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Into the Hush

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Wyoming, 1872

The early morning air is crisp with new spring, cold and a little damp, dew glistening on the grass and glinting gold in the morning sun. Your breath still comes out in soft puffs that curl into the air as you step out onto your creaking, front porch. It overlooks the barren dirt road that leads up to your humble and charming farmhouse; weathered by time and storm and pleasantly cluttered with life and home at every turn. Off to the left is the freshly tilled ground that has been planted in; herbs and fruits and vegetables that will take over in the warm summer months. Trees have shaken the snow from them and have turned green and budding and new again. 

You wrap your shawl tighter around your shoulders, trying to gather more warmth from the worn cream, crochet wrap. You know once the sun rises higher into the afternoon, you’ll grow too warm for it, but now it’s needed. The wind curls around you, rustles your hair, lifts your skirts. It carries the promise of warmth, the reminder of winter. 

All is peaceful in the morning, before the day has broken over the hills. All that sings is the birds, lovely and bright and flitting from tree to tree. 

You lift your skirts, head over to the back porch, which wraps the entire way along your house. In the back is the barn, the pasture for the animals to graze when it’s warm. The creek towards the back, bubbling softly over the stones, crystal clear and cool. It’s perfect on a summer afternoon, but now would be too cold for you. 

And you begin your day, head over to the shed where you ready the feed for the chickens, grab a basket for eggs. You enter the coop, greet the clucking hens with a coo, spreading food for them which they hurry to eagerly. As they eat, you gently reach for warm eggs in their nest, gather it into your basket and rush on to your other chores. 

Milk the cows, get them fresh water, fresh hay and in the afternoon, you’ll let them out in the pasture to warm in the sun. 

A few of them are round with calves, ready to give birth any day now. 

You tend to the single horse, only one now after your father’s male passed away last spring. The one left is yours; a dappled, brown mare you’ve affectionately called Clover. 

You’ll take her to town later, to sell extra eggs and milk, all the goods you can in exchange for bread or spices or money for the tax collector. By the time you’re finished with your chores, which is taking longer and longer as the farm extends and your father grows older and older, it’s around noon, the sun beginning to warm into pleasant rays of topaz and canary. 

Your father sits on the porch, in his old rocking chair, smoking a pipe. His knee has been bad since this past fall, has a harder and harder time helping you. Not that you mind; this farm has practically become yours, but he hates leaving you to it all alone. 

He’s been dying to set you up with an Alpha, find a good man to marry and help you with the farm. But none of the men from town pique your interest, few good Alphas in the small town of Longbrook, Wyoming. The train, not far from town, brings newcomers once and awhile, but it’s mostly quiet, tucked away in a valley, a river snaking its way through and out into the plains of wildflowers and fields. 

You know Longbrook’s secrets, the quiet, beautiful places that you run to when you have the time. Spend your evenings lazing in columbine and aster flowers, beneath old, crooked trees near quiet, turquoise lakes. Or on a bluff, looking high above the world, cool wind in your face and the fluttering of birds nearer to you than planted on the grounds below. 

You know where not to stray to, when the wilderness grows too rough and dangerous. Unrestrained in both it’s beauty and viciousness. 

So independent that you can’t quite imagine your life beside another, especially not beside an Alpha, with their combative, controlling natures. You can’t imagine a husband that wouldn’t mind you taking off, disappearing into the wilderness and returning when you fancy; like some feral cat, your father always remarks gruffly. 

He isn’t a fan of your disappearing acts, either. Alpha that he is, he’s kept careful and close watch on you since you discovered you were Omega, as irritating as it is. Controlling, but only because he means well. You manage to sate him by coming home before nightfall, when dusk is lavender and rose and the moon is only beginning to take the sun’s place. Besides, there’s not much he can do with his bad knee, can’t keep you cooped up the way he used to. 

Ever since your mother had passed, you had to step up around the farm, grow up a little too quick. Responsible and resourceful, you work hard for you and your father. But your father has grown rather overprotective, wary with the Alphas he let come around; well respected in the town, no one has dared disobey him. A few had tried; Brock Rumlow, the tax collector, was the most notable of them. Pushy and irksome, he’d tried to convince you to disobey, sway you to sneak out with him or let him come by but you always turned your nose up at him.

