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In a Little While

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They were all packed, and were just finishing up breakfast, because, as Captain America always reminded his spouse ‘it’s the most important meal of the day Buck..’ which always caused a roll of the eyes from him. Mornings were not his thing, usually requiring a couple cups of coffee to get him going.

“They should make it later in the day then.” He’d grumbled one morning. “I’d enjoy it more.”

He remembered Steve grinning and basically hauling him off the bed, on some occasions throwing him of his shoulder, and carting him to the kitchen to eat. He was very adamant about these things and as much Bucky pretended to be annoyed by this adherence to tradition, he loved him for it. Because he was always taking care of his grumpy bear, even when he growled at him.

Bucky had still scheduled his one on one sesssions and meetings at the VA, as well as plans with friends later in the morning but the plane was leaving early today. And it was fucking cold as all hell, being almost mid-December at all. Which had not improved his mood, because icy cold weather brought with it a myriad of issues for him. The aches and pains from his laundry list of old injuries and scars, which brought along the emotional baggage that came with them.

His depression and irritability during cold or inclement weather was legendary now.

The date didn’t help either. It was a little too close to an unpleasant anniversary that he badly wanted to be out of town for. For reasons. His friendship with Tony was still in an early, tentative phase and he didn’t want to aggravate that old wound after working so hard to heal it.

All that and the first destination on the leg of this trip was contributing to him not being in the best of moods this morning. And he didn’t hear Steve’s question at first, the caffeine taking forever to kick into his muddled mind as he fed Arya a little bit of sausage as a treat.

“Are you sure about this?”

Bucky looked up at him, almost as if he didn’t know what Steve meant. He looked back at the cat on his lap and then at Steve. “Vet said it was okay as long as it was small pieces.”

“That’s not what meant.” Steve corrected, giving Arya’s little head a quick scratch. “I meant, we could always postpone if you’re not ready.”

“How many times are you gonna ask me that?” Bucky responded, a little shortly.  “I’m as ready as I’m ever gonna be for this.” He shook his head and drank another gulp of coffee. “It’s a little late to second guess anyways.” He looked at Steve over his coffee mug and added. “And I just..  wanna be out of town before.. you know..”

“I know Buck I just..” Steve said, understandingl what he meant, and put his hand on Bucky’s metal one. “I love you and I just.. wanna make sure you’re okay that’s all.” He let his thumb trail over the metal segments, which Bucky could feel actually. “Especially after the other day and all.”

He knew what Steve was talking about and flinched slightly. The memory of that sever anxiety attack he’d had at the compound fell into his head. The feeling of being unable to breath, the vision distortion and nausea, not to mention the violent shaking that came with it. He knew these scared Steve when they happened. And that fact that that had been his first really bad one in over a year had made it concerning to him.

Not to mention the flashback that had come with it. A setback that had pissed Bucky off for a few days. The frustration because he thought he was past that shit but here was his mind going pop again on him.

Even though Amelia had told him it was perfectly normal to have setbacks like that. That the time of year might’ve contributed to it, upping his stress level a little. Bucky knew exactly what had caused it thought and kicked himself for opening up that damn file on the computer and setting off the meltdown in his still healing brain.

He saw Steve watching him with and he didn’t want to get back into that, not wanting to worry him regarding his fears of a relapse in the face of a very important trip. Didn’t want to acknowledge that worry openly for fear that Steve would insist on postponing the trip. It would start a fight Bucky did not want that right now. He wanted to get this over with.

“I’m okay Steve.” He said, his voice quiet as he petted Arya, who was now purring on his lap. “I talked to Amelia and we.. worked through a few things.” He tried to give a reassuring smile. “So stop being a worrywart punk.”

“I know you did.” Steve told him, squeezing his hand. “But worrying about you is my job jerk and I take it very seriously.”

Bucky smiled, feeling the irritability dissipate a little at the way Steve looked when he said that. Unable to help himself he leaned over, wrapping his hand around Steve’s neck and kissed him, tasting coffee and cinnamon among other things as he did. He felt Steve’s hand bunch his ponytail in between his fingers as they let it linger for a moment longer.

“I love you punk.” He told him as he pulled his lips away. “Even though you are annoying as all hell.”

“The feelings mutual jerk.” Steve retorted, keeping his and in Bucky’s hair. “You all packed?”

“Yeah.” He told him, sitting back a little and petting Arya again. “So is she.”

Arya was going with them and she even had her own travel pack, which including travel dishes and a portable litter box. They were going to be gone at least a week, maybe more, and he would not leave her for that long. He wanted, needed her around and so they had a travel pack just for her. All her shot were in order and she was fit to fly with them which had certainly put his mind at ease.

“Got your medicine packed too right?”

Bucky narrowed his eyes, feeling like a child for a moment. “Of course.” He shot back with a little sharpness in his voice. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“Easy there boo bear.” Steve told him as he got up and kissed his head sweetly. “I’m just checking.”

They were fortunate enough that Tony had volunteered his private plane for them as well, so it wasn’t on a set schedule, but still had to leave early as they wanted to be in Germany by mid-afternoon. But the private jet wasn’t just for scheduling or allowing them to sleep. Or as Tony had said once, to accommodate the furball, but for another reason as well.

Tony had fully understood that being packed in a plane with a bunch of strange people would’ve done Bucky’s mental health no good so he’d offered, provided they make sure the ‘damn furball’ didn’t piss on the rug. And Bucky had remembered not only being amused by this sentiment, but touched as well. Though he didn’t say it out loud, he was grateful.

He and Tony had come a long way, which was he didn’t want to jeopardize that by being around on the 16th. Their conversation on the fairgrounds having opened the door to developing a tentative friendship. And Tony had seen first-hand several incidents of the occasional fragility of Bucky’s mental health sometimes. Including the most recent one.

Although Bucky still hadn’t confessed what had caused that yet. He’d only talked about it in therapy. He wasn’t sure why he was holding it back from Steve especially, but he was. It just seemed necessary for now. It was the way it was it worked with him sometimes that even with Steve it took awhile to fully open up and sometimes that frustrated him too.

Steve must’ve seen these thoughts on his face because he hesitated before getting up. “You okay?” He asked, studying him closely. “Forget something.”

“No.” Bucky answered a little too quickly he noted to himself. “I’m fine.”

Steve looked like he didn’t 100 percent believe him but didn’t push it. “Alright then let’s get going.” Steve insisted, pulling Bucky to his feet like he needed help. “Plane’s waiting for us.”

Bucky grabbed his backpack with the arm that wasn’t holding Arya, looking adorable in her little burgundy colored harness, a gift from her Auntie Wanda, and slung it over his right shoulder, as well as his jacket that he’d put on in the car. He looked around the house for just a moment, seeing the Christmas decorations and smiling, knowing they’d be back right on time for it. Baring any unforeseen circumstances that was. He heard Arya meow as he attached her leash to her harness, just as a precaustion.

“You ready little darlin?” He asked the little cat, who just looked up at him curiously. “This is your plane ride isn’t that exciting?”

Interestingly it was also Bucky’s first since returning to the states 3 years ago. His last several plan rides had been exceptionally unpleasant. One involving being in restraints and the other he had been in terrible pain, having just lost his arm again. And even though Berlin and its ghosts were the first part of the trip, the second part involved a warmer place where he’d first gone to heal as well, for some much-needed updates and maintenance on his arm. Well overdue if the Skype’s from Shuri were indication.

Wakonda would be a wonderful reprieve after Berlin he knew. Even if it meant some more medical work at least it was safe. And warmer too.

Riding in the car on the way to the airport, Bucky sort of whistfully looked out the window at Brooklyn and the rest of New York City passing him by out the window. These places were safe, his comfort zone and to leave it and go far away again filled him that old fear of never coming back he’d had the first time he’d left New York to go off to Europe. And how it had taken over 70 years to truly come home. And feeling that now he did his best to reassure himself that he would be coming back a lot sooner than that. To their warm, safe home tucked inside their own little corner or Brooklyn.

