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Uncharted

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Unknown Location. Hydra Base

 

A venomous voice leaks through the thin walls of the dingy underground base.

“How did you let him slip through your grasp?” The dangerous women asks. She sits on a chair that stood a foot higher than everyone else. Her demeanour seemed calm, her face as cold as stone, yet her voice was dripping with anger and her eyes held so much contempt.

A yellow light bulb hung right over head, casting a shadow over her face. Only her hands and feet were visible. She was gripping the armrest of her throne with vice and her long legs were crossed and laid diagonally to the floor. Long emerald green boots with sharp teeth adorning the sides glinted in the dim light, threat seeping through every pore.

A man kneeled before her. He was of average height, grey hair slowly taking over his brown locks. His frame was built, but obviously older than most agents. He wore scrappy clothing, his pants were repaired more than once and there were streaks of mud on his boots.

“I-I I don’t know, ma’am. He-e somehow took out all th-the trackers. We c-can’t find them.” he stutters, he’s on his knees hands clutching his sleeves to prevent them from shaking.

“So, you are telling me, that you lost track of the Asset?” she hisses. “You had ONE job.” Her voice finally giving away some of the anger she felt.

“I’m sorry, Madame Viper, please spare me, we will find him again.” He pleads with her.

“Your pathetic attempt at an apology is useless. You are useless. I had high hopes for you Zemo. But, you just let me down.” Madame Hydra tuts. A moment of tense silence goes by, she finally lifts an elegant hand up. Her fingers wrapping delicately around the velvet leather of her whip, she swings her arm back and strikes him right in the throat, leaving him bleeding to death on the floor. She sighs as she signals some other soldier to take the body away and clean up the mess.

The rest of the audience of the room perks up, standing straighter as her unforgiving gaze passes through them.

“Find him.” She commands, and that’s all the persuasion they need before scurrying off to accomplish their task, hoping that the Lord will spare them of the wrath that is Madame Hydra.

 

 

Stark Tower, Avengers Base

 

 

Avengers, please go to Conference room B, an urgent meeting has been called on by Nick Fury, F.R.I.D.A.Y says through the coms. A collective groan echoes through the common room as the members of the team of heroes begrudgingly get up and hurry to the conference room.

Steve is already there leaning on the far wall and Director Fury stands tall, arms linked behind his back.

“God, it’s barely noon, why are we here?” Tony whines, he rubs tiredly at his eyes,

“Maybe if you weren’t hungover all the god damn time, you’d be awake enough to get here without bitching.” the director shot back.

“Language.”
As the group settles down, Fury speaks up.
“We have found a potential new recruit,” he pauses as Maria hands out manila files to the Avengers, “We’ve been monitoring her for the last couple of months and she seems to be a perfect match.”

“That’s what you always say.” Tony yawns.

“It’s true.” Sam snickers.

“Alright, settle down, folks. From what we’ve seen she’s mastered more martial arts styles then I can count, she has the mutant ability to create portals and she has an intelligence that can match that of Tony’s and maybe even Banner.” The room goes silent and more than a few eyebrows raise.

“We’ll need two of you to extract the newbie tonight at around nine o’clock, understood?”
Fury says. “I want Cap on this one, whoever goes with him is your decision.” He points at all of them. With one last hard stare towards Tony, Nick exits the room, Maria trailing not far behind.

The moment the door closes, the room fills with uproar.

“Why doesn't Wanda go? She’s a girl, she’ll do better with another chick.” Tony shouts.

“Don’t speak to my sister like that.” Pietro retorts.

“Why don’t you go with Stevie, he likes you best.” Nat asks Sam, he rolls his eyes in response. “I’ve already checked on newbies, last time didn’t go well, I’m not going this time.”

“You know what, Vision should go.” Clint suggests. “I”m pretty sure we shouldn’t send in the red, powerful, synthetic being to go get the newbie. For all we know he’ll just pass through the wall of this girl’s apartment.” Tony snaps back. They all nod in agreement.

“You know what,” Steve speaks up, taking the powerful ‘Cap voice’,” Tony you’re coming with me.”

“What?” The man cries out in shock.

“Yep, Tony, you’re coming with me whether you like it or not. Everyone in this room has been sent to scout a new recruit at least once, except for you.” Tony gives him a ‘I’m done with your Star spangled ass’ look.

He groans, “Fine. But, you’re buying me shawarma.” Steve rolls his eyes.

“We’re leaving at 8:30 pm”.

Everyone exits the room to do whatever heroes do on their day off.

 

 

——————————

 

Your POV

“Ok, avocados, roman lettuce, cucumbers, olive oil, coconut oil, tomatoes, milk, oranges, strawberries…” you were walking through the isles of your local grocery store, going through you mental checklist making sure you didn’t forget anything.

You placed the items in your cart and once you were confident you didn’t forget anything, you went to pay.

“Would you like a bag?” The 16 year-old snot nosed cashier asked you.

“Yes, please.” You answer. He nonchalantly passes you two plastic bags, not bothering to actually help you on this ‘very’ busy Wednesday evening. You carry your groceries to your second hand car, get in, and drive back to your tiny 3 1/2 apartment. How strangely domestic, you thought to yourself.

Yet, you liked it. As a kid you were always one for adrenaline. After your parents died, you were passed through so many foster homes, it was an ironic game of hot potato. You ended up leaving the system and fending for yourself. The powers definitely helped out a lot. You found out you had them when you were maybe twelve, almost thirteen. You were running away from some bullies and ended up cornered in an alley, instead of panicking, you just ran straight through the wall. Throughout the years, you trained yourself to be a strong and independent woman, studying hard in school and training hard on your own.

You hummed to the generic song on the radio when you turn the corner of the street that lead to your apartment. You lived in a quiet part of Manhattan that was a little sketchy but you didn’t mind. The old building was made out of classic red bricks with stairs leading up to each apartment complex.

You juggle your groceries and try to open your door without dropping your keys. You don’t want to be the victim in a cheesy horror movie.

You flick the lights open and walk into your tiny home. It’s small, but cozy. Right behind the front door is a small hallway where you put down your jacket, your shoes and your keys. You walk down a couple of steps and there’s your kitchen, dining table, couch and TV. And, when you go back to the hallway on the left, there’s your bedroom.

You drop all your groceries in the kitchen go take a quick shower.

After, you start cooking your dinner. As a kid you had a lot of free time, so all you did was absorb information, as much as you could take in. You didn’t make friends to easily, partially because you were shy, but mostly because you didn't trust easily. You were always suspicious, your father taught you to be. When you started living on your own, you were so focused on your studies and your training that not having much of a social life never really bothered you. Friends came and went, but you somehow always ended up on your own.

You connect your phone to your wireless speaker and start playing some music. You press shuffle and the loud guitar riffs of Iron Man by Black Sabbath fills your ears. You start cutting up the ingredients and adding some oil to the pan, adding the onions in and letting the caramelise slowly. Another song comes to an end. You’re left with the gentle sizzle of th—.

“I like her already, she has good taste in music.” You hear a somehow familiar voice come from right outside your apartment door. You could tell that there were two men standing outside your home. You silently close the stove and turn off your phone. You walk carefully to your room, avoiding the creaky wooden panels. You pull out your 9mm and put your back to the wall waiting for their next move. They sounded pretty nice, but you were always cautious.

“Hi, (Y/n). Could you let us in? We would like to talk to you about a sensitive topic that would be better discussed in private.” The second voice said. How the hell does he know my name?
You don’t respond.

 

 

———————

 

Steve’s POV

“Tony you can’t just break down the door!” He tells him. Jesus, what was he thinking?

“No, of course not. I can’t break down the door… but you can.” The smaller man says happily, as if he just cracked the Da Vinci Code. The Captain puts a hand to his head and sighs disapprovingly.

“(Y/n), we promise we aren’t going to hurt you. Just open the door please.” He prods gently.

“Are you serious? ‘We aren’t going to hurt you’,” he repeats mockingly,” you heard Fury, she’s smart, that won’t work.” Steve rolls his eyes for what seems like the millionth time today, that’s the effect Tony has on people.

“Ok, we’re coming in.” “Finally.”

He lays his hand on the handle and easily twists it off the door, it swings back with a small creak. The smell of a dinner being cooked immediately fills their noses.

“Jeez, she can cook too?” Tony whispers.

The apartment was tiny, he could barely fit in the first hallway that leads to the kitchen, thank god he didn’t bring his shield, he would've been stuck. The stove was obviously left in a hurry, the spatula left messily to the side, the pan was still emitting a bit of steam; she’s still here. He hears Tony click on his gadget thing over his wrist and holds it up instinctively.

He motions his hand toward the door that’s about six feet away from them. She’s in there.

A small gush of wind blows their face and they stare at each other confusedly. A small swoosh accompanied with Tony yelping and swearing forces him to turn around in the tight space. He sees Tony, now kneeling on the floor, his mini propellor useless on the side with his hands in handcuffs behind his back.

“What the FUCK lady?” Tony yells. He turns around again and sees a small woman with (h/c) hair holding a gun up. She was wearing a loose AC/DC shirt with a pair of comfortably looking grey shorts.

“Who are you and why did you break into my apartment?” she asks, her voice calm and collected.

“Look, we just wanted to talk, we promise we aren’t here to harm you in any way.” he says reassuringly. She scoffs. “Are you serious?”

“I told you it wouldn't work.” Tony remarks from behind him. She tilts her head to the side and stares intently at him.

“Why is Tony Stark in my hallway? And why is Captain America also in my hallway after breaking my door handle? Aren’t you supposed to stand for justice or something like that.” She puts her gun down and sneaks a glance at Cap who looks down sheepishly. She walks around him and Tony, kneeling on the floor, to flick the light switch, finally illuminating the two intruders faces.

Needless to say, that was not the reaction he was expecting.

Chapter Text

Your POV

“So, you’re telling me you want me to join a group of glorified heroes.” Despite the attitude that was laced through your words, you still said it shyly. I mean, Captain freaking America was sitting on your couch.

Once you opened the lights, you created a small portal right behind Tony to unlock the handcuffs you had placed on his wrists. You could here him mutter some incoherent phrase that sounded vaguely like insults.

“Please, sit.” You motioned them to your couch, you sat on one of your bar stools. “Would you like anything to drink?” You weren’t sure why you were acting like a housekeeper, but words were flowing out of your mouth before you could stop them. The two men declined, all you did was shrug. Fine. You opened a small portal and slipped your hand through, the second one appearing next to a water bottle that you slipped through the dark dimension. (That’s what you chose to call it, anyways.) You unscrew the cap and look up to the two visitors only to see them both with their jaws hanging wide open.

You redden realizing that you just did that in front of two strangers. What were you thinking? You don’t even know these people and you just openly flaunted your powers without a second of doubt.

“Um, ya, sorry- It’s force of habit, I don’t spend much time around other people.” You stare down at your hands, nervously playing around with the hem of your shirt.

“So, that’s what he meant when he said portals.” Tony remarks slightly airily.

“I’m sorry, who?” You ask. That’s when both men seem to realize that they’ve come here to do a job and not hang around with their jaws open. Both of the Avengers cleared their throats and straightened up a bit.

“Yes, we’re here to talk about the Avengers Initiative. Our Director, Nick Fury has had his eyes on you for awhile now and he sent us to recruit you.” Captain Rogers says.

“Um, why would I be of any value to the Avengers, sir?” You opt to address him in a more formal manner now that the embodiment of justice and righteousness is standing right in front of you.

“Please, Steve.” He replies.

“Well, apparently you are insanely smart, you know how to fight and you can do the crazy portal stuff.” Tony states. You stay silent for a moment.

“With all due respect Mr. Stark, Captain Rogers, I can assure you that my addition to the team wouldn't be all that helpful.” You knew you could fight, you trained yourself to. Yes, you had powers, but were you ready to actually face off first world problems, for example, saving the planet? You didn’t think so. You were just a small town girl who kept to herself.

“If I may, Mrs. (l/n), you never know until you try.” The Captain answers your unspoken question in a calm and assertive tone.

In about ten seconds, you assess the pros and cons. You might die, that’s definitely a con. But, you’ll die fighting for what’s right, that’s also a pro. You couldn’t deny it, but becoming someone that defends the people and saves them too is something you’ve always wanted to be. Despite the fact that this will wrench you from an everyday domestic life, it appealed to you.

“Ok.” You replied simply. You didn’t look at them in the eyes though.

“Ok? That’s it?” Captain asks, thoroughly surprised. Most potential recruits put up more of a fight.

“Yep, well ok is all we need. Let’s get going Cap, my Macallan 88’ is waiting for me.” He gently puts a hand on your shoulder to drag you out of your apartment.

“Wait, wait, wait. I’m leaving now?” You ask. They both nod as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Could you at least let me grab some stuff?”

“Ya, of course kiddo.” You didn’t point out the nickname, but he might be compensating.

You grabbed a gym bag and filled it with the most important stuff. Once that was done, you changed into a pair of jeans and exited your apartment only to see a very expensive looking car. All you could do was lift an eyebrow.

“I’m Tony Stark, kid, what do you expect.” You chuckled lightly at his over-inflated ego.

You slipped into the back seat of the gorgeous car and closed the door, Tony driving away into the night.

The silence wasn’t awkward, but it definitely wasn’t comfortable.

“Where did you study?” Tony asked, he probably already knew since whoever Directory Fury was obviously told him practically everything about your life. You guessed anyways.

“MIT, but I dropped out.” He glances up at you in confusion.

“I got bored, so I dropped out.” You said, you had a hard time working with the students there. Even with the people there being well into their 20s, some of them were still assholes. The silence he replied was obviously an unspoken question.

“Let’s just say that some of the people there have a strange sense of respect towards women and I got caught in the crossfire. Not even the most astutely trained individual can beat the element of surprise.” You reply solemnly. You hated the men who harassed you, but hurting them wouldn't have done any good. You could feel the familiar sting in your eyes, but you bit your lip, keeping yourself collected.

“Alrighty, then.” Tony said, turning the radio on. Steve looked at you sympathetically.

The rest of the ride was silent, the only sound was filtered through the speakers of the car. You watched as the Tower slowly became larger and larger until it looked like it was towering over you. Tony expertly slid over to the garage, parking the vehicle in it’s respective spot amongst a dozen other cars that were probably worth your entire university tuition times twelve.

Steve, being a classic 40s gentleman, opens the car door for you, you slide out ungracefully and reach for your bag, but Tony beats you to it. He smiles smugly at you, you mumble a thanks still slightly overwhelmed by the fact that you are actually being escorted by Captain freaking America and Tony fucking Stark into the friggin Avengers Tower where you, yourself, will become an Avenger. Without even noticing, you were just standing there, staring at the ground.

“Earth to (y/n), we have to go now.” Stark says, almost sweetly. “Um, ya sorry about that. This is still a little bit surreal.” Steve chuckles at that, a small smile graces your features.

“Alright, come on, kiddo. Time to meet the team of righteousness.” He walks over to the elevator.

Welcome back Tony, Captain. Should I alert everyone to meet in the common room.

You look up and around trying to find the source of the voice.

“Ya, that’s F.R.I.D.A.Y, she’s an AI, she basically makes sure everything is ok at all times.” You look around in awe, how much time and effort it would take to make an AI. I mean, you wouldn’t even know where to start. He smiles at your reaction. “ Sadly J.A.R.V.I.S got turned into Vision. Well… sort of, actually not really.” he remarks.

You don’t really hear him because you’re just watching the little screen indicating which floor you were on. 40…41…42…50…55… Holy shit.

You start breathing a little harder, reality finally dawns on you. It hits you like a truck, you are actually going to meet these people. What if they reject you? What if you aren’t good enough and they just kick you out? I mean you can't just return to your normal life after this.

“Hey, (y/n), hey, hey. Look at me,” a gentle voice pulls you from your trance,” That’s it. Breathe. Everything is going to be ok.” You try to focus on Steve’s deep blue eyes, but your chest is still clenched tight and your hands are still shaking. His huge calloused hands are practically holding you up. You clear your throat and breathe in deeply, desperately trying to regain some control.

You clear your throat,” Yeah, I’m ok.” You see Tony looking unconvinced and Steve staring at you like a parent that caught his kid stealing from the cookie jar. “Really, it just… got a little overwhelming.”

“You know we can get you set up first, you can meet them tomorrow morning.” Tony says. You shake your head. You wanted to meet them as soon as you could. You wanted to avoid as many awkward encounters as possible.

The elevator slows down, the moment of truth.

“Welcome to the Avenger’s Base, (y/n).” Tony says, slipping an arm over your shoulders.

The doors slide smoothly open and you are met with quite a sight.

The common room itself is absolutely gorgeous. Huge windows go from the ceiling to the floor offering the most breathtaking view of the city. There is a second floor that can be reached by two spiralling staircases on either side of the far end of the room. Everything is either glass, chrome or black tile offering a sleek look to the architecture. There are expensive couches placed strategically around the room, TV’s and electronic gadgets spread throughout. But what surprised you the most was the honest to God cacophony. It was almost like a kindergarten.

“Guys! Settle down!” Steve shouts, “She’s hear.” That’s when everything goes still, you could hear a pin drop in the silence that ensues. Every single one of them stares at you with wide eyes. You were very close to just cowering into Tony’s side since his arm was already held securely around your shoulders.

“Hi” you wave awkwardly, cringing inside.

“Nice to meet you (y/n),” a smooth voice comes from the side. You turn your head to see none other than Sam Wilson himself. “I didn’t know Fury had taste.” You flush at the compliment.

“Knock it off, Wilson.”Tony snarks back, his grip on your shoulder tightening instantly.

You look around once again to see Clint waving a small hello and Natasha just nodding curtly. You gasp as a flash of blue passes right by your face and suddenly there’s a really, really handsome looking fellow right in front of you. His hair was silver, almost white and somehow he had a hold of your hand.

“Nice to meet you, princessa.” He places a gentle kiss on your knuckles. He smirks at your reaction, you’re about as red as a stop sign. A light female voice intrudes your thoughts.

“Pietro, let the poor girl’s hand go!” A young woman with a thick accent shouts from her spot on the couch. She has long brown hair and beautiful wide eyes. She stands up and slowly makes way to you.

“I’m glad another girl is going to be on the team. As you can see,” she looks around the room, “we are severely outnumbered by testosterone driven men.” You giggle at that, she smiles sweetly and goes back to her spot next to Clint, you like her instantly.

You notice the infamous Bruce Banner all the way in the back, he doesn't come to say hi but you could see the shy smile on his lips. You’ve been a fan of his work for so long, seeing him in real life was making you giddy.

“Alright kiddo, I’m handing you over to Cap now, he’ll show you the ropes.” Tony squeezes your shoulder one last time before retreating to his lab.

“Come on, I’ll show you where you’re staying.” He gently nudges you to the direction of the elevator, your eyes still scanning everything in slight disbelief. “I know it’s a lot to take in.”

The elevator doors close once again and you let a out a breathe you didn’t even know you were holding in.

“Alright, so on each floor there are two or three apartments. You’re going to be staying on my floor. There are three apartments, so if ever there is a new recruit, they are most likely going to stay there. By the way, we are on floor 59”He states, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

You here an electronic ding, and walk past the threshold that you are guessing is now your new home. You’re met with a wide corridor with one door at the end, one door to the right wall and one to the left.
“Mine is straight up front and yours is on the left or the right, you can choose, it really doesn’t make a difference to me.” He tells you with an all-american boy smile. How can you not smile back?

You walk over to the one on the right and he hands over a key car. Yes, a key card. Not a key. You arch an eyebrow, but say nothing.

“Here’s your new home.” He opens the door for you and politely ushers you in.

Your jaw practically falls to the floor, your eyes bugging out of your head, as you take in the sight before you.

Jesus fucking Christ this isn’t an apartment, it’s an entire three story house on one floor!

“I know, it’s a lot to take in. If ever you have any questions, just come knockin’ or you can ask F.R.I.D.A.Y. Also, fair warning, tomorrow morning, Thor is scheduled to arrive and he’s… well he’s a lot to handle,” he pauses,” Goodnight, (y/n). It was nice meeting you.” He does a tiny little salute and leaves. Well, that was honestly adorkable. He just did a freaking mini-salute.

You turn your back to the giant apartment ahead of you, and set out to explore.

Chapter Text

The floor was made out of grey tiles that glinted in the iridescent moonlight, the walls were white and gorgeous light fixtures were emanating a soft glow. You entered a wide hallway that opened up to a kitchen and a living room to the side. The kitchen itself left you speechless.

The counters were dark grey granite with cabinets a sleek cold light grey colour. Appliances lined the far wall with beautiful ovens and stoves, a built-in microwave and a fridge that could store enough food for a restaurant. There was an island with a sink and a dishwasher, a wine cellar, a mini-fridge and so many drawers with what you could only guess was every single culinary gadget on the face of the planet. Bar stools lined the exterior side of the island and a modern french mahogany dining table stood to the left.

You felt like a kid on Christmas day.

You turned to your right and found the living room. An enormous L shaped couch that probably costed a fortune was placed in front of a giant flat screen TV with an over the top sound system that was placed strategically around the room to have a certain in-theatre feel.

“This is absolutely crazy.” you huff to yourself. This entire apartment screams rich, but that’s one of the things you get when you live with a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.

You make your way out of the living room and into the bedro—

Holy shit

THis iS nOt a bedROOM. This ‘bedroom’ is twice the size of your old apartment. The window at the far end of the room was ceiling height and lined the entire wall. The bed was a king sized with crisp white expensive silk and a mountain of well placed pillows. A fireplace was placed off to the side lighting up the room in a warm glow. It looked thoroughly inviting but you weren’t done exploring the premises.

To the far end of the bedroom there was a beautiful glass desk with a chrome chair. On the desk there was a Macbook and an Ipad. Was he nuts? You had just moved in and your net worth just went up a couple thousand dollars.

There’s a door about ten feet to the left of the bed, one that you could only assume was the closet. You opened it and it was just… wow. It wasn’t just the grandness of it all, it was the sheer elegance of it. It was a long corridor with cabinets and closets lining each side. The materiel was a warm toned brown that was sleek. Each storage compartment seemed to have it’s own purpose.

I don’t even have enough clothes to fill one of these!

The closet opened to the bathroom and that really just blew your mind. The floor was an immaculate white. Straight in front of you was a bath large enough for more than one person.
(A/N: obvious foreshadowing for something in the future) You turned to your left and there was a counter that reached from wall to wall. Large mirror panels were placed right over the sink that had a faucet made out of a circular piece of glass and a lever to turn it on and off. On the counter was numerous beauty products that were probably way too expensive, cotton pads, q-tips etc.

The shower to the right was a cubicle made purely out of glass and the hose was a spotless chrome stainless steel with beige tiles that lined the floor. This really was over the top.

You walk back to the kitchen, dropping your bag next to your bed, you’ll get back to that later. Ah, yes, the kitchen. Probably your favourite part in every house. You could make things, bake things, cook things. You opened the enormous fridge and see it empty except for a couple of water bottles and sodas. You’ll have to go to the grocery store. Again. The last time you got a bit interrupted.

