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take it slow, we will find a new place to go

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Everything had an end. A point in which it halts, unable to maintain acceleration, coaxed back into submission. Surrendering to the clutches of its handlers.

Standing on the dark, wooden porch, sun casting a bronze glow over the shimmering lake and blanketing the cabin with imminent darkness, Bucky breathed for the first time in eight long months. A cool breeze snaked around his body, jacket levitating like a cape, and he shivered involuntarily.

He found a home.

Acres of land surrounded it, that nobody ever had to cross, and woods enclosed the entire house; trees soared to the sky, leaves gently swaying in their descent to the ground, and a fierce smell of fall hung in the air. The summer bloom was beginning to diminish, as the promise of change came swift and sharp.

He missed the first transition of weather due to delirium and amnesia, but he had the rest of his life to witness the beauty of seasonal shift now that he was free. Countless opportunities would arise in the future, he just had to get there. The cabin itself was large, coated in wood that was different shades of brown that had sunk into the timber creating a faded effect. It looked vast before the outstretched trees.

The porch on which he stood was accessible by a set of short stairs leading directly to the front door, an opening to his new world. Near the door was a swing chair, large and inviting, decorated with various sized cushions, giving him an exceptional view of the lake, aswell as the mountains in the distance. The previous owners left it as a gift. Fencing lined the porch, short enough to gaze over, but tall enough so that nobody would fall, (so Bucky wouldn't again) and, if he thought about it long enough, it was for the aesthetic. It seemed to amplify the aura of impressiveness around the cabin.

With one large cone surrounding the elongated windows on the second floor, they provided unprecedented access to the sunrise regardless where it was seen- the master bedroom, bathroom, or even the gym- a newly renovated appendage, a former office.

The exterior of the house was as such, windows were littered around the entire cabin, but not too many, as temperature dropped drastically during winter. The entire building was insulated, the owners had insisted it, but it still got cold, so he was best to store wood for the fireplace under the porch, needed to prepare for the icy gales. The warning was unnecessary, he had thought, he was quite accustomed to the cold, but the sentiment remained all the same. They were being kind.

Inside was a modern and integrated living room/kitchen, with a staircase on the right leading to the upper floor, the sofa and large TV to his left, leaving the back of the cabin to be the kitchen. It was furnished when he bought it, saving him the time he’d waste doing it himself, and with solar panels decorating the roof, when the sun rose, he could collect energy. The cabin was perfect.

It wasn't too big, could easily harbour three people comfortably, and felt large enough for the air to enter and leave effortlessly. Since the land was overflowing with trees, few people knew how to get in and out, it was concealed so nobody could find him. Even the road leading to his house was subjected to camouflage.

It felt too good to be true, a perfect home fabricated by the crafty hands of his imagination, but it was. It undeniably was. He was as safe as he could be in a world desperate to pry him apart.

When the Asset dropped Captain America's body onto the mud, carefully watching his parted lips to make sure he was breathing, he thought- a rather eccentric thing, dangerous too, prohibited by Hydra- accumulating all the speculation to: who? The fundamental enquiry for his trek to come.

Who was he? Who was the man on the bridge? Who were they?

Questions with seemingly no answer. This continued until something startled him out of that train of a thought, a punishment buzzing in his metal arm, and it didn't hurt. Nothing hurt. But it was a warning. A reminder. A threat. Mission report.

Staring at the fallen hero, he tracked the movement of his chest, wary to leave if ceased or quivered whilst he was there. But it didn’t, promising a swift recovery. Satisfied that the man was breathing, he stomped away, shoes drenched. The nearest Hydra safehouse was four hours away. He could make it there in three.

With a destination in mind, his trek began to find those responsible for him, but, before he was fully enclosed in the branched exposure, a quiet, rough voice called out, "B-Buck?"

He made it to the safehouse three days too late.

S.H.I.E.L.D had fallen, Alexander Pierce was dead, and the world had access to covert information courtesy of Widow. He absorbed as much as he could using the resources given to him, initiating the quest to salvage his true identity.

Things hadn't been easy, far from it in fact, homelessness and paranoia making his life more difficult than it already were. But once he learnt how to steal millions from Hydra, he piled it up until he had so much money that he didn't know what to do. That was, until, he decided to stop running.

