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Fruitcake and Bananas

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“Oh my god, this is a nightmare…” Darcy muttered under her breath.  She covered her eyes and took a deep breath, silently trying to will the words off the screen in front of her.  “No, no, no…this cannot be happening…”  

She uncovered her eyes, scanning the email again.  “Oh fuck me sideways…”

She reached for her phone.  Before she did anything she needed to talk to Jane.  

She fired off a quick text: “ The worst has happened.  Call me ASAP.”  

She signed off her computer, opting for taking her break early rather than sit there and freak out at her desk and run the risk of her supervisor seeing her not working.  Well, technically Darcy was the supervisor.  But sometimes the supervisor of the supervisors (or the super-supervisor, if you’d rather) came down to walk amongst the peons and she didn’t want to look like she was having a small conniption/quarter-life crisis at her desk instead of supervising the lower level twerps like she was supposed to.  

She walked past the break room and went down the hall to the bathroom instead.  Fifteen minutes of deep breathing in a bathroom stall looked like a very smart way to spend her first morning break.  She just had to get herself calmed down enough to explain the problem to Jane when she decided to call her later that evening.  Because no matter their past or how close they were now, Darcy just wasn’t more important than science.  

She pushed the thought from her head. It wasn’t helpful.  

Jane was a great friend.  She was just really into her work.  

Jane had done everything she could for her and Darcy was hella appreciative.  Not many people could find work for a twenty-six year old college dropout with too many credits and not enough degrees to match up.  Especially one with PTSD and anxiety and all kinds of other lovely mental disorders thanks to Thor’s bratty little bro and the Dark Elf invasion.  And no, that wasn’t a funky hipster neo-punk band.  That was real, actual facts trauma that she still dreamed about sometimes.  She hadn’t lately, though.  Not in a long time.    

But somehow, Janey had come through with this clerical job for Stark Industries.  It paid really well.  Even more so now that she’d been promoted to clerical supervisor.  Darcy was paying off those useless student loans and utilizing Stark’s awesome insurance package to get the professional help she needed to get through the day.  

She was down to two monthly visits now, and those, coupled with her lifestyle blog were keeping all the screws screwed.  All the bolts bolted.  All the parts where they needed to be.  

Of course, just thinking about her blog made her want to burrow into a corner and die all over again.  

No…no.  Don’t do that.  Just…deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  

She hadn’t really thought about the possible ramifications of what she was doing.  For her it had been therapy.  Acting.  Role playing.  

She’d started out blogging about her mental illness.  Had called the blog ‘Fruitcake and Bananas: My Journey with Mental Health’.  But all that had done was get her down.  More down than before.  So, her therapist had recommended blogging about her interests instead.  Things she liked.  Just as a distraction. She could talk about her problems in therapy.  She could distract herself with her blog.  

So she’d dropped the second part of the title, kept the ‘Fruitcake and Bananas’, and deleted all her mental health posts to start posting about more happy things. Looking at this with her 20/20 hindsight, she probably shouldn’t have gone so deep into the distraction part of her therapist’s advice.  

She’d started posting pictures of her apartment.  The way she’d decorated.  Her handmade crafts.  She felt better.  Felt good.  

And then, miracle of miracles, people had responded!  

They’d asked her how she made this, or that.  How she did this, or that.

So she told them about this.  And that.  

And that had turned into tutorials.  And the tutorials had turned into more posts.  

Soon, she was spending a lot of her free time crafting and making her loft apartment something special.  Her safe place.  Something she loved and shared with hundreds of people.  

She shared recipes.  Cookies and one-pot meals.  Lovingly made in her tiny kitchen.  With her handknit oven mitts and her thrifted vintage Pyrex dishes.  

She’d been selling ad space on her blog.  Affiliate links.  Sponsored posts.  Her hobby, her therapy, had started making money.  Not much, but some. Enough for fancy lattes and biscotti at the coffee shop.  Enough to order alpaca yarn for knitting projects.  

And the pull and draw of possibly getting more was intoxicating.

She got questions and emails asking for personal posts.  About her.  Her readers wanted to get to know the blogger.  

Of course, once they got inside her head, Darcy was worried they’d find her boring.  A single woman living on her own in NYC, working a job that was given to her…that wasn’t interesting.  Not in the slightest.  

So she got a cat.  Which helped a little.  

Bowie was an adorable little gray tabby rescue.  And he was the best damn thing in her life besides her blog.  Bowie the cat and her blog.  

But her ‘Blog-sona’, as she was beginning to realize, needed more than a cat and a billion pictures of tea and muffins.  Her ‘Blog-sona’ needed a man.  

So she invented him.  ‘Mr. Bananas’ as he’d eventually come to be known, started out as just a guy she was dating.  

She mentioned him a little bit at first.  But in lieu of doing a big fancy breakup, she just…kept ‘dating’ him.  His mentions became more and more frequent.  Mostly to give her reasons to show everyone how to knit a scarf, or to make dishtowels from their man’s old flannel shirts.  Or how to make beard balm out of beeswax and essential oils.  

Mostly hipster nonsense, but it got her hits.  And those hits made her money, so no one was complaining.  

It wasn’t like she was hurting anyone.  

That was what she kept repeating to herself as she happily made an announcement about ‘Ms. Fruitcake’ (her blog-sona’s name) and Mr. Banana’s engagement.  She made up a cutesy story about how he’d proposed.  And it was all because she wanted to make bank on all those diy wedding companies out there.  There were a wealth of posts to be made about diy wedding planning.  And she wasn’t hurting ANYONE.  She was helping them.  By sharing her wealth of knowledge of all things crafty.

She made a literal grand from her sponsored diy wedding invitation post, talking up a stationary service that sold blank invitations.  The number of hits she got earned her a bonus.  And that bonus paid for a vet visit for Bowie and a mini-vacay for her upstate.

She did centerpieces.  Several options for wedding bouquets, including a wildflower one that got featured on several other wedding blogs.  She didn’t think anything of it, it was all a hobby.  It was fun.  

And she wasn’t hurting anyone .  

The date for Ms. Fruitcake and Mr. Bananas’ fake wedding came and went and then there was a whole new market to be cornered:  Newlywed posting.  

And three months later, here she was.  With an email from an actual facts lifestyle magazine, wanting to do a spread on Ms. Fruitcake and Mr. Bananas.  Introduce the real people to the world.  And she honestly thought she was going to hyperventilate.  Because there was no Mr. Bananas.  There was no Ms. Fruitcake.  It was just her.  A sad NYC single with a dead end job and a couple of worldwide crises under her belt.

A nutty Fruitcake with no shortage of bananas, but not the kind that anyone was looking for.    

She didn’t know how to fix it.  She only knew that she was going to have to come clean to somebody.  And that made her want to hide again.  

Her phone rang, and she jumped a mile.  She looked down, surprised to see Jane’s name on the caller id.  

She answered it. Even though she was in the bathroom.  Even though she only had five minutes left on her break.  

“Are you okay?” came the familiar voice on the other end.  

“Physically yes.  Mentally?  No.”  

“Wanna come get lunch with me today?” Jane asked.  

“Hell yes.”  

“I’ll meet you at one? Same place as always?”  

“Okay. I’ll see you then.”

She hung up, feeling a tiny bit better and a little bit proud that her friend had obviously dropped what she was doing to call her.  Jane was a genius.  She’d for sure know how to fix this.  

Definitely.      

Chapter Text

Jane was usually punctual.  Darcy would have to give her that.  

She’d arrived at the deli a few minutes early, unable to stand the relentless tapping of everyone’s typing in the other cubicles.  It kept getting louder, harder for her to concentrate.  She knew an impending episode when she felt one. So she’d left a little early, deep breathing in the elevator and on the walk over here.  

This deli was equidistant between where Jane worked now and Stark/Avengers/Stark Tower.  Darcy wasn’t sure which moniker suited the tall, definitely over-compensating-for-something behemoth of a tower anymore.  The Avengers had moved to a compound upstate, and then disbanded…and even though Jane and Thor informed her of the goings-on of the rogue bunch of ne’er-do-wells, Darcy couldn’t really be moved to care about them more than that.  Steve Rogers, in all his buff golden boy glory, was still around.  She’d even seen him a couple of times when she went with Jane to the lab.  He came by to visit Thor on occasion as well.  

She wasn’t really sure what the situation was between Steve and Tony Stark.  

She knew they’d fought.  And she knew they’d kind of had a friend breakup.  But beyond that, she wasn’t exactly sure.  Steve had gotten pardons for all of the Rogue-vengers, had broken them out of that underwater prison.  

Thor hadn’t been involved in that fiasco, and Darcy had to admit, she was grateful.  Jane was a mess when she didn’t know where Thor was.  And Thor had seemed to take that in mind now before getting involved in interplanetary playground wars.  

A soft 'coo' to her left distracted her from any other thoughts as she glared sideways at a pigeon.  Darcy frowned and kicked in it’s vaguely general direction with her shoe.  “Get out of here…” She didn’t want to get labeled as a pigeon kicker, but she didn’t really care for the dumb little things.  Or any birds really…they all gave her an uneasy feeling.  Ever since that flock of them had flown through a portal in London and scared the bejeezus out of her. Seriously...what kind of person wouldn't be upset by a flock of birds flying up their skirt?  Flock, murmuration, whatever.   

A trigger, her therapist called them.  Birds were harmless, but they reminded her of an incident that scared her shitless.  So, instead of thinking about that thing, her poor little brain had attached all those feelings of fear and hopelessness to that flock of birds.  So birds were forever tainted in her mind.  

“Get out of here…” she hissed, letting her bag fall from her shoulder and onto the pavement beside her leg, hoping it would scare it off.  

It did. It made it fly away with a squawk.  

Darcy sighed in relief, turning to her right just in time to see Jane approaching her.  Her friend tilted her head sympathetically and opened her arms.  To which, Darcy immediately enveloped her in a hug.  “Missed you, Janey.”  

“I saw you two days ago.”  

“No, hon.  That was last week,” she gently reminded her.  Science brain can’t be bothered with the passage of time.

“Was it?” Jane frowned.  “Sorry…”  

Darcy shrugged.  “It’s really okay. Didn’t really need you until today.”  

Jane grinned.  “Well, I’m glad I could be here.”  She turned and steered Darcy into the deli.  “You know, you can always go inside and wait for me.  Fewer…birds in there.”  

Darcy chuckled dryly.  “They don’t freak me out when they’re just sitting there.”  

“Right…that’s why you were trying to off that one with your bag?”  

“Wasn’t trying to off it!” she protested.  “Just trying to scare it a little.  Maybe it’ll tell its pigeon friends that I’m not to be trifled with.”  

Jane dragged her over to the counter so they could order.  

She ordered her usual.  A Reuben on marble rye.  Dressing on the side.  Salt and vinegar kettle chips.  Basically just more proof she had no one to kiss her, so who cared what kind of stinky food she ate?

Darcy was planning to wait until after she finished eating to spill her guts, but that turned into two bites of her sandwich and four chips.  “A magazine wants to do a spread on me and Mr. Bananas…”

Jane got up and switched over to her side of the booth.  “Which magazine was it?”  

Situation…”  

“Holy shit.   Situation wants to do a spread on you?” Jane’s eyes widened.  “Wait.  Right.  Not the part to focus on right now.”  

Darcy let her head drop into her hands.  “I have to stop blogging.”  

“Why?” Jane’s hand on her back was a comfort.  A small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.

“Because, someone’s bound to find out I’m lying.  Even if I don’t do the spread.  And once that happens, I’m toast.  Nobody likes a lying blogger.  Never mind that they all do it.  The trick is to do it without getting caught.  I flew too high to the sun, Janey. “  She made a hissing sound with her teeth to indicate the sizzling of her ass once the sun scorched her to cinders.  “It’s about time I burnt up.”  

Jane rubbed her back.  “Just…don’t do anything right now.  You’ve got a few days.  Put a few nights of sleep between you and it.”  

“But this is bad, though.  I’m not over-exaggerating?”  

Her friend hesitated.  “Well.  It’s not good .”

“This caused you to switch booth sides.  This is a booth-side-switching problem.  There’s only one problem worse than a booth-side-switching problem.”  

“What’s that?”  

“A why-don’t-you-come-over-for-dinner-with-me-and-my-hunky-demigod-boyfriend problem.”  

“Well, I guess that makes my impending invitation to come have dinner with Thor and I a little bit suspect…but I promise, I was going to ask you anyway.  Regardless of the Situation situation.”  

Darcy groaned and put her head down on the table.  

“Do you want to?  Thor’s gonna grill out, and I told him I ask you so he knows how many bratwurst to pick up.”  

“You know I’ll be there.  I just need to go feed Bowie after work.”  

Jane squeezed her shoulder.  “It’ll be okay, Darcy.  We’ll figure something out.”  


 

Bucky tossed his clothing into his backpack.  He hoisted it up onto his back and winced at the ache he hadn’t realized was there.  It was stuck right between his shoulder blades, radiating up his neck and making his head hurt.  He closed his eyes and breathed deeply.  

He didn’t know if he hadn’t realized he’d been hurting or if he’d just grown so used to the feeling that he just didn’t notice it anymore. Unless it got worse.  

Bucky knew he was a mess, and back pain was just the tip of the iceberg.  

He hadn’t been able to relax in years.  He was pretty sure the muscles in his shoulders and back consisted of just knots and tension.  That if he went and got a massage like Natasha kept telling him to, he’d just cease to exist.  Because underneath the soreness and knotted muscles, he just wasn’t anymore.  

It was difficult to really pinpoint the problem.  

It wasn’t his memory.  That wasn’t it.  

Wanda had fixed his brain back in Wakanda after Steve had saved them all from that prison.  She was a plucky little thing, that Wanda Maximoff.  Plucky and battered like the rest of them.  She lived on a diet of herbal tea and cynicism.  She hadn’t even flinched when she looked into his mind.  Hadn’t even broken a sweat as she untangled the broken strands of his memory and knit them back together.  Good as…well…not new.  But as good as it was going to get.  

It wasn’t his memories that bothered him.  And it wasn’t the nightmares either.  He was used to the nightmares.  He’d be worried if they went away, to be completely honest.  

And there was no danger of Hydra getting their hands on him anymore.  Those trigger words didn’t work now, thanks to Wanda and her Maximoff-patented brain blender.    

It wasn’t any of that stuff that had him all bent up and wound tighter than a violin.  

So, it had to be this life .  

Steve brought him everything he needed. He moved him every four days to a new safe house.  

Bucky had worked his way up the east coast, across Canada and down the west coast before hitching a ride on a quinjet to the other side of the country again to start the circuit over.  

Steve was a good guy, always had been.  He did everything he was able to in order to make sure Bucky was fine.  

Problem was…he wasn’t fine.  And if Bucky was noticing, Steve had to be too.  

He kept one eye on the door no matter where he was.  He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in what felt like ever.  This wasn’t a way to live.  He wasn’t even living, he was existing.  And even that was slipping away.   He was slipping away.  Turning into some kind of weird hermit who talked to himself.  He was touch starved.  Talk-starved.  Person-starved.

Steve tried, bless him.  Tried to call him, keep him up to date on how his case was going.  

Bucky eventually had to tell him to stop updating him on that, though.  It was one step forward, two steps back it seemed. Steve would call with good news and then bad news.  And then more bad news.  With so many factors working against him, nobody knew when Bucky be able to enter back into the population again.

Something needed to change.  He just didn’t know what.    

Bucky took one last look around the cabin he’d spent the weekend in.  It was a nice, quiet area.  Tranquil.  There was a hiking path out back.  Went to a spring or some shit like that.  Not that he’d seen it or anything.  It was more of a myth to him.  A legend.  The legend of the spring out back.

He just couldn’t keep this up.  

He walked out into the front clearing at exactly 0600 hours, the sun was peeking up over the horizon and the quinjet motor was damn near silent as it landed.  

He looked up, surprised to see Barton piloting this one.  He usually got some nameless so-and-so who never spoke or looked at him.  Not nameless in that they lacked importance, but nameless in that they were top level clearance and loyal to Steve’s cause in the new SHIELD.  Nameless because as far as the layman was concerned, they didn’t exist.  

Barton, however.  He made the public circuit now.  Public Relations. He had one of those faces the media liked.   Hawkeye.  

Bucky caught a glance of his reflection in the quinjet windows.  He used to have one of those faces.  Not lately, however.  And definitely not right now.  He let his hand drag over his five-day-old beard.  At least nobody would recognize him.  Looking like Grizzly Adams after too many beers and not enough sleep.

The side door opened and Steve smiled down at him, extending his arm.  Bucky couldn’t help but smile at his friend and feel relieved for the company.  

They were buckled up in their seats before either of them spoke.  

“To what do I owe the honor?” Bucky asked, another smile pulling at his lips against his will.  He couldn’t help that he was happy to see Steve.

Steve smiled, shrugging slightly as he looked out the window.  “Thought you could use the company…you didn’t sound so good when I talked to you last time.”  

“I didn’t?”  That was news to him. Of course, he wasn’t paying attention to how he sounded on the phone.  He supposed if anyone would know about that, it’d be Steve.  

Steve shrugged again.  “Not really.  I…uh…figure we need to come up with something a little more long term…”  

“That bad, huh?” Bucky chuckled dryly and looked out the window.  

“Yeah…looks like it could be another year or more…”  Steve pressed his lips together and looked down, almost like he was ashamed to tell him.  

“Oh. Wow.  You didn’t try speakin’ on my behalf, did ya?”  

Steve snorted.  “No, nothing like that…it’s just…everything’s tied up in red tape right now.  It’s hard to move forward…especially with no evidence of your brain washing.”  

Bucky nodded solemnly.  “So what’s the plan?  Dye my hair and put me in witness protection?”  

“Well…”  

Bucky snapped his head around to stare at Steve.  “You’re not serious.”  

“Well.  No…you’re just…partly correct.”  

He frowned in confusion.  “Partly?”  

“Well, for witness protection to really work…you have to immerse yourself in the community…and it’s easier for a man to do that if he has…you know…a wife and a family.”  

Bucky frowned.  “Sorry to disappoint you, Stevie, but being on the run for the past year hasn’t exactly afforded me the opportunity to meet anyone.  I mean, I know I’m charming and a great catch and all that…” He reached up to scratch at his beard again.  

Steve smirked and shook his head.  “No, we’d…assign someone to be your wife. An agent.”  

“How sweet,” he quipped in reply.  

“Look, I have a couple agents in mind, just sit down and meet them, okay?  

“What, today?” Bucky asked, a little bewildered.  “How did you know I’d say yes?  I haven’t really said yes yet, you know…”

“I figured you’d want to meet them first before you give me a definitive answer.  You’d be living with them for quite a while and I’d want you to be comfortable in the situation…”  

“I look…” Bucky shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  “I look like a hobo, Steve.”

“They won’t care.  Plus, we’ll clean ya up before the actual fake stuff begins.”  

Bucky sighed.  “Fine…I’ll talk to them.  Not promising anything, so get that hopeful look off your face, punk.”  

Steve smirked and covered his face with his hand.  

“Still there.  Can see it in your eyes.”  


 

“Buck…come on, be reasonable.”  Steve walked in and sat down in the chair that Agent Richmond had just vacated.  “Val is the top of her class at SHIELD…she’s a little green, sure, but…”    

“I don’t care if she’s green or not, she was cold , Stevie. Both of them were.  Val and the first one.  Even though the first one was worse than her.  I can’t…there was nothing there.  If I’m gonna pretend, I have to have something to hold onto.  A friendship at least.  Neither of them had a sense of humor.  At all.”  

Steve sighed.  “We’re not looking for a love connection, Buck…”  

“I know that,” he snapped.  “I just, I couldn’t even pretend with them.  I can’t do that for the next year.  I might as well go it alone .”  He emphasized the last word and noticed when Steve winced.  He didn’t like using that against him, but he couldn’t see the merit of living a complete lie. To smile and hold hands and then go their separate ways.  Co-workers who lived together.   “I want to have some kind of chemistry with her.  It’s not going to look real at all if I don’t.”  

“Okay…okay.  I get it.  I do.”  Steve nodded and stood up again, walking wearily to the window.  “I have a dinner invitation tonight, and I’ll think about this and get back to you tomorrow, okay, Buck?”  He turned to face him.  “Do not go anywhere.  Alright?”  He held his hand out.

Bucky took it, shaking it and pulling him closer for a one armed hug.  “I won’t go anywhere.  I’ll stay here.”  

“I’ll be back first thing tomorrow.  We’ll have breakfast, we’ll figure this out.”  

Bucky nodded, letting the silence fill the room a little before speaking again.  Changing the subject.  “You got a dinner date, Rogers? With Sharon?”

Steve smiled, his discomfort evident, “Nah.  That’s over.  That was…it didn’t work out.  This…this is a friend thing.  Thor and Dr. Jane Foster?  They invited me over for a barbecue.”  

Bucky returned the expression.  A hard smile set on his face even though he felt more than a little hurt that he was so behind on things. That he hadn’t known his best buddy and his girl had broken things off.  It only reinforced the decision he’d made earlier.  He had to make this work with one of the agents.  He was tired of being on the outskirts.  He was tired of being such a drain on everyone he knew.  

Surely he’d have chemistry with one of these agents.  

He’d have to.       

Chapter Text

As far as barbecues went, this one was pretty standard.  If you ignored the fact that an Asgardian prince was doing the grilling, an award-winning astrophysicist was manning the music, and you know…the guests included Darcy and like…CAPTAIN FUCKING AMERICA.  No big.  Whatev.

True, Darcy had been in Golden Boy’s presence on more than one occasion.  But never like this.  Never as 25% of the population of the room he was currently occupying.  It wasn’t like she was crushing on Shield-boy at all.  No way.  She had way too many issues to ever fall for a super soldier.  

But still.   She was Star-Spangled-Struck.  Because Steve Rogers was wearing his civilian clothes and munching on chips in Jane and Thor’s living room.  

He liked sour cream and onion chips.  Who knew?  

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh.  My.  Effing. God,”  Darcy muttered under her breath, slicing away at the vegetables while Jane tried to settle on a song.  She’d started another Florence + The Machine.  Which was fine.  If she’d freaking pick the song, put down the iPod and get her ass out here so Darcy could talk to her.  

She had a nice little stack of tomatoes.  Another of onions (holy shit, why did she even try to slice onions first?) and a couple of teary eyes as a result.  A pile of chopped bell peppers for the bratwurst.  There was sliced cheese in attendance. And Darcy was totally concentrating dutifully on her job as vegetable slicer because she was worried about the beef having the correct condiments and whatnot.  Definitely not because she was avoiding the beefcake in the living room.  

Steve as per usual, was nice enough, if a little bit preoccupied.  But, Darcy supposed, it was likely a bit preoccupying simply being Captain America.  He had all kinds of freedom, liberty and patriotism on his mind.  

Darcy was probably taking her slicing a bit too seriously. She was trying so hard to look like she wasn’t paying attention to the other occupants of the room that she actually stopped paying attention to the other occupants of the room.  Losing herself in onion slices and pepper chunks and humming along to ‘Cosmic Love’ proved to be a not-so-great move on her part.  When she was finished with the cutting board, she balanced the knife on top and turned abruptly, running directly into a broad shouldered, All-American wall-o-man.  

“Oh jeez…” She looked directly up into his face and started stammering like a doofus.  “I’m sorry — oh jeez — I’m really sorry, dude…”  

He smirked slightly, or maybe it wasn’t really a smirk. It wasn’t as sarcastic or cynical as a smirk.  More like a half-smile.  At any rate, he stopped being so man-wall and became more boy-next-door.  “It’s fine, it’s fine…” He took the cutting board from her, turning to place it in the sink, pausing to ask, “Or was that not where you were going with it?”  

“No, no.  I was done with all the…veggie chopping.  Slicing.  Chlicing?  All the veggie chlicing has been completed! They’re ready for the burgers.  Brats. Bratwurst.  What have you…” She laughed nervously and wiped her hands on her jeans.  “You are seriously taller in person…does anyone tell you that?”

“Mostly I hear the opposite…”  

“Well…I mean.  I guess I’m kinda fun-size or whatever, so everyone looks tall next to me. I’m snack-sized for your convenience!”  She reached out to punch his shoulder playfully, regretting both the action and the words immediately.  Backtracking imminent. Queue loud truck-backing-up beeps to warn the passersby.  “I mean…you know…not for your convenience…I just mean…you-slash-your as a collective?”  

She got a full smile from him then as he took a glass from the counter behind her.  “I picked up on that.”  

“I’m gonna go out there now.” She pointed vaguely toward the living room.  “So I don’t embarrass myself or anyone else with my runaway gob…”  She reached for the apron strings, untying the garment and hanging it on one of the knobs as she made her way out of the kitchen, mentally kicking herself the whole way out.  

She sank down on the couch, pulling Jane down beside her.  “Oh my blob, where were you?”  

Jane frowned, as if it was obvious.  “I was here?  I’ve been here the whole night?”  

“NO.  Where were you when I was running off at the mouth to Steven F. Rogers?”  

“His middle name is Grant.”  

“It’s…” Darcy sighed in exasperation.  “It’s a figure of speech, Janey.  The ‘F’ stands for ‘Fucking’.  As in Steven Fucking Rogers?”  

“Oh right…” Jane turned her head to look at Steve in the kitchen.  “What did you say?”  

Darcy groaned.  “Don’t make me relive it…”

“Well, how am I supposed to run damage control if I don’t know what you said?”  

“I said a bunch of stuff.  I made up a new word. ‘Chliced’?”  

“Chliced?”  

“Chopped and sliced.  It’s a portmanteau…where you mash two words together and—”  

“I know what a portmanteau is,” Jane reminded her.  

“Anyway, I rammed him in the stomach with the cutting board.  I told him he was tall.  Told him I was snack-sized for your convenience…”  

My convenience?”

“No.  The COLLECTIVE your ?”  

Jane took a deep breath.  “Well, I mean…that’s not so bad.  You know, Steve actually is capable of dealing with all kinds of people in a rational manner?”

Darcy groaned again.  “I was an idiot, Jane.”  

“Well…” her friend reached over to rub her back soothingly.  “It’s going to be okay.  I promise.  I’m sure he just thought it was cute.”  

“UGHHHH.”  

“Darcy…”  

“Do not patronize me, please.”  

Jane tilted her head sympathetically. “I’m sorry.  Want me to run interference for the rest of the night?’  

“How am I supposed to avoid a quarter of your party guests?” Darcy chuckled darkly.

“Thor will be inside soon.”  

She pursed her lips and nodded.  “Yeah.  Okay.  Prince Pecs can keep Captain Quads off my radar.”  

Jane reached for her soda, taking a sip and gazing out onto the patio where Thor was grilling.  “Prince Pecs?  I’d say Thor’s biceps are his defining feature.”  

“Yeah, but that’s not an alliteration.”  

“Ahhhh,” she nodded knowingly.  “Forgive me.  I should never question the master about her craft.”  

