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hope that you'll know

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Sometimes Bucky thinks his head's like one of those cursed houses in fucking horror stories, the ones with more rooms than should fit in the space they take up on the outside, and where every new room you find has something new and fucking awful in it. And the reason he doesn't like even letting himself think he might be getting a fucking handle on anything is it always seems like that handle turns out to be for another God-damn door, with more rotting shit on the other side.

He just wants it to stop. There's a thread of whine that says I didn't ask for any of this but it doesn't even fucking matter: he just wants it to stop. Wants to know what he has to do to make it fucking stop.

Except he probably does.

No. He does know one way. He just can't have it. And it probably wouldn't work anyway, he probably would wake up in Hell and fucking serve him right. And the other is just -

It's just about as fucking bad as religion. Do the right things the right way, think the right way, over and over again, correcting every time you screw up, and maybe someday in twenty years or so you'll get to rest. If you did it right. If you tried hard enough.

And he's had a fucking bad dream and he feels weak and raw and wide open and speaking of thinking the right way he needs to fucking stop, now. Snarls shut up at his brain and shifts just back, further onto his side; pulls two of the pillows over so he can rest his left arm on top of them and keep from either wrenching his fucking shoulder up worse or crushing Steve's lower arm against his side.

Stupid fucking thing. Stupid fucking everything, and especially everything to do with him.

The kitten makes a wobbling noise and then crawls down off the pillow and under the blanket to burrow down a little into the pillow and curl up against his ribs, because she wants to get crushed to death some day. Steve's asleep, shallow sleep breaths rolling against the skin on the back of Bucky's shoulder. Steve's arm wraps around his waist.

Bucky's actually stopped giving Steve shit for clinging like an octopus in his sleep, in case Steve believes him and stops. He doesn't fucking want Steve to stop. He's not sure how fucked up that is, in general or even just for him, wanting to be held close enough, tight enough, that he'd have to fight to get away. Knowing if he tries to move Steve's mostly-sleeping instinct is to hold tighter, at least for a second.

It's probably a bad sign, or something. Giving in to something in his head. Bucky probably shouldn't want that.

Still does.

And since in point of fucking fact he can get it, he gets to have it, it'd be nice if the shit-show inside his head would shut the fuck up enough for him just to lie still and be happy, or the best fucking counterfeit he can manage these day, about it being so. If he could beat parts of his brain with a stick made from everything he does actually fucking know, like Steve's not lying and not even that fucking stupid and probably does, in another point of fucking fact, know how he likes to fucking sleep.

Bucky tries to shut it all the fuck up. Wishes his subconscious would stop coming up with new shit, like remember that time in the Ardennes you thought you were gonna lose this, you were awake and he was asleep and you thought about how it was all gonna end and you were gonna lose this, and you wished you didn't have to? well -

Like him wishing meant a damn thing. Like he actually caused anything. It's stupid, it's magical fucking thinking, it's fucking ludicrous and it doesn't even matter because what happened happened and there's nothing he can do about it, so his subconscious just needs to fucking stop.

Behind him, Steve moves a little, but no more than he does in his sleep. When he kisses the top of Bucky's left shoulder, it startles Bucky out of the thoughts.

"You know you're shaking?" Steve asks. Sleep slurs the words a bit, and he probably doesn't have his eyes open.

"No," Bucky admits, because he hasn't noticed. Notices now how it feels like every single tendon's stretched elastic tight, though, which is usually a pretty clear sign. And also usually means he'll hurt tomorrow morning, especially if he doesn't get it under control.

"Not 'lot," Steve says. He moves again, stretching out a little, carefully pulling Bucky back closer to him, top leg tucking between Bucky's and hand sliding under Bucky's shirt. "Just off'n'on. Thought y'should know. Sometimes you don't."

Bucky closes his eyes and tries to haul the train of thought that starts up off the track of nasty self-recrimination. "Sorry," he says, feels Steve's cheek brush the back top of his spine as Steve shakes his head a little.

"No sorry," Steve replies, still drowsy. "Need something?"

Shaking his head is automatic; what isn't is making himself say, "Nothing you're not already doing," even if it comes out halting and uneven and fucking barely audible. And messes up his breathing. The last fucking furthest thing from automatic, but God damn it -

Steve's hand strokes back and forth across Bucky's waist, fingertips tracing the bottom of his ribs, palm sliding over his abdomen. It takes Bucky a minute to figure out it's the rhythm of resting breath.

"Sure?" Steve asks, and when Bucky makes himself nod, Steve says, "'Kay." He rests his forehead against the bottom curve of Bucky's skull, close enough that he can feel Steve's breath moving strands of hair, faint touch of Steve's nose by his scalp. Steve murmurs, "Everything's okay."

Bucky makes himself close his eyes. He tries to match breathing to how Steve's hand moves, tries to force himself to unwind muscle by muscle. And it's mixed success but mixed is better than it could be.

He doesn't sleep, just hovers on the edge of it. He'll take it, though.