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All the Ways (I Need You)

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“So which of you is gonna take one for the team?”

Tony Stark snarked out the question that the rest of the Avengers assembled in the tiny cabin were too tactful to ask. When none of the others answered, he continued more seriously,

“Lewis is not gonna be able to travel as is, and we’ve got maybe two hours tops before this location is compromised.”

This statement of fact was punctuated by an animalistic wail, suddenly more audible from the small bathroom attached to the back of the dusty log cabin. Unfortunately, it was the only source of privacy available to the miserable Omega inside. Jane Foster, dishevelled in her days-old clothes and desperately in need of a hairbrush, pulled her fraying lab coat tightly around herself and quickly shut the door behind her. She rejoined the group congregated by the front door, as far from the bathroom as they could get while still remaining inside the little shack.

“How is she?” asked Agent Romanoff brusquely.

“Not good. She’s angry with herself about getting into this situation in the first place, but really, how could either of us have planned to be kidnapped out from under the noses of the Avengers and Stark Tower’s security by a radical Hydra cell obsessed with building a bridge through space for their alien messiah figure? It’s not like she forgot to enter that into our google calendar.”

Jane sounded defensive, but she could hardly help it when faced with the wall of dominance before her. At least she stood something of a chance as a bonded Beta facing off against three Alphas in the midst of a life-or-death rescue mission gone wrong. Her assistant couldn’t even breathe the same air as them at the moment. Poor Darcy, Jane thought for the hundredth time that day. If this disaster was anyone’s fault it was Jane’s, for letting Darcy stand up to their captors, for having all the wrong reactions that got Darcy caught up in this mess. Jane was the rational scientist, the one they wanted, but Darcy had insisted they had to go through her first, and instead of killing her, they noticed Jane’s terrified reaction and took Darcy with them to keep Jane in line. For four long, miserable days they’d been moved around the world, landing a day ago in the Siberian stronghold where the rescue team finally caught up with them. Usually a few days without the pills would be no problem, as Omegas often took months to return to their cycles after going off suppressants. Unfortunately, Darcy seemed to be one of the few cases where the abrupt change in hormones triggered an immediate heat.

Through the whole ordeal Darcy had been so fearless, so loyal, that Jane had been humbled and grateful to have such a friend in her corner. Even when she’d started to feel the effects of her heat, she’d been brave and quick witted, using her highly distracting scent to confuse their attackers during their escape rather than give them an edge. And now look what Darcy got for it. With Thor on Asgard, they’d had to settle for four of Earth’s own superheroes, currently standing before her rolling their eyes in disgust. At least, Jane thought it was disgust. It was possible it could be something even uglier. Captain America had barely opened his eyes since setting foot into the dim cabin, looking as though he was suffering extreme indigestion, and his shadow, the ex-Winter Soldier, wasn’t much better. He usually looked somewhat sick to his stomach on missions though, so it was hard to tell. The Black Widow looked almost as poised as usual, but her jaw tensed and her nostrils flared as if encountering a particularly pungent smell. As if Darcy could help her pheromones. Jane narrowed her eyes, and Tony held up his hands in their metal gauntlets.

“We’re not saying this is her fault, Foster,” Tony began, spoiling it by muttering, “though if she’d been on the injection as she’d been advised, we wouldn’t be having this problem—”

“Darcy was perfectly within her rights to choose the form her suppressants take! She did nothing wrong!” Jane spit indignantly, flailing her thin arms. “I won’t stand here and let you insult her. You know what? If this is what it takes to get rescued around here, I’d rather head back to the frozen dungeon and wait for Thor to get back from Asgard. He may be from another world, but at least he doesn’t share your disgustingly chauvinistic attitude about perfectly natural and involuntary bodily functions.”

Captain America still didn’t open his eyes, but dropped his hands and took a steadying breath through his mouth.