“Damn straight.  I’ll leave the stars to you.  You leave the frivolous, demeaning, and objectifying nicknames to me.”  

“Thor loves it.”  

“Yeah, well.  He’s cool.”  

“Is he?  Thor’s cool?”  

“Of course.  He’s pulled a major chill-out since New Mexico.”  

Jane touched her forehead in a salute and mouthed, “Major Chill-Out” along with Darcy.  It was a little something they’d picked up from binging ‘How I Met Your Mother’ so many times.  They kept watching to see if the ending ever made sense.  It never did.  But they got a cute quirky friend thing out of it anyway.  

“I think he’s adapting to Midgardian-life pretty well…” Jane agreed.   

“You’re pretty cool too, you know that, Janey?”  

“Yep,” she said definitively.  “You wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.”  

“Not true, not true,” Darcy argued.  “I hung out with you plenty when you weren’t cool.”  


 

Steve took another sip from his glass of water, trying to inconspicuously watch the woman seated in the living room with Jane. It was difficult to do while gazing in through the back porch door and simultaneously ‘helping’ Thor with the grill.   

Darcy wasn’t a stranger by any stretch, but he wouldn’t call them friendly either.  He knew of her through Dr. Foster, and from the files on both the Puento Antiguo incident and the London Dark Elves incident.  She’d handled herself fairly well.  Even going so far as to run Dr. Foster’s equipment around during the Dark Elf invasion.  He’d actually been impressed by her bravery in both situations.  

And he was impressed with her now.  

She was real.  Check.  

With a decent, if a little odd, sense of humor.  Check.  

She was awkward, but a little awkwardness never hurt anyone.    

And she was no stranger to the workings of SHIELD.  Workings, protocol, etcetera.  Check, check and check.  

If he hadn’t spent the entire day listening to Bucky complaining about and saying no to the agents he had introduced, Steve wouldn’t have even considered bringing a non-agent into this fiasco.  But Bucky was right.  He needed someone he could connect with.  Not a love connection, no.  But a friend connection?  Maybe?  

Maybe Darcy was the key to this whole puzzle.  

It was true that he’d only spent minimal time with her, but going off of that, plus the information SHIELD had compiled, he felt he was right to be impressed with her.   

“You seem deep in thought, my friend…” Thor nudged him with his elbow before flipping a few of the burgers.  

“What can you tell me about Darcy?” Steve asked, his lips forming the question before he could stop himself.  And by the twinkle in his friend’s eye, Thor had completely misunderstood his reason for asking.  

“Lady Darcy is a mighty woman indeed.  She is the only Midgardian yet to have bested me in combat.”  

Steve chuckled.  “Now, I don’t know about that…you seemed pretty defeated the last time we sparred.”  

Thor shook his head, “Only in your dreams, I’m afraid.  No, I was quite incapacitated after only a few moments in battle with Darcy Lewis.”  

“Oh right.  She tased you.”  

Thor scoffed.  “She…she used a weapon, this is true.”  

“A taser.  I read Coulson’s report.”  

“I would like to ask you to be on the receiving end of such a weapon while in a weakened state.”  

Steve smiled, looking down and scuffing the bricks with his shoe.  “Still, it was certainly brave of her.  Even without your Asgardian super strength, you’re still a force to be reckoned with.  And not a small guy, either. She didn’t even flinch .”  

Thor beamed proudly.  “She is one of the bravest souls in all the realms, Steven.  I’ve met only a few others with her caliber of personal strength.”  

“You seem very confident in that.”  

“Aye, I am.   Are you…in search of a woman of that caliber?”  Thor grinned knowingly and Steve had the good manners to blush.  

It seemed he was correct in his assumption. And Thor was right, Darcy was of a very high caliber.  However, Steve already had a woman of similar caliber who somehow let him get close to her.  He wasn’t looking at Darcy for himself.  

Steve laughed.  “No, no.  Not that she’s not…fantastic.  Because she is.  I’m simply interested for other reasons.  There is a mission…”  

Thor’s demeanor changed immediately.  From one of mirth to one of justifiable caution.  “For SHIELD?  You know Darcy isn’t affiliated with them.”

“I know.  But, I think…for this?  She might be a good fit.”  

“Well, as you well know…I am not the one to speak for her.  You’ll have to talk to her directly.”  

“I assumed as much,” Steve said. “I just wanted…I wanted your opinion.  Do you think she’d be open to working with SHIELD again?”

“It matters not what I think.  It’s not me you’re asking for a favor.  Even though, I’d be happy to assist you in any way I can.”  

Steve clapped Thor on the back, briefly entertaining the thought of him pretending to be married to Bucky for witness protection purposes.  The resulting mental images were definitely blackmail material, so he quickly moved on.  He figured it wouldn’t make the best impression to barely be able to keep a straight face when he approached Darcy with his proposition.  

He thanked Thor for the offer and made his way back inside, hoping to catch Darcy without Jane again.  Not that he wanted to keep anything from Dr. Foster, but he thought it might be easier to ask someone to fake-marry his best friend if fewer people were in attendance.  


 

“So let me get this straight…you’re asking me to marry some guy I’ve never even met?  And then go play house with him upstate for an indefinite amount of time?  And oh yeah, I’ve never met him.  Did I mention that?  Because it seems like more emphasis needs to be put on that .  It’s some weird shit, Captain Rogers.” Darcy’s hands were on her hips and she was giving him a dressing down like he hadn’t experienced in years.  Decades.  Thoughts of Peggy Carter entered into his mind.  Fond memories nonetheless.  And they only cemented his opinion of Darcy.  Gone was the awkwardness from before and now if anything, he was the one who was stammering and quite frankly, a little starstruck.  Only a little.  The rest of him was good and scared.  Which was probably not a bad thing. If he was scared, she’d be able to handle Bucky with no problem.   

Steve rubbed the back of his head.  “Would it help if you met him first?” he offered weakly.   

Darcy’s mouth hung open for a few minutes.  “The man who is to be my husband?  Sure.  I’d LOVE to meet him,” she quipped sarcastically.  

“You don’t have to do this…I — I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. I was out of line.  I apologize, Ms. Lewis.”  

“I haven’t said no.  I dunno if you noticed or not, since you were so busy trying to backtrack, but I haven’t said no.”  

Steve looked down at his feet.  “Do you…have an answer?”  

“I need to talk to Jane first.”  

“Of course. I — of course, you should get a second opinion.  It’s a big decision.”  

“Getting married?  Yeah.  Yeah, it is,” she huffed indignantly.   

“It wouldn’t be a real marriage…” he reminded her.  Gently.   

“But it might as well be.”

Steve faltered for a moment.  “Well…yes.”

“Who is he? Am I allowed to know?”  

“Of course.”  He ran his hand through his hair, thinking that he’d never sweat this much or been as under-prepared as he was for all these questions.  He almost felt like he was in school again. Late and sans math homework. Thor was right.  Darcy was a strong individual.  And that radiated from her entire being.  Especially when she was scrutinizing his every move.  “Sergeant James Barnes.”

Her eyebrows shot up nearly to her hairline.  “Sergeant James Barnes.  As in James BUCHANAN Barnes?  As in your former Howling Buddy?”

He nodded.  “As in…”  

“As in Hydra’s main man, the Winter Soldier?”

“That was while he was—”  

“Brainwashed, yeah, I know.  I watch your speeches.”  

He exhaled slowly.  “You have to understand, if I thought he was dangerous…”  

“You wouldn’t even think of asking me.  I figured.  Your reputation precedes you, believe it or not.”  

He chuckled dryly.  “It looks like you are definitely up to date on Avengers news.”  

“Well, I mean.  I kind of try to keep track of all the assassins you guys employ…” She folded her arms over her front.  “He’s not dangerous, though?”  

Steve shook his head.  “I give you my word on that. He’s not dangerous.”  

She nodded once.  “Lemme go talk to Jane.  I’ll be right with you, Captain Matchmaker.”  


 

Jane let out the breath she was holding slowly, letting the air hiss out into the silence of her bedroom.  “That…that is a lot of information to get in thirty seconds, Darce…”  

“What should I do?”  

“Do you want to go get married to Sergeant Barnes?  Even fake married…that’s a huge commitment…for an indeterminate amount of time.”  

Darcy shrugged.  “I dunno?  Maybe?  Yes?  I feel like I should…if Captain Patriotism in there is asking me, I feel like I probably should at least think about it…”  

“Don’t do it because you should.  Do it because you want to.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a very boring and lonely indeterminate amount of time.”

“I mean, I don’t have anything else going on…” Darcy mused.  “And it sounds like a fun gig.  Nice big house.  I can take Bowie…very few pigeons, even less people…”  

Jane nodded. “Yeah, but there are other birds upstate.  Starlings.  House wrens.  Cardinals? Not to mention that you would be pretend-married to an actual facts assassin.  I mean, I believe Steve when he says he was brainwashed, but he still… did those things. What if he has people after him?”  

“Steve said there would be other agents there in the neighborhood.  Like, the whole cul de sac is going to be nothing but SHIELD agents. I’d be well protected.”  

“Well, I should hope so…”

Darcy bit her bottom lip for a moment, worrying with the hem of her t-shirt.  “Speaking of the birds…do you think I’ll be able to handle it? I mean…with my issues and all…what about my therapy?”  

“Well, I’m sure they’ll be able to work something out.  Your therapist is based upstate anyway.  It might be easier to get an appointment when you don’t have to wait for her to be in the city.  And she can’t disclose your real identity anyway.  So I guess as long as they have people watching her too?”  

“You are aware that upstate isn’t this magical place where everything’s close by, right?”  

Jane inhaled and let it out again.  “Darcy.  I’m not going to talk you into this.  I’m not going to talk you out of it.  It’s your decision.  And I’ll support whatever you decide to do.”  

Darcy sighed.  “But you must have some kind of an opinion.”  

“Do you really want my opinion?”  

“That’s kind of why I asked, Janey.”  

“Okay.  Well, I think it’d do you good to get out of the city.  I’ll miss you like crazy, Darce.  But it sounds like it could be just what you need.  Plus.  You’d be married.  You wouldn’t have to lie on your blog anymore.”  

Darcy snorted loudly.  “Yes.  Let’s let my blog make this decision for me…”  

Jane reached out to rub her shoulder.  “It’s your decision.  What’s your gut feeling?”  

“I think…that I need to meet my ‘intended’ before I make any concrete decisions.”  

“So go tell Steve you want to meet him.”  

She nodded slowly. “Okay.  But if this turns out terrible, I’m blaming you.”  

Jane smirked, “As if I’d expect anything less.”

Chapter Text

Bucky exhaled loudly, looking around the room.  The last agent had been the worst one yet.  He was starting to think that Steve might be joshing him, playing a practical joke.  These women were pretty much as inappropriate for the job as they possibly could be.  

They’d only been interviewing applicants for a couple of hours, but it felt like he’d been here all day.  His back was still aching, right between his shoulder blades.  Something about these beds he’d been sleeping in just wasn’t sitting right with him.  He was really thinking seriously about getting a massage.  Except he would have to take his shirt off and likely leave an emotional scar on the poor massage therapist for life when they saw his arm, so never mind.  

Maybe they could finish up here early so he could go back to the room where he was staying and try to turn the shower on as hot as it would go.  Maybe that would make up for the piddling water pressure.  It had felt like he was standing under a lukewarm water fountain the previous night.  It had been why he didn’t bother shaving again.  

That, and the double takes he got from the agents who came in to interview for the position were priceless.  All these prim and coiffed SHIELD agents side-eying him like he was gonna snag their purses or something.  It was amusing. And he needed something amusing.     

Elyssa Mays, the first interview of the morning, had spoken in a dry monotone for 99% of her interview. During which, Bucky was so bored that he started counting the comb marks in her hair.  Sixteen, if anyone was interested. From ear to ear and joining in the back for a bun that would have put his sixth grade math teacher to shame.  

Rita Sisk, the second agent he’d been introduced to, was anything but boring. But, she seemed to be overly concerned about who was taking care of her birds while she was gone.  She had a flock of brightly colored parakeets, according to the entire album dedicated to them on her phone that she’d scooted across the table for Bucky to see.  She cared deeply about her birds, but didn’t seem to grasp the idea that she’d be spending time with him the whole time they were under cover.  It was all she could talk about. Who was going to feed her birds and were they sure she couldn’t take them with her?

She’d come and gone and Steve turned to look at him.  

“First one was too boring.  Second one was too...birds.”  He said definitively in response to his friend’s quizzically raised eyebrows.  

“Fine…”  Steve said with a sigh, side swiping the information for Comb-Marks and Birds off his tablet screen.  “Next is Agent Lewis.”  

The door opened and she walked through.  A slight little thing with legs up to her neck and curves to write home about.  Bucky was aware he might be staring a little too intently, so he looked down at the paper file in front of him.  Steve’s assistant had brought him paper copies of each agent’s resumé before they’d gotten started today, probably because he’d flat out told them he wasn’t going to fool around with a tablet.  He didn’t feel like stumbling through new technology in front of these women.  It was bad enough that he looked like some hapless fool they’d dragged in off the street.  He didn’t have to act the part too.  

He hadn’t even bothered to flip to Agent Sisk’s resumé, he’d been too busy swiping through her hundreds of bird photos.  

So he busied himself by flipping maniacally through the sheets, seemingly unable to find Agent Lewis’ information.  

“Um…I don’t think I have a copy of this…” He turned towards Steve who waved his hand vaguely and nodded towards his tablet.  As if to imply that Bucky didn’t need one because Steve had it.    

He sighed and folded his hands while Agent Lewis got situated in the chair.  Great, now he had no way to look busy.He’d been hoping to stare at a piece of paper, and not have to look at her, because he was more than certain now that he just didn’t know when to quit when it came to gazing at her.

And this wasn’t why he was here.  

She had long dark hair that was swept up into a high ponytail. It was long and curled at the ends.  Her red lips were pouty, and he was definitely staring at her legs again when she crossed them.  She was wearing heels.  Tan, that matched the skirt.

She had more personality in that one heel than any of the others had in their entire bodies.  He could tell by looking at her.  He pushed all other feelings aside.  Making moony-eyes at this girl wasn’t going to help him at all.  He had to look at her objectively.  And objectively, she had more personality in one heel than any of the others had in their entire bodies.  Objectively.

Except maybe for the Bird-lady.  Bucky couldn’t even remember her name because honestly, Bird-lady wasn’t even a contender.       

“Agent Darcy Lewis?”  Steve said slowly.  “It says here that you’re a Domestic Specialist with SHIELD, can you elaborate more on what that is?”  

She smiled nervously, pressing her lips together and smoothing down the length of her pencil skirt.  

Bucky tilted his head as he watched her.  She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear before speaking.  She definitely wasn’t like Agent Comb-Marks at all.  Comb-Marks was like a wind up doll, complete with helmet-hair.  Darcy Lewis held herself differently than the other agents.  She held herself like a real person.  He needed something else, though.  Something else to support his recommendation.  ‘Not like the other agents’ wasn’t strong enough a reason.  He was gonna sound like he was sweet on her or something.

“Um, well.  It’s sort of made-up position...they didn’t know what to call me, so I’m a Domestic Specialist.”  She chuckled dryly and continued.  “I helped Thor of Asgard with his adaptation to our planet and culture.”  

Bucky’s eyebrows shot up into the stratosphere.  Now, that was impressive.  So she’d worked around enhanced individuals before.   That was something he could take to the bank.    

“I do see that here. You came highly recommended by Thor, and  by Drs. Foster and Selvig.  It says here that you were instrumental in the Puente Antiguo incident as well as the Dark Elf invasion in London?”  Steve continued.   

She nodded tersely.  “Yes sir.”  

Steve could have probably leaned over and blew him onto the floor.  Knocked him over with a feather.  Field experience, Enhanced individual experience.  And she had a personality.  

And her legs go up to there.    

“If you and Mr. Barnes decide that this position is a good fit for you, what will you bring to the assignment that we can’t get from any other agent?”  

Steve had asked this question of every single applicant, and Bucky had usually tuned out by now.  Was counting down the minutes until they got to stand up and shake hands, tell her they’d be in touch.  However, to the contrary, with Agent Lewis he was on the edge of his seat, waiting to hear what she had to say.  

She pressed her lips together.  “Well, you get my expertise with enhanced people, but I’m not famous, so I’m not recognizable.  I can slip into the role without anyone batting an eye.  I’m really good at what I do, which is domestics.  I actually run a lifestyle blog in my spare time, so I know how to keep a house and cook, and do all the things that a supposed newlywed is expected to do. I wouldn’t look out of place.”

“Would you be running this blog while we’re on assignment?”  Bucky found himself asking.  He had to know.  It was a potential flub.  If she was too well known online, this might not work.    

“I don’t use my real name on the blog ever.  It’s actually a fabricated account of an individual who doesn’t exist,” she said blatantly.  

“We were planning on working it into your cover…” Steve said quietly.  “If you and Agent Lewis decide that you can work together, that is.”  

Bucky narrowed his eyes slightly.  They were already working on a cover.  So Stevie must have thought he’d like this one.  Realization dawned on him.  He knew why Agents Mays and Sisk were so terrible.  They were decoys.  And Lewis was the real deal.  It was sneaky, but he had to hand it to Steve.  He knew him really well.  

Bucky nodded.  “It sounds like a good cover, you’re right...I do have a couple more questions for you, Agent Lewis, if that’s alright…”  

He could practically feel Steve bristling beside him.  

She smiled sweetly, folding her hands on the table.  “Go ahead.”  

“So, did Steve pay you to come in here, or did you owe him a gigantic favor?”  

Her mouth hung open for a moment.  

Steve was the first to speak.  “Now, Buck…”  

“I’ll answer him,” she said sharply, her blue eyes trained first on Steve and then on Bucky.  She narrowed them slightly.  “I’m here, Mr. Didn’t-Bother-To-Shave, because I trust Cap’s judgement.  He says you’re good people, so I’m all in to help good people.  I’m not being paid by Steve, and I don’t owe him a thing.  He said he thought this would work, and I told him I’d give it a shot.” She reached for her bag at that point, shouldering it and standing up. “I came because I wanted to be here, and now I’m leaving because I don’t.”   

She turned back to Steve.  “He’s a real gem, Cap.  I’m sure you won’t have any problems marrying him off.  Just make sure to drug him first.  Might make a better impression if he’s asleep.”  

She shot Bucky a mean look before storming off towards the door.  

Steve tried to call after her, but the door had already closed.  “Bucky, come on, why’d you go and do that for? Darcy’s a nice girl.”  

“Got a smart mouth on her,” Bucky said, shoving his hands in his pockets and trying to hide the grin that was threatening to spread on his face.  He swallowed down laughter.  Goddamn, she was perfect.    

“Yeah?  Just like someone else I know,” Steve said, making for the door.

“I like her.  I’ll do this.  But only with her.”  

His friend turned, his mouth hanging open incredulously.  “Are you kiddin’ me?  After the way you just spoke to her?”  

Bucky shrugged.  “You got her here, Stevie.  You can get her to come back.”  

Steve snorted.  “You want her?  You go apologize.  I’ll be damned if I’m gonna be the go-between…”  He shook his head and held the door open for Bucky.  

He sighed and walked through it, grumbling to himself the whole time. He found Darcy just where he thought he would, jamming her thumb repeatedly against the elevator button.  He leaned against the wall beside her.   

“You know, they tell me that doesn’t make it come any quicker.”  

She sighed, pressing her lips together.  “What do you want?”  

“To see if you’ll marry me, maybe?”  He smirked, hoping she’d laugh.  

She didn’t.    

“No really, what do you want?”  

“D’ya want me to get down on one knee, or…? I don’t have a ring, but I do have some gum…”  He reached into his pocket.  “You like cinnamon?”    

She turned to look at him, her eyes narrow as she tried to figure him out.   The elevator dinged and the doors opened.  “I told Steve you weren’t going to go for it.  I don’t know you at all, but I figure if you did the things they said you did, you weren’t going to fall for what he was trying to pull.”

“I knew what he was doing.  Didn’t stop me from falling for it, at any rate.”  

Hook, line and sinker.  

She huffed out a laugh.  “Why me, though?  I’m a mess.  And we’re obviously going to be snarking back and forth at each other for the foreseeable future.”     

“Who says snarking back and forth is no fun? I can see myself doing this for foreseeable future.  I can’t see myself with a crazy bird lady or some cold agent who I have nothing in common with. If we’re gonna be stuck together, might as well be with someone who’s challenging.”

She chuckled.  “You know Agent Sisk doesn’t actually  have a bunch of birds, right?”  

He shrugged.  “I don’t really care.  I’ve made my decision.”    

Darcy tilted her head to the side.  “I have a cat, you know.  His name’s Bowie and he’d be coming with me.”  

Bucky smiled.  “I like cats.”  

“And you have got to shave.  We’ll have to take wedding pictures and I’m not marrying a ninety-something-year-old hobo.”

His cheeks honestly hurt, he didn’t think he’d smiled this much in years.  Decades, most likely.  “I’ll still be ninety-something-years-old if I shave.”  

“Yeah, but you won’t be a hobo…”  

“And why would we need to take wedding pictures?  Can’t they just do that on the computer or somethin’?”  

She rolled her eyes.  “They’re for my blog, to be seen by my followers.  We can’t just photoshop our heads onto stock photos, people will notice.”

“Well, we can’t have pictures with my face floating around either, people will notice you’re married to an infamous Hydra assassin,” he countered.  

“Listen, you worry about whatever it is you worry about and leave the details to the experts, Pookie.”  

He was still a little worried about possibly being noticed on this blog of hers, but the only thing he could really focus on was, “Pookie?  Does that mean you’ll do it?”    

She grinned and stuck her hand into the elevator to stop the door.  “Okay.  Yeah.  I’ll marry you.  Tell Steve I’ll do it.”    

Chapter Text

Everything had happened kind of fast after Bucky ‘proposed’ that day by the elevator.  

Only a week had gone by and suddenly, Darcy was stepping out of chapel in a stunning floor length white gown.  There wasn’t really anything ‘sudden’ about it other than the short time that had passed.  She’d been meeting with people all week, looking at gowns, picking out bridesmaids dresses, trying to talk Bucky into wearing a top hat.  (Which he absolutely vetoed, by the way…)  

Her dress was gorgeous, some pretty beaded thing with a mermaid skirt that was tailored to her body and made her look AMAZING.  She had a full veil and a bouquet of pink orchids.  

She’d chosen something simple for the bridesmaids, mostly out of necessity, because they needed the gowns in a hurry.  Strapless, tasteful, and so pink she wanted to puke.

The wedding guests in the background would be increased in post, since her blog posts had detailed a rather large wedding.    

There were doves, much to her chagrin, but they seemed to be pretty well trained, so there weren’t any incidents. Nothing that would have caused her to embarrass herself or have to explain her problem with birds.  

There were bubbles.  Tons of bubbles at the moment, actually.  All the “guests” were blowing them as she and Bucky walked out of the chapel.

There were photographers. So many photographers.  There had to be.  Since this faux wedding was simply for the sake of the pictures.  SHIELD had even hired friends for them both to be in the wedding party.  It was really weird.   No Jane.  No Thor.  No Steve.  Nobody she really knew except for that really rude guy who’d taken her I-pod back in New Mexico.  

Agent Coulson?  Yeah.  Good old Son-of-Coul.  He was here.    

The phrase ‘Do it for the Vine!’ kept rolling through her head with every faked precious moment. Even though Vine wasn’t even a thing anymore.   

But she had a husband? So there was that...

He still hadn’t shaved, however...  

But she wasn’t too torn up about that, now that the day had arrived.  

He actually looked quite dashing in his tux and his beard.  And his complete makeover...  

A makeup artist had come in to work on him that day and yes, Darcy was going to call the woman an artist.  Because that was what she was.  

Her name was Gloria and she’d swooped in early that morning with a crew of no less than five people to turn ‘Bucky Barnes, wanted assassin/part-time hobo’ into ‘Jake Larson, Mechanic/Hipster’.  

Darcy still hadn’t picked her pseudonym yet, but she had it narrowed down to Valerie or Kimberly.  She’d kind of hated all the names they’d thrown at her, but she had to pick something that could have plausibly been a name that her mother would have given her.  Assuming her mother wasn’t an English professor obsessed with Jane Austen.  Which Darcy’s actual facts mom was .  (Seriously.  Their family pug was named Bingley.  It was this whole thing ).

Once Gloria got done with Bucky, he looked like...well...a completely different person. He had black hair now, with the reasoning that it’d be easier to hide the dye job than to try to keep lightening his hair to a golden blond, reminiscent of his good buddy Steve.   He was given a choppy undercut, which made him wrinkle his nose in the mirror, but Darcy had to admit, it was hot. There was no denying the hotness factor.  

Especially with the thick-framed glasses they handed him. Tortoise-shell frames that made him look two ticks shy of douchey.  

But he wasn’t douchey.  Nope.  Not. At. All.   

Of course, the really magical thing that made Darcy believe that this woman was a Harry Potter Witch or something...was The Beard .  Henceforth to be depicted with capital letters to denote its importance. The Beard.  

He kept his stubble from before, having put off shaving till the very last possible minute. In lieu of lathering him up in the tiny church bathroom, the magical make-up woman from heaven made it work. She made it look thicker than it was.  Thicker, bushier, and somehow...longer?  

Apparently there were beard extensions to be bought for the right price, if one was in the market for such a thing.  And apparently , SHIELD was, because they got the top of the line beard rugs. Only the best beard rugs for their people.  The highest quality. He could get rid of the falsies once his actual facial hair grew in more.  And he had to keep it trimmed and tidy looking.  

It actually looked like more work to keep up the beard than it would be to shave it.  Let that be a lesson to him.  Procrastinate long enough and you might end up with a beard to take care of.  A pet beard with balms and conditioners and special combs.   

Anyway, Bucky looked good .  Did she say that already?  Because he did.  Not that he didn’t look good before.  It was sort of a hot-hobo look that he had going on before...but this was...definitely more good that before.  Yes.  More good is a thing.  

Okay, so she could definitely see why he’d supposedly been popular with the ladies.  Because he was hella adorable with his hair all fixed and The Beard and his cute little tux with coattails.  

She was kind of glad there weren’t top hats now.  Because Bucky would have looked like hipster Abe Lincoln.  Hipster, muscular Abe Lincoln.  But still.

He looked good.   

And broody.  Girls went for that shit, right?  Supposedly?  

He was definitely more broody than he’d been the first time she’d met him.  Maybe it was the fake wedding, maybe it was the new hair, Darcy didn’t really know.  But Bucky was being quiet and weird and it didn’t really bode well for what they were embarking on here.

The camera flashed in front of them as they held hands outside the chapel.  Bubbles floated up around them and into the afternoon sky.

She glanced over, inadvertently squeezing his hand as they walked down the steps.  He looked up and smiled at her.  And it felt real.  At least...more real than anything else that had happened that day.  

