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paying some respects

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They go to visit Dernier’s grave, since they’re in Paris and all. “We should bring him something,” Steve says. “Something nice.”

“Not flowers,” Bucky says.

“God no,” Steve agrees. “Something he actually likes. Maybe dynamite?”

“We’re not putting live ordinance on Dernier’s grave. We’ve had enough trouble with customs.”

“You’re right.”

“We’ll use fireworks instead.”

If you can’t get your own explosives, store bought is fine, Bucky figures, buying the Starfire Superblasters Nine Thousand Stars Spectacular Display while Steve buys the wine.

Père Lachaise Cemetery is about as big as Prospect Park and six times as nice, so they take their time about it, wandering through the rows of ornate tombs. There’s a crypt dedicated to Dernier’s family near the corner of the park, so that’s where Dernier was buried, or had his ashes interred or however he ended up going.

Dernier was something of a popular figure back in their time, even if he’s more or less unpopular now that he’s just a figure in history, so there’s a great big gloomy statue of him looming over the crypt. At the base of it are piles of stuff that people have left and the cleaning crews haven’t gotten to yet. Howling Commandos memorabilia and photographs of their dogs, mostly. It’s a pop of color on the crypt, which is mostly flat and grey and covered in moss.

There’s also a hole in it. “Uh,” Bucky says, trying to look in but also not look just in case he sees bones or something. “Is this… supposed to be like this?”

Steve crouches down, frowning. “Did somebody break this? Are there graverobbers here?”

“Maybe it just got broken,” Bucky says, not very concerned. “Who’d rob Dernier? What did they think was there to steal? The most expensive shit he owned was landmines, and he wouldn’t bury those with him.”

“You never know,” Steve says darkly, prodding at the hole.

“At least they put grating over it,” Bucky points out. “I’m sure the cemetery workers would have noticed if it was grave robbery. C’mon, let's pour the wine out.”

“Hang on, it’s full of trash,” Steve says, the way thirteenth-century nuns probably said that hussy consorted with the Devil. “Jesus Christ. How is it full of trash? Do they let just anyone in here?”

“It’s what Dernier would have wanted,” Bucky says vaguely, struggling with the bottle of wine. “Help me get this cork out.”

“You get the cork out, you’re the one with the Swiss Army arm. I’m cleaning this up.”

It’s certainly something, Bucky thinks, as Steve starts landscaping and Bucky tries prying the cork out of the bottle in increasingly arcane ways. He looks out at the rows and rows of tombs. A lot of them have flowers on them, or tokens, or fresh painted letters or decorations that show this place is far from a relic of older times. Many of the years of death are quite recent. And the cemetery is so large and well kept that it’s a kind of park, and, well, what else are the gravestones and tombs and mausoleums for if not for the living to look at them?

It’s nice, Bucky thinks, this kind of human dedication to perpetuity. Look! I lived! I died! Now to commemorate that, put me in a hole with a great big rock over it!

Clank. Clack-clack.

There’s a suspiciously guilty silence.

“Steve,” Bucky says, wine bottle clenched between his knees, not turning around, “did you just drop your phone into Dernier’s grave?”

“Well,” Steve says, after a pause. “Not exactly.”

“What exactly happened, then, pray tell?”

“Well,” Steve says again. “I didn’t drop my phone in Dernier’s grave.”

Bucky’s hand spasms around the neck of the wine. “Excuze-the fuck-moi?”

“Your phone has the flashlight app! Mine doesn’t!”

“You dropped my phone in Dernier’s grave?”

“I didn’t mean to!”

Bucky turns around, wine bottle in one hand and firework in the other. Steve's got one ludicrously large arm wedged between the bars of the grating, the other stretched out behind him and holding what looks like a moldy shoe with a broken beer bottle sticking out of it. He looks like a gargoyle maker’s tribute to imbecility. He looks like a modern art piece.

“Yeah, I’m sure you didn’t mean to, ” Bucky says.

“Look, I’ll just get it out,” Steve says, just as the shrill afternoon alarm for Bucky’s meds goes off.

“And that’s my drug alarm, you bastard,” Bucky yells, over the frantic beeping and rattling. “We are desecrating our fallen comrade’s grave -”

“It’s fine! I can reach it! And what do you mean, fallen comrade? Dernier was fine! He died in a Moroccan resort age eighty-three!”

“He is dead and that’s his tomb you’re armpit deep in, you asshole! Just get the phone!”