He may not have born there but it had been home since he was young and always would be.

He felt Steve’s hand take his metal one as he drove. “You alright?” He asked again, kissing the fingers softly.

“Yeah I suppose.” Bucky said, laying his head back against the head-rest and turning it to look at Steve. “I’m just gonna miss home that’s all..” He sighed heavily. “It’s the first time I’m going this far away from it since.. you know.”

“I know.” Steve said with that same soft look. “But I guarantee you won’t be away anywhere near as long.”

Bucky smiled and closed his eyes, letting himself relax in the passenger seat. Keeping his nerves at bay for the time being. We will return.. he heard the voice of the Winter Soldier say in his head, the steadying voice that was glad had never left him. Steve will make sure of it.

Turning his head, Bucky looked at the window and took that into him, that it would be okay.

--

Steve watched Bucky as he stared out the window of the plane, looking like if he could, he’d jump out right there. Because he clearly didn’t want to go back here, even though he said he was okay he obviously wasn’t. But it was too late to go back, and all Steve could do was support him in this situation that suddenly cropped up for them both.

At least the timing was fortuitous he supposed.

He had remembered Sharon’s phone call, telling them that they needed Bucky’s full statement regarding the Berlin incident. And it had be done there unfortunately for legal purposes. That they had no choice but to ask this now that Bucky’s mental had been stabilized for at least a year now and his testimony could be taken. And because Zemo was finally being tried for that too, after the conviction in Austria for the bombing.

The family members of the people killed in the Berlin incident inside the compound were demanding justice and if they couldn’t have the Winter Soldier, due to his being declared not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, they needed to convict Zemo for these as well. It may have seemed ancillary seeing as the man was already convicted and serving multiple life sentences, but it was necessary to placate those in Berlin who wanted justice too.

And Bucky was a key witness in this unfortunately. And a lot of people there were still calling for his head for it in spite of his acquittal for it years ago. So Steve knew that Bucky was going to have to face this again over 4 years after the fact and had worried about the effect it would have on him to revisit this now.

“I’m not sure about this.” He’d told him as they’d sat in the art room, Bucky’s face unreadable as he sat in front of his easel. “Maybe they could put it off a little longer.”

“How much longer Steve?” Bucky had said in a hollow voice, a slight tremble in his right hand. “Those people deserve justice don’t they?”

“So we should just serve you up to the mob there?” Steve asked incredulously. “They want your blood too Buck and that worries me.”

“I can take care of myself Steve.”

Steve had leaned over and taken his hands tightly. “I know you can Buck that’s not what this is about.”

Bucky had looked up at him, his eyes barely hiding pain underneath them. “Then what is it about?” He asked, sounding as if he was keeping his voice even just barely. “Because if I can’t give them an ounce of justice for what I did there than its just delaying it.” His hands wrapped around Steve’s tightly. “He needs to be held accountable and if I don’t do it who will?”

Steve had remembered the pained yet determined look on Bucky’s face as he said this. Thinking about how strong he was. How strong he’d had to have to been to overcome so much and carry those scars with him. He’d watched him fight through his illness like he’d torn through his enemies and had come out standing on his feet in spite of being knocked down. And now they were asking him to fight again and he was willing to do it, if it brought a measure of justice for those who had simply been in the the Winter’s Soldier’s misguided path of destruction.

“I’m just worried about you okay?” He told him, wrapping his hand around the back of his head to kiss it softly. “I don’t want you to get hurt again.”

He felt Bucky bury his head against his shoulder and Steve wrapped his arms around him and just hugged him tight. Wishing like he didn’t have to do this but knew in his heart that he did. “As long as you’re with me punk.. “ Bucky whispered into his shoulder that quite afternoon in his favorite room in the house. With his paintings on the wall and a growing collection of stuffed animals. “I’ll be alright.”

“Of course I will.” He’d said into his hair. “I promise.”

He sat back down next to him on the plane now, watching as he petted Arya, who seemed to have no trouble adjusting to plane travel, staring out the window at the passing clouds over the Atlantic Ocean. The little car was resting on his metal arm, which was next to the window and Steve simply wrapped his arm around Bucky’s right shoulder and petted her too.

“Enjoying the view gorgeous.” He asked him, pressing his lips to the side of Bucky’s head.

“Not much to look at.” Bucky answered, taking Steve’s other hand with his right, folding their fingers together. “Just a lot of water.”

Steve looked at their entwined fingers, seeing the wedding band on Bucky’s, because in his own words, it fit better on his flesh hand than his metal one, and the way Steve’s own sort clanked softly against it. Bucky never took it off either, along with his dog tags and the two bracelets he wore. One of them his engagement one, and the other the rope band Wanda had given him on their wedding day. These items had a grounding, talismanic effect on him, and if he had to take them off for whatever reason, he’d kept a watchful eye on them until they were back on.

“You sure you’re alright?” He asked, brushing his lips over Bucky’s hair. “You can tell me you know.. I’m not gonna turn the plane around or anything. Although I could try..”

Bucky seemed to smile at that for a moment before getting serious. “It’s just.. sometimes if feels like this shit will never go away.” Bucky admitted, turning his head and laying it on Steve’s shoulder. “And I’m just tired you know?”

“I know you are.” He whispered into his hair. “How about you take a nap.. still got several hours until we get there.”

Bucky nodded, for once not arguing, probably too tired to, and just leaned against Steve a little more now, letting his head rest on his shoulder. “You’re a good pillow punk.” He told him with a cute little smile. “Don’t mind if I use you right?”

“You can use me for anything you want jerk.” Steve told him, brushing his lips over his head again. “I mean that.”

He felt him drift off in his shoulder and pulled him a little more against him for more comfort. Thinking about that anxiety attack he’d had the other day, the one he still wouldn’t admit the cause of. The way he’d looked terrified for a moment when Steve had put his hands on his shoulders, as if wanted to pull away. And how he’d had a few nightmares since as well. Whatever it had been, it may have been related to this trip, but he had a feeling it was more than just that.

He’d been looking at some of the archived stuff Tony had at the compound when it had had happened. Steve had been in a discussion in the other room and thought Bucky had been taking too long looking the computer information and had checked on him, only to find his husband in a familiar state and it had scared the shit out of him.

He’d hadn’t seen him that bad in a while. He’d had minor ones but that one had been full blown.

Bucky had been shaking violently, his eyes far away and Steve had to basically fist his hair firmly and talk to him in a commanding voice. Or more accurately, talk to the Soldier, almost commanding him to come forward to steady Bucky. It had been a perfected method when he’d had these breakdowns.

“At ease Soldier.” He told him, his fingers gripping Bucky’s loose ponytail. “At eased.”

The effect was always immediate, and Bucky went limp like a kitten and Steve was able to embrace him at that point. But getting him talk had been futile. And he couldn’t be forced to either. He just had to wait him out again like he always did.

At home that night Bucky’s painting had been chaotic, with a lot of jagged lines and distorted figures and he didn’t want to talk about that either, doing his best to deflect whatever way he could. Which sometimes meant initiating sexual encounters. Insisting he needed to be contained and controlled until he was stable again. He remembered the way he’d climbed over him, looking down at him with that slightly mad look in his eyes.

“Bucky?” He’d asked, reaching up to put his hands on his face. “I wish you’d talk to me.”

“I don’t wanna talk.” Bucky had replied, his eyes almost begging him. “Not now.. please..”

He had told him many times that he could use him if he needed to, that it was okay. And that had been part of their relationship and marriage and probably always would be. As long as Bucky wasn’t using it to hurt himself that was. When Bucky felt out of control and needing of restraint, he made it clear like that, and Steve always gave him what he needed. And that night he did.

But he wished he would open up about it all. This was a habit of Bucky’s too, closing down, almost as if he was protecting Steve from it, and he’d said as much in the aftermath of that encounter. Admitting to that at least.

“I’ve put you through enough.” He’d said as he laid curled up in Steve’s arms. “You don’t need anymore weight on those broad shoulders punk.”