“Let’s not be hasty Ma’am,” Steve said respectfully. “We’re going to get you and Miss Lewis home, but we need to come up with some options about how we can make that happen under the circumstances. We’d been counting on staying under their radar, but now that’s...not feasible.”

He turned to the Black Widow and just barely slit his eyes open. “Tasha, what’re we looking at?”

“The extraction team is rerouting, trying to get our location and come up with a new rendezvous point. We’ve got approximately an hour before we can expect to see Hydra pursuit this far west. If Tony takes Foster, he could meet the extraction team at the border and announce the successful rescue. That might put them off our trail indefinitely. Then again,” she paused.

“They still might sweep the area and find us,” Steve finished. “So we can’t count on waiting it out here until Miss Lewis recovers.”

“Considering that could be days, that would be unwise,” the stoic woman answered.

“So one of us’ll have to…” he turned a sort of purple color, and his best friend thumped him on the back.

“Don’t worry Stevie,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be you.”

Steve’s relationship history spawned an entire pulp literary genre: the Doomed Alpha Romance. His plane had gone down over the Atlantic days after having made the controversial choice to bond an Alpha female, Peggy Carter. While Peggy had finally gotten it together and moved on with her life, she’d never bonded another, so with Steve’s revival, the two found themselves in a very strange state: bonded but with such a strain of time and distance and ill health between them it would likely only be resolved by Peggy’s death. Steve’s bonding was truly the stuff of tragic romances, and Bucky didn’t want to stick another wrench in the works.

“Don’t say that, Buck. There’s no way I could ask you to…” again Steve seemed to contort in discomfort. “Just no.”

“I’m seventy-eight percent certain I could take care of the problem,” Natasha stated confidently.

“...How is that even possible?” Steve wondered, shocked into taking a breath at the female Alpha’s assertion. He involuntarily sniffed the air, which then had him covering his nose guiltily. “Wait, I don’t want to know.”

“Well I definitely do,” said Stark with a leer, “but maybe some other time. I don’t know that seventy-eight percent is the kind of odds I like right now, not when we’ve got a one hundred percent success option glaring at us like a disgruntled raccoon. Let me just get in touch with the team, and Foster and I’ll be on our way.”

Tony stepped outside, obviously fiddling with his wrist pad controls. The door banged shut behind him.

“Wait,” Dr. Foster said frantically, looking around at the remaining Avengers. “You’re not suggesting what I think you’re suggesting—that us Betas take off while Darcy gets—” she struggled for a minute with her words, not used to having such antiquated situations intrude on her highly-ordered life. “Gets—serviced, like a horse? Ugh! As if I could let you—”

Steve cut her off sharply. “Look, Dr. Foster, this isn’t an easy situation. And no one will do anything that Miss Lewis doesn’t agree to.”

This was punctuated by another anguished wail from the bathroom that reminded them all exactly what Darcy was going through at the moment. Jane gritted her teeth. How could Darcy properly consent to anything when her hormones were rampaging around in her body in some outdated procreative inferno? Steve noticed her agitation and straightened, leaning over Jane’s petite form.

“In fact, maybe this situation will help you to understand why I was so surprised that Omegas would be working alongside Alphas and Betas in Stark Tower. In my day we didn’t have suppressants, and it seems they aren’t quite as failsafe as you’d led me to believe.”

Dr. Foster glared at Steve for daring to bring up her objections to his old-fashioned observations now when they were in the midst of such a tense situation. His posture had changed from retreating from the sounds and smells of Darcy’s plight to challenging Jane. She realized clinically that that didn’t bode well, so it was a relief when his friend again interceded with a hand placed on Steve’s shoulder.

“Enough Stevie. We’ll register your ‘I told you so’ with the National Archive; we get it punk,” said Bucky. “Get yourself under control, get some air if you have to.”

Steve glared at Bucky, but awareness of how he was acting dawned on him and he shook his head. Natasha smiled slightly.

“Don’t worry Cap, we’re all on edge,” she said.

“Then how come you look so damned unaffected?” he asked, back to covering his face with his hands.