“I'm - trying,” Steve says through gritted teeth, neck slowly turning red from the strain. “It's just - It’s almost - fuck. Wait - maybe if I use my toes -”

“Do not take your shoe off - oh my god.”

Bucky puts down the wine and fireworks so he can more comprehensively cover his face with his hands. The good news is the alarm auto-disables after three minutes of inactivity, and then goes on snooze for five minutes. The bad news is Steve doesn’t need five minutes to catastrophically fuck things up. He’s now got one arm and one foot inside the hole, balanced like a giant blond flamingo at the edge of the crypt, his other hand now holding his shoe.

“You look like the world’s most improbable cork,” Bucky says. “Steve. Get your leg out of there. Put your shoe back on. Return to sanity.”

Steve scowls back at him. “I’m not hearing any bright ideas from your corner. Ah shit,” he adds, just as his idiot foot slips, wobbles, jerks and whacks the plastic-wrapped bundle of fireworks.

They watch in silence as the fireworks tumble down the hole.

“Oops,” Steve says.

“Steven Grant Rogers,” Bucky says slowly, wonderingly. “I’m sure there are legitimate reasons why I married you, but I just can't recall them right now.”

“It’s fine,” Steve says, looking wild around the eyes. At least he’s withdrawn his foot. “I’ll just get it out! Look, just hold this for a second -”

“I am not fucking touching whatever the fuck you pulled out of some dead guy’s hole! Just put it down!”

Some dead gu - what happened to fallen comrade?”

“Rogers, the second a cemetery worker turns the corner and sees us holding booze and explosives and desecrating a grave, they won’t call the cops, they’ll call the antiterrorism squad, so stop playing deportation bingo and get your hand out of the gutter!”

“I can't,” Steve says fatalistically. “I think I'm stuck.”

The alarm chooses this moment to start shrilling again.

“Jesus,” Bucky says, “poker-playing Christ.”

“If I pull too hard I might break it,” Steve says earnestly, over the beeps.

“It’s already broken! Just pull out!”

“We can't leave your phone in there! It's got classified intel.”

“Well, we can't leave your arm in there either, so I'd like for us to start brainstorming some solutions wait what do you mean there’s classified intel on my phone!”

Steve’s face, somehow, goes even redder. He doesn’t answer. “Steven,” Bucky says dangerously. “Did you just call your penis pictures classified intel.”

“It’s - medically engineered, with classified - science -”

“Oh my God,” Bucky marvels. “I think I have to leave you here.”

“Don’t you goddamn dare,” Steve says, starting to struggle. “You vowed to protect and support me, and that includes against the fucking gendarme -”

“The Constitution doesn’t say nothing about aiding and abetting congenital idiots, so I don’t see what legal footing you’ve got to stand on, pal!”

“You’ve never read a single sentence of the Constitution ever a day in your life, James Barnes!”

“At least I know how to read! Pull out!”

“No!”

“Let Dernier have the fucking penis pictures!”

“Stop calling them penis pictures!”

“Uh,” says a tremulous voice behind them. “Excusez-moi…”

Bucky and Steve simultaneously swivel around, or as much as they can with Steve caught in the yoga pose known as “well-meaning tomb robber” and Bucky in boots that simply do not swivel by design. There’s an elderly gentleman in a sanitation worker’s uniform standing there, clutching a broom in front of him like it’s garlic against vampires.

Bucky turns to Steve. “Great,” Bucky says acidly. “Now we gotta deal with this.”

“Uh, pardonnez-nous,” Steve says, then another long meandering sentence full of “uh”s and “desolée”s. Then Bucky catches “fireworks” and shoves Steve hard in the shoulder. “Don’t tell him -”

“Monsieurs,” the worker says, in wavering tones, “get out.”

“I’m trying, ” Steve says, whereupon Bucky grabs the bars of the grating, pries them open with a horrible screech, and shoves Steve away. “Thank you, we’re sorry, we are going,” Bucky announces, hustling them away from the crypt.

“You couldn’t have done that five minutes ago?” Steve demands, hopping as he tries to get his shoe back on.

“Shut the fuck up, Steven. Walk. Start looking up exorcisms.”

“What? Why?”

“Why do you think, asshole? Instead of wine and grenades we left fireworks and penis pictures on Dernier’s grave. In Dernier’s grave. If you think we’re not getting haunted after this you’re fucking wrong -

“Stop calling them penis pictures!”