“You know when I said ‘for better or worse’ or ‘the end of the line’ I meant it jerk.” He’d whispered against his head. “You don’t have to protect me from the dark parts.” He’d lifted his chin to kiss him. “I love every part of you.. and married all of you.”

“I know.” Bucky had said against his lips, voice filled with emotion. “You still.. deserve better..”

He still said things like that when he was low, and it always hurt him to hear it even now. Most of the time things were better, as close to normal as possible. Happiness, warmth, peace and quiet had filled their lives on a daily basis. Normalcy, which was so important for them both, but especially for Bucky. Routine and stability. But when he had the bad ones, he had to remind Bucky and himself that it was just a passing thing.  And winter was just always going to be rough and would have to ridden out.

They’d make due like they always did. And now they were on a plane, making due again, ready to deal with another fight that was worth fighting even if it left them both a bit bruised and bloody at the end of it.

And Christmas was coming in the middle of it. There was that. Bucky did enjoy Christmas. He’d grown to appreciate it he’d told him once, because he’d gone so long without things like that. In fact he told Steve he was pretty sure they’d sent him out on a mission once right that time. More than once actually.

“It’s kinda fucked up.” He told Steve the year before. “But what can you do right?”

What Bucky could and did do, was serve the veterans Christmas dinner on the 24th just like he did on Thanksgiving. He and Sam had gotten their other friends to as well and it had now become a tradition and seemed to be happiness to those who sometimes had little in their lives to make them happy, to meet superheroes and just to be given a hot meal.

And when he’d laid in bed the next morning, as was their growing to tradition to just stay in the next day and celebrate each other, he’d explained why it was so important to him, although Steve thought he knew why.

“I know what it’s like to be them.” He’d said, as he laid on his back, looking up Steve with those beautiful eyes of his. “To be broken and alone and feel like you have nothing.” He’d tried to smile bravely about this and Steve thought he’d beautiful trying though. “I spent years like that and… it’s the least I can do..”

Steve remembered kissing him at that moment as if to tell him he didn’t have to feel that way ever again, remembering the feel of one metal hand and one flesh one on his face and thought this was the best way to spend Christmas.

And had pride in the fact that Bucky was changing the world in smaller but more profound ways. It didn’t come with superhero glory but with the knowledge that someone like him was being helped somewhere. That life was being saved instead of taken. He hoped someday Bucky would recognize that the good he’d done outweighed the bad by a country mile. That he would truly forgive himself in that process. But for now he’d settle for seeing the sense of accomplishment he got from his new job. And just watching reshape his life right in front of him.

Steve rested his chin on Bucky’s head, letting him nap, and just watched the clouds go by the window for now.

--

He’d managed to make it through landing in Lestag, a place that was so surreal to go back to after all this time. He’d managed that fine. Even cracking a joke that it looked better than before than before they’d destroyed it that day.

The streets of Berlin that he’d been carted through in a heavily armored car he’d been able to manage too, he tuned out during that ride. Recalling that he’d shut down quite considerably during it to the point where he barely remembered it now.

Even the crowd of people outside the CIA headquarters in Berlin hadn’t bothered him as much as he thought. Many of them just wanting to get a look at him and Steve. And others that were less friendly, holding up pictures of dead people that Bucky had presumed had died in there. At his mind-controlled hands. He heard a few angry phrases thrown at him as they were escorted through security, but he was used to that. Hell he still got it at home too, even though most of America had moved on from him in that way. He was known more for charity work now and Captain America’s spouse and that was fine by him.

Even being inside the building, while being horribly familiar, hadn’t hit him that hard, at least not right away. He supposed part of it was his lack of memory of the incident in question, and another was possibly the Winter Soldier part of him keeping that away from him, and keeping him steady. But he also thought it might have been the very strong emotional shutdown he’d put himself into the minute they’d arrived. It was so strong and yet so subtle he hadn’t realized he’d done it.

It hadn’t stopped Steve from checking on him though, wrapping his hand around his arm on the elevator and leaning close. “You okay?” He asked, his blue eyes boring into Bucky face, trying to read it.

“Just peachy keen.” Bucky had recalled answering, trying to give him a reassuring smile he didn’t quite feel inside. “Stop worrying.”

But he didn’t feel fine, just hollow and blank. He had over the years, perfected the art of protection. Of shutting down the emotions to keep himself even. He’d learned that through the brutal torture and pain that they’d called conditioning and programming. It was an old habit he still utilized sometimes, which had never ceased to frustrate Steve. Although he was much better at opening up now, it was usually when they were alone in bed, when he felt particularly raw and vulnerable that he let that heavy guard down.

Or in therapy. That was safe too. And he was letting it down with his friends too. Sam and Wanda in particular.

But here, out in the open, in front of people he didn’t trust and never would, it was better to keep that poker face. But it didn’t stop the minute tremble of his hand, or the hyper-alert flicker of his eyes that he knew Steve could see clearly.

It wasn’t until about halfway through the questioning that facade broke down a little. Because of an object put on the table in front of him. One he hadn’t seen in over 4 years but still brought out that same feeling of dread and terror in him that it always had.

“Tell us about this.” The interviewer had said in that government bullshit matter of fact tone. “What it was used for.”

Bucky was only peripherally aware of a look exchange between Steve and Sharon, who was also present at this meeting, of at first confusion then understanding of it and what it meant. Bucky himself had no such confusion regarding it. He just stared at it, feeling his heart start to race, his breathing quicken, his vision begin to sway. Everything suddenly seemed bright and loud around him, the low fan noise increasing in his ears. That hyper-aware state that turned up the dial on every sense.

Memories threatening to crowd in, already there actually and all he wanted to do was leave. To escape.

The red book with the star on it stared back at him like a sentiment being. The horrors inside its pages wanting to come out and consume him. It had no physical power anymore, the programming had been removed, but that didn’t matter. It still terrified him to see it.

Remembering how Zemo had pulled it out and put it on the table. How he had been trapped in that contraption, unable to move. Or to escape. A captive listener like he’d always been. How horrifying it had been to know what would happen and be unable to stop it. Practically begging him to stop, unable to get away from it.

It was like being tortured and raped all over again and the memory, the flashback that was threatening to overtake him, was terrifying.

“Where did you get this?” He asked, his voice sounded shaky and far away in his head.

“It was found in the rumble of what was left of that compound in Siberia.” The Agent said in that same business-like tone. “We know it has probative value, but that also that it was used by Zemo to trigger you. We need to know that works if we are going to convict him for this too.”

Bucky barely heard the second part, was still focused on the words ‘probative value’. “What possible value could this have to you?” He asked, his voice breaking even more. “Unless you’re planning on.. using it..”

“The information could be vital is what we are saying. “ The Agent continued, not put off by Bucky’s demeanor at all it seemed. Although Sharon looked alarmed, like she was about to the pull the plug. “Can you decipher it?”

“Wait a minute.” Steve said finally. “What does that have to do with putting that bastard away?”

“Because Captain Rogers, we need to be able to sell this in our tribunal, or there will be no justice for those who died do understand?” The Agent replied as if annoyed by the interruption. “The courts in the US may understand what happened to Sergeant Barnes enough to acquit him, but we need more here. We need to understand precisely how Zemo was able to control him.”

Bucky barely heard any of this, his right hand simply reaching up and opening the cover of the book. It felt slimy and dirty to him to do it, thinking of all the things that must’ve been stored in it. He read random passages, easily translating the Russian words. He stopped when it got to the words, hearing them in his head like a nightmare mantra that still showed up in his dreams.

“You got interpreters.” Bucky said out loud tightly. “You don’t need me.” His shaking fingers still trailed over the Russian word for Longing, unable to let his eyes go any further. He didn’t need to read it to remember it. “All it is, is instructions on how to make a super soldier.. He just said the words they hurt into my subconscious is all.. that’s what turned me.”

Those memories were still fuzzy and fractured, even with the Winter Soldier’s memories they were never going to come in clearly. And Amelia had told him they probably never would. That the level of pain, physical, mental and psychological, were so extreme that it was blocked from his conscious mind to protect him. Any time he tried to get to it he couldn’t, nerve endings in his body would light up in random places, ghosts of terrible pain that howled until he left it alone.