You have no interest in someone so aggressive, so controlling.

You aren’t one to roll over or lower your eyes submissively; many Omegas aren’t, in your opinion, but it’s expected. There’s no time for that, though, not for you. No use or desire for it. You have a farm to take care of, to keep running smoothly. You have a life to live, adventures to have, open sky to chase. 

And there’s  certainly nothing and no one that’s going to stop you. 

“Be careful goin’ into town,” Your father speaks up finally, smoke curling from his lips, voice rough and fogged, “Heard there was a few newcomers.” 

Your father is always wary of newcomers, prefers to assess them himself, rather than hear from others. 

“Yes, pa.” You respond, not particularly interested in them, nor sticking around for one of your father’s infamous lectures. You hurry on, grabbing all that you need, loading up Clover for the journey. You saddle her up, throw yourself over her with practiced ease, hitching your skirts up slightly and out of the way. 

“Be home by nightfall!” Your father hollers after you, but you’re already easing Clover onto the dirt path. 

“Of course!” You call back, just as you urge her into a faster pace, your voice carries on the wind, distant and as light as the new blossoms. 

You push her into a gallop; not because there’s a rush, but because it’s fun. Because the wind is in your hair and the sun is warm on your shoulders and Clover thunders across the ground, kicking up dirt and making a mess. 

You let a grin hitch onto the corner of your lips, lean forward, ease into the speed. The town is only a twenty minute ride, fifteen if you pushed, but you want to enjoy the ride. The landscape blurs past you in shades of olive and juniper, butter cream, robin’s egg blue. The pop of lily white, a sudden burst of dainty pink or blushing red. But it’s just you and the trees and the pounding of your heart along the beat of hooves against the solid ground. 

Free and open and bursting, you race away from home eagerly and into the wilderness.

 

You end up slowing Clover halfway through your journey, appreciating the spring air, new and linen clean, shadowed patterns falling over you beneath the trees. The wind tickles your cheeks, the distant sound of the river can be heard when you listen carefully, a soft rush of water. It’s soothing, like the creek by your house, the sloshing lake you visit often. You let it carry you into town, peaceful, lazily letting Clover step onto more worn dirt roads. 

Town people shout to you in greeting, wave as you pass by; you’re a familiar face to them. You give them smiles, holler back to some as you make your way to the grocers to sell your eggs and milk. You swing down from Clover, hopping easily onto your feet. 

You end up walking out of the grocer’s with some extra money and a few cans of preserved vegetables and fruits. You buy some bread at the bakery, a pastry to split with Wanda, who you’re hoping can join you for the afternoon. 

You catch sight of her outside the dress shop, peering at the finely made clothes through the window. She wears her own dress of dove grey, similar in fashion to yours rather than the ones she gazes at; your dresses are looser, easier to move and work and play in, aprons tied around your waists instead of the ruffles and frill of the dresses in the window. Her long curls cascade over her shoulders, near copper under the afternoon sun.

You call to her, watch as her features light up upon seeing you, before she picks her skirts up and bounds over to you. Her scent hits you; sweetly Omega, soft clary sage, warm rose, and damp patchouli. Mysterious and floral, she’s always been a little offbeat with her wide, wondering eyes that linger in darkness. 

Some of the elders call her a witch, little demon child, with her Eastern European ties and mischievous curl of her lips. But to you she is only Wanda, your dearest. 

Her fingers, nimble and quick, find yours, lock and lace together. “Hello, darling.” She says, pressing her lips to your cheek in greeting, her voice melodic and smooth; velvet dark and sweet twilight. 

You let your cheek brush hers, lean into the touch eagerly, soft, rosy and warm skin against yours. “Hello, Wanda.” 

She pulls back with a flutter of her lashes, wide eyes finding yours. There’s a familiar glimmer in them, which makes your heart leap amorously, excited and playful. “Are we going to sneak off to the meadow today, still?” She asks, dropping her voice to a hush and stepping nearer. Your hands tighten over hers as you draw closer, duck your head so you catch another breeze of her scent in her hair, the nape of her neck.

