“Blue,” he forced out.
“What?” Steve hissed, not lowering his fist or relaxing his grip on Bucky’s collar.
“Blue. She gives me blue.”
Let’s start at the beginning.
“Black jacket, blue motorbike…” the pretty brunette sang under her breath, nodding her head along to the music playing in her tiny ear buds.
Bucky glanced towards the sound and promptly tripped over his feet.
In the six months since he’d finally relented and agreed to move into the Avengers compound, he’d thought he’d met everyone on base. Hell - he’d written the damn safety briefing that was mandatory for anyone who could be within a 100 yard radius of the complex for more than an hour. There was no way he hadn’t met every single person who was cleared to be in the kitchen.
Which meant one of two things.
One, someone had infiltrated the base and was using the opportunity to make coffee. Their coffee was good, he would grant that, but it wasn’t commit a felony and cause an intergalactic incident good. There was only one cup of coffee in existence that good and even Tony Stark put his foot down at the shipping fees from Nova Prime.
Two, someone had been allowed on base without Bucky’s knowledge.
Bucky liked to think he was a practical guy, all things considered. He knew that eventually there would be people on base who hadn’t been around for the initial briefing and he had to trust that whatever administrative and bureaucratic powers that be would ensure those new people would receive the same warnings and instructions that he’d initially laid out. He wasn’t so paranoid that he needed to personally vet every single person who entered the damn building.
(He would maintain to his dying day that the incident with Squirrel Girl was just him fucking with her - she should know better than to ask him for advice.)
(Yolanda wasn’t a common enough name in this part of the world for an effective cover anyway. That should have been everyone’s first clue that he was kidding. Sheesh.)
None of his careful planning covered this though.
“Blue,” he whispered to himself, unable to take his eyes off the girl.
“What’s that?” Steve asked, turning around. He followed Bucky’s eyes. “Ah,” Steve said with a grin. “I’ll introduce you later, you’ll love her.”
Given that she’s his soulmate, he thought this might just be the understatement of the century, but he doesn’t mention it to Steve. That wasn’t romantic thinking either - it wasn’t love at first sight or any of that nonsense. No, she was his actual soulmate. As in - she gave him the one color he'd been missing his entire life soulmate. But he didn't say any of this to Steve. He just nodded and slowly tagged along behind him, glancing back at the woman again.
Color he’d never seen before bloomed into view as she hummed along to her music, bobbing her head to the beat as she finished preparing her coffee. Her dress matched the chipped polish on her fingernails and the sheer beauty of it all took his breath away. He stood frozen as she worked, oblivious to his presence.
Blue. She gave him blue. And it was almost as beautiful as her.
(Maybe it was a little bit of love at first sight.)
Any moment now, she’d turn around, see him, and experience the one color she’d been missing her entire life for the first time, too.
Any moment now.
“The stars are out tonight,” she sang softly. “One million fires burning...”
He bolted around the corner before she could spot him, her voice trailing behind him, growing softer in time with the way the color blue faded from his vision.
“I could watch you all night long...dancing to someone else’s song…”
He watches her. He doesn’t mean to. He means to leave her alone. But now that he knows who she is to him, he can’t bring himself to stay away.
“Think you’ll join us for karaoke night, Buck?” Steve asked.
“Yeah - Darcy said all she wanted for her birthday was singing superheroes. Tony rented out the whole place, so it’ll just be us.”
He hesitated, a sinking feeling in his stomach. “Darcy?” he asked quietly.
“We passed her the other day, but you might not have met her officially yet. Thor brought Doctor Foster over from London a few weeks ago - Darcy’s her lab manager. Dark hair, glasses, real pretty. She’s got quite the mouth on her too - Darcy isn’t afraid to sass anyone.”
Darcy. His soulmate’s name was Darcy.
“No, I haven’t met her yet,” he said. Which was true. Technically. “I don’t want to crash her party.”
Steve waved him off. “She won’t mind. Honestly, she’d probably be thrilled. She keeps talking about her collection of superheroes - I’m sure she’d love to add you to the list,” he said with a fond grin.
“You sound quite taken, Stevie. You sweet on the sassy lab manager?” he asked, his voice tight.
If Steve was in love with his soulmate, Bucky wasn’t entirely sure what he would do.
He wondered if he could pass for a Yolanda.
“Nah,” Steve replied and the vice on Bucky’s chest released. “She’s not really my type.”
He went to the party, if only to see her.