The money was scattered across the states in different location, should he ever go back. However, knowing that Captain America would never stop pursuing him, unless he truly disappeared, he knew what he had to do. Had to settle down. Freeing them both from the constant searching and irrevocable events of the past.

So, when passing through West Virginia, he ambled through the greenery finding a peace that he thought had long abandoned him. Rocky mountains with peaks glistening under the sun rays formed a ring of rugged daggers. Masked in snow they beckoned him, convincing him to stay. He couldn’t deny the pull.

A real-estate agent, going by the name of Jake Campbell, enthusiastic and ambitious, aided him in locating the perfect home, gushing, "this is my first real job, y'know? I just want to find you the best home, Mr Barnes. I want this to be a success."

Bucky nodded along, scanning the pages of the catalogue, itching to find some place safe. He couldn't help but share the same thought as Jake. He wanted it to be a success too.

In the end, whilst uncovering cabins on the internet, Jake animatedly explaining, "I'm 24 and this is my first secure job, can you even believe it? I sure can't. The agency said if I can help you find the one they'll keep me on, so I've got a lot riding on this too. But we've got this. The internet is the home to a mill-"

"Wait," Bucky intervened gently, his right, gloved index finger lightly grazing the laptop screen. Jake immediately hushed. Mouth gaped as he breathed, his eyebrows furrowed, he instructed, "scroll up to- yeah that one. What about this?"

A cabin bestowed behind a lake.

Nodding, Jake latched onto it. Reading the information intently and quickly, as Bucky admired the pictures on the site, he appeared in awe himself, and quiet. They were a few blissful moments.

"Ah, well, you sure know how to pick 'em Mr Barnes, that's over two million dollars!"

Shrugging, Bucky disclosed, "money's not an issue." And on an afterthought, added, "call me James."

Grinning brightly, Jake nodded and continued, "well James, this is 2.3 million dollars, has a master bedroom and bathroom. There a spare room, currently used as an office but that can be renovated. Spacious living room, integrated with a modern and up-to-date kitchen- furnished and has a killer view. Huge lake, I'm sure these pictures don't do it justice and oh- you can see the mountains too! I like this one. Woodland all around, perfect place for hunting and access to three different towns, including this one-"

Humming, Bucky held onto all the information, committing them to memory and stared at the picture in consideration.

"It says the owners are willing to negotiate the price, so that's a good sign, they're compatible. Oh, and before I forget! You get a lot of land too, so that’s included in the overall price. You can't get one without the other I'm afraid, they're a joint package but hey, at least it's private. Nobody ever has to pass through without your permission."

"Can we check this one out?"

Jakes grin intensified. "I'll book us an appointment! You still have my number right, and your phone?"

Bucky checked his pockets hopelessly, patting down on his jeans until he felt the rectangular object. Digging his fingers into his jeans, he recovered it into his possession and frowned. "It's not- the screen-"

Rolling his eyes, Jake took the phone from his grasp, startling him and tried pressing a couple of buttons. It didn't turn on. "It's dead. You need to charge it. Wait, I should have a…" His voice faded, an epiphany illuminating his face and he gasped. "I'm so sorry James! I didn't mean to take your phone, here." He threw it back. "Please don't tell my boss. He'll fire me for like, harassment. I don't think he likes me much."

Gulping, Bucky thrusted the phone into Jakes possession and said, "charge it. I'm not telling anyone."

Earnestly, he asked, "you sure? Because I totally understand, I violated, like every unwritten rule you have. I'd complain."

Rolling his eyes now, Bucky insisted, "charge it. I want to see this cabin."

"Alright, I will. You wait here while it charges, I'm going to ring the owners to arrange an appointment. The sooner the better?"

Bucky nodded.

"Alright James. One 2.3-million-dollar cabin coming right up!"

Excusing himself, Jake left the room, leaving Bucky alone. A comfortable silence replaced the lack of noise. Breathing out, Bucky basked in the serenity of it. But it never lasted long. Nothing ever does when Jake is around.

Bursting through the door two minutes later, Jake announced, "good news James! They said the cabin is free to check out whenever, just give them the time and date so they can unlock it for you."

