We’ve all been told that we have a guardian angel. You know how it goes, an angel that was chosen to look after you from the day you were born. A narrow miss of a car accident, well, that was your guardian angel intervening. What you didn’t know is that there is someone else assigned to look after you too. If angels exist that means demons do as well. They don’t call themselves “guardian demons”, that’s just silly, but they are demons and their motivations are very different from their angelic counterpart. They’re the ones that cause bad things to happen. A green light suddenly turns red and you have to slam on the brakes to avoid a crash, oh that’s them just having some fun.
Neither angel or demon can control your lives, everyone has free will of course, but they can influence you. If cartoons have taught us one thing it’s that you have an angel and a devil on both of your shoulders; you’re picturing it right? It’s a mini version of you, the angel in a white robe with a glowing halo and wings who pleads for you to do the right thing and the devil, in all red with horns and a tail, pitchfork in hand that persuades you to go off track. Not everyone believes in angels and demons, some people call this your conscience, or maybe it’s just a gut instinct.
Nevertheless, whether you chose to believe in angels and demons they exist and both of them have agendas. The angel wants you to make good choices and be a good person. In the end you would go to Heaven and become an angel yourself, guiding a new life on their journey. The demon wants you to break laws, hurt someone, hurt yourself even. You’d be sent straight to Hell where you’d endure a lifetime of torture. Well, that’s not entirely true. You could end the torture as long as you became a demon and influenced others to do harm.
You were lucky that you didn’t know the truth of the world. You were always questioning everything. Did you believe in God because you wanted to or because you grew up being told you have to? Did you believe in the pearly gates of Heaven because it sounds better than just ceasing to exist? Did you believe you should live a virtuous life just to avoid the fiery pits of Hell? You didn’t have the answers and you figured you never really would. You are just human after all.
There’s a lot that goes into being human, we’re talking more than paying your taxes. What it really means to be human is to feel. Emotions, those are what made life tough. Love is such a strong emotion. You wanted to love everything. You loved your family and friends. You smiled at animals on the street– dogs, cats, pigeons and squirrels, you loved them all. You loved the laughter of children. You loved how people united after a tragedy, lifting each other up and selflessly helping in any way they could. You love Disney and the fairy tale stories you grew up believing in. You love love.
Then there’s hate, which seems to be even stronger sometimes. People just get on your nerves. You hate that animals are abandoned and abused. Will someone shut that crying baby up?? You hate how people exploit others; chaos at a peace rally… yeah that’s a good one. You hate this world, everything is upside down. Racism, sexism, homophobia, dammit you could go on forever. People hurt each other all the time and you hate it.
Sometimes you even hate yourself. You hate your looks, always comparing yourself to someone else. You hate your job, always thinking you aren’t doing what you truly want. You hate your failed relationships, constantly thinking about how it all went wrong and if you could just go back and change something you did maybe it would have lasted. Real life isn’t a Disney movie though. You hate love.
You’ve thought about leaving this world, maybe not being here would be easier. You wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of whatever was going to happen. You thought about it and you cried, a lot. A lump catches in your throat as tears stream down your face. You let them drop, pooling under your chin before wiping them away. You can’t do it. Maybe it’s your guardian angel begging you not to, the angel on your shoulder jumping up and down telling you how much you’re loved and how much your life matters or maybe you’re just too scared. You don’t want to die but you don’t want to live either.
Your guardian angel sighs in relief, watching over you as you slept, so thankful that you’re alive. He loves you. He’s loved you since the day you were born. A new life coming into this great big world, a life he promised to guide and protect. He thinks about the time he was alive.
He was born many years ago on Independence Day, a fitting day for a man as patriotic and righteous as Steve Rogers. He was a scrawny kid but never backed down from a fight, especially if it meant standing up for what’s right. He eventually grew into his body, served his country, and gave his life for it in the war. He hangs his head low today with Nazis running around, again! He takes it in stride, devoting even more time guiding those to stand up to the injustice in the world.
Steve knows there’s goodness in you, and he knows that sometimes you stumble. You hurt yourself most being your own worst critic, constantly berating yourself for things you should have done. Steve tries to show you the goodness in life. A family of ducks waddle across the grass and you smile, that is until someone comes by with their large dog, letting them purposely chase after the now scattered group. You stop to watch a honeybee, dedicated in its task to pollinate the garden before you. Then you’re reminded of the worldwide devastation to the bees. Steve groans in frustration, knowing the counteractive measures were being orchestrated by a demon, the monster waiting in the shadows trying to corrupt you.
The demon was just as frustrated. That righteous angel was working so hard, encouraging you, no matter what the situation, to never back down. You stood up to people, to bullies. It was oddly familiar. Today the demon is smirking. You have plans to go clothes shopping with your friend Keisha. This is too easy for him.
“Come out Y/N. Let me see,” Keisha talks to you through the fitting room doors.
You stare at yourself in the mirror, the shirt you tried on was bunching on the sides. You tried pulling it down to cover the hips you hated but no, it doesn’t stay. It doesn’t fit right. Nothing fits right. Nothing ever does. Why are you like this? You feel the sting of tears rush to your eyes.
Taking a deep breath you pull it over your head, closing your eyes so don’t have to look at your reflection. You quickly put on your shirt and gather your things. Opening the door you see Keisha wearing the slight look of disappointment on her face.
“It didn’t fit,” you said quickly, hoping she would drop the subject.
“Everything in this store runs small, let’s try a different size.”
“Kei, the problem isn’t the clothes, it’s me. It’s this,” you gestured towards yourself.
She held back for a second, seeing the redness in your eyes, but continued anyway. She knew what she was about to say would make you cry as this has always been a sore subject, but she trusted her gut (or whatever she believed in) and said it anyway. “Y/N you’re beautiful, no matter what okay. You may not love your body but just know there is so much more to you than that. You’re beautiful inside and out.”
The tears fall as you wipe them off your cheek. You know she means well it’s just, all those bad thoughts you have are turned up to 1,000 when it comes to your body. She pulls you in for a tight hug. You smile, knowing she’s right. Your worth isn’t determined by your weight. You know this.
Damn her, the demon thought of Keisha. What can he do now? What can he do to turn your thoughts around?
Suddenly, a beautiful leggy brunette walks into the fitting room. She glances down at your tear stained face, you hear her laugh as she closes the door. No matter what you want to believe the truth is everyone is judged on their appearance. You quickly walk out of the dressing room, feeling defeated.
“Listen Y/N you don’t look like that chick, I don’t look like that chick, but despite what you think she’s not perfect. Nobody is.”
“I know, it’s just hard sometimes, you know?” You try to smile, forming a tight lipped frown instead.
“Yeah it’s hard, but life is short and you need to enjoy it. Winnie the Pooh wears a belly shirt and he doesn’t care.”
Her comment breaks your sullen face. “So you want me to be like Winnie the Pooh? Walking around with a jar of honey and no pants?” you joked.
“Winnie,” the demon hesitantly spoke, turning his head up as if he’s heard that name before.
“Yeah go hard or go home!” she laughed, pulling you in for another hug.
You stopped into Starbucks, to satisfy your need for overpriced coffee. Casually strolling through the mall you found some comfortable chairs to sit down in.
“So how come I haven’t met your girlfriend yet?” you asked, tilted your head and smiling as Keisha began to blush.
“I know, I know! Let’s plan something soon, dinner? Lunch? It doesn’t matter. She’s great Y/N. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
You asked what her name was and she told you as she smiled from ear to ear.
The demon felt a twinge in his mind as the name was spoken. “Rebecca.” He repeated the name over and over, ignoring all of the things he could be doing to ruin your day. He knew this name. Why did he know this? Who was she? The thoughts clawed at his mind, like a caged animal trying to break free.
“Oh-em-gee, you have the cutest couple name, Bec-kei! Do you get it?” you laughed. You found it a lot funnier than Keisha did but she laughed all the same, being well accustomed to your silly sense of humor.
The demon froze, stunned in silence. The beast was loose, running around in his mind, violently thrashing as it broke down the walls of a dam. Memories returned, flowing, gushing through his mind.
“B-buh…Bucky. My name is Bucky.”
If his heart could still skip a beat it certainly would have. You had unlocked the door in his mind that had been shut for so long. The memories overwhelmed him, bits and pieces of a puzzle scattered on the floor waiting to be put together. He started slowly with his name. Bucky. He repeated it over and over again, furrowing his brows together with frustration.
“There’s more. Bucky… urgh!” he huffed, pressing the heel of his palms into his eyes. He sounded out different letters until he thought he found the right one.
“G-George. No, James. James… Barnes. George was my father,” he said slowly connecting the pieces.
He pictured a man, with striking blue eyes and dark brown hair that peeked out from under a flat-topped straw hat. His cream buttoned down shirt was tucked into brown trousers, cuffed at the bottom to display his oxford shoes. Bucky smiled remembering his father, caring and selfless, who would always give up his last dollar to anyone that needed it. He was a hard working man who loved his wife Winifred. “Winnie, darling!” he would say, coming through the front door of their humble home.
George worked long hours as a banker but during the weekends he was a true family man. He took James and his younger sister Rebecca to the park. He watched James play baseball with some local boys, smiling at the nickname they gave his son as they eagerly called Bucky up to bat. Rebecca rode a merry-go-round, waving to her father each time her wooden horse passed the bench he sat on. He loved his family with all of heart. The accident that took his life was tragic, and Bucky never felt worthy enough to fill the large void left in its wake.
His country needed him during the war, there was no question but Bucky hated the idea of leaving his mother and sister. He wrote to them when he could during training and was lucky enough to receive their letters when he was overseas.
He slid down the wall, unseen by the humans that casually pass him by, as the horrors of the war replayed in his mind. Then he remembered the explosion on the cliffside and his biggest regret, living. He fell, hitting the snow covered ground with a huge thud. Every bone was surely broken, he groaned in agony and yet he felt numb. Hot tears stung his eyes as thought about his mom and Rebecca. He didn’t want to leave them, he was the man of the house, he needed to protect them. But there was nothing he could do except shut his eyes and wait for death to take him.
A blurred figure came towards him, calling out his name. A fellow soldier? No, it was an older man with a wrinkled face and dusty blond hair. “Bucky.” His smooth voice kept him from slipping out of consciousness. “Bucky, I’m here to help you.”
The man introduced himself as Alexander, Bucky’s spiritual guardian.
“My wh-what?” Bucky’s weak voice murmured.
Alexander offered to save him, heal him enough to go home so he can see his family as long as he promised to work with him as a guardian when the time comes. Confused and close to death Bucky accepted the man’s offer as his eyes shut.
Bucky woke up, groaning as his body bounced with every step the men who were carrying him on a stretcher took. “You’re lucky to be alive, soldier!” he heard a voice say before slipping unconscious again.
Sometime later he opened his eyes, recognizing he was in the medical tent of the barracks. He groaned feeling a terrible ache throughout his body, which was expected after his tremendous fall, except he felt different. His eyes widened with horror seeing the absence of his left arm. A medic heard the commotion and rushed over to him, explaining that his arm was lost from the explosion. He looked down to see a small stump wrapped in gauze, just a few inches remained of his once strong arm. His injury would be sending him home though as soon as the papers were processed.
Bucky reflected on his thoughts, vaguely remembering the man, his guardian, who promised him a chance to see his family again. He didn’t realize the cost, nevertheless he was happy, he served his country honorably and he was headed home with a smile on his face.
Winifred sobbed mixed tears of joy and sadness as her son walked through the door. She was prepared for his injury but it didn’t take away the pain she felt for her boy.
“Son!” she cried, sobbing into his chest. Bucky wrapped his right arm around her back, “Ma! It’s okay. I’m okay,” he said hoping his words would alleviate her woes.
Winifred took him into the kitchen, having prepared a casserole, after a long time away she needed to make sure her son was well fed again. Bucky missed her cooking, even with the restrictions from food rationing, she was always able to turn anything into a delicious filling meal.
She sat beside Bucky tending to his every need, refilling his glass before it was half empty, wiping food from the corner of his mouth. Bucky held his tongue, just because he lost an arm didn’t mean he couldn’t take care of himself, but he let his mother take care of him; she almost lost her son after all.
Rebecca came home a few hours later looking unrecognizable from the last time Bucky saw her. Her hair usually styled with intricate curls was covered in a dusty headscarf, her dress was traded for faded blue coveralls. She had taken up work in a local factory, like most of the women in the country who took over the jobs of the men who left to fight.
Her face lit up when she saw him, with a bittersweet smile tugging on her lips as she noticed the flat empty sleeve on the left side of his jacket.
She was happy to have him home, they were all happy to be together again.
Later that night after their mother had gone to sleep Bucky and Rebecca were able to speak frankly. His heart felt heavy, wiping tears away as he relived the terrible things the war required him to do. Bucky told her mostly everything, only sparing her from the gruesome details he did not want his little sister to imagine. He also left out the part of the man, Alexander, the supposed guardian that saved his life, though he was half convinced this was a hallucination.
Bucky pushed open the door of his bedroom and gasped, not expecting to see the figure standing there waiting for him. His jaw hung open as he stared at Alexander who was very much real. He was a few inches shorter than Bucky but stood with towering confidence. “Surprised to see me?” he asked.
Bucky nodded, unsure of what words to say as he tried to quickly accept the existence of his spiritual guardian.
“About the arm,” he nudged his chin towards Bucky, “It was the best way to get you home.”
Bucky cleared his throat before speaking, “Uh yeah, thanks, thank you. I’m just glad to be here.” He tripped on his words, smiling quickly before returning to his nonplussed state.
“How’s mom? She good?” Alexander asked with a curt undertone. Bucky nodded in response. “And sister?” A chill ran down Bucky’s back and he shivered before silently nodding again.
“That’s good. I’m sure you said goodbye then.”
Bucky’s face twisted in confusion, “I- I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Alexander’s lips pulled up into a wide devilish smile. “Our deal boy. The time has come.”
Bucky sputtered out words, trying to reason with that he’s been home for less than a week. Alexander didn’t care, though he never stated the full terms of his agreement Bucky never asked. He accepted his help and he was quickly learning that his actions had consequences.
“Kill yourself,” Alexander snarled, smirking.
Bucky felt disgusted by his words, he refused. He could never.
Alexander cocked his head, closing the gap between himself and Bucky. His smile dropped, “Your mother and sister are on a train right now,” he calmly stated.
Bucky shook his head in confusion, “What does that mean?”
“I’m a man of great influence and power,” he spat, popping the sound the word he took so much pleasure from.“They are sitting in the first car and when I derail the train they will die, painfully so,” he smirked, “Unless…” he threatened.
Bucky felt nauseous, the thought of his family dying burned a deep pit within his stomach. “I thought you were my guardian angel,” he naively questioned.
Alexander dropped his head back and laughed with a twisted sense of delight. He turned towards Bucky revealing his eyes, now covered by a deep blackness that replaced any trace of humanity he once appeared to have. “I’m far from angel.”