Okay, so maybe she’d been a little somber between takes too.  It was nice to get a real smile out of him.  Because it made her grin a little.  

And that made the photographer very happy.  

“Finally!  Yes!  There’s one for the mantle! How’s about giving her a kiss, Hubby?”  

Bucky’s cheeks reddened as he tugged gently on her hand, pulling her into his arms.  His metal arm wrapped around her waist and the other one slid up her back.  The SHIELD photographer assured them that his hand would be photoshopped out and replaced with a more fleshy looking one.  At least for the photos.  

He was going to glove it in public otherwise.    

“Forgot to tell ya earlier...but you look...nice,” he said, his voice a raspy whisper, like he was telling her a secret or something.

Darcy chuckled.  “Thanks…”  

“Is this always how weddings are now?  Kinda different than I remember…”  

She shrugged. “I’ve been to a few. There’s a lot more... anxiety at the real ones.”  

Laughing, he stepped a little closer, his breath hitting her face in small puffs.  “Real weddings are more stressful than the fake ones orchestrated for witness protection purposes?  Sounds like something’s missing there…”  

Her stomach fluttered when his lips touched hers. Softly…

“Do something with your arms, Wifey!”  called the photographer.  

Oh right...I have arms.  

She wound them around his shoulders, surprised by how not-awkward this felt.  

And given their situation, it should feel awkward, right?  Play-acting and playing pretend wedding.  Sort of like when she used to get married on the playground in first grade.

Except this time, there was also going to be a fake honeymoon.  (Almost, they were going to go fake a honeymoon on a soundstage.  Like the moon landing!!!  Except actually fake.  And not nearly as important.)  

The kiss deepened when she wrapped her arms around him, like it pulled them closer or something.  

All she knew was that her head tilted...and her lips parted and then Bucky stiffened up like a corpse.  

Ah.  There was the awkwardness.  Just a little late to the party.  

“Great job, guys!” called the photographer.  And Bucky’s arms dropped from her like she was burning him.  

Following suit, she swallowed thickly and started down the steps, fighting the urge to wind her arms around her waist and curl up in a ball of embarrassment.  God, he probably thought she was some kind of idiot.  

And maybe she was?  A little?  Some part of her had apparently forgotten that it wasn’t a real kiss.  And she had a few guesses as to which part that was.  

This wasn’t real.  It was for show.  And for her blog.  

Which was somehow, still a thing?  Even though she was giving up everything else, including her name, she still had her blog. It was strange, really.  What had started as a coping mechanism was now becoming her entire life.  She used to think about how she wished she was the person she pretended to be online.  And now?  Now she was going to be.  

According to Steve, it was a perfect cover story, and they didn’t even need to fabricate it.  It was already there.  

They were going to be moving into the house that weekend.  She’d already written a couple posts about moving.  Packing.  The best way to wrap your ceramic knick knacks.  A few humorous anecdotes about Bowie and his shenanigans with the bubble wrap and cardboard boxes.  

And then she’d be moving in with a guy who she barely knew.  A guy she was going to pretend to be in love with, a guy who was going to pretend to be in love with her...and…

And she had totally just given him a real kiss.  

What was wrong with her?  

Darcy pressed her lips together.  It was a job.  Like everything else.  She had to remember that she wasn’t Ms. Fruitcake.  And Bucky was definitely not Mr. Bananas.  

Because they weren’t real.  And neither was this.  


 

Jack Rollins blinked at the sunlight.  Blaringly bright in the mid afternoon.  He had to assume the sewage pipe he’d just crawled out of was facing west, given that he was fucking blind now.  

Too bad he still had his sense of smell. Because he smelled like what he’d been crawling through for the past hour.   He was almost glad for the glare of the sun, because that meant he didn’t have to look down and see all the literal SHIT covering him right now.  

He didn’t know much. He didn’t know the date.  He didn’t know what kind of world this was anymore.  But he knew he was facing west.  And there was a small town to the west.  And his ass wasn’t going anywhere near it.  His ass or the rest of him.

Not reeking of sewage and inexplicably close to a maximum security prison.  That was a one way ticket back to Fuck-Town.  Where the mayor hated your guts and so did everyone else.  

There was a tree line to the north.  With any luck, there’d be a creek there where he could wash his clothes.  

So that’s where he’d start.  

He had to figure out where in the fuck he was.  

There was this little pesky thing about being a political prisoner...you didn’t get a say in what happened to you.  You didn’t get a lawyer.  You didn’t get a jury.  You got thrown blindfolded into a fucking max security prison and conked over the head with a billy club until you didn’t know your ass from your elbow.  You’d wake up later with a headache and your arm in the toilet and you’d have to figure it out from there.

You didn’t get regular meals and you sure as hell didn’t get visitors.  

His stomach clenched like it did every time he thought about Lauren.  Lauren and Grayson.  He hadn’t seen them in so long.  Again, Jack didn’t know HOW long, but he knew it had been a while.  Months, definitely.  Years?  Possibly.  

He had to start walking.  Because every step he took was a step closer to Lauren.  To Grayson. He wasn’t sure what kind of life they’d have now that he was a fugitive, but they would figure it out.  

And then, once he got his wife and son safely out of harm’s way?  He was going to go after him.  

Because this was all his fault

Steve Fucking Rogers.  And his glorious band of dumb asses.  

Jack had just been following orders.  How in the hell was he the one in prison when that freak of nature walked free?  

He’d lost a big chunk of his life.  And he wasn’t about to sit back and let the people responsible get off scot-free.  No sir.    

The wind shifted and the stench on his clothing wafted up into his face.  He grimaced and trudged forward.  First things first.  

This shit needed to go.    

Chapter Text

Bucky dropped the cardboard box on the floor in front of the fireplace.  It landed on the throw rug with a loud crash.  So much for it being labeled throw pillows…

The cat meowed from its perch on the back of one of the loveseats.  Apparently he didn’t approve of all the noise Bucky was making.  He glanced up at the cat, narrowing his eyes slightly.  “Calm down.  I didn’t do it on purpose. Furball.”  

Bowie seemed to understand.  Or maybe he’d just stopped caring.  He walked to the other end of the sofa, leaping down on the floor, making a tiny squeak as he hit.  He pranced out to the kitchen without another look in Bucky’s direction.  

He squinted down at the top of the box again, trying to ascertain if he’d just misread it.  

Nope.  Throw pillows.  

Flipping open the lid revealed a box of mostly pots and pans.  

Unless pots and pans were throw pillows, he’d say the box was mislabeled…

And it certainly wasn’t he who had done the labeling. And he wasn’t one to point fingers, but Bowie was innocent in this too.  Which only left one other person.  Who had insisted on doing all the packing herself despite his offer to help.  

It was moving day.  And it was giving him more heartburn and indigestion than even a normal moving day would.  Mostly because he hadn’t spoken to his ‘wife’ since that ill-fated kiss at their faux-wedding earlier in the week.  

He felt kind of stupid for freezing up like that, but she’d really gotten into it.  With the head tilting and the lip parting...it almost felt real .  And then he’d forgotten it wasn’t.  And then remembered again.  Which resulted in the big freeze.  

The big freeze that he hadn’t really been able to recover from. Hadn’t been able to look her in the eye.  Out of all the dumb things he thought were going to happen during this ordeal...him falling for his ‘wife’ wasn’t one of them.  

But he hadn’t really fallen for her.  At least, that’s what he was telling himself.  

Even he knew that was a load of bullshit.  He couldn’t stop thinking about how her lips felt.  

Soft.  Warm.  Pliant.  How she’d leaned into his body.  Pressing herself fully against him.  How good she smelled.  

How amazing she looked in that dress... she’d almost taken his breath away.  

Those...those were thoughts that weren’t gonna do him any good.  Nothing good at all could come from thoughts like these.  

With a sigh, he straightened his back and looked around the living room, deciding instead to focus on the house. .  

The house.

It was cute.  ‘Cozy.’  

That meant it was small, by the way.   Cute and cozy were nice ways of saying small .  And while he wasn’t opposed to the idea of a small home, it was a six room house .  

Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, living room and office.  Not many places to hide from his ‘wife’ once they had the door closed and the shades drawn.  It was going to be him and her in here .  

Alone.  

Together.  

Christ, there was only one bed.  One queen sized bed.  Big enough for two, but not for two who didn’t want appendages brushing in the middle of the night.  

They hadn’t discussed the sleeping arrangements, obviously.  But he couldn’t imagine an outcome of that conversation that resulted in both of them getting to use the comfortable bed.  

Definitely not after the shoddy job he’d done at the wedding.  

He was doomed to one of those tiny little loveseats the movers had brought in.  

Doomed, doomed, doomed.  

There were two of them.  Who on earth thought that two LOVESEATS were necessary in a house with only two occupants, first off?  

It was stupid, was what it was.  They were literally identical pieces of furniture and he was going to have to cram his six-foot frame onto one of those tiny little things.  He could just feel his shoulders clenching up.  

Bucky looked down at the box of pots and pans at his feet.  The ‘throw pillows’ label was still visible.  He smirked, an idea coming to him that would either make things worse or break the ice.  

He bent down, grabbing a three quart saucepan and a cast iron skillet.  He placed one on either end of the loveseat, stepping back to admire his handiwork.  

He heard footsteps approaching behind him.  “Heya…you...uh...busy here?” Darcy’s voice cracked a little, probably from disuse, seeing as they hadn’t spoken a word on the car ride up here from the city.   

They were upstate.  They’d passed signs for Saratoga Springs, Albany and Schenectady.  The house was on a cul de sac full of similar homes. Starter homes.  For newlyweds and families with no children.  

According to Steve, there would be one contact home where the occupants would know Bucky and know Darcy and know what their story was.  The rest of the homes were either filled with SHIELD agents who simply knew them as a couple who needed protecting, or with SHIELD adjacent people who lived in this neighborhood all the time.  Apparently the house they were living in had been inhabited by several other SHIELD witness protection candidates.  

It was a simple plan, really.  The fewer people who knew, the fewer people who could squeal.  

Of course, that meant that they’d have to play it up in front of the neighbors.  Because as far as they knew, Bucky and Darcy (or Jake and Valerie Larson, as their shiny new sets of identification paperwork read), were a married couple with info.  Or details.  Or whatever, it didn’t matter.  

They were here to be kept safe.  They were persons of importance, clearly, to warrant this kind of surveillance.  

“You like it?” he asked, gesturing to the sofa.  “I feel like it’s missing something…”  

Darcy stood beside him, shifting her weight onto her hip as she contemplated the skillet and three-quarter on the couch.  

“Maybe add...the lid...and the cornbread pan?” she suggested, bending slightly at the waist to rummage through the box on the floor.  She placed the cornbread pan in the middle and set the lid on the saucepan.  

She stepped back beside him again.  “Eh?”  

“Yep.  That was it.  It’s perfect now.”  Bucky nodded, turning to look down at her.  Almost hoping she’d ask him what the hell he was doing.  

But she didn’t, she just glossed right over his horrible attempt at both comedy and interior decorating.  

“Jake…” she said slowly, raising her eyebrows because evidently, the name still didn’t feel right.  He knew the feeling.  He’d only known Darcy for a couple weeks, but it was already next to impossible to think of her as someone else.  As Valerie.  “Some of the neighbors wanted to meet us...you wanna come out and make nice while the movers get the rest of this done?”  

He inhaled and nodded, taking her outstretched hand and composing himself enough to try and play the part of devoted newlywed husband.  

Her fingers closed around his, squeaking slightly on his leather driving gloves.

Oh yeah.  He had gloves on.  

Part of the ruse to cover up his arm.  If push came to shove, they’d explain it away as a work injury gone awry.  It was one of the reasons having a neighborhood full of agents would come in handy, according to Steve.  As long as they didn’t see Bucky’s cybernetic arm, it wouldn’t be a big deal to explain it away.  

“Any special reason you’re decorating the couch with my pots and pans?” She asked, tugging him out the door.  

“Nah...just figured that’s where you wanted them…”  he said, grinning widely when she caught his eye.

A dimple appeared in her cheek and then promptly disappeared when she pressed her lips together.  “Issue on pause, we’ll come back to the sofa pots at a later time…” she said with a smirk as she started down the driveway.  

He caught sight of himself in the reflection of a car window as they passed and nearly jumped back.  He still wasn’t used to the haircut.  

Or all the product he had to slop into it daily.  Not to mention the beard balms and shit.  

He couldn’t believe he used something called a balm.  Daily.  For facial hair.  

He also had conditioner.  And oil.  And a comb.  

Electric trimmers to keep things tidy.  And dye to keep it black.  

And for the better part of the next few months, he had falsies.  

Any haircut or facial hair decision that required a tutorial wasn’t really something Bucky Barnes needed in his life.  

But here he was.  Taking forty-five minutes to get ready in the morning.  

Darcy’s fingers tightened around his hand and she tugged him along down the driveway to talk to a couple already standing at the end of it.  

Nick and Barbara, they said as they introduced themselves.  A blonde woman and a brown-haired man.  She smiled too wide, he laughed too much.  These people weren’t agents, according to the dockets they’d gotten earlier in the week.  Just a man who worked as a mole for Roxxon and his wife, who didn’t even know that was where her husband went everyday.  

Darcy hadn’t really looked like she was okay with knowing this much about their then-future neighbors, but it was all part of the job. Bucky had to admit, it was strange knowing more about Nick than Barbara did.   

“We live right over there...across the street…” Barbara pointed to a blue-shuttered home.  White siding and a red door.  “I sell essential oils and he’s in publishing.”

Publishing, huh?  Just gonna gloss right over that.     

“Essential oils, huh?”  Bucky asked.  “There...uh...much business in that?”  

Darcy squeezed his hand a little more tightly as Barbara started in on exactly how much business was in that.  

Nick stopped her about halfway through her list of inventory, right after Clary Sage and Patchouli to ask Bucky (Jake) what he did for a living.  

Bucky ran his hand up the side of his head, standing a little closer to Darcy.  “I worked in a garage in Brooklyn, but uh...we wanted to get out of the city, so I’m kinda...between jobs right now.”  

“Commercial or city garage?” Nick asked, shifting his weight a little.  

“Commercial…” Bucky answered.  “We came up here for Val…” he turned to gaze lovingly at her.  “She’s the real breadwinner.  With that blog of hers.”  

“You blog?!”  Barbara asked, her eyebrows shooting up.  “Maybe I’ve heard of you, I follow a few different blogs online and I even started one of my own for my oils and--”  

“Ummm yeah...it’s Fruitcake and Bananas....”  Darcy (Val) said, smiling.  She sort of shrunk in on herself when she spoke, like she was embarrassed or something.

“Oh my god, no way.  NO WAY!”  Barbara grinned widely.  “No way you are Ms. Fruitcake!  I made your black bean tacos for dinner last week!  Nick LOVED them!” she turned towards Nick.  “Didn’t you, hon?  You loved those tacos!”  

Nick shrugged.  “They were good.  Could have used more meat, though.”  

Darcy pressed her lips together and smiled tightly.  “Yeah...they were vegetarian ...part of my Meatless Mondays thing…”  

“And that would make you...Mr. Bananas?”  Barbara deduced, turning towards Bucky..  

Bucky smirked and shrugged again.  “Yep.  That’s me. Mr. Bananas.”  

“Adorable!”  Barbara said with a grin.  “Obvi, I won’t tell anyone you’re here…” she winked and swiped her thumb over the tip of her nose.  “Mum’s the word.”  

Nick came to the rescue, laying his hand gently on her arm. “Let’s go, Barb.  We need to get everything ready for the barbeque.”  

“Oh RIGHT.  The barbeque!  You two are invited, of course.  That’s actually why we came by.  To invite you to the barbeque.  We figured you might be tired and stuff.  So you can come on by and eat at our place tonight!”  Barbara looked between them excitedly.

“That sounds great...what time does it start?” Darcy asked.  

It was Bucky’s turn to squeeze Darcy’s hand.  No way in hell he wanted to hang out with these people.  Or get roped into social events either.  

“Seven. And don’t bring a thing but yourselves,” was the gleeful response.  

They walked back up the driveway, hand in hand.  Darcy even hip checked him as they stepped up on the porch.  “We can leave early.”  

“Thank you, doll, that’s the best news I’ve heard all day.”  

She dropped his hand inside the house and it instantly felt colder without her beside him.  But he tried not to think about that too much.  Another one of those thoughts that wouldn’t do him any good.

Instead, he busied himself with the rest of the ‘throw pillows’.  Darcy seemed to have forgotten his pet project, at least for the time being.  

She seemed pretty...dazed after their encounter with Nick and Barbara.  He wondered if it was because of him, or because of Barbara’s slightly obnoxious squealing over her blog.  

It was a little bit strange to see someone who recognized Darcy from her blog.  But now that he thought about it, in order for it to be as successful as Steve said it was, people would have to be reading it.  


 

The barbeque went fairly well.  They met most of the rest of the neighbors, which Bucky found overwhelming, but Darcy seemed to find downright exhausting.  

She was hanging on his arm by seven-thirty.  

There was only one couple of interest who introduced themselves.  Leon and Christopher Leecock.  Also known as Dr. Leo Fitz and Cameron Klein.  

Also also known as, their SHIELD contacts.  

They invited them over for lunch that weekend, after they got ‘settled’.  

Settled.  That sounded as foreign a concept as any.  

He (Jake) begged out around nine-ish, wrapping his arm around Darcy’s (Val’s) waist and guiding her down the driveway and back towards their home.

As they approached their now empty house, he could feel more trepidation than before.  He felt her body tense and her breath quicken as they drew closer to the door.  

He unlocked it and they stepped into the dark living room.  It swung shut behind them and she reached for the light switch, illuminating the room and all the cardboard boxes and strange furniture.  

Including the pot pillows.

She exhaled loudly, likely hiding a giggle.  “Oh right.  The pots…”  She folded her arms over her middle. “I don’t get it, Barnes.  I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon.  Is this some old man humor, or something?”  

He snorted.  “No.  It’s the throw pillows.”  

Darcy frowned.  “The what?”  

He nudged the box with his foot.  “See?  They’re labeled as throw pillows.  I was just helping you by putting them on the sofas.”  He jammed his hands in his pockets and smirked over at her, rocking back on his heels.  

She grinned widely, those dimples popping again as she shook her head.  “You...you are a riot.  That’s what you are.”  

“I mean, they’re a little unconventional.  But what do I know?  I’m not the famous blogger or anything. I’m just some old fugitive with a shiny new haircut.”  

“And a beard rug,” she added.  

“And a beard rug,” he repeated, chuckling.  

Biting her bottom lip to stifle a chuckle, she reached over to start placing them back in the box.  “I have to say, this has got to be on you somehow.  You carried the box in and couldn’t be bothered to notice how heavy the ‘throw pillows’ were.”  

He shrugged.  “That was nothing.  The difficult part was getting the ‘pots and pans’ to fit in the cabinets.  There were a lot of them.  And they’re abnormally fluffy. Really lightweight and easy to carry, though.”  

“Yeah, yeah...it’s hard keeping that chenille one seasoned, but I think the eggs are so good, it’s worth it.”  

He stooped to hoist the box into his arms, noting the way her gaze flitted down to his arms.  “I’ll just...uh...carry these into the kitchen for you…”  She followed him in, watching him set the box down on the floor and straightening again.  

“So...uh...do you want the bed?” he asked, turning to face her.   

“We could...trade off?” Darcy said after a long silence.  “You can take it tonight and I’ll take it tomorrow?”  

And run the risk of smelling her on the sheets?  On the blankets? No.  Just...no.  That sounded like even more not-good thoughts.  

“I’ll just take the sofa,” he said bluntly, walking back towards it and sitting down.  “Which box are the blankets in?”  

“They’re all in the linen closet already…” she said wearily, her gaze flitting from him to the bedroom door.  “I’ll go get them.”  

She was gone for a few minutes.  And he could hear the muffled sounds of her rummaging through the closet off their bathroom.  While he’d been supervising the movers, she’d been unpacking linens and towels.  Toiletries.  Clothes.  Putting it all away in the bedroom they were expected to share.  

But it wasn’t shared.  It was hers.  

Hers, with some of his stuff in it.  

And he had this .  He eyed the loveseat, thinking that possibly the floor might be a better bet.  

She returned with two blankets and two pillows, which she dumped unceremoniously on the opposite end of the small sofa.  “You know...I should have made you sleep on the pans...that ten-inch cast iron looked cozy.”  

He snorted out a sound that was supposed to be a laugh, but it ended up just sounded awkward as fuck.

Breezing out to the kitchen, she returned holding bottle of water and walked back to the bedroom.  “Good night…” she said softly, her hand on the door.  She smiled back at him, practically lighting up the room with a slight quirk of her mouth.

“Good night,” he returned as the door to the bedroom shut.  

Bucky took a deep breath and looked around the room.

Bowie leapt up on the arm of the loveseat, stepping directly into the middle of the pile of pillows and taking a seat.  He meowed quietly and began to clean himself. 

It’s going to be indefinite.   He heard Steve’s voice in his ears.  One of the last things he’d said.   “It’s going to be indefinite, Buck.  Try to fix whatever it is you screwed up at the wedding?”  

Whatever it was that he’d done today, he needed to do more of it.  Because while it might not be a thought that did him any good, he really liked seeing her smile.  

Chapter Text

Darcy woke up before her alarm that morning.  Which was saying something, considering that she’d barely slept the night before.  

She was nervous.   And excited.  Maybe a little bit of both?

Today was the day. Situation was coming over with a crew of people. And they were going to do a photoshoot.   And an interview.  With her .  

She was so awkward.  Blob Almighty , was she awkward.  She hoped she could fake her way through it.  Through the photoshoot with Bucky and then through the interview afterwards.  

They’d gone over talking points.  They’d even done a mock interview with Cameron and Fitz.  

Cameron and Fitz were their honest-to-god actual SHIELD handlers and they were so awesome.  They argued like an old married couple and Fitz was all grumpy and Scottish.  

The mock interview had gone alright, but the real thing wouldn’t include Cameron nudging her towards topics that she’d rather not bring up.  

Like children.  Children were not a thing she wanted to talk about, mostly because the way you got kids was… was an activity that she hadn’t taken part in for a long, long time, and she was going to be interviewed by people who thought she was taking part in that activity with the amazing specimen with whom she was sharing a house and a last name. They thought they were engaging in a lot of that particular activity, as newlyweds tended to, and when she thought about that , she got all twitchy and weird.  

And when she got all twitchy and weird, Bucky tried to overcompensate by putting his arm around her and that wasn’t helping at all, thank you sir.

Not that she didn’t like it when he put his arm around her, but he was so warm, and… and

She took a deep breath and sat up in bed.  She had that groggy feeling in the back of her mind, that one that you felt as a college kid after you pulled an all-nighter, but that got consistently harder to ignore the older you got?

Yeah.  

Coffee might help.  

She tugged her droopy lounge socks back up over her calves and got out of bed.  Padding across the freezing-cold hardwood floor, she opened the bedroom door to peek out into the living room.  

Bucky’s feet were still propped up on the arm of the loveseat, so it was unlikely that he was awake yet.  If he was awake, he’d be at least sitting up.  Or he’d be flipping through Netflix on the T.V.  He loved Netflix. Dude would sit there and watch everything.   Which totally made sense, if Darcy thought about it.  He’d missed a literal fuckton of pop culture and Netflix was as good a way as any to catch up.

But she digressed.  He wasn’t awake.  He was still snoozing when she passed the loveseat.

Tip-toeing out to the kitchen became an almost impossible task once Bowie realized she was awake and jumped from his usual sleeping spot on the scant few inches of couch cushion that Bucky wasn’t monopolizing.  

Bowie’s little feet hit the floor and he made that cute cat noise.  The little blip of a meow as he landed.  He pranced over, winding himself between her legs as she tried to make her way to the other room without waking Bucky.  

Once there, she fed Bowie, if only to get him out from underfoot while she made the coffee.

Grinding the coffee beans the night before had been a good idea. She’d been thinking ahead for once, knowing she would need a little caffeine boost this morning.  

She glanced around the kitchen.  It was immaculate.  Bucky had teased her the day before for walking behind him with a damp rag to swipe the crumbs off the counter practically before they’d even hit, but honestly, over her dead body were there going to be crumbs on her counter when Situation came to photograph it.  

The difference between the photos she posted to her blog and this actual legit photoshoot was that she staged the FUCK out of those photos on her blog.  The entire kitchen could be a wreck, but that little three foot square area that she was photographing was as clean as a whistle.

Since someone was coming to photograph anything and everything… well… it all had to be as clean as a whistle.  

And Bucky had helped, bless him.  He’d vacuumed the rugs, he’d mopped the floors.  He’d even fixed the leaky faucet in the bathroom. The guy was actually kind of handy around the house, but she supposed that was par for the course as well.  He had probably fixed tons of stuff back… before the war.

Oh geez, this was such an odd predicament.  She was sharing a house with a World War II veteran and he was taking up half of the bathroom vanity with all of his hipster beard products.  She made breakfast and he fixed the sink.  It was so domestic and then again, it wasn’t.  There was this veil of fake over the whole thing that marred her perception.

Darcy poured water into the coffee maker, pressing the button to start it brewing and swiping a rag over the counter to collect the stray coffee grounds.  Pulling out two mugs from the cabinet, she placed them on the countertop.  

No sooner had the first few drips of coffee trickled down into the carafe than the floorboards squeaked out in the living room; they were no match for Bucky’s barefoot, heavy gait.  He’d probably been awake since Bowie jumped onto the floor, now that she was thinking about it.  Bucky had crazy good hearing.  He could hear her sneeze in the bathroom through two closed doors.  Which made her hella paranoid about what else he could hear through two closed doors.  

So she ran the faucet every time she was in the bathroom now.  Just to be safe.

Bucky shuffled out into the kitchen, blinking slightly at her.  She probably made a funny picture, exhausted as hell and staring at the coffee maker, willing the coffee to come faster.  

“Rough night?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.  

She shrugged.  “No rougher than usual.”  

“Sorry to hear that…” he said.  “I’mma go use the facilities if you’re gonna be out here for a minute.”  

She cracked a small smile, waving her hand.  “Be my guest.  I’ll stand guard out here, make sure the coffee maker doesn’t slack off.”  

“Yeah?  Well.  Make sure you do, that thing’s always looking for an opportunity to skimp on the job.”

The coffee pot finished while the shower was still running.  So she poured herself a cup and waited, stirring it slightly with a spoon after she’d added the half-and-half. The swirl was hypnotizing.  

She was sipping lightly at her cup when Bucky appeared in the doorway, dressed for the most part in the clothing she’d picked out for him the day before.  He had his cuffs unbuttoned and unrolled on the shirt, and it was untucked from the pants.  

But he still looked good.  Damn good.   Too good.  That was just her opinion, though.  

“I poured you some…” She gestured towards the other cup across from her.  “One spoon of sugar, right?”  

“Right…” he sat down across from her and stirred it a little before taking a sip.  He sighed, the contentment oozing from every part of his exhale.  “How do you make coffee better than I do? It’s beans and hot water, right?”

