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Someone Saved Me

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Bucky Barnes was bored.
Steve was busy doing some charity thing, leaving Bucky to roam their room in the Avengers Tower alone.
God he was bored.
Fifi, the beautiful German Shepard who was his service dog, wandered over and jumped up at him, sniffing his chest and nuzzling him.
"Yeah yeah I know pup." He sighed, giving her a quick cuddle and running a hand through his hair. "I'm fine, I just miss Stevie." He told her, then frowned at what he said. Did he?
Their apartment in the tower was a large, open planned area, with living room, a kitchen area behind the sofa, and two separate bedrooms on either side of the small hallway. He grabbed a beer out the fridge, then cracked it open and wandered aimlessly into the hall.
A soft, warm light spilled from Steve's room and he frowned at it. Had Steve left it on? Or had someone broken in? No he would have heard them, right? Right?
Suddenly he became aware of his breathing; sharp short burst of air, panic was taking over. Fifi instantly came bounding over, licking his hand supportively and whining slightly. He sank to his knees and wrapped his arms around her neck, burying his face in her fur and mumbling softly to himself. She licked at his tears, whining and pawing at his arms. After a few minutes, he stood, stretched out his arms, then stepped tentatively into Steve's bedroom. The lamp on his desk was still on. He sighed and stepped forward and was about to press the switch when he noticed the drawings scattered across the desk.
He picked them up carefully and flicked through them. One showed Natasha dozing in a chair whilst Tony and a few people he didn't know were all talking. He smiled a litte, then looked at the next one. It showed a man he didn't know, with serpent like features, black shoulder length hair and menacing eyes. The next one was a half finished sketch of, surprisingly, his own face, clad in the mask Hydra made him wear. He shuddered and quickly put it down, revealing a drawing of a train with a hole in the side. The bent and buckled metal seemed familiar somehow, but he couldn't place where he had seen it before.
He put the last drawing down and went to leave when he noticed the note book on Steve's bed. He picked up the note book and flicked through, finding small doodles, to do lists, and then a page of....
Bucky read through the list, grinning at the things he found. It was a list of things he liked about Bucky.
He closed the book and flicked the light off. Fifi followed him into the living room as he flopped on the sofa, bored and tired, gazing up at the ceiling. One particular note stuck out in Bucky's mind.
Whenever I hear him speak Russian, even though I have no clue what he is saying, it kind of turns me on...
Bucky smirked, then stood up to get a beer. Fifi followed, sticking so close that he kept tripping over her.
"Really dog?" He scowled down at her as she wagged her tail and panted up at him. "Jarvis, is Tony busy?"
"He is currently working on some suit upgrades. Should I ask if he is taking visitors?" The A.I asked.
"If you don't mind." Bucky smiled, pulling on a pair of sneakers and a slightly too big hoodie. After a pause, Jarvis responded with, "He said feel free to come down."
So he did. He took the elevator to Tony's workshop and the heavy metal that had been playing at max volume suddenly muted as he opened the door.
"You good Buckman?" Tony asked, not looking up from the suit he was working on.
"Bored. Got anything I can help with?" Bucky glanced around at the messy workshop.
"Can you weld?" Tony looked up and slapped his thighs, calling the dog over. "Hey Fifi!! Who's a good girl? You keeping the Buckman safe? Are you? Good girl!"
"Yeah, they taught me how to, just in case I needed to make repairs on my arm."
Tony didn't look up from making a fuss of the dog. He knew who "they" were. He also knew that Bucky still didn't like saying the name of that damned organisation. "Okay, well, come here then." He held out the blowtorch and pointed to what needed to be done.
"I uh... I found Steve's diary just now." Bucky told Tony.
"Right..." he said, looking up at Bucky as he rubbed the dog's belly. "What did you find?"
"He thinks me speaking Russian is hot. Any idea why he'd think that?"
Tony's eyebrows wiggled. "I think you know why Buckman."
"Look Tony, you need to stop calling me that." Bucky sighed, pausing what he was doing and scowling at the other man.
"Oh no, the scowly-duck-face of doom, oh no!" Tony cried in mock horrror. He flopped backwards, a hand at his forehead, and instantly Fifi pounced on him, licking his chin and nuzzling him
Bucky just raised an eyebrow. "Only you would mock an ex-assassin..." He sighed, before getting back to welding the suit. "But seriously Tony.... why would he think that?"
Tony sat up and hesitated before speaking again. "I've seen footage of you two together during the war. The way he looked at you.... well, let's just say you don't look at friends like that."
Bucky whole body stiffened.
"And... it didn't exactly look one sided either."
"Are you implying what I think you are? I'm not a fucking fairy Tony...." he whispered, trying to hide his anger. Tony stood up and Fifi went wandering off somewhere.
"Bucky, you can't say things like that anymore. It's okay to be gay now." Tony sighed, putting an arm around Bucky's shoulders. Bucky leaned into Tony's side.
"I know... it's just hard to get all of that out my head... I'm sorry..." Bucky relaxed slightly.
"Don't worry Buck, you'll get the hang of things." He clapped a hand on his shoulder and smiled warmly.
Bucky finished welding and then sat down, watching Tony work.
"What was you listening to before I walked in?" He asked after a while.
"Hm? Oh it was a band called Avenged Sevenfold. Wanna hear?" Tony asked. Bucky nodded. "You heard the man J." Tony said.
At first, Bucky thought it was all just noise. Then the singer started, and he was mesmerised. His voice was raspy and sounded angry, yet as he listened he could sense something lurking beneath...
"You've been lied to, just to rape you of your sight and now they have the nerve to tell you how to feel..." Tony murmured along as he scribbled something down on a notebook.
Bucky's eyes widened as the lyrics continued.
"So sedated as they medicate your brain and while you slowly go insane the you tell you 'given with the best intentions, help you with your complications'..."
Bucky sniffled a little and shifted in his seat slightly. Tony noticed Bucky's expression and paused the music. "Hey, you okay?"
"That's... that's how I felt at Hydra..." he winced at the name of the organisation that broke his mind. Fifi came trotting over once she realised something was up, and placed her head in his lap. He tugged her ears playfully before planting a kiss on the top of her head. Tony knelt down in front of him and placed a reassuring hand on his knee. Bucky took a deep breath before resuming talking to Tony, "I... I hated every moment. Every kill, every fight, every order was hell. But they made me think I deserved to be their attack dog. Made me think I was special. If I refused, they'd wipe my mind and ask again... eventually they realised f they take away my free will, take away my ability to say 'no, I don't want to' then they wouldn't have any more problems with me being defiant." Tony's eyes were shining, wet with tears that had built up suddenly and threatened to spill over.
"God Buck... you're hurting me..." Tony mumbled, his arms snaking around Bucky's waist and resting his head on his lap. Bucky bent forwards and rested his forehead against Tony's cheekbone, squeezing his eyes tightly shut to stop the tears from escaping.
"We won't let any of them get away. Nat has been searching for any signs of Hydra online, but so far we've found nothing. They're either not doing anything, or very good at keeping secrets." Tony let go and stood up. "You're safe here."
"Yeah... it's hard though..." Bucky whispered. "So so hard..."
"I know. I've been keeping an eye on you. Well not me, Jarvis. But J is set to alert me if something goes very wrong on your end."
"Oh okay..." Bucky's eyes flickered over the workshop aimlessly.
"Bucky?"
"Hm..." he responded, half out of touch with the world around him.
"Steve just got back. Want me to walk you up to your floor?"
"Don't care..." Bucky sighed, rubbing his palms over his face. "If you want."
Tony stood up and started walking to the elevator. "Then lets go. Come on dog."
Fifi gave Bucky's hand a lick, then followed Tony. Whenever she was down here she was always torn between helping Bucky, her owner, or Tony, the man her owner was friends with but always seemed sad. Often she just flitted between them both. Bucky joined them in the lift, wiping his hands on his jeans and smiling weakly.
"J, you know where."
"Yes sir." The AI said. Instantly, he felt the elevator give a his stomach a little lurch as it started to rise. Once at his floor, he gave Tony a quick hug before walking into the apartment.
"Hey Steve, how'd it go?" He called, trying to disguise his unhappiness.
"It was good, we managed to make loads of money. How was your day?" The blonde man walked over and gave his friend a quick hug, slapping his back affectionately. Bucky did the same, then stepped back and looked Steve up and down.
"We've been living together what, 4 months? It's still hard to believe that you are my Steve..." Bucky mentally slapped himself as soon as the words left his mouth.
"What do you mean Buck?" Steve chuckled, "surely you're used to the idea of sharing an apartment with me... we used to back in the 40s."
Bucky frowned. He could vaguely recall it. The information as to why and where were out of his reach. "Was it the same then as it is now?"
Steve smiled warmly. "Heavens no. We had to share a bed for a start. I was still small back then, and I was always sick, and my asthma was killing me. You'd wrap me up in your arms to keep me warm, and help me if I had an asthma attack, take care of me basically."
Bucky did his best to make his face look neutral. An easy task thanks to his assassin training. "We shared a bed?"
Steve nodded. "You insisted on it. I always offered to sleep on the couch or the floor, but you'd always say no. If I tried to leave the bed once you were asleep you'd wake up and then come and carry me back."
Bucky laughed and crossed to the fridge. He pulled out two beers and offered one to Steve.
"I can't get drunk Buck."
"Just drink it, punk."
Steve rolled his eyes and took a swig from the bottle.
"Heard from Nat?" Bucky enquired, flopping onto the sofa and lifting Fifi onto his chest for a cuddle.
"Nothing to report. She said she wants to drop by tomorrow and see us though." Steve looked at Bucky strangely, but Bucky didn't comment.
Fifi rolled onto her back, still sprawled across his chest, her tongue out and panting. He laughed and rubbed her belly, burying his face in her fur and speaking Russian to her. Steve sat down beside him and their thighs accidentally touched. Bucky sprang sideways, flinching at the sudden contact.
"Shit, Buck I'm sorry, are you okay?" Steve asked, slightly panicked.
"I'm fine Steve, jus' made me jump is all." Bucky smiled, shifting back over to his original position, his leg pressed against Steve's once again. He noticed Steve's other leg bouncing up and down with nervous energy and smirked slightly. He felt the same way, but he hid it better.
"Buck?"
"Hm?"
"Are you okay with sharing an apartment with me? It was... different to this when we were kids. You had to look after me, if I was left alone and something happened, I'd have died." Steve wasn't looking at Bucky. He was staring at a patch of floor and absentmindedly stroking Fifi. His eyes were slightly glassy.
"Steve, why wouldn't I be happy? I got my best friend by my side, taking care of me when I get flashbacks or nightmares, kicking down doors to find the men that hurt me, buying me food and doing my laundry. What more could I want?"
Steve grunted. "I'm not doing your laundry anymore by the way. It's time you learned how to use the machine."
Bucky pouted.

Chapter Text

Steve was awoken with a crash, words cried out in a language he didn't understand, and the sound of whirring noises at around midnight. Fifi's soft whimpering followed, and instantly he knew what was wrong. He sat bolt upright, and went to get out of bed but the door burst open. He watched as Bucky came stumbling into his room, fists curled into his hair and shaking his head.

"Can't make it stop..." he whimpered. Steve instantly shot out of bed, wrapping his arms around the other man and helping him walk to his bed.

"Just lie down Buck, it's okay."

"But Steve, this is your bed. I can't sleep here." Bucky frowned, trying to pull away.

Steve pulled him back, and sat him back down. "It's fine Bucky, now lie down." Steve sighed, sitting beside him and wrapping him in a hug. Bucky settled, then his eyes widened and he pushed Steve away, hard.

"No, I can't! The asset is not allowed physical contact unless it has sustained an injury or the arm needs repairing."

Steve's heart shattered. "Bucky, you're not the asset anymore. you're not a thing, you're not an "it". You're a person, you're a "he". Come on, just lie down, I'll give you a back rub and then we'll both sleep in here. Do you want to leave your shirt on while I do it, or take it off?"

"On... I'm not ready for that yet. Even sitting here in underwear is making me feel... weird..."

Steve's face clouded over with concern. "Do you want me to grab you something to wear? Like sweatpants or something?"

"If you don't mind..." Bucky mumbled, looking at the floor. Steve crossed to his wardrobe and pulled out a pair of light grey ones.

"Here, put these on for now."

He held them out to Bucky and he took them slowly. He was slowly calming down, thanks to Fifi sitting with her head in his lap and gently licking his hand. Steve quickly left the room, not only to grab Bucky a glass of water, but to also just get away. Away to where Bucky wouldn't see his tears. Tears for the man he had loved and lost. Tears of anger, at both Hydra and himself. If only he had known he'd survive the fall if he'd jumped after Bucky. Maybe then, Bucky and him could've been normal... He wiped his eyes and shook himself out of the sadness, then quickly grabbed the water and walked back to his room.

"Are you feeling okay pal?" Steve asked as he handed over the glass. Bucky nodded weakly and took a sip, then put it down on the side. Steve went to sit down but was surprised when Bucky wrapped his arms around his waist, pressing his forehead against Steve's chest and sobbing. "Oh god... Buck..." Steve whispered, combing his fingers through Bucky's long locks. He searched for the right thing to say, but no words came. What could he say that would comfort a man who had been through over seventy years of torture? Bucky was tightening his hold, practically screaming in his arms now. The metal arm was whirring as his mind battled with itself, Bucky fighting against The Winter Soldier lurking in the corner of his mind.

"Steve... don't leave me alone..." Bucky whispered, looking up at the other man with a tear stained face, bloodshot eyes and terror etched onto every inch of his face.

"No way Bucky, I'm with you til the end of the line, remember?" Steve grinned, sitting beside him and pulling him into a proper cuddle, resting his head on top of Bucky's.

"Til the end of the line... do you mean that, really?" Bucky mumbled.

"The first time I lost you, I crashed the plane I was flying into an iceberg. So what do you think?" Bucky suddenly pulled away from the hug.

"You did what?" He looked mad. No, worse than mad. He was pissed.

"You heard me."

"Why the fuck would you do that Steve? You could've died! You imbecile!" Bucky slapped Steve's bicep angrily, making Steve wince slightly.

"Can you not?" He scowled, rubbing the red hand mark on his arm.

"I always told you 'til the end of the line' didn't I? Well, I thought you'd died. With you gone I had nothing left. I'd missed my stop, so I crashed the plane and prayed I'd find you again. Obviously I did, but not the way I'd hoped." Bucky was silent, absently playing with Fifi's ears. When he finally spoke, his voice sounded hollow. "You wanted to die because you thought I was dead?" He still didn't look at Steve.

"Yeah. I'd lost my best man. What else was I meant to do?"

"Forget about me. You were meant to dance with Peggy, fall in love, start a family..."

"Buck... I loved Peggy, of course I did. But you... you'd been there since I was a kid. You were everything to me." Steve's fingers cupped Bucky's chin and turned his head to face him, gently. "And you still are." At those words, not even Bucky's assassin training could stop the blush creeping across his cheeks. He nibbled his lip nervously and looked away. Then he smirked as his confidence ame back and raised an eyebrow at the blonde. "So Rogers, where's that back rub ya promised me?" He grinned, locking away his giddy nervousness at how close they were.