"So, what did you say?"

Sitting down in the chair next to him, Jake continued, "well, since I've not seen you this eager like, ever, I told them tomorrow. 11am sharp and we'll be there for two hour’s tops. Figured you'd want to get a feel of the place, you know?"

Calculatingly, Bucky nodded. Perhaps Jake wasn't too bad after all.

The next day, Bucky spent the two hours vigilantly: observing the vicinity, inspecting the house, and then strolling down to the lake, sitting down on the port, legs dangling over. The sun shone vibrantly, kissing his skin and it was peaceful. Tranquil. He loved it.

Gently following up behind him, Jake sat down beside him, shoulders brushing slightly causing Bucky to tense, but Jake quickly adjusted himself. Shuffling into position, notebook and pen clasped in hand and resting on his lap, the scenery enraptured his gaze too.

"So…it's a yes, I'm guessing?"

Bucky hummed. "Definitely a yes."

He had finally found a home.

Morning in his household were always the same. A routine that he followed strictly. This morning was no different.

With so many animals living harmoniously in the woods, the birds often woke him early, chirping loudly and greeting the day that had just begun. Yawning quietly, Bucky pushed himself into a sitting position, exposing the ascending ball of fire and watched it sleepily.

Stretching his upper body, a few joints cracked before the tension dissolved and a thick cloud of relief nestled into his saggy arms. Then he exited the bed. Doing the same for his legs, he went to the bathroom and quickly relieved himself, before trudging down the stairs and into the kitchen.

It was cool, cold air pleasantly nipping his bare skin as Bucky gulped down a glass of water, ate an apple, and then truly started his day off with his most favourite exercise: a run. With the sun peeking over the horizon, the ground was illuminated, supplied with enough light to shape Bucky’s path. Getting his water bottle out of the fridge, he changed his clothes, slipped his shoes on, and left the house leaving the door open. There was nothing to steal.

Starting it off with a jog, he went to the left of his cabin, revealing a small dirt path concealed poorly by branches. He brushed past them, endeavouring into the woods until all he could see was brown all around, and maintained his speed, appreciating the scenery around him. It was mesmerising, the way the trees blurred around him, as though he had frozen time itself and it was comforting to think he had. He didn't ponder why too much.

His run was never alone, that was the first thing Bucky learnt. His hypersensitive eyes were still programmed to detect the slightest movement, and in a forest everything moved. Elk, bears, falcons- everything. It was unnerving at first, registering a haze in the corner of his eye that may be a Hydra agent, or Steve, but soon he began to accept it, recognise the type of blur. Animal, not human.

It was not his home first. It belonged to the animals. And with that mindset, he carried on his merry way, straying clear of the creatures and ensuring he didn't spook them. Of course, that was difficult to do, considering they had superior hearing and tracked him how he did them, constantly aware. Now, he just let it be, allowing nature to take its course. They could keep an eye on him, he couldn’t stop them from reciprocating his own actions.

They weren’t the only ones with enhanced hearing, after all he had the super serum. But some days he didn't feel like it mattered much, not if it couldn't heal the most prevalent wound. His fried brain.

Before, when he was mindlessly hobbling through the states and even across the world, reaching countries with Hydra bases to locate his identity, his brain was crumbling under the strain. The stress and anxiety, uncertainty combined with fear of himself coerced him to settle. Find himself a home in which he was safe, but so were the people around him. Only God knew how many lives his hands had official stolen.

After two months of searching vigorously he had found it, and perhaps, much more.

His first encounter with Jake was rather memorable, as the agency directed him over to the struggling temp, promising he’d help him find a house. From the way they sneered down on Jake and smirked when Bucky approached him, something in his chest tightened. They clearly expected the kid to fail, thus unable to secure a job at the firm and would be let go.

When Jake greeted him with a large, exuberant grin, disregarding the state of him (he was certain the tears in his clothes and blood stains were on display), Bucky knew he would have to help him in process. Jake wouldn't lose his job and Bucky would find a home. They both depended on it. And they did it.

Increasing his jog into a run, his mind began to clear, fatigue seeping out his body and everything calmed. The forest hummed contently.

