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One Batch

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There are some things that just feel right. Natural in every sense of the word- when you know there’s no other way the world could be, no other thing you’re designed to do but what you’re doing. 

Snap the magazine in its place, check the chamber, thumb the safety. It’s a routine his hands know too well, and it washes a sense of calm over him, steadies the pace of his breathing and the rattle of his heart against his ribs. He inhales, nice and deep, eyes the building one more time, and starts to move. 

The bastard near the entrance, trying to look as inconspicuous as he can leaning against the wall with a cigarette between his lips, perks up when he spots him coming, but his reaction time is too slow and he ends up with a bullet between the eyes before he can even lift his own gun. The shot echoes down the street, but Frank doesn’t care. 

Let them hear. 

Let them know he’s coming. 

He gets to the door- unlocked, but he smashes it in anyway- and already there’s two more assholes on him; must have been closest to the entrance and had come running when they’d heard him fire, because unlike their unfortunate friend, their guns are up and aimed, fingers trembling on triggers and ready to squeeze. One fires, and Frank ducks behind a door frame, lets him get it out of his system. 

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Reload. 

Frank twists, his shot punching a hole in the fuckers hand. He shouts and drops his piece, and Frank turns to the next, who’s shaking so hard with adrenaline he can’t get a clean shot. Frank squeezes, but a force slams into him from the side and sends the bullet into the ceiling. It makes Frank lose his grip and the gun goes sliding off under a table and far out of reach, and he falls to the floor with a gravelly grunt, bracing most of his weight on his left arm. The goon, the one who’d tackled him to the floor, scrabbles to get his glock out of the holster on his thigh, and Frank bares his teeth, cursing himself. 

He should have fucking heard him, goddamn it. Too distracted by the dumb pricks to his twelve, a rookie mistake he can’t afford to make. 

He grimaces as he pushes himself up, but when he turns there’s a muzzle brushing against the sweaty skin of his forehead, and it makes him pause a beat, assessing. Asshole one is still crying over his busted hand, crouched on the floor while he holds it to his chest, but asshole two finally seems to have gotten a hold of himself and has his own gun trained at Frank’s temple. Frank doubts he’d land the hit, but he can’t take any chances. 

Asshole two yells something in Spanish to asshole three, who’s staring cold daggers down his sight into Frank’s eyes, and Frank tenses, preparing to strike, when something comes barreling in from the side with a guttural yell and kicks asshole three clear across the room and behind a counter. Asshole two takes a shot out of reflex, but a hand comes up and the bullet deflects off of it with a shrill, metallic ‘ ping’

Frank would almost say this whole thing was worth it solely for the look on the fuckers face when Bucky lowers his hand, snarl on his lips. It makes the guy pause, frozen in fear, and Bucky takes the split second of time to grab the edge of one of the tables nearest to him and fling it straight at the prick with all the force he can muster. Hunks of meat and knives go flying, and so does the guy, bowled over with the force of the table ramming full speed into his chest like a cannonball. 

Frank’s eyes linger on Bucky for a moment when Bucky glances back at him over his shoulder, and it’s just a second, but it seems to last minutes. And then Bucky is spinning around, making a running start towards asshole three who’s finally shaken off the kick enough to get back to his feet. He vaults the counter and sends his foot into the side of the guys head, and the guy cries out and stumbles backwards, but he keeps his grip on his rifle and tries to raise it to fire off a shot. Bucky blocks him, grabs the gun and whacks the guy upside the head with it instead, then rips it from his hands and smashes the butt of it right into the guys nose before delivering a punch to his chest so hard it sends him careening backwards again. 

Frank’s lips part and his brows pinch, watching. Bucky moves with the fluidity of a machine, a man built for a singular purpose; violence. No punch thrown is wasted, no kick is misplaced. Frank thinks back to his unit, his men, the toughest, meanest sons of bitches he ever knew- to all the grueling days of training and fighting and the sweltering heat bearing down as they went toe to toe with the enemy- and he looks at Bucky, realizes that none of them would have stood a chance. 

Footsteps beat against the ground and Frank’s attention breaks away, focusing now on his own fight; two hostiles, one from the hallway by the door frame he’s in, and the other from the opposite side of the room. 

Late to the show, but Frank’ll make it good for them. 

He slips back behind the wall and out of view, and when asshole four comes running he sends an elbow into his neck. Asshole four chokes and stutters, and Frank plants a hand on his head and smacks it against the door frame. He goes down, and Frank makes a grab for the gun he’d dropped when a bullet goes whizzing past his head. He drops, rolling behind the overturned table Bucky has thrown. 

A peak around it’s side shows asshole one has gotten some of his tenacity back and has a gun in his non-injured hand, but it’s unsteady- his whole body is shivering like a leaf at the pain, and the kick of the pistol is enough to send whatever shot he tries to make clean in the other direction. Frank runs a tongue over his lips. 