He raised his hands up and the furniture in Bucky’s room began to shake. The desk broke in half, with all objects once neatly displayed sliding towards the center, the dresser toppled over, photographs dropped from their place on the wall. Bucky jumped out of the way as his closet door opened, his clothes were violently strewn across the room. He could not believe what he was seeing.
Alexander looked at a mirror and it shattered, its jagged pieces fell to the ground in front of Bucky. “You know what to do.”
Bucky bent down, apprehensively picking up the shard of glass. His teary eyes pleaded with Alexander but he showed no signs of faltering.
“What happens if I do this?” his shaky voice asked. “Th-they’ll be safe? No tricks?”
“They won’t be harmed. I’m a man of my word. You do this and then you work for me. Go on son.”
Bucky shut his eyes not wanting to face Alexander. Son, the word stung in his mind. Bucky thought about his father, the honorable and good man. Would he do this? No, his father was a better man. He wouldn’t have made a deal with the devil. That’s what Alexander had to be. George would have seen through something that was too good to be true, he would have died with honor on that blanket of snow. All Bucky wanted was to see his family again, to protect them. Now he was left with a horrible choice and no way out. He had to save them, the family that would forever be plagued with unanswered questions. Why? Why did he do this?
Bucky choked on a lump in his throat as the tears traveled down his cheeks. He gripped the shard, feeling the sting of glass cutting into his hand. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, knowing the people who needed to hear his words never would. He brought the shard to his neck while Alexander watched.
Bucky woke up on the hard ground, looking around he saw nothing, just blackness that felt like it was slowly creeping towards him despite his vast surroundings. There was a cold chill that blew through him yet he choked on the air, heavy with humidity making it difficult to breathe. Wait, could he even breathe?
He was alone and scared. He sat bringing his knees to his chest, going through the motions of crying without being able to shed tears, as he regretted the choices he made from the life he’ll never get back. Alexander appeared in front of him, pulling Bucky to his feet.
“You work for me now,” he spat. “And my soldiers aren’t weak.”
“Soldiers?” Bucky questioned, “Alexander, I…”
He was cut off again. “You call me Pierce and I am not to be questioned. I’m not your friend. I own you. You’re gonna go up there and corrupt souls. Manipulate people, like I did to you,” he said with a sinister smile.
Bucky tried resisting at first, thinking since he was already dead that no more harm could come to him but he was wrong. Pierce brought in his trusted associate, a man formerly known as Brock Rumlow.
Rumlow was a twisted from an early age, torturing animals, slicing them open just to see what would happen. He became a surgeon, determined by his sickness to hurt people. It wasn’t enough for him to perform the surgery he was required to do. He lied to his patients, telling them the procedures he performed were life saving and necessary just so he could mutilate them.
He found a like minded assistant, Grant Ward, and together they abused countless victims. Operating without anesthesia, the relished in the sounds of screams as they experimented removing body parts, or attaching foreign objects within. Then men were caught and executed but they continue their work now as demon’s with Pierce’s full support.
Bucky had learned more about Pierce, the devil’s right hand man, a powerful demon who was building an army with plans to fight the angels in Heaven.
With the snap of his fingers Pierce made it possible for Bucky to experience pain again. Rumlow smiled as he began his torture. Minutes felt like years, years felt like centuries. Bucky had felt immeasurable amounts of pain. He tried not to scream knowing each time he did it only fueled Rumlow’s enthusiasm. He was carved with every tool imaginable, grinding his teeth as he felt the sting of each slice, only to have his body healed and prepped for the next round of torture.
Rumlow was fascinated by Bucky’s arm. He opened him up, removing what was left of his bone and replacing it with different objects. He settled on a metal arm, cast from the armor of a great demon, once a rogue knight who slayed countless villages during the Middle Ages.
Bucky knew how to end the torture, he held out for so long but he was weak, physically and mentally. He felt broken and so he conceded, accepting his fate. He hated himself for giving up. He carried out Pierce’s orders, being assigned to a variety of people all over the world; it didn’t matter who they were, only that they be influenced negatively to corrupt their souls.
One day Bucky was assigned to a new mother. He reluctantly went to the hospital with the intent on whispering thoughts to induce postpartum depression. He materialized in the hospital room, pushing past the flowers and balloons, not making himself known to the happy people who crowded around the woman. He stopped in shock as he saw his sister holding a baby swaddled in blue cloth.
“James, after my brother,” Rebecca said. “James Barnes-Proctor.” She wiped tears away as she smiled lovingly at her son. Bucky stood there in shock, seeing his sister and the man he assumed was her husband caressing the forehead of the sleeping infant. He scanned the room for his mother but she wasn’t there. He wanted to stay, to talk to Rebecca and tell her everything but he knew he couldn’t.
He left feeling determined, feeling strong like the man he should have been. He refused to do this any longer, resolving that he would rather be tortured for eternity than hurt anyone else. Pierce blinked a few times, silent in response to Bucky’s defiance. He simply smiled, snapping his fingers as a cloud of black smoke wrapped itself around Bucky. He struggled against the force of energy but wasn’t able to break free. The black cloud entered through his ears and fogged up his mind. Pierce locked away Bucky’s memories, wiping him to create the perfect demon, brainwashing him into fighting for his cause without disobedience. A soldier once again, ready for orders.
Bucky struggled to lift his heavy head, weighed down by all of his memories, guilt and pain. He wiped away fresh tears as he looked around. You had left, a while ago it seemed. Bucky wanted to find you. He wanted to undo some of the damage he’s done. Thanks to you he remembered who he was, he needed to do some good for a lot of people but he wanted to start with you. He tasted the salt on his lips before realizing the unfamiliar sense. How was he able to cry?
His thoughts were interrupted by the image of Pierce calling him back. Bucky wiped his eyes again, bringing his expression back to something neutral as he faced Pierce.
Bucky was silent for a moment before repeating the list of horrible things he’s done in order to break people. He kept up his facade as the ruthless soldier Pierce had created, not letting on that he had broken free of his spell for his own safety and yours.
“I see Mr. Wilson has been teetering on the edge. Use his guilt about his friend,” Pierce ordered. Bucky fought back his anger. He was angry with Pierce for forcing him to be someone he’s not, he was angry with himself for doing such terrible things to innocent people.
“Good job with Y/N, sending that other girl into the dressing room. How close is she? How broken?”
Bucky clenched his fist, biting the inside of his cheek as Pierce spoke about you with such indifference. He wasn’t going to let you become broken. He vowed to make up for the pain he caused you.
“She’s strong,” Bucky said, unable to hold back a smirk.
You were strong, you made it past every negative thought and situation Bucky aided in putting you through but you still made it. You never gave in and Bucky was going to make sure that you never would.
“We need strong. Work harder on her, bring her to us,” Pierce demanded.
Bucky nodded and Pierce dismissed him.
Back on Earth Bucky watched you again, just as he had done many times before but this time it’s different. Instead of scheming for ways to enhance your depressing thoughts he watched you, and for the first time he truly saw you.
The partially clouded sun shines its diffused light on the alleyway of your apartment building. With a tote bag in hand you softly creep towards the back wall, pursing your lips together to create soft kissing sounds. Opening your bag you pull out a few cans of cat food, the noise of the lid pulling open draws out the strays you’ve come to look after.
A black cat comes out, curling himself around your legs before nudging his head on your hand, a sign you’ve learned to interpret as him encouraging you to hurry up and feed him.
“Okay okay, Midnight here you go,” you said setting down the food.
Opening another can a smaller cat comes out, a slim black and white you’ve named Oreo. Leaving the cats to their food you opened another can, setting it behind the dumpster in front of a very lazy and round white and brown cat you’ve aptly named Potato. Based on his size you question if Potato is even a stray. You retrieve a few plastic takeout containers that have moved around, replacing it them with fresh water and dry cat food.
With your back against the brick wall of the building you happily watch the cats eat. Bucky feels a painful stinging sensation overtake his body, his fists clench as he fights his instinct that compels him to remind you that these cats are homeless. Instead he silently watches as Oreo curls up next to you, purring and meowing as you scratch under her chin.
Bucky feels a tight pull in his cheeks from a smile that formed. It’s such a foreign sensation it hurts but he continues doing it, reminding the neglected muscles of their use. He continues smiling, grinning now from ear to ear as you tease Potato for being too lazy to come out.
The longer Bucky watches you he begins to remember what it was like to be human. He’s overcome by warmth that comforts his normally cold exterior. You’re beautiful. He doesn’t know why you ever doubted yourself, he hates that he amplified any negative thoughts. Your eyes are full of kindness, your smile is so sincere. Your body was perfect in his mind because it was yours. Bucky felt this overwhelming desire to hold you, to wrap his arms around you and tell you that despite what you believe that you’re beautiful and every flaw you think you have is part of what makes you so beautiful. You were a goddess and he wanted to worship you.
Lost in his thoughts Bucky hadn’t noticed that Midnight had walked over towards him, curling in between his legs. Bucky yelped scaring the black cat as he ran back behind the dumpster.
“Hello?” you said, standing up, your body tensed at the stranger.
Bucky stood frozen, wondering how the cat was able to curl around him. Midnight must have run away with his tongue as well because Bucky was unable to speak as you approached him. How could you see him?
“Uh, can I help you?” you sarcastically asked, tilting your head towards him.
Bucky realized his concealment spell had obviously lifted. He cleared his throat, unsure of what he was going to say. “That’s really nice… what you’re doing for them… the cats,” he awkwardly stammered.
“Oh, yeah. Well I have to,” you said. Your body released the tension it was holding as you observed the stranger’s handsome face. “No one else looks after them so…” You shrugged slightly before looking away, feeling the blush begin to creep its way on your cheeks as the man’s clear blue eyes were gazing at you.
Bucky was entranced by you, silently staring with a goofy smile, unaware of how awkward he looked.
“So do you always hang out in alleys or…” you trailed off.
“No, I uh,” Bucky stopped to think about what he would say, reaching his hand up to rub the back of his neck. “I was just walking by when I heard someone.”
You smiled, watching his nervous demeanor, his plush pink lips curved up into a smile. A feeling twinged in your gut unlike anything you had felt before. You were alone with a strange man in an alley but you weren’t nervous. Why weren’t you nervous? You should be, right? Your body seemed to be fighting the natural instincts that were telling you this was dangerous.
“What’s your name?” you asked.
“Bucky,” he yelped, jumping slightly as Midnight returned and began to purr around the base of his legs. You laughed at his reaction.
“Scared of cats Bucky?”
He chuckled, wiping the embarrassment off his face, “No, I’m just not used to this.” He flashed a bright white smile as he slowly crouched towards the ground, letting his right hand hang down. Midnight pressed the top of his head into his palm, rubbing into it and purring. “They usually don’t like me.”
Bucky felt the soft fur against his finger tips, a sensation he’s almost forgotten. Normally animals hissed or barked, and ran away when they sensed the presence of a demon. He ponders why the cats are being so calm around him.
You watched as Bucky pet Midnight with a sweet innocence. He looked up at you, seemingly proud of himself for petting a cat. You’re not sure why he’s so happy but you smile finding it very cute.
“They love me, since I feed them,” you chuckled.
Realizing you hadn’t properly introduced yourself, you offered your name and extended your hand to meet his. Hesitantly, Bucky brought his hand out to yours, the warmth of your hand caused his body to tingle. His mouth pulled into an awkward smile as he hoped you didn’t feel his body shake and he quickly shrugged his hand back into the pocket of his leather jacket.
It dawned on you suddenly that his left hand has been in his pocket during your whole encounter. You worry slightly for the first time, wondering what he may be hiding.
Your boldness outweighed common sense as you asked, “What’s with the hand?” Internally you groan as you spoke in a much ruder tone than intended.
Bucky’s face dropped, eyebrows tilting down and you heard him gulp loudly. His head hung low as he replied, “Y-you don’t want to see.”
You were concerned but intrigued, “Please?”
He sighed, looking up at you through his long lashes as he gingerly pulled his hand out of concealment, revealing a shiny silver surface. You stared at the remarkable appendage before you caught yourself, realizing how uncomfortable you were making him. “I’m sorry Bucky, I didn’t mean to stare,” though you couldn’t help the fact that your gaze darted between his sad eyes and the metal hand. “I’ve just never seen a prosthetic like that before.”
“I’m not used to showing it.” His head hung low still and it reinforced your feelings of regret.
“I’m sorry,” you repeated, in a gentle tone. “Hey, d-do you want to get some coffee?” you asked, with some desperation in your voice.
You felt bad for intruding about his hand and wanted to make it up to him in some way, though deep down you wanted to get to know the mystery behind Bucky, and even deeper down you hoped for a connection. Bucky looked up in confusion, not understanding why you haven’t run away from him.
“Please, let me buy you a cup, okay?”
He couldn’t say no to your bright-eyed insistence, he smiled and agreed. With a wide smile you turned around to gather your things and say goodbye to the cats. You went to Potato, rubbing the soft fur of his plump body, Oreo and Midnight fought for your attention which you gave as equally as you could.
Picking up your bag you took a step towards Bucky but you were blasted with a strong surge of wind. You squinted, lifting your hands in front of your face. The gust was so powerful your feet slid on the ground as you were being pushed back.
Bucky moved forward, reaching out to grab and pull you towards him. The moment your hands touched the wind abruptly stopped but your momentum was still going; you went flying into Bucky’s chest and you both fell down. Bucky wrapped his arms around you holding you tighter to him as he took the brunt of the fall.
You looked down at him, wisps of your hair fell forward as you were a few inches away from his mesmerizing blue eyes. Bucky grunted and you snapped back to reality. “Sorry! I know I’m heavy,” you sadly declared.
Hearing your admission on the topic he knows bothers you most pained him. “No Y/N, you’re not. Y-you’re beautiful.” Bucky tucked your hair behind your ears and your heart raced a little. “You okay?” you panted as you got off of him.
“Yeah I’m fine,” he said as he stood up, brushing off any dirt that might have been on his clothes
“That was so weird! I’ve never been caught in a wind tunnel like that before!” you naively commented.
“Yeah, pretty weird,” he stated as his eyes looked up and all around in suspicion, knowing the exact cause of the sudden weather change.
On the way to the coffee shop you faced many interruptions. Your mom called and it took forever to get her off the phone, despite promising that you’ll call her later. Keisha texted way too many times about wanting to set up dinner with you to meet her girlfriend. Your boss Tony called in a desperate search for a file that was in your office. He even offered to pay you for a half day if you came in to give it to him in person. Despite how enticing that sounded you really wanted to spend your afternoon with Bucky.
“Tony it’s Sunday I’m not coming in. Are you at my desk? Look at my desk, now look at the rack on the left. It’s right there.” You looked at Bucky and mouthed an apology as you waited on the phone again. “You found it, see it didn’t move. Okay… okay… no I really have to… alright, tomorrow, okay… okay see you tomorrow Mr. Stark, bye!” You hung up on him but tried your best to not make it feel as if you did. Why was everyone bothering you?