“I grind up fresh nutmeg with them,” she confessed.  “A little extra, I know. But it makes coffee taste more coffee-y”  

“Nutmeg, huh? I learn somethin’ new everyday from you, doll.”  

‘Doll’ was something he called her when they were around the neighbors.  Pretending to be newlyweds.  He’d say it before he kissed her forehead, snaking his arm around her waist.  It made all the women swoon and the men roll their eyes.  It was especially effective with that Brooklyn accent of his.   

Of course, lately, it had been popping up more and more in their private conversations, and Darcy was almost embarrassed to say that she liked it.  

“Yeah, well.  I try,” she replied, attempting to keep the conversation going because when they stopped talking, things got weird fast .  

“It looks… amazing in here, Darcy.”  Bucky took a wide sweeping look of the room and nodded. “Honest.  It looks a billion times better than it did when we moved in.”  

A blush crept up her cheeks and she hid it by taking a big sip of her coffee.  

“I mean it.  We’re gonna do great today. Val .”

“Aww, thanks, Jakers,” she smirked, her tone verging on saccharine.  “We’re gonna crush it, babe.”  

“And that’s a good thing, right?”          


 

The photo crew from the magazine arrived early.  There was one photographer and his two assistants.  He had one assistant to bring him drinks and another to lug around the equipment.  A makeup artist was also on hand to make Val and Jake look as flawless as possible for the camera.  

The interview would come later that afternoon, well after the photo crew had gone. The editor of the magazine, who was actually going to do Darcy’s… or Valerie’s , face-to-face interview, was very excited to be finally meeting Valerie in the flesh.  She was apparently a huge fan.

Bucky’s arm , which would have most definitely been a focal point if it was spotted, was cleverly hidden with a special glove that Steve had sent along through Cameron and Fitz.  

The Black Widow used a face mask made of similar material to pose as literally anyone.  This particular fabric was full of tiny transmitters that worked to camouflage Bucky’s arm as skin.  

It was about as thin as pantyhose, and only went up to the middle of his bicep, so there couldn’t be any shirtless poses, unfortunately.  But he could definitely wear it under the flannel button up Darcy had picked out for him to wear.  

He’d slid it on after breakfast, activating the tiny diode in the wrist to turn on the camo.  It was bizarre, how real it looked.  It even mimicked hair and freckles to make it look almost like his other hand.  Almost, but just different enough to be believable.

It was lucky that Bucky mostly used his right hand for everything, though.  Because that arm  felt weird if you touched it.  Like his cybernetic arm, but not .

But for aesthetic purposes and for NOT getting recognized due to his very easy to recognize one-of-a-kind prosthetic made in Wakanda, it definitely had its use.

None of the photography crew was any the wiser.    

The make up artist didn’t take long, just touching up what Darcy had already done on her face and applying a bit more powder here and there.  

Bucky took a bit longer than Darcy, but both of them were picture ready in less than an hour.  Well before Dan the photographer was finished setting up his equipment.  

Dan the photographer.  Darcy almost giggled when he introduced himself, because he definitely didn’t seem like a Dan .  

Or maybe it just was that every other Dan she’d ever meant hadn’t measured up to this Dan.  

Whichever it was, this Dan -- Dan the photographer -- was very loud and very pushy.  His personal assistant looked like she was just a few dozen salt water icicles in a trenchcoat, and his equipment setter-upper-guy was wearing a shirt that boasted about his how ‘his balls had muscles and his muscles had balls’, however that worked.

The three of them looked like they could be the cast of a reality TV show.  

“Okay, while Diego gets the lights set up in here, I want to go capture that natural light outside…”  Dan walked towards the back door, pausing in front of it.  “With you two, preferably,” he directed towards Darcy and Bucky. He then turned his head to yell into the house.  “Deirdre! Get my water.”  He walked out the back door and Darcy shot Bucky an amused look.  

Bucky slipped his hand into hers and pulled her along behind him.  

Diego, Deirdre and Dan.  You really couldn’t make this up.  

“Go stand in front of these bushes here… this picket fence is adorable …”

‘Val’ and ‘Jake’ went to stand in front of the bushes and Dan came over to pose them.  He snapped a few closeups while he was there.  

“You two are the least annoying newlyweds I’ve ever met,” he said slowly, arching an eyebrow.  “You two have a fight? Did you make him sleep on the couch, Valerie?”  

“No?” Darcy nearly choked.  

“So sidle up to your hubby and try and look happy…”  Dan replied.   

It was of course at that moment that a flock of birds thought it’d be cool to all hang out on the powerlines in front of the house.  

So Darcy had to sit there, pretending to be a happy newlywed with no weird phobias about flocks of birds, while a flock of birds literally landed in her front yard.  

Bucky, being the astute noticer of all things odd that he was, noticed her decidedly odd reaction and followed her gaze as she watched the last of the black birds fly across the sky.  

He leaned in, wrapping both arms around her waist and resting his head on her shoulder. Turning, he pressed a ragged kiss to her jaw.  “Just relax.  It’ll all be over soon.”  

She gulped and closed her eyes, focusing on his words. On the solid feel of him pressed against the back of her.  He was so warm .  Was that something she already knew?  Was that supposed to be so surprising?  He was warm.  And he smelled like coffee and the soap he used in the shower.

Darcy usually saw it sitting there. It was white.  The one that was supposed to float in the tub.  

Ivory.    

“Hey, I’m here.  It’ll be okay, doll.”  He punctuated by nuzzling her neck.  Which everyone knew was her ticklish spot.  Or at least… now everyone knew was her ticklish spot.  Because she giggled, squirming against him.  So he did it again.  

And then Dan snapped pictures of it.  “ Adorable .  See, was that so hard? C’mon, let’s get a few out in the front yard.”  


 

Kassie Kristoph, the editor of Situation , was about thirty minutes late to her scheduled interview.  

But she made up for it in complete and utter rudeness, so it was all cool.  

Darcy had prepared some snacks ahead of time, so after the greetings and introductions took place, Bucky (or ‘Jake’ as she really needed to start thinking about him if she was going to remember his fake name at all) offered to go get them from the kitchen.

Kassie’s eyes followed his exit in a way that Darcy didn’t particularly care for.  They followed his ass in a way that Valerie didn’t like at all.  

“You are a lucky, lucky woman to get all of that to yourself…” she said, exhaling and fanning herself as she reached into her bag for her phone.  “He fixes cars too?  How on earth did you get so lucky, Ms. Larson?”  

“Missus,” Darcy corrected her, smiling sweetly.  “And you know… I…”  

“I’m the lucky one, Ms. Kristoph,” Bucky answered for her from the doorway. He had a look on his face of pure innocence, but Darcy knew better.  He’d heard the whole thing from the kitchen with his super soldier hearing. He sidled in with a tray of homemade hummus with sliced vegetables in one hand and a pitcher of mint lemonade in the other.  “So to answer your question? I just went for it.”  

Kassie smiled widely, not taking her eyes off Bucky’s face for a second.  “ You initiated the relationship?”

Darcy almost snorted indignantly.  Hello?  She was right here.  And excuse Ms. Kassie Kristoph, but Valerie Nicole Larson was a catch and a half.  She had curves for days and made better pies than anyone’s mom.  

“Yep, had to.  She was too shy…”  He grinned in Darcy’s direction and reached over to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear.  “Tell her the story, D-oll, I’ll get out of your hair.”

He’d almost messed up and said ‘Darcy’.  She bit down on her bottom lip to keep from laughing.  That goofball.  She sent him a grin in return as he walked back towards the kitchen.  He bent to scoop up Bowie on his way, talking to the cat in hushed tones as he retreated.  Kassie reached for a cucumber slice and he took the opportunity to wiggle his hips in an overtly suggestive way when her back was turned.  

Darcy pressed her lips together even harder and reached for one of the glasses he’d brought out with the tray, pouring herself a glass of lemonade.

“So, Valerie… or is it Val?” Kassie asked, pulling out her phone and hitting the record button.  

“Val’s fine,” Darcy said with a smile.  

“Tell me.  How do you run such a successful blog?”  

She laughed a little. The straight forwardness of the question was obviously ironic.  Intentional.  But it was also so very cheesey.  “Well, it all started out as kind of a therapeutic thing…I blogged about my day, and people started… responding .”  

“You have such an engaging way of writing, I think it really feels like we know you , it’s like we have a friend, and we’re hearing about her day.”  

Darcy felt a stab of guilt in her gut at the compliment. Especially when she thought about how she was lying out of her ass.

Except it was necessary to maintain the façade. Especially now that lives depended on it.  “Well, you know… I suppose that’s part of it…” She was a master at bullshitting, she had a poly-sci degree after all, she could totally do this.  “It felt that way for me too.  I had friends to vent to who weren’t sick of hearing it.”  

“And somehow, that’s turned into the successful brand that you have now.”  Kassie smiled kindly.  “I think pretty much every millennial as at least heard of Fruitcake and Bananas.  

“Well, I mean… I’m no Pioneer Woman or anything… but I’m certainly glad people can find something useful in all of my chaos.”  

“Was that Bowie I saw with your husband?”  Kassie asked, turning around once more.  

“Yes, that was Bowie… “  

“How’s he liking it out here?”  

“Well, he left a mouse on the back porch for us, so I think he’s adjusting to the burbs,” Darcy said, smirking a little at the memory.  

“Do you think… do you think I could pet him?”  

Darcy raised her eyebrows.  She mean the cat , right?.  “Sure… I’ll go find him… he’s probably with Jake…”  

“I’ll come along…” Kassie very nearly upended the coffee table in her haste to beat Darcy out of the room and into the kitchen.  

She sighed heavily, muttering under her breath. “Cripes, Kassie Kristoph, your thirst is showing…”


 

Darcy was more than relieved to see Kassie Kristoph’s pretentious little smart car backing down the driveway as she and Bucky waved goodbye.  

“Relax your shoulders, your wave is jerky,” Bucky muttered through his frozen smile.  

“I can’t help it, she was flirting with you.”

He chuckled, smiling for real as the little silver vehicle drove away.  “Are you jealous , Ms. Larson?”  

“It’s Missus.  At least, that’s what I told the homewrecker…”  

He laughed and wrapped his arm around her waist, tugging her inside the house.  

“And this isn’t funny,” Darcy continued.  “For all she knew, we were happily married.  We are NEWLYWEDS, and she was flirting with you.”  

He was still laughing though. “It’s a little bit funny…”  

“It’s not funny at all …”  

“I guess that’s why you were marking your territory earlier…”  Bucky teased, the fingers on his right hand tickling her all the way down to her wrist before he slid his hand into hers.  “I don’t think you’ve touched me that much in the entirety of our ‘marriage’, Val .”  

“She was staring at your ass, Jake .”

He shrugged.  “I guess it’s a nice ass, what can I say? You also picked out the ass-huggingist jeans for me to wear today… I told ya they were too tight.”  

She grumbled under her breath.  “That’s what’s in style right now… doesn’t mean she needs to stare at your ass.”  

He smirked and brought her hand up to his lips.  A gesture that felt almost normal until they both simultaneously realized that there was no one to perform for and froze.  

His eyes searched hers for a long moment and slowly pressed his lips against her knuckles.  

She gulped at the feel of his lips, the way he lingered after the kiss, the way his pouty bottom lip dragged against her skin before he moved away, her hand still in his.  

“I…” she stammered, tearing her gaze away from his.  “I need to put the hummus in the fridge. I don’t want it to go bad…”  

“Right…” he said, his voice was low and gravelly, so he cleared his throat.  “Right.  I’ll… uh… get out of your hair” he said, repeating the phrase he’d said earlier in jest.  Bucky dropped her hand and turned away from her.

He crossed the floor to the front door in a couple of strides.  He was outside seconds later. Doing what, she didn’t know.  

She knew she was mentally kicking her own ass into the carpet for making him look like that.  

It was like kicking… not a puppy, but a floppy, happy dog.  She’d kicked a floppy, happy doggo and made him all sad and mopey.  She’d kicked a happy doggo who had been kicked before and now he was all sad and mopey and it was going to take so much more work to get him happy again.  

She was the actual worst.    

Darcy sighed  heavily and leaned down to clear the hummus tray from the coffee table.

Chapter Text

“So I’m assuming the interview went well?” Cameron asked the second Darcy let him and Fitz into the apartment.  Cameron had a messenger bag slung over his shoulder.  Fitz was carrying a plastic-wrapped plate of what Darcy assumed were supposed to be cookies.

Darcy shrugged. “As well as can be expected when we’re not really married and pretending to be, and the interviewer is thirsty for ‘Jake’.” She rolled her eyes a little harder than she had to.  Cam and Fitz glanced at each other. Passing a look that Darcy didn’t entirely care for.  

Bucky wasn’t actually in the room with them, he was napping on the bed. Something he’d taken up in the mid-afternoons lately. Darcy strongly suspected it was because he wasn’t sleeping well on the couch, but the stubborn ox wouldn’t budge. Or even switch up with her every few nights, as she’d suggested. It was the least they could do.  

“Thirsty for Jake…” Cam repeated slowly before dropping it like an old hat.  “Well, it didn’t show in the interview.”  

“If anything, she’s thirsty for your blog?” Fitz improvised badly, the lilt at the end of his statement giving away even his lack of faith in what he was saying.  

Darcy made a face. “Not what thirsty means, Fitz.  But good try.”  

He shrugged and placed the plate of cookies on the table in front of them. If Darcy didn’t know better, she would venture to guess that they were store-bought, because neither Fitz nor Cameron looked like they could bake. Except they were burnt. And she was pretty sure stores would throw out cookies if they were burned this badly.

Fitz removed the plastic wrap, laying it flat beside the plate.  

They each took one, glancing around as if daring each other to take the first bite.  Darcy did, with both Cam’s and Fitz’s eyes on her.  So she couldn’t even spit it out for fear of offending whichever of the two had ‘baked’ these carbon crispies.  

Fitz took a bite and groaned. “Oh… god… Cam, these are awful.”  

Cam dropped his back on the plate. “Thought they would be.  I didn’t have the right ingredients.  But I didn’t feel like going to the store.”  

“Said every fail-baker who ever fail-baked,” Darcy muttered under her breath, dropping the rest of her uneaten cookie on the plate. It would be one thing if it was just burnt, but it didn’t even taste good besides.  

“I got the recipe from your blog, Ms. Fruitcake…” Cam countered.  

“Then you obviously didn’t follow it…”  

“Didn’t I just say…”  

“Look dude. Those taste like charcoal. Nowhere on my blog did I ever say it was okay to turn cookies into charcoal. Please don’t make your own charcoal, store bought really is fine!”  

Fitz snort-laughed under his breath and Cam shook his head. “ Anyway , it looks like the interview went well, the magazine was one of their most purchased at newstands…”  

“For real?” Darcy asked, surprised. “Cool!”  

Cam nodded. “For real. Have you noticed any increased traffic to your site? I was informed by tech that you probably would.”  

“Yeah, as a matter of fact… I decided to double up on my posting this week to capitalize on it… but I kinda need the ‘hubs’ to get up and help me with a few things…” she tilted her head towards the bedroom.  

“He’s sleeping in the bed? Are you both--” Fitz started.  

“NO, oh Thor, no. Nope. No. Just… he’s just taking naps.” She shrugged. “Because he’s old, I guess. He sleeps on the sofa.”  

“Okay…” Cam said, dropping the subject. “On another note, do you have any cookies?”

Smiling slightly, she nodded, pointing out to the kitchen. “In the yellow submarine cookie jar on the counter.”  


 

Bucky finally woke up around three, long after Cam and Fitz had gone and she’d made Cam promise not to try to make any of her recipes without having all the ingredients first.  

She was standing out in the middle of the floor, looking at the living room with her blogger goggles on. That fireplace needed some work. It was looking very 1985 and not the good part of the decade either.  

It needed an update. And quick.  

“Do we know if the chimney even works?” Bucky asked, peering up the dark orifice and frowning. “Might need to be cleaned out…”  

“Can you do that?” Darcy asked, making a face at the thought of a pile of ash falling down on her face.  

“‘Course I can, sweetheart. That’s my job, isn’t it? Gettin’ all grimey?” He reached for his jacket, pulling it on  and removing a pair of leather gloves from the pockets as he walked out to the kitchen. He opened the closet, nicking the broom from inside. “Look now, you should probably put a drop cloth down on the furniture… unless you’d rather if I moved it first?” He was now standing on the back patio, leaning on the broom and looking like her dream come true.  

She swallowed thickly. “Nah, I can… I can just push it all back…you go ahead...” She waved her hand vaguely.  “Up there.”  

Yes.  Take your beautiful buns up that ladder, Barnes. And keep them out of my eyesight for the rest of forever.  

As it turned out, no. She couldn’t ‘just push it all back’.  Even though it was on a rug, the couches were heavy as hell.  

So, she grabbed a drop cloth from the bathroom closet. It was really just a set of microfiber sheets that had been here when they moved in. Sheets that she’d deigned too yucky to EVER sleep on. So they were big and they were disposable. Practically.  

She draped them over the sofas and the area rug.  

She heard a distant call and ran out to the back door to look up. Bucky was on the room, broom in hand. “You good doll?” he repeated.  

“Yep, everything’s covered.”  

“Gotcha, get ready…”  

She laughed and went back into the living room, making sure to stand back from the fireplace just in case something fell on her.  

And when nothing happened, she waited some more. She heard some thumping. Some scratching. Some more calls from the back.  

“It’s not soot. Something else.” His voice was louder now, more discernable. Still sounded like he was wrapped up in a million blankets, though

“It’s not wasps, is it?” she called up the chimney.    

He chuckled. “Nah.  I’d be getting stung if it was wasps.”  

Shrugging, she went back inside, plopping down in the arm chair across the room, relieved that she wasn’t going to have to clean soot off everything, completely unaware that her worst nightmare was about to come true.  

With almost no warning other than a surprised shout from Bucky and a bunch of angry tweeting, birds swooped out of the chimney. It was like a fucking nightmare. In fact, she was pretty sure she’d had this nightmare before. She was always the Tippi Hedren character, getting pecked to death all alone.  

She screamed. And dropped to her knees to cover her head.  

Because what else could she do?  

Later on, she’d wonder why she didn’t just run out the open door and into the yard, maybe the birds might have followed her and not swept around the room like the tornado of horrors.  

She crawled for a corner, screeching the entire time.  

She didn’t hear anything but their confused squawking for what felt like the longest minute in her entire life. There was no way it was just sixty seconds, no matter what Bucky said afterwards.  

It felt like an eternity.  

And then she felt his arms around her. Bucky’s.

She felt his arms encircle her as he leaned closer, putting himself between the birds and her.  

“Shh, shhhh…” he shushed her, wrapping her tightly up into a hug. “Doll… it’s okay, it’s okay…”  She could have sworn she felt his lips at her temple as he hoisted her up off the floor and into his lap. “They’re gone. I got them out. They’re gone.”  

She was gasping for breath, suddenly realizing that she was sobbing. Her body wracked with fear and emotion as she tried and failed to catch her breath.  

He quickly tightened his hold, pulling her close and instructing her to breath with him.  

She could feel his chest moving behind her. A constant. Something stable. A foothold.  

Slowly, Darcy matched her breathing to his, letting out shaky sighs as her heart rate regulated and her vision stopped blurring so much.  

“Oh my god,” she murmured, her entire body shuddering. “Oh my god, I am so sorry…”  

“It’s okay,” he assured her. “Happens to the best of us…”  

“Oh god… you must think I’m such a wuss. Fucking birds…”  

She could feel him shaking his head. “Nope. Not a wuss.”  

Darcy snorted derisively.  

“Hey…” he murmured.  “Hey, listen up, doll.  Whether you believe it or not, you lived through two alien invasions.  And not just on the couch at home either, you lived through them.”  

“So, you read my file.”  

“Yeah? You read mine,” he countered pointedly.  “I know all about Puente Antiguo.  And London. And neither of them looked like a picnic, lemme tell ya.”  

She laughed, shaking her head. “They weren’t.” Rolling to the side, she started to rise, so Bucky loosened his grip on her. She pushed up to stand and quickly went to close the back door.  “Sorry about that…”  

“You don’t have to apologize, Darcy,” he replied, leaning back against the wall. “Honestly, I’m glad it was something I could help with. You have no idea how scared I was, coming down that ladder…”  

She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, looking down at the floor for a moment. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”  

He shook his head. “I’m fine.  Are you okay?”  

She nodded. “Yep. I’m fine.”  


 

Rollins exhaled heavily as the door slammed shut in his face.  

Lauren had told him to get out.  After all he’d done to get here, that bitch had told him to get out.  “ Before Grayson gets home.”

She banged her hand on the door from the other side of it, jarring him from his reverie.  “Go, Jack. GO. I’m giving you ten minutes before I call the cops.”  

“Goddammit…” he muttered, jamming the magazine he had in his hand into his back pocket, jogging down the front steps and out to the sidewalk. He’d come on foot. What kind of a headstart was ten minutes?  

Everything had been fine before all of this Hydra bullshit came out. Now his wife hated him, was keeping him from his son… and it was all because of Steve Fucking Rogers..  

He turned to the left and took off, running as fast as his SHIELD training could allow.

This wasn’t fucking over. No sir.  

Just because Steve and his friends were all sitting pretty in their ivory towers in New York, didn’t mean that Jack Rollins was going to take this bullshit lying down.  

He’d been doing what he was ordered to do. He’d been a part of Rumlow’s Strike Team, but he was just following orders. Doing what he was told. Wasn’t that a valued trait in a soldier? In an agent?

Jack quickly took a hard right, and quickly hopped on a city bus. He nodded to the bus driver as he went immediately to the back corner.  

Sitting down, he remembered the stupid magazine he’d nicked from Lauren’s mailbox, still rolled up in his back pocket. He pulled it out, and opened it, trying to calm his nerves so he didn’t look like an angry drunk in the back of the bus.  

Situation . Some kind of home interior bullshit that Lauren had always liked reading.  

He groused inwardly as he turned the pages, flipping through until something caught his eye.  

Or someone .

Right there. In the middle spread. He could SWEAR it was that fucker. He looked just like him.  Save for the beard and the man bun. And the decided lack of a metal arm.  

Smear some grease paint on his eyes and that was Barnes. The Asset. Winter fucking soldier.  

Jack squinted, more and more convinced that was exactly who it was.  

“Mother fucker,” he murmured, glancing over the article. Nothing about Barnes at all. Obviously, that wasn’t the name he was giving. Rollins wondered if the little woman knew she was laying down beside a cold blooded killer every night.  

Probably. She might even be an agent herself.  

Yeah, he was probably in some kind of witness protection. Hiding in plain sight, this had Coulson written all over it.  

Jack read through the article.  Barnes had shacked himself up with a  pretty little thing, living large upstate.  

Nope, that wouldn’t do.  

Jack had no idea how to get to Rogers.  

But he had a feeling if he attacked his little commando buddy and commando buddy’s wife.  Well.  

That might scare old Steve out of the bushes.   

Chapter Text

Bucky shifted on the sofa, a cramp in his lower back twinging as he attempted to rearrange the pillows behind him. Normally, he’d just get up and scoot cushions around to his heart’s content, except, he couldn’t really do that this time.

Not with Darcy snuggled up to his side and the soft sweet warmth of her breath ghosting over his shoulder as she dozed. His cybernetic arm was safely draped across the back of the couch, his flesh and bone one on the armrest, fingers tapping nervously against the overstuffed upholstery.

It had all started out innocently enough. They’d been watching TV. A movie, specifically. Something she liked, something drippy and romantic. Something to calm her nerves after the birdpocalypse that afternoon.

Birdpocalypse was her term, not his. And it wasn’t even the only one she’d used. It was just his favorite. Birdnado also had come up. Birdicane wasn’t as good, but still got a few chuckles out of him.

Truth be told, he’d probably laugh at anything she said. She always got this self-assured, smug look on her face when she said something funny enough to elicit a laugh from him.

It wasn’t like he was some kind of a stone wall or something. He laughed at things. In fact, he teased her nonstop. Made her laugh too.

But for reasons that felt obvious, she really liked making him laugh. And that made him all the more willing to find cause to laugh in her presence.

A smile slowly spread across his lips as he shifted in his seat once more, cybernetic fingers gripping the fabric on the back of the couch as she slept on his shoulder.

His back twinged again, likely a dual side-effect of sleeping on this godforsaken hellbeast of a sofa every night and the fact that he had to pee.

He probably should wake her. He didn’t want her to shrink away from him again. Not like she had when he’d kissed her hand following the interview with that magazine. It had taken a couple of days of teasing and jabs and talking to her without getting a response to fix the holes in the dam.

God only knew how long it would take if she found out she’d been snoozing on his shoulder while he pretended to watch the romcom she’d started.

But still, Bucky didn’t dare get up. He just sat there, discomfort be damned… all because Darcy was asleep on his shoulder. And regardless of anything else, he didn’t want her to move.

He was okay now with admitting that. It was a long time coming, but even he wasn’t so willfully blind as to not notice the feelings he’d caught.

Pesky little things, but he wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Of course, he wasn’t one-hundred percent on Darcy’s feelings.

Every other time he’d gotten close, she’d hightailed it from the room. So either, his feelings weren’t reciprocated…

Or they were and she was scared.

In either case, he should probably wake her up.

Bucky rolled his shoulders, glancing down at the sleeping woman cuddling up to him.  He repeated the action. “Darcy…” he murmured. “Darce?”

“It’s Valerie…” she sing-songed softly, her voice sounding much too alert for someone who had just been asleep. It appeared that he’d been duped. And that wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish.

“How long have you been awake?” he asked.

“I haven’t been asleep recently. Not that I know of… you keep moving around, it’s hard to relax when you’re over there doing body rolls and high kicks.”

“There are no high kicks happening,” he retorted. The body rolls, he’d admit to.

“Yeah?  Well get comfortable and be still…” she mumbled, her lips moving against him as she snuggled up under his arm, her hand moving over his belly.

The touch made him shiver and he leaned forward slightly, rearranging the pillows and getting as comfortable as he could on that sofa. “Full disclosure, I’m gonna have to run to the restroom…”

She sighed, rolling to the side to allow him to leave. “Fine, but be back soon.”

His head was spinning as he got up and walked back through the bedroom and into the bathroom, he closed the door firmly and did his business.

So she was… she was okay with the close proximity?  Was it because of the birds or something else?

He wasn’t sure if he could ask her.  Or if he even should . Was this one of those ‘looking a gift horse in the mouth’ situations? He wished Steve was here to give him advice. He’d probably roll his eyes at him.

“Really, Buck? This is what you’re worried about? You forget how to talk to a dame or something?”

Maybe he had. Maybe that was one of the things Hydra succeeded in truly washing from his brain.

He washed his hands, drying them on a hand towel before leaving the bathroom and making his way back out to the living room.

Imaginary Steve was right. He should just talk to her.