"Well lay down on your stomach then."

Steve stood up so Bucky could get comfortable on his bed, then knelt down beside him and ran his hands along Bucky's back. The T-Shirt kept annoyingly riding up slightly as his hands worked their magic, but Bucky wasn't really comfortable with Steve seeing his bare skin. Scars and marks cross crossed his body, and although he would never say it flat out, he was a little self conscious of them, especially the ones where skin met metal on his chest and shoulder.

"Hey Buck, mind if I straddle you? It'll make this a lot easier?" Steve asked. That was something Bucky loved about Steve. He was always so careful not to upset him. Always making sure that every touch, no matter how little and gentle, he had permission for. And of course, Bucky never said no. Steve's hands on his skin made him feel warm and safe and happy.

"Yeah, okay. Gently though, you're a heavy bastard."

"Bucky, watch your language." Steve sighed as he swung a leg over Bucky's body and gently knelt over him. Bucky sighed, sliding an arm under the pillow he was resting his head on and closing his eyes. As Steve worked, he noticed a slight curve in Bucky's back, similar to the one he had as a kid. Scoliosis... I remember having that... 

"We swapped places..." Steve mumbled as his finger traced Bucky's spine. Between his shoulder blades, Bucky's back curved towards the left.

"It's because of the arm." Bucky said, his voice muffled by the pillow.

"You know, we could ask Tony to help make a better one. One that doesn't mess with your back." Bucky shifted underneath him suddenly and he got off to let Bucky sit up.

"No. I don't want anyone touching this arm." He shifted his left arm behind him and curled his other arm around his waist, hugging himself tightly.

"But Buck, it's hurting you..."

Bucky snapped. "I said NO Steve!" Bucky snarled, his voice gaining a dark and animalistic edge to it, "Just drop it! No one is doing anything to my arm and that's final."

Steve nodded. "Okay. It's your body. Your decision."

Bucky took a deep breath, then smiled. "Good. Now don't talk about it again." Bucky turned away and glared at the wall, his metal hand clenching and unclenching as the last of his anger faded away. The silence was heavy between them. It coiled around Steve's throat, choking him and making him want to scream and cry. But he held it all back. This wasn't about him; it was about Bucky. Steve was surprised when Bucky spoke first. "I was nothing more than a weapon when I was at Hydra. They treated me as such. If something went wrong with this-" he flicked his metal arm with his flesh finger "- then they'd take it off, rip it - no, rip me open - and experiment. See what works, what doesn't. They didn't bother with sedatives or painkillers. You can't hurt a weapon. That's all I was. A murder machine." Steve said nothing. He just nodded and pulled Bucky into his arms. Bucky stiffened slightly, then settled into the embrace and sighed. "You want me to go back to my room?" Bucky asked after a moment of cuddling. "What, no! I mean, if you want to you can but..." Steve blushed slightly. Bucky smiled. "Can I stay?" "Sure thing Buck." Bucky wriggled out of Steve's arms and lay down in the bed. Steve stayed sitting up, just looking at Bucky. "Rogers, You're lookin' at me funny. Stop." The brown haired man scowled. "Sorry, can't help it." Steve smiled, blushing a little. "Hey, how much of our past do you remember?" Bucky's eyebrows knitted together as he looked up at the ceiling. "I know your mom's name was Sarah... you were a lot thinner than you are now." "Yeah, super serum filled everything out." He grinned, patting his left pectoral and looking down at himself.

"Boob grab? Really?" Bucky smirked.

"It's a pectoral."

"It's a boob, now shut up Rogers."

Steve couldn't help but laugh. "Okay fine, what else do you remember?" Steve lay down on his side, looking at Bucky.

"Hm... nothing really... why? Is there anything I should be remembering?"

"Yes." Steve wanted to say. He wanted to ask Bucky if he remembered those nights, just the two of them, in crappy motel rooms, tangled between the sheets. Nights of panic where they'd been caught making out at the back of the cinema and had ran through the alleys of Brooklyn. Those nights where Bucky would arrange a date for him even though they both knew that Steve had no interest in women. He wanted to ask if he remembered those nights where Steve would worship Bucky's body like he was a god, and then they would switch and it would be Steve's turn to be worshipped. He wanted to ask, if he remembered the soft, gentle feeling they had when they were in love. But he didn't. Instead, he smiled, trying to hide not only his sadness, but his shame. Shame that he still wanted those nights. Shame that he was in love with his best friend.

"No, no reason. Goodnight Buck."

"Goodnight Steve." Bucky smiled, the brown haired male drifted into a familiar yet oddly different sleep.

Steve on the other hand couldn't. Why was he sad Bucky didn't remember? It was just a little phase they'd both had. Steve met Peggy and fell in love, whilst Bucky continued to try and woo every woman he lay eyes on whilst Steve stood around feeling oddly jealous on the sidelines. Steve wrapped his arms around his torso and tried to make himself smaller, but with his muscular frame, it was almost impossible. Everything about him was too big. As he stared at Bucky's sleeping face, he wished he was still that skinny runt of a kid from Brooklyn. Without warning Bucky turned over and his arm snaked around Steve's waist. "Stevie... you ain't sleepin'. I can tell." Bucky grumbled, his eyes still closed.

"Fine. Goodnight Bucky. I'll sleep now. Promise." The blonde rolled his eyes even though Bucky couldn't see.

"Good. Now shut up. I could hear what you were thinkin'." Bucky snuggled closer and Steve stiffened, but allowed it to happen. Although it was nice to not be alone, Steve hoped this didn't become a regular thing; with Bucky cuddled up beside him like this, all those old feelings he'd thought he had buried were crawling out of their graves.

Chapter Text

Steve had woken up first. 

Bucky was disappointed to find that he was alone when he woke up. He didn't know why though. 

He stood up, stretching his arms over his head and whimpering as his spine clicked and tried to straighten out, but failed. He glared down at his left arm. Stupid thing. But he needed it, and he wasn't prepared to let anyone touch it without his permission. 

That was something he still wasn't used to. Being asked for permission. It was weird. And choices. There were so many he was expected to make everyday, so many questions he was asked, opinions that people wanted from him. 

It scared him. 

He swung his legs out of bed and padded into the living room, not bothering to shower or get changed or anything. He just wanted to curl up on the sofa with his boyfriend and his dog and watch a movie. 

His what?

Bucky froze and widened his eyes. Boyfriend? Where did he get that from? Boyfriend?

"Boyfriend?!" He blurted out. It sounded weirder out loud.

"What was that Buck?" Steve called from the other room. 

"Ah NOTHING!" He yelled back, a little too loudly and a little too obvious it was something. 

Something Tony had said the other day came ringing into his head, banging uncomfortably on his skull. 

"I've seen footage of you two together during the war. The way he looked at you.... well, let's just say you don't look at friends like that."

No. There was no way he and Steve ever dated. Steve was a very good looking man, Bucky had no trouble seeing that, so surely lots of women were interested in him? And sure, these days not so much, but Bucky had been a pretty attractive man back in the day. He remembers sleeping with plenty of dames back at his house, moaning his name as they fucked on anything they could; a table, the bed, the couch, Bucky wasn't too fussy. He remembers women and only women. 

Bucky chuckled to himself. There's no way he was into men. 

Although...

"Morning Buck!" Steve smiled as Bucky walked slowly in to the living room. He was in the kitchen area of the room, making breakfast, totally shirtless. 

"Morning Steve..." He responded, staring at the muscles in the other male's back. Each and every muscle rolled beneath his skin as he worked on frying the bacon. It was mesmerising to watch. 

He stepped closer, and without even realising what he was doing he ran his hands down Steve's sides, testing the muscle. Steve practically leapt onto the ceiling at first, but then calmed down once he realised Bucky was just examining his body. 

"You good there Buck?" Steve laughed, his voice sounded strained. 

"This was never here when we were younger... I know you explained the serum and everything, and I saw your early days as Captain America, but it's still... unsettling." He realised his hands were still roaming around in Steve's skin and he pulled them away. 

Steve turned to face him. "I know. I get what you mean. Some days I'll look in the mirror and expect to see the skinny kid from all those years ago."

"My old Stevie?" 

"Ah Buck, I'm still your Stevie, no matter what I look like..." He pulled Bucky into a quick hug, then pushed him playfully away. 

"Punk." Bucky grinned. 

"Jerk." Steve grinned back, not missing a beat. 

"Bacon."

Steve frowned. "Bacon?" Steve turned back to the pan. "Ah, the bacon!" He squeaked, turning the flame off and moving the pan away from the heat. 

"Did ya burn it?" Bucky grinned, putting his hands on Steve's overly huge biceps as he stood on his tiptoes, looking over Steve's shoulder. 

"No." Steve scowled, shifting his head to lightly headbutt the brown haired male. 

"Oi!" Bucky scowled and headbutted him back slightly harder, then rested his head against Steve's. Steve pulled Bucky's arms around his waist and leaned back against his chest, folding his own arms over Bucky's. The two stood there in contented silence for a while, until Steve coughed awkwardly. 

"The uh, the bacon is going cold." He muttered, removing Bucky's arms and serving up the food. 

Bucky stood back, strangely lonely now. Sure, Fifi was sitting right beside him and Steve was less than a foot away, but still... he wanted more hugs. Hugs were nice. They made him feel safe and warm, things he hadn't felt in a while. 

He fell to his knees, clutching his head and whimpering in Russian. He was only half aware that Steve was speaking to him. All The Asset could hear was his master's voice...

 

*****

 

"Seriously?" Brock snarled. "Were you trying to make friends with him or some shit?"

The Asset stayed silent. 

"Answer me Asset!" He snapped. 

"No. I was cold." The Asset mumbled. 

"Cold? Cold?! So you think that by cosying up with him then you'll get warm?" 

The Asset was unsure wether or not to answer. 

"On your feet!" Brock growled, grabbing The Asset by the hair and yanking him up. "You, grab the one he was with."

"No, don't!" The Asset cried. 

Everyone around him froze. 

"No?" Brock repeated. 

"I'm sorry... I didn't me-"

The Asset was flung across the room by the hair and he hit the wall. He cried out, and went to stand up when a steel toed boot crashed into his stomach. Then he could feel a hand at his throat, crushing him, dragging him to the chair that stole his memories. 

The Asset fought back his whimpering. He fought back his pleas of mercy. He fought back the urge to struggle. 

"Wipe him!" Brock spat at the two scientists either side of him. 

The Asset looked at the two men in coats and he did his best to hide his terror. That horrible metal thing was placed in front of his mouth. His teeth marks were forever scarred onto the metal by years of wiping away his memories. The Asset bit down on the mouth guard, and as the electrical components of the machine closed in on his head, he dropped his emotionless act. 

He let his terror and anxiety fill him. He let his screams of mercy escape, although they were muffled by the mouth guard. He let every foul word under the sun escape as his brain cells were fried to a crisp. 

"Why are you wiping him?" Came Pierce's voice. 

"He was found this morning cuddled up to his cell mate. He claimed he was cold. Then when I was on my way here to wipe him, I told another guard to bring his cell mate too he said no. The Asset was being too defiant." Brock told him.

"He knows he isn't allowed physical contact unless medically required. He should know better than to get cosy with his cell mates. From today on, he's in a cell on his own." Pierce and Brock walked away, leaving Bucky to his screaming. 

****

"Bucky! Please, come on Buck, snap out of it!" The man pleaded. A dog was licking his face and trying to wriggle its way onto his lap. 

"Stay away from me!" Bucky screamed, shooting away from Steve, eyes wide and tear filled. 

"Oh Buck..." Steve whimpered. "Jarvis, can you get Tony up here?"

"He's already on his way, Captain Rogers." The A.I replied. 

On cue, the elevator pinged and before the doors where even open halfway Tony was forcing his body through the tiny gap. Natasha followed. As always, her face was a picture of calm. 

"What happened?" Tony snapped. "What did you do?"

"Nothing! We had a hug and then I pulled away to finish breakfast, next thing I know he's on the floor screaming!" Steve cried, panicking slightly for his friend. 

Tony knelt down in front of Bucky, who instantly backed away, hands at his face and shaking his head. 

"Please don't hurt me, I'm sorry..." he whimpered. 

Tony smiled warmly. "I'm not going to hurt you Buck... come on, let's go get you a glass of water and some sleep."

"You always say that!" He suddenly screamed. "You always say you won't hurt me, then you take my mind away! Why won't you just kill me already and get it over with?!" He jumped up, grabbing the frying pan and swinging it at Tony's head. He blocked it with his forearm and tackled him, went to throw a punch when Natasha suddenly spoke up. 

"Sputnik!" She yelled, and immediately Bucky slumped into unconsciousness. Tony and Steve stared at her. 

"How did you know that would work?" Tony frowned, standing up and stepping away from the sleeping soldier. 

"It's in his file." Steve glared at Natasha, "Don't ever do that again Nat. You know how I feel about his triggers."

"Are you kidding? That was an emergency. Bucky could've killed Tony if I hadn't intervened. And you-" she turned to Tony, "-you couldn't take him if you tried. Warn us if you plan to do that again."

Steve walked to Bucky's unconscious body and lifted him gently into his arms. "I'm gonna go put him in his bed. I'll call you if I need you." He said. "You'll have to see yourselves out." 

"That's fine. Later Steve."

"Later. Thanks for your help." He called. 

"No problem." Tony waved a hand as he stepped into the elevator. 

"If you can call that helping that is..." Steve grumbled. "Oh Bucky I'm so sorry..." he nuzzled Bucky's scruffy beard as he walked into his bedroom. 

The place was a mess. 

Books were scattered on the floor, the bedsheets were in a screwed up pile on the floor, and the shelf had been ripped off the wall. Obviously from whatever had upset him last night before he came into Steve's room. He lay Bucky down gently on the bed, then picked up the sheets and put them back where they belonged. 

With not a whole lot else to do. Steve pulled his phone out his pocket and checked the time. 10:27 AM. He unlocked it and opened up the playlist Sam, Wanda and Natasha had made for him to listen to. They said it contained all their favourite music in it, as well as some that he would remember from wartime. 

He pressed shuffle and made sure the volume was loud enough to listen to, but quiet enough to not wake Bucky. He put the phone down on the side and started picking up the books. The first few songs weren't too bad. 

And then it showed up. 

"Really?" He groaned, as "The Star Spangled Man With A Plan" started playing. "It should be a criminal offence to play this damn song around me..." he scowled, changing the song as he ruffled Fifi's fur. 

"No go back..." Bucky croaked. "I liked that one."

Steve looked over at him with a smile, rolling his eyes. "Very funny." He sat down beside his friend and brushed the hair off his face. "How you feeling Buck?"

Bucky frowned. "Tired. Cold."

"Cold?" Steve asked. 

Bucky hesitated. "In here." He pointed at his chest. 

"What? Why?" Steve laid down beside him and pulled him closer. 