“Yes,” You reply, an eager smile pulling at your lips, “I bought us a pastry to split and a book to read.” 

“Then what are we waiting for?” She nearly purrs, bouncing lightly on her toes in excitement. You’re about to pull her along, drag her towards Clover when someone clears their throat behind you.

You both turn, fingers still interwoven, pressed to one another’s sides. Her warmth is welcome and comforting, especially as you both find Rumlow gazing back at the pair of you with depthless, cold eyes. His face, so marred and twisted, gleams pink and shiny with scarred and new skin under the afternoon light. The rays of white gold sunlight do nothing to lighten his features, nor the darkness of his gaze.

It pierces deep into you, as if he wants to pry and prod and pick you cleanly apart. It’s the gaze of a conqueror, you think, the gaze of someone who wants something that can never be theirs. It’s a disturbing hunger, the kind that sends a deep chill down your spine. 

Wanda squeezes your hand in comfort. So attuned to you, she perhaps can tell by body language or the dip in your scent that you’re frightened in some way, that Rumlow has caused you distress and he has yet to even open his jagged, scarred mouth. 

“Lovely afternoon for you ladies.” He says very coldly, as if he is not in fact concerned with the weather nor you both.

“Yes, it is.” Wanda replies for you, a dark, protective little gleam in her eyes. You can smell the shift of scent with her light aggression, the flare of sage that burns and tickles your nose. It sharpens and spices, makes you blink with it. 

“You’re both looking mighty fine, rich with spring. Omegas always were sweetest in spring. Isn’t that right?” He muses and it chills you to the bone, makes you press closer to Wanda’s side, as if you could fold into the safety of her body. 

There is old folklore; spring being associated with Omegas. It’s all about fertility and the new life that blossoms in spring, old wives’ tales of Omegas getting their strongest heats in the spring after long, dormant winters. Perhaps there is some truth to it, biologically, because winter can get so harsh and so sparse with food if one isn’t careful. Bearing children in winter would never be easy, but it’s something you don’t wish to linger on, particularly not with the way Rumlow is eyeing you.

Like ripening fruit to be picked. A flower blooming, awaiting the moment to pluck it from the earth.

Wanda grows uncomfortable now, too, you can feel it in the bunching of her slim shoulders. But she steps in front of you purposefully, a show of challenge to Rumlow, one of protection for you. 

“Isn’t that right, ladies?” Rumlow urges, taking a step forward and Wanda sharply takes a step back, forcing you back as well. You cling to the back of her skirts with tense, seeking fingers. 

“I sure hope you’re not botherin’ these girls.” Another voice speaks up, authoritative and strong and sure. The kind of voice that gives commands, ones you think many eagerly would follow. Not unkind, but unwavering. When you both turn to the source, it’s a blond man, broad shouldered and wide and tall. He’s dressed simply, the top few buttons of his shirt popped open to reveal a muscled chest. Pretty, light blue eyes. He has an honest face, a strong jaw, trustworthy and noble. 

His scent is distinctly Alpha, strong and commanding; cedar wood and leather. The soft notes of something gentler like cotton and the way your linen smells on a summer day fluttering in the breeze to be dry. It’s soothing, a deep comfort compared to the off-beat, metal tang and sour blood smell of Rumlow’s scent. 

Which, has become bitter and salty with his anger and aggression for this newcomer.  

“I wasn’t bothering them. Was I bothering you Omegas?” He asks sharply, prickling with agitation and it makes you grip Wanda’s skirts a little tighter. “And who are you, anyways?” He then almost growls, “Newcomer isn’t gonna tell me what to do.” 

You can tell Rumlow’s itching to pick a fight by the tightening of his shoulders and baring of his teeth. The air becomes charged with scent, territorial and angry and pungent. Wanda’s is still spiced and agitated, too, with the threat of Rumlow. Your own is dipped into distress, irritation, and the newcomer’s becomes stronger, cedar wood sharp. Rooted in place, he cocks his head slightly, challenging. 

“Why don’t you move along.” The newcomer says, and he’s not asking, he’s telling. It’s bold of him, with the way Rumlow’s face; twisted and angry, settles on him. No one challenges Rumlow in this town. He holds too much power, is too strong; both physically and socially. Even protected by the law by being a tax collector for Alexander Pierce. 

