“Hey, Bucky! Guess what!” Steve cheered as he entered the plain hospital like room where Bucky was staying.
“Uh...We’re about to go into another war with extraterrestrial beings?” Bucky guessed as he was asked to do.
“I didn’t really think that you would actually guess, but no” Steve answered, preparing to share the exciting news with his longtime friend.
Steve got to work unlocking Bucky’s room. His holding area was like a mix between a hospital room and a jail cell. It was nice enough that it had everything he needed, aside from a kitchen. He had a bed and places to put his belongings. He had a bathroom which was off in a separate room attached to his living area. Overall it was very plain. His bedding was all black on a simple twin sized bed. His dresser and bookshelf were a basic matte white finish. His dresser held some clothing which had been provided for him after he came to Stark’s tower. His bookshelf was empty aside from a few items that Steve had gifted him in the two months that he’s been here. He had all the necessary items in his bathroom. He had a shower, a sink, and a toilet. Steve always made sure that he always had his hygiene items. His bed area was surrounded by an unbreakable, clear glass so that he could always be seen. His door was a sturdy Iron door which could not be easily opened without unlocking it.
Bucky watched Steve wearily as he unlocked the door. Usually the only time his door was unlocked was when one of the avengers brought him a meal. That was the only thing he could not do for himself. He had to rely on the team to feed him three times a day. That was how it had been for the past three months. He’s always been afraid that they would forget about him or that they would go away to battle, not returning, resulting in him starving.
“Don’t you want to know what’s so special about today?” Steve asked after he’d unlocked Bucky’s door, leaving it open behind him.
“I guess” Bucky said, lacking enthusiasm.
Bucky mostly just wondered what was going on. Things were happening so differently than they normally did. They never left his door open when they came down to give him food. They always closed it after entering and leaving. They were always weary of all his actions and his exact location. He supposed it was a bit different when it was Steve. Steve trusted him much more than the other avengers did, but he still followed all the rules. Before today he had always been sure to keep the door closed as he was supposed to. Bucky didn’t understand why today was so different.
“You’re going home today, Bucky!” Steve finally shared with joy.
“What do you mean? I thought this was my home?” Bucky said, tilting his head to the side in confusion.
“Your home is in the tower, but your home is not down here in this ugly bland quarantine room. You were simply in quarantine. Tony insisted that you be watched to make sure you were safe. This was never meant to be your forever. You’ve passed. Everyone has agreed that you are ready to be welcomed into the tower where you can be free” Steve explained, his heart breaking a little at the fact that Bucky thought that he would stay in this little prison forever.
“Then where is my home?” Bucky wondered, relaxing as he was coming to understand the importance of the day.
“You’ve got a room on my floor. I’ll always be there if you need me” Steve promised.
“Why with you?” Bucky asked even though he was relieved that he wouldn’t be alone anymore.
“We all thought you would be the most comfortable if you were with someone you trusted, someone you’d known for basically your entire life” Steve answered, referring to himself.
“You” Bucky nodded to himself.
Steve nodded back. He allowed them to sit in their comfortable silence for a few minutes, a comfort they'd developed in their long time of knowing one another. They had this deep unbreakable connection which has brought them together time and time again. Bucky never wanted to be away from him again. He was afraid that everything would go completely wrong if they were ever separated again.
“So are you ready to go home?” Steve asked as he stood, ready to help Bucky bring his few belongings up to his new home, his forever home.
“I guess” Bucky responded, standing up and following Steve’s actions.
“Then let us get to work. Let’s go upstairs first. I want to show you your room. I want you to see our home” Steve smiled, offering his hand to bucky.
Bucky smiled. It made his heart feel a little bit warm when Steve had said it was their home. He very much enjoyed the fact that it was theirs. It reminded him of how they shared a home back before the war, a very long time ago. He paused for just a moment before he took Steve’s hand and allowed himself to be dragged through the hall and to an elevator.
“This is going to take a while. Our floor is close to the top. We’re in the basement. We’re actually several levels below ground currently. The only floor beneath us is a shelter for the apocalypse” Steve said the last part jokingly, though the rest of his statement was truthful.
“Steve, I don’t think that we need an apocalypse shelter. You guys are the avengers. Haven't you already basically stopped multiple apocalypses?” Bucky asked with amusement in his voice.
“Actually, Buck. Today, you are officially an avenger. You won’t be a part of any missions yet. We want you to get settled in. You are officially one of us as of today” Steve informed him as he pressed the up button on the wall.
“I don’t think I’m ready for any missions anyway. Not mentally. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover” Bucky admitted.
He didn’t usually share so openly like this, but he felt so comfortable with his best buddy, Steve. Steve was the only person that he really trusted. After everything that happened to him, he found it hard to really trust anyone. He had been through a lot of shit. Some things he remembered and some things he didn’t remember. He trusted Steve. He wouldn’t always want to share everything with Steve, but he trusted him.
The elevator finally opened. Steve immediately stepped inside, pressing the button for their floor. Bucky hesitated for a moment before he followed Steve into the small space. He wasn’t fond of small spaces. However he’d rather be in the elevator for just a few minutes than walk up however many flights of stairs it would take to get up to the floor which was saved for him and Steve. After having been stuck in that room for several years he was not in very good shape.