Bucky didn't respond. He just looked at Steve, searching his face while he tried to put into words what he felt inside. The anger. The shame. The self-loathing. It was too hard to find words to describe it. Hell, it was hard in general. Everything was hard these days. 

"You shouldn't have to put up with all of that." Bucky suddenly choked out, curling up and burying his face in Steve's chest. Steve stroked his brown hair gently, nuzzling the top of his head at the same time. 

The song suddenly changed to a song Steve recognised. It was one of Wanda's favourite songs. He didn't know all the words, but he knew a little of the chorus, so he sang along softly to Bucky. 

"So don't walk away, I'll keep you safe, forget promises that we made... Say my name, never leave your side, I will be your shadow here tonight."

Bucky sniffled and looked up at him. "You've always liked those sappy love songs..." he tried. 

"That's true." Steve nodded. "But... This time, those words are for you Buck. I'm not going anywhere. I'm never leaving you. Til the end of the line." Steve pressed his forehead to Bucky's and smiled, but there were tears in his eyes. 

"Til the end of the line." Bucky copied. He was all too aware of his heart beating at a million beats per second. He was all too aware that Steve's was too. Steve gently pressed a finger to Bucky's chin, and was tilting his head down and Bucky's stomach was doing flips and he was so nervous but excited and he wanted to ju-

"Captain Rogers, Mr. Stark wants to know if Sergeant Barnes is able to head down to the workshop." Jarvis interrupted. 

Bucky pressed his lips together and looked up at Steve nervously. "Can you come with me?" He whispered, his eyes full of sadness. 

"J, ask Tony if it's alright if I tag along please." Steve smiled down at Bucky. 

"Thank you..." Bucky mumbled, burying his face in the crook of Steve's neck. 

"It's okay..." Steve's hands found his waist and he nuzzled his face, screwing up his nose and closing his eyes. 

"What are you doing to me Rogers?" Bucky mumbled, but he was smiling, enjoying the closeness. 

"I have no clue Barnes. It's like my brain is making a decision and before the rest of me has caught up, I'm already doing it." Steve laughed, running his hands up and down Bucky's sides. And breathing in the sweet yet distinctly male scent of Bucky. 

"Mr. Stark has agreed. Come down as soon as you're ready." Jarvis suddenly piped up again. 

"Thanks J." Bucky responded. He rubbed his nose against Steve's, earning him a light laugh from the blonde, then sat up out of the bed, Steve right behind him. They stepped into the elevator and didn't say anything. Jarvis already knew what floor they wanted. 

The doors opened to reveal Tony sitting on the couch, beer in his left hand, wearing the hand of the iron man suit on the right. 

"Buckman, how you feeling?" The genius smiled. 

"We've talked about that name, Tony. Please, stop." Bucky scowled. 

"Never. And you haven't answered my question." Tony patted the sofa beside him. 

Bucky hesitated, then sat down. Steve sat beside him and put an arm across the back of the couch. Bucky shifted closer to Steve. 

"I'm okay... now anyways." Bucky mumbled. 

"Bucky, I want to know what you think caused you to... you know." Tony asked. Fifi put her head in his lap and he put his beer down and rubbed her nose gently as he waited for a response. 

"I had a nightmare last night. A flashback to something that happened while I was at Hydra. It keeps replaying in my head and it won't stop." Bucky suddenly sagged against Steve's side, as though he were exhausted. 

"Would you care to go into detail?" Tony asked. 

Steve scowled and moved his arm from the back of the couch to around Bucky's shoulders and gave him a reassuring squeeze. 

It was too little too late though. Bucky could already feel the right panic well up in his chest. He closed his eyes as he retold the nightmare. 

"I... I was in my cell and I was cold. I huddled up with my cellmate to try and keep warm, b-but they didn't allow physical contact unless it was for, you know.... medical reasons or to fix my arm." He swallowed thickly and winced, "They uh, they beat me up, wiped me... and... A-and then they ordered me to execute the guy I was sharing the cell with... I shot him..." he spat the last three words as if they were venom.

"And so..." Tony pressed, looking over the glove of his suit, flexing and relaxing his fingers one at a time. 

Steve's glare at Tony intensified; his intentions were good, but the billionaire was being too pushy. Bucky buried his head in the crook of Steve's neck. "I was scared... that they'd come. That they'd make me kill Stevie..." 

"Aw Bucky..." Steve wrapped his arms protectively around Bucky, nuzzling his hair tenderly. Tony didn't say anything, instead he picked up a screwdriver and fiddled with something on the glove while he waited for Bucky to calm down. The only sounds that could be heard was Bucky's muffled whimpering as he fought back the sobs trapped in his chest. 

"Bucky? We won't let them get you. We'll get you the best therapists money can buy. We'll use your talents to help you become an Avenger, if you want to that is, and you'll be a hero." Tony shuffled closer and ran his hand down Bucky's back gently. 

"I want to go back upstairs..." Bucky whispered in Steve's ear. Steve nodded, then helped him stand up off the couch. 

"We're going back upstairs. There's no way he can continue."

Tony opened the elevator door for them and they stepped inside. Steve told Jarvis which floor he wanted, but as the doors went to close Tony held a hand out and the doors popped back  open. He looked at them both. 

"Bucky?"

Bucky looked up at Tony with teary eyes. 

"They'll never get you. Remember that."

Bucky nodded and Tony let the elevator door close. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to ignore the tightness in his chest, the sweat trickling down his back, his breathing picking up the pace. 

Steve had noticed Bucky's body language and had wrapped an arm around his shoulders protectively. Neither of them said a word. 

They got out the elevator and stepped into the apartment. Bucky made a beeline for the armchair that Steve usually sat in when he was drawing. Fifi jumped up onto his lap and rested her head on his shoulder, lazily licking his cheek. Steve said nothing as he watched Bucky run his metal hand tenderly across her back. 

"Вы хорошая девушка..." Bucky murmured in her ear, "Ты моя лучшая девушка..." 

"What does that mean?" Steve asked. 

"Jus' telling her how good she is." Bucky smiled. 

"She is, isn't she?" Steve perched on the arm of the chair and scratched behind her ear. "Thanks for taking care of my Bucky, you good pup." He smiled down at her. She licked Steve's hand, then nuzzled Bucky one last time before jumping off and sniffing around the apartment. 

"Your Bucky?" 

Steve smiled. "My Bucky."

Bucky watched Fifi, not saying a word. His eyes looked glassy and his skin pale. Steve watched the way he chewed his bottom lip as whatever he thought about played on his mind. 

"Bucky?" Steve knelt down on the floor in front of him and took both hands in his. 

"Stevie?" Bucky's gaze shifted onto the blonde and Steve smiled. 

"You wanna talk?" 

"Sorta.... I don't want to talk about what's in my head. I just need a distraction. What was that about earlier? Back in my room?" Bucky asked. 

Steve hesitated. "What do you think it was about?"

Bucky didn't know how to say this without offending his friend. "Are you... you know?"

"What?"

"Are you a fag?" Bucky looked down at him. 

"What? No I'm not, but Buck, don't you remember?" Steve's eyes widened.

"Remember what?" Bucky frowned. 

Steve tried to hide his sadness. "It doesn't matter." He stood up and walked away from Bucky. 

"No, tell me. What's wrong?"

"Nothing Buck, just drop it!" Steve snapped. 

"No I won't Steven! Not if it's upsetting you! What am I supposed to remember that I don't?" Bucky growled. Fifi pawed at Bucky's leg and barked but he ignored her. 

"You don't remember us! You don't remember me and you!" Steve wasn't even bothering to hold back his tears now. They ran freely down his face. He didn't know why he was upset, but he was. 

"Yes I do Steve, we've been best friends since w-"

"We were a thing Buck! I don't know, maybe you could even call us a couple, but we were secretly together before the war! We went on dates with women to hide it!" Steve screamed up at the ceiling. He couldn't look at Bucky, but like this. 

"Don't bullshit me Rogers, I'm not a fucking fairy."

"No you aren't." Steve glared. "At least you're half normal. I'm not. I've never been interested in a woman my entire life, I only wanted you! You were all I ever wanted but you only wanted dames. Then we finally got our moment, and you fucked off to go to war!" Before Bucky could even respond Steve was flinging himself out the door and into the elevator. 

"Steve!" He yelled, hammering on the doors of the elevator just as it started descending. "Fuuuck!!" He screamed, resting his forehead against the doors. 

Not for the first time in his life, Bucky wished he had never been found by Hydra. He wished he'd had a normal life, but mostly, he wished he had his old memories...

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

As soon as the elevator door opened he sprinted through the lobby, dodging and weaving between the steady stream of people entering and exiting the Avengers Tower. 

"Hey Steve!" Natasha smiled, but he sprinted on past, catching sight of her confused look as he ran on. 

He glanced at the clock on the wall beside him. It was 12:07 PM. He kept running. 

He ignored the spinning homophobia in his head. He ignored Bucky calling his phone over and over. He ignored everything except the rhythm of his feet on the concrete. 

But it didn't work. Everything was Bucky. Bucky was everything. 

"Fuck off Bucky!" He growled as he slowed to a halt and got his phone out to reject the call. It wasn't Bucky. It was Sam. He picked up. 

"Hey Cap. Natasha just said she saw you leaving the tower in a hurry. Everything good?" 

"Not really. Where are you?" Steve panted. 

"Jeez you sound awful. I'll meet you at that coffee shop I told you about. We can talk there if you want?" 

"Yeah... thanks Sam." 

"No problem." 

The call ended and Steve jogged at a sensible pace, conserving his energy as he travelled the short distance to the coffee shop. 

He spotted Sam instantly, sipping a smoothie with his back to Steve. He slowed to a walk, patted his friend on the shoulder and smirked. "On your left."

Sam sighed. "Man shut the hell up."

"Never." Steve grinned as he sat down opposite his friend. "You good?"

"Quit stalling. What's wrong? What did you run out the tower for?"

Steve hesitated. "Bucky..."

"Did he hurt you?" Sam sat forward in his seat. 

"What? No, why do always think that Bucky's gonna hurt me?"

Sam shrugged. "I don't know, maybe the fact he ripped the steering wheel out the car I was driving and then tried to kill us."

Steve scowled. "You know why he did that."

"Yeah but it's hard to forget. Anyways, talk to me."

Steve hesitated. "Before the war... we were a bit more than friends I guess... but he remembers none of it. He refuses to believe it too."

"So, you dated?" Sam asked. 

"No! I mean yes. I mean- Ugh I don't know." Steve ran a hand through his hair and let it drop to the table with a thud. 

"I'm not judging Steve."

"Well I am!" He snapped. 

Sam's eyebrows shot up, "Steve... relax. It's perfectly normal and okay to be-"

"That's what everyone says. 'It's okay to be gay Steve, it's 2014! It's okay Steve.' No it's not! I'm not from this year, I'm from the 1940s and if you're gay there, you get your ass kicked and sent to an asylum!" He was shouting now. People around him were wondering why Captain America was screaming about gay people. He didn't care. 

Sam's face was a picture of calm. "Steve, I understand that you're confused. I understand that you don't really belong here in this year. But please, stop screaming anti-gay shit. It's not gonna look good for you."

"Yeah... sorry... should we talk about this elsewhere maybe?" Steve ran a hand through his hair. 

"Lets slowly walk back to the tower." Sam suggested, "My house is a little too far from here."

Steve nodded and stood up. 

 

Meanwhile... 

 

Natasha knocked on Steve and Bucky's apartment door and waited. A moment later, she heard the door unlocking and Bucky poked his head around. As did Fifi, sniffing the newcomer. 

"Natalia." He said in greeting, then pulled the door open properly and stepped aside to let her in. 

"How are you feeling Bucky?" She asked warmly. 

"Better. You?" Fifi walked in zig-zags behind him and he almost tripped over twice. 

She waved her hand. "Ah this isn't about me. It's about you and Steve."

"For fuck sake, not this again." He walked away, hands behind his head and staring at the ceiling. 

"Bucky, why did I just see Steve running out the tower?"

"We had an argument. It's not any of your business, so, with that in mind.... Are you done?" Bucky scowled at her. 

"Bucky! I'm just trying to help yo-"

"I don't need your help Natalia. I'm fine!" He flopped down on the sofa and instantly Fifi leapt up onto his chest and jammed her nose under his chin for a cuddle. 

Natasha took this all in and raised an eyebrow. "Well, your service dog's behaviour says otherwise."

"What do you mean?" Bucky frowned, running his hands along the dog's body. 

"She's trained to do that when you're stressed or anxious. She's also trained to not leave your side if you're feeling low. She hasn't left you alone once since I got here, and I'm willing to bet she was behaving like this before I got here."

Bucky's eyebrows knitted together. Fifi was being extra protective today. Ever since the nightmare last   night she'd been following him everywhere. Hell, she wasn't even letting him go to the bathroom on his own. She followed him there, and when he'd shut the door she'd sit scratching at it, sniffing and whimpering at the door until he was done. 

"Okay fine... Steve said that... that we used to be a couple. But I'm not gay, right? Surely I'd know if I was gay? And I've slept with many women..." He smirked before adding, "Yourself included."

Natasha blushed, then coughed awkwardly. "Bucky, today there's not just 'gay' and 'straight'. There's a whole lot of other sexualities in between those. Steve wouldn't lie about something like this, so if he's telling the truth... then maybe you are bisexual, meaning attracted to both genders."

Bucky frowned. "Or maybe I was just a horny teen and Steve was a quick fix?"

"I doubt it Bucky. Everyone's seen the way you two looked at each other during the wa-" 

"Oh god not you too!" Bucky buried his face in Fifi's fur, "How and why has everyone seen the way we looked at each other?" 

Natasha smiled as a key turned in the front door. "Just ask Steve to take you to his exhibit."

"Who am I taking where?" Steve called as he opened the front door. 

"Hey Natasha. Bucky." 

"Sam!" Bucky beamed. "Your cousin was here earlier, little pigeon who went by the name of Robert? Sound familiar?"

"Ah shut up. You added anything new to your steering wheel collection lately?" Sam smirked, causing Bucky to scowl and mutter something Russian under his breath. 

"Anyways. Steve, you need to take Bucky to the Smithsonian." Natasha told the blonde as she stood up. 

"Okay. Why?" Steve frowned. 

"I've not seen it properly." Bucky told him. "I went there not long after we fought on the helicarrier, because you said we were friends. I thought maybe there would be a small part about your childhood or whatever, but I found a whole ass memorial dedicated to my death."

Steve flopped onto the sofa beside him. Bucky noted that Steve's legs were slightly across his but didn't say anything. "Okay. I'll take you later on. When it's quieter. Technically I shouldn't be doing this, you're a lot safer here, but if you want to go, I'll take you."

"Thanks Stevie." Bucky smiled. 

"Wait wait wait... 'Stevie'? That's beyond adorable." Sam smiled, looking between them both. "Which is ironic coming from you. You're anything but adorable." 

Bucky smirked. "Bitch I'm adorable!" He gave his hair a sassy flick to emphasise his point. 

"Watch your language Barnes." Steve scowled. "But, if it makes you feel any better, I understood that reference."