The redhead shrugged. “Training.”

“Then why do you, Buck?” Steve practically whined.

Bucky and Natasha shared a look. “He’s the one who trained me,” she said simply.

Steve opened his eyes, interested. “So then I guess you know about that seventy-eight percent—”

“On a need-to-know basis, buddy,” Bucky said uncomfortably. “But Stark’s right. Why risk it when we’ve got another option?”

“Other options, you mean,” said Steve. “I know you’re not ready for something like this. You’ve been making so much progress, and there’s no reason to compromise yourself on my mission…”

“Give it up jerk. Last I heard I was part of this team too. Look at yourself—you’re not saving me from shit right now. I’ll only do the least of what has to be done to get Lewis mobile. It’s not like I’ve gotta bond with her.”

Steve blanched at this assessment.

“See? Just hearing the word makes you look like you’re about to lose your lunch. Go outside, check the perimeter. You too, Natalia. There’s no reason for you to be here. We’ve got what, an hour, right?”

“Maybe two, but the sooner we can be prepared to move, the better.”

“Understood,” Bucky said with finality, and the two others nodded shortly and left the cabin. Jane’s eyes followed them out, but she kept herself firmly planted between Bucky and the bathroom door.

“Just don’t—don’t hurt her. Darcy’s so insecure about being an Omega—don’t make it worse.”

Bucky snorted and raised his eyebrows. “Insecure? We talking about the same loudmouth who wore the shortest skirt I have ever seen in my ninety-some odd years to Stark’s fanciest party? With army boots no less! The one who got disinvited to poker night for terrorizing Steve with her filthy jokes? Not to mention smuggling Stark’s cigars out in her top...”

Jane waved a dismissive hand.

“She does those things because she wants to prove to herself that she can. That she’s not defined by this quirk of her biology. I know we have to get out of here. I know you need to be able to move her. But just—be careful, ok?”

A grunt followed by another keening sound filled the cabin, but Jane still barred the way.

“That’s my best friend in there,” Jane whispered, “even if she’s not quite herself right now.”

Bucky slowly nodded.

“Understood,” he repeated.

“Good.”

Jane sighed and moved back toward the bathroom. She opened the door a crack, and Bucky rocked back on his heels with the strength of the scent on the warm air that rolled out into the chill of the main room. Bucky shook himself, and started securing the room, drawing the tattered curtains and barring the back door. He avoided looking at the grungy mattress in the corner. There’d be time for that after getting things straight with Darcy. Jane began speaking quietly through the cracked door, and Bucky did her the courtesy of pretending he couldn’t hear her.

“Darcy, sweetie, Tony and I have to go. If we get back first we can put them off your trail. But you’re still going to need to move, so someone’s going to come in to help you, ok?”

“Oh God, noooooo,” came the wail from inside.

Darcy’s voice was strained and breathy, but she was talkative as ever.

“Please don’t let it be Steve. I cannot handle reaching that level of damsel-in-distressedness. The shame! I’ll never be able to crash another Avengers party again.”

“Well, Natasha offered too,” Jane said, a hint of amusement in her voice.

“Woah. Woahhhh,” said Darcy, sounding pretty damn distressed. “She is definitely like my lady love, don’t get me wrong—and normally I’d think that was pretty hot. But that’s not what my body thinks it requires at the mo’.”

Jane shook her head, and put her friend out of her misery. “Bucky’s here...No, he volunteered.”

Strain as he might, he couldn’t hear Darcy’s response, if she made one. Jane gave Darcy a fleeting two-thumbs-up and blew a kiss. If she wanted to remain undetected it wasn’t wise to get too much of Darcy’s scent on her.

“Stay safe, Janey,” Darcy responded.

Dr. Foster hurried out of the cabin without a backwards glance. Bucky took a moment to undo the straps of his kevlar vest and disarm himself, though he kept careful track of exactly where he set down each weapon. He waited until he could hear the others moving off the porch of the cabin, then walked over to the bathroom door.

