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Dusk in Wakanda was beautiful. The brilliant oranges and pinks painted across the sky faded into deep blue as the sun sunk behind the horizon, taking the heat of the day with it. Warm winds blew throughout the tall grasses of the fields. Crickets chirped, animals were stabled, and children were back inside. You thought it was as if the world was letting out a sleepy sigh.
But then night would come. Sure, the night held beauty. The stars were bright in the blue-black of midnight. Lights in the windows of buildings winked off one by one. Even the crickets went to sleep eventually. And the world fell quiet.
The world was quiet, but Your's mind was not. When the day ended and there were no more tasks to keep yourself busy, no more papers to deal with, no more planning to do, no more people to talk to, or exercise to abhor, or sessions to hold, or sass to dish out, there was nothing left to stop you from thinking. No matter what you started thinking about, it would always spiral around to New York. And it was always worse in the dark. It made no sense. The attack on New York was in the day. But something about the dark coaxed out fears like no other time could. Something about the dark made you feel small. Something about the dark made you feel alone. Something about the dark made you feel powerless.
The warmth of day was still cooling into night when you pulled on a flannel and stepped outside. You squared your shoulders. Night was nothing. Dark was nothing. You could handle absolutely anything. There was nothing to be afraid of outside anyway. Still, you patted your hip to feel the comforting weight of your taser.
As you walked through the fields, you concentrated on taking deep breaths. Staying calm was important. You would not allow yourself to panic about simply being in the dark. Down the hill, nearing the closest huts to the science facility, you spread out the blanket you had tucked under your arm. You laid down and closed your eyes.
“No one is out here,” you whispered. “Just me. Just stars. Stars are cool.” Cracking one eye open, you looked up. Out here away from all the high-tech buildings and their lights, stars shone in the night sky, clear and bright. You traced a finger in the air along the constellations you could pick out. Focusing on the small task made it much easier to let go of the nighttime paranoia.
You opened both eyes and tried to relax. You would train yourself not to be terrified at night. 'Immersion therapy,' you thought. 'Just like we'll do with Bucky.' You sighed a bit. Therapy was going well with him so far. You had only had three sessions, but they all seemed productive. The most important thing for now was to build trust. Trust would open so many doors in your professional relationship. You huffed out loud. 'Yes, professional. It doesn't matter that he's fun to talk to, or has Jared Leto/Jesus hair, or has TV vampire blue eyes, or is superhero-muscly all the time.' You nearly rolled your eyes. 'Doesn't matter. Still a client. Don't be attracted to clients.'
You focused again on the stars above you. Stars wouldn't stare into your soul or smile so sadly you had to physically sit on your hands to stop from hugging them. Hugging, though. You did need to work on that. Accepting touch was a part of trauma-
You shot up off the blanket like it was on fire. “Who's there? I'll taze you! I swear you'll have so many volts running through you, I could use you as a toaster!” Unfortunately, you fumbled pulling out your taser, which landed on the ground, stealing the thunder from your threat.
Bucky's hands were in the air. “It's, uh. It's just me. Sorry.”
You picked up the taser and huffed. Hopefully sometime soon your heart would stop trying to beat out of your chest. “Odin's eye patch! We should put a bell on you or something.” You squinted, but could barely see him.
“I'm sorry.” He slowly put his hands down. “I was out walking. I heard you talking to yourself.”
Shit. What part had you said out loud? Oh, well. “Don't judge me, Barnes. What are you doing out here at three in the morning anyway?”
Bucky inclined his head. “Don't judge me, Y/L/N. What are you doing out here?”
“Ya got me.” You smoothed out the blanket once again and sat down. “I was looking at the stars. Can't exactly do that during the day, chief.”
“Right.” He scratched the back of his neck. “I'll leave you to it then.”
“You can join me, if you want. Not gonna lie, the blanket's a little scratchy, but I'm willing to share.” You smiled even though you had no idea whether he could see you or not.
“Uh, okay.” Bucky laid on the farthest edge of the blanket.
You laid back down and pointed at the first constellation you could find. “See that? That's Scorpio. I'm not much for horoscopes, but I like the myths.”
Bucky nodded like he had any clue what in the world a horoscope was. “What is it?”
“So, Osiris was ruler of Egypt, right? But his brother tricked him and killed him so he could take over. And he sent the body down the Nile. Osiris's wife, Isis, searched for his body to give him a proper burial so his soul would be saved, or whatever. But evil brother dude was like nuh-uh and sent monsters after her. Scorpio was one of seven scorpions that protected Isis as you found and buried her husband, who was now in pieces. Then her son led an uprising and killed his evil uncle, Lion King style.”
“Huh.” He didn't know how to begin to process that. He shook it off. “Seems like you know a lot about stars.”
“Kind of.” You turned to look at him and was pleasantly surprised to be able to see him a little better. “I'm no astrophysicist, but I always like astronomy.”
Bucky caught himself staring at you. Your eyes sparkled even in the dark. Quickly he looked up and pointed at a few stars. “What about those?”