“I’m so sorry about that Bucky, I swear I’m never this popular,” you joked.
You sat down and ordered. “Have you been here before?” Bucky shook his head no. “They have the best coffee and the most amazing desserts. You’re gonna love the chocolate croissants.”
You were so excited about the food Bucky felt almost bad. For obvious reasons he could not tell you that he isn’t able to taste anything.
He let you take the lead in the conversations. He loved the way you spoke, you were so passionate about everything, even little things. He screamed at himself internally for every time he previously tried to diminish the beautiful light inside of you.
When asked to talk about himself he chose his words carefully, trying not to reveal any information that would incriminate him as a man out of time (or a demon for that matter).
“So that’s how you lost your arm? The war?” you inquired.
With a heavy sigh Bucky replied, “Yeah but I really don’t want to talk about it.”
You reached out to touch his flesh hand to console him, “I understand Bucky. My cousin was in Afghanistan, he doesn’t like to talk about it either.” Bucky thanked you as he sipped the tasteless liquid.
The conversation continued to flow and Bucky enjoyed every moment he spent with you. He never wanted to leave, just being with you made him feel almost human again.
Bucky insisted on walking you back to your apartment. You casually strolled next to him with a smile on your face, sensing the way he looked at you when he thought you didn’t notice. Bucky was incredibly handsome and kind, but also mysterious and sad. Maybe that’s what attracted him to you, you’ve always been drawn to those in need.
A young man barreling down the sidewalk on a bicycle nearly misses hitting you, tearing you and Bucky apart as you jumped out of the way with your back up against the gate of a closed shop.
“Are you alright Y/N?” Bucky asked, sensing the concern in his tone.
“What is with people today?” you groaned.
Bucky offered you his hand before pulling it back, realizing it was his metal one. You reached your hand out to him, nodding in acceptance and he delicately laced the cool smooth digits with your warm soft hand. You looked up at him with a reassuring smile as you continued walking.
When you reached the front door of your building you asked for Bucky’s number. He stammered a bit and struggled to make up a legitimate excuse for not having a cell phone.
“I’m old fashioned,” he attempted to reason.
There it was, that feeling of rejection. What a stupid excuse, who doesn’t have a cell phone? You dropped your head, trying to hold back the tears you felt forming. This is the story of your life, falling for a guy way out of your league who will never be interested in you.
“Oh okay it was nice meeting you,” you said quickly, turning on your heel and up the steps.
“Wait!” Bucky followed you. “I want to see you again.”
“Really?” You couldn’t help how desperate you sounded.
“Yes of course Y/N. How about tomorrow? We could go to lunch or dinner or…”
“Dinner,” you chimed in. “Dinner would be great.”
Bucky suggested meeting at your apartment first and you excitedly nodded your head.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Y/N,” he said, taking your hand in his and bringing it up to his soft lips for a kiss. You held your breath, in shock at his reserved but romantic gesture.
“See you tomorrow Bucky,” you beamed, waving once more after you stepped inside the lobby.
You immediately pulled out your phone, texting Keisha about the man you met as you routinely walked to your door. Picking your head up you spotted a figure standing in front of your door, a tall and broad blond man with a stern expression.
“Y/N, we need to talk.”
“Excuse me, do I know you?” you curiously asked the tall stranger who looked at you with stern determination.
“Y/N you need to stay away from that man,” he said with a firm tone up until the last word, as if he wasn’t convinced he was saying it properly. “He’s dangerous.”
“Oh yeah, says the stranger waiting for me outside my apartment,“ you snarked.
The man chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck, ruffling through his short blond hair.
"You didn’t answer me, who are you?” you snapped back.
“My name is Steve and…” he sighed before staring directly into your eyes, “I’m your guardian angel.”
Chewing on your bottom lip, you gathered your thoughts together before quickly responding, "Okay, time to go!”
Steve tried to reason with you but you were in no mood to hear the ramblings of a delusional man.
“Move, move away from my door please. Just get out of here and I won’t call the cops,” you demanded, waving your phone in hand to show him you were serious.
He backed away from you with his hands up, a gesture of his peaceful retreat as he walked closer to the front door of the building. You eyed him carefully making sure he left before opening the door to your apartment.
Once inside you locked the door, dropped your bag on the ground and let out an exhausted breath. Your encounter with Steve temporarily curtailed the joy you felt about your afternoon with Bucky but you were ready to get back on cloud nine, as you gushed to Keisha with an abundance of heart-eye emojis.
Stepping into your living room you screamed, dropping your phone on the ground. Steve was there, standing with a hesitant smile on his face.
“What the fuck?!” you shouted, thinking it was impossible for him to be in there. You saw him leave, you saw him! There was no way he could have broken in, maybe from the window? No, you would have heard him.
“Y/N please listen to me,” he said taking a step towards you.
You ran into the kitchen, frantically opening drawers to find a weapon as you commanded, “Get out of here Steve, get out now!” Your shaky hand held up a knife as your mind raced for a plan, wishing you hadn’t dropped your phone.
“I’m not going to hurt you Y/N. I told you, I’m your guardian angel.”
“Bullshit,” you spat, rolling your eyes. “Get the fuck out of my…” you trailed off before hearing a small rumbling sound.
Steve closed his eyes as his body began to illuminate with a shining bright glow. With a heavy swoosh suddenly his frame was flanked by thick white feathers. He looked up at you through his long eyelashes, innocently smiling as you stood there covering your mouth in complete shock.
Putting the knife down you slowly walked towards Steve, circling him as you stared up and down at the astonishing sight before you. Massive wings protruded from his shoulder blades, pristine white feathers stood out against the dark contrast of his sweater. Your hand reached out, wanting to touch them but you pulled it back.
“You’re an angel. You’re a fucking angel!” you exclaimed.
“Language!” Steve reprimanded, his head tilted to the side, eyebrows raised up as if he was waiting for an apology.
“Oh, s-sorry. I just… I mean… I don’t know what to say. Angels are real?” you asked.
“Yep, everybody has one and I’m yours. I’ve been watching over you since you came into this world,” he said proudly, his lips curved up as he stared at you.
If what he said was true (and at this point it was unfair to doubt him) you weren’t sure how to react. Steve had a connection with you but it felt like he was a stranger. Your guardian angel? Where was he when you were being bullied in middle school? What did he do when you cried every day comparing yourself to models you would never look like? What did he do just the other day when your self-esteem was shot down at the mall? Nothing. What has your guardian angel done for you anyway?
Sad memories fueled your anger as you snapped, “So where have you been? Where were you when I needed you?!” You fought back tears, lip quivering as you watched his proud smile deflate.
“I’m always with you,” Steve said.
He explained that it was his job to present the positive outlook on life, to steer you away from harmful choices and protect you. You challenged him, as he knew you would, asking why he let you break wear those ridiculous heels that lead to you breaking your foot.
“Angels can’t stop life from happening but Y/N, tell me what you remember about that?” he asked.
“Um the pain! Trying to get a broken foot out of my boot was horrible. And the crutches! My arms hurt so much from them,” you whined.
“And do you remember what you thought about every night?”
You paused, recalling how you would set your crutches aside before bed, grateful that you were able to count the days until your cast would come off and you could walk again without assistance; and how so many people out in the world could not say the same.
You let go of the resistance you felt and gave in to the fact that Steve was the voice that kept you humble in that situation and he’s probably had a lot more influence throughout your life than you ever would have imagined.
“I know all about the war you fight within yourself Y/N, but you’re still fighting, right? You’re still here.”
You thought about everything. Perhaps he was right. No matter how bad you felt, how dark your mind went you never gave in to the negative thoughts. Was it hard to see the light of the new day? Absolutely. But it was there, and maybe Steve was the little voice in the back of your head encouraging you to go on.
Leaning against the back of your couch you exhaled a heavy breath, “This is a lot to take in,” you admitted.
“Normally you wouldn’t have to. Angels are usually behind the scenes but there’s been a lot of chatter lately. Something big is happening in Hell, so when I saw that demon with you I had to reveal myself.”
You had brushed off his earlier claim about Bucky being dangerous, chalking it up to the lunacy of a random stranger but now you had doubts. Steve wouldn’t lie, would he? Could angels lie? It would explain Bucky’s lack of a phone but no, it can’t be. Bucky was so shy and sweet. He couldn’t be a demon. Could he?
“How do you know Bucky’s a… a demon?” You couldn’t help your defiant questioning.
“As an angel I can see many things. When I look at you I can see through to the light of your soul,” he said.
Your arms shrugged in front of your chest, feeling weirdly uncomfortable by his statement, as if your arms could block his angelic vision.
“With demons everything is dark. They don’t have souls. They’re just shells, devoid of life and emotion. They thrive on hurting people. That’s what they want Y/N, the suffering of humanity.”
“Steve that doesn’t make sense, Bucky wasn’t like that at all,” you claimed, finding it hard to believe that he could want to hurt you.
“Demons are treacherous, you know the tales. You cannot be fooled by his deception.”
You stared at the floor as an unsettling feeling washed over you, it couldn’t be true, could it?
Steve took a small step closer to you, bending his large frame down to be in your line of sight. “It worries me the demon has made himself known to you. As I said, something big is coming. You need to stay safe, you can’t get wrapped up in this,” Steve finished, with a tight lipped smile.
You frowned as doubts ran through your mind fighting to believe in Steve’s truth. With silent stares you compared Steve to Bucky, though they were roughly the same height that’s where the similarities ended.
Steve was the sun, golden and warm whereas Bucky was the moon, pale and cool. They were angel and demon, the epitome of good and evil; and though Steve was your guardian angel there was palpable distance between you and something about Bucky was drawing you in. There was no sense of malevolence within the sweet and shy man, even the cats liked him.
Looking into Steve’s blue eyes you immediately noticed the difference from Bucky’s. Steve’s eyes were calm and at peace, while Bucky’s were like a raging waterfall, never settled, never still. There was more to Bucky, more than even Steve knew perhaps and with that you found solace in your decision.
Clearing your throat you finally spoke, “I’ll be careful Steve.”
Realizing what you meant he objected, begging you to keep away from Bucky.
“You can’t control my actions, we both know this. There’s something….” you trailed off, knowing that what you felt within was deeper than any angel or demon’s influence. “Please Steve I have to do this.”
Steve frowned, his wings slumped over as well as his feathers dragged along the wood floors of your apartment. He looked so disappointed and you felt sorry; whether you failed him or he failed you it no longer mattered. He promised to still watch over you before he disappeared before your eyes.
After Steve left you responded to Keisha’s texts, asking if she wanted to come over for dinner. You opened a bottle of wine as you waited for the pizza and Keisha to arrive. Merlot was usually too dry for your liking, but knowing it was Keisha’s preference you drank it anyway, especially after the day you had.
You were nearly two glasses down by the time your friend arrived, meeting the delivery person at the door. Keisha felt your warmed cheeks against her skin as you greeted her hello, your overly friendly welcome informed her of your buzz. Despite feeling extra wordy you kept quiet about your encounter with Steve, and did your best to transition the conversation away from Bucky though she wouldn’t let you.
“Come on now Y/N. Tell me more about this guy!” Keisha pleaded, as she pulled at a string of cheese that wouldn’t separate from another slice in the box.
“He’s… I don’t know Kei… can we talk about something else, please?” you whined, claiming you had a more serious question. She hummed in defeat as she chewed her slice, waiting for you to go on.
“Do you believe in angels and demons?” you asked, doing your best to hold your gaze despite your dizzy head.
Keisha eyed you curiously, taking a sip of wine before answering. “Yeah, I mean it’s something I was brought up to believe so I never questioned it.”
“S-so then demons,” you slurred a little, “They’re all bad? No one’s ever changed their mind to fight the good fight?” you half joked, forming fists as you playfully mimed boxing motions.
Keisha shook her head, laughing at what she assumed was your drunken musings. “Look Y/N, I don’t know about demons specifically but I think redemption is possible for anyone. You can’t change someone but believing in them, that’s enough.”
Your mouth hung open as you stared at her as if she was the Goddess of Wisdom, bestowing her knowledge upon you. Keisha laughed again and forced your wobbly body into bed.
In hindsight you should have waited to eat something before having those glasses of wine. All you had earlier was coffee and dessert, with Bucky, the demon. You groaned, shutting your eyes as your heavy head hit the pillow.
Pierce’s voice sounded through Bucky’s head and so he regretfully made his way back to him, putting on the stoic facade of the ruthless soldier Pierce had groomed him to be.
Bucky was silent standing in front of Pierce, clenching his jaw and feeling his nostrils flare as he waited for the demon to speak. Pierce’s mouth pulled into a thin line as he silently sized up Bucky, his smaller stature made him no less intimidating.
A wicked smile spread through his face as blackness took over his eyes. “You’re more twisted than I ever imagined soldier,” he grinned. “When you revealed yourself to Y/N I nearly sent Rumlow for your head but I see your plan.”
Bucky’s eyes followed the man, keeping his expression neutral. He couldn’t give away his feelings for you. Bucky almost stumbled as he felt a slow thumb in his chest, he had feelings for you?
Pierce had continued on, praising the idea of Bucky charming you, capturing your heart and then breaking it. He was overjoyed at the prospect, knowing this would put you over the edge. This is how he would get your soul. Pierce dismissed Bucky with a proud smile.
Rumlow passed Bucky, smirking as he walked towards Pierce. Before leaving for Earth Bucky overhead Rumlow call out, “We found it.”
Nerves were steadily flowing through your veins as you searched your closet for the perfect outfit. Normally, you would spend an enormous amount of time attempting to get dressed. Trying something on, giving yourself a discouraging look in the mirror, whipping it off while trying to curb a panic attack before throwing on something else, only to repeat the process until you’ve given up and accepted the fact that you would just hate yourself.
Today was different; you were excited to try on clothes, piecing together an outfit that you actually felt good in. Dark tights covered your legs but not because you were self conscious of them or the length of the emerald skater dress you wore, instead you thought they would pair best with the short black booties you picked, plus it was getting colder outside.
You rummaged through your closet for a jacket to wear, settling on a leather one. Were you consciously thinking about Bucky’s leather jacket? Maybe.
After fixing your hair and putting on some makeup you stared at yourself in the mirror, you looked good. You felt good. You weren’t without negative thoughts, but today you chose to let them fly out of your mind, not allowing them to linger. Tonight was going to be a good one.
The doorbell buzzed and your heart nearly jumped out of your chest. Your lungs took in calming breaths; you could do this. It was just dinner, dinner with a ridiculously attractive man, errr, demon. Deep breaths.
You decided to withhold the knowledge about Bucky’s identity, wanting to get to know the man you believe is still inside. While locking your apartment you glanced at Bucky through the front door of the building. He was leaning on the railing, innocently looking at something that must have caught his eye above him. Dusk was officially declared as the building’s security light turned on, basking Bucky in a soft angelic glow and you couldn’t help but chuckle. His eyes found yours, both of you nervously smiling as you gave an awkward wave, walking towards him.