Another man steps up behind the blond, eyeing Rumlow with particularly cold and dark eyes; midnight blue, the evening sky bleary with stars, depthless and all consuming. His hair is longer, brushing the tops of his shoulders, half pulled back from his strong face--

When your eyes settle upon his features for the first time, it feels as if you’ve been struck; a blow of lightning, the sudden shock of cold water, the gasp you take when you resurface. It’s damning, you think, as if you’ve seen him in your dreams or in hazy, unknown past lives. As if you’ve known him your whole life, somehow, as if you recognize him now and wonder how you ever could’ve forgotten him.

He looks like the tragic heroes you read about; the ones that rise only to fall, crumble down after being so noble and wide-eyed. He is breathtaking and standing tall and strong against Rumlow’s piercing gaze. There’s a warning in his eyes, a half-dare, begging Rumlow to try something and see what happens now. Where the blond is golden-hearted and bright-eyed, he seems darker, more eclipsed. 

And surprisingly, it works, Rumlow eyes the pair of them, weighs his options, and then promptly steps down. He mutters something about leaving, about how this isn’t the end. But you can’t help the quirk of a smile, the hint of cruel amusement you get from watching him ease away. Slink off back into the hustle of town.

Wanda smiles wider than you, sharper, a little more mischievous, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Rumlow cower like that.” She says and turns towards the newcomers with a radiance that is hard to match. 

And the blond smiles, easy and gentle, “Glad we could help.” And then with deep courtesy, “Steve Rogers, by the way.” 

“Wanda Maximoff.” She pulls you back up to her side once more, offers your name to them, too.

Steve claps the other man on the shoulder, an ease is shared between them that is not dissimilar to you and Wanda. Steve adds, “James Buchanan. But we just call him Bucky.”

And Bucky nods, his eyes finally sliding over to you; his scent hits you at nearly the same time. Offbeat and pine, the sharp, cold smell of metal. There’s evergreen and winter, maybe the soft spice of juniper, the low cut of musk. It makes your eyes flutter, makes your head go soft and bleary with it. 

“Pleasure to meet you both.” Wanda says and her voice refocuses you, her fingers skimming yours to ground you. You flit your eyes away, but can feel Bucky’s suddenly sink over you the way the red sun will drop below the hills. 

You become keenly aware of your bare neck, hair pulled from your face and shoulders to reveal it to him. The cut of your dress suddenly seems both revealing and not revealing enough. Like it could constrict you, or maybe you’re showing too much skin.  

“What brings you here?” You ask, perhaps a little coolly, eyes seeking out the horizon rather than them. Anything but him. 

“Passing through. Looking for work for a few weeks.” Steve answers politely and his eyes glitter like the creek in the high summer. He’s pretty, you think, long lashes framing those eyes. 

“Oh!” Wanda exclaims and she loops her arm through yours solidly, her body warm and soft beside you, “You’re in luck! She needs help running her farm!” 

You almost choke. Throw Wanda a glare but she only meets you with that impish, precious smile you can’t stay mad at for very long. 

“I don’t--” You try to protest. 

“She does!” Wanda interjects, “Her father injured his knee awhile ago, been looking for someone to help out.” 

“Well, if that’s the case, then perhaps Buck and I will have to stop by.” Steve says easily, a half amused grin tugging at his lips as he gazes between you and Wanda. Almost as if he’s endeared by your antics. You bristle. 

“My father doesn’t take to newcomers very well.” You warn, as if that’ll scare these two Alphas away so easily after their little stunt with Rumlow. You worry that few things will scare these two off. 

Regardless you don’t need them on your farm, don’t need them trying to help or care for you or order you around. It’s always been you, and no one will change that. You’re not about to let them treat you like some soft, little creature who should be inside baking them pies and fetching them water. 

But you can feel Bucky’s eyes on your face still, as if he’s trying to burrow in there, make a home upon which he gazes. 

You grow even tenser, teeth grinding. No home to find inside you; just the unruliness of nature, the ever-changing seasons, or unforgivable storms. The river that churns too fast, dives between the mountains and the forests, the sly, sharp-toothed fox. 

