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You finished the follow-through of your roundhouse kick without falling on your ass, which was a definite improvement. You bent over at the waist, panting, and cursing the fact that the punching bag had barely moved.
“Better,” came the voice of your trainer. “Let us move on.”
You nodded enthusiastically. “Thank Thor!”
“Cardio. We will run out in the fields.”
“Yeah, no,” you replied in an Australian accent. “Don't put me down for cardio.” You finally looked up at the woman beside you. The woman looked strong and formidable, even in workout gear instead of traditional Dora Milaje dress.
Her whole stoic appearance transformed when she broke out in a wide grin. “You asked me for help. This will help.”
“I've made a mistake, Ncedo,” You whined as you dropped down to the mat. “Asking real warriors to train me was a horrible idea.” You threw an arm over your eyes. “Just leave me here to die.”
Ncedo huffed a laugh. “Are all Americans so dramatic?”
“Nope. I've cornered the market.”
Ncedo stuck out a hand and You allowed yourself to be pulled up. “Let us go. Fresh air and sunshine will be good for you.”
“Yeah, that's not the part I'm worried about,” you muttered. You shook your head. “Alright, alright, alright.” You tried to pep yourself up à la McConaughey. “Let's go.”
It was difficult for Bucky to think of the high-tech room as a gym. It looked more like how he pictured the inside of a spaceship than a place to workout. But that didn't stop him from heading down to do just that. Bucky walked into the gym just in time to see You collapse on the mat for the second time that morning.
“I think I might actually hate you,” you groaned.
Bucky paused mid-step. Did you mean him? Certainly he deserved it, but it surprised him that you would say it outright. Especially since you had been so encouraging in the therapy session yesterday. Had you found out something about his past that hadn't been in his file? He thought the file was pretty comprehensive, but seventy years of murder was a lot to cover. There was probably a whole army's worth of people who hated him. Hell, most days he even hated himself. Why had he expected you to be any different?
“I'm sorry,” he said quietly. “I can go.”
He had turned to leave when you lifted your head off the floor and squinted toward him. “Oh, hey. Not you.” You flung your arm out accusingly. “Ncedo here is apparently trying to kill me.”
In Bucky's immediate downward spiral, he hadn't even noticed the other person in the room. Bucky's brow furrowed. Were you lying on the floor in pain? Had that woman injured you? He was sure if he attacked one of the Dora Milaje, he would have to leave Wakanda on the run. Bye, bye, recovery. He would, though. If you needed his help, he would run again.
Then he saw Ncedo was rolling her eyes in an amused sort of way. It clicked for him. “How is she killing you?”
You replied in a voice dripping with revulsion and horror, as if what you said was nearly unspeakable. “Exercise.”
He snorted. He wondered if there was a way to train himself not to think of the worst possibility first in every situation. You would probably know.
Ncedo was laughing. “I will remind you once again that you requested this yourself.”
You pushed yourself up to sitting, groaning all the way. “Just some self-defense, dude. I don't need to train for a marathon.”
“You only ran two miles.”
“Two miles? No wonder I feel like death.”
Ncedo laughed and Bucky snorted again. “That's nothing, Doc.”
He could almost feel your glare on his skin as you got to your feet.
“Don't start with me, buddy.” You jabbed a finger in his direction. “You've got athletic cheat water running through your veins.”
Bucky was stunned. He gaped. Then a loud laugh escaped him. As far as he remembered, no one had ever joked about a single thing that had happened to him. And it was nice, refreshing, even, to be treated like a normal person. You were teasing him. Amazing.
You watched him for a moment, beaming. “You know something? Happiness looks good on you.”