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All These Years

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The first time that your paths cross, you’re driving down the freeway. Well, technically Sam is, and you’re in the backseat wedged between Nat and Jasper Sitwell. Nat is leaning forward to say something to Steve, when the glass of the backseat window is shattered, and a metal arm grabs Jasper and throws him from the car. Bullets are suddenly being fired through the roof, and Sam slams on the brakes. Nat has climbed to the front of the car to avoid the bullets, whilst you had opted to duck to the side. A man dressed in all black stands a few yards in front of the car, the metal of his arm glinting in the harsh sunlight.

Suddenly, you’re moving again, a large jeep ramming into the back of the car and pushing it forward. Your arm flies out in front of you to stop your skull from being rammed into the seat in front of you. The metal armed man takes this opportunity to jump back onto the roof, plunging his arm through the windshield and ripping the steering wheel from the dashboard.

“Shit!”

“Y/N! Get up here!” Steve orders, and you thrust your body forward over the center console of the car. The car jerks into the barrier of the freeway, and you can barely register Steve shouting at you all to “Hold on!” as he pulls the three of you in towards him, before using his shield to tear the car door from it’s hinges. The four of you slide down the road on the door for a few feet, before Sam tumbles off the back, rolling to a stop. The door skids for a while longer before it also comes to a halt. The three of you barely have a chance to stand before the metal armed man is firing a grenade at you, and you feel Steve shove you and Nat out of the way before he is thrown from the side of the highway down into the traffic below.

Then all hell breaks loose.

You lose track of the other two. Bullets are spraying, and bombs are exploding. You run, ducking behind a car, and reach into your boot, pulling out a knife. You aim for one of the soldiers standing on the end, the knife flies through the air before plunging into his shoulder and he falls to the ground. You run as hard as you can, grabbing the gun that had fallen from the soldier’s arms as he fell to the ground. You aim it down at the group of soldiers who had descended below, helping Sam – who had taken up arms on the other end of the bridge from where you stood.

Once all the men had been taken out, Sam grabs you, flying the both of you below towards Nat and Steve.

Once you’re a few feet away from the ground, you hear Sam “If I drop you from here, are you gonna be okay?”

You nod. “Yeah, I’ve got this.” You steel yourself.

“1…2…3” and you’re falling. You duck and roll, coming to a stop a few seconds later, right as Sam swoops in and kicks the metal armed man in the chest. He quickly regains his footing, shooting a bullet in Steve’s general direction before Natasha shoots a grenade at him. From your spot on the ground you catch the Soldier’s eye briefly, time almost standing still, before he seems to shake off whatever had crossed his mind and disappears.

~

The second time you meet is far less violent. In fact, it was quite the opposite. You had been sent by S.H.I.E.L.D. to Bucharest for a covert mission. You were going on your third week undercover, and you were now perusing the marketplace. It had been a year and a half since you had crossed passed with the metal armed man, whom you soon learned through Steve was named Bucky. Though you hadn’t seen him since the fight on the highway, he still plagued your dreams every night. You weren’t sure why you were so drawn to him, you hadn’t even spoken to him once. But for some reason you couldn’t seem to shake him from your thoughts.

You’re startled back to reality when you collide with something hard.

“Oh my god I’m so sorr-“ you cut yourself off, meeting the eyes of the man you had just ran into. Bucky.

He looks different from when you had last seen him. Gone are his tight black clothes. Instead, he’s clad in jeans and a red Henley, a black baseball cap atop his head, in what appears to be his best attempt at hiding his face.

“It’s fine.” He says curtly. He seems nervous and jumpy. Very much the opposite of your last encounter with him.

You notice a bag of plums that had fallen to the ground. “Here let me help you with those.”

You kneel and begin collecting them back into the bag, but by the time you look up to hand them to him, he’s gone. You turn just in time to see him duck around a corner into an alley a block away. Making a snap decision, you run after him. You see him make his way up the stairs of a fire escape, and then duck into a window a few floors up. You jog the short distance to the staircase before climbing it yourself, stopping outside of the window he had crawled through.