Jake helped Bucky find his perfect home, resulting in the biggest sale the company ever made, and they didn't throw him off like their original plan entailed. He stayed put, but this time feet planted firmly in the soil and unwavering, a mighty tree in the forest. It was settled, the position was his to keep.

Due to his nature, Jake insisted that Bucky and he go out for drinks, celebrate the huge successes for both of them, but he couldn't accept thus declining as gently as he could.

"Sorry pal."

"But James, it's been two long and tiring months, we deserve this!"

Nodding, Bucky agreed, "it has, and you do. So, have some drinks on me, okay?"

Digging his fingers into his jacket, he retrieved a couple of notes and gave them to Jake, who indignantly denied the money. Bucky frowned.

"Drinks are on you if you come. Those are the rules."

He rolled his eyes, grumbling, "go and celebrate with your friends, Jake."

By a fraction, Jake deflated. But he recovered quickly, shaking his head. "This is our success though."

He didn't have any friends. Jake was alone just like Bucky.

"Maybe next time."

Stalking to his jeep, he could feel Jakes disappointment transmit in waves. Bucky didn't look at him again.

The run gradually exceeded into a sprint and suddenly Bucky was doing the best part of his morning routine, climbing up trees and jumping from branch to branch, gliding across the floor swiftly, twisting over broken logs and trunks. The wind pushed his brunet locks out of his face, as a grin formed on his lips.

Sun still rising, the heat engrossed Bucky, colliding with the coolness of the air and it was liberating. The acres of land proved the perfect workout. Easy to hide in, exercise in, relax and wonder. With the promise of change in the air every morning, there were no clone days in his future. He was living.

After exhausting himself completely, hopping in between the trees, climbing up the skyscrapers just because he wanted to and panting gracefully, he had to extract himself out of it. He still hadn't eaten anything apart from the breakfast and he could feel the effects coming undone.

So, trudging back to the cabin, taking generous gulps of his water, he wiped his face using the front of his tank top and brushed the stray hairs out of his face. Back in the kitchen, he made himself toast with scrambled eggs, a cup of tea steaming next to the plate.

Sitting down at his dining table, facing the vast lake, he ate in a contemplative silence, accustomed to the quietness. It was kind against his sometimes-chaotic mind, and it was soothing for the outside to not reflect the hysteria he contained inside of him. The cities did, which is why he ran.

Unable to understand, he found it harder to comprehend the present- the future, and he found himself craving simplicity. Life before the war, where he worked, had fun and when things were simpler. Not easier, because nothing was ever easy for him, but simpler indeed.

He had been living in the cabin for almost a month, and Bucky was slowly starting to explore the true magnificence of the place, venturing out into the woods daily. Without a proper job (though he figured if necessary, he could always apply for part-time) most of his time was spent free. Doing whatever he liked, whenever and at his own pace.

The future was daunting, that he had to admit. Once his mind was out of the blender for good, he could use basic technologies like a phone, or iPad. But understanding them, combined with memories of deprivation and nothing-more-than-necessary, it took him a while to get used to. Most of the days, he never used them.

Hence Jake nagging him constantly to charge his phone and to reply to his emails at the very least. Bucky still hadn't unpacked his laptop. But, he did have Wi-Fi, Jake installing it for him before he could even move in to the place, so when he did decide to use it, Bucky had access to the Internet.

These days, he had taken a liking to pictures. Photography. Found the process therapeutic, and blissful when capturing the serene magnificence of his land. After purchasing the best camera he could find- " The Panasonic DMC-G6 was voted best camera of the year, I'm sure you'll love it, Mr Barnes." - he had taken a liking to using it.

After lunch, Bucky would try to figure out how to use it, improving as every day passed by and he'd meander in the woodland area, consider the mountains, and dive into the ponds. It was spectacular. But until then, he had a couple of hours, wherein he had nothing to do.

His house was clean, he was still unbothered by the TV and since there was nothing more for him to do, he figured he'd learn how to use his laptop. Great.

Finishing off his breakfast, he washed and dried his dishes, stacking them back where they emerged from and then ambled up the stairs into his room. First, he'd shower. Then, he'd conquer the world of computer science.