You looked up and then back down at him. “Well, that's ironic.”
“What?” He forced himself to keep his gaze on the sky.
“It's Typhon the sea serpent, one of the monsters that was sent after Isis in the Egyptian myth. But, it's more commonly known by its name in Greek mythology.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“It's the constellation Hydra.”
Bucky exhaled in an almost laugh. “Of course it is.”
You shrugged. “I mean, you're the one who pointed at it.”
“Yeah,” Bucky said, scrubbing a hand over his face. “That's my luck. Can't even have one night without 'em.”
You rolled toward him and propped yourself up on an elbow. “Rough nights?”
He turned his head toward you, surprised to see you so close. “Yeah,” he said quietly.
“I get it.” You picked at your nails. “It's hard to sleep with all the crappy shit that's happened playing over and over in your head.” Well, you had promised him emotional vulnerability. Here goes nothing. “It happens to me, too. Like, every night.”
“I'm sorry.” His hand itched to reach for yours, like a reflex, but he hadn't touched anyone in comfort in a long time. You wouldn't want comfort from him of all people anyway. Instead, he mirrored the way you was laying. “I, uh. I saw the videos.”
“Glad you read my file,” You smiled a little. “I got through everything fine, at the time. Even joked through it, you know? I'm always joking.” You looked down. “But after,” you continued quietly, “after, it all hit me at once. It's like I suddenly realized what just happened. And what could have happened.”
Bucky nodded. “After is always worse. The adrenaline is gone and there's too much time to think.”
“Nothing really even happened to me. I was fine. My people were all fine. But, it was some scary shit.” You sighed. “I don't know. I feel like I should be over it, but I know that's not how it works.”
“It makes you feel weak.”
“Yeah,” you said softly. “I come out here to force myself not to be afraid. I used to look at the stars with my friend in college and it always felt peaceful. It doesn't really work for me anymore. But it should. It's stupid. It's not like a Chitauri soldier is going to pop up out of a wheat field, or something.”
“Doesn't always make sense,” Bucky shook his head. “Be easier if it did. Sometimes my heart starts racing when an air conditioner comes on. It's nothing like cryo. But knowing that doesn't stop the panic.”
“Do you get nightmares often, too? I thought they'd go away eventually, or at least happen less, but nope,” you said shaking your head. “All the time. And I know how I'm supposed to deal with them, but...” You sighed. “I like being a badass, you know? But it's dark and I'm alone and sometimes I just can't deal.”
“I- yeah. I know how you feel.” Bucky hadn't thought anyone could relate to the things he was going through, least of all his therapist. But maybe he wasn't so alone. “Maybe we could- never mind.”
You looked at him like you knew exactly what he didn't quite offer. “Would you maybe want to keep each other company sometimes? When the nights get tough? No pressure. You can tell me to buzz off.”
Somehow, you both had moved close enough that you could feel the heat radiating off him. You saw the way his lips curved up and tried not to think about them too much.
As you tried not to watch him too closely, you missed how closely he was watching you. He saw you glance at his lips. He wouldn't have to lean in far to brush them over yours.
What was he thinking? In what world would a woman like you want to kiss a man like him? And he could barely stand to be patted on the shoulder. Who was he kidding? Maybe he could try.
Still, you were waiting for an answer. “Yeah,” he said, not being able to help himself. “I'd like that.”
Your smile made him feel it was definitely the right choice. He was sure he could make another. “I could, uh, walk you back to your room, if you want. Might be better than being alone,” he shrugged, trying to downplay his offer.
You smiled at him again. “Promise you can protect me from the wheat field?”
“I'll do my best.” He hopped up and took a deep breath. Then he held out his hand.
You looked up at him in surprise. Your grin made another appearance as you slipped your hand in his.
Bucky couldn't have said what the two of you talked about on the way back, but he knew the exact shape of your hand, how soft it felt, the warmth it pressed into his skin. He was surprised by how easy it was- holding your hand. It felt normal. Felt right. Maybe it wouldn't always be this simple, or maybe it would, but he was grateful to have something come easily for once.
You turned to face him when you got to your suite door. It had been the most relaxing walk in the dark you had since before New York happened. It felt normal to be walking along with him. Felt right. You squeezed his hand once before letting go. “Thanks for walking with me.”
He immediately missed the weight of your hand in his. Strange. Missing touch. Maybe he had been missing it for a long time without ever realizing it. “My pleasure, ma'am,” rolled off his tongue in a reflex.
You didn't even have the heart to fake scold him. “Just Y/N, man.”
“Y/N,” he corrected. “Not an alien in sight.”
“Between my taser and your muscles? They wouldn't dare.” You were happy to see his answering smile reach his eyes.
“Goodnight, Bucky,” you replied softly.
Closing the door behind you, you leaned back against it and blew out a breath. You knew you shouldn't think of your night this way, but you couldn't help it: that was the nicest date you'd ever had.