Miss (y/n), may I suggest I order some groceries for you. I can have them delivered in an hour, F.R.I.D.A.Y says. You jump at the sudden intrusion, almost hitting your head on the shelf.

“Um, yes, thank you?” you respond, not sure how long it’ll take to get used to speaking to nothing. She was an artificial intelligence, but it still was very… different.

You started listing items that you’d like to have in your fridge and pantry. It took you a good half hour seeing as you have ten times more storage than you had before. And then, you realized something, how the hell are you supposed to pay for all of this. You walk over to your jacket and pull out your wallet. You see the pathetic couple of five dollar bills and coins, including a credit card you didn’t dare use unless an emergency was to occur. No one wanted debts. You sigh.

Miss (y/n), Tony left a message for you, he says,: “Hey kiddo, I bet right now you’re thinking about the whole money thing. Haven’t you noticed who you’re staying with baby cakes? I’m Tony Stark, go crazy, I don’t mind. Have fun, kid.”

 

“F.R.I.D.A.Y, could you help me get to Tony’s lab?” You asked ‘the air’, this is so weird.

Of course, Miss (y/n), follow the illuminated arrows on the floor, they will lead you to his lab. I am afraid Tony might be a little busy, so give him some time, she responds.

Alrighty, then. You walk out of your apartment, taking your phone and your keycard. (a freaking keycard). Soft white lights shaped in arrows start showing up on the floors, you follow them and find yourself in front of the elevator once again. You slide in wondering what to do now. The number 62 illuminates and the contraptions started moving up.

I’m glad I didn’t have to guess that, imagine if you ended up on Clint’s floor, or Sam’s?

You pinch your nose imagining the embarrassment.

Before you know it, a familiar mechanical ding echoes in the metal box. You exit, following the arrows until they just disappear. You look around, black tiles following the expanse of the room. You see a large staircase surrounded by glass fixtures. You walk towards it and open the surprisingly light glass door.

You walked up the beige granite stairs holding onto the metal rail, the walls were surrounded by beautiful paintings that you mentally reminded yourself to ask about later.

Once you hit the top, you walked through two glass sliding doors to be greeted with quite a sight. Four large and long tables surrounded one main square table. The entire lab was littered with metal contraptions, advanced machines, a considerable amount of blueprints and a metal arm that seemed to be moving at it’s own free will. To your right, there was another lab, from the outside, looked pristine clean. Inside there was Bruce who looked extremely concentrated on whatever formula he was inspecting under the microscope. You turned your attention back towards Tony who was… well, gently put, a mess. Streaks of grease were on his face, his arms and his clothes. He was wearing a dark grey tank top with a pair of comfortable looking pants. Sweat dripped off his forehead and his neck was glistening.

“Dum-E, I swear to God, if you break the blender again I’m going to sell you to the local science fair.” he says pointing at the mechanic arm that was just quietly waving around. He looks up.

“Oh, hey kid, what’s got you up at this hour?” Obviously surprised to see you here. You can tell he’s starting to treat you more as a daughter, but you didn’t mind. You never really had a father figure in your life. Your biological dad died when you were really young, you loved him with everything you had.. (Also, note the fact that it’s not even midnight yet and he’s acting as if you had a curfew on your first day here)

“Uh, ya. F.R.I.D.A.Y suggested that I fill up my pantry, and I saw the total,” He looks at you with his arms crossed,” and I know you left me a message, but I just wanted to make sure it was ok? Since I am new and stuff, I didn’t want to look like I was taking advantage of you, or the Avengers in general…” you trail off and reddening realizing that you were rambling. Great, you’ve made a fool of yourself.

“(Y/n), come sit here for a second.” He pats a small chair beside him. You hesitantly pace your way behind the desks and onto the chair he pulled up. You were now surrounded by incredibly advanced equipment and you were scared to move because you didn’t want to knock anything over.

“It’s ok, you can take a look.” he says kindly from behind you. You turn your head around, with your brows furrowed. Is he serious? “Ya, go ahead.”

 

Tony’s POV

God, her brows were scrunched up in the most adorable way. He honestly couldn't believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. He’d never, ever let anyone in his lab, unless it was Bruce or Pepper, or there was some incredible rare, unfortunate, life-threatening situation. Then, he would maybe let them in. This was his private play-ground, he knew what the majority of these things did, well, he knew enough, sometimes things don’t always tend to go as planned.

His gaze turns towards (y/n) once again. Her wide (e/c) eyes roaming over every inch of the tables, her hands itching to touch something, but remaining firmly by her sides. He could see the curiosity ooze out of her, finally, someone who understands. (Except for Bruce) Someone who understands the burning need to know more, see more and learn more. Her gaze hungrily eating up all this new information, it’s quite amazing to watch.

“F.R.I.D.A.Y, would you kindly Vac U Form a digital wire frame, I want her to have a manipulatable projection.” He told the AI. She tears her gaze from the arc reactor prototype and turns to him. A blue light scans over all five tables and lifts up into the air, showing an exact replica of everything that was on display.

“Woah” She gasps, that was cute too. “Can I?” She asks pointing at the floating blueprint. He nods his consent. She waves her hand around and makes it turn, pinches her fingers together to minimize it and flings her arms wide open to zoom in. She starts giggling, like actually giggling, like a schoolgirl in kindergarten who just sold girl scout cookies for the first time.

“This is SO cool.” She zooms into one thing in particular, the new arc reactor prototype.

“Is that the thing in your chest?” she asks bluntly. She pauses, and then covers her mouth realizing how blunt she was. “Oh my, I’m sorry Mr.Stark, I didn’t mean to say it like that, I read about it in the papers and I may or may not have hacked into your mainframe and found some plans. Wait- I’m not supposed to tell you that.” She stares at him with wide eyes. He just starts laughing, an honest chortle rumbles his chest. God, it’s been a long time since he's laughed like that.

“God, that’s funny, and cute. Hahahaha, I can’t believe this,” he keeps laughing, he’s not sure if she’s terrified, but she certainly looks like it. “HEY, BRuce! She hacked into F.R.I.D.A.Y and she doesn’t speak to me like I’m a ticking time bomb, I think she’s a keeper.” He shouts towards the other side of the lab. Bruce just looks at him unimpressed, but with a small smile on his face.

“Ok, first of all, stop calling Mr. Stark, that was my dad. Call me Tony,” she nods furiously,” and second of all, do you see all of this?,” he opens his arms wide, “this costs more money then you can imagine, so what I’m trying to say is, go crazy. I don’t care. Spend a thousand dollars on food, go ahead.”. And.. Wait a minute. How did you hack into F.R.I.D.A.Y?”

Your POV

I mean at this point you could start crying. You were never rich, you’ve been poor before, you know what it feels like to be hungry, thus your appreciation for cooking.

“Thank you.” Was all you said. He smiles sweetly at you and pulls you into a hug. At first you aren’t sure what to do, but slowly you relax into his embrace. He pushes you away and holds you in front of him at arms length, starring at your shirt.

“So you like AC/DC and Black Sabbath?” An infectious grin spreads across his face as you nod vigorously.

You ask F.R.I.D.A.Y to go through with your grocery list. For the next two hours, all you do is listen to music, occasionally go full on karaoke, have Tony discover your singing ‘talent’, (as he likes to call it) and discuss some science stuff.

He kindly walks you back to your apartment at around one in the morning and apologizes for keeping you up. How sweet of him? You never thought he could be so nice, most rumours involving him depict him as a rude, arrogant and incredibly egotistical person. Maybe he was, just not with you.

The groceries were neatly organized in your kitchen, by who? It didn’t matter, you were too tired to care.

You fell swiftly onto the crazy soft bed and succumbed to sleep like candles being blown out on a birthday cake.

Chapter Text

All you felt was warmth and fluffiness as you woke up. What? Where am I? Oh. You forgot, you were in Stark Towers. Memories of the last twenty-four hours flood into your mind. Captain America and Tony Stark breaking into your apartment, being recruited as an Avenger, meeting the group of heroes, moving in here. It was all pretty surreal. You lift your head up and see the light filter in through a gap in the curtains. You turn over and stare at the clock on your bedside table. 9:24.

You fling yourself off your bed and look at yourself in the mirror. Jesus. Ok, maybe you do need some help. Once you make yourself presentable you walk slowly to the kitchen, your feet padding on the cold morning tiles. The sun shines right through the window and casts a beautiful glow onto the area.

You turn on the insanely expensive espresso machine and get it running. A jolt of caffeine was exactly what you needed. Next, you pull out ingredients for all-american buttermilk pancakes, because why not?

“F.R.I.D.A.Y, do you have access to my Spotify account?” You ask her, it was starting to settle in as a normal thing, you know, having an AI talk to you.

“Yes, I have access to your account and any music you would like.” the AI responds.
You chuckle to yourself while whisking things in a bowl, this is absolutely absurd.

“Alright, could you play House of Gold?” You ask, the quick thrums of the ukulele fill the room.

You turn to the fridge and take out some fresh fruits.

She asked me son when I grow old,

Will you buy me a house of gold,

You let the batter sizzle on the skillet, waiting for it to cook. You start swaying your hips to the happy tune.

And when your father turns to stone,

Will you, take care, of me.

Steve’s POV

He toes off his running shoes and slips out of his sweat soaked shirt after his morning run. Sam flat out refused to come with him today, but promised to come next time. He takes his time getting ready since sleep evaded him even more than it normally did, his run was shifted a couple of hours earlier.

He glides onto the barstool, pulls out the newspaper and roughly reads through the columns. Despite being out of the ice for nearly two year now, technology still baffles him. There’s always something new coming up, constant new innovations; Stark was only the tip of the iceberg. Things were so different from back in the day, everything was easily accessible just from the click of a button or the download of an app.

Being so far from familiarity was something he continued to struggle with, it hung heavy on his shoulders along with the thoughts of Bucky, the one thing tying him to his past he cherished so much.

His gaze now looking at empty space, his thoughts wander.

He hears a faint strumming, super soldier hearing and all that. What was that? He could make out some lyrics being sung and the sound of pots and pans. Must be the new recruit, (y/n). As far as first impressions go, she seemed to be pretty nice, very shy, but nice. And judging by the sound of the music and how well Tony attached himself to her in the first few moments after meeting her, she’d adjust to life here just fine.

The reaction of the others wasn’t nearly as bad as he thought they’d be. With the last kid, Clint had fired a tranquilizer dart and he threatened to file a lawsuit.

He thought about the little amount of time you’ve met and how she already, somehow, contributed to a fraction of peace in his mind that he so rarely got these days.

I’ll go pay her a visit.

He exits his own apartment and walks the short distance to hers. Outside her door, he could hear the strums of a song he didn't recognize blasting loudly. He smiled softly. He knocked one time and the door automatically opened itself. She must've left it unlocked. He peeks through the small gap of the doors and finds something incredibly… adorable ?

She was wearing a shirt with a band he ignored the existence of, due to her height, the oversized shirt was nearly a dress if it wasn't hitched up to her hip where you could see grey shorts peeking out. Her (h/c) hair was tied up in a messy bun. She was dancing happily to the song that was playing and waving around a spatula and carefully maneuvering a pan at the same time.

He steps out completely and clears his throat. She whips her head around and looks like a deer caught in headlights.

Your POV

Finally, the last pancake cooked, even better, your favourite song started to play.

Then, you hear the sound of someone clearing there throat.

You whip your head around and find a slightly disheveled and surprised Steve standing awkwardly in the middle of your hallway. Oh. There’s a beat of silence.

“Um, hey Captain.” You try to play the situation off as normal. “What brings you to my humble abode.” what the fuck, (y/n). Abode. Seriously? You cringe inwardly, cursing to yourself.

“I just heard your music playing.” He chuckles and still standing still.

“Wait- how did you hear it through the apartment walls?” You asked, Tony had explained to you that most of the walls in the living complex were sound proof to save himself from the personal lives of any of the team members. “I value my mental health and the health of my ears.”

“That’s the serum’s fault.” He points at his ear and laughs shyly. You smile, he really is kind of a normal person.

“Would you like some breakfast?” You place the pancakes you’d made on a plate. He looked like he was about to decline the offer, so you spoke up. “I insist. I’ve only been here one night and you guys have done so much.” A gentle smile tugs his lips before he takes two long strides and sits himself on the breakfast bar stool.

“Here.” You sprinkle some fruits over the top and a little pint of maple syrup.

Captain Rogers, Tony has requested your presence in the lab. F.R.I.D.A.Y. Interrupts the quiet moment. Steve bows his head and groans, you giggle a bit.

“Just ask him to come down here.” He shouts back, your eyes widen a little bit.

Yes, Captain Rogers.

You immediately the corner and ‘calmly’ start making another batch of pancakes.

“(Y/n), relax, this is Tony. He’ll appreciate it, but if you don’t, it’s fine.” He reassures you by shoving his stack of flapjacks in his mouth. “These are really good by the way.” You mutter a thanks, but continue cooking. Your shoulders aren’t as tense now and you ask F.R.I.D.A.Y to start playing your songs again.

By the time Tony walks into the room there’s already a plate ready for him and you are sitting down with your own watching Steve munch happily.

You could hear him walking in before seeing Iron Man saunter over to the counter.

“Hey, America’s Justice, why did you ask me— you made me food?” He looks at the plate you were holding up for him.

“Ummhm” you reply through the eggs you’d shoved down your throat. “Steve invited you over and I was already cooking.” You shrugged sleepily. He places two hands on your shoulders, forcing you to look up because of the height difference, he looks at you straight in the eyes and then looks at Steve.

“She’s a keeper. We. Are. Keeping. Her.” He sits down next to Steve and digs in his breakfast, leaving you a bit stunned. “Try and convince Bird Brain to not shoot her up. Also, Thor should be here any minute. Do you have any Pop Tarts?’

Isn’t Thor a norse god? And why would you need pop tarts, not that you don’t already have a cabinet full of them, they were your guilty pleasure.

“ Ya, I do, why?” You frown, sitting back down onto your barstool facing the two men, happily munching on your food.

“Great, he’ll love you. He’s basically a massively overgrown blonde puppy with hair so glorious it’ll give you a complex.” Tony says.

You look outside when you hear the loud bang of thunder, the two men stand up at the tell tale signs of the God’s arrival.
“Here we go.” Steve says. You were incredibly curious now, just the fact that you were on the team of heroes was already baffling, but knowing that there was a God From another planet! You’ll be seen as puny. You held a breath as a loud thud echoed through the apartment and heavy steps followed.

“AH, Captain Rogers! How do you fair?” He walk towards Steve and pulls him into a bear hug, practically lifting him off the ground. “Ah yes, the man of Iron, how are things with Lady Pepper?” He says gesturing wildly.

Woah.

He’s HUGE. Tony wasn’t kidding about the hair, it was glorious in itself. His face was lined with a blond beard and he was made with a structured angular jaw and piercing blue eyes. His build was thick and burly and he practically oozed power. His chest was covered in the steel armour, glinting in the sunlight, his blood red cape adding a dramatic flourish to his arrival. In his (giant) right hand, he was holding what you could only assume was Mjolnir. That’s real?!! You honestly felt quite faint. You were so busy looking at Thor, you didn’t notice Steve trying to hold back laughter at your awed expression.

“And who might this lovely maiden be?” He walks towards you and leans down grabbing your hand and placing a gentle kiss on the top of your knuckles. You redden furiously and he smiles back goofily. “I didn't know we were adding a member to the team and, might I say, a beautiful one.”

“Ya, Thor meet (y/n) (l/n), she’s new here.” Tony says introducing you. “Also, hands off the newbie Thor.” He adds with a disapproving dad-voice. You frown, that was endearingly strange.

“It was nice meeting you, Lady (y/n).” Thor says, his eyes giving you a once over appreciatively. You squirmed under the scrutiny. Despite his insanely attractive looks, he didn’t really appeal to you, he seemed very nice, but a bit too bulky for your taste, You were practically a midget beside him.

You walked around the counter and opened your cabinet of Pop Tarts and turn towards the god. “Steve and Tony said you liked Pop Tarts, I have plenty, you want me to make some?”

His head whips around and his face goes from the incredibly powerful seducer to one of a kid in a candy shop.

“Yes, that would be lovely Lady (y/n), thank you for making the most delicious meal out here on Midguard, the Pop of Tarts.” You giggle at his lingo.

The rest of the morning is spent talking with the three men while eating. Thor had almost scarfed down a quarter of your pop tart supply, you reminded yourself to restock on those.

The conversation slowly ebbed and replaced with a comfortable silence.

“Alright, (y/n), this has been great and all, but you are going to be a member of the team and we need to know what you’re capable of,” Steve stands up to clear the plates, despite your protests, “I want you to meet us at the training area in one hour,” he walks towards the exit with Thor and Tony trailing behind, “that means the both of you have to be there.” He points at his close friends, Tony rolls his eyes.

Once you finish wiping down the kitchen, you reflect on your first morning here at the Tower. You knew that Steve and Tony had already taken a liking to you, the reason for was blind to you, and Thor seemed nice enough.

Steve POV.

“Is Lady (y/n) supposed to do field work?” Thor asked, the two men knew what he was saying.

At first glance, (y/n) looked downright adorable, she was about the same height as Tasha, she had (h/l) (h/c) and big (e/c) But, all that was put to the side when he saw her in action in her apartment. She was obviously well-trained. Her steps quick and quiet, every move calculated, precise and efficient. The way she held an unwavering yet piercing gaze, keeping her surprise in check, and how she handled a gun perfectly. Her shoulders relaxed but her arms tense. Her wrists ready for the kick back and her index finger steady against the trigger. Unless Fury lied about her hand to hand combat, he thought she was practically a perfect soldier, maybe even better with the brains of the likes of Banner.

“Oh, yes she is.” Tony snorts, pressing the elevator button to his floor, “you’ll see in an hour,” he looks up at the ceiling, “can you tell everyone to meet at the gym in an hour.”

Chapter Text

Training Room, Avengers Tower

“And why are we here?” Pietro asks in his accented English, one hand slung over his sisters shoulders. The siblings were leaning against the stack of mats.

“We’re here to test out the newbie!” Clint says snickering a little bit.

The sound of a glass door opening and footsteps interrupts their endless teasing.

“Clint, please.” Steve walks towards the group with an exasperated glare. Natasha, Thor, Vision, Bruce, Clint, Pietro, Wanda and Sam were there, the only people missing was Tony and (y/n). “They’ll be here any second.” The rest of the group restarted chatting amicably before the two people they've been waiting for entered the room.

 

Your POV

You wring your hands together and pace the room while waiting for Tony. You were excited and nervous. You knew that you could do this, you've trained yourself for years and you were confident in your skills. But, even amongst a group of super human, sometimes enhanced, people, you had a fear of being the odd one out.

The pressurized air hush of your apartment door opens and a familiar sound of footsteps enter your household.

“Ready?” He asks standing next to you. You look up to him and you see something you’ve never seen before. Even in the short time that you’ve known him personally, there’s one thing you never thought he’d be. Tony was being serious, his brows were tightly knitted together and his lips were pursed.

“Hey, you okay?” You place a reassuring hand on his arm..

“Ya, it’s just,” he pauses, he rubs a hand over his face and slips a small smile onto his face,” actually, never mind. You’ll be fine.” You frown at him unconvinced, but leave it at that.

He places a guiding hand on the small of your back and leads you to the elevator once again. He presses a couple of buttons as you make idle talk about trivial subjects. He almost distracts you completely from your purpose. It lingers in the back of your mind, but bothers you less now.

You walk through a large and high hallway, or tunnel, that suited it better. Security cameras littered every couple of feet. You walked for a good minute before seeing two large frosted glass double doors with chrome handles and a keypad on either side.

“Ready?” He pauses with one hand on the handle. You give a shaky nod.

You walk through the door and hear the conversation die instantly. How wonderful, just kill the vibe the moment you walk into the room.

“So who’s going to step into the ring with (y/n)?” Sam whispers to Steve.
“Not yet.” He responded, Sam gave him a confused look.

You say hi to everyone and everyone responds in their one way. Sam, Pietro and Thor look like they're on an episode of the Bachelor, sporting boyish smiles and tight shirts. Clint and Natasha give you friendly smiles, you were a bit taken aback by Natasha’s warm welcome, but took it as a good sign. Steve just gave you a big grin, came over and put a welcoming hand on your shoulder. Bruce was standing casually in the back, observing quietly, alongside Vision who was floating, observing you curiously.

 

Steve turns to you and starts speaking, “Alright, so we’re here to see what you can do. Not that we don’t trust Fury or anything but still. Ok?” He talks as if he’s speaking solely to you, yet he’s obviously addressing the rest of the group too. You nod. “I want you to start off by demonstrating your powers. I only got a glimpse when we were in your apartment.

At this point, the room had shifted and held an air of curiosity mingling with a certain stranger-danger. You totally understood where they were coming from though, you were, in the end, just a university student.

As they looked at you intently, you stepped away from your blankets of safety and into the middle of the training area.

“Let’s get started” you declare.

 

Steve’s POV

Her petite body moved swiftly and quietly to the middle of the large expanse of semi-hard mats.

“Does someone have a soccer ball or like a baseball?” Her voice calm, collected.

“Uh ya, here you go.” Clint tosses a softball in her direction. She catches easily in one hand, not even blinking. Good Reflexes.

“Steve? Could you turn your back to me and stand right there?” He raises a questionable eyebrow, but follows her orders, turning his back to the other members of the team. “I take it you have good reflexes, so you should be ok.” She says, that piques the interest of everyone in the room.

“Here we go.” She mutters to herself softly. A beat of silence goes by. Then, a quiet gust of air washed over them and a jagged hole the size of a basketball just appeared mid-air. Seconds after, a second one showed up right in front of Steve. He stepped back in surprise, but went back to his previous position.

When you looked into the portal you could see the point of view of the other juxtaposing opening. From his view, he could see (y/n), in front of him. Around the edges of the portal were swirling particles of iridescent purple and blue hues seemingly suspended.

“I’m going to throw the ball through the portal.” She explains. Lightly, she tosses the ball straight through, where Steve catches it easily about ten feet away.

 

Your POV

“That’s one way I could use it. Most of the time I just use it grab some stuff around the house.” You attempt to lighten the mood. You’re met with admiring gazes and curious looks. You didn’t really expect much else.

“WOah, that’s so cool.” You hear the voice of a really young kid from behind you. You jerk your head to the side to see a kid that could only be about 15 years old, who is taller than you. (At this point everyone was taller than you)

Tony stalks over to the young adolescent.“What are you doing, Peter? F.R.I.D.A.Y can you tell me how Peter got in here?”

You let him have access to the Tower any time. I quote : “Just give the kid what he wants.”

“Alright, alright, I got it. Ok, Parker, you get to stay here, but be quiet. We’re testing out the new girl.”