Stealing the millions from Hydra wasn’t a solo job, when he had found people willing to make thousands from simply hacking bank accounts of random people, it was an easy ride from there. It not like the Hydra operatives noticed, they were filthy rich.

By the time he was done and dressed, the clock showed the time 8:37am, and he whistled under his breath. Earlier than he had anticipated. But, it made no difference to his day, early bird gets the worm (right?) so he returned to his living room and searched for the laptop.

It was still in the store-bought bag, customised with the brand logo and for some reason he had a weird inkling that his phone was in it. He really hoped not. He thought it was in his bedside drawer.

After looking everywhere, he found the bag the most obvious place, next to the TV and shook his head, raising his eyebrows at himself. "Well done Barnes, you'd lose your head if it wasn't screwed to your body." The phone wasn’t in it.

Dragging it back, he plopped onto his couch and lifted the bag onto the table, next to the remotes. It was a quiet morning, despite the birds being awake, and he figured some noise would him good. Picking up both remotes, he pressed the red buttons and soon enough, it came to life. Vaguely, he could recall reading some instructions, but Bucky was always a hands-on guy and figured he didn't need them.

So, he threw booklets in the bin. Wonderful.

Already doubting himself, he made work with screen, realising what remotes dictates what and soon enough, he had put a movie on. It was an animation called The Lego Movie and he let it play aimlessly in the back. It seemed okay.

Pulling the large container out of the bag in front of him, he saw a sleek laptop slapped bang in the middle, and the name Macbook Air decorate the side. It was a 13-inch model, presumably with better storage than its sibling, and apparently, according to the sales assistant was, "a good product for the obscene money investment."

Bucky had shrugged and got it. The assistant seemed too pleased about it for him to consider earnest helpfulness, but he didn't really care. He just needed a laptop.

Opening it up, he saw a large, square device, with a half-bitten apple in the centre, and he felt vaguely intrigued. He couldn't understand why, considering much of it was junk, but there was something exhilarating in new things. Liberating in a way he hadn't felt in a while.

Taking the actual laptop out of the box, he ignored the charger and instructions beneath it, shrugging off the transparent foil covering it and set it on his lap. Glancing at the TV, he paused in his track as he saw a girl with a face of yellow and black hair, lined with coloured streaks say to another character, "this is real Music Emmet. Batman's a true artist."

Curiously, Bucky started listening to the racket playing and chuckled. "The opposite of light. Black hole. Curtains drawn."

Batman sure was something, he'd give him that. Returning his attention to the laptop, he swung it open, exposing the blemish free screen, and looked for the on button. There wasn't one.

Frowning, he looked at the entire surface, the bottom, and the top for a hidden click, but, nothing. In the end, he pressed all the buttons on the top row hoping one of them would work. The last one on the right did, he kept that information securely in his mind.

After that, things were simple. The laptop did most of the work by explaining what he had to do, guiding him through the process of making an account, connecting to the Wi-Fi, customising his date and time. Thoroughly, he was impressed, it was an impressive device.

Had this been around during the war, Howard would've loved the- No. No.

Dispelling such thoughts, he divided his attention by watching the movie at the same time, finding that he liked it. It was enjoyable and funny, most likely, for kids. He loved Batman, chuckling most of the time he spoke, and the blatant hero, Emmet. Actually, they were all a bunch of hilarious weirdos and found all of them awesome. But he leaned more towards Batman. It was probably because of the black.

He made do until he managed to activate the laptop and then, he truly began to appreciate it. Working smoothly and efficiently, it was light and easy to handle, since he was familiar with the basic terminology he could navigate through the endless apps easily and, after so much delay, he could use the Internet at last. A reward for all his hard work.

The Lego Movie finished too soon, and Bucky was regretful that he didn't get to watch most of it, but he assumed it would come on again, some time. He'd catch up, as they say.

On the laptop, he hesitantly opened a new tab, and his fingers hovered across the keyboard, too anxious to type, until he breathed deeply and reminded himself, that he could make sure the guy was alive, and typed in: Captain America.

Millions of results came up, and the most recent were links to newspaper articles.

'Captain America stands by polar expedition.'

'Avengers Initiative: Success or Failure?'