The chill of the night touched your skin the moment you opened the door but you shivered for a different reason. Bucky had hesitantly, awkwardly leaned in to hug you, the feeling of his arms around you was comforting.
He pulled back and commented on how beautiful you looked, which added to the fluttering in your stomach. You bit your lip to curb what would otherwise be a dopey grin. Bucky intended on praising you any chance he could to make up for his past actions but he meant every word. Whether you were wearing sweatpants in an alleyway feeding cats or dressed up it didn’t matter, you were stunning no matter what.
Once you were able to control your expressions you smiled, normally, after thanking Bucky and checking him out in the process. He wore all black again, making you question if this was mandatory demon attire; nevertheless he looked good. Under his leather jacket was a black button down shirt covered in a white pattern, possibly polka dots but you would have to get closer to see and you already caught yourself staring for too long.
Clearing your throat you asked if he was ready to leave. Bucky offered you his arm confidently as his metal hand was covered by a leather glove. You smiled proudly, lacing your arm through his as you walked along the chilly streets, casually decided where to eat before settling on a small Italian restaurant.
The restaurant wasn’t full but the lack of affordable space in NYC made the evening more intimate than expected as you and Bucky sat at a table that was barely large enough for two. Somehow the cramped setting eased any tension either of you had and Bucky laughed each time you accidentally kicked his shins while shifting your legs beneath the table.
“I’m so sorry!” you said, shaking your head with embarrassment.
“It’s okay doll, I can take it,” he replied, flashing a quick wink.
You barely paid attention to the slow service as you and Bucky were conversing with ease, first about your day; he listened intently as you told him a funny work related story, and you returned the gesture, not letting on about the truth as Bucky concocted a story about work, speaking in general terms about “the office” and “the boss”.
You changed the subject to alleviate some pressure off him, learning instead each other’s likes and interests. Bucky loved dancing, preferring music of the early 20th century. This made you wonder how long he’s been a demon for. You tried to push those thoughts aside, especially ones about tonight, but they kept popping up in your mind.
Bucky was enjoying his spaghetti and meatball dinner but you wondered if demons actually needed to eat. His choice of a basic entrée then made you question if he was being considerate of the cost, which then led you to wonder how the meal would be paid for since demons don’t get paychecks, right? If anything you’ll just put the bill on your credit card and worry about it later.
Bucky put his utensils down on the empty plate, letting out a satisfied huff. Raising your head you smiled, motioning to alert him of a bit of sauce on his dimpled chin. Redness tinged his cheeks as he wiped it quickly away, flashing a smile as he laughed. His giddiness filled you with warmth.
Your hand wove around the plates of food, wine glasses and a small candle that covered the crowded table, reaching over towards his ungloved hand and letting your fingers intertwine; his cool skin sends a tingling sensation to run down your back. The corner of his mouth pulled up into a content smile, Bucky felt relaxed for the first time in so many years.
You watched the glow of the flame dancing in his eyes as you shared a silent moment of intimacy, letting go of the small doubt in your mind you know Steve had a hand in placing, but Steve was wrong about whatever he saw in Bucky. You didn’t have angelic vision but in your heart you knew there was a spark of light in the man before you.
After sharing cheesecake for dessert the check was placed on the table. You began to rummage through your bag for your wallet but Bucky stopped you, pulling out cash from his pocket. You hoped your expression was neutral and not conveying your momentary worries about how he procured the money. Bucky declined your second offer to pay insisting he has it taken care of.
As you left the restaurant you clung to Bucky’s frame, it was much colder than before and he was more than welcome to wrap his arms around you to keep you warm. It seemed so natural to be connected this way and you didn’t want to let go. The walk back to your apartment was quick thanks to the temperature, making you wonder if Steve had any control of the weather.
When you reached your front door you pulled Bucky inside the warm lobby to say goodnight.
“This is me,” you pointed at your front door, smiling at him. “I had a great time tonight Bucky.”
“Me too Y/N,” he agreed.
“I thought, if you wanted to, maybe you’d like to come over tomorrow after work. Just something casual, no big deal, just hanging out and…” you rambled until Bucky stopped you, saying he would love to.
A wide smile formed on your face, eyes sparkling with delight at the prospect of more time with Bucky. Bucky mimicked your expression, his gaze focusing on the way your tongue slipped out slowly to wet your lips.
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” you said, looking at him with doe-eyed innocence.
Bucky tilted his head towards you, your breath hitched in your throat, closing your eyes and pursing your lips anticipating a kiss. Your eyes shot open as his cool lips pressed against your warm cheek instead, you groaned internally at your assumption, what were you thinking he’s a demon not cupid, wait, is cupid real?
“Goodnight Bucky,” you said, smiling back at him as you watched him leave, turning his head around to see you once more before walking out of sight.
When entering your apartment you were surprised to find it empty, expecting Steve to be there scolding you or at least prodding for details. Taking your phone with out of your bag you slipped out of your shoes, feeling your feet ache with every step towards your bedroom. Replying to a few texts in between changing into comfortable pajamas you padded barefoot to the bathroom, removing your makeup and brushing your teeth.
Settling into bed you nuzzled your head back into the soft pillows, a dreamy smile on your face as you shut your eyes, Bucky on your mind as you drifted to sleep.
Bucky arrived at your apartment the next evening looking even more handsome than the night before; he was glowing, not in the angelic way Steve was, but you could see happiness shining on his skin. He kissed your cheek, handing you a pastry box, explaining he bought these from the best bakery in Brooklyn, a family owned shop that’s still there after nearly 100 years. You store tidbits of information like that away, clues about Bucky’s life that you want to know more about.
He walks into your apartment gently tilting his head around to check things out, getting a sense of your style and taste. For as long as he’s been in your life this is the first time he’s getting a chance to actually see you, forced by his tunnel vision before with his only goal to amplify the negativity; now he’s able to discover you in an entirely new way.
You offer him a drink and he opts for water, secretly cursing himself internally. Should he have asked for wine or a beer? Is that what people do? Ever since his memories have come back Bucky has been finding it difficult to figure out how to act. With you he is a demon pretending to be a person again, around Pierce the layers of deception only grow.
He wants to forget Pierce, forget the pain and the truth about himself, but that’s easy to do around you. Every moment Bucky spends with you makes him remember his former life, you bring out his humanity.
Sitting together on your soft microfiber couch you hand him a glass of water as you drink some iced tea. Bucky looked towards you, hesitant in wanting to set the glass down on your coffee table, something his mother would forbid without a coaster. You smiled at his nervous demeanor, attempting to ease the tension in the air with a story about the strays.
“It was so funny, Potato was sleeping on top of a box and Midnight just pushed him off! He shrieked and ran off, poor thing. But as soon as I opened a can he came back.”
Bucky bit his lip while smiling as he watched your face light up as you spoke about the cats. He asked a few questions, learning how much you love animals but your building doesn’t allow any, otherwise you would definitely take in those cats.
Bucky opened up, remembering his family had an ill behaved Beagle named Rover. “One time he peed on the sofa. Ma was lucky she had a vinyl slipcover on, that Chesterfield was expensive,” he laughed, absentmindedly running his hands through his hair.
Your legs were curled under you as you shifted closer to Bucky, eager to learn more about the demon who apparently had a family. There is much more to him than perhaps even Steve knew. Bucky continued with a few more stories about Rover, chewing on his father’s slippers and digging up his mother’s petunias. He sighed, staring off in reflection, the memories hurt but when he felt your hand against his arm he smiled once more.
“I don’t know about you but I’m starving. We could order something in or I could attempt to make dinner. Be forewarned I haven’t gone food shopping so…” your hands gestured openly, waiting for his response.
“Whatever you prefer,” Bucky said, smiling back at you.
“Takeout’s probably best, all I have is mac and cheese,” you joked.
Pulling up your phone you rattled through a list of options with him, settling on Korean BBQ, something he admitted to never having before. He hesitantly took your phone as you handed it to him, holding it in his gloved hand as he looked at the screen for the menu.
You encouraged him to scroll down the page, moving your finger in an up and down swiping motion before he got the hint of what to do. Swallowing an awkward gulp Bucky attempted to joke about how far technology has come, hoping you wouldn’t comment on his obvious lack of knowledge in the subject, which of course you didn’t.
After ordering your food you cracked a window to let fresh air into the warm apartment, turning on the TV, mainly for background noise as you sat down again, continuing to get to know each other. When the doorbell buzzed, Bucky pulled out more cash from his pants but you grabbed your wallet, assuring him you had it covered.
Bucky moved to the small bar-height table you had in the kitchen, which baffled you for a moment. All of your meals were eaten on the couch, the table serving mainly as a place for scattered bills. Clearing away the clutter you sat on the stool next to him, your mouth watering at the amazing scents coming from the containers.
The steam of the food hit your face as you leaned over the dish causing you to adjust your hair, allowing the cool breeze to hit your neck. You glanced over at Bucky, watching his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed gulps of water, placing the glass back down on the table.
“You can take that off you know,” you said, nudging your chin as you motioned to his leather glove. His lips pressed together into a thin line.
“It’s okay Bucky,” smiling once more to reassure him, “I’m not afraid.”
He stared at his gloved hand, the metal that was forced on to him by Rumlow. Pierce could have healed him, restored his lost appendage but instead he left him with this, the constant reminder of torture and pain, and most of all that he was controlled.
“I’d rather not,” he replied sadly, “I don’t really like looking at it.”
You apologized, hoping you hadn’t hurt his feelings, asking instead how he liked his Bulgogi. Bucky responded praising the dish, claiming it was not as spicy as you believed it to be, though he was lying. He was able to smell the aromatic dish and it probably tasted great but as each forkful entered his mouth the bland pieces of food passed over his defunct taste buds, and all he could do was try and recall old memories.
He consumed food as a facade, feeling physically heavier afterwards before the sensation dissipated. He wasn’t quite living, not quite dead either. He reminded himself to ask where the bathroom was, to keep up appearances
After eating you sat together on the couch again, casually digging for more information about Bucky. He told opened up more than you expected, learning that he grew up in Brooklyn, and had a younger sister named Rebecca.
“Are you hungry?” Bucky excitedly asked, eager to open the bakery box.
Though you were still digesting you didn’t want to disappoint him, especially after how excited he was. Calling him back to the living room with the box you assured him eating in the living room was okay. The sweet scent filled the room the moment he opened the box and your mouth watered at the sight of delicious Italian cookies. There was a mix of rainbow cookies, cookies with pignoli nuts, jelly sandwiched between two cookies and dipped with chocolate and sprinkles. You grabbed one with blue sprinkles and moaned as you took a bite of the buttery cookie.
“Mmmmm, this is so good,” you said, covering your mouth as you chewed.
“I’m glad you like it Y/N,” Bucky replied.
You relaxed against him occasionally rubbing your hand along his arm, as he told you stories about visiting the bakery with his family, and how the owner would give him and Rebecca a cookie if they were well behaved. You found yourself getting lost in the blue of his eyes, sighing heavily as he spoke, noting his sharp jawline and the perfect way stubble peppered his face. Bucky loved feeling you next to him, your presence calmed him, taking away all of his fear; he’s never been to Heaven but he’s sure this is what is feels like.
Shortly after you glanced at the time, realizing it was pretty late and you still needed to shower. “Do you want to do this again tomorrow?” you asked, hoping the desperation in your voice was not so obvious.
“I would love that,” he replied.
Walking Bucky to the door he turned to say goodbye, leaning in as lips gently grazed your cheek, placing a kiss to your skin. The tip of your nose dragged along his skin until your head tilted into position and your lips pressed against his. The kiss was slow and sweet, his soft lips against yours molding together as if they were made for each other. You whimpered slightly as he pulled away, leaving you wanting more. That was just cruel, maybe he was a demon.
The routine you had with Bucky continued over the next few days. One day he surprised, pulling out cell phone. You exchanged numbers, trying again not to question how he got the phone hoping this would make keeping in touch more normal. You experimented in texting him, writing how much you were looking forward to seeing him later, and he replied with equal enthusiasm.
Bucky would come over each night with a different gift, not wanting to show up empty handed. He wanted to bring you flowers but they had a tendency to die under his touch. Instead he brought wine, chocolates, and even a basket of treats for the cats, joining you to feed them.
Some days you ordered in, others you cooked. What you ate never mattered, as long as you were together. Gradually you got to know more about each other, learning Bucky was his nickname, and his real name was James Barnes.
You searched Google endlessly to try to find any information on him but it was difficult. Finally you found something, the Facebook page of Scott Barnes-Proctor with pictures of family at his 40th birthday party including his father James Barnes-Proctor, an elderly man of about seventy-something.
A little more research and you discovered his parents Harold Proctor and Rebecca Barnes. Rebecca went into nursing after World War II, and before her death in 2006 she published several articles about veterans, mental health and PTSD. You found one of them, shocked to learn about her brother James “Bucky” Barnes’ suicide after he returned from war.
The pit in your stomach sunk you to the floor, your vision became blurred as you shed tears for Bucky. It was a weird feeling, you felt stupid, silly almost, crying for the suicide of a man you were going to have dinner with in an hour. It didn’t make any sense but lately you’ve learned not to question things.
Wiping your eyes you put your phone away, before returning Keisha’s texts. She was eager to meet Bucky but for now you kept her at bay, stating you wanted him all to yourself. The truth was you wanted Bucky to open to you, you wanted the truth but you didn’t want to push him.
You continued making dinner, placing the marinated salmon fillets in the oven when Bucky rang the bell. You buzzed him in and went to the door. Opening it he stood there, hands gripping a small brown teddy bear. He moved the bear’s arm to wave hello to you and squeaked out a greeting in a high pitched voice. You burst out into laughter along with some tears at his sweet gesture.
Bucky was at your side instantly, “Is everything okay Y/N?” concern laced through every word.
Wiping your cheeks you smiled, reassuring him that you were fine.
His hands cupped your cheeks, the cool leather on one side and tepid flesh on the other. “It’s okay if you’re not fine,” he said, “Don’t… don’t let the bad thoughts stay in your mind okay. You’re better than them.”
Bucky hoped his reassuring words were helpful. He didn’t know what upset you and he no longer wanted to pry into your thoughts. He had done enough damage in your life, he wanted to make amends for it now.
Your hands held his as you thanked him again, promising you were okay, taking the bear and placing it on the kitchen counter to watch over you as you begin to sauté vegetables.
After dinner you found yourselves cuddled up on the couch, you had gotten progressively closer during the past week. Your face nuzzled into Bucky’s neck as he rubbed circles onto your back.
“Hey Bucky,” the breath of your tired voice tickled his neck as you spoke. He responded with an audible hum and you continued, “You don’t have to hide yourself around me.”
