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He counts a dozen Walkers ambling in front of the hospital, the dark wording having long since faded and chipped into a faintly grey nonsense. It had been a high tech hospital, that much he can tell. There were unmarked, government issued vehicles around the mostly empty parking lot, and Bucky had scouted the place before, had seen inside the windows. The place was weird then and it's weird now.

 

Last time, he had seen actual, real life people walking around in the halls, but two weeks ago he had seen them leave. He and Peter should be long gone by now, but Bucky couldn't pass up the chance to actually learn something more about how the world had ended. They had abandoned their truck a mile or so back, a dangerous necessity, and now they were behind one of the old SUVs, watching the dead stumble into each other over and over again. Peter had protested against such a long run, but the duo know how hard it is to load up collected supplies with a shit-ton of Walkers, or, god forbid, Runners, coming after you like you're the best thing since sliced bread. 

 

So, they left the truck, and Bucky ignored Peter's whining the entire time. 

 

Peter's maturing voice breaks him from his rapid thoughts, "Bucky?" The teenager is visibly nervous, and it sends out the familiar, foul stench of anxious pheromones. A harsh reminder that his brother had presented. The whole reason why they had stayed around for two extra weeks, even though Bucky had wanted to leave as soon as those raiders came to the town. "Are we going in?" 

 

Bless his little brother, the kid never mentions Bucky's own nervousness. 

 

"Yeah," Bucky nods, clearing his throat. His left hand makes a grab for the machete at his hip, and he hands Peter a silenced pistol that had been resting at his hip. "You know the drill." It isn't a statement, not to Peter. It's a prompt. 

 

"Let you go in first, don't leave your sight for more than ninety seconds, stay as quiet as possible, and only used my gun if I have to." 

 

"And?" 

 

A rule added on after their last run nearly went to shit, Peter mumbles it under his breath with a muted sigh, "don't grab anything we don't need."  

 

They hadn't always been this close, being born eleven years apart didn't really give them much to talk about. Fifteen years before, when the world was still normal, Peter had just joined the Barnes family  at age two, and Bucky was the ripe old age of thirteen. Two years later, four year old Peter had become a menace and Bucky's genius self was enrolled into Georgia Tech, starting his college life early, much to his mother's dismay. He used college as his excuse to move out, but he ended up getting a Bachelor's in biomedical engineering at age nineteen, and really, how's that for irony? Biomedical engineering is what got the world into this whole mess, probably

 

Then, he moved back home to Macon. 

 

Then, the world ended. No one quite knew the reason why, but Bucky had a few of his own ideas. So, with two dead parents, a missing sister, and an eight year old brother, Bucky found himself finally using all the supposedly useless knowledge he had retained from his father's favorite survival shows. 

 

Peter follows close behind as Bucky leads them across the parking lot and straight to the worn ashlar walls of the facility. The brothers crept sneakily past the uninterested Walkers, and Bucky vaulted himself through a low, broken window, flinching at the sound of glass crunching under his boots. Peter hopped in about ten seconds later, albeit his lean form allowed him to have a much quieter landing than Bucky's own, slightly more muscular frame. Not that he was entirely buff, no. The apocalypse doesn't allow that, but Bucky definitely had more muscle than most omegas he had known before.

 

"It stinks in here," the younger of the two notes under his breath, causing Bucky to shoot him a glare that said shut the hell up

 

It does stink, Bucky has to admit that much. The stench of death and decaying pheromones fills the dark halls. Bucky suppresses a gag, forcing himself further into the building with his machete clenched in hand. 

 

The brothers clear a few rooms on the ground floor level, all of which had been remarkably empty of both the dead and supplies, and rather than going up, Bucky and Peter venture down to the sub-level. There is something running the building, Bucky knows that much because the lights are flickering as they pad down the hall. There are no doors, just an elongated, white hall with bloody smears that contrast starkly whenever the lights flicker back on. It is eerily quiet, silent even, save for Bucky and Peter's breathing and the quiet ticking of the lights. 

 

Eventually, the hall comes to an end, with only a single door on the right. Bucky desperately wishes it was the strangest thing he had ever seen, but it isn't even close. 

 

Tossing a nod back at his brother, the omega lifts the machete horizontally to his chest, ready to strike, and puts a hand on the doorknob. It twists, unlocked, and he pushes it open to reveal. . . 

 

Another fucking door, in an empty fucking room. 

 

This place is starting to piss Bucky off. 

 

All in all the room isn't completely empty: there's a computer pushed off to the side, next to a deserted hospital bed. 

 

When he places his hand on the next knob, his eyes flicker to Peter, "how much d'you wanna bet we'll find Patient Zero in here?" 

 

Peter rolls his doe eyes, but still makes his bet. "One of the ice cream MREs?" 

 

Bucky nods, "you're on," and he opens the door. 

 

This room is entirely different to the rest of the vacant ones. There are wires trailing down the walls, attached to a suspiciously bed-like tube in the middle of the room, and another computer off to the side. There is a large screen, providing the two brothers with someone's vital signs, and Jesus H. Christ, Bucky thinks. There's someone inside that thing. 

 

The air in the room is freezing, much like outside, and Bucky watches as Peter's breath fogs in front of him. "Stay by the door," he demands, fully expecting the teenage alpha to listen. Of course, he doesn't. The omega is so distracted as he approaches the chamber providing the vitals that he doesn't notice Peter wander over to the computer. 

 

Bucky tries to wipe at the frosted glass to show whoever, or whatever, was inside, but nothing happens until he hears a faint beep. His eyes shoot up. Peter is at the computer, looking guilty as hell while the glass defrosts. 

 

"I told you to stay by the damn door," he growls to the teen walking up to him. "What'd you do?"

 

"I pressed a button that said 'defrost.'" 

 

The next look Bucky gives him is one of exasperation. "What the fuck, Pete?" He looks back down at the glass chamber with a glare before he turns it back to his brother. "What if it actually is Patient Zero and we just ended the world all over again?" 

 

We. It's always we. He never singles Peter out, because if Peter does something stupid, it means Bucky was being dumb enough to let him. 

 

"Uhm," Peter squeaks, also looking at the glass. "I don't think so. . . unless Captain America started the apocalypse?" 

 

Bucky frowns, "Captain. . ." and he looks down, and the glass isn't foggy anymore. It's completely clear. And there, laying in the bed, still wearing the damn monkey suit, is Steve Goddamn Rogers. Sleeping. Frozen. Defrosting. Because his idiot kid brother pressed a button. "What the hell?" 

 

Glass breaks on the floor above them, and Bucky can hear the moans of what he hopes are only Walkers entering the building. 

 

"Well," Peter says, lifting the sleeping soldier's containment lid with the press of another button. "I guess we gotta take him with us!" 

 

He sounds entirely too happy. 

 

"I'm sorry?" Bucky sputters, nearly dropping his machete in disbelief. "He's not coming with us!"

 

"Well, he's obviously been frozen for like, a million years or whatever," because his seventeen year old brain still can't quite process time, apparently, "and we can't let him wake up alone. And I don't know how to freeze him again. . . not, not that I would!" 

 

Bucky sputters again, but this time he can't get anything out.

 

Ten seconds later, he's helping Peter lift the heavy, hundred year old man out of his frozen tomb, and then the brothers are walking back out the way they came, acting as human crutches for the unconscious soldier. All because he can't tell his little brother "no". 

 

And seriously, how is this Bucky's life?