The room quiets down from their barely controlled fits of laughter. Despite being the second newest member of the team, they really appreciated his presence. He added a youthful side to the team, always there to cheer them up with the naivety of any high schooler.

“Oh hey! I’m, uh, Peter, ya, Peter Parker.”

You smile lightly. “Nice to meet you Peter.” The young boy blushes a bit.

“Ok, who's going up against (y/n) in the ring?” Steve asks. You look at him incredulously, he just shrugs, an air of faked nonchalance hiding his discomfort. If you’re lucky, Steve probably feels bad for you, what a gentleman.

“I’ll go.” Clint says, sauntering over to your side. “Do I get to keep my gear?” He asks you tauntingly.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.” You smile smugly, you hear a couple of people snicker.

You climb up into the ring, mentally preparing yourself for what’s to come.

You jump up and down, roll your neck one way then the other, crack your knuckles and stretch out your back. Clint is getting ready too, you could tell that his arms were ridiculously strong but his right arm might have more give then the left. His stance is solid, but given the chance to knock him down, the left knee would be a keeper. You see him assessing you in the same calculating gaze and you let him.

“Ready?” You give a curt nod and start circling each other.

It was clear he wanted you to make the first move and he would wait until the end of time for you to make it so you decided to play it dirty and call a bluff. You breathed in deeply through your nose and moved quickly sending a light jab to his right side making ure it was quick and short, not enough to hurt but just enough to wind. You took your chance to send a swift kick, testing the waters, but a strong hand pushes you back and sends you hurling backwards only to be caught off guard again by a series of calculated blows through your torso.

You grit your teeth and let out a low growl, blocking off the pain.

You hit quickly and efficiently maximizing the strength of your blows, making sure to lock your wrists. He was obviously taken aback, not recognizing the fighting style you were using. You easily blocked his attacks using his lack of knowledge as an advantage.

You quickly get down to one knee pulling his other leg towards you, he gives out a off-guarded shout and before he knows it, you open a portal small enough for your hand that leads to his other ankle. Your grab a hold of it and yank as hard as you can, making for an ungraceful belly flop by Clint.

He groans and you put one hand on the back of his neck, your right knee in the middle of his back with all his gear detached in your other hand.

You kneel there panting and sweating just a little bit.

“God, you’re like a tiny Bruce Lee.” He groans laying on the mat. You stand up, still a little out of breath and look around the rooms. You’re not sure whether to be scared or proud. Thor, Pietro, Sam, Spidey are all looking at you with mixed levels of attraction, fear and pride. Cap and Tony both have a knowing smirk that said I knew she could do that. Natasha had a small smile on her face, probably because Clint just got knocked on his ass. Wanda and Vision were obviously impressed, but smiled.

“Well, welcome to the team.” Tony says proudly. Everyone vacates the gym, still seemingly impressed by your abilities. You just stand there and turn back to Clint who is still laying on the floor miserably.

“Hey, Clint, you okay? Some of those techniques were rusty.” You offer a hand for him to get up. He looks at you and pauses at your outstretched hand, gauging whether he could trust you or not. He makes a decision and grips your smaller hand firmly and hauls himself up.

“You’re really good. I’m surprised, most people Fury brings in don’t even hold up when they hang around us. I’m impressed, you should train with Nat a bit, she’ll love it.” You blush slightly at the praise. Despite the fight you just had, he seems really nice, you couldn’t help but notice a fatherly vibe under all the childlike mannerisms.

“Thanks,” you look back at the door where Tony was waiting for you. “I better head back now.”
He huffs out a laugh.”Ya, he seems to have adopted you.” You chuckle at that. “I guess he has.”

You leave the archer and walk towards the billionaire.

“Hey sweet cheeks, how’s it going?” He slings an arm over your shoulders, you jump a little at the contact, but relax.

“I’m still… overwhelmed.”

He leads you over to his lab where Bruce is already working.

“That’s pretty normal. Now I know you dropped out of MIT for reason you will not disclose BUT I am granting you access to my lab as long as you don’t touch any of my stuff without my permission. And Bruce’s for that matter, God forbid that happens again.” He says shaking his head.

Then again, you don’t notice, because you can’t wrap your head around the fact that these people are being so generous towards you. A stranger.

You just stopped in your tracks, staring at the floor. You were still trying to get your mind to comprehend the fact that you deserved this.

“Uh, hey, (y/n). What’s going on? Because you know, if that was too much I could tell Cap, or maybe Clint. I could talk to Clint if you want… Or maybe…”

“No, no. It’s fine. It’s just- are you sure they’re good with me? I mean with me on the team?”

“Yes,” and the way he said it, so plain and so simple, it made you feel better instantly,” I can tell you're going to be an incredible asset to the team. I mean, you got Thor to love you, and Cap’s already convinced you're like a tiny ninja. Half the team is ogling you.”

You laugh a little, that last bit of doubt slipping away. He's really good at this comforting thing.

“Thank you.” The message you wanted to convey clear in those two little words. Tony seems to understand that and offers your shoulder a comforting squeeze before dragging you to your new workstation and rambling on and on about his new discoveries, inventions and ideas.

You couldn’t be more content being on the receiving end of his thoughts.

Chapter Text

Unknown Location
Hydra Operation
11:03 PM

“I have a simple way of tracking the Asset, ma’am.” A low grade Hydra agent stood on one knee, head bowed down in front of the ruler of the most dangerous worldwide subversive organization.

“Keep going.” She says.

“All we need is time,” she’s clearly about to dismiss him with the flick of her wrist,” Wait! Please… All we need is time because Captain America will find him soon enough. What we need to do is follow the Captain. Once they find each other, they won’t leave neither of each others sides.” He blurts out, hoping desperately that his idea was enough to prove him worthy of a future.

She pauses, then nods her head. She flicks her wrist, disposing of the agent, leaving her to her thoughts.

At last, the Asset in our grasps.

———————

2 months later

“Stevie, could you hand me the maple syrup?” You open up a portal for him to pass it through. “Thanks.”

“Hey guys.” Says Bruce, the last one to walk in.

Today was a day like any other. Except, since that faithful night in your apartment, every day has been a sort of unbelievable daydream. Mornings have been spent with the entire team in your kitchen. Tony, Thor and Steve had been permanent fixtures in your living area since the beginning. They seemed to enjoy spending time with you and became fond of your space. Sam just showed up with Steve one morning accompanying him through his daily routine. After hearing all the commotion, Wanda and Pietro wandered into your quarters.Then followed Clint, who you constantly scolded for entering through the vents, Tasha and Bruce, who mostly kept to themselves. And, lastly, Vision. You weren’t surprised, the guy didn’t actually need to eat.

You’ve only been here a short while but everyone’s already treating you like family. You were incredibly grateful and it showed through your kind words and especially your actions. The team couldn’t have chosen a better candidate. Plus, you’ve never been happier.

In the past two months, you’ve made more joyful memories than you had made in a year. This group of crazy, strong, super-serumed, nutty people appreciated your presence. It’s a wonderful feeling. Trust.

Like the first time Tony saw just how smart you were.

——
(Flashback)

“Look, all I’m saying is, Mach 78 or whatever wouldn't be shutting down prematurely if you’d just use multiple power sources throughout the suit; each one would independently fuel different aspects of the suit, therefore, you’d use less power, have a longer lasting suit, and if ever one goes down, you’d be fine. Because you’d have the multiple other ones supporting. I’ve already done all the calculations and if the core is not even 5% vibranium it’ll withstand practically anything.” You state matter of factly,” And, theoretically, if you aren’t too reckless, place the power sources strategically laced through the mechanics, nothing’s going to get damaged enough to be powered down.”

Tony stares at you for a beat, then slowly gets up and takes a few steps around the table.”

“GOD, you’re great! Why don’t I pay you?”

“You wouldn't be able to afford me.” You sass back with a big grin on your face.

——

Or the time you woke up because Steve was having a nightmare.

His scream made the hair on your neck rise and goosebumps appear on your arms. A wrecked shout pierced through the quiet night.

“God, please, PLEASE BUCK, no, NO!”

You immediately sprint towards Steve’s room, commanding F.R.I.D.A.Y to unlock the doors.

You arrive in his bedroom panting, your eyes softening sadly at the sight before you. Steve was twisted in the sheets, his fist gripping the white linen so tightly his knuckles were going white. He was pale and sweating, tears running down his face mumbling incoherently. Your heart clenched as you slowly approached a broken man right in the middle of the throws of a nightmare.

Knowing that touching a person who’s having a nightmare is a terrible idea, you start by asking the AI to up the lights to 30%. Once on, Steve seemed to flinch a little, but stayed unconscious.

You opted for your voice.

“Steve,” you gently sat down next to his tense form,” Steve, it’s ok” That's when his hand lets go of the sheets and turns to grip your wrists painfully hard. You hiss, but settle for getting him to wake up first. That’s when he starts shaking. To the point where you knew that if you didn’t wake him up now, he’s going to get himself hurt.

You leap up, straddling him and get ahold of his shoulders shaking him gently.

“Steve, wake up, it’s just me, wake up Steve.”

He suddenly jumps up, eyes wide open and alert scanning the room for intruders. His muscles tense, then relax when he lays his eyes on you.

“Hey, hey, just breathe alright?,” He looked so, so broken. You move up the bed and kneel before him, delicately putting one hand on his shoulder and dragging him into a very well-deserved hug. Your hand snakes up into his hair and you let him cry over your shoulder. Explaining that he relived watching Buck die again and again and again. He gripped you tightly as you soothed him, gently caressing his back, whispering I’m here, breathe, you’re okay.

At some point he shifted and you wondered whether you should leave. But, he held onto you pleadingly and snuggled you tightly to his chest finally letting himself rest.

You listened to his even breathing and watched him sleep dreamlessly before drifting off yourself.

Since then, you’d been closer to him. He was like a brother to you. He felt the same way.

——

But you didn’t only hang around Steve and Tony. You loved talking to Wanda and Tasha. You thought Pietro was really funny.

He liked you even more after you fixed his favourite shirt that was ripped in half because Clint thought it would be funny to test how close his arrows could get to a target without actually harming anything.

In short, you were having lots of fun and you blended seamlessly into a family of super heroes.

——

After a chaotic breakfast, you went to train. Your skills were even more refined and the team work came easily for you.When you had free time you switched between hanging out in the common room and Tony’s lab.

“Hey, could you pass me the—“ You mindlessly hand him the fourth steel ring made to seal the right wrist propulsor.

“Ya, also the blue prints for—“ You swipe a manila folder across the desk as you scroll through your Instagram.

Ten minutes later, both of you are working in a comfortable silence.

“SHit, I forgot my —“ You shove a hand in your pocket giving him the phone he left in your apartment after breakfast. You miss the look of awe he throws at you, you also miss the amused smile on Bruce’s face as he watches the whole exchange.

You sigh, screwing in he final bolt to your little project and start decluttering your desk. You head downstairs quick quick to grab something to drink knowing that Tony would want another one any minute now. He doesn't notice you leave, too engrossed in uprgrading his beloved suit. You didn’t mind, you found it quite sweet, him being so completely occupied by something.

You come back to the lab hearing him say the exact words you predicted him to say the moment you get back.

“(Y/n), would you mind getting me a —“ You gently place his steaming cup of coffee into his already open hand.

“Am I that predictable?”

“Only to me Stark, only to me.” You smile at him smugly.
He on the other hand couldn’t help but wonder how he got so lucky. To have a young smart, kind, woman keep him in check. He’d spent countless sleepless nights thinking about what you meant to him. He came to the conclusion that you seemed to fit right in in as a sort of daughter figure and an incredibly awesome assistant. He’d do anything for you, yet he couldn’t figure out whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.

———
Later on in the day

Agent (Y/n), please meet Tony in Conference Room B.” F.R.I.D.A.Y says over the comms. You look around at the rest of the team, but they all shrug not knowing why he’d call for you, not even in his lab, in Conference Room B.

You knock on the frosted glass door waiting for a response, you hear a muted Come in, and enter.

He stood there in an overly expensive suit and sunglasses in front of a metal suitcase. It looks like a scene from every 50’s mobster movie.

“Uh, what’s in the box?” You heard him giggle at the movie reference.

“You do realize I’m way more attractive than Brad Pitt.” He sasses back.

“Alright alright, handsome. Seriously, what’s in the case?” This whole situation seems ominous, but Tony looks like an overexcited puppy.

“Have you spoken to Cap today? “ He crosses his arms.

“No, he’s busy, what does that have to do with anything?” You stare at him confused. That last time you saw him was yesterday night, but that happens all time. He takes midnight strolls that last two days. Or sometimes it's a mission, personal or handed out by Fury.

“Ah, that makes sense.” He sighs walking around to the front of the metal box.

“Tony, what makes sense?” You're starting to get really annoyed by his act.

“Why he wanted me to make you a suit.”

Silence

“What? Why would he want me to- Wait a second. He thinks I’m ready?” He nods excitedly.

“Yep,” he says popping the p,” there’s a pretty big extraction happening, but we’re going to be briefed by Fury in about,” he looks down at his watch, “give or take ten minutes.”

“Yes!” You squeal in delight. “Um, I mean this is great.” You clear your throat trying to remain professional.

He smiles at you knowingly before gesturing towards the case. “Go on.”

You walk unsteadily towards the edge of the table and run a shaky hand around the exterior. The outside of the case is a platinum silver with ridges all throughout, you run shaky hands around the edges bracing yourself for what was inside.

Your fingers find the two clips at either end of the box and open the latch. The lid pops open with an audible click and lifts up slowly .

You gasp.

“Tony it’s beautiful.”

The first part was a suit much like Natasha’s. A stretchy, but incredibly strong fabric that was probably a thinned out version of Kevlar that worked just as well. The sheen resembled leather and the texture was soft. The pants held numerous belt loops and straps for extra weapon ‘storage’. A large belt circled your waist with a sturdy steel clasp. The top was the same material as the leggings with a very sturdy zip that went down the middle.

That was awesome. But, what really caught your eye was the overcoat he had provided. It was truly, truly in honour just to be wearing it. It could've been mistaken for a long trench-coat except the inside was lined with the same Kevlar like material and pockets for gadgets. The lapels near your ears held incredibly lightweight Stark technology and the gloves that came with were slip-resistant. They were lightweight and protective.


Not to mention the colour. Now, if this was any other article of clothing you wouldn’t really have cared about something as trivial as the colour. Except, the coat was purple. Not any type of purple, but the exact shade of purple that surrounded your portals whenever you opened one. The type of purple that glowed iridescently in the moonlight and the type of purple you’ve grown accustomed too.Tony had payed attention to that specific detail and it made your heart burst.

“Thank you.” You say, at loss for words. You wrap your arms around his neck for a hug. At first he’s surprised, but quickly gets that message and relaxes into your embrace.

“Ok, kid?,” you nod,” because Fury’s going to call us in for a meeting in 3… 2… 1…”

Avengers, please present yourself to Conference Room A, Nick Fury is waiting, F.R.I.D.A.Y announces

You laugh out loud at his impeccable timing. You follow him out of the room and into the one adjacent.

Other than Fury and Steve, you two were the first to arrive.

“Hey Fury, Capsicle.” He nods semi-respectfully at both.

You smile politely at Fury, not exactly sure how to act around your superior. You turn to Cap and give him a warm smile, one that he returns immediately with a whispered Hey Sweetie.

You spend a couple of minutes in companionable silence before the rest of the group of grown-up children file into the room.

Once everyone was settled down around the table, the Director began to speak.

“We have found the location of the Winter Soldier, and numerous of his files are in the database of this particular Hydra base. We suspect that Barnes is in the vicinity of this base to recollect his files. We’re planning on an extraction of the Soldier and the files.”

The atmosphere in the room went from playful to tense real fast. From what you’ve heard, Barnes was Steve’s best friend and that Hydra messed with his head real good. You couldn’t blame him for wanting to run. Fury quickly explains the rundown of the operation, not dwelling on too many details.

“Cap, you’re obviously on Barnes duty and I want someone with you on back up,” Steve’s about to retort,”no but’s, he’s unstable, you’ll need it.”

“And for the rest of you, here’s the game plan,” He points at a stack of files to his right,” we leave tomorrow at the crack of dawn.”

The team starts crowding around the files trying to get their fill on the mission. But, before you get a hold on a manila file, a large hand grabs a hold of your forearm and pulls you out of the room.

“Steve— what are you— I didn’t get a-“ you stare at him confused, he has a determined look on his face with his brow furrowed in worry.

“You’re coming with me for back up on Buck.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Me? Why?” You ask him. If anything, you’d think he’d have chosen someone Bucky has met, which is everyone but you.

“Because he’s never met you before and I know you don’t like to hear it, but you look a little less threatening than Natasha when she’s in Widow mode or when Tony’s in his suit. He might trust you a little more. And I know you’ve volunteered with Sam at the VA, so you know how to deal with people with fragile minds.,” His voice goes quiet, “Look, Bucky, right now, is dangerous, but he’s all I have left. I only have one shot at this, and it needs to be right.”

You look at him with a calculating gaze. Steve talked about Bucky a lot, only with you though. He told you stories about all the trouble they’d get into when they were just little boys. You could see straight away how much this man meant to Steve.

“Alright. I will. But how’s this going to work? Fury already wants me on backup, and I’m pretty sure the guy’s on the ground need it.” You still had to make a good first impression.

“I’ve thought about that. Fury already talked me through the major details. You’re supposed to be backup only until the team breaches the second line of defence of the base and that’s quite early on. Once you’re done there, you’ll join me. I’ll give you my locations over the comms.”

“Ok, then.” You give him a small smile and reach up to your tippy toes for a hug, your arms up around his neck and his around your waist. A hug from Captain America is exactly like you’d think it’d be. You’re physically being wrapped around a thick layer of warmth and muscle, it’s a feeling of safety and comfort. “Everything’s going to be fine. I’m going to go check on Tony.”

You let go and flash him a comforting smile. On your way to the workshop, you grab the case with your new suit and your very first mission manila folder.

The moment you enter your favourite room in the Tower, you sense something off. Some tension lingering in the air. Even Dum-E is quiet for once. Maybe Tony’s in a bad mood. He seemed pretty ok before.

You see Tony shoulders hunched over some metal part with a magnifying lens barely an inch away from his eye. His brow is furrowed and his neck his tense.

“Hey Tony, everything okay here?” You ask packing your things on a desk. “You disappeared from the conference room pretty quickly, I couldn’t catch you on your way out.” You slowly approach him at his work station. He’s upset. “Hey, come on Stark, don’t pout.” You try and lighten the mood, failing miserably.

“Is Rogers taking you to get James?” He says quietly, with barely contained anger. It surprises you, you’ve only ever talked to him when he’s joking around or teasing. Maybe serious a couple of times, but not like this.

“Yes, he is.” You state simply. You flinch back as he abruptly stands up and runs a frantic hand through his messy hair.

“You can’t”

“What?”

“You can’t go with Rogers to get Barnes.” Now you were just confused. Why wouldn’t he want you to go? This was honestly, a fairly simple mission with many possibilities for things to go wrong, but that’s with every mission, whether it was a simple file extraction or to eliminate a threat.

“Why not?”

“Because he’s dangerous, that’s why.” You knew that wherever this was coming from, spouted from the incidents in Berlin. You knew little about the relationship between Tony and Bucky, just that it wasn't pretty.

“I know he is, but it’s part of the job. The goal is to get him out and if Steve needs me for that, then so be it.” You cross your arms over your chest and look him straight in the eyes.

“Ya but-“

“No but’s. I’m an Avenger now, and I’m not backing away.” He rings his hands stressfully and gives you a good look.

“OK, but if Barnes so much as lays a finger on you, so help me God he will not live another day.” A small smile tugged at your lips because a more fatherly, protective side of Tony peaked through.

“Come here.”He lifts his arms up. You happily skip towards him and hug him.You’re not sure how long it lasts, but after awhile he suggests that you and him go over the mission and memories the floor plans.

 

———

20 mins until dawn

“You ready?” Steve asks you through the entrance of your apartment. You lace up your heavy duty boots and tightly adjust your wrist supports making sure the little gap between your fingers were snug. You nod and he gently leads you towards the hangar.

Sam and Wanda were talking quietly at the bottom ramp as you approached Natasha to ask her a few questions.

“Is this always how it’s going to be?” You ask, almost all of you were on board, we were only missing Pietro who was injured from the last mission.

“Most of the time, we only send half the team in, but the situation is quite fragile, I think Fury feels a bit vulnerable right now but he’s not one to do anything rash.” You nod your head and join the others in the Quinjet.

Clint and Tony were in the cockpit, Dr. Banner talking discreetly on the phone with Dr.Cho, Thor was casually sitting in the right wing talking with Sam.

“Alright, Avengers,” Cap interrupts the banter with his authoritative and not to mention slightly (very) intimidating voice, “2 minutes till take off.”

Everyone scurries off to their respective seats, you’re wedged between Steve and Sam. Two impressive hunks of muscle despite Sam not being full of serum.

“You nervous?” Sam asks, his eyes narrowing at your tightly clasped hands. You chuckle slightly, forcing yourself to lay your sweaty palms flat against your thighs. “Just a bit.” He smiles reassuringly and tells you it's normal, but you’ll get a hang of it.

Tony walks out of the cockpit and hands everyone their earpiece. “New tech, don’t break it. It’s off for now, but it’ll automatically turn on once we are in range of the base.” He drops the tiny piece of genius engineering into your hand. It’s barely a centimetre in width. You gently drop it into your ear and feel it expand snugly into the crevices without being uncomfortable.

Over the sounds of the engines revving for takeoff, Clint announces the flight time, 3 hours and 22 minutes.

During the three hours you talk about nothing and everything with everyone. Somehow you ended up alone with Steve in the left wing while everyone else discussed what take out they wanted when they returned to the base.

You could hear them arguing in the background.

“I vote Thai Express!” You hear Sam say.

“I think that Shawarma is way more fitting for post-mission meals.” Tony argues.

“God! We always have Shawarma!” Everyone groans in unison.

“I heard that there’s a nice Italian restaurant that just opened.” Vision suggests.

“Dude, you don’t even eat.” Clint retorts. You weren’t sure if synthetic beings had feelings, but you sure as hell saw the insulted look on Vision’s face. “Sorry, Vision”

You giggle at their childishness, to be honest you were partial to either Thai Express, pizza or Mcdonald’s.

“Do they always fight about what they’ll eat after a mission?” You wonder inquisitively.

“Pretty much. That and what movie to watch on movie night.” You laugh again. But, there’s something off about Steve, his baby blue eyes aren’t giving off that happy shine he always has.

“You’re worried about Bucky.” You say, it was more of a statement than a question. He nods looking down at an old photo of them. Arms linked around his shoulders, pre-serum Steve was smiling hard at Bucky who looked like he was the happiest boy on earth, sporting the youthful glee you only got from being happy your whole life.