In what must be the biggest stroke of luck you’d ever had; the window is unlocked. You slide it up, before quietly slipping through it and into the apartment. You look around slowly, calculating your surroundings. You weren’t sure what you were going to do now. You couldn’t very well tell a stranger that you had followed him into his home because he intrigued you and haunted your dreams every night. Before you can get cold feet and dive back out of the window, you hear a voice:

“Who are you?” you turn to see Bucky standing in a defensive position, clutching a knife at his side.

“I don’t want to hurt you.” You say holding your hands up.

“You were there that day.” He states clutching the knife harder. Although it seems to be more out of nervousness than a desire to actually hurt you. “With Steve.”

“Yes.” You say, arms still raised. You go to take a step forward, but when his grip tightens on the blade again, you move back. Instead, you say, “Steve is my friend, too. None of us wanted to hurt you. We just wanted to help Steve to get his best friend back.”

His grip on the blade loosens, and you feel safe enough to lower your hands. When he doesn’t say anything, you continue. “Steve never stopped looking you know.”

Bucky’s eyes flick to yours.

“Ever since you left him on the beach that day. He’s been beside himself trying to find you again.”

He sets the blade down on the counter beside him. “I’m trying to remember,” he says. “But some things I just- I can’t-“ he looks like a lost puppy.

“Then let me help you.”

And he does.

~

“Doll?”

Bucky feels around where you should be on the bed. When he doesn’t feel you, he shoots up searching the room. He sighs in relief when he hears the water running in the bathroom, and sees a soft golden light peaking out from the crack under the door. He sinks back down into the bed rolling back to his original position. He hears the water stop, before the door opens and the light goes out. He hears your feet pad across the floor before you slip back under the covers and snuggle up against him once again. You feel his eyes on you, and you peer up at him. “Everything alright, Buck?”

“S’fine, doll. I just had a nightmare and then I woke up and you weren’t in bed and-“ he cuts himself off.

You press your face into his neck. “I’m sorry baby. I didn’t mean to scare you. I just had to use the bathroom.”

He rolls onto his side, his arm tucking around your waist and pulling you closer to him. He presses a kiss to your forehead. “It’s alright. I just worry.”

You had been in Bucharest for almost six months now. You had contacted Director Fury a few weeks after you had run into Bucky, letting him know that you were alright, but something had come up, and you thought it might be best for someone else to finish out the mission for you. You told him that you weren’t sure when you would be back, but that you were safe, and you wanted to stay off the grid for a while.

It had taken Bucky some time to warm up to you. You understood, of course. Given his past, you knew going into it that it would be hard to gain his trust. But after the first few months of helping him to recover his memories, the two of you had grown nearly inseparable. Eventually, after the two of you had made a rather big breakthrough - around the four month mark - Bucky had asked you on a date. You had both felt a pull towards each other since day one - back on the freeway when you had caught each other’s eye – and being with him was almost as easy as breathing.

You had grown to love the man. You hadn’t yet told him of course. As much as you hated to admit it, you were terrified of scaring him off. Although you knew that wouldn’t be the case. You could tell by the little things he did everyday that he returned your feelings just as fiercely. The way he would gaze at you for just a second too long. How he made you breakfast every morning. And moments like just now when his mind would go into overdrive and flood with worry if you ever weren’t where he was expecting you to be.

You lay awake for a while, your mind drifting. You hear Bucky’s soft snores fill the room and a grin slides onto your face. You curl into him, letting yourself relax and your body succumb to sleep.

~

You’re walking home from a trip to the library when you see it. Bucky’s face is plastered across the newspaper. Your blood runs cold. You clutch your bag tighter, running the remaining few blocks to your apartment. You rattle up the fire escape, taking the steps two at a time. You climb into the apartment and you swear that you can feel your world shatter. The room is in shambles. The furniture is upturned and the floorboards are broken. Worst of all: Bucky is nowhere in sight.