"Quit it you two. You're honestly painful to watch." Sam cringed as he sat down in the armchair. "Mind if we tag along too? I don't think I've been to your exhibit."

"Of course Sam! I'd love to show my three favorite people around the museum." Steve beamed. 

"So which of us is number one?" Natasha grinned, raising a knowing eyebrow at Sam. 

"Well, that one is obvious..." Steve locked eyes with Bucky with an arched eyebrow and did his best to ignore the butterflies in his stomach that appeared when Bucky smirked, then shifted slightly so his legs were a little more tangled with Steve's. The blonde wiggled his eyebrows in response but didn't want to ruin the moment. He patted his chest and Fifi shuffled off of Bucky and gave Steve a cuddle instead. 

"That's my dog Steve..." Bucky scowled as Fifi flipped onto her back and stuck her legs in the air.

"Do I care? I want a cuddle." Steve smirked, wrapping his arms around the dog and burying his face into her fur. 

"Traitor..." Bucky grumbled under his breath. He detangled his legs from Steve's then stood up, "Who wants a drink? Tea? Coffee? Beer?"

"I'll have a beer." Sam suddenly frowned, "Wait... Why do you even have beer? I thought you two couldn't get drunk?" Sam frowned. 

"I can't. But I like the taste." Bucky shrugged, opening the fridge to get out a beer for himself and only himself.

"Buck, that's like your second one today and it's not even 1 PM yet." Steve said, mildly concerned. 

"It's fine Stevie, like I said-" He used his metal finger to dig underneath the rim of the bottle's lid and pulled it off, "-no side effects. What does it matter?"

Steve hummed in response but didn't say anything. 

"So am I not getting a beer?" Sam's frown deepened. 

"The beers are mine Sam."

Sam stood up and tried to get to the fridge, but Bucky stepped in his way and arched an eyebrow. 

"Wha? I jus- Steve tell him to give me a beer." Sam looked to his friend for help. 

"Bucky?" Steve mockingly scolded, raising an eyebrow and wagging his finger at him. Bucky rolled his eyes, but stepped aside to let Sam get his own beer. 

"Gimme a beer Bucky." Natasha asked. 

"Natalia! Where are your manners?" Bucky grinned as he rested his hand on the open fridge door. 

Natasha didn't smile. "дай мне пива прежде чем я сделаю тебе больно..." Give me a beer before I hurt you...

"There they are! Of course you can have a beer!" Bucky locked eyes with Sam as he handed Natasha a bottle and she swigged it. 

"This shits awful!" Natasha cringed. Bucky snatched the bottle back and downed the rest, still smiling like an idiot. 

"This 'shit', as you call it,is the same brand of beer that got me through college, thank you very much." Bucky waved the empty bottle in her face and she rolled her eyes. 

"You went to college?" Sam frowned, "We'd never have guessed."

"Left after a week." Bucky flopped onto Steve's chest and snuggled closer. 

"You sure that alcohol isn't affecting you Buck?" Steve frowned. Bucky nodded enthusiastically. "Nat, sorry to ask this but could you make him a glass of water and some toast please?"

Natasha could sense the worry in Steve. She felt it too. "Sure thing." She manoeuvred her way round Sam and popped some bread in the toaster, then stood by it and waited. 

"Sam..." She whispered. 

"Yeah Nat?"

"I think Bucky's serum is wearing off." 

"Is that even possible? Steve's has stayed normal for years..." Sam grabbed a glass of water for Bucky just as the toast popped up, ready to be buttered. 

"I don't know. Steve's is different from Bucky's." Natasha sighed as she put the toast on a plate. 

"Anyways, what makes you think it's somehow wearing off?" Sam asked as he took the plate off the side and passed it to Steve, who tried to feed it to Bucky. 

"Just little things. His muscle definition isn't as prominent as it used to be, and he's tipsy. He's not supposed to be affected at all by alcohol, but look at him." Natasha turned to Sam and looked up at him. "Something's wrong with the serum, and I think we should tell him."

Sam sighed and ran a hand down his face. "You're right. As much as I hate hi-"

"You don't hate him. You love him really." Natasha beamed. 

"Oh shut up." He punched her arm playfully. "But yeah, we should say something. Once he's sober though."

"Agreed."

"He's napping." Steve said as the other two moved back over to the two couches. And indeed he was. Bucky was flopped on top of Steve, his ear over Steve's heart and drooling slightly as he softly snored. Steve hesitated, then planted his hands at Bucky's waist and closed his eyes contently, breathing in Bucky's comforting smell. 

"Steve. We think the serum is wearing off." Sam said softly, not wanting to wake the sleeping bundle up. 

"What do you mean? That's impossible right? Its fused to his DBA right?" Steve opened his eyes and looked down at Bucky's sleeping face. 

"No Steve, your version of the serum is. We have no clue how his version works. It's most likely a lot different to the way the serum Erskine (check this) and his scientists produced." Natasha knelt down on the floor beside the sofa. "Look, he's getting thinner. He's not as muscular as he used to be."

"That's probably just from where he doesn't work out anymore." Steve sighed. "He says he doesn't have the energy to. And he doesn't eat that much, or at least I rarely see him eat anything." Steve frowned. Other than the slice of toast he'd just fed him, when was the last time Bucky had eaten? He didn't know, and he reckons Bucky doesn't either. 

"Well, when Bucky wakes up, I say we go to the Smithsonian and then to get shawarma." Natasha grinned. 

Steve's eyes lit up. He loved shawarma. It was definitely one of the best foods he'd tasted. "Um, Yes!" 

"Awesome!" She high fived him, then retreated back to the couch with Sam. Bucky stirred at the sound of their palms slapping together and groaned, "shut the fuck up I'm sleeping..."

"No, you're getting up Buck." Steve said adamantly, sitting up and guiding an irritated and half asleep Bucky into a sitting position. "Come on Barnes, up you get." Bucky complied but stayed seated on his lap, yawned sleepily, then rested his forehead on Steve's shoulder.

"I wanna sleep Stevie..."

"You said you wanted to go to the Smithsonian. We're taking you to there now." Steve said firmly, giving his old friend a squeeze. 

"Hhnnnnggg." Was Bucky's response. 

Chapter Text

The Smithsonian had very few people in it due to the time of day, and was packed with a lot of interesting exhibits, but right now, Bucky was only here to visit one specific area.

The Captain America exhibit was fairly quiet at this time of day, with very few people around due to the fact that the museum closed soon. As he wandered around aimlessly, he noticed that Steve had suddenly gone silent whereas on the journey here, he'd been talking non-stop. As soon as he cross the threshold into the exhibit, he'd shut up totally. Bucky wondered what it was like to have a whole museum exhibit entirely dedicated to your existence and how you came to be, but he didn't want to upset Steve, so he kept his questions to himself and instead took in the sights around him. 

In the centre of the exhibit was a whole memorial dedicated to himself. The annoying voice over informed him that he was the only member of The Howling Commandos to give his life while serving alongside Steve. The world had assumed he was dead, and therefore treated him as such. Sometimes, Bucky thought that he was dead; the old Bucky Barnes died when he was found by that lone Hydra soldier patrolling the lonely white mountains, and after that point he was nothing more than a ghost possessing his deceased body. Now he had been resurrected, and was trying to rebuild the man he once was.

But will you ever be the man you once were? Or will I forever haunt your mind? 

The Winter Soldier did that a lot. He would taunt Bucky, tease him, ridicule him and make him feel small and weak and helpless and dead. He was nothing more than a ghost.

Bucky didn't realise it, but he was crying a little. He was looking at what was essentially his own grave, and his evil side was laughing at him. He didn’t know what to do with himself. He just wanted to lie back down in his grave and sleep. 

"You okay?" Steve mumbled beside him, a hand gently resting on the small of his back. Bucky shook his head, but didn't feel like elaborating. Gingerly, he reached out and brushed his fingertips over the death date, then looked away and explored the rest of the exhibit. 

Bucky looked over at the wall, at the list of illnesses and ailments Steve had when he first tried to enlist in the army. 

Ailments:

Asthma, Scoliosis, Fallen Arches, Heart arrhythmia, partial deafness, stomach ulcers, pernicious anemia

"Steve..." Bucky whispered. 

"Hm?" 

"Why did you want to serve in the army so bad? Look how sick you were..." 

Steve didn't say anything for a while. He just looked at the list of his old illnesses and at the photograph of himself before the serum. When he spoke, his voice sounded hollow. 

“My best man was out at war. I wanted to be there to make sure he got back safe.”

Bucky smiled and tucked himself into Steve’s side, his arms snaking around Steve’s waist gently.

Sam and Natasha were wandering around on their own, eyeing the sights with a casual interest. Bucky was all too aware that they were the only ones in the room now. It was a relief, as they could be trusted, but it also set him on edge.

And that's when the audio in the room cut out. The group all looked around frowning. Bucky's lips pressed into a thin line. 

"They must be closing now." Steve smiled. "Let's go ho-"

"Желание." Came the voice over the speakers. Bucky's eyes widened and he sank to his knees, mumbling over and over words Steve didn't understand. 

Let me out Bucky… open the door before I break it down myself… He whispered. Bucky gasped, twisting his fingers into his hair and pulling hard to try and distract himself.

"Семнадцать. Ржавый." 

With each word that comes, I get stronger...

Bucky arched his back and screamed in anguish, the metal plates on his arm whirring and shifting around. 

So you’re still gonna fight me, huh?

Natasha rushed forwards, clamping her hands over his ears and yelling in Russian, trying to drown out the words being played over the speaker. 

"Natasha! What's happening?" Steve cried, looking around in confusion. 

"Рассвет. Печв. Девять." The voice was still speaking those words. 

"Someone's trying to turn him into the Winter Soldier!" Natasha's usual calm composure was nowhere to be found at this moment in time. Steve watched as Bucky put his hands over Natasha's, shaking his head and begging for it all to stop. He rushed towards Bucky and dropped to his knees, squeezing his friend tightly as Bucky fought back the panic and fear that he associated with these words. 

"Добросердечный. Возвращение на родину."

You can’t fight me much longer… just stop fighting now and let me out...

Sam suddenly had an idea and pulled his revolver from his pocket and flicked the safety off, firing at each of the speakers in the room. He moved quickly and efficiently, firing and switching to the next target, not even checking the bullets had hit their mark; of course they had. The audio was gradually getting more and more muted as the speakers were slowly shot out. 

But The Winter Soldier had been counting. Even as Sam was shooting, 8 of the 10 trigger words had been spoken. 

Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock...

"Run... 2 left..." He groaned, his arms wrapped around his own waist. 

"No we're not leaving you!" Steve snapped, holding onto his shoulders and pressing their foreheads together.

Faggot… how could you let yourself stoop that low? 

You think he loves you? How could anyone love a killer like you?

"Один."

"You have to..." Bucky croaked, his voice weak. He didn't know why, but he pressed a soft kiss to Steve's cheek just as the last word was uttered. 

"Товарный вагон."

Bucky was gone. The Winter Soldier was in control now. 

"Солдат?" Came the voice. 

"готов соблюдать..." came a voice that Steve had never heard. It was Bucky's, but it was deeper and came out like sandpaper, almost as if it hadn't been used in a while. 

The voice now spoke in English. "You are to kill the people in this room, then exit the building and turn left. You will see a dark grey SUV, which you are to get into. I'm waiting for you there. Leave no witnesses."

Steve realised he was still inches away from Bucky. He had to get through to Bucky, one way or another.

"Bucky..." Steve tried, but a flash of silver and a sharp white light was the only response he got. He fell back and rolled, coming up in a crouch and surveying the situation. Natasha jumped on Bucky, her legs wrapped around his waist while she tried to apply a chokehold. The Winter Soldier threw her off, slamming her into a table and wrapping a hand at her throat.

“Солдат!" Steve yelled, and The Winter Soldier turned to look at him. Steve pushed himself to his feet and crossed the space between them impossibly fast. He let go of Natasha and lunged, but Steve dived to the left and rolled, coming to his feet first and pouncing, sending him sprawling as the two men flipped over and over, scrambling for the dominant position. Steve came out on top and brought an elbow down, but the assassin caught my arm, twisted, went to wrap his legs around and force him into an arm bar, but Steve scowled, and slammed a head butt into his nose. Blood burst from his nose and Steve pushed himself  up, rolling backwards and finishing on his feet. The Winter Soldier went for a tackle but Steve brought his knee up, slamming it into the hinge of his jaw and he fell back, stunned, then, by luck only, caught Steve’s leg before he could lash that kick into The Winter Soldier’s side that would have probably shattered his ribs. He got to his knees and grabbed Steve’s shirt, dragged him down and they were on the floor again, snarling into each other’s faces and throwing punches and elbows, trapping arms and legs in locks and counter-locks. The Winter Soldier  found the dominant position and threw a flurry of punches down onto my upper body and face. Steve pulled him close, tried to flip them so that he as on top, but the assassin sank his teeth into Steve’s shoulder, the warm coppery blood washing into his mouth. Steve let out a string of curses and rained elbows down onto The Winter Soldier, forcing him to let go. Steve wrapped his legs around The Winter Soldier’s waist, grabbed his hair and twisted so that Steve was now on top.

Sam came in and latched onto his leg, forcing the Winter Soldier to stop trying to wrap them around Steve’s waist and Natasha pinned his arms, the three of them struggled to hold him in place, until Steve finally realised they couldn't do anything to stop him.

Unless...

"I'm so sorry Buck… I know I promised…." he whimpered, "Sputnik!" 

Bucky became a dead weight underneath them. 

"Nat! The SUV! Let's go!" Sam called, sprinting away and yanking her after him, leaving Steve to deal with the unconscious Bucky. 

“I’m sorry Buck… I’m so so sorry… this was my fault…” Steve pulled Bucky’s head onto his lap and he knelt there, tenderly stroking Bucky’s hair.

“None of this is your fault Captain Rogers… It’s no one’s fault.” Came a voice Steve recognised.

Steve’s face darkened as the man strode forwards, an arrogant look in his eye. He had changed a lot since Steve had last seen him, but he was still recognisable, even with the scarred face.

“Rumlow…” Steve sneered, standing protectively over Bucky’s unconscious form. 

“Good to see you too Cap,” Rumlow smirked, “How’s The Asset doing? Behaving himself I hope?”

“What do you want with him?” Steve growled, losing his patience. 

“Nothing much… Just a few more assassinations… it’ll only be for the rest of his life Cap, it ain’t nothing he don’t enjoy.” 

“He hates them Brock… He hates them almost as much as I hate you…”

Rumlow laughed and crossed the short distance between them. Although he was shorter than Steve, it didn’t stop Rumlow from squaring up to Steve, shoulders thrown back and raising a cocky eyebrow. “So, what you gonna do Rogers? What you gonna do to save your pal, your buddy, your Bucky?”

Steve stayed silent, but the snarl on his face told Rumlow more information than his words ever could.