“It’s a good thing.” She’d told him once in therapy. “You don’t want to remember that kind of pain.”

He didn’t. But he still felt the effects. And those nerve endings were lighting up now by touching that evil thing. Even though it was an inanimate object it still had that malicious aura around it. As if it was sentient and aware of his presences and wanted to hurt him again. Using only the tips of his fingers he closed it and pushed it away from him.

“You should get rid of it.” He told them, shaking harder now and feeling Steve’s steady hand on his back. “Destroy it or whatever.” He took a hard breath to steady himself. “Nothing good ever came out of it.”

“What we do with it isn’t up to you.” The Agent said, that aggravating tone still in his voice. “Its evidence and it has strategic value.”

Bucky felt his anger flare at that, causing him to flash on a few days prior, when he’d been doing some research to help with his therapy, and this goddamn trip when he’d stumbled on something that had stopped him cold and cause that severe anxiety attack. 

The Archive at the compound had a lot of information obviously, because the Avengers had needed that to operate. Tony himself had a lot of access to vital and ‘strategic’ info and one of these was the Hydra and S.H.E.I.L.D. files that Nat had so generously released to the public. And in some of those files he’d found some old photos. And information regarding them.

He’d found pictures of Armin Zola working with American scientists. Pictures of people like Howard Stark and Peggy Carter among others with him. If that hadn’t been enough, he’d learned about how he’d actually been recruited, along with other Nazi/Hydra ghouls and butchers as having ‘strategic value’ to them. He’d lived comfortably in the US until he died in 1972.  This information had overwhelmed him at the time but now, hearing this asshole who had probably been born in the 90’s, talking about ‘strategic value’ had pissed him off.

“Strategic value?” He asked angrily, pushing back from the table. “You mean like recruiting people who tortured and killed US servicemen? Or innocent civilians.” He was shaking and Steve was the only thing keeping him from throwing down right there. “I know all about that crap.. the head of goddamn SHEILD was my damn CO at one point, ordering to kill people for ‘strategic value’ and the fucking ‘good of mankind.” He glared at him. “I’ve had enough that bullshit thank you.”

“We respect your opinion Sergeant Barnes and understand how you must feel.”

“You don’t understand shit.” He hissed at him. “Don’t patronize me like that.”

Sharon, who understand better than that younger shithead, spoke finally. “Some of us do.” She told him, smiling as softly as she could. “We do.”

“Thank you Sharon.” Steve said, taking Bucky’s hand to relax him. “Is he done with the statement?”

“For today yes.” She told them. “And he doesn’t have to testify in court, the statements will be enough.” The other agent looked like he was going to protest and she stopped him. “They are done for now and I will deal with you later for pulling that.”

He was grateful for her at the moment, he didn’t know her well but Steve trusted her. And she seemed to be the snot-nosed jerk’s superior, dismissing him so she could talk to them on her own. Bucky himself felt sick and disorientated now and simply wanted to leave but couldn’t just yet, needing to steady himself. It didn’t help that that book was still on the table either.

“What are you gonna do with that thing?” Steve asked as if reading Bucky’s mind. “The book.”

“It is evidence but after that I don’t know what they plan to do with it.” She answered. “I’m not that high up.”

“Get rid of it.” Bucky repeated. “Please don’t let them use it.”

A sudden memory of being horrifically hurt as they were setting the programming flooded his mind in his over-stressed state. The spasm of such severe pain that he felt sick. He’d thrown up then and he was going to throw up now, his face paling in an obvious way to everyone.

“There’s a bathroom down the hall.” Sharon told them. “It’s public.”

He let Steve escort, feeling too damn weak to get there himself, barely holding it in. The pain spasm memory was barreling through his head and the nausea increased as they walked. He felt Steve’s warm arm around him, holding him up until they got there. When he was finally inside the stall he just bent over and emptied his stomach until it was just dry heaves.

“It’s okay Buck.” He heard Steve’s voice as if far away, his hand cool on his neck. “It’s alright.”

It seemed to take forever for the spasm to stop, for his body to stop shaking. He felt Steve crouch down behind him and wrap his arms around him, pulling back against and he just whimpered, allowing himself to be held from behind like that. Feeling Steve’s cool hand on his forehead, his lips by his ear, comforting him as best he could.

“It hurts.” He moaned painfully. “I can feel it all over and I just..”

“Sssh.” Steve said in his ear as they sat there. “You’re safe.”

All the stress of it was pouring out of his body, making him feel weak and pathetic. He thought he was past all of this but he clearly wasn’t. It was horrible how quickly, even after a year of not having incidents like this he’d now had two in the last week. It made him feel so defective, even though Amelia had told him these things might happen. That he’d be fighting this whole life. But also reminded him that he had love and family and a life and to remember that too. But in times like this it was hard. Especially being so far from home.

“We’re gonna get you back to the hotel okay?”

Bucky nodded, turning into his shoulder a little. “Yeah okay.” He said with a shaky voice, gripping his shirt and trying to force a smile. “Just get me out of here punk.”

He felt Steve brush his hair and lift his head to kiss it. “Whatever you want jerk.”

--

Steve watched Bucky as he slept, Arya curled up next to him, sleeping under the metal arm like she always did so trustingly. It was a sight he loved, one he’d gotten used to over the last year and half or so. His little family snuggled up together, even it wasn’t there bed, it still felt like home.

Usually after a bad anxiety attack Bucky was pretty tired, and he was informed that letting him rest was the best treatment once he was sufficiently calm. He saw him twitch slightly in his sleep and was concerned of course of the potential for fitfulness and nightmares. So he climbed in behind him and wrapped his arms around him, making sure he felt safe in the deep reaches of his sleep. Nuzzling the back of his neck softly, he kept a loose arm around his waist and laid just like that, giving him comfort as best he could.

Sharon had been apologetic about the crap the younger agent had pulled on Bucky in there and assured him that that wasn’t in the initial plans and that a reprimand would most likely occur. They did have to come back the next day for a few more follow-up questions and were also reassured that the agent in question would not be a part of it.

Steve, after finally getting Bucky out of the bathroom had sat him in a nearby chair, where he’d leaned over, his hands on the back of his head, trying to keep himself level while still there. And Sharon had seemed concerned about this as well.

“How’s he doing?” She asked quietly. “Not just here but.. you know what I mean.”

Steve rested his hand on his hips and took a deep breath. “Overall he’s been good, doing real well but.” He paused for a moment to look over at him. “He’s had a little setback lately but.. his therapist says that’ll happen.”

“That’s good.” She’d replied, biting her lip. “The reason I ask is that I wanted to make sure you knew we only called you here because our reports show him stabilized.” She looked over with a soft look. “We had no intentions of.. picking at wounds.”

“It’s not you’re fault Sharon.” Steve reassured her, putting his hand on her arm. “It’s still a work in progress.” He looked over himself, just to check to make sure he was still in the chair. “I should get him back to the hotel for now.”

“Alright.” She said, nodding. “See you tomorrow and.. take care of yourselves okay?”

It had been good to see her again, see that she was reinstated after her involvement with them. She was good people, just like her aunt. At that moment Steve’s focus just had been on taking care of his husband at this point and was very grateful when she showed them a back way out to avoid the crowd.

And now here they were, just laying in the darkening room. It was snowing out there, just like it would be at home and it created that interesting, intermittent light that showed through the snowflakes, causing a strange light quality in the room. Steve nuzzled the back of Bucky’s neck a little more and held him a little closer as he rested in his arms.

Bucky seemed to start a little, his body trembling slightly as he woke. Most likely from an unpleasant dream. “It’s okay.” Steve whispered in his ear. “You’re safe.”

“I guess so.” Bucky replied, subconsciously seeming to back more into Steve’s body. “It’s not our bed though.”

“Yeah but.. everything we need is right here.” Steve said softly, nuzzling his lips against his ear. “A fluffy cat and a gorgeous brunette, what more could I ask for?”