Bucky’s eyes shot open with worry wondering what you meant. He looked at his gloved hand moving lazily on your skin and assumed you were referring to his metal hand. You had to be.
“I do have something to tell you,” he began. You shifted yourself to face him, laying on top of him, chests pressed together. “I really like spending time with you,” he admitted, his lips forming a wide smile.
“Me too,” you replied, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips before resting your head back against his chest.
Your eyes began to close, breaths slowing down as Bucky’s warm arms held you tight. When he realized you were asleep Bucky shifted positions, careful not to wake you. Lifting you into his arms Bucky placed you into bed, smiling as you comfortably sank into the mattress. He pulled the covers on top of you and pushed stray hairs off your face.
Pressing his lips to your forehead, he whispered goodnight in your ear. Bucky watched you in the doorway for a few moments, smiling at your sleeping form before discomfort racked his body. He grabbed his chest feeling an aching pang. Bucky’s mouth opened in shock, his heart let out a rigid thump for the first time in decades.
You stirred awake, taking in a few deep breaths as you wiped the sleep from your eyes, shooting up to look at the clock before relaxing, realizing it was Saturday. Noticing you were wearing the same clothes from the day before you wondered why you hadn’t changed. Your phone had an unread text from Bucky, a smile crept on your face as you read about him carrying you to bed when you fell asleep and that he’ll miss you tonight.
You had plans to go out for your friend Ava’s birthday but now you really wanted to skip it. Despite spending all week with Bucky you would miss him too but keeping your plans was the right thing to do. You texted him back, thanking him for last night and confirming plans tomorrow. Bucky hadn’t been to Coney Island in a “long time” as he put it and really wanted to take you.
After showering you left the bathroom, towel secured around your body, as you headed to the kitchen.
“Hey,” a soft voice startled you.
Gasping as you clutched your chest, you looked up to see Steve standing in your living room, an uneasy smile on his face as he realized how badly he scared you.
“Oh my god Steve!” you shouted, “Think you can use the doorbell next time?”
He offered his apologies and asked how you were.
“You know how I am Steve, why are you really here?” you asked, not meaning to be so harsh but your heart was still beating quickly.
“Has the demon mentioned anything? Chatter has increased, something bad is coming and we need to be prepared,” Steve spoke of his true intentions.
Taking a deep sigh you told Steve you’d be right back after changing. Really you needed a few minutes to calm yourself down. Bucky’s been nothing but a gentleman, so sweet, you’re so tired of Steve harping on the issue that he’s also a demon.
After throwing on yoga pants and a hoodie you went back to the kitchen, grabbing an apple before motioning Steve to sit beside you. Sinking your teeth into the tart fruit you wiped juice away from your lips before speaking, telling Steve Bucky hasn’t mentioned anything suspicious.
“Do you know anything about him? Besides that he’s a demon as you keep reminding me,” you asked Steve who shook his head. “Bucky was born in 1917, lived in Brooklyn with his family. He loved science and baseball. He wanted to be a teacher. He went dancing every Friday night up until he enlisted in the Army.”
You continued to rattle off bits of information you learned about Bucky trying to gauge Steve’s blank expression.
“We’re alike in so many ways,” Steve finally spoke, explaining he was born the following year and also lived in Brooklyn. “I gave my life in that War,” he admitted, his gaze going straight through you.
“I-I’m sorry Steve,” you offered a comforting rub on his shoulder. It hadn’t occurred to you that Steve, your righteous guardian angel, was once an equally honorable human.
“It’s alright Y/N,” his lips pulled into a faint smile as he continued to reflect on your words. “It seems like we were on similar paths, what happened? What steered him so far?” Steve wondered.
Your heart twisted as you thought about the article, a few tears slipped down your cheeks as you told Steve what happened after Bucky returned home. He was silent, understanding that Bucky’s death made him vulnerable to demons that preyed on his fragile state.
Though he still disapproved of you spending time with Bucky he recognized you were right, there was more to Bucky than even he saw. Steve left, urging you to still be cautious of demons, though he did not explicitly mean Bucky so you hoped maybe he was coming around.
Ava’s party was spent at a lounge in SoHo. Leaning on the counter you waited to catch the attention of the bartender, coerced into trying a cotton candy martini as per Ava’s recommendation. The bartender strained a mix of vodka and cranberry juice over the pink fluff, watching as it dissolved instantly.
You successfully bypassed a drunken man and his barrage of slurred compliments on your way back towards the velvet booth Ava, Keisha and other friends were sitting at.
“Y/N that guy was cute, why’d you blow him off?” Danielle asked.
“He was sweaty and drunk D, not cute,” you said, taking a sip of the sugary libation.
“Plus Y/N’s seeing somebody,” Keisha chimed in.
Everyone’s mouths dropped open in shock and you weren’t sure if you should be offended. You tried to tell them it wasn’t serious, as you heard various comments wondering why you were hiding him, why you weren’t following each other on social media, and more questions you delicately avoided while side-eyeing Keisha. If only her girlfriend was here, maybe she wouldn’t have opened her big mouth!
The next day you woke up early to shower, hoping the cool water would boost your energy after your late night. Bucky arrived at your door, dressed in a blue sweater that brought out his eyes, a cup of a coffee and a muffin in hand. You kissed him and it felt familiar, like a well practiced routine you’d known for years.
The warm coffee slid down your throat and you picked at the muffin in passing as you continued to get dressed, throwing on your sneakers, a light jacket, and sunglasses to hide your tired eyes. Bucky wrapped his arm around you as you walked to the subway, taking the Q train to the end of the line.
Your hand laced with Bucky’s warm flesh hand, rubbing your thumb along his every now and then as he took in the sights of Brooklyn, marveling how the landscape has changed. His heart was pumping quickly in a mix of nerves and anticipation, Bucky was still getting used to that feeling again.
Making your way to the boardwalk Bucky was in equal shock of the changes. Bright lights and colors of the newly remodeled Luna Park are a vast contrast to his memories of the small amusement park. Screams from riders on the twisting steel of newer roller coasters pulled him from his thoughts. Brooklyn has changed, the world has changed.
There are some notable landmarks he takes pleasure in seeing again, the red structure of the parachute jump stood tall in the distance, the Wonder Wheel was still rolling and of course there was Cyclone. He remembers going the summer it opened in 1927; he and his father rode it together as Rebecca and his mother ate ice cream as they waited for them.
Walking hand in hand you watched street performers and regular New Yorkers, dancing to the beat of their own drum as they enjoyed their sunny day on the boardwalk.
Walking to the Cyclone Bucky paid for your admittance and after a few minutes you were loaded into the first cart, cramped together in the small red seat. The lap bar was pulled down for safety but you were squished so close together you wondered if you might need the teenaged ride operator to help pull you out afterwards.
The rickety chain lifted the train up the hill giving you a perfect view of the blue Atlantic Ocean before dropping at a sharp angle down. Wind whipped through your hair as you screamed, Bucky’s joyous laughter was heard in the background as the roller coaster went up and down, roughly twisting under wooden beams. With a few final bumpy hills you pulled back into the loading station, pushed up on the back of your seat for leverage to actually get out, Bucky extended his hand, helping you climb out; your legs feeling like jelly afterwards.
After exiting the ride you sat on a bench, listening to the screams of the Cyclone’s latest victims, as you took a few moments to stretch out your cramped legs. Bucky stretched his arm around you, telling you how much fun that was.
“Oh wow I forgot how rough that was,” you half-joked, nuzzling into him as he began to tell a story.
He pointed to the street corner near the exit of the ride, “One time I got off the ride and I’ll never forget this skinny little blond guy, throwing up his guts all over there. Felt real bad for ‘im.”
“Awww poor thing. This is a big ride for a small kid,” you said.
Bucky sucked in a breath of laughter, “No he was around my age. Think he was on a date too.”
“Oh no!” you laughed, secondhand embarrassment washing over you.
Strolling down the boardwalk you made your way to Nathan’s, ordering a famous hot dog. The mustard was so potent Bucky could swear he tasted it.
After eating you went to the Wonder Wheel, waiting in the line for one of the swinging carts. Sitting next to each other you laughed as the ferris wheel pulled you up backwards before the cart rocked forward on its own track swinging back and forth. You both burst into fun laughter with each movement. When you reached the near top you stopped to look around you, the calm sea to the left, the Brooklyn skyline to the right.
Turning to Bucky you tilted your head to kiss him, ignoring the faint taste of hot dogs that lingered in both of your mouths. Slow kisses became needier, your mouth opened letting his tongue tangle with yours. Soft moans were swallowed as you continued to kiss, hands starting to roam on each other’s bodies. Bucky’s hand went to your lower back as yours confidently stroked the inside of his thigh.
The cool breeze kissed your heated skin as you continued to make out with Bucky until the cart was propelled forward. The ferris wheel moved again, sliding all the way to the end of the track before tilting and rocking back and forth. You both screamed and laughed, nuzzling your head on his shoulder, your hand intertwined with his leather glove as you rode out the rest of the ride in quiet content.
On the train ride back into the city you discussed dinner plans, hoping Bucky wouldn’t mind Korean BBQ again, you had a craving for it, picking up the meal on your way home. You worked in tandem to set up the food and drinks in the living room as Bucky finally learned. A wide grin spread across your face when you noticed his metal hand was on full display, happy that he was finally comfortable enough to not hide himself.
In between bites of food you scrolled through Netflix settling on Black Mirror. As the episode started Bucky began to cough loudly. He put his food down, his eyes flooding with tears as he rushed to grab his drink and soothe his burning mouth.
As the liquid helped ease the sting Bucky realized he actually tasted the food. No longer was it just the smell, he was able to fully experience the flavor. He paused after drinking, feeling you rub comforting circles on his back and asking if he was okay. Turning an embarrassing shade of red he insisted he was, barely paying attention to the show as he wondered how this was possible.
Bucky laid back on the couch as you leaned against his chest, his arms wrapped around you, his metal hand hovering over you with hesitation until you pulled the appendage closer. You stayed like that for a while, occasionally feeling Bucky press a kiss to the top of your head.
Today was special, Bucky thought, as he relived the memories of your trip to Coney Island in his head. Did his connection to Brooklyn bring back his sense of taste or was it you, the shining light in his dark world.
Clearing his voice Bucky interrupted credits of the last episode, “I had a great time with you today.”
Tilting your head back to look at him you replied the same, craning your neck up to meet his lips for a kiss.
“It’s getting late,” Bucky began, “I should go.”
Moving off the couch you wrung your hands as you watched him grab his jacket, chewing your lip nervously until you found the courage to say something.
“Did you…um, you could stay over if you wanted,” you nervously offered.
Bucky finished shrugging on his jacket, his heart beating wildly at the prospect of spending the night with you, but he knew better. Whatever changes he was going through made him unpredictable and the last thing he wanted was to put you in danger.
He took your hands into his, the metal a cool contrast to the touch of his toasty skin. “Not tonight Y/N.” Bucky paused, staring into your eyes as he thought of the best way to phrase his words, “Every moment we’ve spent together has been incredible. I don’t want to push it, us, yet.”
You understood, knowing the secret he was keeping must be making things difficult. He trusted you enough to take off his glove, in time you hoped he would let his walls come down and open up to you about everything.
Locked in an embrace neither of you wanted to let go of, languid kisses keeping you together, feeling each other smiling through them until you finally broke apart. You wished Bucky a goodnight before floating to bed.
Bucky leaned his head against the wall inside your lobby, replaying the conversation in his head. He wanted to be there with you, holding you close in your bed, gently stroking your hair and listening to the soft sounds you would make as you drifted to sleep.
He would have accepted your offer if not for the nagging thought inside his head he couldn’t shake, he didn’t deserve you. After everything he’s done to you he doesn’t understand why you like him. He thinks of himself as a monster, he’s twisted your mind, stoking the fire of every negative thought and he hates himself for it.
After spending his days with you he’s grown to care for you so much, maybe that’s why his heart is beating again. Could it be? No… Yes, he thinks with ultimate clarity. He loves you.
Pierce had been too preoccupied with Rumlow’s discovery that he had not been keeping an eye on the mission of his soldier. He turned his gaze to you, watching you climb into bed, smiling as you swiping through pictures of you and Bucky on your phone. Pierce knew, he could see the sparkle in your eyes, you were in love. In love with his soldier who had been tasked on breaking your heart. He scowled at the thought of love and happiness, if you had given your heart to the soldier why has he not crushed it?
Bucky is pulled from his thoughts, the sound of Pierce blaring in his head, a voice he had not heard in sometime. He gathers himself together, physically wiping the smile off his face with a rough drag of his palm. He clears his mind of happy memories, letting his destructive programming roll in like a bad storm, turning white clouds into ominous shapes of dark grey. He must be what Pierce thinks he still is, the Soldier; hollow, emotionless, ready to comply.
Bucky materializes before Pierce, his face is stoic and cold, staring straight ahead, vacancy glossed over his eyes.
Perched on a high-back chair Pierce cocks his head observing Bucky, taking his time before speaking because he can, enjoying the power he has over his subordinates who dutifully wait for him.
Finally breaking the silence he begins to question his soldier, “You’ve been spending a lot of time with Y/N. She cares for you.”
Bucky suppressed his lips from curving into a smile, forcing the muscles to stay relaxed, upholding his detachment.
“This should have been easy then, to break her since she trusts, likes you and yet,” his hands making a flippant gesture, “You haven’t done your job.” Bucky remained silent.
Pierce’s thin lips pressed together as he tipped his head in a confirming nod. Instantly Rumlow and Ward were at Bucky’s side, kicking his legs out so his knees fell to the ground. Bucky tried to get up but couldn’t, an invisible force rendered him unable to move. The demons traded punches, knocking him around like a rag doll. He winced with every hit, the force of each fist felt tenfold.
Pierce stood up, strutting slowly towards Bucky, glancing over to his minions to raise the soldier just below his eye level.
He grabbed Bucky’s cheeks, squeezing them roughly in one hand forcing Bucky’s grimacing face to look directly at him. “If Y/N does not kill herself I’m going to force her into it, just like I did to you.” Pierce’s eyes flashed to a deep black as Bucky’s flared open.
“Ahh so you do hear me then,” he snickered, shoving Bucky’s face violently. “Let me make myself clear, when I give orders I expect them to be followed,” he spat with fire.
Pierce nodded again to Rumlow and Ward who began a violent assault on Bucky. Getting comfortable on his chair he enjoyed watching his soldier be physically reminded of what it means to cross him.
Pierce knew his threat over Y/N was pointless but he wasn’t going to let his soldier know that. No, he was going to complete his mission because Pierce would not be disobeyed. He didn’t need demons to corrupt people anymore, not after Rumlow’s discovery. Finally, the object he’s coveted, found after so many years would soon be in his possession, and with it he would have every soul under his command.
“Okay Oreo, I missed you too,” you cooed, scratching under the chin of the small cat who purred in content. “Time to feed Potato.”