Darcy was still lounging on the sofa, and she resumed her previous position once he’d sat back down. The movie was over, so she’d started another.

He slid back down onto the sofa, draping his arm over the back as Darcy scooted close, wrapping hers around his waist and snuggling up close.

The opening credits of the move were running, but he was hard-pressed to remember the name of it.  All he could think about was the way her hair smelled. Coconut.

Bucky swallowed and drummed his fingers on the arm of the couch.

“You’re okay with this, Darcy?” he asked, refusing to use the fake name, even though they were supposed to use them at all times.  They flirted so much as fake husband and wife, he needed Darcy to know he was asking her. Not Valerie.

“If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here,” she replied, reaching up to still his hand. The one tapping out an S.O.S on the arm of the couch. She tugged the hand down into his lap and laced their fingers. “And it’s Valerie , Jakey.”

“I know… but my message wasn’t for her.”

“Well, both of us are very okay with this,” she countered. “Just… assume we both always are.”

He sniffed out a laugh.  “My bad, doll.”

She hummed and stroked the back of his hand, which only served to confuse him all the more.

“I meant…” he lowered his voice even more, the sound making her stiffen in his arms as she sat up to look at him. “I meant… PDA kind of made you run before, what’s--”

“Shhh, babe. I can’t hear the movie. Am I gonna need to come over there and keep you quiet?” she asked, smirking slightly before leaning over to press her lips to his.

His heart stopped for a moment, before it started hammering loudly in his chest.

She tasted like lemons and iced tea. Cool and refreshing and hot all at once.

He made a sound in the back of his throat and she froze for a second, pulling back to look at him.  She searched his eyes, finding something there. Something she liked.

Because before he knew it, she was climbing into his lap.  Not straddling him or anything, but she was there in his lap, her arms around his neck as she kissed the hell out of him.

He parted his lips, tilting his head to deepen the kiss. He felt her moan into his mouth.  He swallowed the sound, claiming it as his own while her tongue played around his lips before delving between them.

Bucky wasn’t sure what he should be doing with his hands, his fingers flexed and released a few times before he placed them on her waist. That was apparently the right thing to do, because she melted against him.

Her lips moved against his, popping slightly when she released him. She shifted in his lap, moving closer somehow as she gripped the collar of his shirt, holding him close as she kissed him once more. Her teeth nipped at his bottom lip and apparently that was what did it for him, because he was moving now… pressing her back against the throw pillows and rolling slightly.  His knee pressed between hers, a low groan echoing in the room when she dragged her teeth along the edge of his lip.

“Darcy…” he whispered.  And for once she didn’t correct him.

“Bucky…” she whispered, just as softly. He dipped down and captured her lips again, ensuring that every sound she made was his and his alone.


 

He woke up the next morning with a crick in his neck. One that ground painfully when he rolled his head to the side.

Bucky didn’t care though.  Didn’t care whether it ground or popped.  Both of which happened the more he rolled it.

He didn’t care because Darcy was still there. Her head on his chest. Hair all tangled around his fingers and draped over his face.  She was all around him.

He ran his tongue over his lips and smiled at the ache. It had been a long ass time since the last time Bucky’d kissed someone so much his lips were sore the next day. He missed it.

“Morning…” she murmured upon waking.

“Morning,” he replied, the smile on his face travelling to his voice. “Valerie.”

“Jake,” she countered, smiling as she got her hair under control and tucked over her shoulder while she lay there in his arms on the tiny sofa.  “My back fucking hurts.”

“Mine too…” he agreed.  But neither of them moved.  He wasn’t sure if he should tell her, but it was the best sleep he’d ever gotten at this place. It felt right to curl up beside her.

She pushed up to a sitting position and stretched.  “I slept like a rock, though…” she said, turning to look at him for a long moment, like she was reading his thoughts.  “Like a tired rock that hasn’t gotten a good night’s sleep in like… how long have we been here?”

He grinned, pushing up beside her, he let his fingers drag up her arm from her elbow. “I can’t think right now, but me too, doll.”

She inhaled and stretched again, wincing as something creaked. She pushed up to a standing position and walked out towards the kitchen, straightening her rumpled clothing in the process.

He could either sit here like a dunce or follow her.

He chose follow.  He padded out to the kitchen, glancing down and grimacing at his dirty socks.  He was almost embarrassed, but if he took them off, he’d have cold feet, so there wasn’t much of a choice in the matter.

“Doll?” he ventured, watching as she measured coffee into the grinder.

“Hmm?”

“If that was a one-time thing… like you needed comfort after yesterday or whatever…” he trailed off, waiting until she turned to look at him. “You know… I understand. I don’t expect anything from you, is all I’m sayin’.”

“You think I made out with you on the couch for like an hour last night because I was freaked out by birds?” she asked, chuckling as she pulled down two mugs from the cupboard.

“I dunno… I mean… it felt kind of all of a sudden? I guess?” he said, wishing like hell he’d just shut his damn mouth already. “I mean, you kind of got upset when I kissed your hand that one time… and--”

“I got freaked out because you’re hot as hell and I don’t want to get attached to someone who’s not gonna stick around after this is over…” she said, a catch in her voice as she walked to the fridge.  “I get attached hard when I get attached. I’m like a damn love barnacle.”

He smiled at the image.  A love barnacle.

“Okay… ever occur to you that you might get attached to another love barnacle? Or a rock?  I’m not sure how to complete the analogy... ”

She pulled out the milk and walked back to the coffee mugs, watching the coffee as it dripped.  “You’re a love barnacle too?”

“Yeah…” he said softly, approaching the counter.  “Didn’t know that’s what it was called, but… yeah.”

“And this isn’t just to quell your loneliness or because of proximity or whatever?”

He shook his head. “It wasn’t why I picked you for this mission either, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

She laughed softly, winking and pointing at him like that was exactly what she was going to ask him.

“What is it then, Buck?” she asked softly, looking up into his eyes with her baby blues and making him wish he had something to give her. He’d give her anything, she knew that, right?  “What’s this thing?”

He stepped closer, his hand reaching for her and skimming lightly over her forearm.  “Not sure what you call it, but it’s a thing. It’s definitely a thing.”

She swallowed thickly.  “Is it?”

“Looks that way…” He was halfway to a smile, but she’d thrown her arms around his neck, pressing her lips fiercely to his and taking his breath away for the third time in twenty-four hours.

“If this is a thing, then it’s a thing…” she said, nodding.

“It’s a thing,” he repeated.

“Since it’s a thing…” she continued.  “We should probably just sleep in the bed tonight… you know?  It’s not going to eat us alive or anything… and it’s there. It’s a roomy queen.  If you don’t want cuddles, that is.”

The corner of his mouth twitched upwards.  He definitely wanted cuddles.

He nodded.  “Yeah, okay. Let’s try that bed out tonight. And I definitely want cuddles, so get ready for that, Larson .” He felt proud of himself for remembering their covers. He’d wanted to say ‘Lewis’ so bad.

“And no more stiff backs,” she said, reaching out to boop his nose.  “ Larson .”

“No more stiff backs,” he echoed.

Chapter Text

Bucky


Bucky’s bravado from earlier that morning had seemingly left him again once he stood on the threshold of the bedroom. Their bedroom.

He’d been concentrating so intently on appearing that he was cool and fine and okay that he absolutely wasn’t cool and fine and okay.

Well, maybe he was more than okay but cool and fine were slipping from his grasp the longer he stood there, staring in at the bed.

Darcy had gone on ahead of him. She was fluffing the pillows and turning down the duvet, leaving room for him to join her.

The twinge in his back urged him forward, not to mention the twinge he was feeling elsewhere. The twinge he couldn’t blame on his unusual sleeping positions.

The goose down comforter looked warm. His potential-bedmate looked warmer.

And he was freezing all of the sudden.

“Which side of the bed do you normally take?” Darcy asked, gesturing from one side to the other.

He shrugged, he didn’t have a side of the bed that he could remember. But when he took naps in this bed, he usually chose the one opposite hers. Even though he could only guess that the left side was hers because that was where her eye drops and eyeglass case was located.

“I’ll take the right,” he said with another shrug.

She smiled warmly. “Looks like we’re a good fit, Jakey.”

He pressed both lips together and nodded. “I think… in here … you could call me Bucky.”

Her smile widened. “Oh good, it doesn’t feel natural calling you ‘Jake’, I’m so sorry I’m such a bad agent.”

“You’re not,” he assured her. “You’re not a bad agent. You’re not an agent either, but that’s definitely not a bad thing, doll.”

“Confession,” she said, reaching under her pillow and withdrawing a pair of pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. “I really like it when you call me ‘doll’...”

“Counter-confession, I like calling you that.”  His grin matched hers and she let out a nervous laugh.

She tucked her PJs under her arm and made for the bathroom. “I won’t be long, okay? You can have it after me.”

“Fine by me,” he replied. Bucky walked over to the bureau and pulled out his own pajamas. He was quick to change and toss that day’s clothing into the hamper, taking a seat down on his side of the bed to wait patiently for her to return.

When she did, she tossed her other clothing into the hamper on top of his, bounding over to the bed. “It’s all yours.”

He chuckled his thanks and went to finish up his nighttime routine.

It didn’t take long, he didn’t have much of one, beyond brushing his teeth and his hair. Most of his beard primping took place in the morning after his shower, so it wasn’t long before he emerged. “Is there something else I should--” he started before realized that Darcy had fallen fast asleep in the short time he’d been gone.

He laughed softly, tiptoed towards the bed, and tugged the comforter up to her shoulders before taking his place on the right side of the bed.

She was putting off a helluva lot of heat from her side, but somehow, sleep overcame him and he drifted into sweet unconsciousness.

 


 

The first thing Bucky noticed upon waking was how fucking warm he was. Almost sweating.  He was never this warm when he slept on the loveseat. Also, most of his body fit long-ways. He wasn’t scrunched up and aching from the neck down. He never fit on the loveseat either.

So, it was a toss-up between whether these were good or bad changes. Super sweaty wasn’t the best, but it sure as hell beat being in pain.

He snuggled down in the covers, only then realizing he wasn’t alone. And that he wasn’t on the loveseat.

He was in bed. With Darcy. Not only that, he wasn’t on his side of the mattress anymore. He was on hers .

He was pressed smack dab against her hip, their legs intertwined, which accounted for the sweat. Their shared body heat under this down comforter was bound to be a little hot to handle.

His arms were wrapped around her waist, his hands gripping handfuls of her t-shirt as his hips pressed flush against her.

“Good morning,” she murmured, turning slightly in his arms to face him.

His eyes flew open, locking on hers as they both stopped breathing.

She was gorgeous in the morning. With her face all clean and freckly. Why hadn’t he noticed those tiny freckles before? They dotted her nose and scattered sparsely over her cheeks, giving her skin the look of vanilla bean ice cream.

Her slate blue eyes never left his face, scanning it before returning her gaze to his own.

She licked her lips, a slight peek of pink tongue swiping over the apparently natural ruby-red before she spoke. “You know how people tell someone they clean up well?” her voice was low, so low only he could hear it.  A little hoarse in the back of her throat.

“Yeah?” he replied, his own voice just as raspy from sleep.

“You look just as good whether you’re cleaned up or not,” she whispered.

He blushed so hard, he could practically hear the blood rushing around in his head. “I do, huh?”

His gaze cut from hers to her earlobe, just because the heat from her eyes was almost too good.

“Did I embarrass you?” she asked, her fingers moving on his side.

He didn’t know how to answer her. It was a yes and a no. He didn’t remember what to do with the compliment, he didn’t have any kind of muscle memory for that. She’d complimented him before when they were Val and Jake, but this was different.

This was Bucky and Darcy . It was decidedly not playacting and that thought made him choke on the lump in his throat.

He coughed and shook his head. “Nah, not me, doll.”

She giggled a little and brought her hand up to cup his cheek. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. But you don’t seem to realize how incredibly bonkers-amazing your looks are. You are like out of this world crazy-hot. Someone should really tell you more often. I volunteer as tribute. You know.  If you’re looking for applicants.”

“That job doesn’t pay well,” he joked in reply. “I can only pay back with what I get in kind.”

“Sounds like a majorly more-than-decent salary,” she said softly. Her fingers were dragging in his beard. Scraping on his skin and making him want to turn into her touch. To purr out her name and nuzzle her neck.

But he didn’t. Not that he was lazy or anything, but his gaze had drifted back up from her earlobe to her eyes and now he felt stuck. Happily, wonderfully stuck in her affectionate gaze.

“You’re a great sleeping partner,” she said, her hand dropping down to his bicep, her thumb moving slowly back and forth over his sleeve’s hem.

“What?” he asked, laughing awkwardly at the thought of what the words ‘sleeping partner’ implied.

She cocked her head and flattened her lips. “Dude. You know what I meant. Bedfellow? Mattress buddy? Snooze pal?”

“Snore-mates?”

Snore-mates!” she repeated gleefully. “I want that on a t-shirt. I’ll have one made for you too.”

He was laughing again. Smiling wider than he used to, but his cheeks didn’t hurt as much. It was becoming a habit with Darcy. To smile and laugh more.

As the laughter dipped off, though… the mood in the room changed. The term ‘sleeping partner’ reappeared in his head. Darcy as a sleeping partner. As a partner. Sleeping together. In bed.

An image of those brown curls cascading over the pillowcase like a ray of sunshine over her head suddenly appeared in his mind’s eye. Her eyes closed, but mouth open, hands grasping him as he rocked into her.

He swallowed thickly, gasping for breath as she made the first move.

Her lips found his in a flurry of movement that ceased the second they touched. It was almost like they were both scrambling for each other, only to be stricken immobile by the actuality of their desire.

Bucky’s body felt taut as a pulled bow, curling around her like he was, terrified to apply too much pressure on any part of her.

On the contrary to him, Darcy felt relaxed and flowed easily around all his hard edges, painting him in a more gentle color that made him all the more scared to ruin the moment.

And then she bit down on his bottom lip.

A sharp burst of pain followed by rapture and still more gnawing desire.

Bucky made a sound in the back of his throat. A muffled whimper of divine frustration. A moan of pleasure.

She ran her tongue over the spot she’d bitten and he melted in her arms, every ounce of tension leaving him as Darcy’s nimble tongue plundered his mouth. God, she was perfect.

Utterly perfect.

He tilted his head slightly, taking back a bit more control of the kiss and was rewarded for his sudden show of dominance by Darcy’s body arching closer to his, her hips melding to his front and her arms clinging to his shoulders for dear life before sliding up and around them, fingers finding his hair and tugging.

The action held him in place, for the time being, held him fast against her while his brain short-circuited, leaving him a nuzzling, moaning mess in her arms.

Darcy’s lips moved over his, and he was amazed at how quickly his body filled in the blanks and had picked up the slack from his brain’s definite shutdown. He tilted his head, their lips making a soft sucking sound as he brought one leg up over her hip and rocked against her, his body seemingly on auto-pilot and looking for a release for some of its tension.

And despite how taut and rigid he’d felt earlier, he wasn’t referring to his shoulders. He was absolutely loosey-goosey in that department. He was loosey-goosey everywhere except for one place. The one currently rutting against Darcy’s softness like it was born to do it.

His member was throbbing, finding no relief from his hips’ relentless cantor, but it felt good regardless. Darcy whimpered in his arms and he froze, swallowing thickly as he tore his mouth away from hers, fear clouding his field of vision and dropping off like it had run out of juice.

“Buck… are you--”

“I’m… so… so sorry,” he stammered, quickly removing his leg from atop her hip. His hands dropped from her waist immediately.

“What? Bucky? No, I wasn’t--” Darcy reached for him as he slid out of bed and skittered like a spider into the bathroom.

He didn’t, or at least refused to, hear the rest of her protestations because he’d turned on the water. Hot. And then thought better of it.

A cold shower was what he needed.

Cold, cold, cold.

 


Darcy


When Bucky left the bed, she felt cold. Not physically, not yet at least --dude had a lot of body heat, and he left some behind when he quickly slid from the warmth of the blankets and towards the bathroom. The cold she felt was more like the lack of someone. Not loneliness, but something very close.

Darcy also felt confused.

He’d just been rutting against her side, for crying out loud! (And for lack of a more romantic way to describe it.) Kissing her lips and rocking his hips against her in a way that showed exactly how much he wanted her.

So how was he gone now? Shower running and her with practical whiplash from how quickly he’d yanked himself from the bed?  Had she missed some sign? Misread something?

Darcy rolled over to one side, taking her pillow with her as she glared at the nightstand and tried to run over the events of the previous few days.

First off, they’d kissed. That had happened . That was a thing that they did now. Bucky and Darcy, not Jake and Valerie, which was an important distinction. Jake and Valerie kissed a helluva lot when other people were around.  Bucky and Darcy only kissed when the doors were closed. And the doors were hella closed right now. They were alone , alone.

And pardon her whining, but it had been a while since she’d been alone , alone with a guy.

It’d been a while since she had wanted to be alone , alone with a guy. And the first time she’d just relaxed into it and let it happen, he went skulking from the bed just when they were getting to the good part.

Darcy took her bottom lip between her teeth, feeling the subtle ache both there and other places. The ache that came with that cold feeling of being distinctly without the person who’d put the warmth there in the first place.

She was getting sidetracked. Dumb hormones.

Okay, so they kissed for realsies. And he’d agreed to share the bed. They’d actual facts slept. The best night’s sleep Bucky’d had in a while , according to him. Then, she kissed him. He kissed her, it was kind of a mutual attack of the lips.

And they weren’t on an uncomfortable sofa with Bowie staring them down, so they’d kind of just went with it.

He’d slung his leg over her hips and ground his erection against her thigh. That wasn’t something he’d done under duress, it was something he’d done in abandon.

And Bucky didn’t like losing control.

Boom. That was it.

She’d made him feel out of control, so he’d quickly grabbed the reigns back.

It made sense. It made all the sense.  Bucky only knew of bad things that happened when he lost command of himself, let his body do what it wanted to do naturally, but even though the brainwashing, the rewiring, whatever it was called on any given day, was gone, he still didn’t like the feeling.

Darcy exhaled deeply.

It wasn’t anything she’d done wrong. It wasn’t anything about her. This was a Bucky problem. It didn’t relieve her in the slightest, because at least if it had been a Darcy problem, she could have fixed it.

A Bucky problem was much more complicated to tackle. But if Darcy was good at anything, it was complicated problems.

The only thing she had to do was to test the waters and see if Bucky was willing to talk about it.

Talking. Blegh. She’d rather just kiss him until his head popped off and all his problems somehow solved themselves, but both of them were too messed up for kissing or canoodling to be of any help at all.

The shower stopped in the bathroom, the pipes groaned slightly, and she heard the shower curtain being pulled back. A few moments later, and Bucky emerged with wet hair and a towel around his shoulders to stop the drips. He had on his pajamas from before. “Hey…” he said, apparently surprised to find her still there in bed. “I’m… uh… gonna go for a run. If that’s okay.”

He walked over to his dresser and rummaged around in one of the drawers, coming back with something that was either black or very dark gray. Jogging pants, most likely.

Avoidance. Lovely. Maybe they weren’t back at square one, but they were back at least one or two. He’d just come out of the shower, and now he was going to run? Yeah. Awesome. That makes all the sense in the world, James.

“Okay… I could come with you if you’ll give me a second to get dressed.”

He pursed his lips, stopping at the door with his hand on the knob. “If it’s okay with you, I’d rather do this alone, I have some thinking to do.”

“Okay…” she repeated slowly, looking down at the two bumps at the bottom of the bed. Her feet. “Don’t forget to wear a hoodie. And gloves.”

“Darcy, it’s not… you didn’t do anything wrong, okay?”

“Oh, I know,” she replied, looking up to catch his eyes. To challenge him. “I know that.”

“I just, I gotta think.”

“Well, if you gotta talk, you know where to find me,” she said, pulling back the blanket and swinging her legs over onto the floor. “I’ll be waiting for the hot water to come back…”

“Oh, I didn’t use any,” he said, drumming his fingers on the doorframe before ducking out of the room.

He didn’t use any hot water in his shower. Darcy knew what that meant.

She smirked a little at the empty doorframe.

So he really was that into her.

 


Rollins


“More coffee, hun?”

The waitress was ancient. She was wearing eyeglasses but judging by how she had to hold her pad flush against her nose to be able to make out what she’d scratched onto it, Jack figured she probably wasn’t going to be able to pick him out of any lineups.  That, plus how the cook was clearly past caring about his clientele, gave Jack the assurance that he was fine to eat here. Fine to set up camp for a bit.

“No thanks, Edna,” he said, altering his voice a little just to be safe. He sounded a little higher pitched. A touch happier than he usually was.

He used her name because it made her smile. Not that it was a nice smile, but he knew that building a rapport with people made them less likely to turn on you.  Not in time to do anything about it, anyway.

“Suit yourself,” she said, carrying the carafe with her as she sauntered around the counter to plop herself and her varicose veins onto a stool for a rest.

The ten dollar bill he placed on the end of the table was a small part of the sum he had folded into his wallet. It was all he felt comfortable taking from his wife while she was out of the house.

She hadn’t called the cops. If she had, they'd be bearing down on him. And they weren’t.

Nice to know Lauren was bluffing.

He’d snuck back into the house while she was at work and taken a small amount of cash from the safe in the closet. Not even a drop in the pan compared to the amount she had stashed in there. She wouldn’t miss what he’d taken for weeks to come.

He really couldn’t afford to eat at diners like this, but it was either this or eat a ham sandwich at the park. The diner and the park were the only two places within view of his current target. People were starting to give him weird looks at the park, so he needed to switch up his routine.

And it was easier to get left alone at the diner. Where the only customers were as ancient and Done as the employees. Everyone left him alone and let him read his magazine.

He was actually sick of reading the article now, so he kept to the pictures.

Pictures of Barnes and his little woman.  Valerie, the article said. But he’d eat his hat if that was her real name.

Because Barnes’ name sure as hell wasn’t Jake. And he sure as hell didn’t deserve a cushy life upstate while the rest of them had to scramble like dogs for everything.

Jack’d find him if it was the last thing he did. It might very well be, but he was well past caring.

SHIELD had quite a few safe houses scattered around. A few of them were even upstate, in the area indicated by the article. it was the perfect place to hide people. Suburbs and soccer moms as far as the eye could see. Everyone was either stuck too far up their own ass or too drunk from wine o’clock to pay much attention to their new neighbors.

Jack could have just headed to the general area and gone from safe house to safe house until he found Barnes and his little woman, but that would mean he’d run the risk of setting some of the other folks under SHIELD’s protection--and by extension--SHIELD, on his trail every time he guessed wrong. While the organization likely knew he’d broken out of prison, they didn’t know where he was headed. Well, not really. They likely thought he’d be setting his sights on Rogers. If he showed up on someone’s radar around Schenectady, SHIELD would extract Barnes and his window would close.

It was why he needed to do more research.

He cut his eyes over across the street to where his current target lay.  A business, not a person this time. Jack watched as the patrons milled around inside the internet cafe that old Edna claimed was cutting into their business.  In Jack’s opinion, this old diner hadn’t had much business since the sixties, when Jello Pie was still the height of sophistication, but he didn’t share that with anyone here.

Not to mention that internet cafes went out with wifi, but this town still had one, so he wasn’t about to judge. It was somewhere he could potentially go that wasn’t the library, where he could be recognized by a nosy librarian or some snot-nosed kid whose parents watched CNN.

He’d been watching it for about a week, trying to find some kind of pattern and choose a time when there would be few patrons.

There was a big flux around ten in the morning, but besides that, he couldn’t really pinpoint any real pattern. He figured as long as he didn’t go during that ten a.m rush, he was golden.

He closed the magazine, rolling it up and jamming it into his back pocket. He didn’t really need it now. He’d memorized the infuriating article, along with all the pictures included.

But there was one in particular that struck him.  Because while the article’s facts were scant, it didn’t mention where the happy couple had settled down, other than the cryptic ‘upstate’... he had noticed a picture depicting a flower bed where Valerie had been overwintering her bulbs.

In the picture was a bird. He didn’t know much about birds, but he figured it was the only clue he had, so he might as well follow it.

He entered the cafe, nodding to the person behind the counter, and ordering a large black coffee.

He made his way to the computer, sitting down in front of it and quickly clicking the mouse to the browser.

Two cups of coffee later and he had a name for the bird.

A Northern Piliated Woodpecker.  The second largest woodpecker in the States. And it preferred hardwood forests.

And if “Jake” and “Valerie” were in upstate New York, well then. That narrowed it down considerably.

He only knew of one New York safe house that was relatively close to a hardwood forest. And it wasn’t a house. It was more like a neighborhood. Which made things infinitely more complicated.

Back in his time, the cul-de-sac had been filled with people from the white collar sector. People who had seen too much and needed a new identity. No agents, and certainly no one as dangerous as Barnes.

It might have changed since he’d been in prison, but he still knew where it was. It couldn’t harm anything to just have a look.  A tiny peek.

And if he saw Barnes, well.  He’d make it quick. Messy, but quick.

After that, it wouldn’t matter anyway. He’d have Rogers right where he wanted him.

Chapter Text

Darcy


 

Darcy took a shower after Bucky’d ducked from the room.  He was right; the hot water was perfectly intact. So, even though she only took a quick shower, it was a hot one.

She washed her hair, so it was sopping wet when she stepped out onto the bath mat, deciding to just plop the whole wet mess into her microfiber version of a Turbie Twist and leave it alone.  The one thing she felt like doing the least was messing with the hairdryer and diffuser today. And she felt even less like straightening it.

Darcy dressed in loungewear before padding out to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.  She thought about taking a few pics of her breakfast, but then thought better of it when she’d practically eaten her toast and jam down to the crumbs while trying to figure out the best angle.

Bowie had finished his own morning meal and had hopped up in the chair opposite hers: the one she had her feet propped in. He nudged her toes until she dropped them to the floor so he could stretch out on the seat. As much as she loved him, he was kind of pushy for a cat. If she could have kept her feet up, she probably would have procrastinated on the rest of her morning and lapsed into her least favorite game: “Maybe I’m born with it, Maybe Anxiety” instead of cleaning up.

Either way, she was up and rinsing off her dishes when Bucky tromped in through the back door.

She glanced back at him in alarm, wondering if it was possible to reach up and remove the thing on her head or if she might as well leave it up there because it was too late to hide it.

She opted for the latter and waved hello to him. “There’s coffee.”

“Cool.  I just…” he was standing there awkwardly, sweat dripping down his temples and bouncing on the toes of his running shoes and looking very much like he wished he’d come in through the front door.

“Need to take another shower?” she asked, smirking a little when he nodded. “Go then. Should be hot water left, I took a short one.”

He nodded his thanks and left the room, feet creaking on the old floorboards as Darcy left the dishes in the sink and went out to the living room to turn on the TV just to have something to stare at.  She loosened the microfiber from the back of her head and allowed her damp curls to tumble down her shoulders. She reached up to loosen the wet hair from her scalp but refrained from touching it more than that, resorting to twisting the damp cloth in her hands nervously while she stared at what was on the TV.  