“He remembered you y’know? Back on the bridge? He got all weepy about it…” Rumlow smirked, leaning in close before adding, “Until they put his brain back in the blender…”

Steve sagged. Then he straightened back up, and without hesitating slammed his forehead into the bridge of Rumlow’s nose. The HYDRA agent fell back, landing on the seat of his dark jeans, and as he tried to stand Steve brought his knee into the hinge of Rumlow’s jaw, sending him sprawling onto his back as Steve straddled him, one hand at his throat and the other raining down punches. When it came to Bucky, he was willing to do anything to protect him. If it meant murdering the man before him to protect Bucky’s life, if it meant tainting his saint-like name and becoming a killer, he would.

“Stevie…” came a croaky voice. “Stop.... this isn’t you…”

Steve stared down at Rumlow’s face. It was a bloody mess. His cheekbone was caved in, blood poured from his ruined and broken nose, he was barely breathing, but still Brock Rumlow smiled that evil, wolfish grin. Behind him, he could hear the sound of Bucky struggling to get to his feet.

“Stevie… lets go home…” 

Steve stood up and turned around, watching as Bucky stumbled towards him, shaking his head and whimpering softly. His legs gave out just as he reached Steve, falling into the blonde’s arms and sniffing slightly. 

“Okay Buck, I’ll take you home.” Steve whispered, nuzzling Bucky’s face tenderly with his nose. Bucky gave a weak laugh, then surprised Steve by lacing their fingers and whispering in his ear, “My hero…” 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"My hero."

Bucky's words played on a loop in his head as he tried to sleep. Bucky himself was curled up beside him, tucked into Steve's side and whimpering softly. Steve shifted so that he was curled up with Bucky, their legs a tangled heap under the sheets and their arms wrapped around each other's waists. 

"Your hero..." Steve whispered, lips pressed against Bucky's forehead, "Am I really?" 

Bucky suddenly squeezed Steve's waist tighter and mumbled something he didn't understand. The thought occurred to Steve that maybe he should learn some more Russian. He knew how to say "The Winter Soldier", as well as all of his trigger words, but he vowed to never use them. He only learnt then because he was curious what the words meant. He hated them. Since he'd heard them play on that damn recording in the Smithsonian, they'd plagued his mind ever since. He couldn't imaging how Bucky was feeling. He felt tears on his shirt and suddenly Bucky moved closer, clinging to Steve tightly like a terrified child, nuzzling closer and closer and whimpering. 

"Bucky, what's wrong?" Steve whispered. 

"Did I hurt you?" Bucky whimpered. "Or any of the others?"

"No, we're all okay. I'm fine, just a few bruis-"

"Bruises?! Show me!" Bucky sat bolt upright and dragged Steve up with him, then frantically started trying to remove Steve's t-shirt so he could see them. 

An angry blue-green mark covered Steve's side, just above his hip, and a slightly darker purple one covered his ribs and partly covered his back. Bucky burst into tears, hiding his face by pressing it up against Steve's abs and wrapping his arms tightly around Steve. 

"I'm so sorry... I'm so so so sorry I hurt you..." Bucky whimpered over and over. 

"Hey, Buck, c'mere. It's okay." Steve guided Bucky onto his lap and cuddled up to the brown haired male, nuzzling his shoulder and neck gently. "You could never hurt me Bucky. It's okay."

"But I did!" Bucky gently thumped Steve's chest with his fists in frustration. Steve frowned up at Bucky with concern, rubbing his hands up and down Bucky's back. 

"Steve... can we talk about our argument? I need a distraction from what's going on up here." He tapped a finger against his temple and Steve nodded. 

"You said we were together, you know, back before the war... I believe you Steve. I know you wouldn't lie about that... but -and you don't have to answer if you don't want to - but do you still love me?" 

Steve was surprised, but he didn't hesitate before saying, "I do..." 

"Can I... can I kiss you?" Bucky whispered. 

"Only if you want to," Steve smiled. 

"I do..." Bucky pressed his forehead to Steve's and smiled back at the blonde. 

"Well come here then," Steve said, and instantly Bucky tilted his head down and pressed his lips to Steve's, softly at first. They pulled away and gazed into each other's eyes. Steve could feel how tense Bucky was. He looked nervous. 

"Is this okay?" Steve asked, worried he'd ruined things with Bucky. 

"No. It's nothing..." Bucky said, and before Steve could protest they were kissing again. Steve let Bucky take the lead, not pushing anymore than Bucky wanted. Bucky was soft and quick with his kisses, but gradually he built up the courage to push further, his tongue asking for entrance into Steve's mouth and then they were making out, their tongues battling for dominance as Steve shifted to lay back down, Bucky on top of him. Bucky pulled away from Steve's lips and the blonde whined at the loss of contact, but that whine turned into a moan as Bucky rained hungry kisses onto Steve's neck and collarbone, then back up his neck once more and nibbling on the other male's earlobe. 

"Bucky..." Steve moaned, his hands exploring every inch of Bucky's torso. He pushed his hands under the t-shirt Bucky was wearing and clawed at Bucky's back, then ran his hands down his body and stopped at his lower back. He looked up at Bucky and arched an eyebrow, asking for permission to move lower. Bucky nodded, then pressed a hungry kiss to Steve's lips, "Not under clothes though..." he mumbled. Steve nodded and moved his hands gently so that at first they just rested on Bucky's rear. 

Only when Bucky rocked back against Steve's hands as they kissed did Steve started squeezing and massaging his ass as they kissed each other with more longing and love than ever. Bucky could feel memories of them together creeping forwards, memories of them doing this, and so much more, back before the war broke out. 

"Steve?" He mumbled against the other male's lips. 

"Yes Buck?"

"I don't want to go any further. Just this." 

Steve pulled away momentarily to just look at Bucky. "Neither do I... why'd you say that? What made you think that?" He mumbled, moving his hands from Bucky's ass to the nape of his neck. 

"Nothing... I think. I, um, think I remember us... you know..." he raised an eyebrow at Steve who looked puzzled. Bucky sighed, then made a ring with one hand and poked his finger through the hole, in and out. 

Steve's eyebrows shot up. "Oh... you mean, uh, fondue."

"Fondue? Steven Grant Rogers, what are you on about?" Now it was Bucky's turn to frown. 

Steve blushed. "Shush. I can't say the dirty word. It makes me feel uncomfortable."

"What? Se-"

"Don't! Don't say it!" He threw his arms around Bucky's neck and buried his face into his shoulder. 

Bucky laughed and cradled Steve's head with his metal hand, massaging his scalp with his fingertips. 

"That feels nice..." Steve murmured, leaning back into the contact and practically purring. 

"You wouldn't think that the metal arm could feel so nice, huh?" Bucky practically sneered. 

"Hey..." Steve de-tangled himself and sat up. He took Bucky's metal hand and kissed his knuckles. "This is you. I know you hate it, but it's you." He continued kissing the metallic prosthetic, gradually moving from Bucky's hand to his wrist, then forearm and up to his bicep and shoulder, until he got to the point where he knew under Bucky's t-shirt, skin met metal. "This is still you." Steve mumbled against Bucky's neck. 

"But I hate it..." Bucky whispered, dropping his forehead onto Steve's shoulder. 

"I know babe, but I love you." Steve kissed his cheek softly. 

"You too..." Bucky mumbled. He still didn't know how to feel about him and Steve, but for now, he was happy to see where their relationship went. 

Steve continued holding his metal hand, but didn't say anything else. He just examined the scratches and dents in the metal, turning his arm over as if to try and catalogue every mark across its surface.

"Steve? I'm tired. Can we go back to sleep?" Bucky mumbled, dropping his head into Steve's lap. 

"Yeah, okay then." The blonde ran a hand through his hair before settling his head back onto the pillows, then pulling Bucky on top of him. 

"No, I'm too heavy." Bucky tried, but Steve shook his head. 

"Dunno if you've noticed, but I'm not a twig anymore Buck." Steve smiled, pulling Bucky down and wrapping his arms around the dark haired male's waist. 

"Are you su-"

 "Goodnight Buck." Steve said firmly, shutting up Bucky's protest. 

"Night Stevie." Bucky nuzzled Steve's neck before curling into a ball on Steve's chest and falling asleep. 

Falling...

The white snow all around him, his own cries of panic and terror as the ground below him gets ever closer. He reaches out to grab something, anything, just wants to stop the world spinning and tilting, and he does. His left hand snags a rock in the mountain side, and in a sickening display of bones snapping and blood spraying, his arm detaches itself from just above the elbow. His screams now change pitch, higher from the agony he feels shooting through what's left of the arm. 

He hits the ground with a sickening thwack, and his vision leaves him. 

It returns when he feels a rope being tied around his torso and arms, but his head is too busy spinning. 

He's being dragged. He's leaving a bloody trail as he's dragged along the ground. He looks up wearily at the blonde haired, blue eyed man pulling him. His vision leaves him again.

When he awakes he is there. The man with a bit too much forehead, beady eyes behind small glasses, thin lips always pressed into a deranged smile. 

"Sargent Barnes..." The man grins. He panics, yanking at the restraints and trying to escape. A needle is stabbed into his chest and it all goes black. When the world comes back, he has his left arm back.... only, it's silver. A doctor next to him takes notes as he flexes and unflexes his hand. This angers him. He closed the new hand around the doctors throat, and a cry of pain and the sound of choking fills his ears. 

"Bucky! St-" choking noises, "Stop!" More coughing and spluttering. 

Suddenly he's being hit with a punch that has the strength of a rocket launched missile. Bucky falls back, rolling off the bed and hitting his head on the wardrobe. 

Tony is there, in the Iron Man suit, and Steve is standing in front of him, trying to hold him back. 

"Tony please, he didn't mean it!" Steve was saying. 

"He attacked you Steve!" Tony was yelling. The mask of Tony's suit was glaring at him. 

Bucky didn't remember attacking anyone. He hadn't meant to. Had he? He caught sight of Steve's neck. Bucky's breath caught in his throat. 

A hand shaped mark was there. 

Monster... The Winter Soldier whispered. 

Bucky whimpered, curling up into a ball as Fifi nuzzled him. 

"Bucky, hey look at me..." Steve tried, kneeling down in front of him and reaching out towards him. Bucky slapped the hand away and shrank in on himself, making himself impossibly smaller. "Bucky please, I'm okay..." Steve whispered. 

"I hurt you Steven!" Bucky snapped, jumping to his feet, causing Tony to grab Steve's shoulder and yank him back protectively. But Bucky had no interest in hurting Steve, or Tony, or anyone. 

He turned, sprinted to the window and smashed through it left arm first. The metal prosthetic shattered the glass and he fell. He heard Steve shout his name from the broken window, but he ignored it, instead twisting in mid air and grabbing at the concrete support beams of the building with his left arm, sliding down the side of the building and dropping the last few feet to the bottom. 

Natasha stood waiting, a staff in her hand, and a man he didn't know. He was muscular and blonde and bearded, wearing a cape and carrying a huge hammer for some unknown reason. Judging by the description Steve had given him a week or so ago, he guessed this was Thor. 

"Buck, what are you doing?" Natasha sighed. 

"Step aside. I don't wish to hurt anyone anymore." Bucky told her, his voice monotone. 

"James, please, step inside the building and we can talk about what happened inside. You're not wearing any shoes and definitely not wearing adequate clothing for this weather." Thor stepped towards him and Bucky stepped back, fearful. He heard running footsteps behind him and he glanced over his shoulder. Tony and Steve were there, with a man in a suit similar to Tony's but grey. 

"No... leave me alone." Bucky locked eyes with Thor, staring him down. "I am a danger to you all."

"You're not." Tony's voice said. Bucky turned. The mask had been flipped up so he could now see Tony's face. "We think it's because of what happened at the museum. Me and my colleague Doctor Banner want to run some tests that could shed some light on the subject."

Bucky paled. Before he could reject, he felt something hit his left arm and a shock spasmed through him, disabling all the electronic components in his prosthetic. He felt two muscular arms seize him from behind, and suddenly he was being held up, kicking and screaming like a mad-man, trying to wriggle out of Thor's grip. Tony and the silver Iron Man each grabbed a leg, stopping him kicking as they walked him back through the building. 

"Can't we ju-" Natasha started, but Steve cut her off with a glare. Bucky knew what Natasha was thinking. 

He just wished that the next time someone said his shutdown trigger, he wouldn't be awoken ever again. 