‘Here’s What The Captain Has To Say About Bananas’

None of them stated that he was dead, nor dying, so Bucky let out a sigh and scrubbed his face with his palm, crossing off the tab. Though he couldn't be near Steve, too dangerous and alien, he liked knowing that the punk was still alive. They couldn't have made it into the new millennium just to die, something he told himself every day, and so, he needed some consolation.

A reminder that his old friend was alive and was doing good. Established well within his group, Bucky knew the Avengers all cared for each other, and that was what Steve needed. Somebody to care about him.

Sighing again, Bucky banished any lingering thoughts of Captain America and closed the laptop, putting it on the table in front of him. He knew Steve was his best friend before things deteriorated, and he knew that he was actively pursuing him, friend Sam Wilson accompanying him. Clearly, he wanted to make contact.

But Bucky knew nothing good could come from it, thus had to separate them. He was different. An amnesiac clone. And Steve didn't deserve that. He needed stability, consistency, and safety. Things Bucky couldn't offer anymore.

Shaking his head, eradicating the thoughts for the last time, he leaned forward, grabbing the remote and flicked through channels, mindless. He didn't really like to think of his forgotten past, not when it was unattainable. The present and future were safer bets.

There was some sort of nature show playing, there were animals, and the landscape was beautiful, so Bucky let that simmer in the background and got up, stretching his legs. Using the hair tie around his wrist, he pulled his hair up into a messy bun and yawned.

It was just a little after 9, still bright and early, but not early enough for the shops in the nearby towns to be closed. He needed to buy some groceries, proper food now that he was establishing himself. Living off ready-made meals that had to be microwaved was getting tiring and unappetising. In the back of his mind, he knew that he used to be good at cooking.

Could make a dish with the few ingredients available but when Hydra wiped him, he lost that ability and was now surviving on whatever simply needed warming up. But not anymore, he had to start eating proper and take care of himself, even when he didn't want to. It was what normal people did.

It was a slow process, adapting to such a lifestyle, but he was doing it.

He drove to the nearest town, Ouray, in his beat-up jeep that had frankly seen better days. Buying the groceries, he kept his head down and avoided the curious eyes tracking his movements. They weren't Hydra, he could weed those agents out easily, but it was still unnerving. To be shadowed by so many people. He kept a knife on him at all time.

His trip was short, and offering the cashier a curt nod, with a, "thank you," he broke any attempts of engaging in a conversation and returned to his home soon. He was still wary of the townsfolk.

Back at the cabin, the show was still running, the air was bitter and he made way putting away all the food. It was good. Calming.

Once he had finished, he whipped up some lunch, eating it earlier than usual, and packed some away for his trip. He'd get hungry no doubt. Storing it in his rucksack, he went to get his camera, taking out the charger and switching off the plug. Checking the battery, it was sure enough full, good to last him the entire day, and he put on a new pair of shoes too. Not his running ones, but boots. They were easier for the rocky areas.

Tugging on his jacket, his hair was still in a bun and he put his bag on his back, walking out of the cabin. He pointedly turned off the TV.

When it came to photography, he didn't have much of a style or method. Most of the time, he freelanced each shot, still learning how to use the other features properly. Bucky decided that it wasn't the camera that determined the results, rather the way the picture was taken. It was just a poor excuse for him to make himself feel better. It worked.

Trudging through the forests, he didn't have a destination in mind like most days, and usually encapsulated an image that was striking to his naked eyes. That meant a lot of aimless walking, and a keen eye that was constantly observing his vicinity.

A few minutes into his trek, he paused, a calculating look powering his features. The trees were spurting on mini hills, small bumps that went on for as far as Bucky could see, and he took the camera out of his rucksack, it feeling small and light in his large, callous hands. Pulling out a larger lens, he attached it to the pre-existing camera lens, slotting in place.

Taking a few footsteps back, he crouched slightly, causing the light emitting over the canopy of trees to dim. On the screen, he saw the clouds of leaves blacken, and the grass covered floor illuminate, as light still reached the bed of the forest. Watching it for a second longer, he adjusted the interchangeable lens, focusing on faraway objects and considering the peephole, he took a picture. 

Hoping it came out right, he knew it wouldn't be blurry (his hands never wavered) he checked his pictures and was pleased with the outcome.