Bucky seemed to chuckle a little at that, which was good to hear. “Don’t forget the hot blonde.” He mused. “That’s the best part.”

“Well.. I didn’t want to toot my own horn.” Steve sassed back. “But I thought that was implied.” He then got a little serious. “Are you okay?”

Bucky turned slightly onto his back and looked up at him, wrapping the metal hand around the back of Steve’s and leaned his head against his. “I don’t’ know.” Bucky replied quietly, his eyes closing painfully. “I’m a little messed up right now and I’m sorry.”

Steve shook his head and put his hand on his face gently, staring down into his troubled blue eyes. “Don’t apologize for that Buck you just reacted that’s all.” He told him, letting his hand brush that beautiful brown hair of his. “It’s okay.”

“I was fine for so long and then.. 2 in one week.” Bucky lamented, biting his lip. “I thought I was past it but I guess I’m not.”

“It’s just a setback Buck that’s all it is.” He tried to reassure him. “You’ll get past it.”

Something seemed to flicker in Bucky’s eyes and he leaned up on an elbow, staring intently at Steve. He thought at first he was going to contradict him in some way but was a bit surprised by what he asked him instead.

“Did you know?”

He was confused by the question, and the look in Bucky’s eyes gave him a strange sense of déjà vu. “Know about what?”

“About Zola.” Bucky answered, his eyes flickering in that strange half-light coming in through the window. “That he was recruited after.”

Steve understood why that strange sense had come over him now, remembering Tony long ago in Siberia asking a similar question, with dire consequences then. There was a similar, yet different look in Bucky’s eyes, not grief-stricken hurt but a tense kind of anger. As if something was held back from him. And the truth was, it had been. Because they’d never discussed it. And he knew he had to tell the truth no matter how Bucky reacted to it.

“Yeah I did.” He admitted. “I knew that he was one of the ones they brought over.”

That anger flashed a little in his eyes, like a stormy sea. “And you didn’t tell me?” He asked, sitting up a little more, the cat shifting between them now. “Why?”

“It was a long time ago Buck what good would it do to tell you that?” Steve replied, letting his hand rest on Bucky’s flesh arm, his other arm bracing himself. “You were dealing with a lot of shit and I didn’t want to add to it.”

“Maybe then yes but what about after?” Bucky asked, the anger increasing a little. “Did you think was too fucking fragile to handle it?”

Steve knew some of this anger was just residue from his attack, the feeling of weakness and fear that brought back. Fear that he was regressing and a need to maintain some control over the situation. But he also knew there was something else there as well, remembering that Bucky had brought this up in the interview as well, and mentioned knowledge of the government doing that. He began to wonder about his attack earlier this week. Bucky had been looking at archived information at the compound after all.

“You found out.” Steve said, keeping his voice even. “That’s what caused your attack at the compound wasn’t it?”

Bucky looked defensive, sitting up fully on the bed now. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“Because I don’t have to and you know it.” Steve countered, sitting up himself and putting his hands on Bucky’s shoulders. “You know why I didn’t tell you.” He looked in eyes, trying to steady and calm him before he worked himself up again. “Now you answer me..” He lifted one of his hands and buried his fingers in Bucky’s hair, fisting it softly. “Just talk to me please.”

“Yes.” He answered finally. “I saw pictures… of him..”

Steve gently flexed his fingers in Bucky’s hair, understanding perfectly well why that had hit him in such a profound way. It felt so wrong, so heinous in so many ways to know that some of those people had not only gotten away with what they’d done, but actually been rewarded for it in a way. Because Zola had useful skills and information that the government could use. And protection as well. Bucky had been his lab rat and was still paying for it even now and it hurt to think of how that must’ve felt for him to know.

“Bucky..”

“I’m fine.” Bucky said with a voice that sounded tight. “I can deal with it.”

“Can you?”

“Yes.” He snapped at Steve. “Just drop it okay?”

He pulled Bucky’s face against his, holding it there, feeling him resist at first.  Trying to comfort him, as if he could. There was really was he could do or say that was going to make this feel better, or to get him to talk. He could still feel him shaking and tightened his grip slightly in his hair trying to settle him even more.

“Then tell me what you need okay?” Steve asked after a few calming moments. “Let me help.”

Bucky sighed hard, closing his eyes. “I fee like I need a damn cigarette if you can believe that.” He told him, chuckling hollowly. “I’m that fucked up right now.” He then turned his head slightly, opening his eyes to look at Steve. “I’ll settle for a couple bottles of wine though.”

Steve didn’t like that he was feeling bad enough to want cigarettes, even though he hadn’t had one in almost 2 years, he still craved them when he stressed like this. But he also didn’t like the alternative either. He hadn’t tried to control the drinking because sometimes it was strictly for fun, or even to calm him enough to sleep when his mind raced, but he knew this time it was to self-medicate and it worried him just a little.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” He asked, letting his concern show visibly.

“As opposed to what?” Bucky asked, looking a bit cross as he sat back. “Crawling out of my skin?” He leaned back against the headboard of the bed. “It’s not like I have my easel with me to paint or anything and I don’t see any fucking punching bags around to destroy.”

“Okay I’ll get it for you.” Steve told him, sitting back resignedly. “Just take it easy okay?”

“I can handle myself punk.” Bucky reminded him. “Not like I can get drunk anyways.. they made sure of that.” His face pinched a little as he said that, before putting on a slightly sarcastic smile for Steve. “But your concern is touching as always.”

“Can the sarcasm jerk.” Steve replied, hearing the protective tone in his voice. “I’m getting it for you.”

He also got some food as well, and when it came Bucky went right for one of the bottles, opening it and downing a quarter of it almost right away. “You gonna eat?” He asked him as he gave Array some chicken.

“I just puked a few hours ago.” Bucky answered, holding the bottle by the neck. “It kinda killed my appetite.”

“And drinking on an empty stomach is gonna make you feel better?”

Bucky laid back on the bed with the bottle, giving him a sassy look that was tempting to do something about, if it wasn’t for the undercurrent of malaise there as well. He lifted the bottle up and downed another quarter of it quickly. That was another thing, he didn’t take long to savor it when he drank like this. It wasn’t like sipping wine it was a full-on binge. Steve had an urge to take the bottle from him and dump it along with the other but knew that just make matters worse rather than better.

“I feel better already.” Bucky told him, putting down even more of it. “Right as rain.”

Steve came over and sat down on the bed next to him and leaned over, his hand on the neck of the bottle. He saw Bucky almost get a possessive look at the idea that he might take, reinforcing the idea that trying to would make it worse. Instead he lifted his hand and put it on his face.

“I hate when you do this to yourself.”

Bucky stared back at him, his eyes already looking a little bleary. “Do what?”

“Numb yourself like this.”

“I’m fine.” Bucky said, his voice quiet as he took. “I am.”

“Bucky please.” He asked, his eyes soft. “Don’t do this again.”

He watched as he finished the bottle, putting it down hard on the bedside table. “What do you want me to say?” He asked, leaning up on his elbows. “How good it felt to find out that my own fucking government recruited the monster that tortured me over and over again for years.” His breathing increased as he sat up, reaching for the second bottle and opening it angrily. “The man that force that shit into my body and took the rest of my damn arm so he could give me a grand spanking new one to murder people with.” He seemed to seethe angrily, which maybe was a good thing. “He gets a comfortable life after he took away mine.”

He drank more of the wine, his eyes very bleary now, letting the alcohol take as much of an effect as it could possibly for him. And Steve sometimes wished he could truly get drunk. They both made peace with some aspects of their specialness, even enjoyed a great deal of it because it had, in many ways increased the intensity of their physical interactions as well as its healing properties. But they felt things much stronger too in other ways. And even though Bucky’s extraordinary brain had repaired itself it couldn’t cure everything that was wrong with him even now.

“And that little shit with that book.” Bucky said as he angrily disengaged himself from Steve and got up. “I’m done with it Steve I am.” He down even more of it, until there was only a third of the bottle left. “Hell I can even get fucking drunk enough to forget.. he even ruined that for me too.”