She greeted everyone with a smile and a hug and a promise of certain death if they don’t get their ass on stage for at least one song. He hid in the shadows of the balcony and watched the lights glint off the blue highlights she added to her hair.
“Janey! We’re up first!” she yelled in the direction of Thor and a woman he assumed was Jane Foster. Jane grinned at her and hurried to the stage. The music started and the two sang a song Bucky had never heard with far more enthusiasm than skill. When it was over, they quickly relinquished the microphone to Clint and the party kicked into full swing.
He felt unsettled as he watched from his spot above the party. Normally, a glimpse of Darcy brought him some measure of peace - as would be expected by someone who brings the color blue. Tonight, his feet itched to move, to be closer to her. To introduce himself and maybe ask her to dance. The itching intensified as the night wore on, but he didn’t move.
“DARCY THEY HAVE IT!” Kate yelled from the side of the stage where she was flipping through a book of available songs.
“Oh. HELL. YES.” Darcy raced to the stage as the notes of an upbeat piano song echoed through the room. She twirled around when she reached the microphone, grabbing Kate and pulling her onstage to share the spotlight. They both shouted the lyrics into the mic, Darcy adding a few wild, exaggerated dance moves while Kate jumped up and down. A smile crept across his face as he watched from the shadows of the balcony. Darcy certainly knew how to work a room.
As the song moved from the bridge into what was likely the final chorus, Darcy pulled the mic closer and focused her gaze upwards to the balcony. Bucky froze. Dracy’s eyes were just to the left of where he had made his perch to watch the party. He was sure she couldn’t see him.
“Dark blue, have you ever been alone in a crowded room? Well I’m here with you. The world could be burning, now there’s nothing but dark blue…”
Darcy smirked as the song ended and kept her eyes on the balcony until the wild applause from her gathered friends forced her to acknowledge them. As soon as he was sure her attention was elsewhere, Bucky ducked out of the balcony and slipped out the side door, escaping for home.
“Tony claims the new setup in the obstacle course is unbeatable. And yet, here we are, on our way to beat it,” Clint said, leading Bucky past the greenhouse on their way to the gun range where Tony had installed a new, virtual training course. Even if Bucky had technically retired from the field, it felt good to occasionally test his skills. It was like stretching a muscle - and a great form of stress relief.
He glanced into the greenhouse and stopped suddenly as the sky above him erupted into a vivid blue.
Darcy was inside, head bobbing to the music she had playing over the greenhouse speakers. She was tending to a few delicate looking flowers, talking to them as she checked the soil. He could almost see the flowers perk up a little as she chattered on about her day.
“Hey man,” Clint’s voice broke through his thoughts. “Keep it up and I’ll change your call sign to the Winter Stalker, got it?” His voice held an edge, warning Bucky that he was being creepy and he wasn’t going to stand for it.
Bucky gave him a nod. “Just thinking. Sorry. Let’s go.” He didn’t glance back into the greenhouse, but he did strain to hear Darcy as they walked away.
“Let's try some time and patience. I'm gonna take you on a blue vacation…”
As the blue faded from his vision he realized - she wasn’t talking to the flowers. She was singing to them.
He was useless at the range. His thoughts kept traveling back to the greenhouse and Darcy. What did it look like to her? What color is she missing? Is she missing green and the room was awash in various shades of gray? Or was it yellow and only tiny dots of charcoal prick the scene?
What color would he give her?
It occurred to him that maybe she wasn’t missing anything at all, her entire world already lit up in full and complete technicolor. Her life not missing a single thing that he could bring to it.
He had never heard of such a thing being possible. But he could believe it of her.
Clint destroyed him in complete and record-breaking fashion at the range and for once he couldn’t really bring himself to care.
“Remind me to buy Tony a drink next time he’s around,” Clint crowed as they stowed their gear.
“Just don’t let him pick what shelf it’s from,” Bucky cautioned.
Clint shuddered. “Good call. Well drinks only.”
Bucky smirked. “Are you trying to thank him or kill him?”
“Hey man, not everyone was born a billionaire.”
“Do what I do,” Bucky said. “Raid a HYDRA bolthole.”
Clint rolled his eyes then considered Bucky for a moment. “About Darcy…”
Bucky went still for barely a fraction of a second, but he was sure Clint had noticed. Clint noticed everything. “I haven’t actually met her yet. Just seen her around.”
“You ever gonna tell her you’re her soulmate?”
Bucky didn’t answer. He didn’t know how to answer.
