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Borrowed Time

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The cold lingered in his bones. It was how he knew that it wasn’t a dream, even though he was now staring at a slowly spinning ceiling fan and lying in a bed that was just on the side of too firm. Something shifted in the room and he glanced over. Yep, that was Steve just coming awake now.  

Bucky went back to staring at the ceiling fan and listening to the game that was playing on the radio. He remembered going to watch it with Steve. The day had been overcast and they had worried about it raining on them the whole game. But the sky had managed to hold it together until their team had lost, and then the sky had opened up like it was also grieving for the loss.

It was a strange thing to have in a recovery room. The army wouldn’t have bothered. And to play a rerun of a game on the radio was odd too.

Steve sat up in his bed, glancing around the room suspiciously. Oh good, it wasn’t just him. They shared a silent glance, nodding to each other. Yup, this was suspicious as hell. He rubbed his thumb anxiously against the side of his index finger, itching to have his rifle in his hands. He surveyed the room again for weapons, but found none.

Well, it had been a few years since he and Steve had gotten involved in a brawl. He figured they were overdue. Bucky sat up slowly, assessing his injuries, but aside from the lingering chill, he wasn’t even stiff, let alone sore. He cracked his neck anyway and stood up, stretching. Best to be limber if they were about to be fighting for their lives.

He paused when the door opened behind him; however, unlike the soldiers or scientists he was expecting, they sent in some fresh faced young woman with a hint of Peggy Carter’s aesthetics, as if that would give either one of them pause.

He let Steve do the talking.

Literally no more than a minute after making that choice, he regret it, as Steve promptly threatened the woman and the room was flooded with soldiers in black tac gear. And there was that fight that he had been anticipating.

He fell in behind Steve, watching his back and desperately wishing for a gun as they punched and kicked their way out of some kind of movie set and through a warehouse and out onto a street that looked like it came from a science fiction novel, with moving billboards and lights everywhere and so many cars.

And then the gig was up because they were suddenly surrounded and a coloured man with an eyepatch was telling them that they had both been sleeping for almost seventy years. This was the future and everyone they knew and loved was most likely already dead.

***

The future was strange. People were so cold, but whenever he mentioned that, they informed him that their technology let them talk to people all over the globe and that humanity had never been so connected before in the history of mankind. Except people seemed to want to talk to someone through their phone on the other side of the world, rather than the people staring them right in the face.

Don’t get him wrong, he thought that the technology was amazing. You could learn about anything on the internet, you could watch films in full colour right in your own home, you could carry a phone in your pocket. He was wild about the technology and was taking to it like a fish to water. His first day after waking up, he had read the entire user manual for the ‘tablet’ that he had been given and had begun exploring the internet.

The interface was amazing. It was incredible that all he had to do was touch the screen and it knew what he wanted it to do. While he was gushing over the tech, he couldn’t help but think that Toni would have loved it.

It wasn’t until almost a month had passed that Steve tentatively asked him to look up what had happened to Agent Carter in the SHIELD database. When he found out that she was still alive, even if she was in an old folks home, it lit something like hope in his chest as well. He waited until Steve had rushed out of their shared apartment to go visit her before he dared to type a different name into the search bar. If his suspicions were correct, she had escaped her warehouse before Howard had blown it up.

Antonia Carbonell.

The search came back instantly.

Maria Antonia Stark, nee Carbonell. June 9, 1923 - January 17, 2012

It hit him like a punch in the gut. She was dead. She was gone. And she’d married Howard . For a moment he wasn’t certain which fact he was more upset over. Then he reminded himself that she had left him. She hadn’t given him any hope for the future. She had told him not to get serious.

She was never going to be his wife.

And Howard. . . well, at least they had shared interests. And it wasn’t like Toni would take any shit from him, so he had to have treated her right.

He set the tablet aside, not ready to read any more about it, like how she’d passed or what her no doubt many accomplishments were. He would though. He would relish reading about her life, but only after he had allowed his grief to settle.

He threw himself into learning more about the 21st century and catching up on the history he’d missed, while doggedly avoiding anything to do with the name Stark, instead.