"Come on uncle Bucky!"
Bucky runs after his six-year old nephew Kyle, trying to make sure his costume is secure. He's going as Captain America. Bucky ends up carrying the shield since Kyle is holding his basket.
"All right, all right. Don't want you to catch a cold."
Kyle fusses. Then grasping Bucky's hand, they head out their house and meet Clint on the curb. Bucky smiles at his friend and his daughter.
"Nat's not coming?"
Clint smiles. "Nah, she's with a client."
They hug and Bucky crouches to hug Nicole. "How are ya munchkin?"
It's been a week since he's last seen them. Clint and Nat are his closest friends and when they got married years ago, he was over the moon. And ever since, he makes sure they get together once a week. Looking at their precious daughter now, he can't help but smile. She has the same green eyes and fiery red hair as her mother's and Bucky is always amazed at the striking resemblance.
"Guess what I am?" She asks excitedly.
Bucky tilts his head as he looks her way. "Hmm Pocahontas?"
She giggles. "No. You're silly. Pocahontas doesn't have wings."
Kyle drags Bucky and they start walking down their festive, Halloween-decorated neighborhood.
"I give up. What are you?"
"I'm a fairy!"
"Really? Then you must grant me a wish."
"Sure uncle Bucky."
He loves when she calls him that. Her father chimes in. "I know. Make him have a tail."
"Hey!" Bucky shoves Clint and the latter stumbles. The kids giggle and they start their trick-or-treating.
The kids have a blast and the adults enjoy talking about their day all throughout their wandering and candy hunting.
They're two houses away from their residence when Kyle drags Bucky to the vacant house around the corner.
"This is the last one. Come on."
Bucky stops him. "Hold on buddy. No one lives there."
"Yes there is!" And his nephew is much stronger than kids his age and pulls Bucky; Nicole and her father laugh behind them.
"How do you know?" Bucky asks bewildered.
"I saw a man enter it yesterday."
Bucky stops. He knows pretty much all his neighbors. He's very social and is pretty much friends with everyone. He'd know if some new residents move in. He can see the said house through his kitchen window. He knows it's vacant.
Then Kyle clearly gives up and holds Nicole's hand instead and runs there. Clint laughs but Bucky worries and jogs after them. He's too late and the kids have already knocked. Bucky stands behind Kyle while Clint puts his arm around his daughter.
There's no answer, so Bucky looks down Kyle’s head. "See. I told you. No one moved in here."
"But uncle Bucky, I swear. I saw him."
Nicole knocks again and it's then that the door opens. The kids immediately scream, "Trick-or-Treat" before they see who opens the door.
Bucky doesn't expect the person behind the door. He's never seen him before. He would've remembered him for his impeccable physique but what alarmed him is the state of the guy.
He has red eyes with dark circles underneath them. His t-shirt is rumbled and his sweat pants are ripped on one knee. His blond hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in a while. He looks like a guy who's been crying for a long time. He squints at them and Bucky unconsciously wraps his arm around his nephew, bringing him closer to him. The guy seems troubled...and in a daze.
He doesn't say anything, so Kyle and Nicole present their baskets. The strange resident looks between the two kids, then at the adults, and his eyes widen in horror.
"It's October already?"
Okay, Bucky thinks. This guy is probably high.
Clint laughs. "You're kidding, right?"
Bucky cringes as he sees the hurt and shocked look on the stranger's face. So, Bucky speaks, "It's okay. Sorry to bother you--"
"No, no. Wait, I might have something. Hold on."
He heads inside, leaving the door ajar. Clint leans over and whispers, "This guy is so high..."
Bucky shakes his head. "That was my first thought but...I don't think so. He looks…so sad."
Clint raises his brow. "And how'd you figure that one out?"
Bucky shrugs. "His eyes."
"His eyes?” Then Clint laughs. “Are you gone for him already Buck?"
Bucky tries not to blush and fails. He huffs instead. "Of course not!"
The guy comes back and Bucky and Clint freeze at what he got with him. It's certainly not candy.
"Umm, so sorry but I got no sweets or anything but these are the best paint brushes, charcoal sketching set there is."
"But I don't know how to paint," Nicole says sadly as she turns to her dad. Clint quickly nods to the stranger and pats his daughter's head. "You can learn sweetie. I'll learn with you too."