Clint sighed. “Base isn’t big enough to hide forever, Barnes. Either tell her or leave.”
“That simple, huh?”
“Yeah,” Clint replied, his voice surprisingly soft and kind. “It’s that simple.”
She was quietly sipping coffee in the kitchen this morning.
Bucky hovered just outside, hiding in the shadow of the hallway, watching.
He knew he should stop. Follow Clint’s advice and actually talk to her, instead of continuing to stalk her from the shadows. It made him gross and creepy and entirely unworthy of her.
“Hey J, can you start up my music?” she said, addressing the ceiling. A few piano chords echoed through the kitchen and she smiled into her cup. “Thanks, bud.”
Not for the first time, he wondered what color he might give her.
Maybe they would be lucky - if he gave her yellow, their colors would be opposites. She wouldn’t be stuck with him and could find someone worthy of her.
He’d never been lucky a day in his life.
Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. Maybe she would see red or orange. That was close enough to opposites that it wouldn’t hurt her too badly to walk away. Green or purple could pose a problem, but it wasn’t likely that they’d be that well matched anyway. Like anything else, there were degrees of compatibility with soulmates. He just had to hope that they fell somewhere on the less compatible side of the spectrum.
“But no young girl was claiming me. And naming me. And destiny gets nervous…”
Darcy nodded her head to the music as it softly filled the space. Her break would probably be over soon. He needed to leave before she got up to return to the lab.
“And you're my good feeling. I'm kneeling inside her room. She paints me blue and you are my reason for breathing. Inside her room she paints me blue again…”
His heart wanted to leap out of his chest and plant itself at her feet as she softly along to the music and refilled her coffee cup. He pressed against the wall and tried to steady his breathing, keeping silent and still. Finally using all of his training for something other than destruction.
“Morning, Darcy,” Steve said, as he entered the kitchen from the other side. Bucky envied his friend’s ability to just. Walk up and talk to her. Easy as breathing.
What a role reversal. Bucky would find it funny if it weren’t so sad.
“Steven,” Darcy greeted with a grin, as she put the lid on her travel mug.
“Ripping any new holes in space today?” Steve asked, pouring himself some juice and leaning against the counter.
“If we’re lucky!” Darcy replied with a laugh. “I’m just hoping I can stop Janey from launching us all into the sun.”
“You’ve never failed us yet.”
“Your faith in my abilities to keep Jane on task and in check is appreciated.” Darcy threw Steve a sloppy salute then waved her goodbye as she left the kitchen.
Steve chuckled to himself for a moment, then stilled. He set his glass on the counter and launched himself towards Bucky.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Steve snapped.
“I can explain,” Bucky gasped as Steve shoved him into the wall.
“Talk. Quickly.” Steve bit. “Darcy’s a nice person and she doesn’t deserve you creeping around like this.”
“Blue,” he forced out.
“What?” Steve hissed, not lowering his fist or relaxing his grip on Bucky’s collar.
“Blue. She gives me blue.”
Steve backed off. “She’s your soulmate.”
“And you’ve known all this time?” Steve asked. At Bucky’s nod, Steve shook his head. “And she rejected you? Buck, you can’t just-”
“I’ve never let her see me,” Bucky snapped. He thumped his head against the wall.
Steve gaped at him. “Why?”
“She deserves so much better.”
He tapped the words he could remember into the computer and scanned through the search results. Darcy always seemed to be listening to the same artist - or similar enough ones that the sound was familiar. He wondered if it was her favorite, or if she was just burning through a phase.
He firmly ignored the voice in his head that told him he would know the answer if he would just talk to her.
He found the artist and downloaded the entire catalog, opening his music player and hitting shuffle. One of the great things about the future was the sheer amount of music that was right at his fingertips. The click of a button and he was good to go.
He sat back in his chair, closing his eyes and just listening and wondered - again - what color he would give her. He hoped for yellow or red or even orange. That way it wouldn’t hurt her as much when she decided to walk away.
Still - he couldn’t help but wonder. What if it wasn’t? What if she was missing a more compatible color?
It could be green. Maybe that was why she spent so much time in the greenhouse - she was hoping for the room to burst into color.
He hated the thought. That would mean that he was keeping that color from her, shrouding her time in the greenhouse in shades of charcoal and ash.
Maybe it was purple and the only thing she was missing was just how ridiculous Clint could sometimes look.
Even that thought stung - by staying away, he was keeping her safe. But he was also keeping colors away from her.