You try to control your panic, approaching the mattress in the corner, now askew. You lift it up and feel around underneath it. Once you find the loose floorboard, you lift it up, reaching under it and pulling out a burner phone. Fury had given it to you when you had left for your mission to use in emergencies in case things awry. Dialing a number, you lift the phone to your ear. Your breath catches as you hear a click, and a voice on the other end says, “Hello?”

“Nat. It’s Y/N. I need your help.”

~

You feel jittery as you sit with Tony in the helicopter. Your leg bobs up and down, your mind racing.

“Will you calm down? You’re gonna give me whiplash with how fast your leg is moving.”

Your eyes shoot daggers in his direction, and he sighs. “I’m sorry. What I mean to say is that I’m sure that everything is fine. If anything, at least we know he’s with Steve.”

You nod. “I know but still. I can’t help but worry…”

The helicopter ride is silent until you’re a few minutes away from the Raft.

“Listen, you stay here. Take this,” Tony hands you a watch, the screen lit up. “Open up the video camera. Once I get into the cells, I’ll pull up a video feed of you for the others.”

“Why can’t I just come with you?”

“Because Ross doesn’t know you. It would look to suspicious.” When you give him a pointed look, he just slightly rolls his eyes, “Just trust me on this. Okay?”

You reluctantly nod, taking the watch from his grasp. The helicopter touches down, and you hide in the corner of the helicopter by the door, crouching just out of sight.

“So, you got the files…” you hear Tony say. After they exchange a few words, you hear their voices grow further away, before you can no longer hear them at all. You wait for Tony to patch you through, when finally you hear Sam saying, “You have to go alone, and as friend.”

“I don’t know if I can promise you alone.”

“What the hell do you mean by that?” you hear a clicking noise and suddenly you’re looking at Sam’s face. You haven’t seen him in months, since before Bucharest, and he looks like he’s in pretty bad shape, a shiny purple bruise adorning his face.

“Sam…” you breath.

“Y/N.” he says in surprise. “Where have you been?”

“That’s not important right now.” You say. “I need to know where Steve and Bucky are.”

“Look Y/N you know I love you like a sister, but you’ve been M.I.A. for so long and-“

“I was with Bucky.” You say quickly.

“What?”

“Listen, I know I’ve been gone but Bucky’s in trouble and I need to help him.” you persist, desperation clear in your voice.

“You love him.”

You nod.

“Alright. But it has to be just the two of you.”

“Of course.” You nod.

~

Once you landed in Siberia, Tony dropped you off by the Quinjet that Steve and Bucky had stolen.

“Zemo’s still in there somewhere,” he had told you. “I’d rather you be here where it’s safer.”

You had tried to argue that you should come with him for back up, but Tony had made a point you couldn’t disagree with: “I’m sure Bucky would rather you be out of harms way. As would Cap and myself.”

Eventually you nodded in agreement. With a soft smile, Tony turned towards the abandoned Hydra building and disappeared inside.

~

You had been waiting for what felt like hours, but was really probably only 40 minutes, when you saw two figures emerge from the snow-covered building. You stood abruptly, almost smiling at the sight, but your heart stopped when you got a closer look. Steve looked beaten up, his face bloodied, but even worse…Bucky. His face was covered in blood, but worse than that his entire left arm had been blown off, loose wire poking unevenly out of where his bicep would be.

“Y/N?” you hear Steve say in wonder once they got close enough to make out your figure.

“Oh my god…” you feel tears prick in your eyes.

“Y/N…” Bucky mumbles lowly, your name sounding slurred at the end.

You try to hide your tears with a watery smile. “Hey Buck.”

“What are you doing here?” Steve looks dumbfounded. “I haven’t seen you since…”

“I know, I’ll explain everything. But maybe we should get him on the Quinjet first?”

Steve nods, and you help him lead Bucky aboard, laying him across the seats lining the side of the jet. Only once Bucky is settled, snoring lightly, does Steve ask:

“So how exactly do you know Bucky?”