“You ready to talk, Lewis? Natalia wants us on the move as soon as possible, so we’ve got to do what we can to get you under control.”

“Ughhhh Barnes, this is the worst.”

“I know kid,” Bucky said sympathetically.

“Gross. Don’t call me ‘kid’ when you’re about to bang my brains out. At least, I hope that’s what you’re going to do. Are you going to do that?” Darcy briefly paused when the pain in her nether regions became too much for her. She let out a little cry and Bucky could see her hugging herself through the opening in the door.

“Okay...doll.”

Through the haze of pain and lust, Darcy Anne Lewis snorted. Bucky could see why Steve had so much trouble with this one. She refused to fit into or onto any of the traditional boxes or pedestals for Omegas. Of course the development of suppressants in the 70s was a game-changer, but Bucky had a feeling that Darcy couldn’t help but be herself, whatever her biological status. When he was a kid, Omegas were usually taken into government custody at their first heat and put in a sanitorium until they were married and bonded to some lucky Alpha. Even then, it was uncommon to see one out on the streets alone. He and Steve had been brought up to treat Omegas like rare and precious flowers, so it was strange to be in this situation with someone who swore like a sailor and acted like she was anything but innocent.

“Can you come out of there? C’mon, you know the drill.”

“Actually, I don’t.”

“What? What do you mean you don’t?” Bucky’s brow furrowed, and he reached over to pull the bathroom door open wider. Darcy reached up and pulled the knob back toward her, stopping him.

“I mean, I had one heat when I was fourteen, I spent five days locked in my room crying and flipping out, then the next day my completely freaked Beta parents let me out and took me to the doctor to get my prescription, and that has been that for the past decade.”

“Okay,” said Bucky slowly. “So you’ve never...while you’ve been in heat. Are you telling me you’ve never been with an Alpha?”

“Arggggh,” cried Darcy. “Can’t we just skip this part and get to the crazy monkey sex so that Darcy can hear herself think again? And no, the answer is never. Never have I ever. Alphas are assholes. You superheroes are mostly okay, I think because you’re all adrenaline junkies and work your issues out with crazy risks, but Alphas in the real world are usually manipulative fuckwads.

“I came pretty close to doing it with this Beta guy, but then he figured out I was an Omega and suddenly he developed an inferiority complex about everything. I tried to lie this one other time, because I really liked a Beta from my Ancient Civilizations class—he also rocked the man-bun, btw. He played bass in a band. I was super excited when I finally got him cornered, with no clue about the Omega thing. But I think I started to break my suppressants, because suddenly he could smell the truth, so then I got another prescription, with a higher dosage…”

Darcy was speaking ever more rapidly and increasing in pitch and volume. Bucky had his head in his hands and wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. He shook his head. They really didn’t have time for either. With the HYDRA team on the hunt, it would be disastrous to get caught in the act.

Bucky sighed and cut her off.

“Let’s get this out of the way then: do you, Darcy Lewis consent to sex and or knotting if it becomes necessary to relieve your heat symptoms?”

“Yes, yes, one thousand times yes. Come on Barnes, you already know I’m ready to rip your pants off and lick your thighs,” she lowered her voice to a mutter, “and that was before I was an idiot and went into heat while kidnapped by HYDRA.“

Still on the other side of the bathroom door, Darcy must not have realized how close he was, or else was beyond caring. Bucky sat up straight, eyes wide. He’d had no idea Darcy was interested in him. Sure he was nice enough to look at, but they lived in a building full of outrageously good looking people, most of whom at least managed to hide their mental health issues better than he did, not to mention still had all their own body parts. Suddenly Jane’s earlier conversation took on another light. Bucky remembered that she’d been adamant about him not hurting Darcy, and had assured Darcy that he’d volunteered to help her. He’d thought she was squeamish about Alphas’ tendencies toward rough sex, but maybe she was trying to hint to him that Darcy’s feelings were at stake at well.

