Work Header


Chapter Text

Steve doesn't know much about electronics, but a guy doesn't have to know much to break things. Now he slams his shield down onto the last glimmering remnants of Ultron's brain over and over, crushing it to powder. All that hatred and all that lust for blood are in these last few chips and whatever else, and Steve grinds the powder into the asphalt of this deserted street, skin crawling with revulsion. At last he can do no more, and he stands up slowly, hoping that this time it's actually over.

“Good work, Cap!” Tony calls over the comm, adding, “Jarvis says the fucker is really gone this time.”

“Thank God for that,” Steve says, and shoves his cowl back, covered in sweat. Now that things are still, he can turn to the man who has saved his life more times than Steve can easily count. Winter Soldier or Bucky, Steve owes him. Now he's just standing there, that shaggy hair hanging in his eyes, metal arm gleaming through the big rents in his jacket. Steve used to always know what Bucky was thinking, but now his face is a mask, and his eyes are cold. “Hey,” is what Steve ends up saying, “are you gonna leave again?”

The mask cracks, just a little, and he sees a flash of that embarrassed longing that had always defined Bucky's submission, his reluctance to admit just how desperately he needed Steve. “No,” he says, and both hands flex helplessly, flesh and metal alike.

“Good,” Steve says, voice cracking. “Come to me.” It's an old command, and one that he's glad people still use. Every couple or group has their own protocol. For him and Bucky it always just meant for Bucky to come and kneel for him, and now he approaches with legs that are stiff like a nervous dog's, every movement slow and hesitant. Steve is peripherally aware of the rest of his team, keeping their silence and letting this moment happen. Bucky comes within arm's reach of Steve and stops, feet braced shoulder-width apart as his knees tremble, eyes on the ground. “Bucky...” Steve whispers as the seconds stretch out.

“I...” The look Bucky gives him is full of such deep and raw pain that Steve's eyes fill with tears.

“Come to me, darling,” he says, voice husky and quiet. “Please, come to me.” Bucky grits his teeth and shakes, and then viciously punches himself in the leg with the metal hand, wincing and sinking to the ground as the muscle spasms. “God, Bucky...” Steve breathes, and kneels with him, wrapping his arms around Bucky and hugging him tight, the metal arm close enough to snap his neck even before Clint could get a shot off, but that doesn't matter.

“Want to still be yours,” Bucky whispers, still shaking, “but I don't know if I can.” He clutches at Steve like a drowning man. “I'm not... I'm not really me anymore.”

“Shut up,” Steve growls, hugging him even more tightly, “just you shut the hell up, James Buchanan Barnes. You've always been mine, and you always will be.”

Something in Bucky seems to break then, and he lets Steve take him by the hair and lead him away. Steve is going to help clean this mess up, for now he just has to get Bucky somewhere safe. The others understand, even if they're all tense, expecting an attack at any moment. Bucky just keeps his eyes down and his hands at his sides. He doesn't do anything when Clint and Natasha take his weapons, pulling deadly suprises from all kinds of places beyond the obvious. Steve has no idea what to do in this situation, so he just follows his instincts. Once all the weaponry and armor is off and piled up for analysis, Steve turns to Tony, one hand on Bucky's metal arm. “Can you get this off?”

“...Uh, maybe? That's a pretty sophisticated interface, Cap.” Tony is supporting Bruce, who's almost asleep on his feet, dressed only in his emergency pants.

Steve nods. “Think about it.” A glance around the room assuring him that his team is all right for now, he takes Bucky up to his floor. Despite all the time he has been spending with Clint and Phil, his own space still feels lived-in, and he's glad of that. “Just gonna get you cleaned up,” he tells Bucky, leading him to the bathroom. Bucky doesn't make a sound, but stands still and lets Steve undress him. Steve fills the silence with comments on Bucky's tan lines, bruises, and scars as the tub fills, and then helps him into the hot water. With Bucky resting comfortably and quickly flushing pink with the heat, Steve strips and climbs in with him, settling behind Bucky and holding him in his arms, that broad back pressed to his chest.

“Always mine,” Steve says, brushing Buck's hair aside and kissing the back of his neck. Bucky whimpers and shakes, relaxing just a little against him.

“I don't... I don't wanna wake up from this,” Bucky croaks, and Steve clings to him.

“You won't. You won't because you're really here, Bucky. You're mine and you've come back to me.” Steve says it over and over as he washes Bucky. Bucky is still way too passive, just letting Steve move him, but he's looser now, and accepts the kisses Steve covers his face with. When Steve picks up a razor, Bucky just tips his head back, offering his throat to be shaved or cut as Steve sees fit. Steve carefully removes all of Bucky's bristles and washes his face and hair. Through it all Bucky relaxes more and more, and when Steve wraps them both in fluffy towels, Bucky actually meets his eyes for a just a moment, and smiles. Steve smiles back, and leads Bucky to bed. “I just want to hold you,” he says softly, gentling Bucky down like a skittish animal, and Bucky says nothing, but presses his face to Steve's chest and holds on, metal arm cool against Steve's skin. Even with that difference and the longer hair, holding Bucky feels like finally coming home again.