It really was the only way...
The splash echoed across the close knit rooftops; water spattered his boots. A thin curl of smoke rose from the barrel of his gun, still raised, though the target had fallen out of sight.
And... into the water tank, Bucky thought, shaking his head. He stared at the body bobbing up and down in the dark water, lab coat flashing white against the black. He grimaced. He knew when he pulled the trigger that the body would fall in the tank directly below. He knew that. He'd stood at just the right distance, made sure his target was close enough to the edge that he'd fall right through the hatch, the push of the bullet in his brain giving him just enough momentum.
Bucky should have also known, then, that the splash would've been really fucking loud. Masterfully trained, expert in at least thirty tongues (thirty-three, to be exact, but who's counting?), adept marksman, extremely skilled in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, able to adapt to his surroundings in ways that would guarantee no one would know he was even there.
And he forgot to calculate in noise . He scrubbed his face angrily, stuffing the gun back into it's holster. He was using a silencer, for Christ's sake. He stared at the body again, at the thin wisps of hair, the bloated lab coat, the thick lenses magnifying glassy eyes.
Zola was the last one who could find him. He'd Kill Bill ed his way through a whole list of people who could drag him back or take him out. Zola was the last on his list and he mentally checked off his name.
He turned, then, facing the breeze. There was a faint, rhythmic crashing sound in the distance and it took him a moment to realize it was the ocean. There was a pale streak of pearl-gray lining the horizon in the distance, and he realized he'd been standing over Zola's body for a little over a quarter of an hour. Maybe he was feeling sentimental, given it was the last person he ever planned on killing. But when he looked back down at Zola, his white lab coat now stained a deep red, he felt nothing but exhilarating freedom . This life was all he'd ever known, after high school when he'd joined the army, after he was handpicked to join the secret branch of the military known as HYDRA. The longing in his chest, the thirst for freedom, slowly ebbed and he was left with a hollow feeling. This was what he'd wanted, to be out , to be free.
But he would miss it. Of course he'd miss the job.
He pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes, one warm and one bitingly cold. He usually could think about it without feeling anything, but lately...
Maybe it's because I'm trying to be a decent human being, he mused. He knew he would never, on any and all accounts, be regarded as decent , considering. But it was at least fun to toss the concept around. Maybe he could even settle down somewhere, get a cat.
He chuckled to himself, and closed his eyes. He breathed in the fresh, slightly damp and salty air, rocking back on his heels. I could get used to this...
His eyes opened with a jolt and he slowly turned to face the crashing waves again, the silver tendrils of dawn raking their fingers through the velvet sky.
The sun rose early here. Maybe because it's on the edge of the earth , he thought. A city floating on waves...
It had taken him two years to find Zola in this seaside village. The doctor knew how to disappear, that was for sure. But on his search, Bucky hadn't left a single informant alive. That meant...
He rocked back on his heels again, but this time in shock. He could disappear... right here! Here he was, planning on holing up in some poe dunk town in Arizona or Texas, maybe live in a cave, if he got desperate enough or was pushed into hiding. But everyone who knew him was dead...
Well, not everyone . He had left that one asshole alive, but only because he had actually kind of grown on him, the bastard. He saves your life once and you can't pull the trigger while he's sleeping , he thought dejectedly. He wasn't against attacking an enemy while their back was turned. Hell, he was a sniper, attacking enemies while their back was turned was his specialty .
Or... it was. He doubted he'd ever lose the skill, but now he realized he didn't need the skill. He could be anything he wanted now, the possibilities were endless. He snorted at the idea of becoming a pizza delivery guy, but the sound was jarring in the dead silence of early morning.
He sighed, glancing back down at the water tank. Zola's body had floated out of sight, so he was stuck staring at an empty black rectangle. The idea of living in this small town--definitely getting a cat at some point--was appealing to him more and more the more he thought about it. But looking over his shoulder was second nature at this point, and he couldn't imagine going one day without suspecting someone of recognizing him. That was an occupational hazard, though; he'd always felt that way. But now he wanted to be left alone. For good. No one would recognize him, not here. But...
No, they're all dead.
He tilted his head a little, shrugging at no one in particular.
Except for that one asshole. Otherwise, they're definitely all dead.
Without another glance at the water tank, he kicked the trap door shut. The slamming metal shattered the peace of the early dawn, but he didn't even care. He jumped down from the raised platform and stood on the edge of the roof, staring down into the empty street below.
He hadn't had time to actually admire the city, given he was in pursuit of Zola, but now that he could, he realized just how quaint and green it was.
There were trees lining the streets, not skinny trees that you'd find in the city, but these were tall and full, giving the cobbled sidewalk below enough cover from the sun. The houses, all different shapes and sizes, though sharing the same red-tiled roofs, were all separated by the winding city streets, all headed downhill towards the sea.
In every window box and backyard, there was a myriad of blooming flowers, thriving in the coastal climate. From sweet pea vines, climbing the brick face buildings, to the lupine and poppies ruling over the flowerbeds, there wasn't a spot of empty land that didn't have something growing.
The town itself was built on and around the hills, the structures adapting to the landscape. None of the buildings matched up in height, making the city seem bent and uneven.
The air was clean and clear and fresh, carrying the scent of growing things on the gentle breeze.
It was quaint. And he was here. And he was definitely sick of travelling at the bottom of cargo ships or in the back of a shady pig farmer's truck.
He planted his fists on his hips and nodded. He could definitely get used to--
He froze. What is that? he thought, scanning the shadowed street below.
His reverie was broken by someone whistling the distinct tune of Time After Time .
The whistling was just beneath him by the time he leapt away from the ledge. Crouching low to the ground, he crept back to the roof's edge, peeking to the street below.
A young guy, wearing a white Polo that Bucky suspected was two sizes too small by the way it stretched across his chest, was swinging a key ring around one long finger, whistling one of Cyndi Lauper's greatest hits (he was extremely partial to any and all of Cyndi Lauper's songs, so to him, they were all greatest hits). He bit his lip just to ensure he would not start singing along to the fantastic whistling.
Just as he hit a particularly high note--that really shouldn't have been possible, he thought, while whistling-- he came to an abrupt stop, turning sharply on one heel. Though his view was cut off by the roof's angle, Bucky could hear the jangling of keys and saw a door swing open. The whistling became muffled and was cut off completely with the sharp slam of the door.
Shaking his arm to loosen his sleeve and push it up his wrist, Bucky glanced down at his watch. Four o'clock on the dot. What, in God's good name, was that guy doing up at four in the A.M.?
Bucky gripped the ledge with his metal hand and kicked off the ground, swinging his weight around so he was dangling off the roof. He let go, the air whistling past his ears, and landed with catlike agility. He bounced back on one foot and made sure to stay out of the line of sight from the building the man--whose shirt was just way too small--had gone into.
The sign overhead just said Bakery , in a boring faded navy outlined in a just as faded maroon. White suddenly flashed in the window and Bucky hit the pavement. When he glanced up, the white was gone. He got into a crouching position again and edged closer to the window; he raised himself a fraction so he could peek inside.
He was hit with the blinding white of the too-small Polo, but the owner of said Polo was stretched across something in front of the window. So his shirt was pulled up just enough for Bucky to see a delicious strip of toned stomach. He could hear Time After Time again, muffled through the glass.
It had a nice to ring to it.