Could this be true? Bucky reached into the bathroom and gently removed Darcy’s hand from the doorknob so he could nudge the door open with his shoulder. Her skin was slick with sweat, and whatever control he’d displayed in front of Steve and Natalia was quickly slipping away. Darcy’s breath was coming in gasps again, and Bucky marvelled that she’d been able to speak so coherently (not to mention so goddamned much) while in this condition. He’d never met another Omega like her. Maybe they were out there for the past forty years and he’d never known because of the suppressants, but she was so...not obedient. Not demure, not retiring, not any of the normal words that got associated with Omegas in his experience.

Now that the door was open, he could see Darcy, hugging her knees to her chest. Her dark hair was soaked through with sweat, and the scent radiating out from the top of her head had him reeling back and creeping forward on his knees all at once. She’d managed to keep her underwear on and a tan tank top, though her bra was beside her on the floor with everything else she’d sacrificed to the waves of heat pulsing through her body. She saw him looking at the lacy purple number, and gasped out,

“Damn, I should have kept that on I guess. You old timey people probably love stuff like that. Hell, don’t most guys even now? But I was so hot and it was poky and isn’t it just my luck to get stuck in underwire for five straight days? My sister-in-law swears underwire is what’s causing the breast cancer epidemic, like there was some study in the Philippines and women who never wore bras had the same incidence of breast cancer as men. And that’s pretty convincing, ya know? But a serious bra like that sure makes the girls look good.”

Darcy sobbed, and Bucky couldn’t quite understand why, unless it was purely the pain she was experiencing due to her heat. He was beginning to get a little frustrated. He could do something about that, if she’d just shut up for a minute.

“And that’s exactly why I’m in this position! I got the memo that Stark employees were encouraged to get suppressant injections. But I asked to stay on the pill. You know why?”

Darcy just barely looked at Bucky out of the corner of her eye, and he started to formulate an answer, but she was already continuing on.

“Some people get nasty side effects from the injections—cramps, migraines, blood clots. Me? I get acne. I tried it in college and decided the inconvenience of the pill was worth it for my complexion. So my stupid vanity is the reason for this whole mission going south. I’m so sorry, Barnes. I’m the absolute worst!”

Darcy was crying in earnest now. She leaned toward him, but kept her arms wrapped securely around herself so she wouldn’t touch him. Because she didn’t think she deserved it. Poor kid was making herself suffer because she felt she should. He reached one hand over and petted her hair. She leaned into his touch, and Bucky knew they’d wasted enough time. Though Darcy had clearly needed to get this self-blaming thing out. Really, she was completely adorable. Her long dark lashes splayed out on her cheeks and the rivulets of tears merged further down with sweat from her heat.

Bucky forced himself to look away.

“It’s not your fault Darcy. C’mon, you couldn’t have known this was gonna happen. I highly doubt you planned to get kidnapped by HYDRA just so you could end up getting rushed through...that...in some crusty mold-infested safe house in Siberia.”

Darcy swiped her hand across her face and opened her big blue eyes.

“No! No, I definitely didn’t. But, but I still feel guilty because this is like, sort of a familiar scenario for me. Um, not like one that I’ve really been in. More like one that I maybe find myself thinking about...ugh, this is so embarrassing!! Why am I saying these things? Why can’t we just get to the doing it part?”

Bucky smiled slightly, since he’d been asking himself the same question. So this was one of Darcy’s’ fantasies? He looked around the disgusting room. This wasn’t exactly his cup of tea, but if she liked it, maybe it would make it a little easier for her to let go.

“C’mere.”

Bucky sat back on his heels and pulled Darcy into his lap, not allowing her to pull back this time. She always seemed so animated and lively that it was strange to feel how small she actually was. She shivered, but not from the cold, and he rubbed his hands over her arms.

Darcy immediately stuck her face in the hollow between his head and shoulder and inhaled deeply. She sighed happily.

