There were no more missions.
He had failed his last mission. Kill the Captain. He had not killed the Captain. On the contrary, when the Captain fell, there was this inexplicable urge to dive after him, to keep him safe. The Captain should have been swimming, but he wasn’t. He had to get him out of the water, he had to.
No more missions, no more orders. The place where he was supposed to report in did not exist anymore. So he didn’t report in. His usually quiet mind was full of noise. A wipe was overdue.
There were no more wipes. There were no more handlers to tell him to sit down and take it.
He went to an exhibition, because it happened to have his face on the poster. The Captain’s face. He had not been prepared to see his own face also, smiling at the Captain.
“You’re my friend.”
Maybe it was time for a new mission. Maybe it was time for a new handler.
Steve was smiling when he unlocked the door to his new apartment. Today he had been declared fully healed and that meant first thing tomorrow he was going to collect Sam and start searching for Bucky. Of course Steve had wanted to go right away, but Sam had forbidden it. Bucky may be Bucky, but also the Winter Soldier and therefore dangerous. It had hurt to give in, but in the end Steve agreed that even super soldiers should not go on missions with several broken bones and gunshot wounds. Luckily he healed fast. Sam had only barely managed to get Steve a new, uncompromised apartment before Steve was discharged from the hospital.
And now here he was, closing the door to his brand new place and taking a look around.
Something was wrong. A noise, a movement. He thought back to the veterans meeting for a split second while grabbing for his shield. PTSD, Sam called it.
But it wasn’t paranoia when they really were after you, now, was it? And if it was nothing, the only one he would embarrass was himself in his own home. Steve kicked the door to the living room open, shield raised ready to block an attack and –
“What the hell?”
The Winter Soldier was sitting at the window sill, in full combat gear with mask and everything. No matter that Steve lived on the tenth floor of twenty. He had a gun pointed at – not at Steve, huh.
On the other side of the room there was a woman, also in all black, taller than Natasha and with a blond ponytail.
She had her gun pointed at Bucky and did not waver when she said in a tight voice: “It’s the guy who shot Fury! Get out!”
As if Steve was the kind of man to run while someone was in danger. He inched forward, trying to get his shield in between those two.
Suddenly Bucky spoke up. “She bugged your apartment.”
“Captain Rogers, please, I am trying to keep you save from what’s left of HYDRA here.” She pointed at the Winter Soldier with her head.
“Agent Thirteen, I moved into a new place because the old one was bugged all over. I can take care of myself, you know.”
“Well, obviously you can’t if you’re just standing there with a known assassin in front of you.” Agent Thirteen said at the same time as the Winter Soldier snorted: “Oh, please, Stevie, you were always terrible at taking care of yourself.” Immediately after, he jerked his head back in confusion and a split second later, the Winter Soldier and Agent Thirteen were back to glaring at each other.
“Guys, can you please lower your guns?” Steve tried his best puppy look. It worked, too. “Right, great. And now everyone puts their weapons on the floor like this.” He demonstrated by putting the shield down. The other two didn’t move. “Please.”
Two minutes later there was a small pile of guns and stunners at Thirteen’s feet and a slightly larger pile of guns and knives at Bucky’s.
“Right, ah. Who wants some hot chocolate?”
Sam got take away coffee and bagels before he swung by Steve’s place in the morning. He knew Steve was eager to get going, to search for his friend, so he expected to be greeted by a fully dressed Captain brimming with energy.
He certainly didn’t expect the door to be opened by a half dressed blond woman. He was just about to say something dirty when he noticed the gun in her hand.
“Oh it’s you. Wilson, right?” She took a bagel out of his hand and went in search of her pants. “I give up. They’ve been at it all night. They’re your responsibility now, but if it ends in murder, I’m going to say I told you so.” Completely dressed now, she waved the bagel at Sam and left.
Cautiously Sam went in, holding the remaining bagel in front of him. The living room was empty save for a pile of weapons on the floor and some broken furniture. Sam left the food on the table and advanced to the bedroom where some heavy breathing could be heard.
“Steve? Are you alright?” As an afterthought he added: “Are you decent?” He had never taken Steve for the type to have two girls in one night, but on the other hand the weapons pointed at the girl being Natasha, maybe she liked it that way… Sam took a deep breath and went inside, only to be greeted by the sight of Steve and the Winter Soldier, holding onto each other and sobbing their eyes out.
“Boy, I swear you’re some kind of weirdness magnet.”
Three weeks later Sam and Sharon decided that the Winter Soldier probably wasn’t going to kill Steve after all. Steve and the Winter Soldier/Bucky were still prone to crying a lot, hugging a lot and kissing when they thought nobody was watching. Sam sighed and left some LGBT flyers in addition to the ones about PTSD on the coffee table.