Oreo meowed with displeasure once you stood up, walking to go behind the dumpster to give the biggest stray you’ve ever seen his food. Getting closer to the dumpster you heard soft groans. Your heart began to race as you took a cautious step forward.
The can of cat food clanked on the ground, your hands shooting up to cover your mouth at the sight, the bloodied body of a man.
With each swell of his lungs Bucky felt searing pain all throughout his body. His side was tender, his back ached and the faint taste of copper stained his lips. Pain was an unfamiliar sensation after being absent for so long and now that it returned so forcefully he didn’t know how to handle it.
Bucky’s eyelids felt weighted down and it seemed better to keep them closed, thinking pain would fade away, perhaps he would succumb to his injuries and maybe he would fade away. It would be for the best, he would be out of Pierce’s grasp, no longer a puppet, no longer in pain.
He wanted to give in, letting his eyes roll to the back of his head, sinking further towards nonexistence. He was so close, ready to slip away until the sound of your voice stirred him back to consciousness. The sound of another man’s voice filled him with worry. He was shouting at you.
You couldn’t get hurt, he wouldn’t let that happen. You deserved better, he needed to protect you.
Bucky groaned as he stirred himself awake, his palms pushing off of a soft surface, sitting up and swinging his legs to the ground. The lamp beside him lit the room in a soft glow. He recognized where he was, having laid you down in this very bed a few nights ago.
Once on his feet, the dizziness hit and he staggered out of your bedroom, following the sound of your raised voice, arguing with another.
“Bucky!” you shouted, hearing his heavy footsteps trudge into the kitchen, rushing over to him in time as he stumbled into the wall. “I’ve got you,” you whispered, wrapping your arms gently around his middle to support him, his forehead leaning against yours.
After a few quick moments Bucky opened his eyes, pulling back to see your worried smile, your red, glassy eyes making his heart ache. He placed a loving kiss on your forehead, letting his lips linger on your skin, hoping his small gesture would ease a bit of the pain that caused you to cry.
The man. Bucky snarled, he was arguing with you, he upset you. Bucky raised his head to look at him, his eyes suddenly blinded by light. An angel.
His grip on you became firmer, instinctively holding on to protect you.
“W-why is he here?” Bucky’s shaky voice questioned.
Feeling Bucky begin to tremble you cupped his burning cheek in your hand, explaining how you found him passed out in the alleyway. You called for Steve to help bring him inside.
“He’s your guardian angel?” You nodded in response. “So… so you know what I am,” Bucky continued, his brows furrowed together, swallowing a gulp of fear.
“Yes and I don’t care. You’re hurt and Steve’s going to help you,” you said encouragingly.
Steve shook his head, rubbing his temples in frustration, “Y/N I told you I can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t Steve?” you snapped.
“Can’t,” he sharply replied, silence hanging in the air as you stared him down. “My powers, they won’t let me heal… demons,” he said with hesitance.
Letting out a frustrated huff you turned back to Bucky, knowing you would just have to help him yourself. Steve’s lips pressed together in frustration, he worried for you, not wanting whoever attacked Bucky to come after you too.
Bucky started to quiver, his legs unsteady and so you led him back to your room, encouraging him to lie down but he refused. He sat on the edge of the mattress, his head slumping down as he grimaced in pain.
Kneeling in front of Bucky you placed your hand on his knee, “Who did this to you?”
Bucky answered spouting names you didn’t recognize but the way Steve’s body stiffened you could tell he did.
“They’re demons, um, dangerous demons,” Steve corrected himself, knowing you believed Bucky to be different. “Look if they’ve hurt him they could hurt you Y/N. You need to be safe. You have to get to holy ground, a church, mosque, synagogue…”
“No!” you interrupted. “I’m not leaving him.”
Bucky groaned, “He’s right Y/N. He’s your guardian angel, listen to him.” Your head shook in protest as Bucky spoke. “I can’t see you get hurt doll, I love you too much to ever let that happen,” he said before gripping his waist in pain.
Once on your feet Bucky let his head rest against your stomach, your fingers gently running through his scalp, feeling bumps and sticky patches of hair clumped together. “I’m not leaving him. He’s hurt and if you can’t help him I will,” you declared.
Raiding your medicine cabinet you took everything you thought might help, antiseptic, cotton balls, gauze, piling an ice pack you grabbed from the freezer on top of your already full arms. Walking back to the bedroom you saw Steve’s palms were raised, a force of light exuding from them, the glow snaking up your walls.
Releasing his hold Steve watched you pass him, “You’re really stubborn, you know that?” he asked rhetorically. Giving him a knowing smirk you dropped the items on the mattress.
“I put up temporary protection over your apartment but it won’t hold forever.” Your arms wrapped around Steve’s frame, thanking him as you went back to grab some towels.
Bucky was hunched over as Steve turned to face him. The angel’s eyebrows knit together as he looked closer, his mouth opened as if to speak but he snapped it shut when Bucky craned his head up.
Steve stuttered momentarily before putting on a stern voice, “She needs to stay safe, d’you hear me? That’s all that matters.”
“I know,” Bucky hoarsely replied.
Steve huffed in frustration before vanishing.
Returning to Bucky’s side you whispered softly before grabbing his metal hand, smiling brightly when his gaze met your own, “I’m gonna take care of you, okay?”
It was more of a comment than a question, you wouldn’t take no for an answer and Bucky smiled, painfully cracking the split in his lip as he felt his heart swell with emotion. Brushing the hair from his sweat stricken forehead you took a wet washcloth and gently cleaned the streaks of dried blood from his battered face.
Bucky winced as you brushed down his tender cheek, apologies spilling from your mouth as you took greater care in tending to him, applying light pressure as you attempted to clean the dried chunks of blood from his hair.
“This might sting,” you warned of the antiseptic you were about to use.
Bucky hissed as the liquid passed over his open wounds, streaks of red soaking the cotton ball as you cleaned his face. Your fingertips gently caressed his cheek before Bucky’s cool metal hand pressed it against him. His lips met your palm for a quick peck as he leaned into your hand. Your eyes found his, your heart breaking reading the anguish on his face.
“I’m sorry for lying to you,” you broke the silence. “Steve, being my guardian and all, told me about you… he was just looking out.”
Bucky pulled away, “You said you don’t care? That I’m…”
Shaking your head no you explained yourself, “The man I met in the alley, who was sweet and shy. I knew there was more to him than what Steve was telling me. I wanted to get to know who you really were, inside,” you said, placing your hand lightly above his heart.
Bucky sucked in a harsh breath at your touch, making you question if he was in pain, physically or emotionally you weren’t quite sure. You politely asked him to remove shirt and he failed an attempt, unable to lift his arms up without pain. Bucky cleared his throat as your fingers grazed his skin, goosebumps erupting all over his body as you grabbed the hem of his black shirt and gently removed it.
A gasp escaped your lips as you stared at his bare chest, self-consciousness washing over Bucky as tried to turn his metal arm away. You barely noticed it, concerned instead over the large patches of bruising that littered his body. Dark burgundy colored shapes scattered along his chest, ribs and stomach, and more on his back.
“Oh Bucky,” you cried, wrapping the ice pack around a towel and pressing it to his injured skin, tears streaking down your face, feeling helpless, unable to heal every broken part of him. Bucky had quietly whispered under his breath, prompting you to look up to him, silently motioning for him to repeat himself.
“I said don’t cry for me. I deserve this. I’ve done terrible things,” his voice nearly falters, tears brimming his eyes.
“Shhh don’t say that. The person I’ve gotten to know is not someone who would make those choices without a good reason. You’re a good person Bucky,” you emphasized, “Demon or not.”
His tears drop at your words, a bittersweet smile pulling at his face. Bucky rubbed the back of his hand against his nose sniffling, his teary eyes staring into yours.
“Y/N you make me feel things, emotions I thought were lost to me forever.”
Setting the ice pack aside, your hands ghosted down his arms, intertwining your fingers when they met.
“You said something earlier… did you mean it?” you bit your lip nervously waiting for his reply.
Bucky nodded and so you asked him to say it. You needed to hear the words again.
“I’ve loved you from the moment my eyes were opened, released from a spell. You’re so strong and kind… and beautiful, so beautiful,” he said, running his fingers down your cheek.
Tears fell from his face as he continued, “My love grows with every moment we’re together. I’ve done so much wrong but with you there’s hope to make things right again. My chest is empty because you have my heart, you have all of me. love you Y/N.”
“I love you too Bucky,” you said before pressing your lips to his.
The faded taste of blood lingered in his mouth but neither of you cared, in this moment you craved each other, tongues swirling together, pouring the love you felt into every movement. You pulled away briefly for air, chest heaving as you stared at Bucky, drowning in the dark blue of his lustful gaze. His burning hands skimmed up and down your sides, quickly pulling your shirt off.
Bucky pulled you into his lap as he scooted back on the bed, wanton moans falling from your lips as he kissed down your jaw, sucking softly on your neck. Clothes were strewn across the room in a desperate attempt to be free of them, the need to feel your bare skin pressed against each other was too great.
A flash of lightning crackled in the sky, the booming sound of thunder not far behind as Bucky’s cool metal hand pressed firmly against your hot skin as your bodies molded together. His ministrations were slow and deliberate, making sure you felt each moment of his sensual pace.
The bed creaked melodically, whimpers and moans in a harmonious duet as your bodies connected as one. Heavy rain poured down on the city, electricity surging strongly in the air as you cried out each other’s names, feeling elevated to a higher plane, before your trembling bodies crashed down together.
Bucky placed one hand over your own that rested above a large mark on his chest. The small hairs on your body stood up as his metal fingertips traced gentle patterns along your back intermittently pressing your lips together for languid kisses. The rainfall quieted down to a tranquil rhythm, lulling you both to sleep in each other’s embrace.
Pierce was on alert as Heaven and Hell shook with great force. Something had changed. He turned his gaze to the soldier, hoping to find your lifeless body at his feet, instead he seethed with rage. Burning flames coursed through his skin as he saw Bucky holding you in a loving embrace. He understood now. His lip twitched in disgust as he saw a glowing light inside of Bucky. The demon’s soul was restoring.
His jaw clenched as he sucked in air roughly through his flaring nostrils. There was one thing he needed to do, to make up for the disobedience of his soldier. He would take pleasure in this, his face contorting into a wicked smile, Pierce was going to kill you.
The cool morning air drifted into the bedroom waking you. Nuzzling further into the warmth of Bucky’s body a smile settled on your face. Your eyes remained shut in fear that this was all a dream, not wanting to risk it disappearing. This couldn’t be real, you and Bucky, human and demon. It didn’t make sense but sometimes love doesn’t.
You knew you loved him, it didn’t matter how fast things had moved, how unconventional this was, you knew how you felt. Your heart was doing back flips, like a popped champagne bottle, bubbling and overflowing. This was love.
Feeling the swell of Bucky’s chest you dared to take a peak, squinting one eye open. It was real. Bucky laid peacefully on the pillow, his eyes gently shut with a the hint of a smile plastered on his face. You stared at him for a few moments before laying your head down again and inhaling his heavenly scent.
The gentle coos of the doves on the windowsill were drowned out by the obnoxious sound of a car horn, which stirred him from sleep. He kissed the top of your hair, rasping out a greeting and smiling when the light of the morning sun shined on your face.
“Morning Bucky,” you whispered.
His hand moved up and down your arms, feeling the goosebumps that littered your skin. Bucky pulled you on top of him, smiling wider as you squealed at his sudden action. He wrapped his arms around you after pulling the blanket above your shoulders. You smiled at his gesture, softly pressing your lips to his.
“Last night was incredible,” he sighed. “You are breathtaking Y/N, do you know that?”
A shy smile spread across your face and you giggled into his chest.
“I mean it,” he said.
You looked at Bucky, seeing the love he felt swimming around in his eyes. You began to trail kisses down his neck, from sweet pecks to little nips, soothing the area with your tongue afterwards. His breath hitched in his throat as you made your way down to his chest, kissing the bruised area above his heart.
Your lips pressed together into a tense line as you looked up at Bucky. “I know what happened to you Bucky… w-when you got home from the war,” you said, explaining Rebecca’s article in a little more detail when his eyebrows furrowed with confusion.
He blew out a harsh breath, “I had to. Pierce, the demon… he would have hurt my family if I didn’t.”
You whispered words of sympathy as you cupped his cheek, feeling sorry for what he was forced to do and sorry again for bringing it up now but you didn’t want there to be any more secrets between you.
You shimmied back, hovering above the scar that met his shoulder, placing gentle kisses down the marred line of flesh. Bucky’s lips twitched and you couldn’t see the tears that filled his eyes. The scar was a terrible reminder of his past, the deal he made with the devil himself seared into his body. Part of him will always regret that decision but because of it he found you, the rainbow after a thunderstorm shining in the sky.
Bucky couldn’t contain it any longer, gently cupping your cheeks to pull you to his lips. He needed to show you how much he loved you, how he would worship you until the end of time.
Wrapping the bed sheet around your body you sat up, letting your quaking legs hang off the bed. Bucky kissed you sweetly and you felt the smile on his face. In need of a shower you pulled away but his lips chased after yours, needed a few more kisses, as if he depended on them for energy, before you both got up.
Bucky offered to make breakfast while you washed up. The sweet smell of syrup wafted through the apartment as you readied yourself. Dressed in an oversized sweater and leggings you strolled into the kitchen, observing Bucky as he split the stack of pancakes between two plates.
“It smells amazing,” you said, walking up to him and wrapping your arms around his waist.
You ate together, sharing flirtatious glances and talked about where you could go to remain safe.
“Steve talked about holy ground, we could go there.”
Bucky sighed, shaking his head with lament. “I can’t, I’d–” he paused, not wanting to think about how he’d burn if touched anything deemed holy.
Anger boiled in his body, heat rising up as he clenched his teeth. He couldn’t protect you, he was a demon, that wasn’t supposed to be his job.
“Then we stay here until Steve thinks of something better. I’m not leaving you,” you insisted, hushing his lips with your fingers until his protest eased and sealing your promise with a kiss.
“I’m gonna feed the cats quickly and then we’ll figure out something,” you said.
Bucky swallowed his words, knowing he couldn’t say no to your strong will. Instead he sighed, offering to wash the dishes while you took care of the cats. He placed a kiss on your forehead, feeling the trace amounts of syrup that lingered on his lips stick to your skin. You playfully nudged him, capturing his lips with yours and headed to your bedroom closet.
After lacing up your boots you heard a crashing sound, calling out for Bucky if he was alright. When he didn’t respond you stood up and that’s when you panicked. In the reflection of the floor length mirror you saw a man with a fiendish look and jet black eyes snarling behind you.
You screamed and he lunged towards you. Shoving the mirror at him, you ran out of the room and into the kitchen. Bucky was struggling with another man, younger than the one you just escaped but with eyes just as dark. Demons. Steve said the spell wouldn’t hold up but you thought you had more time.