“I am going to die of embarrassment later Barnes, so just remember that and don’t judge me too harshly ok? Cause I don’t think I can stop myself from doing some pretty bizzaro things right now.”

She breathed into his neck again and then leaned back, presenting her bare throat to him. It was almost incongruous to finally see her acting like a submissive, but Bucky’s body had no trouble propelling him forward to lick and suck at her pulse point. In fact, it was all he could do to keep himself from biting down. Christ, but she affected him deeply.

“Why don’t you go ahead and call me Bucky then, since you’re going to expire from embarrassment later anyway,” he said.

“Mmm, might as well,” she sighed.

While Bucky scooped her up and half-led half-dragged Darcy to the bed, she reached up and dragged her hand through Bucky’s hair, loosening it from its tie and tugging at the strands.

“Ugh, Barnes, you’re disgustingly pretty. Even with the raccoon eyes.” She touched the grease with her fingertip, trailing it down his face. If she kept on like that they were both going to be even more of a mess than was already in the cards.

“Bucky,” he reminded with a small growl.

“Bucky,” she agreed with a mysterious smile. Bucky almost asked her what she was thinking, but stopped himself because they were short on time and actually getting her talking again would mean they’d be here all night, still dressed and gagging for it when HYDRA finally got around to sweeping this neck of the woods.

Darcy’s half-lidded eyes and full-throttle pheromones were doing things to Bucky that frankly he hadn’t thought were possible any more. Natalia hadn’t been joking when she’d said he’d trained her in her reactions to Omegas in heat. He had been subjected to every fucked up Alpha-Omega test the Red Room could come up with, and had been conditioned to withstand the height on an Omega’s heat without falling prey to his instincts and compromising his mission objective, even when the two ran completely counter.

To breathe Darcy in and feel so primally connected was both freeing and terrifying. It proved on the one hand that he wasn’t as broken as he thought—his body still craved a partner and his instincts demanded that he lay claim to her regardless of his sordid history. But his fractured mind knew that he’d done such terrible things in the past, many of them to Omegas just like Darcy. It was a sick twist of fate that had him taking her in the role of the good-guy hero.

What could he do though? Besides being a beacon of hormones, an Omega simply could not be moved until heat was either over, which could take anywhere from two to five days, or until it was satisfied, which should at least buy them enough time to get the hell out of Dodge. Darcy was now clawing at Bucky’s clothing, and he held her hands still with his flesh one so that he could loosen the laces of his boots with the metal one. He refused to give in to the temptation to destroy them in his haste—he was going to need them later.

As soon as he’d finished, she reached up, licked her lips, and pulled his head down to hers. Trembling, she closed the distance with a little moan. Her kisses were hot and passionate, but stopped just shy of being sloppy or messy. So far, Bucky was having trouble believing she hadn’t done this before, though she was a big girl and had already admitted to having envisioned this scenario. With him, he wondered? Again, he stopped himself from asking more due to the time constraints than his own willpower.

Bucky was down to the standard issue boxer-briefs they wore under their suits, but Darcy miraculously still had on the tan shirt and black panties they’d started with. The top was just one of those little tank-top camisole things, and as Bucky was thinking about getting it off over her head, Darcy ground herself against his body, kissing him so deeply she ended up sucking his tongue right back into her mouth like the tide, like an undertow. Before he formulated a thought about it, he’d grabbed the back of her shirt and shredded it, yanking it off her body. It had to have hurt a little, but Darcy just moaned and tugged at his shorts. With a small amount of wriggling on both their parts, clothing was no longer an issue.

Bucky moved her back onto the grungy mattress, gently laying her down.

“No way!” panted Darcy, struggling to her knees and turning over. “I’ve been waiting ten years for this, dude. Do it the right way!”

Bucky sighed and ran his hand through his hair, forcing himself to slow down. Her position had his blood racing through his body and he was having way more trouble than he ought to be having moderating his behavior. He took a couple of even breaths, but they just served to fill his nose with her scent. When Darcy looked over her bare shoulder at him with an impatient glare, a feral growl ripped through him, and he grabbed her thighs and plunged into her, all thoughts about preparing her or trying not to knot her forgotten.