“I read up on your last encounter with him. It stated that he recognized you, called you Steve. I think he’s still in there. And I also believe that if we do this gently and coax him into recognition, this is going to be a success. But, what we need to be careful about, is how we act once we have him. He’s fragile, he’s broken, but he’s hella strong.” You lay a gentle hand on your best friend’s shoulder, giving it a reassuring shrug. “We’ve got this alright?”

A small smile tugs at his lips before he goes back into Captain America mode when Clint announce 20 minutes until landing.

“Suit up! First group is down in 15. Iron man, you need to dismantle those defences before we get anywhere close to that base.”

“Copy that Capsicle!”

“Clint go high up and Thor I need you to conjure up a mighty storm over the base.”

“Of course Captain Rogers, they shan’t see what’s coming.” He booms.

“(Y/n) you know what to do.” He sets his intense gaze on you. “ Let’s head out.”

Clint expertly lands the jet and opens the gate. First group immediately heads out as you and the rest of back up wait a few minutes. Over the comms you can hear a few grunts and gunshots but nothing too worrying.

“Defences down. OW! Shit!”

“Language” The entire team says in unison.

“Alright, Team Two head out.”

You run out, adrenaline pumping through your veins, the first line of defence has already been taken care of but the second seemed to be holding up quite well. Once you get there, three Hydra agents leap at you, you block their punches and send one through a portal, you land a swift kick to his sternum only to have another one yank your hair.

You yelp and grab his wrists flipping him over, and render him unconscious. The last one points a gun at you but before he could fire you open a portal behind his ankle, you yank hard and send him flying. You’re breathing hard feeling the burn of your muscles and the sound of gunshots ring in your ears. You assist the team throughout the next half hour until finally breaking through.

“Ok, Natasha you’re up, Sam and Vision took care of the first two decks you should be clear.”

“Copy that”

You see her disappear in a swirl of menacing kicks and red hair.

“(Y/n), meet me behind the base,” he grunts out, you could here the mechanical click of his shield reattaching itself to his forearm,” Bucky’s in a warehouse about a mile from here. I’m pretty sure he’s caught wind of what’s happening up here so he’ll be gone soon.”

“Got it.”

“Hey Tones, you think I can get a lift?” You ask through the comms, you’d get there impossibly faster which would help with the whole, Barnes getting away situation. You bat away a few other Hydra agents while waiting for a response. You were definitely feeling the burn in your tired muscles and you knew that your body would be littered in bruises for the next week.

“Sure thing ,dear.”

You heard the loud whizzing of the suit’s propulsers; you lift one hand straight up and in seconds you’re snatched up and flying through the air. You weren’t terribly fond of heights but you trusted Tony.

“Where to?” You hear the machine like voice that filters Tony’s own.

“The back of the base, Cap’s waiting.” You flew up and across the battlefield and before you knew it, he gently placed you back on the ground a few feet away from Cap impatiently waiting for you on his motorcycle.

You turn to Tony when he says,” Be careful.” You smile one last time before turning and leaping onto the vehicle, gripping Steve tightly around the waist.

He revves the engine once then twice before speeding off onto a gravel road surrounded only by trees with snowy tops. You bury your face into his back, shielding yourself from the harsh wind. He the takes a sharp right turn and abruptly pivots and stops.

“We’re here.” You swing your legs off the bike and place your hands up in front of you ready to attack. You decide not to pull out your hand gun just yet, again, he was unstable. His reactions were unpredictable and you couldn't imagine what he’d be like if you showed any sign of violence.

The warehouse was a two-story broken building, clearly abandoned and very old. Rust touched every metal surface and cracks buried itself through the concrete. You and Steve cautiously approached the building, using his shield, he snaps the lock in half.

You both quietly walk in, checking your blind spots and for anyone else present. For now, everything was silent. The first room you entered practically took up the entire warehouse. There were a few rickety chairs and machines you thought could've dated from back in the 50’s.

That’s when you heard a metal-on-metal whine followed by a pained groan. Your head shot up and you stole a glance at Cap who tensed up. You pointed towards a metal door to your right, indicating that the sound came from in there. He nodded and cautiously walked over.

He gently gripped the handle and mouthed:” 3…2…1” He pulled the door open and rushed in. The sight before you….

There he was.

A lone, broken man sitting on an old wooden chair. His body bowed down in defeat with dirty, greasy brown hair casting shadows over his face. He curled in on himself when hearing the harsh noise. His ratty jeans were mud streaked and his red sweater was torn in a few places. But, what shocked you the most was his mechanic arm clamped down between two giant metal plates, as if he was trying to contain himself.

You saddened at the sight. He really didn’t want to hurt anyone, the man practically trapped himself.

He limply grasps the metal box and shifts his legs a bit. From watching all the videos of him fighting and then seeing him in real life, like this, was truly heartbreaking.

“Steve.” He rasps, his voice, rough as sandpaper, cuts through the tension filled air. His gaze landing immediately on his long lost best friend.

“Which Bucky am I talking to?” Steve replies in an emotionless tone. He lifts his head up slowly and lays a long hard stare on Steve. Then shifts his intense gaze on you. Your (e/c) meet his and you’re momentarily out of breath. His eyes were these steely blue whirlpools of pain and sorrow. His long lashes cast shadows over the sapphire glaze and green hues that were burning holes through you.

You remained calm and met his glower with just as much tenacity. He took in a deep breath and turned towards Steve.

For some reason, you had one distinct thought in mind, the rest just blended in with the mindless chatter over the comms.

You wanted those eyes to lay upon you once more.

Chapter Text

There was a long pause.

You could hear his labored breathing. He shifted in his seat again before speaking.

“Your mom’s name was Sara,” he pauses and laughs the softest and saddest laugh you’ve ever heard,” You used to wear newspapers in your shoes.”

You take a peek at Steve and see that his expression has immediately softened to one of a man reminiscing good times with a brother.

“Can’t read that in a museum.” Steve says.

You could still hear the fighting over the comms, a few of your team members seemed to be struggling a little more than they should on such a low class mission.

You step closer to him and mutter quietly, “Steve, we’re going to have to go soon.”

You turn to James, his shoulders slouch even more, shrinking him. “What did I do?”

“Enough,” you answered. He lifted his head slightly and looked at you inquisitively. “We’re going to keep you safe, but we need to go. Now.” You opened a tiny portal at eye level, so that you could see what was happening on the battlefield. You saw Thor, Vision and Sam fighting relentless waves of Hydra Agents and Natasha weaving through bodies to get the files safe in the Quinjet.

You saw Bucky stare at you with curiosity.

You slowly walked towards him, making sure he saw your every move, you shifted to the side where his arm was clamped down and waved Steve over. Lifting the damn slab is going to be tough. He grips the metal on one side and you create a portal that opens up to right under the slab giving you enough leverage to actually make a difference.

“On three. One. Two. Three.” You both lift up, grunting with the effort. With a metal squeal, Bucky pries his arm free. You both stumble back with the effort, a bead of sweat slipping down your neck.

You see him flex, and stretch out his metal fingers. The metal plates shifting and adjusting, making little mechanical noises. God, the technology involved… Seeing as he could control its’ movements, the arm must be, somehow, connected to some nerve endings that sends signals to brain. How could they pull that off? You’d have to take a look and discuss it with Tony.

You’re taken out of your reverie by Bucky shifting uncomfortably under your gaze.

“Oh! Sorry, I don’t mean to stare. I’m just curious. It’s an incredible piece of prosthetic engineering.” You smile at him, once again walking slowly towards him and place your left hand forwards to help him up. Why the left hand? Because that ensures that Bucky will use his metal arm to hold yours. Working at the VA has taught you that the one thing the patient's hate the most is being treated differently. Being treated like their struggles give them a status.

And in any case, Bucky didn’t scare you. The Winter Soldier did. But, this is Bucky. A young Brooklyn born and raised boy who had nothing to lose, metal arm be damned.

His blue eyes widen and he stares at your outstretched hand with such intensity that he could've bore a hole through it.

He goes to move his arm but hesitates, like he’s rethinking his choices. You stay patient and wait for him to realise its safe.

Suddenly, a shiver runs up your arm, the little hair’s raise and goosebumps form. A large cool metal hand grasps your smaller one. You smile wide and pull him up.

Steve watches the exchange with a small smile before setting back into motion.

“Ok, we got to go. I think they need the backup.” Steve announces.

“Steve, Bucky, go first. I’ll give Tony a call over the comms, he’ll give me a lift.” You tell him as you walk out of the abandoned warehouse, Barnes trailing behind. But, he stops.

“You’re not coming with… us?” He asks, his voice low. You glance at Steve, searching his face for answers. This is the first time he’s addressed you in any way. His eyes darted from left to right and he seemed panicked. You gave him a once over. His hands were clenched tight and his shoulders were tight, he cast his gaze to the floor where his feet were shuffling nervously. Maybe, being alone with Steve was a little too much right now.

You put a finger to your ear and opened the line to the comms. “Tony, I need you to pick up Steve instead of me.” Before he could protest, you indicated your location and turned off the device.

“(Y/n)... what?”

“I’m going back to the Quinjet with Bucky, you go backup the team. They need you more than me.”

“You don’t know how to ride a motorcycle. (Y/n), this is reckless.”

“Not it’s not. They need you and Tony’s going to be here soon. So, me and Bucky have to leave. Plus, Bucky knows how to ride a motorcycle, I’ll tell him where to go.” With that, you walk towards Steve’s bike and wave Bucky over as Steve discusses the situation with the team.

His tall frame towers over yours, but you don’t cower away. His long locks hide his face, but his stare remains strong.

“You trust me?” He asks, his voice, barely a whisper.

“I trust that you know being with us is your safest option at the moment. Whether I trust you or not doesn’t matter because my job is to keep you alive from here to the Quinjet to the moment we arrive at Stark Tower.”

Seemingly satisfied with your answer, he swings his long leg over and revs the engine. You sit behind him, slipping your arms around his waist, holding on for dear life, because if you had to hold on with Steve, you’ll definitely have to hold on with Bucky.

You feel the solid muscle underneath his clothing and the warmth emanating through. Despite your mind telling you that this man was a trained assassin, you felt safe. You felt like he wouldn’t do anything to hurt you, that being said, you couldn’t predict a mind that has been so thoroughly tampered with. A mind destroyed into little pieces that’s he’s trying so hard to glue them back together.

“You good?” He asks. You nod against the wide expanse of his muscled back. With that he lifts his foot up and presses the gas.

“In about 500 meters you’re going to take a sharp left and then a sharp right onto a gravel road. We’ll reach the Quinjet in about 10 mins.” You shout over the wind. Thankfully, you studied the terrain enough to know how to get to the jet without having to pass through the battlefield. You were positive that he didn't want to see that.

He follows your instructions perfectly and, after an eternity of hugging the Soldier so tightly, you arrived in front of the jet.

You swing your legs off and stumble ungracefully on the snowy grass when a pair of (ridiculously) strong arms were lifting you back onto your feet.

‘Um, thanks.’ You brush yourself off. He answers you with a hard stare and turns to the jet, but doesn’t move. Maybe he’s going to make a run for it.

You walk towards the plane, leaving footprints in the snow. In a strange moment of peace, you breathe in deeply. Through the chaos, this moment, right here, was beautiful. It was quiet, only for the crunch of snow under your feet, except, you only heard your feet, not the second pair that should’ve been following you.

You turned around and see the Soldier standing awkwardly on his own next to the bike, unsure as to if he should follow.

“Are you just going to stand there?” You wait patiently by the plane, watching him shift from foot to foot, making up his mind. “Because you could go,” he looks up immediately,” you could leave, is what I’m trying to say. I mean, the motorcycle’s there. And if you do chose to leave, I’ll help pack up some things for you. Why? Because I can’t imagine being in your situation. So, if you want to leave, leave. But, I’m going to tell you one thing. I am or, if you choose to leave, I was looking forward to meeting you.”

You hit the side of the side of the plane in a series of hits that the team made up for Bruce to know it’s a team member and not an intruder.

You step back as you watch the ramp slowly descend. The plank lands softly on the ground, a cloud of snow lifting with the impact.

“So, are you coming?” You trudge up halfway, expecting him to turn around, but he doesn’t. He follows you into the Quinjet and doesn’t say anymore.

Inside, Bruce was sitting on a chair, tapping away on his Stark Tablet.

“Hey, (y/n). Nice to meet you Bucky, I’m Bruce Banner or the Big Green Guy.”

Surprised as to how Bruce knew his name, all Bucky did was nod.

“(Y/n), do you have any cuts or…”

“Ya, there’s a small one that goes down my calf.” He pats the chair next to him and takes out his kit. He rolls up your pants and examines the wound.

“You won’t need stitches, but just keep it bandaged until it scabs up.” He disinfects and wraps it up for you.

“Thanks, Bruce.” Forgetting that Barnes was watching the whole time, you smile sympathetically at him

You led him into the left wing, which was the most private, it had double doors, separating the section from the rest of the plane.

“So, this is where we’re going to be for the next few hours.” You plopped down on the bench. You closed your eyes for a few seconds, opening them to see him standing awkwardly.

“You can sit anywhere, by the way.” You motion to the seat in front of you. He moves quietly to the seat and sits down.

You spent the next twenty minutes in silent companionship, only sending worried glances his way every once and awhile.

Through the comms, you hear the team announcing that they were on their way back, that the mission was successful, zero casualties.

You looked towards the nervous soldier in front of you, he probably wasn’t accustomed to such a small, shared space.

“Hey, it’s going to be fine. I’m going to be honest, not everyone here is going to be super friendly, but they’ve all agreed to helping you.”

He assesses you silently, he seems to do that a lot. “Are you sure?” His voice, a deep vibration.

“I can speak for my team. But, I’m not going to lie, no one’s told me what happens once we land. You’ll be safe, that’s for sure.” You tell him honestly. When Steve approached you to help him, he only described your role in all of this. Which was to bring him back safely to the Quinjet, hopefully without the Winter Soldier popping up.
What happens once you all get back to the Tower, was unbeknownst to you. “This team is one big family, so there’s going to be a lot of bickering and childish comments. Don’t be alarmed, that’s just the way it is. I’ve already asked them to tone it down a little, but if someone asks you what’s your favourite food, don’t be surprised.”

You try and lighten the mood just a little bit. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t react. You don’t mind though, it’s better than having him leave.

You hear the Quinjet open once again, footsteps echoing on the metal ramp.

“Stay here, alright?” You step out of the double doors and receive several congratulating hugs. You completely forgot that this was your first mission.

Looking out, you see Tony stepping out of his suit.

“Where’s Cap?” You ask, not seeing the familiar red, white and blue suit.

“He’s coming, he said he wanted to make sure that they were starting clean-up.” You stand on your toes and give him a hug, glad that he was okay. “So, where’s the Icy Soldier?”

“Tony, don’t call him that!” You scold him. You’ve definitely had several conversations involving the Winter Soldier. For several months, Tony was filled with anger and hatred, but with time, he started to understand that, in reality, the person that killed his parents was not Bucky Barnes. It was a man who was built, tortured and brainwashed by horrible people. It didn’t change the fact that his parents were gone, brutally killed, but it did help him come to terms with the fact that Barnes would be staying with them, under their care.

At that moment, Steve decided to join them.

“Hey, Stevie, you okay?” He seemed to be in a bit of a daze. He nervously ran a hand up his neck and through his hair.

“Um, yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Um where’s Buck?”

“He’s in the left wing. Hey,” you grab a hold of his bicep, bringing his attention back to you,” Hey. He seems to be okay around me. He’s really jumpy, but I know, he’s nervous, especially when it comes to you.” A saddened look slides onto his face. “Steve, he’s happy to see you. But, he’s scared and right now there’s a lot of people on the jet and he’s hearing things. New things. He needs time,ok? I’ll make sure you come and see him a few times before we land.” He nods solemnly and enters the Quinjet, you in tow.

You ask Sam to fill in for you during the debriefing and during Fury’s team call. While the rest of the team chatters amicably through the exhaustion, you go back to the left wing. A complete compartment, made for him. You scoff.

Pushing the door slightly open, you visibly see him flinch and tense at your entrance, ready to attack.

“It’s just me.” You lightly close the door behind you and sit across from him again.

“Steve wants to see you.” He snaps his head up in alarm and sends a panicked look to the doors, ready to bolt.

“But, not right now.” You chuckle as his shoulders relax.” I told him to give you some space. That’s okay right?” He wasn’t very verbal, so you had to up on physical cues. His expressions.

He gives a low grunt in response before returning his attention to a rock on the floor.

And here you were, stuck with a very, very intimidating looking soldier with a metal arm, blue steel eyes and a serious case of “lost-puppy.” What were you going to do?

Chapter Text

The rest of the plane ride passes without incident. Other than feeling two eyes burn through all the layers of protection you had on. He hadn’t said anything since your last brief exchange, not that you were expecting him to. Steve had come in a few times and that was bittersweet.

You’d had to hold back the blonde super soldier more than once, knowing that if he went in to “check on Bucky” even if he was probably just looking to fawn over his long lost best friend. Although you knew you didn’t have a choice but to keep him at a distance, it still pained your heart to see Steve wanting to go and talk so bad, to reminisce. You reassured him plenty, saying that once they were back, he’d get to talk to him as much as he was willing to. Steve understood, of course, but he still sat slumped against his chair, his head resting in his palm.

-----

He doesn’t do much. He was surprisingly still. He only fidgeted when someone entered the left wing or when you made movements to abrupt. You mentally made a note not to use a toaster around him.

He didn’t do any pacing, or tapping. He just crossed his long legs and sat comfortably against the far wall, making sure he had a vantage point of who came in and out of the room. His long hair was shaggy and hung low on his crystal blue eyes. His worn hands were crossed on his lap where the metal one still glinted from the fluorescent lights.

You were itching to ask him questions. You were naturally curious and he just… intrigued you. He seemed so reserved, asking anything was obviously pushing boundaries neither of you were ready to cross, given the fact that you just met and barely knew each other. But, the prospect of getting to know him was strangely enticing, he lured you in. It was an odd feeling, one you definitely weren't familiar with. Just sitting there, he was dominating the room, his presence was like a stone statue in a museum.

Maybe, there was a reason you were the one assigned with this “task”. You could handle a little bit of intrigue while remaining professional.

Clint’s voice over the comms interrupts your thoughts. “20 mins till’ landing, guys.”

You hear some commotion on the other side of the jet and chuckle to yourself quietly. They might be superheroes on the news, but they're just huge dorks to you. That’s when you catch him staring at you. He isn’t gaping or… admiring, he’s analyzing in a very non-threatening way. He looks like he’s gauging whether or not he could trust you, for real this time. He doesn't do it predatorily, he isn’t stripping you and staring into your soul. He’s just, thinking.

“How’s Steve?” Are the first words he utters since the trip back began. You smiled fondly at the depth of emotion and meaning behind the words. Barely two, but enough to convey his worry, his concern, his sadness, his guilt, his pain and everything in between. It comes out rough, like sandpaper, but the look in his eyes is hopeful. That’s an improvement. Talking about Steve seemed to lighten his demeanour.

“He’s good,” you pause, he’s his best friend, might as well tell him everything, “But, he struggles still, waking up from the ice was hard on him. He has bad days, and he’s getting better at handling them.” You were about to add the fact that he misses Bucky, so much, it was a painful to watch sometimes.

Hearing countless stories of their childhood escapades, while Steve has that distance look in his eyes. The one that holds so much weight and bores holes into whatever surface he’s looking at. Whenever he has a flashback or a certain memory pops up, his shoulders sag and a frown is always present.

But sometimes, Steve sported a bittersweet smile that doesn’t quite light up his eyes. That’s probably worst than the hunched shoulders and distant stares.

You don’t tell him that, not yet, he’s got enough on his plate.

He doesn’t say anything, but he looks down at his lap and a flicker of sadness passes over his handsome features, you couldn’t help but notice it.

Before you could say anything, there’s a knock on the door and a head of blonde hair peeks through.

“(Y/n), Fury wants you in on the debriefing.” You internally groan, dreading the few hours to come. Debriefing was essential but it took years, Fury always wanted to go over every detail, most of the time whoever gets chosen to deal with the task just gets fed up and walks out. Maybe, it’s the curse of the newbie. “Buck, you gotta come with me.”

He nods and stands, his large frame towering over you. His body is turned towards you, hiding Steve’s view of your face.

For a second, he seems to panic. It’s obvious he’s uncomfortable, he’s going somewhere new, with people he doesn't know, to do things he doesn't know about. You had to go about this carefully, saying the wrong thing can trigger and damage and you definitely were too tired to deal with a Winter Soldier.

You decide to go with:” I’ll see you later, James.” And that seemed to be the right thing to say because, his shoulders aren’t as tense and relief seemed to flood into him like cool water on a hot summer day. You watched him walk out with a little bit more assurance in his steps.

You don’t stay to find out what’s going to happen to him, whatever it is, you know it wouldn't be bad, but you had your fair share of James Buchanan Barnes for today and you needed to keep your mind off him and his blue eyes, tall frame and soft shaggy hair.

---------

“Sir, with all due respect, we’ve gone over the same thing three times and I really just want a hot shower and some sleep.” You sigh exasperatedly. You’ve been in the conference room with Fury and Maria for well over two hours and you were starting to drift off right at the table.

“Alright, Agent (L/n). You are dismissed”Fury says.

Thank God. You didn’t if you could take another minute of going through your strategies and all the different contingency issues.

Walking out of the conference room, you shrug off your overcoat and trek the rest of the way to your apartment. Your feet drag across the floor and your limbs were heavy. Waiting in the elevator slumped against the wall felt like an eternity. And finally, the metal doors opened, just a few more feet until you’d be home.

But before you reached your door, you hear hushed voices arguing from Steve’s apartment, the door still slightly open.

You’re suddenly wide awake and you go into a stand-still, willing yourself to listen closely.

“I know you don’t like it Steve, but we have to.” You hear the voice that you recognize as Natasha.

“No we don’t! He’s not some wounded animal, Nat. We can’t just keep him in there.”

That peeked your curiosity. Surprisingly, you hadn’t thought about Bucky since you got off the plane. But right now, your mind was racing. Where did he go after you left? Is he okay? Are they treating him right? Is he alone? What are they doing to him?
You feel your heart racing with worry.

He’d already been through enough poking analyzing, you hoped they wouldn't do that or at least Tony would do it in the confines of his labs.

“I know he isn’t. But whatever Hydra did to him is still in there Steve! You can’t deny that” Nat’s voice was even.

And suddenly you could here all the fight draining out of him. “I know.”

You thought that was the perfect time to intervene. As much as the public eye sees him an unbeatable super hero, there were times where the past caught up him, dragging him down as if a bunch of stones were attached to your ankles, sinking to the bottom of the ocean. He needed someone to pull him back up, stop him from drowning and let some fresh air into his lungs.

You knock on the door quietly, announcing your presence. Natasha’s bright hair whips around and she smiles upon seeing you. You two had grown close over the last few months spending a lot of your time training and discovering new fighting styles and techniques. You bonded easily, her being the only other woman in the compound, other than you and Wanda who tended to hang more around her brother than anyone else.