He turned toward the window, staring out at the falling snow with the bottle in his hand. Both that and metal of his arm reflecting that strange low light that seemed to be the sole property of the blue/white snow. His hair was a mess, mostly out of his ponytail and hanging around his face, clothing rumpled and just looking a bit of a mess. But Steve thought that even in a state of disarray he still looked stunningly beautiful. It was that haunted look he got sometimes in his stormy eyes. A look he could never quite get rid of.

Walking over he carefully slid his arm around him from behind. He felt Bucky stiffen slightly for a moment before relaxing and allowing it. Steve nuzzled his face against Bucky’s shoulder, pushing his hair aside to get to the warm, flushed skin of his neck and just stood there, trying to offer whatever comfort he would accept at this moment.

“It’s okay.” He whispered in his ear. “You don’t have to talk about it..” He tightened his arms a little more around Bucky’s waist and kissed his shoulder. “We can do whatever you want okay?”

Bucky still stood with his arms at his side, almost as if he didn’t want to touch him at the moment. Steve watched as he lifted the bottle and finished what was left of it, and he decided he was okay with that. Who was he begrudge him the right to numb himself from these things, because there was still just so much pain inside him that he was still working through. Just because he’d put his head back together and stabilized his life didn’t mean these things wouldn’t happen sometimes. And whatever way Bucky needed to cope he was willing to help him with.

“You need me to order some more?” He asked, sliding his hand down the arm holding the empty bottle and put his hand on it. “I will if you want.”

“You’re such an enabler punk.” Bucky said with a hint of good humor in his voice. “But sure why not?” He felt Bucky’s metal arm wrap around his acceptingly now. “Maybe just one more..”

Steve nuzzled his hair a little and pulled his phone out of his back pocket. “Anything for you jerk.”

He made the order and then put the phone down, re-wrapping Bucky in his arms from behind and just holding him like that for a long period of time. Just trying to still and comfort him as best he could. If he could make him talk, he could at least do that.

Later when Bucky got his third bottle opened, Steve put the condition that he at least eat something, and Bucky grudgingly did it. Feeding some to Arya at the same time, who gobbled up the tenders ordered specifically for her. And Bucky tore through the bottle that he had again, and his eyes looked a little more bleary and slightly tipsy as a result but it was what he wanted right now.

He didn’t always like enabling him like that but sometimes you had to compromise. It was a part of it for them too.

Steve reached over and pulled him onto his lap to kiss him softly, tasting the wine on his lips as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I see how it is punk.” Bucky purred against his lips, his hands gripping Steve’s shirt. “You’re just enabling me so you can…. Get me drunk and…” He pulled himself more onto Steve’s lap, his knees bent on either side of his hips. “Take advantage of me…”

“You just figured that out jerk?” Steve told him as he ran his lips over his neck. “That’s always my plan..”

He knew what else he needed too. An intense distraction. It was one thing that certainly hadn’t changed between them. Their intense and active intimacy. And even though Bucky sometimes used it to blow himself open that was okay too. They’d long since accepted this as part of their relationship too. Their intense relations weren’t just loving but very cathartic as well. Like blowing out the gunk in your car by racing down the highway. Whatever worked.

Bucky laid back on the bed, drinking the rest of the wine as Steve pulled his pants off him slowly until his lower half was exposed. He drank in the sight of him like that, with his legs parted on either side of Steve’s bent knees and sucked in a breath at just how beautiful his husband was. Steve then buried his face in Bucky’s stomach and tasted his skin, fully intending on pleasure him to insanity, wanting him to forget all about earlier. He flicked his eyes up at Bucky, who still finishing up the bottle of wine and ran his lips and tongue over those washboard abs that could rival Steve’s own, feeling Bucky’s hand, the one not holding the bottle, in his hair. He smiled against his skin and ran his hands over those amazing thighs of his that were starting to tighten against Steve’s wait beautifully.

“I like when you take advantage of me Captain Rogers.” Bucky seemed to moan, dropping the empty finally empty bottle on the floor with a barely audible clank on the rug. “I really do..”

“Good..” Steve purred to him, wrapping his arm around Bucky’s thigh as he moved south down his body. “Now let me take care of you Sergeant.”

And he did just that, not skimping on a thing. Giving him exactly what he needed tonight.  

--

Bucky’s throat was dry, voice hoarse from the moans and cries of pleasure induced, but it definitely had the desired effect of clearing his mind that was for sure.

At one point his legs were wrapped around Steve’s neck, gripping the sheets and pushing his ass against Steve’s very talented lips and tongue as he pleasured him beautifully. His head rolled on the bed, body arching, metal hand gripping Steve’s hair and pulled it as he came and fell exhausted to the bed again.

Once he’d gathered his strength again, he’d turned himself around on his hands and knees, signaling his intent to be straight up fucked. He was so heated and so full of pent up energy he wanted Steve to just take him and dominate. He could feel Steve’s hot breath on his neck, his strong hands gripping his thighs and felt that wanton desire that could only be described as a fever, raging through him.

“Say it.” Steve growled commandingly in his ear and Bucky’s loosened even more at the sound of that demand. “Ask me nicely.”

Bucky moaned, feeling him pressed against him, ready to take him. “Fuck me..” He whined, pushing back against him. “Please…”

He felt Steve bit his shoulder, knowing it was gonna leave a pretty mark. “As you wish sweetheart..” That voice purred in his ear and Bucky’s eyes rolled in response. “Hold on.”

The combination of the remaining buzz from the 3 bottles of wine and Steve’s ability to wreck him combined for the greatest feeling of bliss as Steve filled him up in one beautiful, deep thrust. He whined again as Steve held him there for a moment before moving against him, slowly at first and then, as it usually did, went straight into full blown fucking and Bucky fell into that beautiful delirium where all he felt was insane pleasure. It was exactly what he wanted and needed he loved him for giving it to him.

“Yes..Steve..yes…” He gasped, clawing at the sheets under him, pulling out the corner. “Fuck…”

“You..want… more.. beautiful?” Steve growled between thrusts. “Say..it…”

“Yes…” Bucky whimpered, thrusting back against him, greedily wanting more. “Please..”

He cried as he was pounded harder and deeper and gone was everything from earlier. The sight of the red book, the memories of Zemo, of Zola, of the people outside the headquarters screaming for his head. Gone was the self-doubt and pain. The fear of losing his mind again. In this extended moment nothing could touch him. Nothing could hurt him. All he felt was pleasure and peace.

He felt safe again.

He vaguely felt Steve pulled his body against his, pulling his hair back to chew on his neck as he fucked him, claiming him again as his. Even though he would always be his Bucky loved this feeling of being reclaimed by his soulmate like this. It sent a wave of deep love through him, lighting him along with his rising orgasm and he knew this flood would knock him out and he welcome it.

And then there were a couple of hard, very deep thrusts that Bucky swore he could feel in his throat and it completely roared over him, every part of his body contracting, tightening around Steve even as he continued to thrust into him, and Bucky lost all sense of himself and his surroundings as that beautiful tsunami knocked him flat and he fell into that beautiful, peaceful haze.

It was pure bliss and he stayed there for a while.

When he finally arose from it he was wrapped up in Steve’s arms, laying on his side, face buried in his glorious chest. Bucky felt himself purr like a kitten and snuggled against him, just reveling the scent of Steve’s body in this sweet afterglow.

“There you are.” He heard Steve whisper, his lips brushing Bucky’s forehead, fingers in his hair. “Welcome back beautiful.”

Bucky smiled hazily, nuzzling Steve a little more, tucking his leg between his. Feeling exhausted in the best way possible. The kind of exhaustion that came from being thoroughly and happily fucked. The feeling only Steve could give him.

“I went somewhere?” He asked sleepily. “Didn’t notice.”

“You did.” Steve told him, his other hand rubbing Bucky’s hip sweetly. “And you looked happy.” Bucky felt him brush his lips over hiss forehead again sighed. “And beautiful.”