“Aside from the fight on the highway?” you give him a pointed look, before your gaze returns to Bucky’s face. “We met when I went on that mission to Bucharest. I ran into him at the market, and I tried to talk to him but he ran away, so naturally I followed him home.” Steve chuckles. You continue. “Anyways, he remembered me from the highway fight, and I told him that you and I are friends. He said he wanted to remember but he was having trouble, so I told him I would try to help him, and well here we are.”

“And you love him?”

You look up, surprised that he had picked up on your feelings so quickly. Nevertheless, you nod. “I do.”

“He loves you too you know.” You can’t help the tearful laugh that you choke out, a smile spreading across your face. “The whole time we were on the run he kept talking about his girl that he had to get back to. And back at the apartment in Bucharest I saw your jacket draped over one of the chairs – you know that black one you always wear? Anyway you’d been M.I.A. for months and now all of a sudden you show up out of nowhere when Bucky needs help? I just sort of put two and two together.”

“You were there?” you glance at him in surprise.

“Who do you think warned him about the police?”

You grin.

“I’m glad he has you. He deserves some goodness in his life after everything.”

“Thank you, Steve.”

~

You try to hold back tears as you watch Bucky prepare to go back into cryo.

“Are you sure about this?” you say, hating that you can hear the tears in your voice. You want to be supportive of his choice, regardless of how much it may hurt.

“This is something I have to do doll.” He says with a sad smile.

“I know, I just wish-“

“I do too doll. I do too.” He reaches out towards you and you rush into his arms. You twist your fingers into his hair, pulling him down into a kiss. It’s soft, conveying what words can’t. You pull away, burying your face in his neck. A tear leaks down your cheek, “I love you, Buck.”

You feel him take a sharp intake of breath, nuzzling into your hair and breathing it in. “I love you too, doll.”

You smile, arms pulling him tighter against you.

“I’ll be back before you know it. I promise.”

~

It had been two years since Bucky went back into cryo. You had gone into hiding with the others – the others being everyone else who had sided with Cap – on the outskirts of Wakanda. You had been filling most of your time by going on missions with Steve and Wanda. When you weren’t on missions you were training, sleeping – doing virtually anything in an attempt to distract yourself from how much you missed Bucky.

“Y/N, this isn’t healthy.” Steve says one morning over breakfast. “I know you love him. Hell, so do I. He’s like my brother. But you have to take care of yourself. He’s in good hands. He’ll want you to be taking care of yourself while he’s gone.”

You sigh. You know he’s right.

“Wanda and Nat are going out tonight. You should go with them. Have some fun.”

You consider for a moment. “Okay.”

Steve smiles warmly.

Your hair’s grown a little longer

Your arms look a little stronger

Your eyes just as I remember

Your smile’s just a little softer

The third time you meet Bucky Barnes, you aren’t expecting it. You’re sitting on the jet, adrenaline coursing through your body. Steve and Nat are on either side of you. Wanda and Sam are across from you. There are only a few others on the jet, who had been sent by T’Challa himself. You had been in the middle of a smaller mission, when T’Challa had sent for you to return early. The world was ending after all, and apparently T’Challa had received word that Thanos’ army was heading for Wakanda next. He wanted all of the forces he had at his disposal at the ready for when Thanos decided to strike. Everyone was on edge. The intensity of the situation weighed on everyone, and the tension was palpable.

As soon as you felt the jet begin to touch down, everyone began readying themselves to exit the jet and prepare for briefing. The hatch opens, and you see T’Challa standing with the Dora Milaje and…

Bucky.

He was awake. Before you can stop yourself, you’re running towards him and into his arms. He wraps them around you tightly, breathing you in.

“You’re back.” You gasp out.

“I am.” He smiles, his grip around your waist tightening.

“How you been Buck?” Steve grins, approaching the two of you. Bucky releases you, turning to Steve, but not straying too far from your side.

“Not bad, for the end of the world.” Bucky smiles the loveliest smile you’ve ever seen. He pulls you into his side as T’Challa begins debriefing everyone.

“Don’t you ever leave me again.” You whisper lowly in Bucky’s ear.

“Never.”

And I never prepared for a moment like that

Yeah, in a second it all came back, it all came back

‘Cause after all these years

I still feel everything when you are near