“You did good out there.” She says, give you a short hug. She says goodbye to Steve and makes a hasty exit.

“Hey, Stevie.” Steve hated it when other people called him that particular nickname, but coming from you, he didn’t mind all that much, it was almost motherly.

He sighs heavily and hangs his head low. “I don’t know what to do, (Y/n).” He says quietly. You grab his arm gently to get him to look at you.

“Don’t worry about that right now. Just focus on getting cleaned up for now. I’ll do the same and I’ll be back. We’ll talk about it then.” You send him a reassuring smile.

All he does is breathe in deeply through his nose and whisper a thank you with a sad smile.

You walk into your bedroom shrugging of all the clothes and head straight into your shower, washing away the day’s grime and dirt. Your mind wanders back to the Soldier, unconsciously or consciously. He just seemed so mysterious, as cliche as it sounded.

All you wanted to do is find out more.

You towel and change into comfortable clothing before slipping into your kitchen to grab some leftovers for Steve. You’ve learned over time that he eats the daily intake of an elephant and it’s family so you always made double the recipe of whatever you were making that day.

“I’m back.” You say entering his apartment. He’s already seated on the couch with a bunch of pillows and blankets.

He’s in a soft sweatshirt and pants now and he’s looking a little better now, less pale and definitely less haunted.

You sit down and cross your legs under you, carefully balancing the casserole between you and handing him a fork.

“So, do you want to talk about it?” Steve liked to keep things bundled up inside for as long as possible, thinking that he could deal with it himself, not wanting to burden anyone else. You normally had to gently coax him into talking, a trick you learned from Sam at the VA meetings, but also from being such close friends with Steve.

Today was different, it was as plain as day. With Bucky’s return he seemed so much lighter, as if a heavy weight on his shoulders had been taken off, but at the same time, there was something else that had formed, and you weren't sure what it was.

“They put him in a cell (y/n).” He drops his face into his hands. The bite of food you were going to take stopping mid-air. What?

“What do you mean they put him in a cell?” You repeat, dumbly.

“They- They need to contain him to remove whatever Hydra did, and they put him in a cell.” He straightens his back and slouches back down.

You understood why they would do that. The things they did were despicable and Bucky’s state of mind was very fragile. But, they needed to fix him, not contain him.

“Do you know where?” You asked him gently, maybe, you’d pay him a visit.

“Ya, it’s in the basement, Level 2. (Y/n), you don’t understand. The look in his eyes…” He trails off, recalling the memory. “They aren’t letting me see him. Not yet, anyways.”

That pisses you off. How the hell are you supposed to keep Steve Rogers from Bucky Barnes?

“Are you serious? I’m going to have a talk with Tony.” You declare. “Who’s working on him?”

“Some of the scientists from the compound.” He answers, eating another bite.

You hum as an answer. Deciding it was time to forget all the emotional trauma, you out on a movie that was on Steve’s to watch list.

You both snuggle and fall asleep watching The Way of The Dragon, and the only thing you could remember is Steve making an off-hand comment :” You kind of fight like him.”

--------

You woke up the next day on Steve’s couch alone. He probably went out for a run at some ungodly hour.

You looked at the clock and saw that it was already ten thirty. Remembering the conversation you had with Steve last night, you get dressed in a hurry and go to find Tony.

As usual he’s in his lab, tinkering away, even after a mission.

“Heyyyy, sweetums, how’s it going?” He asks when you enter in the room.

“Good. Good.” He looks at you weirdly from his position behind the table. He’s obviously perplexed by your simple answer and he knows you either need something from him, or dying to ask a question. He stares at you for a few more seconds before you cave in. “I need to ask you a question.” Bingo.

“And what might that question be.” He rolls his workbench towards you.

“Who’s working on Bucky?” You ask cautiously, Bucky was a sensitive subject to Tony and you could see him tense.

“The scientist’s working in the compound. Why?” He replies suspiciously.

“It can’t be them.”

“Why not? They’re the best in the industry and they’re the most qualified --”

“That’s not the problem” You roll your eyes. You knew that they were the best at what they did and that they were fully equipped. But, that didn’t matter.

“Then what is?”

“He- he doesn't know them.” With all the shit he’s been through, you wouldn’t imagine him wanting to be tested on again by some strangers.

“So, (Y/n) all he needs is to-”

“Tony, don’t you think he’s been through enough.” You snapped, you were surprised by our own little outburst, but you kept going. “He’s been stuck being tested on and tortured by shitty people he doesn’t know for the past seventy years,” you soften your voice a little,” don’t you think he deserves a little familiarity?”

There’s a pregnant pause. Tony had agreed to let him stay here, doesn’t mean he had to like it.

“He killed my parents! Now, you want me to help him?” He half shouts. He hated fighting with you.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to do because it may have been his hands and his body doing it, but his mind and his heart wasn't in it. That man spends his days regretting what he’s done and remembering what they made him do.” Your tirade ends with both of you breathing hard, fists clenched.

“Why do you care so much? You’ve only met him once.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance, Tony. Everyone, including him.” You end softly. It’s the truth and you were hoping Tony would see it too.

“Ok. Ok, fine. But, I’m not making any promises.” He rubs a hand over his face. “And Banner’s in on it too.” You smile wide and jump up and down on the spot in triumph.

You run up and give him a big hug and thank him again.

You couldn’t wait to tell Steve.

And Bucky.

Chapter Text

You’ve never been to this part of the compound. Mostly because you’d never had a need to.

But now you do. You’re going to pick up a damsel in distress.

The hallways were empty, not many agents were milling around. You took long strides to get to your destination as quickly as you could.

They were keeping Bucky in the same area that was designed to keep Loki, you were disgusted by the thought. He wasn’t a prisoner, he wasn’t a criminal and he wasn’t some caged animal that you could keep in a metal box.

It made you angry, and it surprised you because for some reason, this whole situation has made more than a few emotions rise passionately.

Your steps echoed in the hallways as you walk towards where he was being kept. The security was up at it’s highest when you got to the entrance of Section C. Before entering into that part of the building, you got patted down twice, went through a metal detector once and had to hand in any weapons that you were carrying, which consisted of a handgun and two knives.

Once the agent gave you the all clear you entered a vast room that separated into two hallways, A and B. Tony had told you that he was being held in A, but after your conversation, you’d convinced to let him stay in the apartment on the same floor as you and Steve.

What you saw when you approached him made your blood run cold. He was strapped down to the bed, a look of fear and barely controlled terror raked tremors over his body. He was dressed in a hospital gown and was strapped down to the bed.There were doctors and nurses and scientists milling around looking and charts, checking his vitals and such.

But they seemed to be doing it for an experiment, taking samples, poking and prodding in a very cold detached manner. This was not you were expecting and you were definitely going to have a talk with Fury, you’re no less intimidated by his one-eyed gaze and with the anger bubbling inside you, maybe he’s the one who should be scared.

You were frozen on the spot looking at what was happening in the glass case, but the moment you looked up, you met a panicked look, frantically looking from you to the nurses.

You set immediately into action when a nurse approached him with an needle, and you could see him physically tense and try to escape his bonds. His arms and legs lifting of the bed and pulling at the straps. His fists were tightly balled up and you could see the mechanics of his arms work.

He was hanging onto sanity by a thread. And after meeting his gaze once, you realised that his sanity wasn’t the only thing he was desperately holding on to, you could tell he was obviously losing his grip on The Winter Soldier.

You sprung into action, shouting at everyone to exit the room immediately. You had to yell quickly telling them your rank and position before they scurried off, frightened. You ushered them away successfully just in time for you to hear him rip of the first strap along with the metal rod of the hospital bed.

You immediately call the rest of the team, you ask F.R.I.D.A.Y to override any system to keep the doors locked.

Dread fills your guts as you see the cold soldier replace the kind hearted man before your eyes. His demeanour is obviously different already. He stands taller, and holds himself with more confidence. His shoulders are set back and his eyes are cold and show no emotion, not an ounce of recognition showing. This is not the Bucky you met.

He detaches himself from all the straps with ease and slowly sits up, quietly placing his feet on the tiled floor. You stand there, stock still, holding your breath.

He stands to his full height and he slowly turns towards you, a hunter stalking his prey, you could barely suppress a shiver.

And the worst part of it is you could see him, the Bucky you met only a day before, right under the surface, fighting for purchase.

You clenched your fists thinking about the fight that’s about to go down.

You could hear the gate outside open, and the team flying in, shouting for you, telling you to unlock the doors, to let them in, but you ignored them. The more people dealing with the soldier, the more he would get agitated and the more violent he will be. For all you know, they might lock him up for as long as he lives… an undetermined eternity.

The Catch-22 was that if you failed, he’d break out and kill anyone in his path, including the people that you love.

You blinked once, and suddenly he was lunging for you, surprisingly reckless, but you barely dodged him and almost caught a metal arm to the side.

He threw punches of unimaginable strength, all in calculated and thought out parts of your body. You managed to dodge most of them by a hair’s breadth, but the both of you were reeking havoc over to the rest of the room. You finally saw an opening and you swung a punch to his jaw, his hair whipping to the left, you took advantage of the pause by creating a portal right under your feet and opening behind him for you to kick him right in the back of the knee as hard as you could, sending him on one knee,

Your plan was to tackle him to the ground and try to turn him back to the Bucky you know. But, obviously that backfired. The moment you placed a hand on his shoulder to the ground, he turned over and grabbed you by the neck, slamming you to the wall behind you, you could feel the concrete crack behind your back.

You grasped at his metal hand, crushing your windpipe. You struggled to breathe, but he met your eyes and you swore you saw some sort of recognition. This was your last chance and there was no way you could escape his vice like grip. It was this or die.

“Bucky, it’s ok. It’s just me. Just me and Steve.” You wheezed, struggling to get your voice out. He frowned, tilting his head, if you weren’t choking, you’d laugh, he looked so much like a lost puppy, the resemblance was uncanny.

“Who’s Bucky?” He sends a punch across your jaw. Pain sparking through your face all the way down your spine.

“Your name,” you tried to take a deep breathe,” is James Buchanan Barnes, you came here with me,” you started to see little black lights swarm your vision, you didn’t have much time,” so that I could keep you safe. Steve, is… right… there.” You tried to point, but you could feel the air in your lungs being squeezed out of your body.

But then, his grip loosened. And the look in his eyes changed and his jaw relaxed. He let go of your neck, and your dropped unceremoniously to the ground.

Tears fill your eyes as you cough, trying desperately to refill your lungs with oxygen. You take a few shaky breaths and look up at him. He crumpled to the ground on his knees, his hands to his head. If you strained your ears hard enough, you could here him mumbling something.

The team has now stopped pounding the walls and calmed down relatively now that they've seen that Bucky wasn’t the Soldier anymore. Steve and Tony were still shouting at you to unlock the doors, but they could wait. The bleeding heart of a man, kneeling on the floor, was infinitely more important.

You struggled to all-fours, a harsh wheeze coming out of you every time you inhaled, and you crawled slowly towards him.

It felt like an eternity before your reached a hand on his shoulder, but when you did, he flinched and immediately pulled away, distancing himself from you.

“Get away, (y/n). I’m going to hurt you.” He lowered his hands and looked at them as if asking himself if they were real and through his eyes, you could feel the intensity of his pain. The depth of hurt radiating of him sent shock waves through your body, your pain momentarily forgotten.

You shakily grabbed a hold of a stray chair next to you and stand up, swaying slightly.

“No, Bucky, you won’t.” And that’s when the lights around you started getting dimmer and the room started to spin. But, instead of hitting the floor, a warm wall of muscle caught you before you tumbled ungracefully to the ground. Sadly, you were unaware of the fact that Bucky had leapt in to save you, your unconsciousness had terrible timing.

------

You wake up warm and comfortable. You roll over but groan when you feel a sharp pain shoot through your side.

“Hey, hey, take it easy.” A large hand gently pushes you onto your back. You groan again, feeling all the aches and pains in your body, including what you assumed was a black bruise covering the better half of your jaw.

“Steve, what- where?” You were having a hard time forming a coherent phrase. He gently shushed you and told you to rest up. He said that you’d been unconscious for almost a whole day and that Tony was here, but he had to send him away to go eat something. The team had also been coming in and out of the room. You hummed approvingly, it was the only sound you could form without exerting too much energy.

That’s when all the memories started flooding into your head. Your brain skimmed over you getting your ass handed to you, the bustling nurses, locking the team out of the room, Steve and Tony shouting… But, the image that was seared into your brain, that you remember so vividly you saw it clearly through your closed eyelids. It was him with his hands in the air, defeated and on his knees with his gaze holding so much sadness, guilt, and regret.

You groaned again, when you lifted yourself upright, Steve immediately at your side.

“(Y/n)! What are you doing? Lie down.” He says, look into so worried and worn.

“No. Bucky.” Just uttering those two words made you feel pain spread through your face and pound your skull. You steadied yourself with both hands on the mattress, before gently swinging your legs over.

“Please, lie down. You can’t even stand on your own, let alone walk…” He said these things with the goal of keeping you horizontal, but he knew it was a lost cause when he turned to look at you and recognized the determined look on your face that he’d seen when you bravely faced any challenge.

He heaved a defeated sigh and stood.

“At least let me get a wheelchair.” With your feet now on the ground, you could feel the tiredness gripping at your sore muscles, you nodded your head as clearly as possible, hoping it wouldn't trigger a headache.

He left the room swiftly, leaving you to your thoughts.

You felt bad. You felt terrible. The pain coursing through your body was close to unbearable, also forgoing the fact that you can’t talk. (Courtesy of a metal armed soldier). But, you felt terrible for the unbearable pain he must be going through. His mind, his complex. It doesn't work like ours, not after being tampered with so much. His thoughts don’t go from point A to point B.

You’re guessing that in between, whatever thought he has gets coated with a thick layer of doubt, mistrust, anger and guilt, all at once.

You stared at the floor for a few more minutes before Steve came back, pushing a wheelchair.

He gingerly approaches you, gently gliding one hand under your knees, let you loop your arms around his neck. He puts you down softly into the chair, and smiles sadly at you.

For the duration of the walk there, Steve idly makes small talk only eliciting a small grunt of approval every once in awhile. He was nervously babbling when he reached your floor. The one you and Steve share.

“He’s not going to be here all the time. Tony’s not happy about it, so is half of the team. But, it was here or another cell. And I couldn’t do it. Not to him.” He shook his head sadly. He had stopped pushing your chair and put a hand on your shoulder, no doubt looking for comfort.

You covered his large hand with yours and gave it a squeeze. A promise.

He pushes you forward anticipation building deep inside you. The familiar white walls are a comfort when you and Steve stand before the grey slate door.

“You sure you’re okay?” He was always ridiculously good at reading you. not one facial expression you made was left unscanned by his watchful eyes.

During your walk there, you had worked up the movement in your jaw, now words flowed more easily, but your jaw felt like it was hit by a truck. It kind of was.

“As sure as I’ll ever be.” You respond.

With that, he knocks three times one the door, waiting, no, hoping for a response.

Chapter Text

You waited there for a minute, a minute became two. Then you heard some shuffling behind the door followed by some pensive thinking. Bucky was wondering whether or not he should let you guys in. You hoped he did, he was probably strung up with guilt.

After another minute, with Steve steadily growing more anxious by the second, the door finally opens a few inches.

Through the gap, you see Bucky’s tall frame peering through, his eyes a magnet towards the large bruise blooming on your face, a pained expression on his face.

“Hey Bucky….” You say, gently, an exhaled breathe. He didn’t have a cap on, his hair was an alluring mess, he was wearing a dark grey Henley and black pants. He was still wearing his heavy combat boots, ready to go. He had a heavy scruff, that looked like he hadn't shaved in a week.

“Can we come in?” Steve inquires, his hands gripping the handlebars of the wheelchair tightly. You practically hear the gears churning in his head.

For a second or two, you honestly thought Bucky was just going to close the door on you, his eyes darted from you to Steve. He looked like he was going to flee. But, he made an almost imperceptible nod and opened the door completely, holding it open for the both of you.

The inside of the apartment was similar to the ones you and Steve lived. You looked to your right and you could see the very little personal belongings he owned in a green duffle bag off to the side.

The sight made you sad. From your point of view, you could see a couple of shirts and jeans, a jacket, a red notebook, a black notebook, and an old postcard that was faced down. So little, such an insubstantial amount of things to represent a story that could be told over years and years. You couldn’t without taking a better look into that bag, but you couldn’t imagine him carrying anything that tied him to his past, anything.

Steve pushed you over to the couch where he sat down protectively to your side, placing himself in between you and Bucky, he laid a large hand on your thigh, keeping both you and him grounded. Bucky stood uncomfortably in the middle of the sitting area for a beat, but elected to sit down in front of in front of Steve, where he had a good vantage point of the door, the only entrance and exit to the apartment. You could see him shift, adjusting his position to make sure his metal arm was as far away from you as possible

There was a really awkward silence before, Steve cleared his throat.

“Thank you.” You started, both men looked at you in surprise, Bucky was also looking at you slightly horrified, his lips parted and eyes wide.

“You caught me. When I, um fainted.” You clarified. Going from a standing position straight to the floor was painful, very painful. Thankfully there was a certain super soldier that caught you before more damage could be done.

“I almost killed you…” The words coming out with a pause in between each. As if it took effort to speak them. “You should- You can’t”

He couldn't seem to manage to have any words come out, so he settled for a guilty shake of the head. He once again scanned your features and he seemed to notice the fact that you were in a wheelchair. He cast his eyes downwards guiltily, as he assessed the rest of your injuries from his point of view. You couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but you desperately wanted to know.

“You didn’t, he did. But, I’m okay” He looks up abruptly staring back, disbelieving.
He opened his mouth once, twice, words threatening to spill over, but never coming to light.

Then, Steve spoke up.

“Buck, I wanted to apologize for… before. I didn’t know-” He rubbed a hand through his neck, gathering courage,” I didn’t know that was going to happen.” Steve inhaled strongly, keeping himself in check. Steve spoke sincerely, wanting to apologize profusely and tell him how terribly bad he felt and how he regretted the many things he didn’t say back in the day and how he hated fighting him on the helicarrier… He wanted to say all these things, but he knew that if he did, Bucky would run. He’d run, because those feelings would be too vivid and too real, and they’d hit too close to a part of his brain that hasn’t been utilised since he got taken away by Hydra.

So, he kept it simple, even if it didn’t come out the way he wanted to, he hoped desperately that his best friend saw all the feelings and words he couldn’t convey through the tone of his voice.

You watched Bucky respond. He almost never spoke, when he did, it was short, mostly monosyllables replies. But, he didn’t need to speak, he didn’t need to use words to answer questions. What those people did, they took that away from him, they stole his power over words, stripping it from the man he once ones and never giving it back to the man he is today.

He answered with a meaningful gaze and a slow nod. He was forgiving. You had a terribly hard time imagining yourself back in the perilous situation you found yourself in a few hours ago, with the same man. You scolded yourself, they weren't the same person, they were just inhabiting the same body.

You could see the tiredness in the lines of his body. The nervousness in the tapping of his finger. He didn’t know what to do with himself.

“Steve, do you know if the King T’Challa has arranged the--” that’s when a certain rich, playboy, philanthropist of a man burst through the door of his apartment. In a second, there were two ridiculously tall super soldiers shielding you from view, ready to defend.

Steve was a relaxed, solid wall of muscle, standing in front of you, keeping a soft hand on your shoulder. Bucky on the other hand, was coiled tight, a spring ready to fire off, a trigger just waiting to be pulled. There was a terse silence, tension sending sparks through the air.

“How can you let her in here, Captain?” Tony says, his voice, quaking with rage. He might only be one man, but oh does he have some willpower. “How?,” He levels his gaze towards Steve,his anger rolling off of him, he pointedly looks at Bucky,” He-”

The moment he raised his voice, you reached out and grabbed Bucky’s forearm, trying to tell him to stay calm and stand down. He twitched, tensed and then pointedly looked at where you touched him, staring at it as if it was some foreign object. Slowly, you saw his stance relax just a little, you send him in encouraging smile, before letting go, missing the skin to skin contact.

“He didn’t do anything.” You said from behind them, you gently nudged Steve aside, rolling yourself towards Tony. “He didn’t.” Tony stared at you, jaw agape, looking at the bruise that had gone from green to black in his absence.

You could feel the two presences behind you, both ready to pounce for two very different reason. Steve knew he might have to reel you back, if someone pushed the wrong buttons, wheelchair be damned. Bucky on the other hand, was reluctantly tensed up again, he didn't want to hurt anyone, but Tony seemed ready to have his head on a stick.

“I’m fine.” You try to reach for his hand, but he pulls away.

“No! You aren’t fine! He choked you! You almost died. I had to-,” he turned his back to you, hiding his eyes with his right hand,” I had to watch you-.” He spits out the words, voice cracking.

You turned towards Steve and told him that you’d be back soon, then you turned to Bucky.

You grabbed a hold of his metal hand, he visibly flinched and reared to pull his hand away but you held on. And to your credit, he could easily fling you across the room, but thankfully he didn’t. “I’ll come back. Promise.” You didn’t know it yet, but those were the exact words he needed to hear.

You push yourself to be right under Tony’s gaze, despite the height differential. “Hey now, I’m leaving. Let’s go back to my house.” You tug on his hand to set him into motion. You send in apologetic smile to the both of them, waiting for Tony to bring you out.

He leaves with a cold glance towards the dynamic duo, and pushes you out.

He pushed you silently towards the other side of the hall. Opening up the door for you, you were finally back home after your… ordeal.

The silence between you was palpable, and not in the good way. You could hear him thinking, readying some kind of lecture for you to listen to for the next 45 minutes.

He elects to get you comfortable first, it was getting late. He pushes you towards the couch, gathering up blankets and pillows. He seems to have made a place for him too. He still hasn’t said a single word and you knew he was angry, having an argument with himself in his head.

He walks over to you, a look you can’t quite place on his face as he slips a hand under your knees and around you waist, gently depositing you and the couch.

He sits down next to you, bringing his knees up and wrapping his arms around them. He rests his head on his forearms, breathing in deeply, shakily.

“I had to watch the life drain out of you.” He whispers out, barely audible. “He had his hand around your neck and I just stood there,” he spits out, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides,” helpless.” He says, completely defeated.

At that moment you just began to realise the depth of his hurt. It was monumental, much like Bucky’s, but very different. You knew this from the time you spent together, you caught glimpses every once in awhile. But, it’s the first time you faced his sorrows upfront.

You did your best to scoot over, but a sharp stab to the rib kept you still. You let out an irritated huff before ushering him closer to your side.

“I know. But, you have to see that, what I did there, in that cell, was necessary. Him getting triggered was an outcome I thought I could avoid, but Tony… You should've seen him, strapped to that bed,” You tightened your grip on his hand remembering the scene vividly, he squeezed back.

He looks at you for a beat, his emotions more exposed than ever before, so he did what he did best, let it out angrily.

