The first thing he does after the transition, after the hospital and the terror, and the agony of narcotic withdrawal and the agony of comprehension, of all that was done to him and all that he did, the first thing he does is ask, “Am I free?”
“Yeah, Buck,” Steve says in that slightly rough voice, the voice he used to get after a bout of pneumonia had him coughing and in bed and menthol smeared on his chest for a week or more. It used to be weird, hearing such a low voice coming from such a little body. Now the voice fits, and it’s the body that’s wrong. “Yeah, you’re free.”
Steve’s no liar. His habit of unrestrained honesty landed him with a busted nose more than once in the past, and from what he’s seen of Steve, the Steve that Bucky hangs on to when the world lurches under his feet, when he’s sickened by himself, when he screams, well, time hasn’t even scratched a nail on much less eroded that part of him.
“You could’ve told me.” He speaks quietly, but the words are like the crack of a whip in the silence that has fallen between them. It makes Steve jump as much as Bucky, and startles him back to himself. He shakes his head. “It wouldn’t have changed anything between us. Hey.” Steve lays a hand on his friend’s shoulder again and tries not to be hurt by the look of surprise on Bucky’s face. “It doesn’t change anything.”
Shadowed brown eyes look back at him, searching his face for something Steve can’t begin to guess at. When Bucky smiles at last it’s surprisingly sad, but he shakes his head and laughs, and a moment later is simply himself again.
“You really never did grow up all the way, did you, Steve? Of course it changes things. But hey.” He lifts his glass, and Steve reluctantly lets go to join in the toast. “Who says change has to be bad?”
Steve learns something new about Bucky – and it changes things, of course it does. Because sometimes Steve needs some help to open his eyes to what’s right in front of them – and in his heart… Adorable and funny.
It scared him, Steve could understand that, one revelation too many these days. But Steve had stopped thinking clearly and one instant his eyes went to Bucky’s parted lips and the next he was diving for him.
He may as well have jumped from that speeding train after Bucky in the ice. That’s what it felt like Steve was doing, terrified and determined at the same time, clutching at Bucky’s cold, soaked clothes. Steve slapped a hand against the wall and crushed their mouths together so hard Bucky’s head bumped against the plaster. Steve kept him there with his thigh pressed to Bucky’s full length. Bucky’s hands went to his shoulders, but he didn’t try to break free.
Steve pulled back and a moment of paralyzing fear set in under the heat rushing through him that he had done the one thing that would make Bucky not want anything more to do with him. Steve forced himself to look at him. Bucky’s breathing had quickened and his mouth, a shade redder now, curved up in a shadow of its old smirk.
A mix of movie and comic canon, these two fics pull no punches, both when it comes to the damage that’s been done to Bucky and the hard, desperate edges in his relationship with Steve. It’s a long road, and a hard one, but I love how it slowly, slowly progresses.
Bucky keeps driving, not looking at Steve. “You gonna give me a blue ticket?”
“What?” Steve stops, frozen, and Bucky stops the Jeep and gets out and walks back to him.
“Not like you could think what you saw was anything but what it was. So I wanna know if you’re gonna give me a blue ticket and send me home.”
“You think I’d do that.” Steve can hear the hurt in his voice, and Bucky flinches from it. “You think I’d do that. To you.” He shakes his head. “Looks like neither of us knows each other as well as we thought we did. Go back to base. I’ll be there in a while.”
Steve looks at Bucky and shakes his head. “Go back, Buck. I’m not very good company right now.”
Steve catches Bucky fucking a man. Neither one of them knows how to deal with this fact. The Howlies just want their leading team to make up. – Love the progression here, slow without feeling artificially drawn-out.
Someone has been in his bedroom. Someone who’s hungry. Nothing else is disturbed or missing.
It’s still an intrusion and he’s Captain America. He’s expected to call SHIELD with their forensics. He has deadly enemies, one of them above all others on SHIELD’s wanted list. Yet all Steve can do is stand at the window staring out at what he can see of the city three stories below, his insides knotting up with hope. The files described the Winter Soldier as an expert tracker. If any of Steve’s enemies could find where he lived it would be him.
That should have given Steve twice as much reason to call in SHIELD. The Winter Soldier is out there to kill him and to be in his sights is to die. But he’s Bucky too, in there somewhere, and after all the years they’ve scraped for food together during the Depression, the thought of Bucky out there hungry is too much to stomach.
His arm has slipped around Bucky’s hips in his sleep and after a moment Steve gets what it is this time. Bucky is hard from being pressed so close and the complete ignorance in his face of what a person would do here is awful. The distance HYDRA and their mindwipes carved between them is awful when the Bucky he knew would have turned to him for a kiss and rolled on top of him without a thought. But all that closeness of feeling like one person is buried now under the blankness they left and the grueling struggle to learn how to live his life again.
Threat assessment follows close on its heels because Bucky’s a goddamn professional.
Military, definitely. Male, built like a goddamn mountain. Bucky stares helplessly because shoulders that broad should be illegal. It’s the face that really fucks him up though. Hair as silver as the star on his chest, swept back from a face that’s all hard angles and deep lines. There’s a beard too, covering a jaw that looks strong enough to sit on, and its white is peppered with bits of dark blond, which should look ridiculous but doesn’t.
“You seem to know my name,” Bucky says, plastering on a charming smile. “Only polite to return the favor.”
“If you’re banking on politeness, you might be in the wrong business, son.”
Jesus, Mary, and motherfucking Joseph. This is how wet dreams and porn clips should start, not a goddamn interrogation.
“This will go ever so much easier on both of us if you treated me like I had eyes in my head and a brain,” she said, interrupting him without regret. She wanted, more than anything, to wipe that fearful look off of his face. “I promise, I’m not trying to trap you or to blue-card you. In fact, I’d like us to come to some sort of arrangement where Steve is concerned.”