You turn your nose up, “Besides,” You say, insolent and dry, “I don’t really need any help.” 

“‘Course.” Steve agrees and you aren’t sure if it’s to placate you or if he’s genuine, “But if you’re looking for an extra pair of hands to order around, we’re your guys.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.” You say, though decidedly won’t

Daring yourself, you finally force your eyes to Bucky once more. His face is stern and closed off, reserved. He hasn’t spoken once, and stupidly, horribly, you long to hear his voice. You wonder what it sounds like, if it’s rough or smooth or everything at once. Does he speak loudly or softly? Will you have to lean in to hear him or will you step back at the crack of it? 

And yet, he hasn’t needed it once yet. His presence, formidable and strong and raw, is enough.

You blink, look away just as he glances back at you. This strange game of cat and mouse with eyes is making your fingers twitch and tighten in your skirts. 

“We should be off,” You tell Wanda, wishing to flee, to feel the wind on your face and Wanda’s body beside yours and the afternoon sun bursting on your skin. 

Steve wishes the pair of you well, gentlemanly and sweet. Tips his hat with a boyish sort of grin that perhaps would leave other’s swooning. 

And Bucky, gruffly, and with a sort of gentleness you aren’t expecting to find, says to you, “It was nice meeting you both.” 

Something warm settles into your chest, sliding down like molasses, dripping into your stomach and core, spreading throughout you like it owns you; settles deep into you like it won’t leave, real deep into the marrow of your bones. And you inhale, breathe as if this is your first real breath in the whole of your life.

You find yourself replying, almost as softly, “It was nice to meet you, too.” 

His lips twitch upwards in the barest hint of a smile, as if it’s the first time he’s smiled in a long, long time and he needs you to show him how again.

So you do, you give him your own smile that isn’t much bigger, but it’s much easier and sweet as honey, clever as a fox. Almost like you want him to chase you, follow that curve of your lips. 

Wanda giggles, before pulling you away and back towards Clover to begin your adventure for the day, but you think you can feel the dark of his eyes on the back of your neck still, the line of your shoulders. It lingers, until you ride off into the heather hills with her and disappear on the gauzy horizon. 


Wanda and you roll in the wild grass on the sloping hills. Laughing and chasing and playing like you’re girls again, half-savage and free and untempered. You tumble and shriek and hitch up your skirts, loosen your dresses and unbutton collars. The sun is a gold glow, warming the earth and your skin, shimmering dreamlike on the new green buds, the wheat yellow of the tall grass. You tip your face up to the sky eagerly, just as you let yourself flop back into the field, back hitting the ground that catches your fall, cradles you. Clouds pass overhead in cotton shapes, free and darling, and you’re still breathing a little hard from romping around with Wanda, feeling your heartbeat inside the cage of your chest. You feel flushed with life; ferocious and curious and excited. 

Wanda drops down by your feet, before slowly, languidly crawling atop you. She straddles your waist, her skirts spilling out over the two of you. You sit up on your elbows, jostle and try to dislodge her a little with another round with warm laughter, but she holds fast, nails digging into your shoulders. 

“I saw the way you were looking at Bucky.” She says and there’s too much mischief in her eyes, a clever glint that the sun turns amber and honey hazel. 

You roll your eyes at her, but even the mention of his name on her lips makes something inside of you stir. But you indulge her, leveling her with an unamused gaze, “And how was that, Wanda?” 

She leans over you, her fiery hair brushing your cheek, your shoulders. She fits herself closer, twines her arms around you all close and snug. 

 “Like you wanted to bare your throat to him right then and there.” She teases playfully, voice dipping into a warm, rumbling purr. Her nose drops, nuzzles lightly at the sensitive scent gland at your neck. It makes you squirm, your fingers tightening in the skirts of her dress. 

You allow her so close, allow lips and teeth and nose into the dips of your body because she’s so familiar to you. A piece of your heart is firmly in her small, warm hands. It blurs the thin, unsteady line between you two, though. Scenting at the neck is usually romantic in some way; often times sexual. Comforting, when it needs to be, but you’ve laid so many times with Wanda, gotten so close and tangled together that you often find your nose at her throat, the nape of her neck, tucking your face into the crooks of her body and she to you. You know her like a lover, you think, sink into her body beneath the sun and the moon and the open skies that spread out before you both. As if the whole world opens for you two. 