“That was reckless. That was so incredibly reckless, do you have a death wish?” You knew that this was a coping mechanism, so you let him vent,” I had to watch- I haven’t felt that sort of panic since Pepper-” He stopped there, catching himself before the words could spill out. “I can’t do that. Not again.”

He seemed to be on the verge of a panic attack, or a breakdown or something that would break him. He always hated this part of him, the part that showed off weakness, but it tore you up inside because all it did was show you his strength.

“Come here,” you grabbed him and pulled him in so that he lay by your side, snuggled into you,” I’m fine, some stuff hurts, but that comes with the job.” You made sure to exaggerate your breathing a little bit so that he followed it.

“You’re okay. We are okay.”

You didn’t know how long you laid there, but by the time you escaped your buzzing thoughts, Tony’s breaths had evened out and he’d drifted off to sleep.

Your mind led your way back to Bucky. To the the little amount of words that drifted out of his mouth. You wanted to hear more of it, listen to anything he’d have to say, hear him laugh and recount stories about him and Steve. You sigh and shift a little knowing good and well that wasn’t going to happen.

It was confirmed that he was staying here, and in that time you’d like to get to know him better. You seemed to be the only one, other than Steve, that saw through his past, that didn’t hold it against him.

You didn’t blame the others for thinking that way, but you hoped that one day they’d move on, and see the man underneath, someone you had yet to meet.

The tiredness started to catch up to you and before you knew your eyelids grew heavy and your breathing slowed, drifting off into peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

Hydra Base, Unknown Location

“She’s a pretty one, isn’t she?,” Madame Hydra sips her cup, patiently. “What a shame.”

“What a shame, what, ma’am?” Her right hand man asks, standing obediently at her side.

“That she’ll have to be… disposed of.”

---------


You woke up to a stream of grey light peeking out from the curtains. It was a rainy day, the rain tapping rhythmically against the glass pane, music to your sleepy ears. You let wakefulness slowly sweep into you, a tidal wave put through slow motion. The aches and pains were there, and a head was laid comfortably on your stomach.

He’d slept fitfully during the night, never waking up, but stuck in a vicious cycle of dreams. He hadn’t been in anything fearful, he wasn’t drenched in cool sweat or breathing hard. But, Tony, even in his sleep, looked tired and a million times his age.

You on the other hand, were feeling some of the aches and pains that littered your body. You laid your head back onto your pillow with a thump.

You’d have to go talk to everyone else. You were surprised the rest of the team hadn't barged in and urged you to talk yet. They seemed to have left you alone, but you’d have to confront them today. They deserved that.

You let your eyes drift close for a second, but a familiar pair of footsteps entered your apartment. Steve. He seemed to have frozen on the spot. He’d made it a habit to just come stalking into your home. He just said that your kitchen was always fully stocked, he even offhandedly made a comment of taking advantage of your “motherly” instincts. But, maybe he was just lonely.

Upon seeing you, he shrugged apologetically and you smiled in understanding. When he laid his eyes on Tony, his eyes softened immediately and he stared contemplatively at Tony’s sleeping form.

You mouthed:” Bad night.” And he nodded in understanding. Although no one actually knew to what extent of a “bad” night it was for Tony except for you and Steve; Steve being absent for what you thought was the most traumatic part. Tony was a master at squashing down anything he was feeling with a million watt smile and going on the defensive when confronted about his struggles. Steve knew what a “bad night” was.

You carefully extracted yourself from the mess of tangled limbs, he was so conked out he didn't even wake up, only managed a grunt of disapproval before hugging the pillow to his chest.

Today you were able to wobbly walk on your own, you through to yourself triumphantly. You slowly made your way to the kitchen, a cup of coffee waiting for you.

“You feeling okay?” Steve asks, voice earnest. He genuinely wanted to know.

“Better than yesterday, anyways.” He squeezes your shoulder before going back to cooking your breakfasts.

You picked at the lip of your coffee mug, working up the courage to ask the question that’s been milling around your head all morning. You’d pondered about it while watching the raindrops cascade down the city in heavy sheets of diamond drops.

“How was… Bucky, after Tony um, well Tony was Tony.” He shuffled some eggs around in the pan while you patiently awaited his answer.

“Honestly, I can’t really pinpoint something… specific. He seemed so… ready to pounce on Tony, defensive, but not for having Tony accusing him. But for…” He trailed off looking at you, stalling whatever he was going to say.

“But for what?” You prod.

“But for Tony being angry at you.” You were midway through lifting the cup to your lips when he said that. You froze for a second. He was defensive, for you? That hardly made any sense. You’d thought he’d felt threatened under Tony’s shouts.

“For me.” You repeated, still trying to wrap your head around the fact. Steve nodded, also seeming to be thinking hard about the new information.

“I’m going to see the rest of the team today.” You say, carefully avoiding the subject you were discussing earlier. “Are they mad?”

He chuckles slightly at your concern. “No, not mad, just worried.” He puts away the dirty dishes,” I have to go back to Wakanda to see T’Challa… I’ll be back in a few days.”

He pulls you into a hug and kisses the top of your head.

“I’ll see you soon. Take care, okay?” You nodded against his chest.

--------

You entered the common room to a very interesting sight. There seemed to be a playful argument happening. Some of the team cheering whenever someone laid an impressive statement, some others humming with disapproval.

Sam Wilson and Peter Parker stood facing each other debating who had the better suit. This was the sort of childish stuff you lived for and it happened frequently enough for the common room to be considered a kindergarten playground.

“Well, mine looks like a hundred times cooler.”

“All you have is spandex. What can you do with that?”

“Since you’re like a normal person and you can’t fly, you overcompensated and made yourself wings.” Pietro oo’d at that, mimicking a burn on his forearm.

“I can just cut your webs.”

“I can just clog up the system.”

You clear your throat. “Um guys?”

“(Y/n)!” You hear Peter shout, suddenly he’s right in front of you, words gushing out of his mouth, like the over excited teenager he was.

“Oh my god, the thing you did in the cell was so cool! Like you were against the Winter Soldier, man. THE Winter Soldier, and like ya you got a little beat at the end, but you were amazing. Like he hit you like this,” He pretends to swing a punch,” and then you dodge him like this, “ He pretends to dodge a punch while making humph, sound,”And then he went all like murder-y, but you opened you portal thingy and it was SO cool, I’ve only seen it once, it was like, pshhh,” he imitates the sound of you opening a portal and makes the movement with his hands,” and then you pulled his ankle, god that was so badass. Anyways, I was wondering if you could train me a little bit?”

You try to filter in the monologue he just spit out, only catching a few words here and there because he was speaking so fast.

“Ya sure, whenever you want, I don’t mind.” He was a good kid, good intentions and straight morals. A little hyperactive, and honestly, you thought he was a little young to be on the team, but you liked having him there.

“Awesome!” He smiles wide and swings his attention back to the argument.

Sam approaches you with what you called the ‘dad-look’. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked at you seriously. You sheepishly look at him, knowing that you worried the shit out of him.

“You okay, though?” He says, finally. “Ya.” He pulls you into a hug and lets go, going back to berating Spidey about his ‘juvenile’ suit.

After that, you were met with an armful of Wanda. “(Y/n), I was so worried.” She says, softly.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry. But, you know I had to.” Wanda had been the only person you talked to about Bucky. She understood, with her powers she constantly has glimpses of the emotional baggage that Bucky carries around with him. She’d tried to describe it to you once, but even she thought it would be too much to bear.

“I know,” she pauses and grabs your shoulders,” I’m warning you, Natasha is not happy.” You groan internally, out of all the people you’d had to confront, Nat would be the worst. She had this way of making people feel guilty for whatever they did, but you loved her nonetheless.

You walk over to the adjacent room and find the redhead in a discussion with Bruce. You take deep breath and brace yourself.

“Hey, Nat.” You say, she turns her head round slowly, eyeing you up and down. Bruce did the smart thing and scurried off quietly.

“Why?” Is the question that came out of her lips. You frowned, that wasn't what you were expecting.

“Tony changed the group of scientists that were working on Bucky, he’d be transferred from the cell he was into the apartment on our floor. I went to get him and when I found him…” You trailed off.

You’d sit down next to her by now and she was looking at you patiently.

“Nat, you should've seen the look on his face… I couldn’t just leave him like that.”

She looked at you thoughtfully for a second, doing the thing that Nat always does. Her expression remained emotionless, probably assessing the information you just gave her and gauging some sort of theory in her mind. She looked at you as if she knew something you didn’t.

You waited patiently for her verdict, luckily, none came.

“Tony ordered pizza, it’ll be here soon.”

You smile gratefully, knowing that she purposefully didn't say much. “Ok, I’ll be down in five minutes I have to get something upstairs.”

You left the room swiftly, relief filling you up. You walked back towards the common room to get the Spider boy. You’d decided to start training him straight away. There wasn’t any time to lose and he seemed eager to learn. Teaching him now wouldn’t hurt him.

“Hey, Peter! Come with me, I’ll show you something cool.” You wave him over. He nearly trips out of his chair trying to get to you. You laugh as he tries to play it cool, smoothing a hand down his shirt and into his hair.

“Ya, I decided to start training you right away. I don’t have much to do these days, anyways.” Fury had laid you off missions, for at least a month, to heal up. Although you were still limping, and anything coming near your ribs made you jump, also the bruises were quite dark, but despite those things, you were feeling pretty good.

“Ok. OK, that’s cool, I’m cool with that. Are you cool with that? Also where are we going?”

You laugh again, this kid was endearing.

“We are going to Steve’s apartment, I left my batons there. Then, we’ll come back for lunch and go train.”

“Sounds good, Mrs.-- um (y/n).” He corrects himself quickly.

You lead him to Steve’s apartment and gently open the door, you’d gone straight to his apartment after the mission and it’d seemed that you forgot them here. Steve was still away on his mission in Wakanda, he’d called in saying that he’d be back in two days, which wasn’t long, but you’d rather cuddle up and watch a movie.

When you walked in the kitchen, you saw that the light was turned on. You frowned, you swore you’d turned them off after leaving the last time you were here. You looked into the sink and saw dirty dishes that hadn't been there the last time you came.

You raised your hand up, telling Peter silently that you wanted him to stay back.

“Hello?” You say, cautiously, rounding the corner of the kitchen island. “Who’s there?”

And then, you find yourself pinned to a wall. Again. You groan out in pain, there’s pressure on your fragile ribs and on your sore muscles. You open your eyes and see burning blue ones staring back at you.

“God, Bucky.” You shudder, as he lets go of you, leaping away is if he’d been burned.

“I’m- sorry.” He whispers out.

“Don’t worry about it. Happens to the best of us.” You try and reassure him while getting up. Seeing you I struggle, he immediately goes to your side to help you out. He puts a gentle arm around your waist and hoists you to your feet.

And for a few seconds you’re inches away from his face. You see the line of his beard, his rounded pink lip, his arched nose and heightened cheekbones. You see his eyes, shyly roaming your face.

Suddenly, the teen you forgot about clears his throat.

Bucky looks up at the boy and immediately retracts his arms and steps a good distance away. He eyes Peter warily, but says nothing.

“Hey, um, Mr. Barnes, I’m Peter, Peter Parker. We met at the um, Berlin Airport.” He winces a little, when he realised he mentioned the airport, but all you could do was chuckle quietly. You stole a glance at Bucky and saw that, for the first time, a small smile graced his handsome features.

“Sorry I barged in like that Bucky. I forgot something and had to get it back.” You walk over to the couch, flipping over the cushions. You’d sworn you’d left them here.

“It’s ok.” As you look for your weapons, Peter starts speaking to Barnes. Or more like speaking at him.

“So, don’t take this in a weird way or anything, but like, Mr. Barnes I think you’re so cool. Like with your arm and stuff. Like when we were at the airport, man, that was crazy.”

You could see Bucky get more and more uncomfortable, but it wasn't in a bad way, a pink hue tinted his cheeks as he looked down to the ground and scratched the back of his neck.

“Thanks kid.” He responds, after a beat.

You whoop in triumph as you finally found your two batons, walking over to the teen and the soldier. You took a good look at Bucky and he seemed to be starting to get antsy. Shifting from feet to feet and darting his eyes everywhere.

Alright, it seems that he’s had enough social interaction for one day.

“OK, come on Peter, let’s go eat,” you were about to ask him to join you but obviously that wouldn't be too great of an idea if five minutes of barely any conversation was enough to get him antsy, let alone a group full of boisterous people.
So you settled for:” I’ll see you later.”

Once you were out of hearing range, to make sure you didn’t hear him say :” I’ll see you later too.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Steve was supposed to arrive tonight at around 6:30. You’d wanted to do something nice for him for once.

You placed your groceries on the counter and started preparing some food. You’d make his favourite, spaghetti meat sauce.

As you stir the delicious sauce, you hear the click of the front door. Expecting it to be Steve, you turn around right away with a big smile on your face. It’s quickly replaced with one of surprise, because instead of a red, white and blue combat suit, you see a dark red Henley and mussed up long hair.

A smile soon replaces the look of surprise, you are delighted to see Bucky. You haven’t had much of a chance to talk to him. Bucky seemed to be a little unsure what to do now that he saw that you occupied the apartment.

“Are you waiting for Steve?” You ask. He nods his head slowly, still a good distance away from you.

“I made him his favourite tonight, would you like to join? There’s plenty extra.” He had been slowly warming up to Steve’s presence, spending almost all his time in his company with him or reading up on all the things he’s missed.

He paused then. “I wouldn't, want to impose.” He said slowly.

“Don’t worry about it, we’d love to have you join us.” It was an honest answer and you hoped he saw that. He rarely joined the team for meals.

“Are you… sure?” He wondered skeptically.

“Positive.” You responded firmly. After a few seconds, he timidly walks over to the bar stool and sits down across from where you were cooking.

Sensing that he’d rather stay quiet, you resume making dinner. You cut up two baguettes, keeping in mind of the fact you had to feed two super soldiers, you placed them in the oven.

As you quietly work, you start singing one of your favourite songs. You heard it once while you were traveling in Canada, it was a by a young french canadian girl who had a wonderful way with words.

Berçons-nous comme des amoureux,

Comme si ce n’était qu’un jeu

Et que tout pouvait changer,

Si on jouait bien les dés.

You open the oven to make sure the bread wasn’t burning. You turned around to the island counter to start chopping up some greens to make a salad. So concentrated on your work, you didn’t notice Bucky intently staring at you in awe, listening to every single word falling through your lips.

On se laisse s’éffané sous,

Le ciel bleu de nos yeux doux,

On se lasse; nos cœurs se nous,

Et on s’oublie et ça part.

Placing the ingredients of the salad into a large bowl and you drizzle the vinaigrette, coating it in generously. When you put it aside, you finally felt a stare burning into you. You stop singing and slowly turn to Bucky.

He was looking at you, eyes wide. You realised, that you had been singing, out loud, in front of someone. Something you rarely did unless you were drunk or with Tony, which, more often than not, were two things that came together.

“I’m sorry, was I singing too loud?” You asked, suddenly afraid that you’d bothered him.

He seemed to be taken aback, or surprised. His head whipping up and then adamantly shaking his head.

“No,” he paused, you could see a little bit of red peeking through his scruff,”you sing beautifully.” He states quietly, hiding his gaze through a curtain of brown locks.

You feel all giddy inside at the compliment. Your cheeks redden, and you tuck a loose strand of hair behind your ear. “Thank you.” He was looking at you intently, and you couldn't figure out what he was thinking, but just by the way he was looking at you, you could tell he wanted to hear more. His eyes were silently pleading and they had a spark in them that you’d never seen.

Par, la fenêtre de nos ennuis,

On a vu s’enfuir nos vies,

Et on a couru après,

Évidemment s’en succès.

You finished cooking, and started plating things, expecting Steve to arrive any minute.

“You know,” he paused,” my mother sang.” You stopped in your tracks, wondering what he was going to say next, hanging onto every word. “She sang like you. Beautifully.” He added quietly. You could see the bittersweet smile gracing his handsome features.

You smiled gently, happy for him because he was starting to remember. “What was she like? Your mother?” You prodded gently.

He cast a glance towards his hands, and suddenly looked terribly ashamed. “I don’t remember.” His shoulders slumped forward, a tired sigh escaping his lips.

“You will,” he looked at you, your eyes, kind and soft,” you will, if you can remember the way she sings, you’ll remember her. I’m sure.” You place your hand gently over yours. You could see his lip turn up just a little, maybe he believed you.

The intimate moment ended when you heard the front door open, and the tell-tale sound of a shield dropping to the floor.

You immediately round the counter and go in for a hug. You were very much wrapped in muscle, Steve places a peck to the cheek, hugging you tight.

“You made my favourite!” He commented in an almost childlike manner, that definitely did not belong to Captain America. He eagerly runs to the kitchen, only then seeing Bucky.

“Hey Buck, I hope (y/n) has threatened you with her food.” He joked, earning a rare almost-laugh from Bucky and a smile that made his eyes crinkle at the corners.

“Ha, ha, Rogers, now sit down unless you don’t want to eat anything tonight.” At that, he immediately sits down, and obediently waits for his food. While you get everything out, Bucky offers to help, but you declined, telling him jokingly that he needed to learn how to be treated like he deserved. He blushed slightly at that, but stayed seated.


“Alright boys, eat up.” You placed the giant mounds of food in front of them, and settle in front of your non-super soldier sized meal. They immediately dig in, ravishing the food as if they haven’t eaten in weeks. And something that makes you almost gasp in surprise happens. At the first bite Bucky takes, an almost sinful groan escapes his lips, his head thrown back. To Steve, this can’t be anything new, you on the other hand, almost choke on your food and you feel heat pooling in your stomach.

You avert your gaze, hiding your reddened face. Jesus, what’s your problem?

After a while, you and Steve talk about the details of his trip, discussing the logistics of the Avengers joining the King’s organisation and teaming up with the Wakandan’s.

Bucky remains mostly silent, but seems much lighter than usual. Smiling more often and sometimes even giving his input on whatever you were talking about.

You’d never seen him so relaxed and laid back. Actively participating in the conversation, you were hanging on to his every word.

By the end of dinner, the three of you had consumed copious amounts of pasta and red wine, a happy buzz running through you.

Once you were done, both men insisted on cleaning up, letting you sit down and rest. In your slightly tipsy state, you start humming again. Getting F.R.I.D.AY to play some music for you.

As Steve dries the dishes, he hums along with you. As you stare unknowingly into the abyss of your red wine glass, you don’t notice the stares Bucky sends the both of you. A mix between contentedness and the bittersweet taste of memories.

“Do you want to watch a movie?” You suggest, it wasn’t too late, and the boys needed to do some pop culture catch-up.

“Sure.” The two hunks of muscle migrate over to the couches, taking up all the space on the already spacious couches.

“You do realise that I have to fit in somewhere, right guys?”

They both chuckle, Bucky being the first to bend his legs, making space for you. You mouth a thank you, tucking your legs under you.

“Play Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.”

The movies are just as good as your remember them. By the middle, Steve had already drifted off, and you were barely keeping your eyes open.

Dragged by the cozy warmth of blankets and pillows, your eyes finally drift shut, your head, innocently lolling onto Bucky’s thigh.

He goes still for a second, then relaxes. He sends a warm look your way, admiring the splay of your (h/l) hair and the shadows that your eyelashes cast over your cheeks.

In the end, he drifts to sleep to. And maybe this time, the night wares won’t steal your pretty image from right under his nose.

----
You wake up nuzzled up against something warm and solid. You snuggle closer, only then realizing that whatever you were hugging was definitely not a pillow and more of a human leg. You barely suppress a shocked scream as you jump backwards, landing on your butt. Bucky was still fast asleep, his head lolling to the side, Steve was a goner too.

You look outside and see that it’s still dark, the city lights shine like tinsel during christmas time. You elect to let the boys sleep on the couch and retreat back to your room.

You steal one last glance at the both of them, their facial expressions slack and relaxed. Bucky seemed so much younger in his sleep, slumber stripping at any frowns creasing his skin.

-----

Bucky’s POV.

He’s back.

In the moment.

Again, stuck.

He’s got his hands around someone’s throat, who's? He doesn’t know, Another target that HYDRA deemed dangerous enough to get rid of. He could feel the warmth of the person’s neck on his bare hands, and the condensation that builds up from their heavy breaths on his cold metal arm.

He could feel the life draining out of them, that inkling of hope peeking through their eyes in their last moments. Their body, writhing and twitching, desperately looking for oxygen, looking for release… looking for death.

His mind was fighting for his body to see ,to realise, to come back from the abyss of control Hydra doomed over him. An itch in his mind screaming for him to stop. Telling him that this was wrong, that made sure that every pair of eyes that looked straight back at him when the light snuffed out was engraved into his mind.

Then it started morphing, moving, shifting. Now he wasn’t holding some odd nameless body.

He was holding a man his height, maybe taller, a blob of blonde hair, long lashes and the bluest Brooklyn eyes.

Steve.

And that just made his body squeeze tighter, fight harder, drain faster. The Soldier in him, urging him to kill harder.

And all of a sudden, Steve wasn’t Steve anymore. Steve was-

Steve-

Steve was (Y/n).

They were back in the cell.

His hand around her throat.

The world spinning.

Her hair glinting in the clinical light, her face slightly unfocused but beautiful nonetheless.

She’s mouthing something.

You’re

Killing

Me

He wakes up with a jolt, his shirt clinging to his skin with sweat. He looks at his hand and sees that it’s dug holes into the couch from his grip. He immediately lets go and rakes his hand through his hair.

(Y/n). Where is she? He looks to his right and doesn't see her sleeping form.Panic seeps through, catching in his throat. He jumps up and stealthily walks out, careful to not wake Steve.

He almost runs to her apartment.

She was dying. She died. She stopped breathing. You killed her.

The door was unlocked and he burst through, only to find you peacefully sleeping on your side in your bed. He breathed in raggedly, just like Bruce taught him too. In for 3 out for five. His metal arm whirs as he clenches and unclenches his fists.

“Bucky?”

He sees you slowly sit up, rubbing your tired eyes.

His mind is screaming to run, to leave, but he stays put, to get away from you, his feet planted firmly on the ground. Maybe the old him, the 40’s version of him was keeping him put.

“Bucky, what’s wrong?” You lean of the edge of the bed, slowly making your way towards him.His head is hung low, quick puffs of air moving his hair, breathing exercises forgotten.

Now you’re standing right in front of him, your head tilted up, searching his blue ones, desperately trying to figure out what has him in such a state.
“I killed you.” He whispers out harshly. He squeezes his eyes shut, as if he’s reliving it.

You didn’t have to ask what he was talking about. You could tell just by the haunted look in his eyes and the dark circles that looked so much worse in the pale moonlight.

You move to grab his metal hand. And he stares at you. Because he’s never had anyone, anyone, touch him with such care. With such kindness. With a softness in your eyes that makes his heart clench, because how can he deserve that look? As if he’s something special. Something precious.