Bucky smiled and slid up just enough to kiss him, his hand on Steve’s face, feeling Steve’s own fingers threading though his hair sweetly. Their tongues met languidly and danced as they let it linger for a moment. It occurred to him that this was warmest and softest they’d been since his setback at the compound. He’d been kind of standoffish and cool and he felt bad about it now. Wanting to make up for it in some way.

“I’m sorry.” He said softly as he pulled his lips away from Steve’s to lay his head against his.

“You don’t have to apologize for taking a nap Buck.” Steve told him, that other hand still stroking him softly. “I kinda wore you out.”

“Not for that stupid.” Bucky reprimanded, pulling closer. “That felt great.” He opened his eyes, which were a mere inch from Steve’s sky-blue ones. “I’ve been.. a bit frosty lately.”

“It’s okay Buck.” Steve said with a soft voice, wrapping his hand around the back of his head a little more. “You’ve been hurting lately I get it.”

“I just… feel like I should be past this shit by now.” He confessed. “I went over a year without freaking out like that and then..” He squeezed his eyes shut. “Twice in one week.”

He felt Steve’s hand, comforting him as it ran circles over his back, hip and thigh, occasionally sliding softly over his ass, causing his eyes to flutter. The soft touches and just the feeling of raw vulnerability after they made love so intensely, always opened him up like this, turning him into a raw nerve sometimes. Because he was hurting again. Reliving things he’d rather forget. But at least this time he was doing it with a whole mind. Him and the Winter Soldier coping together, and it was the latters presence that had kept him steady lately and Bucky was so grateful for that.

“It’s gonna happen Buck.” Steve reassured him. “Especially if you’re under stress.”

“I had flashbacks.” He said suddenly, admitting it finally. “When I saw his picture in those archives I…I had one.. of being on the table and.. he was putting that shit into me and it..” He paused and bit his lip hard. “It hurt like hell.. I screamed the whole time..”

He shook with the memory of that feeling of his body being changed like that, feeling like he was being torn apart from the inside. Like an invasion. A rape of his body that he couldn’t fight against because he was strapped down. Thinking nothing could be worse than that feeling, but there was a lot worse that could be done he’d found out. A lot worse violations.

He felt Steve wrap him up in his arms, pulling his face against his shoulder and Bucky was content to bury himself there, his fingers clutching his shoulder, eyes squeezed shut, trying to push it away.  To calm the violent shaking in his body at recalling this horror. One of many.

“When I saw that book I… I..” He stammered, clutching him tighter. “I had another one.. and I could… feel it...”

“Sssh.” He heard Steve say into his hair, stroking his back. “You don’t have to talk about it it’s alright.”

Bucky buried his face more into Steve’s shoulder, happy he gave him an out from that one. Remembering how he relived the pain in his body and it made him nauseous. There were so many memories that had done that, and the man holding him, his husband, his everything, knew a lot of them, and had watched him fight them. Had held him like this many times and he loved him so damn much for it that it physically hurt too. But in a better way than the others.

“I don’t wanna be like this anymore I don’t.” He whimpered against Steve’s shoulder. “It sucks.”

“I know.” Steve said softly, his other hand tangled in Bucky’s hair. “I got you it’s okay.”

Bucky felt another violent shake go through him and Steve’s fingers tightened in his hair, fisting it softly the way he always did to calm him and like those times, it worked. Bucky’s eyes fluttered softly at the feeling of it, wrapping his arm tighter around him and burying his face in Steve’s neck now, curling up as close as humanly possible to him. Seeking comfort and warmth from him. And Steve obliged by pulling the covers over them both again, cocooning them in warmth and safety.

“Can you call Amelia?” Steve asked as held him closer. “I think you need to.”

“I was planning to.” He reassured him, tucking his head under Steve’s chin. “She wants me to check in with her regularly while I’m away..” He let himself get more comfortable in his arms. “Just in case.”

“Good.” He heard Steve whisper into his hair. “Now I want you to get some rest okay?”

“Aye Aye Captain.” He replied with a little sass.

“I mean it Sergeant.” Steve sassed back. “You need it.”

Bucky smiled and nuzzled his face against Steve a little more and then felt a little thump on the bed and a little furry body climb up on the blanket to get some attention from them. Arya’s bright green eyes seemed to sparkle in the low light and she purred as they both gave her some love, scratching he head and chin, before she settled down in the hammock part of the blankets between their feet. It was yet another comforting presence he needed right now and it relaxed him further, making him drowsy.

This was his family right here. Even if this wasn’t their actual home, it felt like as long as they were here with him.

“I love you punk.” He whispered sleepily into Steve’s neck, wrapping his arm tighter around him.

He felt Steve’s hand stroke his hair and kiss his head softly. “Love you too jerk..” He replied. “Go to sleep.”

He did, knowing that even if it was a fitful night, he would be taken care of as always.

--

Steve had stayed awake a little as was habit for him when Bucky was having a particularly rough day. One the things he’d learned that had helped was to continue to gently caress and massage him even after he was asleep, the soft touched comfort grounded Bucky and made him feel safe as he fell into sleep and so it had become a regular thing on rough days. Routine and stability were important for him in those times, especially when he was in an unfamiliar place like this.

He could hear and feel Bucky make a purring sound not unlike Arya was she was content, as he snuggled more into Steve’s body in his sleep. He hadn’t even bothered to put on any clothes so it was skin to skin snuggling and Steve loved these quiet moments more than anything, letting his hand move over his back, down over his hip, to his thigh and all around, feeling Bucky nuzzle his neck as he slept, mimicking the cat that slept on their feet.

At one point he did shake and whimper a little in his sleep and Steve rubbed his back until he calmed, feeling his metal arm grip his back temporarily until the nightmare fade and he was still again.  It still hurt him to know that he still sometimes suffered in his sleep, and probably always would, but it was a part of it, part of the commitment. For better or worse. The end of the line. They both meant you were there for everything, good or bad, and they both had meant that. They were men of their word.

Eventually he’d fallen asleep himself, with Bucky wrapped up in his arms, for several hours too. Before being woken up by something. The fact that he wasn’t there anymore. At one point this would’ve bene alarming, back when Bucky’s mind was still split, and he was waking up as the Winter Soldier but that hadn’t happened in well over a year and Steve knew that wasn’t it. Bucky was just up and awake and it didn’t take him long to find him, even in the semi-dark room.

He was by the window, his metal holding the curtain open and reflecting the light that mostly likely being reflected off the layer of snow that had fallen. It was that eerie, yet beautiful blue/white light. It lit up his hair and seemed to sillouette him at the same time and had to take a minute to catch his breath at this beautiful sight. He looked like something out of a painting or a sculpture in a museum the way his body was on perfect display while surrounded by the glow of the light around him. The fact that he was still completely naked certainly added to the vision.

He seemed to sense Steve was looking at him and turned slightly, the light twinkling off his tags, and reflecting in his eyes as well. And Steve was reminded of something from long ago, a clear memory of what seemed like a normal day but had been life altering in ways he hadn’t understood then.

They were 12 and 13 respectively and had taken a train into the city during the holidays, spending most of their meager money to do it, but it was worth it just to look in the store windows and see the toys. Things they knew they couldn’t have, their parents couldn’t afford them, a lot of people couldn’t at that time. But it was nice to look at them. The toy trains, the bikes and dolls for the girls. It was pretty and bright like a dream and would always be beyond their means, but they dreamed just the same.

It was cold, the mid December chill causing their breaths to make those white clouds as the breathed, staring in the window as the snow fell around them and that moment Steve looked at Bucky and saw something new.

The way the snow had fallen in his unruly brown hair and his eyes reflected the light from the store window, how pink he cheeks were from the cold and felt a flutter at this that he thought he would only get from pretty girls. But he felt it looking at Bucky, and a flittering thought went though him and it was Damn he’s beautiful.. He tried to hid his look when Bucky turned, as if sensing he was being stared at.