The surrounding trees were partially blurred, yet distinct enough for the large branches to show the intricate details of leaves. A small glow from above transmitted onto the grass below, forming a white passage of shimmering light, creating an illusion that it sourced the lighting on the ground. Scattered across the floor were elongated plants, painted into different variations of the season, green, yellow and red.

Grinning, Bucky nodded to himself and he carried on walking, feeling particularly pleased that the first one came out as well as it did. He wasn't an expert- was far from it. He was an amateur he was sure, but it was small successes like those that built him up.

Delving further into the forest, he spent a couple of hours taking more pictures, capturing some brilliant ones of the animals too. In fact, he snapped one of a bear rubbing it's back against a tree.

Pressed against the rough bark, two of its front paws hanging onto a branch in front of it, and it was moving vigorously. Bucky stared it for a few moments, breathing careful and controlled, and he was captivated by the craziness of the whole ordeal. The bear was almost three metres tall, hind legs creased and he was huge. Able to take Bucky down with a mere swipe.

He couldn't help but ogle and appreciate it's build, and took a picture, not too zoomed in so that neighbouring trees were included, yet focused entirely on the animal, as it relieved an itch. The shutters of the camera snapped, making a distinguishable noise echo in between the woodland and the bear stopped, immediately alert.

Watching it pinpoint the noise, he made the slowest movements, not wanting to aggravate it, and planned an escape route if things turned hostile. He knew he was no match for a bear, he'd be torn in half easily, but Zola administered him with this serum and it had to be good for something, even it came to outwitting animals. He'd take it.

Thankfully, the bear didn't advance, sniffed the air gliding from Bucky's direction and huffed, growling low under its breath. He knew a warning when he saw one, and vigilantly, he backed the way he came, keeping it up until he had lost sight of it.

Breathing deeply, he thanked his instincts for helping him make it out alive and promised to do some research for future instances. They were inevitable meetings, and he had to prepare. He couldn't have survived all that time just to die from a bear maul. It just wasn't possible.

Returning to the cabin, the sun was starting to set, radiating a hazy luminosity and the lake twinkled enchantingly. Entering his house, he shrugged off the rucksack and jacket, shivering as he did, and grabbed the remote on the way to his fireplace. Turning on the TV, he didn't bother with what was on and instead made work of igniting the logs.

The house had a central heating system which he usually activated if it was especially cold, controlling it manually and through his phone, but he preferred the old-fashioned fireplace. Sprinkling a few firelights atop of the logs, he dug out a lighter from his rucksack and tearing some paper out of the Macbook Air instruction manual, started the fire.

It emerged slowly, a weak sequence of red, but, blowing gently against it, he remembered distinctly, "don't breathe on it, that's how it dies you punk. Blow gently in the corner, it needs oxygen to thrive."

"I know how to start a fire Buck, I'm not completely useless."

Grumbling, Bucky replied, "could've fooled me. Now blow, don't let it die. If it does then I might just turn into an icicle."

Coming out of it, Bucky blinked, vision fixed on the dancing flames in front of him and he swallowed a sigh, breathing deeply. Another memory, something from the war. He could piece them together more effectively now and was no longer suffocated when he remembered something.

He supposed it was because his entire life wasn't a mission, he was resting and healing now, as opposed to fighting and hurting, which eased his mind. Either way, he didn't care because it was less painful, and he appreciated it all the same.

That night, he scraped together a somewhat decent meal, using his laptop to search for simple recipes. The final product wasn't too nice, and it didn't look like the picture on the website, but it was much better than the frozen meals he'd been living off and ate it wholeheartedly.

Thankfully he couldn't die of food poisoning. It was tried and tested, so his awful cooking wouldn't kill him.

He ate whilst watching something on TV, and then around ten, found his eyes drooping. Turning off the appliances, extinguishing the cosy fire and gathering his tired limbs, he went to bed, relaxed and easy. He didn't feel entirely safe, couldn't be sure he ever would after the things Hydra did and promised him, but he felt the closest to it when he went to sleep.

In his boxers and a random tank top he obtained from the drawer. He slept as peacefully as his situation would allow, and he was grateful to get more than five hours. His day was a success.