One Year Earlier
The nightmares started about a week after getting discharged. Bucky woke up screaming for help or swinging his fists. Sometimes he woke up and just screamed out of sheer pain. Steve was there through it all. Every time Bucky woke, Steve was by his side talking softly and reminding him he was safe. Steve ended up just sleeping in Bucky’s bed just to make it easier to bring Bucky back down. It was on one of these nights that Bucky woke up screaming, it was one of the nights he woke up still in mid battle. He was flat against the wall looking like a caged animal but he was utterly still. Eerily calm as he watched Steve intensely.
“Buck. It’s me Steve” Steve spoke softly, slowly approaching “You’re okay. You’re safe. Can you hear me?” he reached his hand out to the brunette “You’re in Brooklyn. It’s 3:45 am. Your name is James Buchanan Barnes”
Bucky eyed the hand warily but didn’t flinch away from it and Steve thought he might see some recognition in his eyes. Steve smiled slightly before resting his hand lightly on Bucky’s arm, everything was still for a while and Steve thought everything was going to be fine until the brunette suddenly tackled him to the ground.
Bucky had pinned Steve’s body to the ground and had his hands around the smaller man’s throat. Bucky’s weight was crushing Steve’s fragile chest and the blonde was gasping for air as Bucky’s fingers tightened their grip.
“B-bu-buck” Steve gasped out and gripped Bucky’s hand. Even with a one arm disadvantage Steve was too small and too weak to overpower the brunette. “P-pl-please”
Bucky’s eyes widen with sudden horror and realization as he came out of it. The brunette immediately let out of Steve’s throat and got off him quickly while the blonde gasped for breath, coughing violently. Once Steve had taken a couple breaths he looked up concerned
“A-are you okay?” he asked Bucky. As if Bucky hadn’t just tried to choke him to death and Bucky was shaking as he looked at the concern etched into Steve’s young features. Steve “Buck?”
“Am I okay? Are you okay? I could have killed you!” Bucky exclaimed his eyes were still wide with horror “Oh god I could’ve killed you”
“Bucky it’s okay. This isn’t your fault. I’m okay” Steve soothed “Hey it’s okay. Stay with me”
“Steve I am so sorry” Bucky said and looking like he wanted to hug the smaller man. Steve pulled Bucky into a hug
“It’s okay. I’m okay” Steve soothed and the brunette buried his face in Steve’s neck
The next morning Steve woke up to Bucky making cereal and when he went out he smiled lazily. “Morning”
“Morning” Bucky replied and Steve got out some cereal as well. Bucky tried with one hand to pour Steve milk but ended up pouring it on Steve’s shirt. Bucky set down the milk and grabbed a towel an apology on his tongue
“Don’t apologize. It’s okay” Steve smiled reassuringly “I’ll clean it up. Eat your breakfast”
“Steve-“ Bucky started and Steve gave him a light push towards the table. Steve cleaned up the spilt milk and walked over to the laundry basket full of fresh clothes. Steve stripped off his shirt and was about to pull on another one when he was stopped by a hand. Steve jumped silently in surprise. Bucky was sitting at the table and suddenly was right by him.
“Buck?” Steve questioned and then followed the brunette’s gaze that was fixed on his chest and neck area. “Oh” he murmured when he was the bruises forming there and the distinct hand print on his neck “Buck”
“I hurt you” Bucky had a deep frown on his face and his eyes held such disgust for himself as he touched the damaged skin lightly “Stevie I’m so sorry”
“It’s just a bruise” Steve murmured taking Bucky’s hand in his own and squeezing his hand “I’m okay. This isn’t your fault okay?”
“This is all my fault” Bucky tried to pull away but Steve held on to his hand tightly
“Bucky look at me” Steve said sternly “Look at me” Bucky’s eyes finally met Steve’s “This is not your fault. Don’t you dare blame yourself”
A few days later Steve started doing research on ways he could help Bucky and contacted the VA nearby to ask. They suggested convincing Bucky to go to the group meetings and visiting the center, along with other tips. So as the tow sat down for dinner Steve pulled the flyer from his pocket and pushed it towards Bucky.