She couldn’t describe the plot of the show to anyone. Hell, she didn't even know what channel was on, her thoughts were too deep in how she was going to talk to Bucky.

Because they had to talk, right? They couldn’t ‘just leave this hanging out there forever, right?

Well, they could. They definitely could, but it wasn’t ideal. Not if she wanted to not only live with the man but maybe something a little bit more too?

Her legs bounced as she heard the water pipes cease their rushing. It was only a few more minutes before Bucky appeared in the doorway behind her, all toweled off and smelling like soap.

He breezed past her, walking on towards the kitchen, and she knew she was going to have to follow him if she wanted to talk about The Thing.

The Thing that had totally happened. The Thing they couldn't ignore anymore.

She was about to do just that when he reappeared in the kitchen doorway seconds later. “I’m coming back out there, I just need to get coffee first.”

Her lips kind of quirked upwards as she kept on staring at the screen, pretending she wasn’t absolutely thrilled beyond whatever at his words.

He sat down on the couch next to her moments later, still smelling of soap, but also now of coffee while sipping at his mug. “Whatcha watching?”

“I have no idea,” she replied truthfully.

“So you won’t mind if we turn it off?” he asked hopefully.

She hit the power button on the remote herself and turned to face him. “I was going to suggest that, actually.”

They sat in silence for a few long moments before Darcy broke it. “So… elephant in the room, this morning happened.”

“Yeah…” Bucky said, chuckling nervously as he fiddled with the outside hems of his pants. They were still jogging pants, but a different pair. Navy blue. “This morning happened…”

“I, um… want you to know that I don’t… I don’t want you to do anything you’re not comfortable with.” Darcy said bluntly.  “That’s not… It’s not why I’m here for this. Like… It’s not…”

“Darcy, the reason you’re here is to help me… and I feel like I’ve totally taken advantage of that--”

“Okay, not to interrupt your moment here, but first off, totally not what I meant by ‘here for this’.  I meant ‘here for this’ like… here for this ,” she gestured towards him and more specifically his body, hoping that he could get with the program from the tone of her voice. Because while Darcy totally could wax poetic about his abs, she hoped she wouldn’t have to. She was awkward as fuck. “And secondly, I’m not just here to help you. I’m here for my own selfish reasons too.”

Bucky exhaled and extended his hand over to her, fingers outstretched Darcy quickly placed hers in his palm, interlocking their fingers. “I meant, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. Don’t argue with me just yet, because no offense, but I don’t think lying on your lifestyle blog is reason enough to go into witness protection. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong…” he smirked slightly and Darcy couldn’t help but return the expression.

“Yeah, okay. I concede the point,” she replied.

“So you see my issue, right? You’re here because of me. And if we start something up… it gives me an unfair advantage. Like, this wasn’t planned, you know? It’s not why I picked you.”

“But we’re living as husband and wife. The thought must have crossed your mind at some point in time, Buck.”

“Well… yeah, but that’s not why you were chosen, Darce. I chose you because I got along with you. Not because I was sweet on you. This wasn’t some kind of lonely hearts singles set up. This was something SHIELD set up and it’s like… it’s like work, you know?”

“Yeah, I know,” she said, squeezing his hand. “But listen. I’ve dated people I’ve worked with before. You’re not my boss. And I’m not yours. There’s no unfair exchange of power. We’re in this together.”

“You’re not an agent, though.”

“Neither are you,” she countered.

“No, but I sure as hell know how to behave myself.”

“So do I.  You can’t honestly think I do this with everyone I come in contact with, can you? I worked with Thor before, dude. No offense, but Thor is mighty fine . And I was fully able to keep my hands to myself.”

Bucky’s smile was contagious, transferring itself to Darcy’s lips as he laughed. “I’ve never met the guy, but I saw footage…” He trailed off with a soft shrug. “So noted.”

“What I’m saying is, I like you , Bucky. I like you a lot. I haven’t dated or even come close to dating anyone in years. I made a careful choice, okay?”

“I didn’t make a choice, though,” Bucky murmured softly. “I fell head over heels, doll. No holds barred. I couldn’t stop, even if I wanted to. Which I don’t.  But I can’t rush it… I don’t want to rush things.”

“That’s fine,” she said, smoothing her thumb over the back of his hand. “I just don’t want you thinking you coerced me into what we did this morning. I liked it. And I was very welcoming of more. Just so you know.”

“I’m very welcoming of more…” he said, hesitating.  “But I don’t know how much more I’m ready for.”

“Let’s just play it by ear, then, okay? I know we’re technically ‘married’, but that’s just work, you know?  This is our time. Let’s make it last, yeah?”

He didn’t answer, but he did nod.

Darcy gave his hand a final squeeze. “I’ll put it in your hands, okay? I trust you.”

“Hands plural?” he asked, voice wavering a little as he flexed his cybernetic one.  I.E the one that could definitely kill her. The thought seemed crazy to her. Could maybe , but would never.

“Hands plural,” she replied. “Both hands, your head, your heart, your very muscular thighs, the whole package, Barnes.”

She pushed forward off the couch and she heard Bowie’s bell jingle as he jumped off the back of it to the floor. She sighed inwardly at their little peanut gallery audience. “Listen, I’m gonna go prep the photos for the craft post I’ve been putting off, okay?  I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

She flashed him a genuine smile at the doorway before leaving. His eyes were glued to her like he wanted to ask her not to leave.

But he didn’t ask, so she left, walked back into the other room to prep the first photo. He said he needed time.

He’d ask when he was ready.

 


 

 

Darcy spread out the fabric onto the floor in the sunlight by the window.

She was going to try her hand at some no-sew curtains. Just panels for the front room, because she was sick of the light canceling black ones she had up there. She wanted a pop of color in the living room. Especially now that Bucky wasn’t going to be sleeping out there.

Down with the utilitarian look.

There were some clearance target paisley sheets in her craft bin that she hadn’t used for any other projects, so she figured this was as good as anything.  Darcy was trying to figure out the best way to get them through the rod when it suddenly occurred to her: iron-on adhesive! The only problem was, she would have to run out to her storage closet in the living room to find some.

She stood and turned, running directly into Bucky, who had definitely snuck up on her, because she hadn’t heard him walking.

“Oof…” she reached out to steady herself, her hands coming to rest on his chest. “Buck? Do I need to get you a bell like the one Bowie has?”

“Sorry, I tried to make the floor creak, but you were deep in thought, it looked like…” His hands tightened on her waist, holding her fast to his front. “Just wanted to…” He didn’t finish his sentence, just pulled her close, his lips pressing softly against hers.

She leaned into the kiss, tilting her head to deepen it, surprised when she felt the brush of his tongue against hers.

She hummed, breaking off the kiss for a long moment to savor it. “What was that for?”

“Thought maybe we could pick up where we left off this morning…” he murmured, kissing her once again. “If you want, I mean.”

“If I want? Of course, I want,” she exclaimed. “If you knew everything I wanted, your head would be spinning… except… I thought you needed time?”

“Looks like all I need is you,” he murmured.

“You sure about that?”

“So sure. If you can trust me, I can trust me too.”

Darcy leaned over to kiss him once more, feeling the hard press of his hips as he seemingly tried to jump into her skin with her, occupy the same space. She oddly knew the feeling. Knew that longing, because no matter how she turned her head, she couldn’t get close enough. Couldn’t quell the ache between her legs.

The only thing that even came close to satiating it was hopping up on his front, thrilling a little when his strong arms held her weight, encouraging her legs to wrap around his waist. Far be it for Darcy to question anything that felt that good.

Bucky didn’t stop kissing her as he moved them slowly back to the bedroom. When she dragged her teeth over his lower lip, he had to stop walking, mere inches from the door to press her against the wall. She could feel every rigid inch of him rocking into the crook of her thigh as he moaned softly in her ear.

“I love when you do that,” he whispered.

“What? Bite you?”

“Doesn’t hurt like bites do,” he teased. “Must be little nibbles…”

She kissed her way along his jaw, giggling a little at the way he froze when she softly sucked on his earlobe. The sound he made when she dragged her teeth over it.

“Want you,” he rasped. “Wanted you this morning… fuck, Darcy…”

“I take it the cold shower didn’t work.”

“No. And the hot one just made it worse… Seeing you there in the kitchen afterward didn’t help either.”

“I had a towel on my hair,” she laughed.

“Somehow, it doesn’t stop me from thinking all these bad thoughts about you…”

“Who says they’re bad?” she asked.

“My priest back home might have had something to say about them.”

“Pretty sure that guy’s long dead,” Darcy whispered. “And I’m also pretty sure you’re not practicing anymore.”

“Pretty sure you’re right,” he countered, shifting his weight back from the wall before kicking open the already-ajar door.

The door bounced against the wall behind it, hardly noticed by them as they made their way across the floor. Darcy squealed when Bucky let her slide down his front and onto the bed, reaching for the hem of her t-shirt.

He peeled the garment up and over her head, tossing it aside and biting his bottom lip at the sight of her topless. Her decision to not wear a bra was a good one, it seemed.

Darcy, in turn, slid both hands under his shirt and pushed it up and off. It landed somewhere on the floor. She didn’t care where. Because Bucky’s chest was… hot damn .

She let out a ragged breath and reached for him, sliding her palm up the ridges of his stomach and up over his pecs. One hand smoothed over his shoulder, the other traced the angry ridge of flesh where his cybernetic arm connected with his body. He turned his head to watch as she trailed her fingertips down the shifting plates. She felt them buzz and hum as his arm moved.

“Can you feel that?” she whispered.

“Doll, I feel everything you do,” he answered.

She turned her attention back to his torso, bringing both hands up to glide over the skin there.

His skin felt invitingly warm, even as he shivered.. Or maybe that was her. They were both practically vibrating with anticipation.

She broke the spell by reaching down to tug at the drawstrings on his pants. “These glued on?”

“Not even close,” he replied, smirking and reaching for the waistband.

“Mine neither,” she said, pushing her own down over her hips. She kept on her panties. Not because she was a prude or anything, but she didn’t hook them with her pants, and Bucky’s were completely gone, so her brain kind of stuttered. Short-circuited. Whatever. Bucky took advantage, though.

His skin was even from his waist to his hip, save the stippling from scars that Darcy knew better than to ask about now. He had a little freckle there where his hipbone jutted out, and if Darcy wasn’t absolutely enthralled by the expanse of bare skin, she’d have spent more time memorizing it.

He was hard. Stiff.  Proudly so, as his member jutted out towards her, bouncing in the wake of his clothing that he was swiftly kicking off his feet.

Bending over her, his knee pressed between hers, so she leaned back on her elbows. A small, predatory smile tugged at his lips. The look traveled all the way up tohis eyes, which darkened considerably. “Wanna kiss you, doll.”

“I hope you’ll do more than that,” she teased. “We’ve done a lot of kissing.”

“Didn’t say where I wanted to kiss you,” he countered, grinning as he crawled up onto the bed. She felt his cock press against her thigh as he centered his mouth over one of her nipples. She went from semi-stiff to completely hard in his mouth. His hot tongue swirled over the tip and made her gasp out his name.

His hips canted softly against her thigh, rubbing his cock up and down her skin, leaving a wet trail wherever the tip touched.

Bucky made a soft sucking sound at her breast before releasing it with a pop.  His flesh hand cupped the other mound as his mouth went back to work on the one nearest.  His thumb and forefinger lightly pinched the sensitive peak, and his tongue began to stiffly flick against the one in his mouth.

“Oh…” Darcy whimpered, her hips thrusting up on their own accord, her body reacting to the stimuli on its own volition. Seeking out pleasurable friction in the one place he hadn’t touched her yet.

Her panties were in the way, but when she wrapped both legs around his waist, she shifted him over, slotting his cock right where she wanted it.

He was hot, almost too hot as he rocked gently, his shaft sliding over the lace of her underwear.

She could feel her wetness seeping through her panties and knew he could as well, but the most he did was release her breast and huff air over the quivering peak before switching to the other one to give it similar treatment.

She moaned and rocked herself against his body with abandon. Never enough to do more than tease, unfortunately.

“Want you,” she whispered, reaching down to tug ineffectually at her panties.

“Want you too,” he replied, groaning and resting his head against her breast. “I’m not gonna make it, Darce… I want you to feel good.”

“I do ,” she whispered, sighing with relief when he lifted his weight long enough to push her panties down her thighs and off her feet.

She spread her thighs and he held his cock in his hand. Pausing to stare down at her.

“I should get a condom…” he whispered, leaning down to kiss her lips before pushing off her.

“I’m on SHIELD field birth control,” she said. “Are you clean?”

“As a whistle. Just got checked out again before they sent us here…” he said.

“Same,” she replied, looking down to where he was squeezing the base of his cock.

Bucky pressed the head against her sex. “This okay?” he whispered.

“Oh gods, yes,” she agreed, allowing her head to fall back as he slid himself completely inside. The stretch burned but in the best possible way.

His brow knit, his eyes fluttering closed as he rocked forward. “Fuck…” he whispered, pulling back and repeating the action once. Twice. Three times.

He shifted backward and pulled out. Gripping the base and practically collapsing on her shoulder. “Goddamn, you feel so good, Darce. I can’t hold it off much longer… I’m not gonna make it, I’m sorry…”

“Hey, that’s okay…” she whispered. “I’m having fun, I promise.”

“Yeah, but ladies first,” he whispered hotly against her throat, sliding out of her

“I think ladies first went out with chivalry.”

“It’s time it made a comeback then… pun intended.” Bucky smirked and pushed up on his hands, bending at the waist and moving down to kneel between her legs.

The first brush of his tongue felt almost electric.

Yeah, Darcy had taken things into her own hands and vibrator on more than one occasion, but seriously. Dude knew what he was doing. Or at least had a good enough idea to guess.

He ran the flat of his tongue over her clit, wriggling the tip just enough to make her sigh out his name.

James …”

She wasn’t sure what possessed her to use that name, but he really seemed to like it. Liked the sound of his first name on her lips as he pleased her over and over. His hands ran up the backs of her thighs, squeezing her ass cheeks to raise her up off the bed a little.

He hummed against her, the soft sound reverberating down his tongue. Through his lips as he softly sucked at her slick skin.

Every touch felt electrified with his desire. His pleasure. His need to hear hers.

Darcy’s hands gripped the sheet beneath her, but with every swipe of his tongue, her thighs clenched. He coaxed her legs up over his shoulders, damn nearly bending her in half as he chased her orgasm with rhythmic flicks of his tongue.

When she came, her thighs started to shake. Started to tighten around the sides of his head to the point where Darcy was half-scared she was going to hurt him.  But he came up grinning, licking his lips and kissing his way up her torso.

“Did I do good?” he asked, a smile obvious in his teasing tone.

“Fuck yes,” Darcy said, reaching for him and pulling him close.

Her body was still pulsing with aftershocks as she rolled him over onto his back.  His cock was still hard, fluid leaking copiously from the tip as she centered herself over his hips.

She pushed her hair back from her eyes and his gaze locked onto hers. Darcy grinned a little, rolling her hips so she could grind against his erection. His lips parted, but no sound escaped as she reached down between her thighs to reposition him against her opening.

He slid in with no resistance, a silent gasp forming on his lips as his hands both gripped her hips and held her in place.

She swirled her hips in a tight circle while he held her there, likely trying to get used to the feeling of her.

She could feel it with every small movement in her hips. He’d do nicely. His length was substantial enough that he could brush against her g-spot when she leaned forward on her hands. That was also the position where she could rub her clit against him as well, but seeing as things were a little sensitive there, she arched her back and tossed her hair over her shoulders. Might as well give him a little show.

His hands loosened on her hips and she rose up.  Not enough to disengage him, but enough that when she dropped back down, he moaned.

She felt one hand, his cybernetic one, trail up her belly and between her breasts as she moved. Both breasts bounced with the motion, and every time she found herself seated against his hips, he was moaning.

His palm flattened against her breastbone and she reached down, wrapping both hands around his forearm to steady her for something a bit harder.

“Darcy,” he whimpered. “M’ close.”

“Good,” she replied, exhaling in what she hoped was sexy and breathy. Her hands gripped his cybernetic arm as she rocked. Canted. Fucked herself down on him. “Want you to feel good. James .”

He stopped her seconds later, hips stuttering as his face crumpled into what could only be described as pleasure. He looked beautiful when he came, his brow knitting as his eyes flew open, his breath rasping up towards the ceiling.

She could feel him, hot and wet, throbbing inside her. All the while, her walls gripped his pulsing cock, not letting it go for anything.

When he had finished, he slipped both arms around her waist and up her back. She bent forward and lay against his heaving chest, with him still inside her.

It was a few breaths before he spoke. “I promise next time, I’ll last longer.”

“I promise this time, was perfect,” she retorted.

He caressed her back with his fingers. “But still. Next time. It’ll last longer.”

“When’s next time?” She asked, turning to press kisses to his throat.

“In about five minutes if you keep that up.”

She hummed against his throat. “I can keep this up forever.”

He chuckled, his laugh echoing in the quiet bedroom. “I’ll give you a little longer than five to recover. But I’d love to do this again. Soon. Today. If you want.”

“Oh I think you already know how much I want,” she replied.

Chapter Text

Rollins


 

Jack didn’t recognize the house. There wasn’t a full picture of it in that magazine article. Probably for just this reason , he mused to himself. But he did identify a few other familiar things. The cat in the window. The flowers in the bed outside.

The woman with Barnes. A shapely brunette. She half skipped when she went out to get the mail in the mornings. So either she was very good at pretending to be a newlywed, or Barnes was actually playing the part.

Either way, it sucked for her, but hopefully, he wouldn’t have to blow Mr. Bananas’ brains all over her sponge-painted walls. And he wouldn’t unless Rogers didn’t show.

But he couldn’t imagine a world where Rogers didn’t show up to save ‘his Bucky’.

Jack hid in a well-placed patch of bushes located in a tiny, but empty lot across the street from Bucky’s place. The neighborhood was a cul-de-sac, and apparently crawling with agents and undercovers. This place would be a gold mine if he was looking to make some bank off those schmucks still in prison.

But he wasn’t.

Truth be told, he just wanted the crack at Steve. Maybe scar up his pretty face before Fury unleashed his hellhounds to finish Rollins off.

He used the cover of twilight to sneak closer to the small house, guesstimating from his window peering that there were four, maybe five rooms in the whole thing. Not much cover for him to hide in. But it looked like there was at least a storage crawlspace in the attic. Vented, but not climate controlled.

Which, whatever. He’d literally crawled through a sewage pipe to get here, he could spend a few days in an attic crawl space to wait for the perfect time to pounce.

The entrance was through a tiny hole in the ceiling of the bedroom closet. Easy enough to sneak into if he was careful and quiet. Provided the lovely couple was out in the kitchen.

A quick peek through the blinds told him that Barnes and his ‘wife’ were indeed in the kitchen. Pots were on the stove, and Barnes had his arms around her waist. His mouth was super busy. Hopefully, that enhanced hearing of his was also tuned into Wifey. Rollins didn’t want a surprise fight with the Winter Soldier before he was prepared.

If the location of Barnes’ lips was to be trusted, it appeared Rollins’ previous hunch was correct. Which gave him more ammunition. Instead of gunning directly for Barnes, he could grab the likely much easier target, the wife. It meant a longer chain reaction to get to Steve, but he didn’t really care. As he said, he could wait.

In a squatting position and crouched low to stay below the window line, Jack made his way around the back of the small house towards the bedroom window. He turned a corner, ready to begin the process of gently breaking in, but instead, had to flatten himself against the tiny shrub because a couple was making their way up the walkway.

Some blonde woman and a brown-haired man. He didn’t get a good look at either of them, but her voice sounded slightly familiar when she ducked around the side of the house.

“I’m just checking, Hunter. I thought I heard something.”

Hunter? Jack didn’t know that name. He was probably just imagining things. She could maybe have passed for Lauren with a more neutral accent. Maybe he was just wishful thinking.

“Just come on, B. We’re already interrupting their dinner, you want to spy on them too?” His voice was hushed. And British. It definitely didn’t ring any bells.

Plus, the woman left soon enough, walking round to the front door with the man and ringing the doorbell.

Jack decided not to loiter in his current position any longer. He could sneak in another time. When there weren’t any nosey neighbors sniffing around.

 


Darcy


 

The doorbell couldn’t have rung at a less opportune time.

Bucky had just worked his hand down the front of her jeans, and Darcy was gasping out her pleasure into his mouth when the awful chimes echoed in the house.

She sighed and glanced over at the stove, where her pasta had boiled away to practically nothing while Bucky was kissing his way into her pants. Somewhat literally, given the ‘sweet nothings’ he was whispering in her ear about wanting her to climb him like a tree so he could put his mouth to some use.

It was an alluring thought. It also played into her newfound fetish with James Buchanan Barnes’ arms. Not a cybernetic arm kink at all, just a desire to be lifted and placed in the positions he chose. It was a strictly ‘Bucky’ kink, now that she was thinking about it.

She exhaled loudly. They really needed to figure out a way to keep their hands off each other. At least during the day. Because interruptions like this seemed to happen more often than they didn’t.

Or maybe this entire neighborhood just didn’t realize how sexually active newlyweds could be. Because honestly, this didn’t feel entirely excessive when you looked at it through that lens.

She had to laugh because this was the exact opposite problem they’d had at first. Now it was like they were making up for lost time.

“Just ignore it. Pretend we’re not home…” Bucky whispered, his lips brushing over her throat as his fingers began to wriggle in a very pleasing way, down into her panties.

It was tempting. Except the doorbell rang again.

“Let’s just see who it is,” she said, sighing heavily. “Maybe we can get rid of them quickly. But I actually do need to cook something. We need to eat, especially if we’re going to continue along the lines of what you started…” She gripped his wrist and tugged his hand from her pants.

He pouted in an overly dramatic fashion as he walked over to the sink to wash his hands.

She knew he was joking around, but she still wanted to kiss him.

“I’m gonna need a moment before I’m decent…” he said, gesturing down to the tented front of his trousers. “Like maybe three minutes or so?”

“I’ve gotcha covered,” Darcy replied. “Just… dump that pasta mess in that pot and soak it after so I can try again, okay?”

“Done and done,” Bucky replied, leaning over to kiss her lips before she left the room to answer the door.

She couldn’t help the wide grin that spread across her face when she scurried out to the living room. “Coming,” she called, looking down at her front to check really quickly to make sure she was decent. Her top and jeans looked fine, so she grabbed the door handle and tugged it open to reveal Nick and Barb on the other side.  The latter had her arm threaded through Nick’s and was waving with the opposite hand.

“Hey, you guys!” Darcy said, grinning widely. “How can I help you?”

“Is this a bad time?” Nick asked, looking nervously down at her shoes before his gaze jumped back up to her face.

“No?” Darcy said. “What’s up?”

She didn’t know why she’d answered that way. She could almost kick herself.

“Hot tubbing!” Barb exclaimed. “We just got ours set up, we’d love to have you and Jake over!” She reached up to brush her long blonde hair over her shoulder.

“Oh, that sounds amazing!” Darcy replied. “When do you want to--”

“Tonight,” Nick interrupted, apologizing after the fact.

“Nicky’s just excited to have couple-friends,” Barb gushed. “And tonight would be awesome, wouldn’t it?”

“Tonight? I…” Darcy trailed off, unable to think of anything they’d be doing. Other than banging on the kitchen counter. But she really couldn’t say that to these people. “I can’t think of anything else we’re doing!”

“Great! Nick will go on back to our place and fire up the tub. I’ll wait and walk over with you.” Barb practically pushed her way into the house and shooed Nick off in the opposite direction. “Take your time, babe, I want to see this kitty-cat!”

Bowie, henceforth known as the traitor, wound himself around Barb’s legs and purred when she knelt down to stroke his back. Darcy was at a loss for words as Nick turned to leave and Barb pushed the door closed behind him.  

“Oh, Val?” Barb said, gesturing to her own mouth with a knowing look on her face.

“What?” Darcy/Val asked, frowning as she brought her hand up to her own lips. “Oh!” she exclaimed, turning towards the decorative mirror on the wall across the room. Her red lipstick was smeared right across her face. “Oh geez…” She quickly walked over, rubbing at it with her fingertips until it was sufficiently clean. “I… geez. I’m sorry about that, I guess I--”

“It’s fine,” Barb said, effectively sweeping the comment under the rug. It was almost as if she had a script to follow or something because the next words out of her mouth were: “Such a lovely place you’ve got here, Val.” She smiled up at Darcy from the floor.

Darcy, once again, was at a loss for words. If she had her lipstick smeared from obvious making out in the kitchen, why would Barb insist that she and Bucky come over? Obviously, they were in the middle of something. “You know, if you and Nick want to wait and have us over another night, it would probably--”

“Nah, I think you should come over tonight,” Barb insisted.

Darcy opened and closed her mouth, feeling a little like a fish. A fish being railroaded, if that was a thing. Despite herself, she found her head nodding. “Thank you, Barb. I’ll be right back, I’ll just go grab Jake and let him know what’s up,” she said, smiling as she retreated to the kitchen.

Bucky was standing just inside, eyes wide and quizzical. “Hot tubbing? Are you serious?”

“Wow, eavesdrop much?”

“I eavesdrop because I care, Valerie . And I heard you trying to get out of it. What happened?”

“Well, I mean…” Darcy raised her arms in an over exaggerated shrug. “I don’t know. But why didn’t you tell me about the lipstick smear, huh?”

Maybe diverting the blame to him could also divert his attention.

“I didn’t notice,” he said absently. “It takes my brain a second to switch gears. But you… you signed us up for hot tubbing with Pushy Barb out there!”

“Well, I didn’t see you jumping in to fix it, so…”

“I could just go in there and tell her it’s our sex night.”

Darcy rolled her eyes. “Newlyweds don’t have a sex night.”

“Wrong, every night is sex night.”

She pressed her lips together to try to hold back a smile. “She’s the one who noticed my lipstick, so I don’t think that excuse is going to fly. She seemed pretty insistent. Maybe we put a pin in this, go hot tubbing and pick back up when we get back?  Unless it’s going to be too late then? Past your bedtime, Old Man?”

Bucky leaned closer and pressed his lips to hers, his tongue delving into her mouth only momentarily before he broke it off, much to her chagrin and disappointment. “Not on your life, Lewis.”

“Good, so go change into your trunks, I’ll be in there in a sec, okay?”

Darcy returned from the kitchen to find Barb peering at the living room window in a very peculiar way. She tilted her head to the side momentarily as Bucky bumped into her back.

Barb looked up and straightened. “You guys should go get changed, Bowie and I will wait out here…” She sat down on the sofa and pulled the traitorous Bowie into her lap. He purred and squeaked when she scratched behind his ears.

Darcy and Bucky left the room, walking back to the bedroom.

Bucky had a weird look on his face when the door shut behind them. “She’s weird.”