“You’re creepin’ me out with that stare punk.” He giving him friendly shove with his shoulder. “Cut it out.”

He remembered covering himself at that point, something he’d get used to doing when caught. “Sorry you just got a huge booger in your nose and I couldn’t help staring at it.”

“Oh yeah?” Bucky had replied and grabbed a handful of snow and tossed it at him. “Well there’s stupid on your face asshole.”

It had started a snowball fight all the way back to the train station he’d recalled, but the feeling he’d gotten that day, instead of disappearing had grown in him. Even though it felt wrong and off sometimes, but perfectly natural too. He hadn’t know then that he’d already fallen in love with his best friend. He’d was too young and too stupid to understand it then.

But he understood it now.

He thought about it now as he stared at him and heard Bucky’s voice, in that same sassy tone. “You’re staring again punk.”

Steve got up out of the bed himself, and walked over to him, sliding his arms around him. “I can’t help that my husband is so beautiful that I can’t take my eyes off him.”

He saw Bucky hood those eyes as Steve slid his arms around his waist, the other going into that beautiful brown hair of his, fisting it softly as he pulled his lips to his, kissing him solidly. He let the arm around him slid over his back, pulling him tighter against him, feeling his warm body skin to skin again. Hearing Bucky moan softly as their tongues dances beautifully, his metal fingers letting go of the curtain to grip Steve’s bare shoulder.

There was times when he still couldn’t believe this was his, that Bucky was his. He’d remembered how he’d secretly pined for him as a teenager, believing that someone as gorgeous and perfect as Bucky was wouldn’t ever feel that way about him. He had plenty of female attention with his dark hair and those stunning blue eyes. Every girl on the block made eyes at him and Bucky had enjoyed and even indulged in it occasionally and it had seemed to Steve that the feelings he had would never be reciprocated. Because he was, well, him, scrawny and weak, and it was just, well wrong.

Never in his life had dreamed that Bucky had felt the same way until the day he’d first kissed him on the roof, and now here they were. And even after decades of pain and separation it had never wavered. Had only grown stronger.

“What were you thinking about punk?” Bucky asked a little breathlessly, looking a little scrambled from that kiss as still stood close to him. “You had that stupid look on your face again.”

Steve smiled, reaching up and brushing some that hair from Bucky’s face. “I was just remembering when I first fell in love with you.”

“Oh really?” Bucky mused, brushing lips over Steve’s. “Care to share?”

“No..” He answered and nuzzled his face against his. “I think I’ll keep it to myself.” He smiled, trailing his fingers over Bucky’s back. “Gotta have a few secrets right?”

Bucky smiled in that saucy way of his. “Okay punk..” He purred to him. “But I’ll get out of you someday.”

“Maybe you will jerk.” Steve told him, leaning to kiss him again. A soft quick one. “I’ will tell you something though.” He pulled him closer, their eyes an inch apart. “You look just as beautiful as you did then.”

Bucky rolled his eyes and threw his arms around his neck. “You’re such a sap.” He whispered to him. “Don’t ever change.”

He stood there for a moment just like, holding him close. “You okay?” Steve asked finally, remembering that he had, in fact gotten out of bed in the middle of the night.

“Yeah I think so.” Bucky answered, his eyes still closed as he leaned against Steve. “Just couldn’t sleep so.”

“You decided to stand naked in front of the window?” Steve teased, letting his fingers trailed over Bucky’s naked ass playfully. “Not that I’m complaining mind you.. it’s just..” He ran his lips over his jawline. “Don’t want anyone to see this work of art but me.”

Bucky smiled and brushed his lips back over Steve’s. “Always protecting my virtue.” He purred, letting his own hands wander a little. “Such a gentlemen.”

“Protecting what’s mine.” Steve let himself growl softly, knowing Bucky loved that. “So what were you doing?”

“Looking at the snow.” He said, turning his head to look out the open shade. “It looks pretty out there..” He seemed to observe. “Peaceful.”

Steve brushed his lips over the side of Bucky’s face, seeing that beautiful reflection in those eyes again. “Yeah it does.” He agreed.

“I don’t hate the winter.” Bucky mused, smiling softly as Steve nuzzled his face. “I actually like it.. it’s just..” He flinched as if to adjust something sore. “My aching bones kinda ruin it. ” He leaned against Steve a little, while still staring out the window. “Won’t let me forget.”  

He knew he was sore, the cold always did that to him among other things. And knew his medication only did so much for that. Feeling that twinge of anger of the way he’d been hurt, the way they’d ruined so many things for him. It brought about that possessive protectiveness in him, causing his hands to continue to slide over his skin gently. But he also felt admiration at how he’d been able to rise above it and mostly enjoy his life now, even on these particularly bad days.

“Wish I could make that better.” Steve whispered against his neck, letting his fingers trail over the scar  tissue on Bucky’s left shoulder.

Bucky lifted his arms and put his hands on Steve’s face to look in his eyes. “You do punk.” He told him, his face nuzzling Steve’s. “You do it every day..”

He kissed him again, and Steve wrapped his arms tighter around Bucky’s waist and lifted him into his arms to carry him back to bed. Laying him down on he started to rub those sore places as he kissed him, feeling his body warm up and respond to it.

“I wanna do my job then.” He purred against Bucky’s scarred shoulder. “I’m gonna take care of my achy boo bear.”

He heard Bucky chuckle, his hands in Steve’s hair. “Such a good hubby.” He purred, wrapping his leg around Steve’s hip. “I think I’ll keep you.”

He took his time this time, leaving no part of Bucky’s body untouched, using his hands to warm up and soothe aching bones and muscles. To take care of anything that hurt. To kiss him stupid until he forgot anything that was on his mind. The early morning hours were filled with sighs and moans as he took care of him. This was another well practiced routine and it never failed.

And later when he was deep inside him again, it was a soft slow rhythm, Bucky’s fingers flexing into his back, his metal ones gripping his hair at every deep thrust into him. His beautiful teal blue eyes, like a stormy ocean, glazed and fluttering were the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

“I love you.” He whispered to him, over and over again, he could never say it enough. “My Bucky.. my Soldier…”

Bucky’s face, inches away from Steve’s, taking him in and pushing back again him, showing a return of that. “I love you too..” He’d breath before kissing him languidly. “Our Steve…”

The presence of the Soldier was a beautiful addition, and filled him with even more love and they came together beautifully, kissing until they were out of breath. Steve pulled him back into his arms, wrapping him up and feeling his body relax against him.

“I love when you double tap my ass like that.” Bucky said in a contented tone. “I could sleep for a dam week now..” He slid his leg up down Steve’s lazily. “You got talents punk..”

Steve chuckled and kissed his head. “Well you inspire me to new heights jerk.”

“So I’m like you’re muse huh?” Bucky replied while nuzzling Steve’s chest. “Interesting.”

“You’re a lot of things to me.” Steve told him, pulling him closer. “Just saying.”

“Mmmm well.” Bucky purred sleepily. “You’re my everything… just saying..”

With that statement he seemed to fall deeply asleep again, and Steve was happy because he had another long day tomorrow, resuming his deposition, hopefully without any more surprises. He wanted him to rest, to sleep in a little, especially with a couple of recent anxiety attacks wearing him out, he knew rest was important.

He wrapped him up again, smiling as the cat returned to their feet, she always made herself scarce when they were…busy and then came back. This time curling up next to Bucky as he slept, sandwiching him safely between her and Steve.

Right before he fell asleep, he thought about how Bucky had called him his ‘everything’ more than once and the responsibility that was. He’d never been anybody’s everything before, but he was Bucky’s. And instead of frightening him it had filled him love and protectiveness. Even though Bucky could take care of himself quite well if need be, but it wasn’t that kind of protectiveness. It’s what he’d felt today. And would make him a growly bear tomorrow if another threat to Bucky’s psyche presented himself.

He took that responsibility very seriously and always would, even if Bucky rolled his eyes at him.

With that he went to sleep, holding his whole world in his arms, as the snow settled over Berlin outside, surrounded in each other’s warmth and safety.