“I read that talking about it helps and I know you’re going to say you talk to me but I can’t understand in the way someone has been in the war can. I just want you to look at it and maybe go to one meeting. They said you don’t even have to talk you can just listen or observe. It is up to you but Buck I can’t sit here watching you suffer so much. It’s killing me to see you like this” Steve had his hand on Bucky’s and the brunette was watching the blonds pleading eyes.
“Okay. One meeting” Bucky agreed and Steve smiled
Steve was painting when Bucky got back from the VA meeting the next night, soft music playing in the background. “Hey Buck. How was it?” Steve asked immediately when he saw Bucky entering
“Helpful. Really helpful” Bucky responded
“Do you want to talk about it?” Steve asked putting down his paint brush and turning his body towards him.
“Not yet” Bucky responded and Steve nodded picking his paint brush back up
“Whenever you’re ready. I’m here” Steve smiled and Bucky responded in kind.
“I know” Bucky settled onto the couch and watched Steve paint. “Whatever happened to Tony? Why haven’t I seen that asshole around?”
“You don’t know?” Steve asked and Bucky shook his head “We broke up”
To be fair Bucky really tried not to be very happy about that occurrence but not everything can be helped. He asked in his most sincere voice “oh…Why?”
“He asked me to choose between you or him” Steve responded not even looking up from his painting. Bucky could clearly see Steve was over it as if it was just something that happened.
“What’d you choose?” Bucky asked and Steve gave him the sassiest look
“Who do you think?” Steve rolled his eyes and returned to his painting.
“I love you Stevie” Bucky sighed with a smile across his features and Steve stopped painting
“Buck you can’t say things like that to me” Steve responded quietly, his sad blues eyes looking at him just like he had on that day.
“What if I mean it that way?” Bucky questioned
“C’mon please don’t play about this” Steve pleaded his eyes meeting Bucky’s.
“I’m not playing Steve, I love you. That day you told me you loved me I lied when I said I didn’t feel the say way because I do. I was scared and confused about my feelings then but now I’m sure. I’ve never looked at a guy in that way but you. You’re the exception to that. I needed to figure myself out and when you started dating Tony I was so jealous and furious. I realized I loved you too late and then I went off to war. The only thing I could ever think about was you Stevie and how much I missed you. When that bomb went off all I could think was how I regret not telling you how I felt” Bucky had moved across the room to the smaller man and was now a few inches away from him. “I love you”
“I love you too” Steve responded after a beat his eyes filling with joy and a wide smile breaking out over both of their faces. Bucky pulled Steve up and into a kiss which the small blond responded passionately to.
Steve hummed happily as he painted a little star on Bucky’s metal arm while the brunette napped with his head in Steve’s lap. Bucky slowly found his way to the world of the awake “What are you doing sweetheart?”
“Painting” Steve responded with a small smile down at the veteran and he smiled up at the artist
“Okay” Bucky yawned and moved his flesh hand to pull Steve down into a kiss “What time is it?”
“13:12” Steve responded against Bucky’s lips before pressing another kiss to Bucky’s lips “You almost missed the space documentary but I remembered to record it”
“You’re the best” Bucky grinned and the blond hummed in agreement as he pulled back to finish his work “I have an idea for 4th of July”
“Also your birthday doll” Bucky inquired staring up at Steve’s jawline
“Yeah and it will be very crowded and fireworks will go off. I know that it’s going to be hard so I was wondering if maybe we rent a cabin instead of sitting through it? We can make cocktails and watch Star Trek?” Steve offered. He knew Bucky suffered from PTSD and any loud noise even know still would make Bucky had a mini freak out. Fireworks would just not be a good idea. Bucky stared at the blond and was amazed at how considerate he was. Steve would give up whatever celebration he wanted to have to make sure Bucky wasn’t in pain. No matter what Steve would always be thinking about Bucky and how he could help him. No doubt that without Steve, Bucky wouldn’t be where he is today.
“I’d like that” Bucky responded and a loud words were said as the two stared at each other. Both understood and they didn’t need to say it aloud “I love you so much babydoll”
“And I love you” Steve smiled kissing Bucky again “