“Yeah, I know. Before, when she saw my lipstick, she pointed it out, but it was almost like an afterthought because she barreled on with the invitation. It was like she had a script or something.”

“Are we sure she doesn’t have a script, though?” he asked. “Because she’s super weird, Darcy. Why was she looking at our window like that? She’s got some kind of weird super villain vibe.”

Darcy rolled her eyes. “I think she’s just socially awkward, honestly.”

“No. You’re socially awkward. I’m socially stunted. She’s on this whole other wavelength.”

Darcy traipsed over to the chest of drawers to fish out a bikini.  “Just chill, Jakey-Bear. And get your trunks. And your glove thingie.”

“It only goes up to my shoulder, I might have to wear a shirt or something.”

Darcy sighed. “Well, I think the glove’s waterproof, isn’t it?”

“Not supposed to go swimming, so maybe I’ll keep it draped over your shoulder.”

“A whole evening with your arm around me? Yuck,” she deadpanned.

 


 

Barb wasn’t kidding when she said she was going to walk over with them. She linked her arms through both of theirs and practically dragged them down to her and Nick’s home.

Now that Bucky had said it, she was super in tune to Barb’s super-villain vibe. She really hoped they weren’t walking into a trap.

They stepped into the front room of a scarily immaculate home and out the back door again to the back porch. “Here we are!” Barb boomed as they turned towards the hot tub.

Darcy felt her feet skid to a halt as she saw who was there in the tub with Nick.

Fitz and Cameron.

Well, at least they knew she wasn’t a super villain. But the question remained. Were Fitz and Cameron a part of this? She had no clue, so she decided to try and salvage her reaction.

Bucky, for his part, seemed to take the revelation in stride, but Darcy was still pretty surprised to see the two of them there with Nick, and it showed on her face.

“Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting the hot tub to be so… big,” she said. “Big enough for six, at any rate…”

“Oh yeah, it’s super nice!” Barb replied, releasing their arms and walking towards the tub.

Darcy and Bucky slipped off their flip flops and joined them, sliding down into the hot water as Nick reached around the side and the bubbles came on.

It was loud, so she was surprised that once it was on, they all wanted to talk. At once.

“I know this isn’t the best way to do this, but I feel like we need to cut the pleasantries and just come out straight away with it,” Fitz began.

Darcy’s head was filled with both confusion and alarm. It must have been clear on her face because Bucky’s hand appeared in hers. He squeezed hard enough that she looked at him and he mouthed. “We’re fine.”

The action helped ground her and when she looked back up, all four of the others were peering at her, as if waiting to continue.

“Why are you--” she began slowly, but Fitz cut her off.

“I promise, we’ll have time for other questions later, Darling. Cam and I just need to get this info out in the open first.”

Cameron gestured to Nick and Barb. “These two have been undercover in the area for a while now, we keep them here to make sure the people in witness protection are safe, and that they maintain their covers around civilians... “ He trailed off for a moment. “I apologize for not telling you sooner, but their literal job is to make sure you keep up your covers. If you knew they knew who you were, you’d act differently around them.”

Darcy's heart leaped into her throat. “Did we… did I blow our cover?”

“No, no… no!” Fitz shook his head. “No, nothing like that.”

She relaxed a little, but Bucky hadn’t.

“Something else blew our cover?” he asked quietly.

“We’re getting there,” Cameron assured him. “But first, I feel you should meet Agents Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter. You knew them as Barb and Nick…”

Bobbi smiled, a much more subdued smile than the one Barb had if Darcy was being real. “Hi, there!” Her voice was slightly deeper too.

Lance put out his hand, which Bucky took immediately. “Lance Hunter, pleased to meet you.”

Darcy nearly jumped when she realized that Nick had a British accent. What the what.

“And we’re meeting the real agents now because…” Bucky asked.

“It’s been revealed to us that Jack Rollins has escaped prison,” Cameron said slowly. “And I know Bucky was acquainted with Rollins, a known Hydra agent from Rumlow’s STRIKE Team…  After Rumlow was blown up in Nigeria, Rollins was captured and placed in prison.”

“Okay, so he’s a Hydra goon previously incarcerated, but now he’s after Bucky?” Darcy asked, guessing from the given information they were attempting to spoon feed her. She wanted them to shove it down her throat and get to the really bad news already.

“He’s after Steve,” Fitz replied. “But he didn’t travel anywhere near any of Steve’s known whereabouts. Rollins visited his own wife and child, hopped a bus and wasn’t seen again.”

“Until he was,” Bucky supplied.

“We thought we’d lost sight of him until he was spotted at a bus depot near here. We have reason to think he’s figured out Bucky’s cover and is coming here to lure Steve out.  His beef’s with Steve. Not with Bucky.”

Darcy swallowed and stared down at the bubbling water. “So what does that mean?”

“It means we’ll have to extract you ASAP. Two days from now is the soonest we can manage without raising any alarms. You’ll have to abandon these IDs and pick new ones. Darcy may be able to reintegrate back into her old life, but Sergeant Barnes will have to assume a new one.”

Her heart, previously having leaped into her throat, plummeted. Along with her stomach and everything else. She’d only just found Bucky and now they were going to separate them?

She wanted to protest, but she couldn’t find the words. She definitely didn’t want to start crying in front of four super professional agents about something that amounted to a weeks-long relationship. Technically. Even though she felt they’d been circling this for a long ass time.

“Okay, I know it’s not the best thing, but that’s where we are. Bobbi’s going to take Darcy out tomorrow on a girls’ shopping trip and finalize the extraction orders. Bucky’s going to stay here and Lance, Fitz, and I will help him survey the neighborhood. We’ll find if there’s a hair out of place. There’s no reason to believe he’s already here.”

“Except that he is,” Bobbi said, looking every bit as annoyed with Cameron as she possibly could be.

“I know you have a hunch, but we can’t substantiate it without proof,” Fitz explained gently, in a tone that belied just how much they’d been explaining it lately.

“I think we should pull them out tonight,” Bobbi said.

“We can’t just yank them for no reason. The closest we can do with no proof is in two days. If we yank them now, it would put the entire neighborhood in jeopardy. I can concoct a back story about Valerie’s mother being sick and that’s why the two of them have to leave so soon, but I need two days to do it.”

Bobbi looked annoyed, but Darcy was kind of relieved. She’d at least have two days with him before he was yanked out and tossed somewhere else.

The revelations kind of put a damper on the hot tub festivities, but she did her best to keep up. She even choked down a bratwurst and some chips, finally feigning a headache to get herself and Bucky out and on their way home after about an hour had passed.

She was quiet when they went back into the house, closing and locking the door.  Bucky disappeared to do a quick scan of the rooms, even popping his head up into the attic crawlspace to check and make sure no one was up there.

While he was playing detective, Darcy was trying not to fall apart. Which was where he found her a few minutes later, on the couch with her face pressed into a throw pillow.

“Hey… hey, hey…” he said, sliding down beside her. His arm draped itself around her shoulder and she gladly turned towards him to sob into his bare chest instead. “Hey, don’t worry. Nothing bad’s going to happen.”

“Ha,” she laughed derisively. “Something bad already has happened. They’re taking me off this job and shipping you off to parts unknown. I won’t see you again. I won’t be able to talk to you. I only just found you and now you’re going away!” She dissolved into tears again and Bucky tightened his hold on her, his fingers trailing up and down her back.

“That’s not going to happen.”

“Yes it is, didn’t you hear Fitz?”

“We’ll find each other again. And in the meantime, you’re going to be safe. That’s all that matters, doll.”

“Not true. I won’t be with you.”

“The only other option is that we reveal our relationship. Our real relationship and you get lumped with me from now on. You’re lucky Bobbi didn’t say something just then since she apparently noticed.”

“You don’t want that?”

“This isn’t about what I want, it’s about what’s best and safest for you.”

“But what do you want?” she asked.

“Darcy, you know what I want.”

“No, I don’t. I really don’t.”

He leaned over, kissing her firmly and pulling her into his lap. “I want this. I want you with me. But I can’t ask that from you. Not after one week.”

“Oh bullshit, Barnes. This hasn’t been one week. We’ve been circling each other for like… forever.”

“Well, maybe everything will get settled soon, and we can pick right up where we…”

“Oh, my actual god. You don’t want me to come, is that it?”

“Darce.”

“You can’t wait for the extraction, can you?”

“Don’t you dare say that.”

She laughed harshly. “I see. So this is what? A way to warm your toes while we’re in witness protection? Might as well bang me since I’m the only one here?”

Bucky narrowed his eyes, looking very much like someone who was trying his damnedest to keep a situation calm and collected. Darcy knew damn well she was on thin ice. That she was baiting him. Not-so-passive aggressively trying to force his hand. He shook his head. “Darcy, I think we need to sleep on this.”

The calm part of her brain that thought that was a good idea had fucked off to parts unknown. Because her mouth was running sans filter. “Yeah. Sleep on it. Sleep out here, Buckaroo. Sleep and think long and hard about what you already know to be true. Think about how nice it’ll be to not have to--”

“Stop it!” he practically growled, his eyes narrowing so much they almost became slits. “None of that is true, and if you ever thought it actually was, I must not have done a very good job of loving you.” His words broke there at the end, his voice cracking with emotion as he pressed his hand over his mouth, breathing hard. “Goddamnit, Darcy. I don’t want to leave your side, but I would do anything to keep you safe. And you have to know what this would entail. Rollins is no joke, doll. He’s… he’s sadistic and he doesn’t think of very many people as actual humans. He looks at me as the Asset. He’d look at you as…” he trailed off. “He wouldn’t hold you in very high regard, I’ll just say that. I won’t ask you to do this.”

Tears pricked behind her eyelids. “Bucky, I’m sorry… I just… I don’t know what to do right now. Leaving you is unthinkable. I know you want me safe, but don’t you think that the safest place is with you?”

He didn’t answer, tears dripping from his eyes as his shoulders tensed and he stared down at the rug. He was silent for a long time before speaking. “I wouldn’t ask you--”

He kept saying that. “I know, I know. You wouldn’t ask.”

“I wouldn’t. I’d never ask you to give up your freedom for an undisclosed length of time..”

“I did this before. And last time it was my decision.”

“I know.”

“Mine.”

“I know .”

His blue eyes were dark, brimming with tears as he dropped his hand from his mouth. “It has to be your decision, Darce. I’ll respect it no matter what you choose. But you have to know that I never, ever used you. Please know that.” His hands reached for hers, gathering them up as he brought them to his face. He pressed kisses to the backs of them as he spoke. “I have enjoyed every second of our time together. Even before it turned into what it was. Or maybe it always was this and we were just kidding ourselves, I don’t know.” He brought both of her hands up and buried his face in them, his tears wet as she suddenly realized what was happening.

What this was.

He was in her hands. This , it was in her hands. Just like it always had been.

He was asking her to decide. It was the closest he’d ever get to ask her to stay.

“Buck, I’m going to ask them to keep me with you.”

“Even if you don’t know--”

“I didn’t know last time either.”

His shoulders sagged in relief and he took her hands from his face, leaning over to kiss her silly. “Oh fuck, Darce, I’m so happy. I didn’t… I didn’t want to ask. Didn’t want to make you feel like you owed it to me. I could get along without you, but fuck, I don’t want to.” HIs hand slid up the back of her neck and disappeared into her hair. He broke off the kiss only to stand and hoist her into his arms.

He carried her back to the bathroom and reached in to turn on the shower. She clung to him like she couldn’t bear to let go. And she really couldn’t. Couldn’t stand to be without him.

But he loosened his hold so she could stand on the tiled floor.

He tugged on the wet drawstrings of her string bikini and groaned loudly when each scrap of fabric fell away. She reached for the drawstring on his trunks as well. He peeled off his glove and his t-shirt, the clothes seeming to simply vanish as his eyes settled on hers, stalking closer until he could take her in his arms and into the shower.

He pulled her up on his front, her legs wrapping around his waist and resting in the dip of his lower back. The water gushed down lukewarm over them.

His lips were wet as he kissed her hard, pressed her back against the shower tiles like he was trying to slip into the space she occupied. “Fuck… Darcy… need you.“

She reached down to guide him into her. They were too far gone for foreplay, she needed to feel him inside her. Needed something tangible to hang onto, otherwise, she was liable to just float off into the sky. Her mouth fell open when he entered her, a raspy groan caught tight in her throat.

Her back was pressed hard against the wall behind them and he reached down to thumb over her clit.

“I don’t want to leave you,” Darcy whispered.

Bucky just whimpered against her throat as her pussy clenched around him. She could feel him mouthing words, but couldn’t quite hear them. Something told her he wouldn’t repeat any of it if she asked him, but she could feel the sentiment in every thrust of his hips.

“Don’t leave. Stay.  Stay… Stay with me…” the words were damn near inaudible, so she was just guessing.

“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” She gasped when he suddenly pulled out, choking out a cry as he wrapped his hand around his shaft and moved it up and down. He stepped back slightly, allowed her to drop her legs to the floor of the shower as he jerked through what seemed a violent orgasm. He’d no sooner finished than he was kneeling in front of her.

“Sorry… I…” he hooked one leg over his shoulder, nosing over her sex. “I wanted to do more…” He spread her lips and tongued over her clit, causing her to shiver. He never did get through that apology. Not verbally anyway.

Chapter Text

Darcy


Darcy wrapped her arms around her purse. More of a shoulder bag than anything else, but she’d kind of grown accustomed to it in college and when she was traveling with Jane.

God, what she wouldn’t give for ten minutes with her friend right now.

Her legs were bouncing and Bobbi had to notice how nervous she was. Right? She had to. She was trained in this kind of thing.

Bobbi’s lack of a response was almost more nerve-wracking than waiting for it.

They were in Bobbi’s (or Barb’s?) white SUV, at a red light in the larger of the two towns nearby, headed for the outdoor mall for some shopping-slash-debriefing.

“You gotta get that under control, Doodlebug,” Bobbi said suddenly, reaching up to adjust her super large, bug-like sunglasses. “I can feel your anxiety and it’s bumming me out.”

“Cut me a break,” Darcy replied. “Some psycho is after me.”

“After your boyfriend,” Bobbi said. “And no. I can’t cut you a break. You’re good enough at your job not to need one.”

“He’s my husband, technically.”

“No. Jake is Val’s husband. Barnes is your boyfriend.”

Darcy couldn’t see under her sunglasses, but given the tilt of her head, Bobbi had briefly turned to look at her. Knowingly, if she could venture a guess.

It didn’t matter. Darcy wasn’t impressed. She’d walked out to the living room with her lipstick smeared all over her face yesterday if that wasn’t the biggest giveaway of ever, she didn’t know what would be. “Oh my god,” Darcy deadpanned. “You’re so observant.” With a roll of her eyes, she continued. “Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick up on that bright red clue.”

“Well, first of all, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other if you and Barnes hook up. It worked for the cover, so no big deal. And, no. I’m not a rocket scientist. But I am a biologist. Or I was before I left the lab for field work.”

Darcy’s head turned abruptly. “No kidding? You were?”

Bobbi pressed her lips together and nodded. “Yup. What can I say? I have the degree and the brains, but I’m a terrible lab rat. Even before I met Lance, the thought of staying cooped up in the lab felt almost boring . So I kind of glomped onto him and never looked back. But my background in forensics has helped me on the new job, so it’s not like I’m wasting it.”

“Oh. So now what, you’re going to give me advice on uprooting my life for my dude? Is that it?” Darcy wasn’t sure why she was being so hostile, but the long conversations she had with Barb about essential oils seemed to explain it a little bit. How dare she be this cool, all the while pretending to be a dull drudge who tried like hell to sell her some lavender essential oil?

“No, I assume you’re a smart chickie and that you’ve got all that figured out. You guys seem close. I guess I’m rooting for you. I tried to get the two of you extracted last night if that helps.”

“It doesn’t. They would have split us up last night instead of tomorrow.”

“No. If they pull an emergency evac, they send you to the same place. New identities linked together. What can I say? I’m a softie. I wanted you guys to stick together. Also, I definitely saw Rollins casing your place, but Fitz and Cam seem to think the lack of proof keeps us from acting on it…”

She sounded genuine. Genuinely soft on her and Bucky, and genuinely pissed that Fitz and Cam wouldn’t listen to her advice.

“Where’d you see him?”

“Didn’t actually see him per se… But I heard him. He was circling your house yesterday. Probably going to try and sneak in.”

“But you didn’t see him.  Hence the zero proof.”

Bobbi pressed her lips together and nodded. “I can only hope he’s going to lay low for a few days until we can get you and Barnes out.”

“I’m going with him,’ Darcy said definitively. “With Bucky, I mean.”

“You’d better tell Fitz and Cam that. Not me. Before they make arrangements for something else.”

“Just tell me how.”

They pulled into the parking lot of the outdoor mall, right in front of what looked like an ammo store. “You know what? I’ll give them a call in a sec. First things first though. You need another taser. Something that can do some damage.”

Darcy was surprised. “You know about my taser?”

“Honey, everyone in SHIELD knows about your taser. And your goddamn iPod.” She grinned and stepped out, her Barb persona quickly settling into her step as she waited for Darcy to get out of the car.

Okay, so maybe she was warming up to Bobbi quicker than she thought she would.


 

Bucky


Darcy had been gone for most of the day. Bobbi had come to get her shortly after breakfast.  Afterward, Lance came over and the two of them gave the house another once over. They even crawled into the cobwebby space under the house and looked all around for evidence of tampering.

They found nothing. Genuinely nothing, which felt strange.

No fingerprints on the outsides of the windows. Not even his and Darcy’s.

It was weird, but there was no sign of any other person ever being in his home. At least, no one that surprised him.  His and Darcy’s prints were everywhere inside. Not a single hit for Rollins.

“Looks clean…” Lance stated with a shrug. “I know Bobbi heard something, but I couldn’t tell you what. It is very odd that there are no prints at all on the outside windows. Feels as if there should at least be yours and Darcy’s.”

Bucky didn’t say anything, simply folded his arms and looked around.

“She’s going to stay with you?” Lance asked.

Bucky narrowed his eyes a little. “Yeah?”

“I know it’s none of my business, but I’m glad. You guys seem…”

“You don’t really know us, though. Do you, Nick ?”

“You guys put up a good front, but it was obvious when the feelings became real,” Lance added. He shrugged. “I hope everything goes well for you.”

Bucky nodded. “Thanks. You too. You and… Bobbi.”

Lance cracked a smile that went away soon after it appeared. “C’mon, I think Fitz and Cam want us to help them search the neighborhood.”

“We’re just leaving the house here? In the open?”

“We’re just going to look across the backyards and in the empty lot. We’ll always be in sight of this place.”

“If you say so. I’d like to head back afterward, though. I think I’m going to fix dinner for Darce.”

“What are you cooking?” Lance asked as they headed out, his accent dropping as he seamlessly moved Nick again.

Bucky perked up a little too. Jake wasn’t as gruff as Bucky was.

“I dunno. Was thinking something off her blog?”

“Make sure it’s not the Vegan Tacos. Not that they weren’t good, but…”

“I was thinking something like Chicken Piccata. Val’s got this version on her blog that you can make with stuff that’s in the pantry already…” Bucky/Jake trailed off, smiling a little. “I know it sounds easy to make, so I figured even I couldn’t screw it up, you know?”

Nick smirked a little. “Barb says that she doesn’t believe anyone who says they can’t cook or follow a recipe. Every time she says that I threaten to make french toast again and she threatens divorce.”

Bucky chuckled at that. “I have to ask. What do you do to it?”

“It’s simultaneously burnt and raw in the middle. Barb says it’s because I turn the pan up too high.  But it takes so long waiting, and I never seem to learn from my mistakes… I do make a really good Caesar Salad, though.”

“That’s just chopping lettuce, right?”

“And that, will be exactly enough out of you, Mr. Larson,” Nick/Lance replied.


By the time Bucky got back to the house, it was nearly late afternoon, which left him just enough time to put on the water for the pasta and to start the chicken.

He silently hoped his near constant reaffirmation of the recipe details would pay off.

Once it was breaded and in the pan, the chicken popped a bit louder than he was expecting, and he ended up cooking with his metal arm so as not to do any permanent damage to his flesh one as the oil spat in the pan.

The pasta was done rather quickly and he whipped up a creamy garlic parm sauce in the leftover oil in the chicken skillet.  It came out a bit lumpy, but Darcy’s recipe helped immensely. He tossed the pasta in the sauce and topped each plate with a piece of chicken.

It was near-perfect timing. He set the plates on the table and the front door opened, Darcy stepping inside with two armloads of bags.

“Ooo boy, it smells good in here…” she exclaimed, grinning widely as Bucky leaned against the kitchen doorway, a towel draped over his arm.

“I figured it should. I made you dinner.”

“No shit, really?”

“I made chicken piccata and creamy garlic pasta on the side. Got the recipes from your blog. Happy to say, they scan. I made dinner from raw chicken, so…”

“Aren’t you just the sweetest hubby of ever?” she teased, holding out her arm and the bags contained upon it. “Do you mind helping me out one more time and taking these to the back room?”

“What’s in these?” he asked.

“Clothes”, she replied, grinning. “Is dinner actually ready? Because I’m starving.”

He had a sneaking suspicion that there was more than clothing in here, but he didn’t voice it.


Darcy


She didn’t mention the taser. Didn’t want to alarm him. But it was currently hidden in a pile of towels from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  The towels themselves were stark white and on clearance. She planned on tie-dying them for shits and giggles the following summer.

There were also some rather racy purchases from a lingerie store that Bobbi might have cheered her into buying. They were a little more revealing than she usually went for. A little more lace and satin, too, but she figured Bucky might like them. Maybe. Possibly. Fuck, she hoped he liked them.

But there would be plenty of time after dinner to reveal her purchases. Right now, she was starving.

The meal was actually delicious. Bucky had done very well. From the first bite, she moaned in pure chickeny ecstasy. Not only was he gorgeous and godlike in bed, and cleaned the house, but he could cook too? Yes please.

Of course, it felt like everything this man did gave her some tiny bit of pleasure.

Or a lot. Lots of pleasure.

She had that thought after the food was gone and the plates were cleared. When he lifted her up onto the table and pressed his hips against hers. “Not going to do this here, but I wanted… I want…” His fingers trailed down her torso, between her breasts and further still, landing on the button of her pants, he flicked it open with ease, pausing for her consent.

She smiled, her eyes fluttering closed. “Do whatever you want, Buck. I think you’ve earned it for sure…”

He slid his hand into her now open fly, smoothing down her belly and downward to cup her sex, still in her pants.

“I’d like very much to make you come like this…” he whispered.

She nodded slowly.

Darcy expected it when his fingers tucked under the waistband of her panties, what she didn’t expect was the way they kept traveling until they tucked themselves slickly inside her, while her clit was resting right on the heel of his hand.

He rocked against her slowly, his lips teasing her earlobe as she gripped his shoulders and the table squeaked beneath her.

“Oh holy fuck, Bucky.”

He hummed in her ear, the vibrations making her nerves tingle as he kept up his steady pace. “Like this, come just like this, okay?”

Darcy nodded rapidly, her body gripping around him. He kept his eyes trained on her, watching as she took her bottom lip between her teeth and shook through her climax. His lips appeared on her forehead as he slipped his hand out of her, licking his fingers clean as she caught her breath.

“Bedroom, and I’ll giving you yours,” she said. “The dishes can wait.”

Bucky’s grin was wide as he reached for her hand, closing his fingers around it as they started back to the bedroom. She stopped him in the doorway, pressing her lips firmly to his as he staggered backwards towards the bed.

He practically tripped over her shopping bags, but they made it to the bed just in time to keep him from falling on his ass on the floor.

As she kissed him hungrily, the toilet in the bathroom flushed. Her stomach dropped down to her toes and Bucky’s body stiffened. His hands reached out and gripped her forearms, tearing his mouth from hers. He turned his head towards the bathroom and Darcy’s blood went icy when the bathroom door swung open.

A man strode out into the bedroom, his gaze was steady as he stared down the two of them on the bed. She couldn’t tell if his hair was black or dark brown.

That’s what you’re focusing on? There’s an actual facts strange man in your house.

“Barnes,” he said, dipping his head low in greeting before turning to Darcy. “I don’t believe we’ve met? I’m Jack Rollins.”

“Your reputation precedes you,” she countered, offering up nothing in response to his query.

This guy was looking for a name, and she wasn’t giving him anything. Nada. She thought to the bags on the floor. One of them had her new taser in it. She had to get there without alarming this guy. She could drop him and Bucky could subdue him until the others got here.

Except Bucky was practically gripping her for dear life and she couldn’t get away from him without alerting Rollins to her plan.

“What’s your name?” Rollins hissed, moving closer to the bed as Bucky wrapped an arm protectively around her lower back and rolled her away in the opposite direction.

“Don’t you already know that?” she asked.

“Leave her out of this, Rollins. It’s me you want,” Bucky said, sliding his feet around to the floor, he sat up in front of her, his eyes flitting around looking for something. What, she didn’t know.

“Actually, you’re wrong about that, Barnes. She looks a little easier to handle than you do.”

Chapter Text

Bucky


“Leave her out of this, Rollins. It’s me you want,” Bucky said, sliding his feet around to the floor, he sat up in front of her, his eyes flitting around looking for something.

“Actually, you’re wrong about that, Barnes. She looks a little easier to handle than you do.”


Bucky didn’t want to stop what he was doing. Her fingers were tangled in his hair. Her lips pressed against his. Darcy’s breath was hot on his face. And then, just like that, all hell broke loose.

One second, he’d been lips deep in his best girl, and the next, he was watching Jack Rollins stroll out of his bathroom like he owned the place. Talk about a shock. Talk about a surprise. He had a growing situation that went from sixty to zero and back up to sixty in a completely different direction.

He might have been thrown off by Rollin’s sudden presence, but Bucky’s training was never far from the surface. And just like he’d run headlong into the house when the birds had swarmed Darcy, he ran headlong into this fight too.

The main difference being that this time, the threat was very tangible. And the danger was much, much worse.

He gritted his teeth together, his cybernetic arm sending tingles up his spine as he tried to fight through the adrenaline to get a reading on the situation. Darcy was still sitting behind him, hadn’t moved from the bed. Currently, Rollins was blocking both doors, the one out and the one to the bathroom. Bucky had to get him to move out of the way of the door. Which wouldn’t be an easy feat, considering that his and Darcy’s starter home was on the tiny side. But he had to try to get Rollins over to the other side of the room. Engage him in hand to hand combat. Anything just so Darcy could slip out that door and run down to get Bobbi or Lance or somebody.

But first things first. The present, the here and now. His arm tingled again, gripping the edge of the mattress as Bucky made his assessment.

Rollins was unwashed. Unkempt. Sweaty.

Meaning he’d been living outdoors for some time. Possibly a week. Maybe more. He wasn’t running at one-hundred-percent at any rate. He wouldn’t be nearly as strong or as quick as he had been at any of his unit’s high points.  Prison dulled your nerves. Softened your muscles.