A few minutes went by as the elevator went up and up. Steve and Bucky stood in the small space together, waiting for it to arrive at their floor on the thirteenth level. It wasn’t awkward. It was comfortable with just the two of them. Finally the elevator chimed, opening the doors to their floor.
“Welcome home, Bucky” Steve said quietly.
“It’s nice” Bucky said as he looked around, not really bothering to look too hard.
“Welcome home!” Several voices shouted, startling Bucky.
Bucky pulled a defensive stance. His feet were set wide apart, grounding him and stabilizing his position. His metal hand and his flesh hand both came up in front of him, protecting his torso and face.
“Relax, Buck. It’s just our friends” Steve said as he put his hand on Buckey’s flesh shoulder comfortingly.
“Friends?” Bucky asked.
The only friend Bucky knew was Steve. He didn’t have any other friends. He hadn’t earned other friends. The only friend he’d ever earned was Steve, and that had happened before the war and before hydra.
“You know, the other avengers” Steve explained knowingly.
“But how can they be my friends? I can’t have friends” Bucky stated sadly.
“You have friends. These are our friends, Buck” Steve said firmly, not leaving any room for Bucky to argue.
Bucky looked over the room, seeing the other people who were on their floor. It seemed to be all of the Avengers who permanently lived in the tower. Tony Stark was there. Natasha Romanov and Clint Barton were there. Loki and Thor were both there. Bruce Banner was there. There actually were not very many people. He wondered why the tower had so many floors when there were only eight people permanently living in the tower.
“Hello” Bucky said nervously.
All he really wanted to do was get his things and get settled in. He had no urge to hang out with other people at the moment. He just wanted to get used to his new living situation.
“Well, we all should get going. I’m sure you have plenty to do to get moved in here” Natasha said sweetly, ushering the rest of the Avengers out and into the elevator.
Bucky breathed a sigh of relief. He remembered Natasha. He wasn’t sure why he remembered her. She had been some sort of an acquaintance back when he was under the control of hydra. He had no clue what connection they had. She seemed nice though.
“Let’s go to your room” Steve suggested as the doors to the elevator closed behind them.
Bucky nodded and silently followed Steve down the hallway. They got to a door in the middle of the hall. There were several other doors in the hallway.
“Your room is right here. If you ever need me, I’m just over there” Steve said, pointing across the hall to another door.
Steve opened the door and directed Bucky inside. The room was much nicer than his room downstairs. It was much bigger. The walls were dark. There was a large window, covered with a dark curtain which blocked out most of the light from outside. The bed was even bigger. It seemed to be a full single sized bed. Bucky wasn’t really sure. It had navy blue sheets and pillow cases and a black comforter with a navy blue underside.
Steve fondly watched Bucky explore his room. Bucky had been looking around for a few minutes before Steve even thought to turn on the light. He chuckled to himself as Bucky seemed even more amazed by the room now that it was properly lit.
Bucky stood at the window, pulling the curtain to the side and staring out at the world with wide eyes. It had been so long since he had seen the sun and the sky and clouds. He turned around, tears in his eyes. He couldn’t believe he was beginning to cry just from looking outside for the first time in so long. He hastily wiped his eyes before Steve could notice.
“Do you like it?” Steve asked hopefully.
“I like it a lot” Bucky smiled.
Steve smiled too. He was glad that Bucky liked it. He had picked everything out with hopes that it would make Bucky happy. He’d had it all set up soon after Bucky came to the tower. He hadn’t been sure when Bucky would be released from his quarantine but he wanted it to be perfect and ready for Bucky when he was ready to come home.
“Let’s go get your stuff now” Steve said as he opened Bucky’s closet and pulled out a basic grey fabric covered suitcase.
“This should make things a lot easier” Steve explained, setting the large piece of luggage down.
“Yea, I think all of my stuff will easily fit in there” Bucky laughed, his mood lightening a bit.
“Then let’s get going” Steve suggested, waiting for Bucky in the hallway.
They quickly made their way back downstairs to Bucky’s old holding cell. It seemed to go a lot faster at least. They brought the suitcase and they quickly loaded Bucky’s few things into it. Bucky just wanted to finish and go back up to their home and to his room. It was really nice. It was so much better than his bland jail room. He appreciated it so much though he didn’t really want to admit it.
“That’s everything” Bucky said as he carefully placed some of the gifts that Steve had given him into the suitcase.
The last item was a picture frame. Inside was an old picture of Bucky and Steve from just before the war. It was before everything went horribly wrong. Bucky zipped up the suitcase and grabbed the suitcase. He allowed Steve to carry his things while he grabbed the picture. He was horrified of it breaking. If it broke he felt like he would break all over again. If he could break, being as broken as he already was.
Most of the time Bucky felt kind of okay. His nightmares and horrifying memories seemed to have spaced out much more in the time that he’d been in the stark tower. He was beginning to think that things were getting better.
Steve and Bucky soon ended up back in Bucky’s new room. Bucky carefully placed the picture right on the mahogany nightstand. He had so much space to fill now. There was so much space. He wasn’t sure how he’d do it. Maybe he never would.
“Do you want my help unpacking your clothes?” Steve asked, offering his service kindly.
Bucky thought for a moment before deciding, “Yes, that’d be kind of nice”.
Bucky could have easily done it on his own, but for some reason he didn’t want to be alone. For some reason his mind seemed to be darkening. It scared him. He didn’t understand. Maybe he was just having a worse mental day than he’d had in a while.