Chapter Text


In Tony's lab, all he did was pace up and down. Steve's eyes followed everyone of Bucky's movements. Thor stayed by Dr. Banner's side watching him scribble things down, take notes and measure out chemicals. Tony stood at Steve's shoulder, not saying a word. Just playing and replaying the footage JARVIS had provided. 
Steve had had enough of his pacing. "Bucky, you need to-" 
"Shut up!" Bucky snapped, grabbing the nearest object, an empty beer bottle, and flinging it at the wall beside Steve. Tony's little robot instantly started trying to sweep the broken glass, but failed spectacularly, only managing to spread the glass around the workshop. 
"DUM-E, that's enough." Tony mumbled, and the robot stopped instantly. 
"Look, Bucky I get that you're fr-"
"You're not listening, Steven! Shut up and listen to me for once. I don't want to be here. I don't want to hurt anyone. I want to be away from you all so that you're safe and happy."
"Happy?" Tony laughed. "I've never seen him happier than I have when Nat had said she'd found reports of a man matching your description. It turned out not to be you, and then he locked himself in his room and moped."
Steve elbowed Tony in the ribs. Tony elbowed back before continuing. "Look, what I'm saying is... if you leave, he'll be miserable. And a sad Steve is a bad Steve. He does silly things that make no sense."
Bucky smiled a little before saying, "Like crash a plane in the middle of the Arctic."
Steve scowled, "you know why, Buck."
"Yeah, and it's still fuckin' dumb."
"I thought you were dead!" Steve snapped. "I'd just lost the one person I loved most in the world and you expect me to just continue with my life?"
"I am dead Steve!" Bucky screamed, tears flowing down his face. Everyone in the room exchanged looks. Bucky's insides boiled. They were looks of pity, confusion, concern, all things he didnt deserve. Still, he pressed on nonetheless. "I'm not the Bucky you knew all those years ago... I'm damaged, I'm broken, I'm fucked up. What was it Rumlow said? My brain was dropped in a blender? Yeah. He's right. It was."
"Bucky, he's wrong, and so are yo-"
"That's bullshit Steve Rogers and you know it. I don't know who I am anymore. Do you? Who the fuck am I Steve?"
Steve said nothing. He just looked at the floor with a blank expression and dead eyes. Had it not been for the fact Steve was standing up, he could've easily been mistaken for a corpse. 
"Jame- sorry, Bucky." Thor said, stepping forward, "I think that Steve understands what you're trying to say now. You should both go and get some rest."
"Bucky can have the apartment." Steve was still looking blankly at the floor as the words left his mouth."I wanna stay and talk to Tony for a bit." Finally Steve dragged his eyes up and looked at Tony, "If that's okay with you that is."
"Of course it is Steve." Tony smiled warmly, "let me just walk Bucky up to your apartment."
"Allow me. You stay with the Captain." Thor nodded to Bucky and motioned for him to go first. 
"Um... I'd rather you go first." Bucky said nervously. "You left your hammer." Bucky jerked his thumb over his shoulder. 
"Oh yes." Thor held out his hand and Mjolnir flew across the room and into his hand. Bucky flinched slightly, then arched an eyebrow. 
"Impressive."
"Thank you. You flinched though."
Bucky nodded. "It's scary when a flying hammer almost hits you in the face." 
Thor laughed and stepped through the door, Bucky following. 
"So how does that hammer work?" Bucky frowned. Thor slowed until he was almost stopped and waited for Bucky to fall into step beside him before continuing to walk properly. Bucky knew Thor was a god, and knew he was strong and tall, but only now they were side by side did he realise he was a lot shorter. He forced himself not to feel intimidated by Thor's presence, although it was difficult. 
"My father put a spell over the hammer. Only those deemed worthy can lift it. Those who can shall, gain the power of Thor." Thor held out the hammer. "Try."
Bucky shook his head and stuck his hands in his pockets. "No way. Not after all that I've done."
"Suit yourself." Thor shrugged and flipped the hammer over, "So, you and Steve." He elbowed Bucky in the ribs and wiggled his eyebrows. 
"Oh shush you." Bucky smirked, shoving the God playfully, "I've seen way you've been looking at Doctor Banner."
"Doctor Banner is a frightfully intelligent man yet he seems to notice my attempts at wooing him..." Thor sighed whistfully, staring out the window and off into the distance as the walked up the stairs. 
"Steve never said you were a fag." 
"Fag?"
"Gay. Homosexual. Liked men. Jesus I thought you'd at least know what that meant."
"I do have some brain cells. Just not many." Thor admitted. "Your place or mine?" 
"What?" 
"Want me to drop you at yours, or do you want to chill in mine for a bit?"
"Either."
"You shall come to mine. You can meet my brother." Thor seized Bucky's hand and whisked him off down the corridor, marching at an impressive speed. Bucky scrambled along behind, trying and failing to keep up with Thor's long strides. Thor didn't even bother with opening the door, instead kicking it open and grinning at the man sitting on the sofa reading. 
The man had his back to them, and Bucky could see he had long black hair. He was wearing black and green leather,  and a cape was draped over his legs like a blanket. Thor was still holding Bucky's wrist, so he had no way of going over and introducing himself. 
"Brother! I've made a friend!" Thor beamed. 
"That's nice Thor..." The man mumbled, not taking his eyes off the book. 
"His name is Bucky."
"Okay. And?"
"Loki.... Aren't you going to put down that book and say hello?"
"No." 
Bucky removed Thor's hand from round his wrist and walked into the room. He walked round behind the sofa, and he caught sight of the book Loki was reading. It was Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand Of Dead Men by an author called Derek Landy. 
"I can see why you wouldn't wanna put that down. That's a good book." Bucky smiled, "What chapter you on?"
"21." Loki closed the book, keeping his finger on the page, "Have you read all of Landy's books?" He moved his legs so that Bucky could sit beside him. 
"Most. I haven't read the spin offs, or the Demon Road trilogy. I have read the books that come after this one though." Bucky smirked. 
"Don't spoil anything. I'll hurt you." Loki glared. 
Bucky grinned. "I wouldn't dream of it."
Thor wandered in carrying a case of a beer he didn't recognise. He handed Bucky one, who took a sip and instantly gagged.
"What the fuck? Why is this so strong?" Bucky spluttered. 
"It's Asgardian." Thor frowned, "You don't like it?"
"Brother, anyone who likes Asgardian Mead is nothing more than a drunkard." Loki sighed. "It's too strong for mortals, you know this. Here, have some of this instead."
A finger tapped Bucky's shoulder and he flinched. Another Loki was there, holding out a glass of wine of some sort. He took a sip and smiled a thank you to the other Loki. He turned to the original Loki, who had now continued reading. 
"So," Bucky grinned, "Who is your favourite character so far?"
"I like Erskine Ravel. He seems like an intelligent man." Loki smiled. 
"Oh..." Bucky's face fell. 
"What?" Loki snapped. 
"No spoilers but... oh...."
Loki narrowed his eyes suspiciously but got back to reading, and Thor and Bucky started idly chatting the night away...

Meanwhile....

"How did you know that something had happened?" Steve asked as soon as they were alone in the workshop. 
"JARVIS. He's set to notify me if anyone on any floor needs assistance. He said that Bucky was attacking you, so I came to help as fast as I could." Tony's face softened. "Are you alright Steve?"
"Yeah, I already said this." Steve sighed, running a hand over his face. And he was. The hand mark on his neck had faded now, and all he wanted was to curl up in bed with Bucky and forget it all happened. 
"Steve... you know I care about you. I just want you to be safe and happy." Tony wrapped an arm round Steve's shoulders and gave him a squeeze. Steve leant into the embrace, but didn't hug back. Whilst he was grateful for someone to hold, he wanted Bucky. 
But Bucky didn't want him right now. Bucky didn't want anyone. He'd pretty much confirmed that when he said that he was leaving. They'd become so close, it had almost felt like they'd never been split up, but Rumlow and what's left of HYDRA just had to show up and shatter their picture perfect moment. 
Steve was going to make sure HYDRA would never get to ruin that moment again. 
Natasha was tapping away at a laptop in the corner, legs curled up beneath her and a lollipop sticking out the corner of her mouth. It would be quite endearing, were it not for the fact that she was hacking into a device her and Sam had found in the security office of the Smithsonian so that she could hunt down those who had dared to hurt Bucky. The SUV had driven off as they'd left the Smithsonian - Steve guessed that Rumlow must have been watching and radioed ahead that it hadn't gone according to plan - but the people involved were obviously amateurs. They'd left fingerprints and DNA everywhere they'd walked. 
"Steve, this device literally only has the recording on it and nothing else." Natasha frowned at the files in front of her. 
"JARVIS look into that."  Tony piped up, "Maybe there's something you've missed."
"I currently do not have access to Miss Romanoff's laptop." JARVIS stated bluntly. 
Tony arched an eyebrow and looked at Natasha. "I set that laptop up so JARVIS could help you with anything."
"Yeah, and I removed him. I don't want some AI tracking my every move, search history, social media posts... that's creepy." Natasha flashed a grin and got back to typing. 
Steve sat in Tony's chair, earning a scowl from the billionaire, and stared up at the ceiling. Tony noticed. 
"Natasha can you give us a minute alone?" Tony asked quietly. 
"Sure thing Tiny Stark." Natasha smirked. 
"What the fuck did you just call me?" Tony snapped, but there was no actual malice in his voice. 
"Tiny Stark." Natasha stood up, and in her heels she was ever so slightly taller than him. 
Tony grunted before giving her a one armed hug, then seeing her out. Steve was fairly certain Natasha said something to him but he was too spaced out to notice. Bucky was hurting. Because Bucky was hurting, so was Steve. It was almost as if since Bucky's return, someone had wired Steve's brain to feel whatever emotion Bucky was. 
Tony hated seeing Steve like this. Depressed. Silent. Lamenting. He shut the door behind Natasha and sighed, walking over to the other man and wrapping him in a hug. 
"You know, I've always thought you're better looking when you smile." Tony buried his face in Steve's hair and breathed in the familiar scent. 
"Yeah well... it's hard to feel happy when the guy you love is a depressed and unstable ex-assassin." Steve mumbled into Bucky's chest. "Don't get me wrong, I love him. But I just... I could've saved him..."
"Steve, there was no way you coul-" 
"No Tony! When he fell, I reached out to grab him but my hand missed. I clung to the side of the train and sobbed until it came to a stop. Next day I crash my plane into an iceberg hoping I'd die, and oh look. I fucking survived." Steve pushed Tony away and started pacing. "If I'd jumped after him, I could've saved him, could've stoped HYDRA hurting him, from breaking his mind."
Tony nodded. There wasn't much to argue with there, but he wanted to anyway; not to piss off Steve, but to try and get him to see it wasn't his fault. 

Chapter Text

Bucky wakes up screaming and hysterical. He’s still on his side, jostled awake by Fifi, who nuzzles into him, and then, upon realizing he’s awake, trots quickly across the room, raising herself onto her hind legs, and nudges the light on with her nose. The panic comes in waves, washing over him, settling in, and then rising and slamming him again. She spends every second of it beside him, pawing at his arms every time he tries to pull his own hair or scratch his metal fingers against his flesh arm. 
Steve isn’t next to him, and terror knots itself in his throat for a moment but then nausea slams him, and he stumbles to the bathroom in blind panic, Fifi hot on his heels, kneeling clumsily in front of the toilet and throwing up. Probably thirty seconds later, Loki is there, materialized out of thin air.

"Are you alright?" He asked, holding a hand out to help Bucky up.

"Yeah, I think... I'm sorr-" He was interrupted by more vomit violently surging up his throat and he gagged, bending back over the toilet just as Loki grabbed his hair to hold it back. Once he was sure he was done, he flushed the toilet and sat back against the wall, his head leaning on Loki's shoulder. "Thank you Loki..."

"What happened? I heard you screaming." Loki's green eyes were clouded over with concern. He shifted slightly to allow Bucky better access to his shoulder.

“Nightmare…” Bucky winced, screwing his eyes shut. “And then I went to grab Steve for comfort and he wasn’t there so I just panicked and I-” his breathing became gradually more and more erratic as he told Loki what was wrong. 

“Bucky! Breathe…” Loki whispered. Bucky complied, taking deep breaths in and out until he could feel his heart rate settling down. Fifi stayed patiently at Bucky’s side, her nose tucked under his chin affectionately.

“She takes care of you?” Loki suddenly asked.

“Hm? Oh yes, she does. She’s trained to help me whenever I have a panic attack or a nightmare.” Bucky grinned at her, tugging a the dog’s ears playfully. “Wait, how did you know?”

“I heard her. She was talking to you. Well, trying to.” Loki reached over and let Fifi smell his hand. She sniffed a little, then licked him once and whined softly. Loki patted his legs, and the dog clambered over Bucky - whipping him in the face with her tail in the process- and sat on Loki’s lap. Loki leaned in close, whispered something in the Fifi’s ear and the dog barked wagging her tail ecstatically.

“What is goin’ on?” Bucky frowned.

“Allspeak. I can understand her, and she can understand me. Granted, dogs do understand most of the things that you humans say to them but…” He shrugged, then resumed stroking Fifi.

“I wanna go find Steve. You think he’ll still be down at the lab?” Bucky stood up slowly, his head spinning a little.

“Probably. Oh! Don’t tell Tony that I’m here.”

Bucky frowned. “Okay…. Why?”

“Technically I’m not. This is a copy version of myself. Tony doesn’t really like me, and as far as he’s aware I’m imprisoned on Asgard.”

Bucky just nodded. That was a lot to process. He gave Loki a thumbs up and walked out, Fifi following. Loki smiled and vanished, leaving Bucky even more confused than he already was.

He stepped into the elevator, told JARVIS what floor he wanted, then crouched down and ran his hands over Fifi’s fur. She licked his cheek and nuzzled closer, barking softly at him as he laughed. She always lightened his mood. When she wasn't on duty, she was such a playful and loving character.

The door opened to reveal Tony and Steve facing away from him, Steve had his arms around Tony's waist. He stopped dead in his tracks and held his finger out just in front of Fifi's nose, the signal to stay where she was. She sat down and waited patiently. 

“Of course, I miss what we had Steve, but… Bucky makes you happy, happier than I ever could…” Tony was saying, one arm looped around Steve's waist, the other softly stroking his blonde hair. Bucky felt a stab of jealousy at the fact the two were cuddled close together, but from what Tony was saying, he didn't feel too envious. 

"He does make me happy... I just... I knew he wouldn't be the same man I knew from the 1930s but..." Steve trailed off. 

"But part of you hoped, right?" Tony sighed as Steve nodded. 

"I just feel like it's all my fault. If I'd just reached out a little farther..." 

"Steve." Bucky said. The two men leapt apart and Steve scrubbed his face with his hands before turning to look at him. He patted his thigh and looked down at the dog, the signal to follow, before he continued talking. "It's not your fault. It's HYDRA's. Stop blaming yourself." Bucky stated bluntly, walking over to where the two of them sat and draping himself across them both, his head on Steve's chest and his legs over Tony's lap. Tony grunted, slapping Bucky's shin playfully but not complaining. Fifi pushed herself up onto her hind legs and rested her front paws on the sofa, waiting for Tony to give her a scratch. "You couldn't have done anything. And even if you knew that I'd survived, it was all kept so well guarded and low-profile you wouldn't have even known where to start looking. They moved me to a new location every few weeks in the early days." Bucky explained, his eyes shut and slowly breathing in Steve's comforting scent. 

Steve nodded but didn't look convinced. His large arms wrapped themselves around his shoulders, holding him in a tight, comforting hug. 

"I'm not sure if I'm worth all this Steve... They turned me into a monster..." Bucky whispered. 

"Then that's exactly what I'll become to them. I'll be the monster that hunts them down." Steve growled. 

Bucky just laughed. "You could never be a monster. If anything, you're an annoying puppy nipping their ankles." 

"You know what you remind me of Buck? A pitbull." Tony suddenly piped up. Steve and Bucky frowned at the billionaire. "If you had a choice, you'd be a harmless guy, right? But you have a bad reputation because of what some assholes made you do. Just like pitbulls."

Bucky couldn't remember what a pitbull looked like. He grabbed the nearest phone, which turned out to be Steve's, and searched the internet for pictures of pitbulls. For every one picture of a cute innocent dog, there were about four or five of them growling or biting someone or barking. Tony had a point. Bucky smiled, because despite their vicious reputation, they were very cute dogs. 

"Can we get one?" Bucky asked, looking at a picture of a tiny brown puppy on the screen. 

"You need a special licence to get one I think, because of their bad name." Steve said. Bucky's face fell. 

"I'll look into it." Tony said with a wave of his hand. "I've always wanted one too. I'll get the license then say I'm the owner of both dogs, when really one will be yours."

Bucky's face lit up and he threw himself at Tony, hugging the other man tightly and saying "thankyouthankyouthankyou!!" Over and over again. Tony laughed and hugged back, then watched as Bucky jumped up and scooped Fifi into his arms. "You're gonna have a brother or sister Fi! You excited? Huh? Are you excited my little baby?" Bucky babbled on and on in a baby-talk voice as the dog wriggled and barked in his arms playfully. His life was looking up, more and more so everyday. He didn't think he could get any happier...

Chapter Text

Six AM the next morning, JARVIS scared the hell out of Steve and Bucky by announcing that Tony needs them down at the lab urgently. 

"God, J can you not?" Bucky glares at the ceiling. 

"Apologies Sergeant Barnes." The A.I responds. 

Grumbling, Steve throws on a tank top and goes to pull on a hoodie, but before he can Bucky grabs it from him, pushing him back down onto the bed and planting a little kiss on Steve's lips. 

"Someone's feeling bold this morning." Steve grins, kissing him back and running a hand through Bucky's hair. 

"Not really. I just wanted this." Bucky grinned back, pulling Steve's  hoodie over his head and pulling the hood up, smiling brightly. 