"This is SO cool. Look uncle Bucky."
And he shoves the basket his way. Bucky smiles and then looks up to find the stranger looking like on the verge of crying. He grabs Kyle’s hand and starts to go down the steps. "Thanks. You didn't have to."
"No, it's okay. I'm sorry again." He actually sniffs but fortunately no tears.
Bucky doesn't want to embarrass him anymore so he says, "Sorry for the nuisance. Come on buddy."
They all turn around and leave, and Bucky hears the soft click of the door. Clint whispers his way, "I think you're wrong."
"He's not sad. I think he's depressed."
Nicole drags her dad and Bucky slows down. He turns and glances back. The house still looks dark and empty.
Later that night, Bucky tucks his nephew in bed. He smiles at Kyle as he counts all the candies. Bucky joins him and they reach the end and pick out the paint brushes, the charcoal sketching set and Acrylic paints. Nicole ended up giving her set to Kyle claiming she has no use of the paint brushes.
Bucky inspects them up close. They're not the usual kind. He's not an expert but he goes to the bookstore once in a while, and there were so many times when he had to get school supplies for Kyle, but these are...vintage?
He looks at the boxes and notices the price tags. They're in French. Then he notices that all the words over the boxes are in French. Apparently they’re not made here or bought here for that matter.
Bucky sits straight and starts, "Hey Kyle?"
The little boy fluffs his comforter and sinks into the soft pillows. "Yeah?"
"I think," and Bucky gathers the art supplies. "I think we should return these."
Kyle's face falls and he asks softly, "But why?"
"Because it's not right. He didn't have candy and we kinda ambushed the guy--"
"What does ambush mean?"
"It means surprising someone. Listen," and he lies down on the bed and puts his arm around Kyle. "We seem to have embarrassed him so he ended up giving us what's actually his. Look at them. They've been used so many times. He probably had them for years. Would you want to take that from him?"
Kyle sighs. "No."
Bucky kisses the top of his head. "Good answer. Now I'll put them in a bag and tomorrow we're gonna return them."
He takes the supplies and heads out. Before he turns off the lights, he looks at Kyle and finds him furrowing his brows, definitely not happy with the outcome. Bucky knows that the kid doesn't paint or draw often but it's obvious now that he likes to pursue that.
"I'll buy you new ones. How's that?"
Kyle smiles widely and pumps his fist in the air. "Yes!"
Bucky laughs. "All right. Sweet dreams."
"Love you more."
Bucky goes to his home office and drops the supplies on his desk. He looks at them and then grabs the sketching set. He opens it gently since it’s rusty and finds the charcoal. He touches them and notices a folded paper in half underneath. He debates unfolding it but curiosity wins.
“Shit!” he gasps at what he finds.
It’s a charcoal drawing of a portrait. A very beautiful woman. She looks ethereal. Her hair is styled beautifully. She has very defined lips and eyebrows. It's like he's staring at a photograph. It was done impeccably.
Bucky quickly folds it back and puts it where it was. He gets a nice small bag and throws the stuff there. His heart is beating fast and he doesn’t like that. He hates that he looked. He’s not a nosy person but the guy’s sudden move to their neighborhood and the devastated look on his face earlier…
He pours himself a glass of wine and decides to bury himself in his work. Looking at the papers on his desk, he sighs as he logs in on his computer. Working as a freelance translator is a perk. He doesn't have to leave the house and can raise Kyle without any interference.
Work is also comforting for him. He gets lost in texts and languages and he relishes in that. Translation is his passion.
However, tonight, he can't concentrate as the bag sits on his desk. He starts wondering. When did the stranger move in? He's never seen him before. Why would he give up his stuff? Did he know that the paper was there? Did he know that woman?
Bucky gets up, grabs the bag and heads to the kitchen to put it on the island there. Then his eyes look out the window over the sink, which shows the stranger's house. Looking closely, the house is dark. No lights.
Bucky hopes that he's not one of those creepy ones. Their neighborhood has the loveliest people and he doesn't want that to change.
But then he remembers the stranger’s red-rimmed sad blue eyes.
"Urgh! I should stop thinking and start working."
One thing he's certain of. The guy has a story and it’s not a happy one.