avenger himself.

The offenders stumbled over their words— they were sorry, they didn't mean any harm, they swore Peter would be okay— but you weren't listening. Your focus shifted to Peter, who was babbling to you as you helped him to his feet, seemingly unaware of the situation he was in.

"What's wrong?" His wide eyes searched your fuming face. "Nooo, I'm sorry, please don't be mad, didn't mean to knock the chair over, I'm— oh, shit." He giggled, a soft, childish sound. He had grabbed your shoulder to steady himself, but now his hand was stuck to your shirt, the fabric tugging as he tried to pull away. You smiled at him, all traces of your anger disappearing as you showed him a kindness you hadn't offered the others.

"You about ready to go home?" you hinted quietly. You placed your hand on top of his and slowly, gently peeled it off your shoulder.

"No, no, it's okay, 'm having fun—" He leaned down to pick the stool up off the ground, but his balance wavered, and he would've toppled face-first into it if you didn't grab his arm. You were an inch or two shorter than him, but your arm around his waist was enough to anchor him when he swayed again.

"I think it's time to go home," you said firmly, and Peter nodded this time, a sheepish smile spreading across his face. You turned, searching, then caught Bucky's eye in the crowd. "C'mon, Sarge," you called. "We're going home."

Bucky cleared his throat and looked at the ground. He could feel dozens of eyes on him, teammates and bystanders alike, and heat rose around his collar. They stared because of the nickname, and because of the certainty of your words— you weren't asking him to go, you were telling him. It didn't bother Bucky; he'd follow you off a cliff at this point, but the others weren't supposed to know that—

But you needed him. He didn't know what kind of mess you were getting yourself into, but you wanted to leave, and you'd been drinking. Bucky pulled your keys out of his pocket and took a step toward the door before he froze.

Steve. Bucky looked over his shoulder, searching for Steve— the rules. He couldn't leave without Steve in the car, too, and he hadn't yet decided how the hell he was supposed to react to Steve's proposition. Because yes, of course he wanted to spend time with Steve, they'd been apart for months and Bucky missed his best friend. But Steve seemed to have the wrong idea— or maybe it was the right idea, he didn't know— but in the midst of his panic, Bucky looked back at you and almost laughed. You were leading a cheerful, wobbly Peter to the door, and he qualified, Bucky realized. This wasted, sticky child technically met his parole requirements and could legally supervise him. The absurdity and relief of it all hit him like a ton of bricks, and he gave Steve an apologetic shrug before he followed you and Peter out into the night air.

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