"Looks better on you anyways..." Steve sighed, standing back up and stretching. He went to grab another hoodie, but Bucky's hands grabbed his wrists. 

"No... You look better without one." Bucky whispered, biting his lip as his eyes trailed up and down Steve's muscles. Steve felt his face immediately start burning, but smiled nonetheless and didn't put one on. He pulled Bucky closer, wrapping his arms around Bucky's slender waist and burying his face into the crook of his neck, laughing softly as Bucky's brown shoulder length hair tickled his cheek. 

"Love you..." he murmured, lips pressed against Bucky's neck. 

"You too." Bucky whispered back, leaning his head against Steve's for a moment before stepping back.  He laced their fingers together, then led the way to the elevator. He didn't need to tell JARVIS which floor they wanted. The A.I already knew. The elevator gave a little lurch, than sank through the building to the laboratory in the basement. 

The doors parted, and a tidal wave of soft fur and pink licking tongues swarmed them, jumping up at them and nipping at the cuffs of their jeans. Steve laughed, using his feet to gently nudge the puppies out of the way so they could walk into the room properly. 

"I promised pitbulls, I delivered. You're welcome." Tony grinned. A young woman stood at his shoulder, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was rather short, clad in a cropped vest and black skin tight jeans. Although she was slender Bucky could see the toned muscles on her arms and her abs from even this far away. 

"Are you an Avenger too?" Bucky asked. He had this odd feeling that he recognised her, but he didn't have a clue who she was. 

"Ha, I wish!" She grinned. She had a beautiful smile. "Nah, I'm an ordinary citizen who rescues puppies from bad breeders."

"You're a hero in your own right then." Steve grinned, bending down and scooping a puppy up into his arms. It squirmed and writhed in his grip, licking his chin playfully as it yapped and barked. 

Bucky noticed a pet carrier in Tony's desk. Something moved inside it. 

"Why's that one locked up?" Bucky asked, tentatively moving closer. 

"He had surgery about a week ago. He had hip dysplasia, CCL and arthritis in his left hind leg, so vet said it'd be better to amputate. If it was just one or two he could recover, but all three... it was either put him down or lose a leg." The woman explained. She opened the door and lifted him out and into her arms. He was a blondish colour, with a white patch covering his chest and stomach. She set him on the floor and immediately he toppled over, whimpering in annoyance as he struggled to get back to his feet. 

"I relate." Bucky sighed, staring down at the dog with a sympathetic look. He noticed the woman frowning, so he pulled the sleeve of the hoodie up to his elbow. "When I lost my arm, I had no sense of balance. I'd constantly stumble around. I finally learnt how to balance myself, and then I got this prosthetic on, and it's really heavy, so I used to always fall over when I first got it." He explained. His face suddenly lit up. "Tony! Could you make a dog version for... uh, what's his name?"

"Flash." The woman smiled, "And you really don't have to Tony, it's fin-"

"I'd love to!" Tony grinned. He had a little black puppy curled up in his lap, sleeping softly. "This is Coal by the way, my new furry baby." Tony smiled down at the dog. Steve laughed and started chatting away to Tony and the lady. Bucky was still watching Flash. He sat cross legged on the floor and watched as the three legged dog struggled to his feet with sheer concentration in his eyes. 

"Easy boy, come on." He patted his leg and held out a hand, letting the dog get a sniff. Flash took a wobbly step forward, but managed it. His confidence slowly growing, he took another, and another, and then when he was within arms reach he attempted to run at Bucky but he fell, only being saved from hitting the floor by Bucky catching him with his right arm. 

"Easy buddy. Take your time, yeah? These things are hard." Bucky smiled, letting the dog rebalance itself and then scratching behind his ear. Flash walked right up to Bucky, unafraid and extremely friendly, sniffing the metal arm with interest, tail wagging a mile a minute. 

"Um... would I be able to have him?" Bucky asked, ruffling the dog's fur and smiling. 

The woman beamed. "If it's Flash you want, then Flash you shall have!"

Bucky scooped the pitbull into his arms, stood up and smothered the dog in kisses and cuddles. 

"Well, any paper work or anything we need to sign?" Steve asked. 

"Already taken care of." Tony waved a hand airily, "You can go now. If I need you I'll call, I should have a prototype for the prosthetic by tomorrow evening."

"Wow. You work fast." The woman raised her eyebrows. She whistled and called back over all the dogs that she was taking back, then clipped a leash onto each and every one of them. 

"Thank you so much." Bucky smiled, pulling the lady into a hug. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

"It's Eliza." She smiled, stepping out of the hug and almost tripping over the many dogs surrounding her feet. Bucky caught her, one hand at her waist and the other at her shoulder, steadying her. She blushed a little and laughed. "Thank you Bucky. Not only for saving me from falling, but for rehoming Flash. We don't get three legged dogs often, but when we do, a lot of the time they don't get a new owner and I end up keeping them for myself." She laced her fingers through his and gave his hand a quick squeeze. "I'm sure you and Steve will look after him well."

Steve's arm suddenly encircled Bucky's waist. "We will, thank you for everything Eliza. Want a hand with taking the dogs back?"

"You sure?" She frowned. 

We don't mind, do we babe?" Steve grinned at Bucky, squeezing him a little tighter and kissing his cheek. 

"If you wouldn't mind, that would be awesome." She hands Steve and Bucky a few leashes. "You two are so cute by the way." She adds as she leads the way to the elevator. 

"Thank you," Steve grinned. "We try." 

Eliza laughs and presses the button for the ground floor, the dogs around them tangling their leashes together. 

"So, you work out a lot?" Bucky asked, nodding to Eliza's muscled arms. 

"Yeah. I've always been pretty muscular, good genes I guess, but when I got to about 14 I was like 'yeah, let's see how big I can get.' so yeah, now I'm 17 and look at me!" She grinned, tending her arm then poking her bicep and laughing lightly. 

"May I?" Bucky asked, before giving her tensed arm a squeeze. She offered it out to Steve too, who felt it and raised his eyebrows. 

"Damn. What workouts you do?" He asked. 

"This is gonna sound kinda cringe," she blushed a little and her hair slipped down slightly to cover her face, "online someone posted workouts themed around you guys. I do the Black Widow, Iron Man and Captain America ones, but man they are tough. Especially yours Steve." 

"I don't even know what it is. I haven't seen it." He laughed. 

"Swap numbers? I'll send it to you." 

They did, and a couple hours later when they were cuddled up together watching a movie, Steve's phone went off. Attached to the message was Captain America's unofficial workout. 

"Damn, people really wanna look like you huh?" Bucky mumbled, tucked up to Steve's side with Fifi and Flash curled up side by side next to him. 

"Yeah.... don't see why but." Steve shrugged, then finished typing the reply and put his phone down. He snuggled closer to Bucky, his big beefy arms wrapped around Bucky's delicate waist. 

"You've put on weight." Steve said after a moment, his hands running around the circumference of Bucky's waist. 

"I have?" Bucky frowned, all of a sudden a little self conscious. 

"Yeah but it's a good thing. You were so skinny and frail when I found you."

"Bullshit." Bucky grinned, slapping Steve's chest playfully and straddling his hips. Steve sat up and kissed him, then flopped back down again. 

"Okay, you weren't frail, but you were still thin." Steve pointed out, his hands on Bucky's thighs. 

Bucky's expression darkened a little before he spoke. "Yeah, I guess I was. Can we go to bed? I'm tired..."

"Sure thing Buck." Steve smiled. He pulled Bucky back down onto his chest, arms wrapped round him protectively, and closed his eyes and falling into a dream...

Chapter Text

At breakfast, Bucky suddenly put his knife and fork down and looked up at Steve. "The reason I was kinda thin was because of them." He said bluntly. 

Steve looked up, mouthful of bacon, and frowned. "What?"

"You said I was putting on weight yesterday..." 

"Yeah I did. Why?" 

"I was only given food if they were happy with me. If I failed a mission, or if I disobeyed orders or whatever, I wouldn't get fed." He explained. 

Steve too put his knife and fork down and stood up. He put his hands on the back of the chair, looking down at the floor in a silent rage. 

"Steve, plea-"

He was interrupted by Steve throwing the chair into the wall, splintering it on impact and cracking the wall slightly. 

"Steve, baby please!" Bucky cried and jumped up, grabbing Steve's shoulders and shaking him slightly. "Come on babe, it's okay, I'm okay, don't worry." He babbled, praying some of it would get through to Steve. The anger was still in Steve's eyes, but it had faded a little. His body language less hostile, he ran a hand over his face and looked down at Bucky. 

"I'm sorry baby..." he mumbled, wrapping his arms around Bucky's shoulders and pulling him close, "Did I scare you?" 

"Sorta. Wasn't scared of you, just if you smashing up the apartment." Bucky chuckled, his arms snaking around Steve's waist. They remained like this for a while. Just two lovers, cuddled close, breathing in the comforting smell of one another, love filling them both and spilling over. Bucky could hear Steve's heartbeat beneath his ear, slowly calming down back to its normal pattern. He played with the hem of Steve's shirt, not saying a word. 

"I, uh... I cracked the wall." Steve pointed out. 

"Yes you did." Bucky smiled up at him. 

"I'm sorry Buck."

"Don't say sorry to me, say sorry to the wall!" Bucky laughed, slapping Steve's ass playfully. 

"Hey wall," Steve said, stepping away from the hug and walking over to the crack in the wall. "I'm so sorry for hurting you... I didn't mean to, can we start over? You know, begin our relationship again?"

Bucky's legs gave out beneath him as he howled, "God.... St... Steve you're an idiot..." He gasped between bursts of laughter. 

"Calm down Buck it wasn't that funny." Steve grinned, but one look at Bucky's hysterically laughing face was enough to send him over the edge too. He sank to his knees beside Bucky, giggling as he gripped Bucky's shoulders and wrestled him to the floor playfully, planting a kiss on his forehead once he got Bucky pinned to the floor. Bucky glanced down, noting down Steve's position. The blonde was kneeling between his legs, one hand at his shoulder and the other on his chest, holding him down. Bucky formed a plan in his head and executed it. 

"Hey, no fair." Bucky glared, scissor-swiping Steve's legs and flipping them both effortlessly so that now he was on top, his hands on Steve's hips. Steve raised an eyebrow, smirking up at the other man. Bucky leaned down and planted a kiss on Steve's lips, smiling as he did so. They stayed there for a moment, just cuddled up on the floor with their foreheads pressed together, love filling the space between them. 

Then they were interrupted by an overexcited Flash wobbling over on three legs, flopping down beside them and wriggling around on his back. Bucky laughed, tickled the dog's belly as he nuzzled closer to Steve. Fifi sat by, surveying the scene with a wagging tail. She'd never been one for roughhousing, but Bucky couldn't help but wonder if she was feeling a little left out. 

"Come here baby, come on girl!" Bucky grinned, patting his leg as he called her over. She trotted over, then lay down beside him and rested her head on his leg. Flash rolled closer too, tucking his head under Steve's arm and licking his jaw. 

"Well, isn't this nice." Came a voice. Tony's voice. Bucky looked over by the door, expecting to see Tony standing there, but he wasn't. 

"Um..." Bucky frowned, looking all round the apartment. 

"Don't worry Buck. I'm just using the same tech that lets JARVIS speak to you." 

Bucky let out a sigh of relief. 

"Come down. Bring Flash. I've got something for him."

Steve frowned, but let out an amused sound. "How much you wanna bet it's the prosthetic?"

"Oh shush you. Of course it's the prosthetic." Bucky grinned, rolling his eyes. He kissed the tip of Steve's nose before standing up, scooping the pitbull puppy into his arms and walking slowly to the elevator. 

"Aren't you gonna put some shoes on?" Steve laughed. 

"I have socks on."

"So?"

Bucky raised an eyebrow. "I can't be bothered to put shoes on. And besides, who says I need them?"

"You're going into a lab, Bucky." 

"Okay."

"Chemicals, broken glass, shrapnel. You wanna get injured?"

"It'll heal." He took Steve's hand and dragged him into the elevator. "Besides, you can carry me."

Steve frowned. "I can what?"

Bucky suddenly threw himself into Steve's arms, causing the blonde to panic and grab hold of him, carrying him bridal style. 

"See? You can carry me. JARVIS? Tony's lab." Bucky said, settling the dog onto his chest and wrapping his arms around Steve's neck. 

Steve raised an eyebrow. "You're a literal four year old."

"But you love me." Bucky smiled warmly, his fingers playing with Steve's hair. Steve leaned into the touch, practically purring, and nodded. There was no arguing with Bucky. 

They stepped out of the elevator once it got to Tony's lab, greeted by a blaring heavy metal song that quickly cut off as soon as Tony had been alerted that they'd arrived. 

"Bring forth the canine!" Hollered Tony. Steve put Bucky down and let him take Flash over. He leant against the doorframe, watching as Tony examined Bucky's arm, then compared it to the prosthetic on the table. He made a few minor adjustments, tweaked a few settings, said some sciencey stuff he didn't understand. Steve could see Bucky trying to process it all, listening intently to what Tony was saying and nodding along. It was cute, watching him geek out. 

"If I understand correctly, there's parts of the metal arm that go under the skin, right?" Tony suddenly asked. Bucky nodded, licking his lips. He started explaining how the arm was put in the first time they gave it to him. Steve drowned it out. He didn't want to hear about that. 

"Could you take your shirt off? If you don't mind that is." Tony asked.  Bucky nodded, drawing in a deep breath before removing the hoodie and then the t-shirt underneath. Steve bit his lip nervously. It was the first time he'd actually seen Bucky shirtless since the war. Sure they'd slept in the same bed shirtless since then, but that was with the lights off. He hadn't been able to see what it looked like. He walked closer, examining the scarring around where metal met skin. 

"I um... I kinda made it worse than it was." Bucky blushed. 

"What do you mean?" Tony frowned. 

"See the little scars? The ones that stem outwards from the edge of the arm? Those were me. I hated the arm, still kinda do to be honest, so at night..." he trailed off, a tear escaping his eye. Steve wiped it away and wrapped an arm around his shoulder comfortingly. 

"Take your time Buck." He whispered. 

"When they weren't watching me, I-I'd claw at the s-skin there, hoping maybe I could rip the arm out of me. It didn't work, but...."

Tony gave him a sympathetic look. "Alright Buck, you can put the shirt back on if you want. I got what I need."

Bucky quickly snatched up the t-shirt and yanked it over his head, quickly covering up the scarring and the metal. Steve said nothing. He just kissed Bucky's temple and let Bucky lean on him. 

"So, the leg is complete. All we need to do is actually put it on." Tony told them, picking up Flash and ruffling his fur. "But, he's gonna need to have it installed, the same way yours was, only we'll make sure we use proper medical procedures."

Bucky tensed up a little. "Who's gonna be doing it?" 

"I'll be there to help any way I can, Eliza will be there too, she's also a trained vet as well as a volunteer at a dog shelter, and a few other vets who'll help with the surgery."

Bucky nodded. "Can, um, can I be there? I wanna make sure he's safe." 

