When the sky opened up above the streets of Manhattan, reality seemed not to shatter but to simply halt. The events that followed could have been a dream for all that Bucky was aware. Surely, aliens pouring out of a hole in the sky and actual superheroes jumping from skyscrapers had to be a product of his fucked up mind.
Ever since Iron Man showed up some four years before, the world had gotten a lot stranger. Now, he wasn’t going to resent his employer just because the guy had powerful enemies. Tony Stark was, for the most part, a good man, and saved a lot of lives over the years
But while he expected some weird shit to happen when he accepted a security job at Stark Tower, Bucky was told that it would be more along the lines of protestors or reporters that he dealt with. At least the aliens were thoughtful enough to wait until after he clocked out to commence the invasion plans.
Unfortunately, he was walking along Park Avenue in the tower’s shadow at the moment everyone’s eyes turned to the sky. Not just tourists, either. Of course something big was going down if it got the attention of New Yorkers.
Normally, he’d just ignore it. Bucky figured that since he had to cross the street anyway, might as well try to get a good look at what was going on.
Oh, look. Iron Man.
How was that new?
Mr. Stark fired at something that Bucky couldn’t see from his angle, only to have his shot returned. There were a few gasps from the patrons of Pershing Square Café who chose to sit outside, but once Mr. Stark had righted himself, there were no subsequent explosions.
It still didn’t feel right, though. Probably better to get on the subway and out of Manhattan just to be safe.
As he walked into the restaurant, Bucky nodded to the host. He’d been seen often enough that the staff knew who he was, even if he never spoke to them. Everyone seemed to have been unperturbed by what happened outside, but that didn’t slow Bucky down at all. He could see his target standing near the bar, engaged in conversation with the bartender. She leaned in close, probably with romantic intent, and it would be all too easy to—
“Becca,” he called out.
Not a target, just your sister.
He was still quick to fall into that state of mind whenever he became nervous. Probably something he should have worked out with his therapist by now, but at least he wasn’t attacking people anymore.
The woman turned to look at him, recognition spreading in an ugly manner across her face. “Bucky,” she said, and that was definitely agitation in her voice.
“Time to go.” Bucky stood just out of reach from her, his body tense and his weight almost entirely on his left foot. He wiped his hands on his jeans and tried to keep looking her in the eye.
But Rebecca appeared to be in no hurry to leave. She turned back to the bartender with a saccharine smile. This time, he could hear what she was saying, and his assumptions were correct.
“Anyway, like I said, David. I’d love to go for a ride on your bike sometime. Maybe we could catch dinner sometime, yeah?”
Bucky scowled. “Becca,” he repeated more firmly, shifting to his other foot. He liked to think that he was expressing annoyance rather than anxiety, and based on the way that she casually ignored him, he was right.
Rebecca twisted her head back slowly. She gave him a long look that one could mistake for a glare and folded her arms together in defiance. “Cool your jets, Buck. I’ve still got five minutes until my shift is over.”
“So flirting is in your job description, now?”
Her cheeks flushed pink with something other than makeup. Rebecca quickly pulled a pen from her pocket and scrawled a string of numbers on a spare napkin. She handed it to the bartender, their hands brushing in the exchange.
“Call me,” Rebecca said, leaning in close. Bucky could still hear her, and knowing his sister, she definitely knew that, too. Oh, how she loved to piss him off constantly.
“Не хачу это,” he whispered to himself, shaking his head in frustration.
Finally, finally, they were ready to leave. Bucky shoved his hands into his hoodie pocket to keep from clenching them and stepped back to give Rebecca room to move. She noticed and raised a neatly groomed eyebrow at him.
“I don’t know what you’re getting excited about. I still have to work.”
Bucky frowned and his heart began to beat just a little bit faster. For now, he could ignore it, though, and as Rebecca started to walk out the side door to the patio, Bucky followed her.
They both stopped suddenly, but he had kept enough distance from her to not run into her back.
“No, stop it. You’re not following me around. You’ll freak out the customers.”
He wasn’t what was going to disturb them, but Bucky wasn’t about to point that out. Rebecca would just say it was his paranoia acting up again. And, yeah, maybe there was a grain of truth to that, but a little bit of paranoia was good for the soul.
Or some other excuse that sounded better outside of his head.
Preferably one that wouldn’t have Rebecca calling up their mother.
“Hey, what was that thing you said yesterday?”
Now his mouth was running. Great. Just what he needed.
“What thing, Bucky?” Rebecca said over her shoulder, putting her hands on her hips in exasperation.
“That thing that happened in Germany. With Iron Man.”
“Oh, you mean your boss?”
His lips twitched, and it wasn’t in threat of a smile. “No, I’m talking about the Iron Man from an alternate dimension. Seriously, Becks. You said something happened yesterday. What was it?”
Rebecca turned around and took a step closer to really look at him. Sympathy began to spread in her eyes, and fuck, this was not where he wanted this conversation to go. “Bucky,” she said softly. She reached out like she was going to touch his shoulder before she remembered herself and quickly withdrew her hand. It was times like this he wished he could indulge in such trivial things as physical affection.
“Listen to me, Bucky: what happened in Germany isn’t important. Got it? I can see that you’re getting yourself all worked up now, so why don’t you go sit down while I finished up, okay?”
He nodded absently, but the worry in his gut didn’t dissipate. Still, he appreciated her attempts to comfort him, as unsuccessful as they were.
There was a small table for two off to the side that hadn’t been cleared yet. Bucky stepped forward cautiously before just sitting down. He kept his gaze focused on the floor, watching as several pairs of shoes passed him by. He tried to think of the shoes and not the swirling thoughts in his mind. Soon, the restaurant’s cacophony faded, and all he could hear was his own breathing.
As he began to calm down, Bucky began to look over his thoughts with a small amount of amusement and embarrassment. He got so worked up over the smallest things, sometimes. And, yeah, superheroes superhero-ing wasn’t a small thing, but it wasn’t his place to get so worried about irrelevant world events.
That was the reason he wasn’t allowed to watch CNN anymore, after all. A week on the couch, dazed as the newscasters droned on, was too much for his family to handle, much less Bucky himself.
A small smile spread on his face. And at least now he had something to talk to his therapist about that didn’t involve attempting to remember the past eight years of his life.
Someone started screaming outside. Not an unusual occurrence for New York, but this one sent chills down Bucky’s spine. He knew that Rebecca was going to get on his case for it later, but he stood up and walked out the door to take a look.
He was just in time to see Tony Stark almost hit the pavement. His eyes shot up to the sky, and everyone on the streets watched as a beam of blue light shot from the top of Stark Tower into the sky. The light appeared to sear a hole in the very fabric of reality, and through that window, Bucky gazed in wonder at an unfamiliar set of stars.
For one beautiful moment, he saw the heavens themselves.
And then something came through. From the ground, he couldn’t see what it was, but it was followed by a few more somethings. They fell fast, faster than Bucky would have thought. By the time he realized they weren’t falling, they were flying, the objects had come close enough that he could identify what they were.
“Holy shit.” Bucky looked to his side and saw that he was standing next to Rebecca. She was staring up at the sky as well, so Bucky knew that he did not have to add hallucinations to his list of issues.
Those were fucking aliens.