Bucky saw you standing there and he growled for you to run. The demon took advantage of his distraction, wrapping a cuff around Bucky’s wrist that froze him in place. A circle of lava surrounded them and the air became hot and too thick to breathe. The floor opened and the pair dropped into a pit which closed up immediately leaving no trace of its existence. Just like that Bucky was gone.
You were too preoccupied to notice the older demon was stalking you from the hallway like a predator and you were easy prey. Hearing his footsteps you screamed again, scrambling to find something to defend yourself with as he made his advance towards you. Suddenly Steve appeared, shielding you with a bright light.
Your eyes were shut tight from the blinding radiance but you felt his arms around your body. A moment later he told you it was safe now. Opening your eyes you blinked in astonishment. You were seated next to him on mahogany pew in the back corner of a church.
“It was the closest,” Steve said, knowing what you were thinking as your head continued to look around. “Stay here Y/N. A war is coming and you need to be safe.”
“But Bucky!” you cried.
“Y/N please, please stay here,” Steve begged. “I promise I’ll do what I can to find him.”
You nodded at Steve who shot you a bittersweet smile before disappearing. The events replayed in your mind, causing your heart to race as you remembered Bucky’s fearful look before he slipped away. Tears fell from your cheeks, Bucky was scared… for you. Leaning your arms on the back of the bench in front of you, you sobbed quietly. There was nothing more you could do. You had to stay put, knowing Bucky would want this as well.
Your phone was back at the apartment and you would have felt bored if dread wasn’t replacing every cell in your body. Stretching your legs you decided to walk around, returning a friendly greeting from passing parishioners with a half-hearted smile. You walked around trying not to stand out, the last thing you needed was to be asked to leave.
You stood in front of a large stained glass window, depicting figures you’re not sure you believe in. Staring at the images you internally argued with yourself, your own struggles of faith versus science and facts. It was a never ending battle, one in which you didn’t foresee a victor.
“You’ve been staring at them for quite some time now,” a voice pulled you from your thoughts.
Turning around you saw a man smiling at you. He was older, in his 50s if you had to guess, with thinning brown hair, the sides peppered with grey and a wide forehead. He had a kind face full of trust, reminding you of a teacher you once had, and in a way that’s what he was. The bit of white sticking out of the collar of his dark shirt informed you of his position.
You answered his comment with an odd chuckle, not really knowing what to say. I’m here seeking sanctuary from demons that kidnapped my demon lover wouldn’t exactly go over well, even to a man of faith. Luckily the priest spoke again, breaking the odd silence.
“I’m Father Phil,” he said, extended his hand. You shook it gently, staring at the curve of his thin lips that pulled to the side. “You seem out of place.”
Well, he wasn’t wrong about that. You stared at the windows again and cleared your throat. “To be honest I feel a little guilty being here,” you said, thinking about how you were effectively using the church as a safe house.
His head tilted to the side as you sighed again. “I’m still questioning things.”
You were shocked by the way Father Phil responded with a gentle tone, absent of disdain as he said that was normal. “Religion is not for everyone. Maybe you’ll like this one or another, or perhaps none at all.”
Your face lit up in surprise by his honesty. He made you feel comfortable to open up a little. “It’s weird because I definitely believe in some things,” like angels and demons you thought, “but there’s still so much I question, and by the way some people use religion to push hate really turns me off to it.”
He let out a small chuckle of understanding, “That’s the trouble with humanity, people twisting things for their own agendas. Whatever you decide is fine but it’s important to have faith… even if it’s in yourself.”
You smiled at him, appreciating his candor. Before turning away he pulled out a small plastic bottle of holy water and extended his arm towards you. Your face twisted with disappointment. Is he really pushing his religion on you after your conversation?
“You never know when it may come in handy,” Father Phil said.
Looking down at the bottle your head quirked to the side. The text imprinted on the plastic said St. James church. James. Your eyes closed as you thought of Bucky, taking this as a sign. Your hand hovered above his, hesitant to pick up the bottle. Based on your recent fornication with a demon you were expecting the bottle to burn your hands but it didn’t. Father Phil winked as he turned away walking into the back offices.
Tucking the bottle into your boots you explored the church for most of the day, reading the bulletin and other pamphlets to keep busy or sitting quietly in the pew as you watched the sun’s glow move across the colorful windows as it began to set.
Your eyes had shut for a period of time while sitting on the hard wooden bench. Finding a restroom near the entrance you twisted the knobs allowing the harsh flow of cold water to run. In the midst of splashing your face you heard a car horn and a blood curdling scream.
You heard the cries of a woman, screaming and straining her voice as she asked for help. Peaking out of the windows of the main church door you saw a blonde woman cradling the body of a young boy on the street. Bags of groceries were scattered along the sidewalk. She picked her head up again to look around and you spotted her bloody forehead. A teenage boy walked by and she reached her arm out to him. The young man quickened his pace and pretended not to see her. The nerve of him.
You debated finding Father Phil but he had disappeared long ago and this woman’s cries were only increasing. If you had your phone you would have called for help, but surely you could use this woman’s phone. She seemed too distraught to have already done so as she cried out caressing her son’s face. Just a quick trip outside to call for help, you decided.
Nearing the woman you got a closer look at her son, his leg was twisted, his skin covered in dirt and bloody scrapes.
“I’m going to help you,” you affirmed, kneeling next to her. She whispered a thank you as your eyes scanned the area in search of her handbag.
“Thank you,” a gruff voice said.
A heavy hand gripped your arm. Your head turned to see the woman and boy were gone, replaced by the demon that attacked you in your apartment. A strangled cry escaped your lips as his thick hand wrapped around your throat. People walked by but didn’t stop. They couldn’t see you, much like no one else saw his previous illusion.
Your hands tried and failed to pry him off of you. He snarled as he stared at you with cold, black eyes, so dark and empty there was no reflection in them. You tried to kick him off you, feeling the weight of something shift in your boot. Your eyes flared as you reached down for the holy water, popping open the top and squirting it on the side of the demon’s face.
He screamed as his skin sizzled letting go of you. The flesh of his face began to melt, the pungent burn was worse than anything you had ever smelled before. You didn’t hesitate to move, heading back towards the church grounds and bumping into someone. An older man with dusty blonde hair had appeared out of nowhere, grabbing you and smiling.
“Y/N, it’s time we met, don’t you think?” he said before the two of you vanished.
Everything was cold. Your body quaked, shivering as if your bones were made of ice. Your hands felt the freezing ground, dampened by water. The strain in your neck made you realized your head was hanging down. You struggled lifting it, each vertebrae stiffly aligning in place as you brought it upright. Too heavy to support it on your own you leaned your head back against a rough surface behind you.
Finally your eyes opened to see the vast darkness that surrounded you. The steady drip of water falling from a high ceiling splashed steadily on the ground echoing throughout your location. Suddenly the sound of thunder roared above, craning your neck upwards to look as if you would have been able to see something. Where am I?
A gust of wind whirled by adding another layer of ice to your frozen skin. You wanted to rub your arms but couldn’t, your palms wouldn’t budge from the floor. Your legs failed to move as well, they were two solid trunks, heavy and frozen to the ground.
You tried to remember what happened but everything seemed fuzzy. Searching your mind your face scrunched with strain. There was a woman, screaming… but it was the demon you burned with holy water. You had gotten away, headed back to the church until– the man.
No, he wasn’t a man. He didn’t have to introduce himself. You knew the demon that took you was Pierce, the monster Bucky told you about. He brought you here. Why didn’t he kill you? Why did he leave you in this place? You doubted yourself, maybe you were dead. Maybe this was death; the dark, the cold, the absence of life.
The thunder echoed above you again passing quickly. This couldn’t be death, there was life around you, the noises, the water. You called out for Steve, hoping he was listening.
“That won’t help you,” a voice said. You heard the smugness in his tone, knowing it was Pierce.
Hearing his footsteps coming closer you braced yourself for whatever interaction you would have. He lifted his arms up, illuminating the space with an orange glow. Squinting from the light you waited for your eyes to adjust before looking around. Faded brick covered the walls, a tunnel that seemed to stretch out in both directions, behind Pierce there was a sign hanging on the wall, covered in graffiti and you realized you were in an abandoned subway station.
“Why am I here?” you asked, not expecting an answer.
Pierce looked down at you, the wrinkles on his aged face becoming more prominent with his scowl. You tried to move again but it was pointless, your useless limbs were sprawled out in front of your body unchanged from their position. He began a slow pace, striding back and forth in front of you, seemingly showing off that he had the power to move, something he had clearly taken away from you for what you hoped was only temporary.
“Do you know the average lifespan of a human?” he asked, continuing quickly so that he didn’t allow you a moment to speak even if you tried, “Seventy-nine.” He chuckled, “Seventy-nine measly years. That’s a blink of my eye. I’ve lived for thousands of years, building my army with the lost and broken souls of your world.”
The sound of what you thought was thunder roared by again, though you now realized it was a passing train from the platform above. Pierce looked up reflectively towards the sound. “Do you know how many people jump in front of the train each year?” He paused for a moment, turning to face you as his lips curled up into an evil grin, “Or do you want to know how many were because of me?”
“You’re sick,” you spat, disgusted by the pleasure written across his face. The back of his hand smacked your cheek causing you to yelp, wishing you could rub the sting away.
“My soldiers have one mission, to grow our army. Despair, hopelessness… it should have been easy with you.”
Inhaling a stiff breath you held your resolve, not letting your face crack under the cruel words Pierce used to describe you and the many reasons you had previously cried about when you thought things were hopeless, on the days Steve was fighting a losing battle with your emotions and Bucky had succeeded.
“Why you?” he pondered out loud. “There’s nothing special about you.” You clenched your teeth, lips twitching as you wanted to retort. “I still can’t see how you did it, how you broke my asset of his conditioning.”
Conditioning, more like brainwashing you scoffed internally.
“There’s strength in you and I could use that. I won’t have to worry about you turning any more of my demons, not when you’ll become one,” he said, smirking.
“Never! I’ll never be like you, I’d rath–” your mouth was shut by a wave of Pierce’s hand.
“It takes a lot of work to build an army, years of dedication to corrupt a soul, but not anymore.”
Pierce reached behind his back, pulling out a short dagger. The obsidian blade rippled in the light, the hilt was just as dark but with a gold design of symbols you didn’t not recognize etched into it.
“I hold the power of creation in my hand,” Pierce said, staring in awe as he cradled the blade like a child. “For years it was hidden, protected by a mystical city until finally we secured its location.”
The Dimourgian, he explained, was an ancient blade with the power to create demons. No longer would Pierce need to have his minions work on corrupting people, taking years if they were lucky enough to succeed. He was tired of waiting, slowly acquiring souls to strengthen his forces. A puncture from this blade would turn a living soul into a demon; evil, powerful and most important to Pierce, under his control. He would grow his army with speed and have limitless power, endless numbers to wage his war.
“And you’ll be the first my dear,” he threatened.
Struggling to move, you grunted, fighting the invisible force that kept you weighted to the ground like cement. Pierce moved closer, kneeling in front of you, teasing your skin as you felt the burning tip of the blade drag against your neck.
Shutting your eyes, tears squeezed out and began rolling down your cheeks as you did your best to still your nerves, crying out for Bucky and Steve inside your mind. Pierce’s boisterous laughter began to echo through the tunnel and you felt him leave your side. Releasing the tension in your face you saw him standing up again.
“A milestone such as this deserves an audience, don’t you think?” he questioned. “Ward!” he bellowed, turning his back to you.
The roar of a passing train boomed through the tunnels, bringing a phantom wind that was surprisingly warm. Moving your fingers to scratch an itch you realized what you had done, you could move. You heard Steve’s voice in your head telling you to stay put, and so you did, resting your hands on the ground again to keep up the facade that you were still under Pierce’s spell.
A heavy thump hit the ground and your eyes widened in fear at the sight seeing the severed head of the demon that slipped away with Bucky in your kitchen. Pierce turned around enraged, seeing the cavity that formerly held Ward’s eyes were nothing but blackened holes, his face now a gaunt and ghastly white, as if the life had been sucked out of him. This was the work of angels.
As Pierce was distracted Bucky appeared behind him. With slumped shoulders and a pained face he turned to glance at you, briefly giving a half-smile before turning back, struggling to stand upright. Pain shot through your heart as you saw the trickle of dried blood coming down from his temple, the split in his lip freshly bleeding.
Pierce turned around, gasping with surprise as Bucky stood before him, reaching his metal appendage back to hit him with a heavy punch. Pierce stumbled backwards but quickly stood tall again.
As you watched Bucky struggle to fight Pierce Steve had appeared by your side. Leaning on him as your legs wobbled to get you to your feet, he began to usher you away.
“But Bucky…” you cried.
“I’m not leaving without him,” Steve affirmed.
Steve had seen the true love you felt for Bucky, combined with your stubbornness he knew you would not leave him, not again. He raised his arms as a bright glow began to build around you. He was better off keeping you under a protection spell while they dealt with Pierce.
You watched Bucky grow tired, taking labored breaths as each punch he gave Pierce seemed to weaken himself even more. He struggled to fight back against the powerful demon until finally exhaustion caused him to misstep. Pierce used this opportunity to grab hold of Bucky’s metal arm, ripping it from his body as he screamed in agony. An invisible force lifted Bucky in the air and Pierce threw him through the brick wall.
Steve heard the commotion but was resigned to continuing his task; both he and Bucky vowed no matter what happened you had to be safe.
Pierce began to call out for his army, taunting Steve about how it was time for the angels to die. Ignoring him, Steve continued to shield you until he was attacked, tackled to the ground by the demon with the now burned face.
Rumlow, you heard Steve call him, tried desperately to wrap his meaty hands around Steve’s neck. You stood still watching Steve fight back with fierce determination, grunting like a wild animal, an image so far from his angelic demeanor.
Steve had easily overpowered Rumlow, straining the bulging muscles you didn’t know he possessed as he squeezed them around the demon’s body. Rumlow snarled, opening his mouth to reveal jagged rows of shark-like teeth, biting down on Steve’s forearm.
Steve hissed at the pain, letting his grip loosen. Rumlow got free, lunging towards Steve again until he froze. Steve had summoned a sword to his grasp, a golden hilt with a shining bright blade that impaled the demon through his chest. Bright light emitted from Rumlow’s face before his body slumped to the ground. His large frame had shrunk, skin hanging off brittle bones, his face now a mirror image of the severed head that lies nearby.
Infuriated by this action Pierce sends Steve flying back, holding him against the broken wall as he summoned a black mist around the sword to prevent Steve from using it again. Pierce lifted you through the air towards him, unsheathing The Dimourgian, madness swirling in his eyes as he holds it above your head with a wild grin.
Fear made you shut your eyes, not wanting Pierce’s face to be the last memory your mortal mind knows. You conjure an image of Bucky from this morning, dark hair splayed out against the pillow, the hint of a smile pulling on his soft lips. You remember the way they felt against your own, the happiness you had with him.