"I'm sure it won't be an issue. When do you want to do it?" Tony asked, pulling out his phone, "I'll let the team know."

"Um... It's Monday today, right? What about Thursday?" Bucky scratched behind the dog's ear and kissed his furry forehead. 

"Yeah that's good. That'll give me time to brief them on how it works and all that shit. Cool, you're free to go if you want, I don't need you anymore." Tony waved a hand airily. 

"Jesus, love you too Tony." Bucky rolled his eyes. 

"Sorry, that was kinda rude." Tony winced. 

"You think?" Bucky laughed, "I was kidding, you're a busy guy. We'll clear out. You still need the pup or can we take him?"

"Take him. He'll just distract me otherwise," Tony stuck his tongue out at Flash, "Look at him, with his cute widdle face and his floppy widdle ears and his big puppy eyes. Who's a good boy? Who's a good pupper?" 

Bucky cringed at Tony's baby talk voice. It was not the sort of thing you'd expect to hear him say, and it was offputting to say the least. 

"I'm taking our dog before you kidnap him." Steve sighed, picking up the dog and carrying him so that Flash's head rested on Steve's shoulder. "He is a cutie, but he's ours Tony. You've got your own."

"True. Mine is cuter though." Tony grinned, glancing over at the sleeping puppy in the corner. 

"Sure. See you later Tony."

"Later Rogers. Later Buckman."

Bucky groaned at the stupid nickname as the elevator doors closed behind them. He looked over to see Steve cringing. Flash was licking Steve's ear repeatedly, so Bucky poked the puppy's nose and pushed it away. 

"Thanks. That was a little gross." Steve laughed, "Please don't do that again son." He told the dog, patting it's back fondly. 

"Son?" Bucky frowned. 

"Yeah. He's our fur-baby. We are his parents." Steve explained. "Same with Fifi." 

"But Fifi's my service dog." Bucky's frown deepened. 

"Yeah but you still love her. She's still part of the family." Steve smiled. 

"Hm..." Bucky thought over what Steve said for a moment. "Yeah that's fair, she's our daughter, he's our son. And our son has a weird obsession with licking your ear." He sighed, removing the dog's tongue from Steve's ear once again. 

"Hey, families are never perfect are they?" Steve laughed. He adjusted his hold on the dog so that he was curled up in his arms, unable to lick his ear anymore. 

Chapter Text

She swung a fist to his head that he blocked, slamming the heel of his palm into her side as punishment for leaving her guard so low. She hissed in pain and grabbed the metal arm at the wrist and bicep, planting her foot against his hip and using the bionic prosthetic as leverage to swing her legs up, wrapping them around his shoulders, trying to get a triangle choke on him. He stumbled backwards, twisting and shaking, trying to dislodge her, but it was useless. He threw his whole body back against the wall and she cried out, cursing in Russian, before slipping from his shoulders and hitting the floor. He looked down at her and arched an eyebrow. She pushed her short hair from her face, stood up, and raised her fists.

 

Before Bucky could get a good look at her face, he had woken up. He was still tucked into Steve's side, Fifi curled up beside him with her head in his lap. Flash was beside Steve, flopped on his back and fast asleep in Steve's arms. They'd started watching a movie the night before, but had obviously both fallen asleep before the ending. Steve's phone played a sound, so Bucky took a little glance. It was just Tony, so he checked what the message said.

 

"Everyone's agreed to Thursday. We'll be doing it at the clinic Eliza works at. Gotta be there for 10 AM sharp."

 

Bucky wanted to respond, but he had no clue how to work these things. He has a phone of his own somewhere around the apartment, but he didn't see the point of him having it. The metal arm meant he could only use it with one hand, and that was a rather awkward and clumsy way of using the phone. He'd given up trying to learn to use it, opting to just leave it lying around somewhere, god knows where, and never use it.

 

"Steve.... Steve, babe," He whispered, nuzzling Steve's stubble with his nose. He hadn't shaved in a couple of days so a beard was starting to grow. "Stevie, come on, up."

 

The blonde groaned, running a hand over his face as he stretched. "J, what time's it?" He yawned.

 

"It is currently 9:37 AM sir." The A.I responded. Steve put the sleeping puppy on the sofa before shuffling over the the coffee machine, arms wrapped around his mid-section.

 

He was always like this in the mornings. Groggy. Disheveled. A walking zombie. He went to get a mug from the cupboard, but totally missed it and ended up shoving the mug further into the cupboard. He groaned in annoyance, then tried again. This time, he got a proper hold of the mug.

 

"Thought you could escape me huh?" He scowled at the mug.

 

"I'm cold." Bucky frowned.

 

"Get a blanket." Steve mumbled in reply.

 

"I got a better idea..." Bucky chuckled, walking over and wrapping his arms around Steve, kissing his shoulder. He felt Steve lean back into the hug as he made his coffee, then started making Bucky one too. "I had a dream Stevie. Think it was a memory."

 

"That's great news!" Steve twisted in his grip and wrapped his big beefy arms around Bucky's shoulders, "Tell me about it." Steve grinned.

 

"Well... I was training someone. A woman. Or maybe a girl, I don't know. I just know that she was female. Brown, short hair. Pretty short too, but strong. We were sparring together, and she was good, almost as good as me, but she made a couple of little silly mistakes. I woke up before I could get a good look at her face though..."

 

Steve pulled back from the hug, hands on Bucky's waist, "I mean... it's a start, right?" He mumbled, kissing Bucky on the forehead.

 

"I feel like... like she was important..." Bucky frowned.

 

"And if you remember anything more about her, we'll try find her. Maybe she can help you with unlocking new memories."

 

Bucky just hummed in response. "Going to take Fifi for a walk." He detangled himself from Steve and walked into the bathroom to take a quick shower. He set the temperature, then stripped off, trying to ignore the whine of his metal arm as it locked the plates down so that no water damaged the electronics inside. He stepped in, the warm water feeling good against his skin, and he washed around a weeks worth of grease from his hair. Once he was finished he stepped out, pausing a moment to look at himself in the mirror above the sink.

 

He had put on weight, Steve was right about that, but his eyes were still sunken and looked dead. His hair, wet and tangled up, looked limp and dull, his left shoulder was considerably lower than the other from the weight of his arm. He looked in the mirror and saw every target he'd ever killed, every bruise from every beating he'd gotten appeared on his skin in that moment, every hand who had ever touched him against his will left a dirty, rotten mark to remind him he was theirs to use as they pleased.

 

He could never kid himself, he was nothing more than a blood-drenched serial killer, trying to ignore what he had done in the past. He wasn't aware of himself punching the mirror until he felt a stinging pain on his knuckles as the shattered glass cut his skin.

 

There was a knock on the door. "Bucky? What's happening, are you alright?" Steve called through. He could hear Fifi whimpering, clawing at the door as her way of begging to be let inside.

 

"Yeah! 'M fine!" Bucky called through, although his voice betrayed him.

 

"You sure? Can I come in?"

 

The handle started turning and Bucky panicked. He was still standing here with no clothes on. Bucky still wasn't ready for Steve to see him like this yet. "No! Don't!" He yelled, "I'm not wearing clothes!" He was breathing heavy again, hysterical. He was shaking.

 

"Baby, I'm gonna open the door and let Fifi in, okay? She's gonna help you. I promise I won't look." The door opened just enough to let the dog through, and he caught a quick glance of Steve, a hand covering his eyes and facing the opposite direction. One she was inside, Bucky nudged the door closed with his foot. He threw his arms around Fifi, who sat patiently and let him cry and sniffle.

 

Steve's voice came through the door again. "You okay in there Buck? Just breathe for me. Come on, like we practiced."

 

Bucky took a deep breath for 4 seconds, held it for 4 seconds, then blew it out for 4 seconds and didn't breathe back in for another 4 seconds. Box breathing. It was a calming strategy they teach in the military to calm nerves and slow down the heart rate. It worked. Once he had fully calmed down, he pulled his boxers on, then the t-shirt, and called out to Steve, "I'm decent. You can come in if you wanna."

 

Instantly Steve flung the door open and looked him up and down, frantically saying something Bucky couldn't even begin to comprehend. His hands were at Bucky's face, checking it for injuries, then he saw the cut hand and went in to full panic mode.

 

"What happened baby?" Steve practically screamed. He was pissed, and Bucky flinched. "Shit, I'm sorry Bucky, come here, what happened?"

 

"I, uh, I punched the mirror. I'm fine, I don't need you to baby me." He tried to push past Steve but a hand closed around his wrist, spun him round and pushed him up against the wall. He whimpered, but he knew Steve wouldn't hurt him. It was just a bit of a shock that Steve could be so dominant.

 

"Show me your hand." He growled in Bucky's ear. There was no malice in it though. Bucky held up his hand, letting Steve look it over. Satisfied, he looked Bucky in the eyes and whispered, "Bedroom. Now."

 

Bucky nodded, mumbling an affirmative, then went to walk into his room, but Steve stopped him, kissed the tip of his nose, before lettiing him keep walking.

 

Bucky sat on the end of the bed and waited. He didn't have to wait long though, as Steve soon came in and knelt down in front of him, holding a first aid kit.

 

"You do know I have the serum too?" Bucky sighed.

 

"Hush." Steve growled, and Bucky did. He watched as Steve cleaned the wound tenderly, occasionally pausing to remove tiny shards of glass he hadn't noticed, then covered the injury with a gauze. Steve kissed his knuckles, lightly grazing his lips over the injured area, his sparkling ocean eyes locked onto Bucky's as he did so.

 

"Thank you Stevie..." Bucky whispered, but it wasn't enough. Nothing would ever be enough to describe how much he loved the blonde man in front of him, or how grateful he was that Steve was in his life.

 

"It's okay Buck... I know you'd do the same." Steve mumbled against Bucky's hand.

 

"Steve?"

 

"Yes Buck?"

 

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry I'm so, I don't know, prude I guess."

 

"What do you mean Buck?" Steve rested his chin on Bucky's knee, looking up at him with a concerned look in his eyes.

 

"HYDRA, um... some of them liked to take advantage of the fact that I had no free will." He mumbled, looking down at the floor, "In more ways than just assassinating people."

 

"They... um... hurt you? In that way?"

 

"Yeah... It didn't happen often, but it was enough to put me off, ya know? But can we stop talking about it now? I'm not ready to tell you about it yet..."

 

Steve nodded, moving to sit beside Bucky on the bed and pulled him close, practically pulling Bucky onto his lap. They stayed there, silently cuddled up, not saying a word. They didn't need to.

 

--- Meanwhile, halfway across New York ---

 

It had been three days since Eliza had arrived at the Stark tower to show Tony the pitbull pups. She hadn't realised that one of the dogs would be for Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, who were dating now apparently, but she didn't have a problem with that. She knew Stark and Rogers would give them both good homes, but Bucky... he was on her mind.

 

He hadn't recognised her. She knew it was him, no one else in the world had a metal arm like that.

 

Once upon a time, he was everything to her. They were inseparable, like a brother and sister. He had handled most of her training. He had watched as HYDRA wiped her over and over, trying to turn her into a mindless drone like Bucky had eventually become. She was the only unsuccessful candidate to ever be selected for the Winter Soldier program.

 

The oldest of her dogs, a border collie called Poppy, barked, wagging her tail and staring out of the window.

 

"What's the matter baby? You seen something?" She smiled, but the dog had stopped wagging her tail. She'd gone stock still, staring out the window at something happening outside. She could hear yelling. Frowning, she opened the front door to see her girlfriend, Anna, shouting at someone and telling them to fuck off.

 

"Baby, what's going on?" Eliza frowned.

 

"He's been following me ever since my shift ended, he's being a fucking creep." Anna scowled, moving closer to Eliza and snaking an arm around her waist. Eliza planted a kiss on her forehead.

 

Eliza turned to the stranger, an eyebrow raised. "That true?"

 

"Yeah," He smiled, showing crooked, yellowing teeth. "Not interested in her though. Been lookin' for ya for a while now."

 

Eliza instinctively stepped in front of her girlfriend, shielding her, a scowl as dark as her hair fixed firmly onto her face. "Who are you? What do you want?"

 

"Me? I'm nobody. I'm jus' a simple guy, doing one last job for HYDRA. That job o' mine is to bring you and Barnes back to the fold, so please, make it easy for me and don't fight back."

 

Tying back her long hair, Eliza kept her eyes locked onto her target. "Get inside the house baby."

 

"What? HYDRA? Barnes? Who is Barnes? Babe, what aren't you telling me?"

 

"I said get inside the house, now go!" She snapped. That was the first time she'd yelled at her girlfriend in the 18 months they had been together... She'd make sure HYDRA paid for that.

 

Once Anna was inside the house and she'd heard the door lock, she looked the man up and down. "You're not like me, are you? You're not a Winter Soldier like I am, so I feel that I may have the upper hand here." She smirked, an eyebrow raised at the man.

 

"Well, why don't we find out?" He laughed, before she barely had time to block the fist he had aimed for her head. She managed to block it but it was a clumsy attempt, and she stumbled sideways and he kicked at her knee, her legs betraying her and buckling beneath her. He dived for her but she got one foot to the floor, the other hitting his chest and she pushed off, rolling backwards and landing in a crouch before diving at him, arms crossed in front of her face, slamming into him and knocking him further back. She scrambled to her feet and so did he, but before he could react she was grabbing his arm, planting a foot against his hip and manoeuvring up to his shoulders, where she wrapped her legs around his neck, applying a triangle choke and raining elbows down onto the top of his head. He staggered left and right, trying to shake her off, fighting to stay on his feet.

 

The door to the house was flung open, and Poppy came running out, barking and snarling. She leapt at the man, sinking her teeth into his thigh and shaking her head viciously from left to right, the way she'd been taught to if either of her owners were being attacked. She could see her Anna, phone in hand, probably dialling the police.

 

"Don't!" She yelled, crying out as he suddenly shifted his entire body forwards. She fell from his shoulders, landing with a thudded wincing as pain shot through her ribs. "Get mine! Call Steve Rogers!" She called between dodging his attacks. She ducked under a clumsy left hook and twisted, snaking her foot out and swiping his legs out from underneath him. He fell and she took a run up, her foot colliding with the side of his face, and he didn't get up.

 

Panting hard, she stumbled to the front door, dragging him by the collar of his shirt. Her knee was swollen where he'd kicked it, and her ribs sent shooting pains with every step, but the pain was bearable. Besides, it wouldn't take long to heal with her enhanced healing abilities.

 

She reached Anna and dumped his unconscious body at her feet, holding her hand out for her phone. Anna handed it over, and she licked her lips before talking. She was nervous, so so terribly nervous, but she knew Steve could be trusted if Bucky could trust him.

 

Steve wouldn't send her back to HYDRA. If he was dating Bucky, then surely he'd know about the hell he had been through. She took a deep breath, then put the phone to write ear.

 

"Hello? Anyone there?" She heard him saying.

 

"Steve, sorry it's so late... I, uh, I need you to come over to mine. But please, don't bring Bucky. There's something I have to tell you, and it involves HYDRA..."