“Your scent got sweeter; milky lavender and dark jasmine.” Her lashes tickle your collar bones, her mouth warm and open against the skin there. It makes you flush deeply, sink into the earth beneath you, “Want him to bite you?” She jibes, flashes pearly teeth, her canine gleaming in that white sun. 

“Wanda!” You yelp, shoving at her and she throws her head back and laughs, “No!” And you begin to wrestle with her once more, pushing her off and sending you both tumbling down another hill. You shriek and peel with laughter, pulling and grabbing at each other until you roll apart.

She gets on her hands and knees, feigns a growl from an Alpha in her throat, the kind that rumbles out from deep within them, but the sound is a little muted, and too light in her mouth. She suddenly pounces for you again, playful and light, sending you belly up and onto your back, though. “You want him to tackle you like this,” She torments, grabbing at your wrists as you try and squirm and fight with her. 

With a grunt and all your strength, you roll her right onto her back now, hook your legs over her hips like she did. 

“You want to simper and cry under him,” She says and this time her voice gets soft and breathy and pouty and she is good at that. Her back arches beneath you and you push at her more, tighten your hands around her wrists, shove them down to the ground, feel her heaving chest and trace the curve of her smiling lips and rose touched cheeks with eager eyes. 

“I don’t!” You laugh, playfully bare your teeth at her and try and growl back the way she had. It’s better than hers, a little more bite to it, but it’s still too light and soft. She laughs with you at your attempt now, laughs and growls and yells with you until you’re both breathless because there is nothing and no one around to hear you but each other.

You howl and chase and fall into each other with giggles and wildflowers in your hair, get lost in her and the way the sun begins to fall from the sky and cast everything in a rosewood haze, slow and burning and beautiful. 

She lays her cheek on your back when you ride Clover back to her home, and she kisses you goodnight, lips at the corner of yours. Promises to see you tomorrow. 

And then you ride home, race fast and hard before the sun is swallowed by the moon, before the stars blink into existence and your father scolds you to all hell and back. 


Home seems eerie with the darkness that creeps around its edges, night drawing out all the creeks and aches and splinters in the old house. All the memories pushed towards the back of your mind rush forward like skittering spiders. The last sliver of light sits on the horizon, fighting, railing against that inky sky as you get home. 

And when you rush through the front door, shouting, “Pa, I’m home before the sun’s set!” You aren’t expecting to nearly run right into the broad chest of Steve Rogers.

You blink hard and he steadies you with a hushed, “Easy,” And his big hands on your shoulders. 

You look up at him in disbelief, brows furrowing, quickly lurching away from him, only to realize Bucky stands to his right. 

“What--” You start to snap, and this time your teeth are baring with aggression and irritation, gone is the lightness and playfulness you had with Wanda. Your eyes flash with the last cut of light that slashes through the old windows of your house. 

“There’s my feral cat of a daughter, fellas.” Your father says and your head whirls to him. 

He begins to introduce the three of you again, but you cut him off, “I met ‘em today, Pa.” 

“Oh, good.” He says dryly, unappreciative of your tone. You force back a wince, know you’ll get scolded for that one. “They’ll be helping you out on the farm for a few weeks.” 

You whip back to face Steve and Bucky, narrow your eyes at them, “Thought I told you both I don’t need any help?” You snap, unruly, wildflowers still caught in your hair that now slips free of what it’d been pulled back in earlier. You’re sure you look half-wild. 

Steve holds up his hands as if he means no harm, palms up to you and you see they’re rough and calloused and scarred. Used, working hands. Hands that have seen a lot. You glance at Bucky, notice that one of his hands is gloved, the other free. You try not to stare, flit your eyes back to Steve.

“In our defense, we didn’t know this was your farm. We were sent this way after inquiring in town for work.” Steve says calmly, and then puts his hand over his heart, “Honest.” 