He dug his palms into his eyes to push back the tears and forced himself not to think of all the things he wanted but couldn’t have. He forced himself to wish for yellow, even if he really wanted green.
He just...he wished.
He wished and her music played on.
“Hey wildheart, I’d give up everything. To see the world in blinding color…”
Bucky crossed the lawn of the compound, thankful for the afternoon sunshine and the cool breeze. Both were doing wonders for his shot nerves.
He didn’t want to continue to hide from Darcy. He didn’t in any way deserve her, but he was exhausted and close to his breaking point. The only thing he wanted was the comforting presence of his soulmate and that was the one thing he absolutely could not allow himself to have.
“I’ve known you all my life and I knew you long before that too…”
Bucky froze at the sound of the music drifting across the breeze. He recognized the song, he’d played it in his search the night before.
He quickly glanced around. If she was nearby, he had to hide. But he was out in the open - there was nowhere to go and even if he made an absolute break for it, there was no way she wouldn’t notice someone sprinting across the lawn.
Even at the Avengers headquarters, things like that were noticed.
“Hey soulmate, you ever gonna talk to me?”
Bucky spun around and the world exploded into a cacophony of blue. Darcy smirked at him, her face half hidden behind the flat of herbs from the greenhouse she was carrying.
“Or am I going to have to keep pretending I can’t see you?”
Bucky opened his mouth to reply but nothing came out. Silence stretched between them while the little speaker valiantly played on from Darcy’s pocket.
“I see colors when I hear your voice. Grab your wings, they’re puttin’ gravity on trial. I see colors I don’t fear the choice. Sometimes we’re only flyin’ for awhile...”
“Do you know how many songs there are about colors?” Darcy asked. “So many. I’ve had fun, picking them out since that first day I saw you. I’ve been trying to clue you in, let you know that I saw, let you approach me in your own time. I got the same briefing as everyone else, you know? So I wanted to give you some space. But I kinda got tired of waiting. So when I saw you out here today, I just...” Her voice trailed off as she shrugged.
“I could love you in the falling rain. Grab your things this is a storm we’re meant to ride.”
“Are you going to say anything?” Darcy asked, her smile fading. “Or - oh shit. Do you not see colors when you see me? Because-”
“Blue,” Bucky said quickly. “You give me blue.”
“Blue,” Darcy repeated, a little breathlessly.
He nodded. “Can I ask…”
“You give me blue, too.”
There was no way. If they had the same color, that meant...In his weaker moments, he’d secretly hoped for green or purple. Good compatibility, enough that they would have a decent shot at being happy. But to have the same color?
“Why did you hide?” Darcy asked. “Why didn’t you come see me or say anything?”
“You know who I am,” Bucky replied.
“Sure. You’re Bucky Barnes. One of the Captains Three. In the custody battle for the shield and the title, you got, what every third holiday?”
“You’re also the guy who holds the door for the interns when their hands are full, even though its against the very security protocols you wrote. You’re the guy that tackles the crusty dishes in the kitchen when no one else wants to. And you are the only person around here who has ever tried to read Jane’s research.”
“I like science,” he muttered, “but I read those journals because you worked on them.”
Darcy smiled. “So why hide from me?”
He didn’t answer. He didn’t want to voice aloud all the reasons why she should be running away screaming and cursing the universe. But there was still something true he could tell her.
“I get that. I’m kinda terrified, myself. It’s not every day I corner my soulmate and badger him into talking to me.”
“You could do better than me,” Bucky insisted.
Darcy hummed in acknowledgement, then shook her head. “Those perfect compatibility colors suggest otherwise, bud.”
“Maybe I should be the who decides what’s best for me, hmmm?” Darcy said, an edge creeping into her voice. “I gotta say - we’re not off to a great start here. With you hiding away, trying to force your opinion of what’s best on me.”
Bucky’s heart clenched. She was right, of course. That was exactly what he’d done.
“I forgive you, by the way. Good intentions, if a bit misguided. Don’t do it again.”
“I won’t,” he promised.
“Good.” She shifted the flat of plants and held out her hand. “I’m Darcy, by the way.”
He grasped it and the blue around them burned that much brighter. “Bucky.”
“Nice to meet you, Bucky. Now, what do you say to helping me get these guys to their new home and then you and me getting some coffee?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
She handed him the plants, then reached up and kissed his cheek. “I’m pretty partial to the color blue, Buck. Don’t take it away again, okay?”
“Good. I think we’re going to get along just fine.”