Darcy hissed at the intrusion, and Bucky forced his body to still until she could adjust. Darcy stayed silent for several long moments, and Bucky wondered if it was the longest she’d gone without making some kind of sound in his presence. Finally he kissed her neck and murmured, “You okay Darce?”

“Ha, yes!” she replied breathily. “What are you waiting for? Oh? Me? I go first? Okay.”

Then she thrust herself backwards against him and Bucky lost control for a minute. His hips slammed into hers over and over, hitting just the right spot.

“Don’t tense up, doll,” he warned. “Keep relaxing. Just press back if it feels right.”

Bucky reached his right hand around from where it had been clutching her hip and found her clit. Darcy was now making a truly outrageous amount of noise, but the others would alert them to any danger well before Darcy’s cries could make any difference. Rocking her between his body and his hand, Bucky felt Darcy’s orgasm growing imminent. Her muscles squeezed and relaxed and spasmed around him, setting off the chain of events that formed his knot, which only an Omega was physically capable of receiving without a huge amount of work or pain.

“Fuck, yes,” he muttered, any further thoughts trailing off into unintelligible grunts and groans. Darcy felt so good, but he had to hold himself back, or he might do something stupid. His face must have reflected his indecision, because when he caught her eye as she again twisted to look over her shoulder at him, she panted, “Whatever it is Bucky, just do it. Oh God, do all the things, ok?”

Something snapped inside of him and just as he felt a devastating wave of pleasure overwhelming him, just as his seed spilled out into Darcy over and over, he bit down on the skin at the base of her neck between her back and shoulder. The motion felt as involuntary as everything else that was happening at the moment, and Darcy’s cry sounded musical and amazed as he licked and sucked at the break he had made in her skin, taking her blood inside of him, leaving his saliva in her.

Darcy’s body went limp, and he lowered her down to the bed with him until they lay on their sides, still joined together. They stayed that way, shaking with sensation every few minutes as her body milked every last drop from his cock. Finally his knot receded, and Bucky had to rely on every last trick of his training not to follow Darcy into exhausted slumber. Even so, he lay still for several minutes until his breathing was back under control before rising unsteadily to his feet and peering out the front door.

Natalia had dumped some plastic bags and sanitizing wipes on the porch along with clothing for both of them. There was also a rusty bucket of icy water and pump bottle of sanitizing fluid, probably meant for their hair. This would leave them pretty grungy, but since there was no running water, they’d have to do their best. Bucky let Darcy sleep for a few minutes, since she’d had no chance to rest since they’d removed her from the HYDRA stronghold in the early hours of the morning, and had suffered an extremely physically stressful day. Bucky would guess it was now about an hour until sunset, and they needed to get moving soon.

He hauled the supplies inside and made short work of cleaning himself best he could, as well as wiping down his weapons, chest armour and boots. He did the same for Darcy’s shoes, and shoved all of their discarded clothing into the large plastic ziplock bags. When he got to Darcy’s shredded tank top he winced, hoping Natalia wouldn’t notice, and if she did notice, that she didn’t make a big deal to Steve.

Bucky quickly tried to wake Darcy, who for once was too groggy for speech. Bucky took charge and cleaned her up, washing her hair right in the bucket of cold water. She shivered and groaned, but stayed far too out of it to protest. His fingers traced the bite mark on her neck, and he couldn’t help but give it another swipe with his tongue. A first aid kit had been left under the pile of new clothing, and he quickly bandaged the wound with a cotton pad and some medical tape. Still, Darcy hadn’t even fully roused. Damnit, what had he done to her?