Bucky’s taking care of number five, who has a butcher knife he’d nabbed off of one of the counters in his hand and is trying his damndest to pierce it through Bucky’s stomach, slash his arms. Bucky’s not having it, twisting and dodging and backing the prick further and further towards the back wall. It’s almost like a game to him, Frank thinks. Cat and mouse, except the cat’s goal is to rip the mouse to bloody shreds with the intensity and precision of a tiger. He’s been caged for too long, and now, finally, he’s been let free. 

Frank glances back at asshole one and fires at his left shoulder. The guy screams on impact and the gun he’d been holding falls from his limp fingers with a clatter to the ground. Frank makes sure he won’t be shaking that one off and then does a quick survey of the room- no active hostiles save for the one going after Bucky. Most are laid spread eagle on the floor and knocked out cold besides number one, who’s sobbing silently while blood pours from his wounds like a leaky faucet. 

Frank moves himself to stand. 

Bucky’s gotten the knife out of asshole five’s hand and has tossed it off, and he lands a booted foot into the prick’s stomach with a grunt, sending him ass over tits through a covered doorway and out of sight. Bucky stalks after him. He moves like a predator, his whole body a honed weapon, feral and calculated and deadly with intent. 

Frank watches as the flaps over the doorway flutter shut behind him, and breathes. He looks at all the prone bodies on the floor, then back towards the doorway Bucky’d gone through, and after a beat, he follows. 

He finds Bucky standing with a foot at the guy’s neck, keeping him pinned to the ground. The guy splutters, spitting up blood over his cracked lips and his cheeks; Bucky must have broken bones with that kick, and it makes Frank wonder just how strong this fucking guy is. He steps up beside him and looks down at the bastard, doesn’t even bother to hide the contempt souring his face. 

And then, he glances back up. 

All around them, dangling from the ceiling: meathooks; some tipping with the weight of curing carcases, some empty, their gleaming points ripe for the taking. His jaw clenches, and he exhales shakily.

“Pick him up,” he rasps, and Bucky shoots him a look, then removes his boot from the asshole’s jugular. He bends over and grips the guy by the collar, tugging him as upright as his limp, broken body will allow, and hands him over. 

Frank scrunches up his nose and drags him between two of the rows, Bucky moving behind him to get a better look at what he’s doing, and the guy is unresponsive at first, but once he starts to get the gist of what’s going to happen, he begins to get more wiley. He begs and pleads in English and in Spanish, prays to God to keep him safe, to stop this madness, but God’s shut his ears and turned his back. There will be no saving today. 

Frank’s face pinches with the strain as he hoists the fucker up, but he goes onto the hook easily enough. He shrieks garbled and hoarse until a hook point through the mouth silences him for good. Frank steps back and looks him over, wipes the blood from his brow. He looks to Bucky at the end of the row. 

Bucky’s face is unbreakable stone; Frank can’t begin to imagine what he’s thinking, but he stirs up no fuss and follows along when Frank moves to grab another one of the men. Three between the two of them, two in each of Bucky’s hands and one in Frank’s. They each find home in spots between the hogs, and when the last man is hung Frank gives them all a once over, spits, and turns his back. 

He and Bucky make their way back into the main room, and they take the time to rove their gazes over the scene. Not too bad, all things considered. Less mess means less of a hassle, after all, not that Frank much cares. 

There’s cases stacked on a few tables on the other side of the room, and Frank takes a peek inside each one. Guns, and ammo. He flicks his eyes Bucky’s way and Bucky meets them with his own. 

“Get the guns, whatever you can carry,” he says, and Bucky nods, does what he’s told. Frank clears each case of ammo and stuffs it all in every pocket his has on his person. 

When all’s said and done, they both pause and finally, after everything, take the time to breathe. Bucky shuts his eyes and inhales through his nose sharp and deep, lets his head hang loose for a beat like a puppet cut from its string. When he opens them again, they’re different, like something’s been drained out of him. He looks one part satisfied and one part bone weary, and Frank thinks, some hunger inside of him has been satiated. He can feel it in his own self, tugging at the very fabric of his being. The beast has been fed, retreating back to its hole where it lies in wait, forever starving for blood. 

Bucky’s eyes skip over to him, and where they’d been momentarily glassy they’re now focused and clear. Time seems to slow again for a moment and a weird feeling curls itself around Frank’s shoulders. Bucky blinks, looks away, and it’s all gone as quick as it came. 

Frank huffs. “Not bad for the first time, yeah?” 

Bucky raises a brow, but the corner of his mouth, ever so faintly, ticks up. 

“High praise, coming from a man like you,” he says, and Frank snorts airily. 

“Always room for improvement,” he says. 

Bucky’s mouth does curve into something reminiscent of a smirk then, and he brushes shoulders with Frank as he walks past on his way towards the hall.

“Good thing it seems like we’ll have more than enough opportunities for practice, then,” he calls. 

Frank shakes his head, his own lips hinting at an amused- if slightly dumbfounded- smile, and follows after.