You cradle his hand, run your fingers along the groves of his palm and the metal plates of the knuckles. You feel the mechanical whirring from inside the prosthetic and you hang on to that sound.

You look back up to him, a curious glint in his eyes. You look him dead in the eyes, making it known that what you were about to say was genuine and sincere. Two things you doubt he’s had the privilege to hear in the past 70 years.

You bring his hand to your cheek, letting it rest on the side of your face. You close your eyes and press into his palm. “No, you didn’t, and you would never kill me, never.”

And all he can do is listen to the thumping of his heart, threatening to burst through his ribs. He rubs his hand over the top of your cheek. Just looking at you, admiring.

You spend minutes, maybe half an hour or more, standing there, hand on your cheek. Breathing at the same pace, sharing the same air. All of sudden, the mental waves that crash again and again aren’t so harsh, they aren’t so vicious.

At some point, the both of you moved to the bed, not saying a word, silently agreeing to sleeping here for the rest of the night. You lay with your back to headboard, ushering Bucky onto the bed.

Unsure what to do he just sits there first. Then, you gently maneuver him to lay sideways, his head laying in your lap.

He was about to open his mouth to speak, but whatever response died in his throat when you absently ran your finger through his long locks. Fingers gently scraping his scalp.

And just like that, he’d gone limp. His body relaxing into your touch, he hummed contentedly.

There he was, in the quiet of the night. For the first time, not only was the apartment quiet, so was his mind.

All thanks to you.

 

 

Chapter Text

The sun is barely rising when you open your eyes. The weight on your abdomen is gone, and you’re suddenly very awake after remembering what happened last night.

Your eyes shift across the room in search for Bucky, only to see him standing in front of the window, gazing into the distance.

You slowly get up and shuffle over to his side. You stand a little closer than necessary, you sigh triumphantly when he doesn’t shift away from you. Baby steps, you tell yourself, baby steps.

He hears you take a sharp breath, indicating that you were about to say something, but he just gently turns to look at you. His blue eyes focused on you and puts a finger to his lips. Silently shushing.

“Watch it. It’s beautiful.” His voice so soft, but loud and clear in the early morning.

You’re left with your mouth agape and a light flush on your cheeks, but you do as he says.

He’s right. It is beautiful.

The round edges of the bright sun peek through the tall buildings of New York, casting an orange hue to the dark, dark blue sky. It mixes in with the clouds making the light emanating from the sun look like a glowing halo. As you watch the colors shift, the clouds move and the sun slowly rise up to sky, Bucky watches the sunrise through you.

He watches the pink of the sky reflect onto your cheeks, glowing your skin, sparkling your eyes and lighting up your smile.

He watches the sunlight gradually rise from your chin, to your plump lips, to the tip of your nose,up the bridge, to your eyelashes and your eyes. To your hair…

“Wow” you say breathlessly. Since you’ve been in New York, you've never taken the time, or woken up early enough to really admire a sunrise. To watch it happen. To soak in the warmth.

You turn to the man besides you. “Thank you. For making me watch.” You say.

He shakes his head. Running an insecure hand through his hair. “ No. Thank you,” and you’re just so happy he’s even talking to you in non-monosyllabic responses that you have a hard time not staring,” For last night, for… everything.”

His eyes held a great deal of pain and gratitude and all you could do was smile at him sweetly, pride showing through your expression.

“It’s the least I can do, Bucky. You deserve to be cared for and you deserve to have someone by your side.” You slowly move your hand, making sure he could see you move. You hover over his metal one, silently asking for permission. He nods, and you could practically die happy.

You gently take a hold of his hand and squeeze gently, rubbing your thumb over the knuckles.

Despite your voice being the sweetest thing he’s ever heard, he can only focus on your intertwined hands. On your thumb rubbing small comforting circles over his knuckles. The focal point joining the two of you together at this moment in this time. And he’s never been so glad to have his awareness back, the capability of thinking on his own, and making decisions on is own.

If not, he would've never spoken up, he would've never aloud you to help, even if he knew he desperately needed it. He thought maybe that was the old Bucky in him that urged him on, the ladies man.

“You’re doing good Bucky, real good. Maybe they don’t tell you that, but you’re healing. And that’s amazing.”

Sadly the moment ended, resulting in you dropping his hand.

Captain Rogers is looking for the both of you. Shall I inform him that the both of you are both in good condition? F.R.I.D.A.Y asks.

“It’s alright F.R.I.D.A.Y, we’re on our way to his apartment right now”

----

When you arrived at Steve’s, his panic was slowly escalating but it subsided when he took sight of the both of you, alive and well.

“I woke up and you guys weren’t there.” He says with his puppy dog eyes. Though, he seemed genuinely upset.

“It’s alright,” you move towards him and give him a hug,” I went back to my room, but Bucky came to me because he had a nightmare.” You explained. He let go of you ad turned to Bucky.

“Buck, you know you can come to me with this sort of thing.”

“Ya, and what, wake up Sleeping Beauty?” Bucky sasses. For a second you’re both completely taken aback by his sudden change in demeanour, but pleased grins replaces the expression from before.

This is just a sneak peek to what Bucky was like in his youth. When he was carefree and hell-bent on taking care of Steve.

“You’re a punk, you know that?” Although Steve says it with a substantial amount of attitude, there’s a softness to his eyes you’ve never seen before.

“Yes I do, jerk.”

The three of you proceed to make something for the team to eat. You send out a message to the rest of them saying that breakfast will be served in Steve’s apartment, not yours.

Bucky is a surprisingly good cook, Steve on the other hand is not. Steve recounts stories of him almost burning the compound down, the first time. He tried to cook on his own. Apparently, Dum-E had knocked him over and sprayed him with a fire extinguisher, Tony following shortly asking F.R.I.D.A.Y if she’s recorded that.

Even if Bucky was quiet while preparing the food, he had a smile on his face and a lightness to his steps you don;t think he’s experienced in decades. He still doesn't talk much, but he seems more relaxed.

After some time the team starts trickling in one after the other.

First, not so surprisingly, comes Clint. Who, in hindsight, is probably the one who gets along best with Bucky. Meaning that, around Clint, Bucky is comfortable enough to utter a few words and to have stand next to him without tensing up .You guessed it was because of Clint’s’ understanding of being controlled, the incident with Loki must have set up some sort of bond between the two.

“Hm, smells good.” He says, giving you a one-armed hug and kissing your forehead.
He doesn’t even give Bucky a second glance, waving a hello, before sitting down and drinking the coffee that you set before him.

Next came Natasha. She started off weary towards Bucky, which is completely understandable. He did try to kill her multiple times. But she was only cold because she cares about Steve. But, the two sort of have this weird Russian link thing that you guessed they gained from being trained in Russia and the both of them being assassins.

She sidles up next to Clint, gratefully accepting the coffee you hand her and the gluten-free oatmeal, you know she likes with just a little too much cinnamon .

A boisterous entrance was made of Thor and Pietro, Wanda trailing behind the two.

“AH, yes, yet again, Lady (y/n), you surprise me with a morning feast with the dear Captain and the metal armed man.” He boomed. Draping a thick arm over Pietro’s shoulders who’s step falters with the weight.

“Yes, it’s always my pleasure, but Thor, we talked about this,” glancing at both Clint’s and Natasha’s winced expression because of the sheer volume of the god’s voice,” inside voice.”

“My apologies, dear. I will watch the tone of my voice more carefully.” He apologizes sincerely. One thing you honestly loved about Thor was that anything he said was said honestly and with feeling. You’ve voiced your appreciation to him and he looked gracefully gleeful, as giant puppy God’s do.

You looked around and headed to Wanda to great her. You were surprised to see Vision not trailing behind her. She keeps saying that they aren’t a thing, but they definitely are a thing. Although she keeps denying it, they keep doing this connection thing with their minds, you’re not exactly sure how it works, she tried explaining it to you. (It has something to do with her mind reading powers and how she sometimes gets overwhelmed by our external thoughts, so she finds shelter in Vision’s conscious, which apparently is very calm.) But from the outside, it just looks like their gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes.

A few minutes later, Peter comes in. He had a ped-day and decided that he’d join the team for breakfast. Tony had a hand on the shoulder of the youngster telling him that hanging from the ceiling is definitely not allowed, especially in the lab, and “If you do it again you’ll have to clean the up the webs on your own and you’ll be banned from the suit until I say so.”

You give him a knowing look, he looked a lot better than the last time you saw him. He nods back in confirmation, telling you that he’s okay, for now anyways.

“Damn, no offense girl, what you normally make is an absolute dream, but this is a whole ‘nother level.” You hear Sam holler.

“Well, Bucky seems to be a better breakfast cook than I am.”

Everyone quiets down for a second, staring at Bucky, a little bit too scrutinising for his taste and yours.

“Steve almost burned down our old apartment in Brooklyn, so someone had to keep us alive.” He says quietly, not sure if he’s pushing the boundaries of the connection between him and the team too much.

Surprisingly, the first person to speak up was Tony. “Ya, Capsicle almost burned down his apartment using a microwave. A friggin microwave.” He complains. That breaks the ice and has everyone laughing at the memory of the incident.

You smile encouragingly at Bucky, who returns it with a shy one that makes your heart burst. Because, how adorably was that?

As you all dig into the absolutely amazing feast of a breakfast, (courtesy of Bucky, you, and Steve happily wiping down the counters without burning the apartment down), Fury obviously elects to chose this moment to call for a meeting.

The entire team simultaneously groaned and Bucky just kind of looked around confused, not understanding why everyone was so upset.

Director Fury has called an urgent meeting in Conference Room B. All Avengers must attend. F.R.I.D.A.Y says in her melodic voice. And for the first time, you think you hear the A.I hesitate. He says to also bring James Barnes to the meeting.

The room is plunged in silence.

Everyone is just as dumbstruck as Bucky himself is. The same thoughts flew through the team’s head. The first:” How in the holy hell did Fury know about Bucky and since when?” And secondly, “What the fuck does he want with Barnes.”

Everyone seemed deep in thought until you were the first to notice Bucky’s death grip on his fork, wilting the metal and the unsteady staccato of breaths escaping his lips. The announcement from F.R.I.D.A.Y must've triggered some sort of flashback, or panic attack.

You immediately went by his side, cursing Fury for ruining such in amazing morning. The team watched you race to his side, and you gave them a pointed look that basically said pretend everything is normal and don’t fucking stare. And in a fraction of a second, the team went back into casual conversation, Sam and Steve discussing the baseball game, Wanda and Vision doing their eye- thing, Thor talking to Tony about the differences in gravitational force between Earth and Asgard. In that moment, you were so happy your team could read in between lines.

“Hey, look at me. Bucky, look at me.” You gently try to pry his fingers from around the poor little metal fork. He seemed completely out of it, his eyes unfocused and his mind elsewhere.

“Bucky, listen to me,” you had to think fast, you worked with a lot of PTSD patients with Sam at the VA, although you weren't an expert, you’d picked up a few tricks along the way. You made a quick decision, already realizing that Bucky would definitely NOT want to be touched at the moment, you settled for progressive muscle relaxation.

“Breathe in,” you breathed in deeply, happy to see him imitating you,” then focus on your toes, curl your toes and then relax them. Breathe in and out. Now clench your stomach, and relax. Breathe in and out,” you looked at his hands to make sure they weren’t holding on to anything,” now clench your fists, and then let go.”

By the time you finished the exercise, Bucky’s breathing was even and the tenseness in his shoulders and neck had disappeared.

You lay a gentle hand on his thigh, and he puffed out a breath of air, fluttering his brown hair.

“Thank you.” He says on such a low whisper that even with the close proximity, yu had to strain your hearing to hear.

You gazed at him softly,” Of course… anytime.”

Everyone starts helping out with the clean up before heading to the Conference Room.

You trail behind the team, Bucky shielded between you and Steve.

Entering the threshold, Bucky stalls as Fury’s unforgiving one-eyed gaze settles on him.

“Barnes,” he nods,” Nick Fury.”

Bucky remains standing, near the door. Both you and Steve stay by his side, earning an arched brow from both Fury and Agent Hill.

“We were having a perfectly amazing breakfast before Jake and the Neverland Pirates had to interrupt, so this better be good.” Tony says from his position in front of the Director.

“Oh it is.” And you know it’s something serious when Fury seems amused by the team’s nonchalance.

That has an impact on the entire team. Everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats.
At that moment, Fury turns to Bucky.

“Mr.Barnes, what do you know about this woman?”

A photo is displayed on the wall. A woman dressed in an emerald green leather suit with what you can only describe as a god like body, stands stoically with two whips in hand. Even from the photo, she looks menacing.

The team looks at the photo then they turn to the former Winter Soldier.

His body visibly flinches and he almost seems to try and make himself smaller, just by looking at the photo.

“You can’t- She’s-” He stutters out.

“Bucky, what’s wrong? Who is she?”

“You don’t get it,” he grits out,” she is Hydra.”

 

Chapter Text

“What?” You hear Sam say.

“What do you mean she’s Hydra?” Fury pushes.

Bucky walks pulls up a seat. “You’re going to want to sit down for this.” He looks from you to the chair. You slowly sit down, waiting for him to start.

“I was there for 70 years. I-- I don’t remember everything. But I remember this. After every memory wipe they’d read Hydra history to me, to educate me they said, to make the history a part of me.” You felt Steve tense up next to you, Bucky was talking, but staring intently at his hands,” She also goes by Viper. Her birth name is Ophelia Sarkissian. She was taken in to Hydra and became Kraken’s student.”

“You’re telling me this chick was trained by a giant octopus monster.”

“Tony!” Everyone shouts. Bucky shakes his head, his lip twitching up into a bittersweet smile.

“Basically, she runs the show. She’s the head of Hydra’s High Council. But you gotta know, she’s crazy, even for my standards. She put me down more than I can count. She was there when I was first brought it. She was there for my first wipe. She was there for my first cryo-freeze. She dictated the punishments and she supervised it.”

The entire team was shocked, even Natasha seemed to be uneasy. This was a tiny glimpse to what had been done to Bucky. Just a tiny glimpse, and it had an entire team of superheroes absolutely disgusted, angry and just sad.

Sad that someone had to go through that, sad that he had to endure that, sad that there’s someone out there that would inflict so much pain on another person.

Everyone shared this mutual searing anger for this Madame Hydra, despite not knowing Bucky for long and being skeptical about his presence since he joined them, all those feelings were pushed aside once they heard the things he said.

“So I’m guessing you want her dead.” Natasha says. To the point, good, it’s what you needed, you were about to keel over after hearing that story.

“Well, I wasn’t going to say it like that, but yes, that’s the goal.” Fury places his hands on the glass desk.

“Alright kiddies, this is what we know, physically anyways. Most of what Barnes knows is new to us, if you could confirm or correct any of the facts that we present, that would be appreciated.” He looks around the room evenly, each and everyone of us were ready for this.

“This has come to our attention because one of our agents captured and interrogated a rogue Hydra goon. He claimed that they were on the move. That Madame Hydra was definitely involved and that they had one goal. Get the Asset back.” He continued. You unconsciously shift towards Bucky. He looked at you, feeling the anxious energy rolling off of you. He moved his hand under the table and places it softly on your thigh. You relax a fraction but you’re still high-strung and attuned to what Director was saying.

“And apparently they seemed pretty damned determined. From previous encounters, we know she’s a brilliant strategist. Well connected in the international criminal underworld. And, she’s extremely well tuned in the properties and uses of toxins poisons and snake venom. Am I wrong, Barnes?” He asks.

“Ya, that’s about right. But you should know that she uses the venom from an inland taipan. It’s a snake, from Australia. It’s lethal depending on the amount, but she uses it to incapacitate, well not really, she uses just enough so that you linger on the brink of death, until you’re basically begging for it. It sets your body on fire from the inside out. I can vouch for it, she tested the first version on me.”

You just shake your head, willing the thought to go away. Steve is coiled tight, gripping his thighs so hard you’re surprised he hadn’t just dented the muscle. Wanda had to walk out of the room. She probably felt some of the pain. Clint, Nat, and Thor just looked down solemnly. And Tony, despite his original dislike for the guy, seemed ready to suit up and throw the entire organisation through a wall and down a cliff.

And even Fury seemed to look a little sorry.

“Anyways, this is the only thing we have. We know that their coming for you,” he points at Bucky,” but we don’t know when or how. One thing that we all know is that we need to take her down.”

Everyone nods in agreement. Bucky just seems… surprised at everyone’s willingness.

“Once we get more information we will hold several more meetings, so stay tuned for that. I expect your asses to get up and at em’ now that we have something to work on.” At that he leaves the room in a flourish of black.

“He is always so dramatic.” Tony remarks. Everyone is contemplative, mulling over the new information.

“Bucky,” Sam speaks up,” are you able to think of anything else that would be useful to us?” You applaud his wording, not phrasing it would you be able to. Making sure to not give Bucky a choice, as cruel as it sounds, Bucky is unaccustomed to making his own choices since some asshole has been doing that for him for the past 70 years. And instead of saying are you able to remember he said are you able to think, as to not make him upset about not being able to remember anything.

“Her last base,” everyone perks up,” was a place called Gehenna, in New Zealand, I think. But this was… could’ve been over 50 years ago.” He tries to reason.

Steve sidles up next to Bucky, placing a hand on his flesh shoulder. “It may have been, but it’s a start.” He reassures, smiling hopefully.

Despite the looming conflict the the future promises, the room emptied out with a less than gloomy mood.

As you, Steve and Bucky left, Tony ran out in front of you and turned around.

“You three! Meet me in the lab. ASAP. I have something to show you.” Than ran off. Although he didn’t seem all too happy to have the former Winter Soldier in his lab, he seemed very excited about what he was going to show you.

The three of you shrugged and walked towards the lab.

Once there, you were met with Tony frantically shouting things at Dum-E and U, rag in hand, scolding his two kids like the strict father he is.

“Dum-E you can’t just put motor oil in my damn coffee. Again! Why do I even keep you? Do you want to get my stomach pumped? And U. Why did you paint the new prototype for (y/n)’s batons bright neon pink? Huh? Did I ask for that? I can’t even leave you two alone before all hell breaks loose.”

Steve is desperately trying to hold back a laugh, despite Bucky’s quiet nature, his shoulders were moving up and down and you were just snickering, holding in the loudest laugh of all time.

You walked over to your very, very, bright pink weapons, (only then did Tony notice you), and walked to U who looked terribly dejected for a machine.

“Hey U,” you patted the metal joint of his arm as a greeting, he let out a series of beeps and boops as a hello.” Don’t listen to Tones, I love the pink.” He did the machine equivalent of an excited squeal and spinned around.

Behind you, three men were looking at you fondly, talking kindly to an AI bot who accidentally painted your weapons bright pink.

“Alright, why did you make us come down here?” Steve asked. Tony immediately snapped out of his daze and jumped down the stool he was standing on.

“Yes. Yes. Ok, so I came up with this awesomely amazing way to help our resident metal armed amnesiac here.” He pointed at Bucky, who just brushed of the comment, already used to Tony’s humour.” And yes it is awesome, it is amazing and it is perfect because I made it. Obviously.” At that you raised your eyebrows. “OK I won’t take all the credit, for once, only because if I did, (y/n) would kill me in my sleep.”

“Wait, what do you mean help me?” Bucky asked skeptically.

“Bucky,” you move to stand in front of him,” we found a way to reverse engineer the activation words that shifts you from James Buchanan Barnes to the Winter Soldier.”

His eyes lift from the floor to you, a twinkle that you’ve never seen shining bright in his eyes.

“Really?” His voice hoarse and disbelieving.

“Really.” And he does something that surprises you. He pulls you into a hug. Your surprised for a second, but you melt into it soon after. Warm and content against a solid wall of muscle.

“Hey, hey, hey. She’s not the only one who worked on it, does that mean I get a hug to?” Tony pouts over dramatically.

“Not in a million years, Stark.” Bucky jokes, and lets go of you. “But seriously, thank you. This is… You didn’t have to, after everything I…”

“Hey, I was never mad at you, ok? Well I was. Until I wasn’t, because I realised you were just as much of a victim as my parents.” You looked over to Tony, pride shining through your eyes. It took a lot of gentle coaxing to get him to that ideology. He had to sift through a whole lot of issues to come to that conclusion.

As that was being said, Steve just looked at you glassy eyed. “Since when were you working on this?

“For awhile now, I just didn’t want to say anything in fear of getting your hopes up.” It’d been a few months actually, since the idea came up.

“So, what is it?”

‘B.A.R.F, is what it is.” Tony seemed way to proud of that statement, you were 99% sure he’s been waiting to be able to say that out loud.

“What?” The boys said.

“B.A.R.F is an acronym. It stands for Binarly Augmented Retro-Framing. It’s a program that was made with therapeutic pursuits in mind.” You explained.

“It started out as a coping mechanism for me when my parents died. I was guilty because I was a shitty kid all through my childhood, I was a rebellious asshole. So, I made this program. You stick these nodes on your temples and behind your ears,” he shows little white stickers,” these will connect to the users hippocampus.”

At that, the soldiers seemed a little lost, you start to clarify. “The hippocampus is kind of the center of emotion, memory and the autonomic nervous system.” They oh’d at that.

“Ya, what (y/n) said. Anyways, back to my super genius idea. B.A.R.F allows the projection of a certain traumatic memory onto an external infrastructure. With that I was able to access my memory of my parents. But what B.A.R.F also allows you to do is to alter the memory. That was what the first version of the program was for, but then (y/n) came in, and used it to help you.” He said, handing you the imaginary microphone.

“Ya ok, so I was thinking about how to help you overcome whatever it was that Hydra implanted in your brain. The only thing I could think of was either to find some way of erasing your memories or to find out how exactly they put in those trigger words. But then, the records of that are probably burned or hidden somewhere we will never find and there isn’t really a safe way of erasing memories. So when I stumbled upon B.A.R.F I thought that we could use it to help you. Instead of coding it to find a happy memory, which is what Tony programmed it to do. Instead we’ll program it to find the memories that unleash corticotropin which in turn releases cortisol the hormone released when you feel fear. And just to narrow down the number of memories, we’ll take out any memory that doesn't have epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline, linked to the cortisol.”

“But, I don’t understand how that’s supposed to stop the words from activating the Soldier.”

Tony starts pacing and sits down on a workbench. “That’s the not so awesome part of this.”

“That’s the thing I was getting to. This works but the final part isn’t going to be fun. We tried to find other ways, but… ,” the other ways were even less ethical, in the end you just stayed with the original idea,” So, the specific memory we need to find is of one of the Hydra people activating the Soldier.” Bucky immediately stiffens. “Of course we won’t actually let it activate you, BUT in the few seconds that they start, F.R.I.D.A.Y will take scans of your brain activity pinpointing the exact part of your mind that reacts to the trigger words. Once we do that, this is also the unpleasant part, we will have to knock you out, and work on that part of your brain.Think of it as a muscle. Overtime they learn, they adapt, it’s muscle memory, knee-jerk reactions, we will have to eliminate or erase that reaction. Only then, you will no longer be under the effects of the trigger words.” You finally finish the explanation. You anxiously wait their reactions and thoughts.