She wasn’t coherent as he sped through dressing her, and he worried since her temperature had dropped so abruptly that she was getting sick. Bucky might have had sexual experience with Omegas from his time with the Red Room as the Winter Soldier, but he had minimal experience caring for one, and zero experience caring for a newly bonded one, if that was in fact what they were dealing with. Bucky couldn’t allow himself to consider that possibility at the moment.

He bundled Darcy into the coat Natalia had provided from God-knew-where and carefully tucked her wet hair into the fur-lined hood before zipping it up past her chin. He strapped on the rest of his gear and tipped the bucket of used water down the toilet, causing it to flush. The other supplies and the plastic bags he took to set out on the porch. This time when he opened the door Steve and Natalia were waiting for him.

“You ready to go Buck?” Steve said awkwardly, still looking sick to his stomach.

“Time?” Bucky demanded of Natalia.

“1900 hours almost exactly. Stark and Foster made it to the border and are awaiting pickup. Cap and I are going to use these—” here Natalia kicked at the plastic bags of clothes with the toe of her boots, “to lay a false trail, and you two are to try to slip onto a local train until the quinjet is available to extract you.”

She handed him a Starkpad with the route they’d be taking, and Bucky nodded tersely. He would be alone with Darcy. That was probably for the best until he could try to explain to her what had happened, but he didn’t want the others reading into it.

Unfortunately Steve seemed to take his nod the wrong way.

“Bucky, if you want to go with Natasha I’m sure I could get Miss Lewis onto the train now that she’s...stable.”

“No!” the growl ripped out of him, and Bucky’s eyes widened in surprise in concert with the others’. “No, thanks Stevie, but I don’t have that much control.” He smiled to try to play it off as a joke, but Steve and Natalia shared a concerned look that ended in the redheaded woman tossing him a trenchcoat she’d been holding.

“Can I check Darcy over?” she asked, holding up the first aid kit.

“Already got it.”

Natalia tried to lean past him to see where Darcy lay on the bed, but Bucky shifted his body to provide a solid barrier.

“She’s sleeping,” he said curtly. “Kid’s had a rough day.”

Steve and Natalia shared another look, and Steve looked like he was gearing up to say something uncomfortable for all of them. Quickly Bucky shifted their attention to the Starkpad which still showed a map of the area.

“I’m going to carry her until she absolutely needs to be seen walking under her own power. Where on here would that most likely be?”

Natalia narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips, but studied the screen and pointed out an alternate route that would allow them to get closer to the town before being seen by civilians. They briefly discussed the mileage and train schedule, sticking to the mission. Steve still looked worried, but Natalia gathered the sealed bags of clothing and motioned for him to follow.

“See you soon, Bucky,” Steve said with an unconvincing smile.

“See ya punk.”

“We’ll be monitoring your location with the Starkpad, and I’ll send you a message about when to expect extraction,” Natalia said over her shoulder.

Bucky waved them off, and watched from the porch until they were out of sight, heading south before stepping back inside the cabin. The shack had felt so warm earlier, but now even with his serum-enhanced metabolism Bucky was starting to feel the cold. He slipped the black trench coat on but left it unbuttoned, fishing around in the pockets for the gloves he knew Natalia would not have neglected to place inside.

Fitting one glove carefully over his metal hand, Bucky used his other hand to push Darcy’s hair back from her eyes. Her scent was barely detectable over the antiseptic smell of the cleaner, but it still calmed him to sense that little bit of Darcy shining through. She was passed out cold, but her breathing was even, so she was probably just exhausted.

“Hey doll,” he said quietly, not sure whether or not he wanted to wake her, “we’ve gotta move out. I’m gonna carry you for a while.”

He put on his other glove and debated for a moment how to pick her up. He’d make better time with her on his back, but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to swing her up there where he would be unaware if her status took a turn for the worse. Instead he slipped one arm under her knees and the other behind her back, lifting Darcy bridal style and holding her tight against his chest. He shifted her into place, but she still didn’t stir. Hoping more than believing that all was well, Bucky scanned the cabin one final time for anything they’d left out of place and stepped through the door.