Bucky still had no idea how he had ended up here but he was thankful that he did because that meant one thing to him – he could go back to Howard. As he watched Tony make the last few adjustments to the machine that was going to send him back home after his fall, Bucky couldn’t help but get a little excited.
They had been planning for this moment for weeks now and now it was finally happening. The only hard thing about this was not mentioning any of this when he got back. Steve and Tony had made him promise not to tell Howard or anyone what happens with the war or even what happens to Steve. What has happened needs to happen when he goes back.
“Ready,” Tony spoke up.
Bucky knew it wasn’t a question directed to him but he nodded anyways before turning to Steve and stretching out his hand. A smile crept to his dark eyes and he held out a hand for Steve. His old friend smiled back and easily wrapped his arms around him, giving him a small squeeze.
“Stay out of trouble,” Steve said.
“I should be saying that to you,” Bucky laughed.
Bucky clapped him on the shoulder before leaving and coming to stand next to Tony. The resemblance to Howard was uncanny. But there were differences, Bucky learnt that very quickly.
“You sure this, this thing will work?” Bucky asked, sounding nervous.
“You wound my heart with your doubt,” Tony raised a hand to his heart to fake being hurt, “Let’s get this over and done with before the Cap decides to hold you hostage in our time.”
Bucky quickly glanced back at Steve and smiled. Steve was his best friend but there was someone he loved back in his time and if he could go back, then that’s his decision. Steve was needed here, in this time, with Tony Stark.
“Look after yourself Mr. Stark but if you hurt Steve, god forbid that I somehow find my way back here to kick your ass,” Bucky tried.
This time, it was Tony’s turn to look back at Steve who was watching them at a distance. Tony could see those stiff muscles, could see how hard Steve was holding himself back. It was a good thing that he had decided to stand back otherwise who knows what would happen.
Bucky studied those eyes staring back at his friend and decided that he had nothing to worry about. Steve was in capable hands, he was in a presence that loved and cared for him. Things will be all right.
Bucky found Howard alone and drunk in one of the apartments they used to share during the war. A soft, sad smile barely reached his eyes as he took in the man he jumped through time to be with – the man he loved with his whole being. Despair screamed throughout Howard’s body as he leaned against the window paling, staring out into the world below.
“I don’t think reaching the bottom of that bottle will help,” Bucky couldn’t help but say at long last.
Howard spun around, blood shot eyes widening. Bucky stood there and watched as Howard struggled for words, struggled over the debate on whether or not Bucky was real. After all, the Bucky he knew had plummeted to his death. Steve had told Howard and since then, every time he drunk himself into a stupor, his mind would always conjure up his Bucky, telling him off for the alcohol abuse.
“No, you’re not real!” Howard shouted, more to desperately convince himself after having same conversation over and over again with his hallucinations.
Howard threw the bottle towards Bucky, his intentions was to hit him with it but being intoxicated had made his aim wonder and instead, the bottle crashed against the wall, the left over contents staining the floor.
His heart ached as he watched Howard seek into utter despair, his hands burying his face and soft sobs filled the room.
Swallowing the large lump in his throat, Bucky moved forward. He stretched his hand towards the trembling wreck of Howard but for a split second, he hesitated. In that split second he wondered if he was doing the right thing, wondered if this is what Howard needed.
It was a split second but in the next, Bucky shook his head and mentally scolded himself for hesitating. His hand easily gripped Howard’s shoulder, giving a reassuring squeeze.
“I’m sorry,” Bucky whispered, “But I’m 100% real.”
Howard slowly raised his eyes to meet Bucky’s. He could feel the warmth and the pressure on his shoulder but somewhere in Howard’s drunken mind, he was still arguing that this Bucky wasn’t real.
“I’m back Stark,” Bucky continued.
Bucky pulled Howard close to him and lightly grazed his lips across Howard’s before planting a kiss on his forehead, pressing gently in hopes of portraying just how much Howard meant to him.
When he pulled back, Howard was gazing at him with wide eyes.
“Bucky?” he cautiously said.
Bucky nodded, the trademark smile of his tugging at the corner of his lips before capturing those lips he had desperately missed.