You stand beside Tony, shifting from foot to foot. Steve seemed to be deep in thought, he looks up and meets Bucky’s eyes, having one of those silent conversations they were able to have.

“Is anyone else helping you?” Steve asked.

“Ya, we actually recruited Strange on this.”

Bucky looked up inquisitively. “He used to be a neurosurgeon, now he’s like master of the mystic arts or something.” You thought he’d be the perfect addition to the help-Bucky-not-be-Winter-Soldier team.

“What do you think Bucky?” A pregnant pause passes before he looks up.

“I’ll do it.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Are you sure, Buck?” Steve says out of blatant concern.

“You know you don’t have to do this.” You inquire gently. You wouldn’t lie and say that you know what it’s like to be in his position, the least you could do is give him the freedom to make a choice.

“I do. I don’t think I can walk around knowing that they’re still in my head. If it’s still in there, they can still control me. And we can’t have that, can we?” He says determinedly. He jutted his chin out and looked you square in the eyes.

“No,” you said resolutely,” we can’t.”

“But, we only need to do this when you’re ready. We already have the program set up. We’ve talked to Strange and T’Challa who has agreed to help out too.” Tony answers Bucky and Steve’s unspoken question. “But, and this is probably the first time and last time I’m going to give this advice, I don’t think you should rush into this. At least not today.”

Bucky nods his head, understanding what Tony was trying to say. After that unnerving meeting that made certain brutal memories resurface, reliving a Winter Soldier activation was the worst thing he could do at the moment.

Steve asks a few questions to both you and Tony, curious about the logistics and the technicalities. Who was going to be there,(only Steve, you didn’t like the thought of Bucky’s privacy being invaded), who’s going to know about it, (the final decision was to let the whole team know, both for support and the slim chance of the former Fist of Hydra coming up), who’s going to be in the room with Bucky, (only you and Tony), how long will it take for Bucky to recover. (You and Tony had absolutely no idea).

Finally partially satisfied, Steve settled down. Bucky asked a question that made a wave of sadness tide over you.

“Will it hurt?”

The three other occupants of the room stiffen and look at him sadly.

“Honestly, we’ve never tried this specific version of B.A.R.F on anyone, but the previous version, the one this one is based on, never hurt me or anyone who’s tried it.” The genius says quietly. “The only way this can hurt you, is emotionally. And for that I apologies.” And to have Tony apologies for something, he must feel really damn sorry, because according to him ‘Stark’s don’t apologies to anyone’.

Bucky nods again, understanding the situation.

“Hey, Buck, do you wanna go spar a bit?” Steve’s probably trying to distract him. He hesitates a little bit, but answers confidently. “Ya, I’d like that.” And Steve gives him a smile that you knew only shows up when Bucky is there. Not in his memories, not in his dreams, but right there in front of him.

“(Y/n), do you want to join?” Steve asks.

“Sure, but I need to speak to Tony, I’ll join you.” You pretend not to see Bucky deflate a little bit. The two super soldiers leave the lab.

You turn to Tony, assessing him. He looks everywhere, but at you. “Tony, why have you been avoiding me?” Ever since that day, when he shouted at Bucky and just broke down, he’d been avoiding you. He could be in the same room as you, but he wouldn’t acknowledge you. This was the first time he’d actually addressed you.

“I’m not avoiding you.” He responds, obviously not even believing the words that were coming out of his own mouth. You just gave him a pointed look. You walk towards him, standing in front of him.

“Come on, Tony. Don’t lock me out. Please.” You pleaded, you preferred Tony being angry, sad, confused or frustrated, him locking you out was worse than any of those emotions. Being angry or sad or confused are things that you could deal with, things you can work through, but when he locks you out, you don’t know what’s running through his mind, he pushes you far away and all you can do is stand there and watch.

He doesn’t say anything.

“You know, Tony. I think I know why you push me out, why sometimes you push everyone away.” You pause, hoping that this would dislodge whatever it was that was digging at him. “I think it’s because you believe that you love too hard and that you care too much. That people won’t be able to handle it, that they’ll think that you’re too much and that they’ll leave. So, before anyone gets too close to seeing that side of you, the part of you that I love so dearly, you push them away, because you think that they’ll leave eventually anyways. But, I won’t...”

Halfway through your speech, he’d turned around, back to you, his shoulders hunched over and head bowed. Then the light bulb in your head flicked on.

“Is this about him,” he flinches,” is this about Steve?” For awhile you’d observed Tony. And you’d noticed that he smiles the most around Steve. That he smiles the widest when Steve cracks a joke, that his eyes light up and dance when Steve praises him.
That Tony sometimes talks about Steve without even noticing. And you’re 100% sure that Bucky’s noticed too. It was more of a hunch, but turns out you were right.

You approach him slowly, making sure he could hear you approaching.

“Tony,” you say softly, “please tell me what’s wrong?” You place a soft hand on his shoulder, turning him around to face you.

“(Y/n), I think I love him.” He says brokenly, but all you could do was smile at him. “But he doesn’t love me back.”

And that made you impossibly sad. Because you are a witness to both Steve and Tony’s behaviour, you could see the admiration bleeding out of both of their eyes. Tony idolized Cap since he was a kid, his father always putting Steve above his son. But, despite Tony’s original distaste, turns out his father was right, about everything. How amazing Steve was, how kind and thoughtful he was and how infuriatingly righteous Rogers was.

As for Steve, he’d confessed that Tony was the only one who didn’t treat him like a relic, like some museum piece stuck behind a glass case. Tony made him feel human again. Tony was just Tony, and that was exactly what he needed.

Obviously you didn’t voice your opinions out loud, you knew they’d have to hash this out on their one.

“Oh, Tony. How can you know for sure he doesn’t?” You sit next to him, laying your head on his shoulder.

“Because… I’m me.”

“Well, if I know you at all, I’d say that that’s the exact reason he’d fall in love with you.” You conclude, your tone not leaving space for argument.

“What did I do to deserve you?”

“I don’t know Tony, but I sure think you deserve me.”

He smiles sweetly, he looks at you for awhile. And his sweet, kind smile turns into a smirk. And that means nothing good.

He hops of the table, jarring your head, and points at you with two finger guns.

“So, are we not going to talk about the big candy sweet crush you’ve got on our resident amnesiac formerly known as the Winter Soldier, now known as James Buchanan Barnes or to you, specifically, and Steve but we’re not talking about him. You,”he points at you accusingly,” my dear (y/n), calls him Bucky. And you know what happens when anyone else calls him?”

You just give your best unimpressed look because on the inside you’re practically boiling, turns out, what he’s saying is a little too true, so you’re going to ignore it. Like you’ve been doing for the past few weeks

“They get fake-killed by the invisible daggers those stormy blue eyes of his throw at us! That’s what happens,” he grabs you by the shoulders, suddenly getting serious,” Look, you just dropped the biggest truth bomb on me since… since Obie, ok? And, you’re the sweetest and you care so much for everyone on the team, but have you even had time to think about yourself?”

“I didn’t know I’d get a self care talk from the famous Tony Stark.” You knew that was a little bit of a low blow, but it was needed, just to conceal any of the strong emotions rocking through your head. “Look, even if I did, which I don’t,” now it’s his turn to give you an unimpressed look. “Bucky doesn’t need me crushing over him. He needs to focus on himself, he doesn’t need more stuff to focus on.”

“(Y/n), come on. I know you hate it when people say this to you, but I know it wasn’t always easy for you. You deserve to be happy. And if anything, you’d be good for him, James shows the most emotion around you.”

“Wait, really?” Sounding way too hopeful for you taste.

“Well, by emotion I mean, his eyebrow raises, or his mouth like, kinda sorta twitches.” You slap his arm. “Hey!” Before he could retaliate, F.R.I.D.A.Y interrupts.

Sir, Mrs. (L/n), Steve has left you a message :” We’re going to eat lunch instead of going to the gym, Clint got Thai food for everyone. Yes, extra sauce and chicken in your pad thai, (y/n).”

------
Everyone ate at the common room, splayed out on couches. Bucky mostly kept to himself. He was sat in the corner near the hallway, where he could easily make leave, he seemed slightly better than earlier today.

When you had arrived, you saw Wanda handing Bucky a takeout box. He was unsure whether to actually take it or not, but Wanda gently pushed it into his hand. He finally accepted looking more than a little befuddled, but he had the tiniest of smiles on his face.

“Hey, what movie do you want to watch?” The whole room erupts in a playful argument. Since you arrived, you were sandwiched between Tony and Thor who was ungracefully shoving thai food into his mouth, getting sauce all over his majestic hair and Tony who was shouting animatedly about how you can’t choose Ghostbuster over E.T, because E.T is the movie that made this century.

While the two heroes were occupied, both with their hands and their mouths (hehe), you quietly side over to Bucky.

“Hey, Buck.” You say, shoving some pad thai in your mouth.

“Hey.”

“Do you like the food?” You asked, when you first met him he seemed healthy, you didn’t know whether or not he’d been eating since he was on the run.

“Ya, it’s really good, I like it.” You beam at that. Every time Bucky lets himself a little bit of joy, happiness, it means heès making a conscious decision to like something, a baby step in the right direction.

“Am I the only one who noticed Steve and Tony?” You wondered out loud. You hear him hum in agreement, nodding his head.

“Stevie’s being stubborn about that. He’s not used to the world being so open,” you hum at that, Steve had voiced his abject horror when Tony once said you can fuck in your room, the kitchen counter is off limits. Everyone thought it was funny, Steve just turned a shade of red that may or may not have been a shade or two purple.
You’d also forgotten the fact that, unlike Steve, Bucky hadn’t been completely asleep during the better part of a century, he was most likely more accustomed to the societal rules these days. “I new he was queer back in the day, I didn’t mind, but the rest of the world did. At the time, you’d get arrested for that, he’s not used to the candour.”

“After the movie, I need to show you something.” You were going to show him part of the conversation you and Tony had, you realised that Tony wouldn’t want Buck to see that, but you had an inkling of a feeling it was for the best and that without proof of Tony loving Steve, Bucky wouldn’t let his best friend just fling himself at the engineer.

He looks at you questioningly, then he just looks back at his food and resumes eating.

The two of you ate your food quietly while watching the team bicker. You bask in each other’s presences, subconsciously inching towards each other as the movie goes on.
By the time people were getting up to throw out heir take out boxes, your thighs and shoulders were touching. You relaxed into the contact, neither one of you mentioning it, although, Tony did send a salacious wink your way that you pointedly chose to ignore.

The movie came to an end, the team leaving to do business someplace else.

As you move to stand, Bucky softly grips your wrist and takes your takeout box out of your surprised hands and goes to throw it out. You try not to overthink the action too much. Before you know it he’s back, his body towering over you, his presence calm and assertive.

“What did you want to show me?” Suddenly reminding you of what you’d said earlier.

“Come with me.”And yes, you do realise how ominous that sounds. You lead him towards the elevator and to your apartment.

You open the door and before you could dwell on the fact that you were bringing James Buchanan Barnes into your apartment, holy shit.

The both of you sit on the bar chairs in the kitchen, and then you raise your voice to ask F.R.I.D.A.Y to replay your moment between you and Tony.

“Watch.”

(Y/n), I think i Iove him. But he doesn’t love me back.

Oh, Tony, how can you know for sure he doesn’t?

Because… I’m me.

Well if I know you at all, I’d say that’s the exact reason why he’d fall in love with you.

What did I do to deserve you?

I don’t know Tony, but I sure think you deserve me.

You watched Bucky the whole time, watching the flicker of surprise flash over his face, his jaw twitching just a little bit, but then a soft, shy smile slowly appeared.
But all of a sudden, Tony’s voice was back again.

So, are we not going to talk about the big candy sweet crush you have on B—

“Turn it off!!!!!!” You almost shouted it, heat rising up you face, making your cheeks go red. Even if his name wasn’t pronounced, you could barely gather up the courage to look him in the eyes.

“Ummm, so ya, what- what do you think about Stevie and um Tones?” Playing with a loose thread hanging off the sleeve of your sweater.

You quickly glanced up at his face. His expression was almost comical, his eyebrows raised up to his hairline, his lip twitching just a little bit, maybe concealing a smile or a pout, you didn’t know.

“I think it’s good for the both of them. I saw it coming. But they’re stuck pining for each other.”

“I think we should just let them simmer for now, maybe talk to them a bit.” You didn’t really want to do anything about it, you just wanted to bring this situation into the light.

He nods, agreeing with what you said.

And then again, a moment alone with Bucky had to be interrupted.

Everyone to the lab, Tony says over the comms, we’ve intercepted a call.

 

Chapter Text

“I’m surprised it took so little time,” he pauses,” Actually I’m not, F.R.I.D.A.Y gets through anything. But still, I’d think they’d be more careful, especially with phone calls? That’s a rookie mistake, and more importantly, not one they’d make.” Tony says to Steve, their shoulders brushing.

Despite the gravity of the situation, you look to Bucky who has a knowing smirk on his lips. You smile too, because damn, his made your knees weak.

“Which leads me to believe that they wanted us to find it, trace the call.” Steve answers, crossing his arms over his chest. Wanda is the last one to arrive, Vision trailing behind her.

“Ah, good! Everyone’s here. Listen to this.”

The voices were grainy, a little hard to understand, but everyone recognized the male voice that spoke in the recording.

We got him.” Says Brock Rumlow.

Obviously, if not, you’d be dead by now.” A female voice responds. One you’ve now associated with Madame Hydra.

What’s the plan for extraction?”

They’ll make the move for us” She says smoothly,” it’ll be easy.”

What do you mean make the move for us? Shouldn’t we make the move on them?”

Oh, you Americans, always so eager. It will be sooner than later, and I sincerely hope it’ll be that Stark boy who’ll give us the opening, I’ve always liked him.”

The line ends.

“Well, that doesn’t tell us much.” Pietro says annoyed.

“Actually, it tells us a lot Pete. It tells us plenty.” Tony answers, taking this moment to teach the young speedster. “It tells us who their partnering with, Brock Rumlow aka Crossbones, whom we’ve had the pleasure of knowing, right Cap?” Steve promptly rolls his eyes. “It tells us how much authority Missy here has over her minions. Think about it like this, I’m the owner of Stark Industries, but Pepper’s the CEO. Power can be handed over.” Realization dawns on Pietro face. “There you go.”

You see Pietro nodding along, same goes for Peter and Wanda, the youngest. You’re happy that Tony saw this as a teaching moment and not a chastising one.

“It tells us their plan. When they are going to do it. How they are going to do it. And with what they are going to do it. And this, actually puts us in a very, very good position. Forgoing the fact that this might be planted information.”

The room nods along with Tony’s explanation, agreeing with the facts displayed.

Bucky on the other hand, has barely moved or reacted. As a matter of fact, you could’ve sworn you could barely feel him breathing beside you. You nudged him with your elbow, trying to figure out what was going through his mind, but he didn’t flinch.

You decide to let him be, because if he really had something to say, he’d say it himself.

At that moment, Steve stands up and walks to Tony’s side. “If this is real and looking at it from a strategic standpoint, it probably isn’t, generally Hydra works semi-quietly, and as we all know, Stark is anything but quiet.”

And then something strange happens. Bucky mutters something under his breath with a shit-eating grin on his face, just loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Oh, you’d know.” And as the look of shock morphed into laughter, you realised you and Bucky were definitely not the only ones who noticed. You slapped him playfully on his arm, condemning him for that damned charming smile he had on his face.

“James Buchanan Barnes, that was very inappropriate, we are in a meeting!” You say in mock horror.

“Ain’t that right, doll?” The words leaving his upturned lips knowing damn well what they were doing. That is, making you flush from head to toe but maybe not as red as Steve who was still in a state of shock as the rest of the team laughed.

The nickname and the accent only came out once before and it was the single most attractive thing you’ve ever heard.

“Settle down, children!” You hear Steve shout, still a little pink from the comment. “Even you Buck, even you.” He shakes his head sadly, but he has a joking smile on his face.” Back to what I was saying before the interruption,” he eyes Bucky,” this gives us the opportunity to control when and where they will attack us. The best outcome would be to get a hold of one of them and interrogate them. As for how we’re doing it, Tony had already planned a party for the Mark 55 Iron Man suit, so we’ll probably plan it for then where we will on Defense and not offense. The plan for the least amount of civilian casualties hasn’t been discussed yet, but we will have another meeting where the details of that plan will be discussed. Any questions?”

Most shake their heads, but two metal fingers raise.

“What is it ,Buck?”

“ What they want is me. But, now that they know I’m with you, they’re willing to go through you, to get to me. And I can’t have that.”

And the other shoe drops. You practically punch yourself in the face for missing the streak of selflessness that resided in the man beside you. It grew way back when he was a child, right along side Steve’s own version of it. Of course, he’d want to leave if it meant putting the group out of danger, if it meant putting you out of danger.

“Bucky you’re not leaving.” Steve looks at Bucky with that stubborn look in his eyes.

“Yes, I am”

“No, you’re not James.” You say from his side, turning to face him. “Bucky has it ever occurred to you that we chose to fight for you?” You try to clarify things for him, try to make him realise that despite what he thinks, the rest of the team of superheroes care about him. “That this threat from Madame Hydra wasn’t just a threat to you. It was a threat to all of us. And not because she named Tony, but because you,” you poked his chest,” are one of us.” You receive murmurs of agreement, and a few hell yeah’s.

Bucky’s gaze was unfocused, looking down at your finger poking at his chest.

“You really mean that?”

“I really do.” He looks you in the eyes and you know right away that he’s made up his mind.

“Ok” He nods his head, giving his final word of agreement.

“Well, that settles it doesn’t it?” Tony announces as everyone starts making leave.

“Hey, Bucky, how about I take a look at your arm?” You suggest. You and Tony have been eyeing it ever since he arrived. It was a marvellous piece of technology, but the both of you could make something so much better and more comfortable in your sleep.

You’d already made basic schematics and blueprints for a new arm. But you didn't want to impose it on him right away. Making him a new arm would include making a few x-rays and scans, and you didn’t want to cause him more distress than necessary.

You’d noticed that his “death walk/swagger” situation was mainly because his left side was heavier. Which meant that there must’ve been a strain in his back and shoulder muscles not to mention his bones.

He has mentioned a few times how his arm was the one visual thing that linked him to Hydra. Although he didn’t say it bothered him, you saw it in the tense set of his shoulders.

At first, he seemed taken aback, surprised even, but then his face melted into a smile that made your heart flutter. You had to tear your eyes away before making a fool of yourself.

“Sure, I wouldn’t mind you looking at it.” Not you and Tony, just you. You heard Tony snicker beside you making you roll your eyes, that man was going to be the death of you, if Bucky doesn’t kill you with his… everything.

You lead the way out, and you almost yelp as you feel a familiar metal hand guide you out by the small of your back. You duck your face hoping to the gods that he doesn’t noticed your flushed face. But by the smirk gracing his lips, you can tell he knows exactly what he’s doing.

You groan internally wondering if today is the day you’re going to faint, and not because a of a wound or excessive bleeding.

“Come on.” You beckon him over to the lab. He opens the door for you, like the 40’s gentleman he is, and follows through.

“Sit here, I modified this chair so it’d be more comfortable if ever I was to take a look at your arm.” You sit down onto your rolling stool, not noticing that Bucky stopped in his tracks.

Once you turning around, you see him contemplating the leather chair with a surprising amount of intensity.

“Is anything wrong? We don’t have to do this now if you don’t want to.” And you hoped that you hadn’t over stepped a lined.

“You modified a chair… for me.” He says, as if the he wasn’t able to grasp the concept.

“Ya, the original version wouldn’t be convenient for access of the arm from both forward and backward positions and I wanted you to be comfortable, you know, you might even enjoy it.” Which isn’t a lie, but you were hoping that if you made a small gesture, like the chair, maybe he’d come down to the lab a little more.

You dare look up at him for a second and what you see makes your heart soar. He has the softest expression on his face. One that makes him look years younger, his eyes soft and relaxed with the corner of his lips turned up.

“Thank you.” He breathes out, finally stepping towards your work station.

“You’re welcome, Buck” You say. ”Here take a seat. I won’t be opening anything or doing anything of the sort, I’m just going to let F.R.I.D.A.Y take some scans and we’ll take a look at them together.”

He nods in understanding, taking a look around the shop. Even if he’s been here before he’s never had the time to really take a look around. He could tell already that the workshop was divided into two. Tony’s side, and your side. One side was cluttered, littered with metal parts, rogue robots, blueprints, way to many coffee mugs and for some reason a spider in a cage. On the other side, it was still a little bit of a mess, but there was an order to it. Everything was in organised piles, none of the piles touched each other and whatever was in the piles, looked to be similar in its contents.

“F.R.I.D.A.Y, be a sweetheart and take all the scans we listed together of Bucky’s arm. Not the second list though, we could do those next time.”

Of course, (y/n), the scans have commenced.

“Please display, the interior wiring of the arm.” You asked. At that moment, an intricate circuitry, a maze of wires appeared out of thin air mapping out the inner workings of the metal appendage.

“Woah.” You hear him gasp. You smile lightly, much to the surprise of many, (but not to you) he was curious. Very curious. Everything interested him. You constantly saw him reading up on what’s happened in the past, to clear up a little bit of the fog that’s settled in, is what he said. You’ve seen him read about culinary advances and adorably, he was looking at animal shelters. Which absolutely melted your heart and desperately made you want to hug him.

“See that, you point to a few wires that were frayed,”he nods, attentive,” that’s the reason why the delayed reaction time is slower than it normally is. Also, you see the little gear there,” his gaze follows you finger,” that’s the reason why you’re having a hard time with the movement in your elbow.”

You’re talking excitedly about the inner workings of the arm, pointing to things left and right, that you hadn’t even realised that you were leaning on him now, trying to take a better look at the image that F.R.I.D.A.Y put up for you. He wasn’t even looking at the 3D manipulable model anymore, he was looking at you. He was watching you speak so passionately about engineering and electricity and circuit boards. Spit firing ideas about what you could improve and what you’d add. How you were so excited to work on this project. And for a second, he forgets why he has the arm, that it was something inflicted upon him. He’s just grateful that it brought him to this moment in time. With you avidly speaking about technology, him only understand half of the words coming out of your mouth, with the smell of your shampoo mixed in with a little bit of grease, almost intoxicated him.

And finally, you take a breath, just contemplating, and then you feel it. The heat radiating off the body next to you. It’s only then you realise to what extent you’d closed up the space between the two of you.

You stare shyly at your hands before looking up, afraid of what you’d find. You’re met with two gorgeous blue grey eyes and a little quirk of the lip.

A flush takes over your entire body, as you pull away just a bit. You tuck a strand of hair behind your ear and look away, trying not to shiver under his intense gaze.

“Uh , ya I’ll just review these. Later. With Tony. For your arm. Ya.” You internally scream, but he thought you were absolutely adorable.