You scoff lightly, turn back to your father, “I don’t need them, Pa.”

“No,” He agrees and pride swells in you, a small bubble of it for a heartbeat, “But they’d be a great help to you.” 

There’s no amount of arguing or protesting that’s gonna change your father’s mind once it’s been set. He seems settled on this, content and confident. You try not to pout, try not to stamp your feet or snap or glare them right out of your house. 

Final discussions are had; pay and what times they’ll arrive and leave. Your father, thankfully, warns them to listen to you, and if he finds differently, they’ll be kicked to the dirt as quickly as they’d gotten the job.

And then he warns them, quite frankly, to mind themselves around you and you can feel your cheeks deepen into crimson. Bucky and Steve dip their heads, though, say obedient and firm, yes sir’s, as if they expected it. 

Your father finishes with, “Alright, then. You two start tomorrow.” And then he looks to you, “Walk them out, will you?” 

You huff, but do so, walk them to the porch where the crickets and frogs have begun to chirp and croak and sing. The night crawls onward, the wind rattles this old house. A chill overcomes you, a little shudder. You think you can hear the far-off sound of baying coyotes, erie and high pitched in their frenzied yelping. 

“Suppose I’ll see you both bright and early in the morning, then.” You say, crossing your arms over your chest. 

“Suppose so.” Steve says, lowers his eyes a little, “I did mean it, we didn’t know this was your farm.” 

You eye him, “Nothin’ I can do about it now, is there?” You counter, unwilling to give an inch, no matter how sweetly he looks at you with those darling, blue eyes. You’re sure that boyish charm works everywhere else, but you refuse to let it here.

He has the good sense to dip his head submissively, nodding slightly, “We’ll get out of your hair for the night then, let you rest. Goodnight, ma’am.” He says respectfully, before easing down off the old wood that protests beneath his heavy steps. 

And for a heartbeat, it is only you and Bucky and the rattling tree branches and the croaking night. A moment frozen, as if you’d captured it in a bottle like a letter that you’ll throw into the sea. Just this sliver of time that makes the whole world stand still, as if it’s been waiting or fearing for your coming together. 

You have nothing to say, but he inclines his head, holds your eyes like he’s holding the world in his arms, and murmurs all low and rumbling, “Goodnight, miss.” 

Then turns his back on you, and hustles over to Steve, to their tethered horses. 

And this time it’s you that watches him, eyes glued to his muscled back, the nape of his neck, as he eventually is swarmed by the darkened, reaching horizon.


You fall into bed, feeling strange and wary, a little weary, perhaps a little hopeful, too. For what, you don’t know. You can feel the wind changing, coming with new spring. But there’s something else, something heavier; the pressure is building, as if there’s a storm brewing. The kind of spring storm that bring destruction and clamor and the kind of rain that threatens to sweep you away in their flood and ferocity. 

Your bed creeks, the shadows are tall and reaching in your room. The moon spills in, but instead of painting you with wonder or lovely, pearl light, it only makes the shadows that much darker. The night brings the cold, makes you pull tight and inwards. You curl up beneath your quilt, try and ward off all that presses in. 

Eventually, you sleep. 

And you dream. 

You dream in visions of phantom grey and oil slick black, syrupy red, and flesh pink. You step lightly in a graveyard, the earth freshly turned and dark. Stones jut out from the ground like jagged, crooked teeth. It swallows you whole. The fog is thick and evasive, surrounding you and gathering around you, a train to your skirts that murmur and brush against stones and dirt and the hollowed out ground. 

A grave with your father’s name grows from the earth, forces you to stop, stutter backwards. Your teeth begin chattering, the clanking of bone against bone. You can feel the whispers of wind, something so near. Your heart plummets as you read his name, as you see his grave, which you now see is besides your mother’s. 

The ground trembles. 

Their graves crack, splinter like a dropped glass, bursting outwards in a wave of skittering, flaming stone. 

Frantically, you drop to your knees, try to put them all back together, as if that will somehow help. As if that will fix anything. You curse and cry and there are tears-- there are tears that drop onto burning stone. It sizzles and smokes but you can’t put them back together. You are alone, and you can’t. 