Forget the pain of your past, ignore the bleak future to come, the memory of you and Bucky is what you want hold on to.
Tears prick your eyes as you smile at your thoughts until strong hands push firmly against your skin. Your eyes fly open as your tranquil acceptance was broken, interrupted by Bucky as you hit the concrete ground with an “oof.”
“Nooo,” you scream, seeing the blade penetrate Bucky’s side. He carries a fearful look that weighs heavy in the blue of his eyes.
Bucky explodes before you, particles of his former existence floating in the air before they covered the ground like blackened ash, disappearing moments later like nothing had ever happened.
“LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!” Pierce growled, lunging towards you.
Trapped against the wall Steve began to chant, repeating a phrase in a language you couldn’t understand. Pierce’s hands flew up, pushing back against Steve, unyielding as he repeating the phrase through clenched teeth.
Pierce recoiled back, dropping to his knees. The fabric of his jacket ripped as his body began to change. Breaking free of his human shell, as apparently commanded by Steve, he grew in size to a hulking monstrosity that filled the height of the tunnel. The blade clanked on the ground as his hands transformed into tentacles.
The dour face of the old man was replaced by a smooth skull-like shape in such a deep crimson you could almost smell the coppery scent of blood it looked like it was coated in. Unnaturally jaundiced eyes protruded from the sockets, and a long hooked nose came to a prominent point curving over the larger than life grin. His mouth was full of jagged, broken teeth, the rotting stench that wafted through the air would have caused you to gag had you not been so terrified.
You wondered why Steve had done this; Pierce was already intimidating but the creature in front of you would forever haunt your nightmares.
Struggling against the brick wall Steve began to call out to Pierce, “Your army is gone, demon,” while simultaneously you heard his voice in your head, “I’ll distract him, you grab the blade.”
“Why do you think no one else showed up?” Steve taunted.
Pierce snarled at Steve, blowing smoke out of his nostrils. Jumping to your feet you ran towards the blade.
“The angels will rid this world of your kind for good!”
“Cut off one head, two more shall take its place,” Pierce’s deeper voice snapped back, roaring at Steve as he tightened his invisible hold on his body.
The sound of a broken brick skidding across the ground alerted Pierce to your movement. His eyes flared as he spotted The Dimourgian on the ground and stomped towards it.
You were an arm’s length away from the blade when Pierce wrapped a tentacle around your leg, dangling you upside down in front of his menacing face. You squirmed in pain, his touch was so icy it burned even through your boots. He looked down to pick up the blade, snarling when he realized the ground was empty.
His knowing eyes looked back towards you, blade in hand. “Fuck you,” you spat before penetrating the thick, leathery tentacle that held you up.
Pierce bellowed loudly, the sharp howl paining your ears as he began to explode. As the demon disappeared you began a quick descent, falling to the ground head first. Released from his imprisonment Steve flew in, catching you midair and gently carrying you to the ground.
Catching your breath you held your face in your hands, still in disbelief over what happened. After a few deep breaths you looked to Steve, “Where is Bucky? Where did he go?”
Steve looked down, unable, unwilling to meet your gaze. “Steve,” you repeated softly but he didn’t respond. Deepening your tone you demanded him to answer you as tears began to fill your eyes.
“I’m afraid the blade destroys demons too. H-he’s gone.”
Your head shook back and forth, it couldn’t be. After everything, it just couldn’t be. You didn’t want to believe it, pounding your fists against Steve’s chest, screaming and sobbing, grief completely overwhelming you. Steve wrapped his arms around you, holding you close as you wept over Bucky.
You didn’t see the tears Steve shed, feeling sorrow for the man who had been tricked into becoming a demon, the guilt he felt as he tried desperately to separate you both at first and the anguish in his heart knowing Bucky sacrificed himself to keep you safe. He truly was your guardian.
Your eyes opened to the bright light of the sun filtering through the window. Despite your best efforts to keep the embodiment of cheer out of your apartment it still managed to sneak its warm rays inside. You knew it was Steve’s doing, remembering that you closed the blinds, twisting the rod extra tight to block out any trace of light coming in, drawing the curtains across as a double layer of protection. You didn’t want the sunlight, not anymore. Not since you left your shattered heart, broken on the ground of that abandoned subway station nearly two months ago.
Those months seemed like an eternity; endless days, hours that dragged on and never ended, sleepless nights tossing and turning. Your bed felt wrong and you knew exactly what was missing.
You could barely focus on anything for longer than a few minutes before your mind began to wander, leaving you hollow again. It was hard to live in a world without Bucky. Though he was an unseen force in your life for so long his presence had such an impact.
Everywhere you looked you saw memories of Bucky lingering around your apartment. Each night you clutched the teddy bear in your arms when you went to sleep, wishing you were holding Bucky instead. Food was no longer enjoyable, everything tasted bland, the world had gone grey and you shut down. You went through the motions of life but you stopped living the day Bucky died.
At work you found yourself leaving your desk more often than sitting there, feeling like all eyes were on you as you made the shameful trek to the bathroom to dry your tears in private. You saw the pity in your coworkers eyes, knowing their own guardians were watching on as well.
Everything changed as Steve told you. Pierce and his group of demons were gone but there were more; there will always be more. It’s easy to for evil to breed, especially in the world we have today.
The angels knew of Bucky’s sacrifice and worked diligently to find others like him, demons that weren’t truly evil but corrupted by Pierce or others. They wanted to save as many souls as they could knowing now, because of you, that it was possible.
The metal frame of the chair you sat in was uncomfortable making you squirm in your seat, your leg shaking with anxiety as you wanted to run away. You couldn’t though, not yet. You were out to lunch with Keisha and Rebecca, finally having gotten your schedules together to meet up.
That’s partly a lie, your schedule was wide open after not wanting to leave the comfort of your pajamas in the prison of memories known as your apartment. Keisha had snapped at you, in a loving way of course, telling you that you needed to move on from your break up. That’s what she believed anyway and you couldn’t tell her the truth.
You were unlike most, carrying the knowledge of angels and demons, having seen them with your own eyes. You wondered if life would have been easier had you not known the truth about the world, would you have been happier without Bucky? Would you ever be happy again?
Watching Keisha and Rebecca hold hands made your heart ache, unknowingly your own hand begun to touch the utensils on the table, seeking out the metal you once felt comfort in from Bucky’s hand. You jumped in your seat, realizing what you had done trying to play it off as a shiver than ran down your spine.
Forcing a smile you continued on with lunch, trying your best to be part of the conversation. You liked Rebecca, she and Keisha were really cute together so you hoped she didn’t judge you too harshly for your less than stellar personality. You promised them another hang out, hoping you would be in better spirits.
Trudging back to your apartment it began to rain. You walked slower, not minding the cold droplets that began to drench your hair. You felt relief in the downpour, easier to express your feelings as tears streaked down your face mixing with the precipitation.
Once inside your apartment you hung your jacket on the doorknob, letting the water form a puddle onto the floor below. Toeing off your wet shoes as you made your way into the bedroom you traded your too tight jeans for sweatpants, you unhooked your bra, pulling it out from the bottom of your shirt and flung it behind you as you padded back towards the living room.
“Woah!” a voice said.
Turning around you saw Steve clutching your bra, an awkward blush spread across his face as he placed it down on the nearest table.
“S-sorry ‘bout that,” you almost chuckled. Plopping on your couch you let yourself sink as deeply into the cushions as possible, wishing it would swallow you whole.
Steve greeted you as he sat down beside you. His eyes fluttered around the room, taking in the piles of clothes strewn about, papers stacked in a delicate mountain and the sink full of dishes.
He knew you weren’t handling Bucky’s death well, especially since you couldn’t talk to anyone but him about it. He had stayed with you in the beginning, rubbing your back with comforting circles as you shed rivers of tears. He urged you to eat and shower and when you had finally exhausted yourself to sleep he watched over you; and of course he was the one to pull back the curtains and open the blinds each morning.
“You went out today, that’s great Y/N,” Steve commented, his voice laced with enthusiasm though he knew how much it hurt you.
“I miss him Steve. It feels like I’ll never get over this. Keisha… people… they just don’t understand. They can’t, ya know?” you said sniffling, wiping a stray tear off your cheek.
“I know,” he said, his lips forming a tight line.
Steve reached over to your hand, wrapping his hands around it, “Y/N,” he sighed, “I have to leave for a while.”
Your body jolted up in shock, “What?! What do you mean Steve?”
Regretfully he told you he was chosen to be part of a group of angels who would be sent to fight the demons that have taken Pierce’s place, going to extreme levels to cause humanity harm.
“If you ever need me just call, I’ll hear you,” he said, hoping you would find comfort with that.
You didn’t however, your mouth remained open in shock. If your heart had begun to rebuild itself it was just ripped out by the roots. Tears began to well in your eyes. “Are… are you not my guardian anymore?”
Steve wrapped his arm around you, as your head leaned onto his chest. “You’re strong Y/N.” His words made you sob harder, disagreeing with him. “I mean it. I know the demons you’ve faced and I’m not talking about Pierce. The fact is you’re still here. You’ve always been strong, and you’ve done that without me chirping in your ear.”
You looked up at him, cracking a small smile. “Thanks Steve.”
“I’ll always be with you Y/N but I know you’ll be fine. I believe in you.”
After saying goodbye to Steve you couldn’t help but to cry as you thought about his words. He was right, in a way, you had been through so much in your life and it’s true you had gotten through them. You can get through this too. Still, you couldn’t help but feel abandoned, by both guardians no less, but neither Steve nor Bucky would want you to wallow in these thoughts. The rain ceased and the sky began to clear, this is when you decided you would do the same. Bucky had given his life for you, it was time to start living it again.
A few weeks had gone by and slowly your happiness returned. It was hard, there were days you wanted to curl up and cry again, and sometimes you did but you felt better. Time really does heal. Your wounds were still there, your heart still ached for Bucky, and maybe there were a few times you cried into a dish of Korean BBQ but you were able to laugh as well.
You remembered the first time you saw him, Midnight curling around his legs as Bucky stood still, as if the small black cat was a panther. Or your day at Coney Island, filled with screams and laughter, and slow kisses at the top of the Wonder Wheel. These memories were yours to hold forever, recalling them when you needed an extra push to smile or when you simply wanted to remember.
As the weekend rolled around you woke up, opening the curtains to let the shining light in. After washing your face and getting dressed you went outside to feed the cats. After the whole ordeal Midnight and Oreo had become extra affectionate, as if they could sense and understand everything that had happened. Even Potato waddled out from behind the dumpster to plop into your lap, gently purring to comfort you before he meowed incessantly for food.
After giving them fresh water and new bowls of food you got up, stretching your cramped legs as you watched them eat and drink. Uncapping your own water bottle you took a few gulps of your own. Midnight picked his head up, letting out a long meow.
“What is it sweetheart?” you asked him.
He trotted towards your direction, picking up speed as he ran past you and out towards the street.
“Midnight no!” you screamed, turning around before you saw him being picked up by someone.
The water bottle dropped from your hand, bouncing on the ground and spilling as you gasped, your mouth frozen open with shock. Holding Midnight in his arms was Bucky; his hair was short, his eyes reflecting the blue of the ocean, stubble peppered neatly around his mouth. Bright white teeth were revealed as his mouth pulled up into a wide smile. He was practically glowing, dressed in all white.
“Y/N,” he happily sighed.
The sound of his voice went through you, renewing the hope in every cell of your body. No longer would you exhaust the memories, replaying them over and over so you did not lose a moment. He was here, he was real.
“I thought you were gone,” you cried in disbelief.
Tears quickly fell from your eyes as you ran towards Bucky, Midnight knowingly leapt onto the ground so you could embrace, locking your arms around him tightly, never wanting to let go. You pressed yourself into his chest, taking in his scent in long inhales. He smelled familiar and yet different, there was an essence of clarity to him, no longer weighed down by his corrupted soul.
You looked at each other, smiling as tears of joy ran down Bucky’s cheek. You reached your thumb up to brush the, his hand cupping over yours. Bucky leaned in, tilting his head to press his lips against yours with tender kisses that stole your breath away.
Both of his hands cupped your cheek and it was only after you had separated for air you realized you felt two warm flesh hands.
“Your arm!” you shouted, taking both of his hands into yours, inspecting the appendage that was once crafted from metal. “Bucky, what happened? I saw… I saw you…” your breathing picked up as you relived the horrible scene in your mind.
“I died, again… I guess,” he said awkwardly smiling, dropping it quickly when he saw the distressed look on your face. “Everything was dark for a while until I heard a voice.” Intertwining your fingers with his your head tilted as you listened intently as he continued.
“It told me because of my sacrifice I was being given a second chance at life, a chance at being a good man again and I couldn’t have done that without you.”
Your eyes widened at his words, “Are… you’re alive?” you questioned, a hopeful lump sticking in your throat.
Bucky nodded. “You restored my soul Y/N.”
“No Bucky, you did that. You made the choice to be the good person you’ve always been inside,” you said, placing your hand on his chest, feeling the rapid thump of his heart beating.
“But you believed in me,” he said, pulling you in for an even tighter hug.
Your tears flowed freely as you stood with Bucky in disbelief. He was alive, legitimately alive! In your head you called out for Steve, telling him the incredible news. Only moments later you turned to see he appeared.
Steve looked hardened since you saw him last, tired if that was even possible, but it didn’t stop the smile from spreading across his face. He quickly made his way over to Bucky who placed his hand out awaiting a shake. Steve grabbed his hand and pulled him in for a hug. You heard him whisper thank yous to Bucky, wiping your eyes as you watched them, the former enemies now embracing each other as good friends.
A noise in the street made you turn your head and you were pleasantly surprised to see Father Phil walking passed you with a friendly smile. You ran towards him, wanting to thank him again for his advice (and the holy water). Making your way onto the sidewalk from the alley you saw his frame a few paces ahead. Before taking off in his direction a glow formed around his feet, and suddenly his whole body was engulfed by the light and he disappeared. You smiled, chuckling out loud as you made your way back to the alley.
Steve stood tall, his hand clasped on Bucky’s shoulder looking proudly at you. He hugged you, letting you know he had to leave again. “I’ll always be your guardian Y/N,” he paused, exhaling a calming breath as he smiled at Bucky, “and I know I’m not alone.”
Steve flashed a happy grin once more before disappearing leaving you and Bucky together. Your arms wrapped around his waist, laying your head against his chest.
“I love you Bucky,” you stated, smiling as his arms wrapped around you, looking into his eyes, sparkling with renewed life.
“I love you too Y/N,” he replied, gazing back at you.
Bucky was back in your life, something he never expected. Now he was human again and more than happy to spend the rest of his mortal life growing old with you. The three cats circled around your legs as Bucky captured your lips in a searing kiss, letting all of his love pour through it into you, connecting your souls now and forever.