Your hands begin to burn, flesh pink and blister white. Mud sucks at your legs and your knees and then you are sinking, sinking, sinking--

Oil drowns you, forces its way down your mouth and your throat and clogs your lungs. Seeps into every part of you. It’s invasive, forceful in it’s push and pull of you, it sucks at you and you are forced downward, kicking and screaming. Forced to swallow and take and be filled.

You twist, frantic. Try to fight back, but you are caught in the thick of it. It devours your screams and cries and pain.

And from above, there is a cut of silver, a star in the inky sky. A hand; metal and unnatural plunges in for you. And he pulls you clear out of the muck, the earth’s blood and into his arms.

When you emerge, it is as if you’re cleansed by the light. Gone is the slick oil, gone is the choking and drowning and thrashing. Bucky holds you to him now, crushes you to his chest where you can hear the live, thundering beat of his heart. 

“I’ve got you,” He murmurs, cradling your skull as if it’s precious, something to be protected. Your nose is pushed to his neck and you--

You cling to him, swallow down clean gulps of spring air and the juniper bright and metal sharp smell of him. Pine, there is pine and evergreen, too. Clean and fresh and dipping into musk. Your heart slows, lulls, with his voice in your ear; that voice you’d so desperately wanted to hear.

You feel as if you’ve heard it your whole life now, as if you can’t imagine going another day without hearing it. And he says your name, not Omega, just your name. And he breathes and is warm and alive beneath you. 

When you look around now, the earth is fertile and bright and warm. Spring damp roses and sweet, honeycomb sunshine. The fauna is in full bloom, an overabundance of life that leaves you inhaling the fragrant air. It’s so thick, almost cloying. 

And there is no breeze, you think. 

And Bucky’s lips are at your neck. 

And there is a stirring in your stomach but its--

It’s all wrong. 

He tries to lay you down. And you don’t protest because there’s something so tempting about it all, so safe, or so instinctual. There’s an ache and a burn and you want to shed your skin, you want to let him in and never let him out, bury his body in the ground with you. Become the earth and fertilize the flowers and feed the foxes you love so much. You wanna lie with him until the crow calls, until you’re nothing but him and you and the gem stones deep in the ground. 

But when his face lifts from your vulnerable neck, it is not him. 

Rumlow stares down at you, his scarred face so close and imploring. He croons Omega and you shriek, you try to get away, but it’s like the oil all over again; you trapped and thrashing and stuck. Rabbit in a snare. Fox in a trap. You scream, scream for Bucky or Wanda or even Steve or your father. You scream until it tapers off and burns into something ragged, shredding your voice. 

He is just heavy atop you, and his face is morphing and shifting, like he’s a new creature altogether. Blackened eyes that are too wide, too large and there is a gaping whole where his mouth should be--

You claw at him, scratch with nails, pull at pink flesh and cartilage and bone until he starts dripping blood and saliva, growling like a rabid dog. You twist his face away so sharply, so horribly, that there is a sickening crack and then the full of him collapses atop you.

You squirm and you are crying, choked sobs because it feels like you are burning, or aching. Lonesome and longing or horrified and fearful of everyone. You want to be held in equal measures that you want to run away and never see another face again. You are torn, split in two and unraveling. 

When you scramble away, deeper into the fragrant wild grass. You realize there is wetness, slick and warm and--

There is blood. So much blood coating your legs and it seeps through your skirts, stemming from between your legs. It pools beneath you, waters the flowers and seeps into the earth as if it belongs there. 

You howl like an animal, fingers squabbling in the dirt and the blood and your body as if you can put yourself back together again--  

 

You wake with a hard, sucking gasp. Blinking hard in the darkness. Your hands pull at your nightgown, shift to feel your skin, still warm and dry and clean beneath your heavy quilt. Reassuring, gulping breaths bring back cool air into your lungs. I’m safe, you tell yourself, it was just a dream.  

But the night is still dark and the bed still creaks and the wind still howls, almost the way you had when you’d found all that blood-- No. 

But now you’re just awake, in a lonely room. And there is no comfort, no warmth or forgiveness in the hollowness of it all. 

You rise in the morning, heavy bags beneath your eyes, and begin your day in hopes of a better one.