Bucky took that and ran with it, springing into action as he charged Rollins, wrapping his flesh arm around the front of his shoulders and throwing him back into the far wall.

He registered the lack of warmth to his rear. The slight squeak of the mattress springs. He hoped Rollins hadn’t noticed Darcy ease to a standing position and begin to move.

One of Darcy’s picture frames fell and broke, leaving shards of glass and splintered driftwood beside Rollins’s feet on the hardwood floor.

Jack, for his part, didn’t fall completely, just bounced his head against the plaster wall, leaving a crumbling indent before he returned the charge towards Bucky, aiming his punch directly at his face.

Bucky blocked it with his cybernetic arm, absorbing the shock and leaving Rollins jarred, his teeth clacking together as Bucky halted his advance. He turned them, placing himself between Rollins and Darcy, who kept moving. Sliding along the far wall away from the door.

Though alarmed at her position, he tried not to let it register on his face. Any worry could be used by Rollins to gain an upper hand. But still...

Wrong direction , he tried to tell her. Tried to blink it at her, to will her to understand that she needed to run while she could.

But she didn’t. She inched around the wall with no reasonable purpose, her eyes wide as her palms slid over the plaster.

Where was she going? He felt sick that he didn’t know. That he had no idea what this plan of hers was, or even if she had one. For all he knew, she was panicking again. Going for the corner to cower and quake.

But there was a determination in her gaze that told him otherwise. She wasn’t scared. Well, she was , but mostly, she was on a mission. And whatever that was, lay somewhere across the room. The least he could do was make sure she got there, right?

He grunted loudly, casting Rollins back once more, but not nearly far enough.

Sparring with Steve was difficult, but an actual fight with Rollins held much higher stakes. It had been a while since he’d done this, but the muscle memory was all there.

He landed a punch to Rollins’s nose. The blood felt warm and wet against his fist. Jack’s nose began to drip down over his lips, but he didn’t seem to care one way or the other. Bucky was fighting a little dirty, maybe. But Rollins had given up fair play when he ambushed them in their home.

Bucky blocked with his cybernetic arm, punched and swiped with the other, managed to get Rollins off his feet with a well-timed kick, but the man was serving just as much back to him, leaping up and grinning madly when Bucky knocked him down. He used the wall to push back up again. His next kick hit Bucky straight in the gut, knocked the wind out of him.

He could have easily gotten past him at that moment, but he didn’t. He stood there and glared down at Bucky instead. At least, he did until Bucky recovered and slammed his fist into his chin.

Jack spat something out on the floor.  “It’s funny, it doesn’t hurt as much when you’ve got nothing to lose,” he hissed through bloody teeth. He reached for something. A vase on the side table. He chucked it wildly to the left, missing Bucky entirely. But Darcy screamed.

Bucky turned, eyes scanning her body for injuries and finding none, although the vase shattered where she’d just been standing. She seemed fine, except for a slightly elevated heart rate.

She’d been about to go for whatever her plan was. Judging by Jack’s inability to block her from it, he knew about as much as Bucky did in that respect. But he seemed to know enough to block her. To keep her from reaching for it.

She’d hopped to one side, and the room wasn’t as spacious as was necessary for three people in a sparring situation, so she’d inadvertently bumped Rollins in the shoulder.

Bucky reached out to grab her, to push her in the right direction out the door, but he swiped at nothing but air as Rollins pulled her back against his body. Defensively. In front of him like a shield. Bucky was able to grasp her hand but caught Rollins’s eye a second later.

Rollins wrapped one arm around her neck and nodded down to Bucky’s hand, still wrapped around hers. “Drop her. Back up over there.”

Bucky knew he had a gun strapped under the bed. He was a sharpshooter, no one better. But he couldn’t be sure Rollins wouldn’t move Darcy at the last second. Like that idiot had said. He had nothing to lose, so he didn’t care if he got shot if he could cause any harm to Bucky, and Steve, by proxy in the process.

Pressing his lips together, Bucky’s eyes searched Darcy’s and found, surprisingly enough, resolve there instead of fear. “Just do it, Buck…” she whispered. “Go get it and do it.”

So she knew. Knew he had weapons hidden here.

Jack chuckled, the sound wet and slimy. “Go ahead, Barnes. Hit me. Grab that gun from under your bed frame and shoot me. You gotta be really sure it won’t hit her, though… cuz I got a good look at that thing before. When I was looking through all your shit. That thing’ll turn her head into jello. Fruit salad. Whatever you wanna call it.” He sniffed thickly, his nose likely broken, so he gave up and started breathing loudly through his mouth. “I happen to think her head looks pretty like this… don’t you?” His hand came up to smooth her hair out of her face as she twisted to get away from him revulsion in her eyes.

Bucky shook his head, gazing apologetically to Darcy. “I don’t trust my shot.”

“I do,” she said, even as Rollins tightened his arm around her throat.

“I know you do. But I have to trust me or it won’t work.”

Darcy nodded almost imperceptively. If Bucky hadn’t known what to look for, he wouldn’t have seen it happen. The nod was in resolve. In acceptance. No way was she going to go down for this. Not when it wasn’t even her Rollins was after.

Take me in her place,” he pleaded.  Rollins had said himself that he wanted Steve. No better way than to take Bucky. Steve would come running the second he got word Bucky had been captured. It was what Jack wanted.  “Steve’ll come.”

Rollins sneered. “Isn’t that cute? You’re willing to take her place, Barnes? Too bad I don’t want you. I’m not stupid. I know prison’s softened me up. There’s no way I can take you. You’d overpower me or tire me out, either one. And I’m a little short on firearms. Even if that was something that’d hold you when you get worked up.”

Bucky bristled slightly. He hadn’t even been armed?

“You get pretty feisty back then. Like a caged animal. Without the cage.”

“If that’s what you think of me, why aren’t you scared I’ll attack right now?” Bucky countered.

“Because. I’d kill her. You know the position I’ve got her in, right? I could break her neck with a twist of my wrist. She’d be dead and you’d be broken. Again.” Rollins smirked. “Plus, they’ve got you housetrained now, don’t they? Partly. Don’t think any amount of training can stop you from mauling Wifey in the kitchen.”

Bucky tightened both hands into fists, calculations forming in his mind as he contemplated his odds. Like Jack had said, they weren’t good. He couldn’t guarantee Rollins wasn’t bluffing about Darcy.

Darcy pressed her lips together, glaring up at the man who had her in a chokehold.

Rollins laughed at her and began squeezing his arm around her neck all the tighter, cutting off her blood supply.

Bucky registered the panic and took a step towards her on instinct.

“Not another move or I’ll do it. Back up, and I’ll loosen it up. Let her breathe a little.” The blood was drying on his chin and nose, his skin looked doubly pale, but Bucky just chalked that up to the blood drying on his face. But his eyes looked twice as scary as he stared Bucky down.

Her eyes began to roll back and Bucky took a step toward the door. “How I know you won’t hurt her?”

Rollins chuckled darkly. “She’s the only thing keeping me alive right now. Like I said. I ain’t got nothing against either of you, personally. It’s Rogers I want. You leave quietly, I let up on my hold. Might even let her walk around on her own, how’s that sound, huh?”

Bucky warred with himself. “I don’t want to leave her.”

“Asset. Leave the area. Call your buddy. Until I hear you leave, I’m not letting her go.”

Darcy’s eyes closed, but she was still somehow able to talk. “Just go,” she rasped. “Go on. Go outside.”

“Listen to your girl, Barnes. What was it you called her? Doll ? Listen to her. Doll and I will be right here. Waiting for when Steve arrives.” Rollins let up a little on her neck as Bucky took a step towards the bedroom door.

He didn’t know what else to do.  He had to leave her, along with the gun Rollins knew about. And he didn’t even have time to go looking for the others. Of course, for all Bucky knew, Rollins was planning on committing suicide by agent. With Darcy caught in the crossfire.

Bucky tore himself from the room at the doorway, turning and running towards the front entrance. He grabbed Bowie on his way, seeing the cat by the front door. He stumbled outside to the lawn, breathing in lungfuls of the crisp night air.

Bowie meowed as Bucky pulled the cat up into his arms and took off down the road to Bobbi and Lance’s place. His reasoning being, it was closer than Fitz and Cam’s place.

He had to get in touch with Steve. Hopefully one of these assholes knew how.

Chapter Text

Darcy


 

 

From the time Bucky left till the time SHIELD negotiators called them, barely an hour passed. It felt like years, but the clock told her it was barely an hour.

In SHIELD’s defense, they were quick about setting up a perimeter, she’d give them that. In fact, it felt like almost no time at all, with barely any sounds drifting in from the outside after Bucky took off down the street with Bowie. (Bless him for saving her cat, by the way).  There was literally about five minutes of SUVs and troop vans swooping in, and then suddenly, Darcy’s phone was ringing.

They’d been holed up in the living room, on the floor in front of the couch. Rollins had dragged her along when he fished around under hers and Bucky’s bed for the rifle he had strapped to the bottom of the bed frame.

He’d pushed her to her knees by the window while he set up the rifle and grabbed hold of her leg when she’d spun really quickly and tried to make a break for it.

She slammed against the floor and she could hear him talking as her hands and knees throbbed. “That was your only warning, Girly.”

Her head was still a little spinny from that, so at first, it didn’t register with her that the negotiation had begun.  Her short plunge to the hardwood coupled with the fact that she was now being held in Rollins’ lap and she had about a billion other thoughts rushing through her mind at once; all three accounted for her confusion., But she didn’t realize negotiations had started until Rollins went for her phone on the fourth ring.

“Hey…” she protested as he gripped both her wrists in one hand over her head and dragged her along with him to where her phone was charging on the side table. “That’s mine. You can’t answer that.”

“It’s probably your boyfriend,” he sniggered. “Jesus, how green are you? Ain’t you ever been in a negotiation before?”

“No, dude. The Dark Elves that invaded London didn’t really feel like discussing their terms,” she snapped.

He yanked her a little harder than was necessary, pulling her flush against his front as he answered the phone. “Hello?”

There was a long silence as whoever was on the other line began explaining the situation. Her phone had a speaker function, but this douche-canoe didn’t seem to feel the need to keep her in the loop.

Rollins snorted derisively at whatever the person on the phone had just said. “Yeah, snipers trained on me. Heat signatures. Right, right, right. Well, my only demand is to bring me Steve Rogers. Do that, and I’ll release the hostage. Otherwise, I’m not letting her go. I know BuckyBear out there won’t let you shoot her to get in a shot at me, so I think this is how we’re going to sit tight for now. Thanks.”

He glanced over to the front window where he’d set up Bucky’s rifle. As if to ensure it was still there.

Rollins hauled Darcy over with him. Her bare feet slid on the floor as she struggled to keep up with him. He sat down behind one of the love seats, her phone in one hand as he tugged her into his lap. He was within arm’s reach of the rifle, so if shit went down, he could quickly move into position.

He had one hand on her phone, never even trying to slip the thing into his pocket. His other arm was wrapped around her waist, and he was still breathing through his mouth. Which, not to sound glib, was totally annoying. The straw that broke the camel’s back, as it was.

“Hey. Mouth Breather.” Darcy said.

“You mean me?”

“No. Your mother,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“You got some mouth on you, you know that? I can kind of see what Barnes likes about you.”

She rolled her eyes again. “First off, gross. And second, duh. I don’t need my kidnapper to tell me I’m hot to know I’m hot… Anyway--”

“Well, aren’t you just full of yourself?”

“Yes. Super duper full of myself. Anyway. Mouth Breather. Can I please go sit on the sofa?”

He scoffed. “No.”

“Come on…” she pleaded. “This is uncomfortable. For you as well as me. And you’re gonna have to throw me away if you need the gun. Let me sit on the sofa.”

“And risk you running? Fat chance, Doll .” He spat the word out like it tasted bad. She decidedly did not like anyone other than Bucky calling her that. “You’re staying right here. Maybe if you hadn’t run before, I might trust you.”

“Fat chance,” she mumbled.

“Yeah, you’re right. I wouldn’t no matter what.”

“Wish I’d kicked you in the crotch. Your voice might at least sound interesting if it was an octave higher. Rather than all nasally and obnoxious.”

“Shut up on your own, or I’ll gag you.”

Darcy pressed her lips together and exhaled loudly.

Bucky’s face kept flashing through her mind. The helpless way he’d looked at her just before he’d run out.  She had a sneaking suspicion if she hadn’t been captured and held captive, he would have gone down fighting this guy.

Anything to keep him from having a crack at Steve.

Who probably would be showing up soon, if she knew a Star-Spangled Man with a plan like she knew she did.

Darcy knew lots of things. Like Rollins had super mega dragon breath. And that she had to get out. Had to pull through this. She couldn’t wait around for Steve to show up. By then, Rollins would be going off of pure adrenaline and no sleep. Not to mention all the trigger happy, jack-booted thugs just outside.

She loved how SHIELD had given Janey a job and funding, but she wasn’t about to forget the time they stole all their shit in the name of secrecy.

The truth of the matter was, she needed to nip this in the bud. And quick. The only way to do that would be to continue going on her trek into the bedroom to find her new taser, which was just under a cotton towel in one of the big bags she’d left in the bedroom floor.

Unfortunately, she had zero ideas now that Rollins wasn’t otherwise occupied in hand-to-hand combat with a super soldier. She wished like mad that her Astrophysicist was here and could help her out with some stunning, barely legal plan, but Jane wasn’t here. No one was. Darcy was all on her own, and for once, snarkiness wasn’t going to get her out of this.

Well, she could probably depend on Thor, if he knew about this at all. But knowing SHIELD, they hadn’t wanted a ton of attention on their little witness protection community. And bringing in the God of Thunder pretty much ensured at least medium-high-mega attention.

The only thing she could think of that she had going for her, was that she was a woman, and Rollins thought he was stronger than her. He didn’t seem to know any of her history, which was a shame, because it was impressive for someone with a Poly Sci degree.

Physically, he probably was stronger than her. But he was no match for the voltage she was packing.

The phone rang again and Darcy groaned when Jack tightened his grip on her, squeezing around her rib cage as he answered the phone. “What?” he barked.

“No, no speaker,” he said, shaking his head. But the speaker said something else that made Rollins roll his eyes and tap on the button anyway.

“Darcy?” a voice said expectantly from the phone.

“Steve?” she asked.

She heard him sigh with relief. “Are you hurt?”

“Just bruised. And being forced to sit in Rollins’ lap is no better than being forced to sit in Santa’s. And he’s not even promising me a Barbie DreamHouse, so…” Steve chuckled, and she continued. “How’s Bucky?”

“About as well as you can imagine. I’ll tell him you’re okay, though.”

“Can you tell him right now?” she asked hopefully.

“I’m actually on a plane. Won’t be there for three more hours, can you hang in there until then?”

Jack interrupted. “If you talk to me, Steve, she’ll be fine.”

“I’ll talk to you plenty when I land,” Steve said, his tone changing jarringly. The voice he’d used for Darcy was considerably lighter and less foreboding. This tone was scary enough that it almost made Darcy want to stand at attention. “For now, let her go. I’ll order a cease-fire until I get there.”

“No chance,” Rollins said with a bloody smirk.

“Can you get them to stand down?” Darcy asked. “So I can maybe not reside in Rollins’ lap? This dude is seriously ripe.”

“You want me to choke you again?” her captor asked. “Because that’s how you get choked again.”

“You already are,” Darcy countered, unsurprised when he didn’t make a move to choke her. Probably wanted to see if she could get the guns outside to stand down. And why she wanted it, other than the freedom to breathe fresh air.

“I don’t think they’re gonna stand down, Darce.”

“Tell them to call me then.”

“Fine. If you’re sure you’re okay? Do you want me to tell Bucky anything?”

“I’ll tell him myself. Get whoever’s in charge out there to call me.”

“What are you aiming at?” Rollins asked.

“A bathroom break,” she said definitively.

“You could have asked me.”

“And then you’d have said no. I’m going over your head.”

Rollins bristled. He apparently didn’t like the thought of not being in charge.  “Fine, but keep it on speaker phone so I can hear everything you say.”

Their exchange was thankfully interrupted by the good-old Son of Coul. Nice to know the big guns were on this. But she wasn’t really surprised after talking to Steve.

“Darcy? Everything alright?”

“No, actually. Believe it or not, I’ve had better days. I’ve also had worse ones, so chew on that for a minute and please note that you are on speaker phone.”

“I don’t doubt you, Darcy. Dually noted. What can I do for you?”.

“Not that I don’t love you, Phil, but is there someone else I can talk to?” She had a plan. And it involved playing on Rollins’s seemingly steadfast opinion that Darcy couldn’t fend for herself.

“You want Bucky?” he asked.

She did. But Bobbi was the only one who knew what was hidden in those bags. “No, I’ll talk to him after. Give me Bobbi, please.”

“Morse?” he asked, clearly surprised.

“Yep.”

If Rollins had any reservations about Darcy talking to the covert agent, he didn’t voice them. Or carry them in his shoulders.

Bobbi must have been sitting right there because she answered the phone a few seconds later.

“Darce?”

“Hey there, B. You know the essential oil for menstrual cramps?” That would likely confuse her, but that question was purely for Rollins’ benefit.

“Sure, but--”

Darcy interjected. “I might need some of that, but first, I need to use the bathroom. Without His Smelliness following me. Can you get everyone to stand down so I can go have a womanly moment? I need to use some of the things we bought earlier.”

“Tampons?” Rollins scoffed from behind her. “I know what those are, you don’t have to use code around me.”

Darcy shot him a look and shrugged. “Didn’t know if you were the type who was comfortable with that kind of blood.”

He didn’t answer, and Darcy couldn’t see his face, but she could tell by the way he shifted, he was already uncomfortable.

“You want me to get these guys to stand down, so you can go get some of the stuff we bought yesterday and take care of your womanly issues ?” Bobbi put emphasis on the right words. Darcy was pretty sure she understood her. They didn’t buy tampons yesterday.

But Rollins didn’t know that.

“Yes please.”

“I don’t know if I can do that, Darce.” She could, she was just stalling. Again, for Rollins’ benefit.

“I’m not going to the bathroom with him,” Darcy said. “I’m just not.”

Bobbi was silent for a long moment before speaking again, likely readying everyone for what was coming. “How long do you need?”

“Ten minutes.”

“I’ll give you three.”

Three ? Why even ask? Just give me three.”

Three minutes, if you’re not back with him in the living room and on this phone with me, you hit the fucking deck.”  That wasn't coded. That was the truth. They’d start shooting if she couldn’t tase him.

“Fine,” Darcy replied. I can do it in three.”

“Starts when you hang up.”

She turned her head to include Rollins in the conversation, even though he’d heard all of it via the speaker. “They’re giving me three minutes for a bathroom break.”

“How do I know you’re not bluffing?” he asked.

“Suit yourself. But when I get TSS from this fucking tampon and go into shock, don’t blame me.”

He sniffed. “That won’t happen that quickly.”

“I’m about to bleed all over your leg.”

It was a flat out lie, but if she read Rollins correctly, he’d definitely give her the go-ahead to take a bathroom break.

He did not disappoint.

Rollins sighed.  “Fine. Go. I’m calling out the time, though.”

She got back on the phone. “It’s a go.”

“Godspeed, Darcy Lewis,” Bobbi said wistfully.

“Godspeed? Wish me Thor-speed, Morse.”

“Fine. Go . We’ve got you covered.”

Darcy hung up and stood, testing her boundaries and being pleased with the results. When nothing happened, she took off for the bedroom. Once she got there, she closed the door behind her, but not all the way so he wouldn’t think she was up to anything shady.

She spotted the bags over on the floor, relatively untouched, except for one that was tipped over. The taser was juiced up, still folded into the hand towel in one of the bags. Not the one that tipped over, thankfully. She jammed it into her back pocket and made for the bathroom.

“Two minutes!” Rollins yelled as she crossed the floor.

That door, she closed, the one to the bathroom. But since she was neither on her period nor had to pee, she just stood there, counting under her breath as her nerves ratcheted up off the charts.

“One minute, Girly!” Rollins called.

She flushed the toilet and turned on the faucet to simulate washing her hands. It was now or never.

Darcy threw open the door, reaching into her back pocket and producing the taser, he was standing just behind the bedroom door, waiting for her to return. Once she’d whipped that door open so hard, it bounced against the wall behind it, she shot him point blank in the chest.

It was almost too easy, how men would turn a blind eye at the mention of a period.

The diodes attached to his shirt, but the pulses went through him. He dropped to the floor and slumped in the doorway as she rounded the couch and grabbed her phone off it.

While he was on the ground twitching, she breathlessly barked into the phone.“He’s down! Get in here, he’s down! I have a taser, I tased him. No guns except for the one in the window!”

She pulled the trigger once more for good measure and yanked the diodes off his shirt as she ran from the room, trailing them behind her as she entered her front lawn, hands above her head.

Chapter Text

Bucky


Bucky’s heart damn near flew from his chest when he saw her burst through the door. He’d been listening to the phone call, but once things had moved away from the phone, he’d gotten worried.

There were no gunshots. But as far as Bucky knew, Rollins hadn’t found any of his handguns.

All he could hear was Rollins yelling and then a loud thump.  Footsteps.

And Darcy’s voice. Finally her voice.

It had all happened so quickly. The night wasn’t even over. Hell, Steve wasn’t even here yet. He was still about twenty minutes out the last time Bucky had checked. But somehow, she’d pulled off some kind of plan that even Bucky wasn’t expecting.

Her taser was in her hand when she ran out. A taser he didn’t even know she’d owned before a few minutes ago. Bobbi had informed him of its existence, and where it had been. The shopping bags. Of course. Bucky knew it hadn't been in the house before that day. He’d been over every square inch of the room looking for a place to hide his guns. He’d have found it if it had been there. He felt elated because he could be damn-sure that Rollins hadn’t had any sort of idea if Bucky hadn’t.

He wasn’t part of the actual unit that was going into the house now. Even though he’d offered. Hell, he’d offered to snipe Rollins through a window, but when he’d held the gun, he wasn’t sure. Couldn’t be certain he’d only hit Rollins, so he’d removed himself.

Coulson told him it was a good thing. That he should go and play the worried boyfriend.

At the time, Bucky didn’t see how it was a good thing. What good was he to Darcy if he couldn’t even save her when danger had her in its steely clutches?

Bowie had taken up residence in his lap. Unrelenting in his purring and chirping. His constant demands for Bucky’s attention.

To the point where he had no choice but to calmly stroke the cat’s head and keep his worrying internal.

“You aren’t alone anymore,” Bobbi had reminded him after Darcy had hung up with her and they’d started the countdown. “Sometimes one is enough. But sometimes you need help. That’s what we’re all for.”

His hand slowed, and Bowie chirped again. It was almost like the cat was reminding him too.   Don’t forget about me, dumbass. I need pets and you need a distraction.

Still, Bucky had scoffed. He’d shaken his head in disbelief. “You wouldn’t have hesitated five years ago, Morse. You’d have shot me through the forehead if you’d caught me unaware.”

Bobbi shook her head. “From what I could gather, there was never such a thing as you being unaware. And this ain’t five years ago, Barnes. So get used to it.”

So he’d let himself hang back. Hold the cat and take cleansing breaths. Three minutes and he’d have her back.

He’d damn near chewed his fingernails down to the quick during those three minutes, though. Even if he was petting Bowie.

He’d silently panicked, his shoulders clenching up until Darcy’s voice had rung in over the phone Bobbi had set up on the table in front of them. He’d stayed quiet because that was what Darcy had needed. She hadn’t addressed him directly, so he hadn’t pushed it. Didn’t know if his voice was going to make things worse for her with Rollins. No matter how much he wanted to hear her talk to him. Say his name. Let him know things would be alright just by her inflection. The way her voice caressed the syllables.

So when her voice rang out over the phone, filling the room with the literal answer to his prayers, he almost jumped out of his skin. Bowie’d hopped down from his lap, prancing across the room to the couch opposite. The cat had hopped up there and sat perfectly still. Bucky had gripped the chair he was sitting in, the arm creaking where his cybernetic hand was crushing it. It held, though. Impressive, if he did say so himself.

“He’s down! Get in here, he’s down! I have a taser, I tased him. No guns except for the one in the window!”

His heart jumped into his throat as everyone in the room sort of had a collective moment of relief before jumping to their feet and high-tailing it outside to meet her.

Darcy looked sort of dazed as she ran out of the house. When she ran across the lawn, her hands on the back of her head as she moved, a flock of starlings rushed out from the eaves behind her.

Poor things were probably confused by the floodlights blasting the front and backs of the house and making it perpetually high noon. Whatever the reason for them, they didn’t evoke Darcy’s usual fear-response. It was almost a metaphor. If he wasn’t in such a big-ass hurry to get her into his arms again, he’d stop and think about what specific one it was, but he was in a big-ass hurry, so he ran as hard as he could towards her.

She ran hell for leather towards him. And the line of men with guns.

Seemed counter-intuitive, but if he’d been in her shoes, he’d likely prefer every single one of those men with guns to the one left in the house.

Armed agents were booking it towards her, blowing on past her as they piled into the house, and she was left to sprint the rest of the way across the lawn, grass sticking to her now damp, bare feet as she scanned the crowd.

She looked even more dazed and a little panicked as she looked around frantically.

“Darce!” he called, cupping his hand. She had no idea they’d set up base camp at the house across the street.  Not directly across, but diagonally. Not that it mattered, she didn’t know where they were, so when she heard Bucky’s voice, she froze.

She stopped in her tracks for a split second. Her lip wobbling before she took off towards him.

Bucky ran as fast as he could, his feet pounding painfully on the pavement as he made his way towards her, scooping her up in his arms and spinning so he didn’t just fall down on the road with her under him.

He was glad in that moment that he wasn’t in the first response team.

As helpless as he’d felt, and as much as he hated feeling that way, holding Darcy in his arms seconds after she’d escaped Rollins was the best feeling. And if he’d been in first response, he’d be holding a gun to Rollins’ head. Not running his fingers over the back of hers.

Not kissing her temple and pulling her closer and closer. Until he could sense her rapid heartbeat and prove to his screwed up mind that she was safe. She was here.

He didn’t say anything. Couldn’t just yet.

He just ran his hands over her shoulders. Her back. Her belly, searching for wounds. For any marks Rollins had possibly laid on her. He found nothing. Absolutely nothing.

“Goddammit doll, you had me worried,” he whispered.

“Me too,” she said with a laugh. She tilted her chin up, leaning forward until her lips met his. His autopilot kicked off.

His arms held her close to the front of him.

Kissing. Yes. That’s what he should have done.

Kissing was good.

“Should probably take this inside,” he whispered, begrudgingly ending the kiss and seeking out her hand. After he’d grasped it firmly in his, they ran back across the street together.

Together .

 


 

Steve sighed heavily.

“I can’t believe you guys took care of this before I got here,” he huffed, sounding only slightly miffed. “Honestly, the way he was trying to blame everyone else for choices he made? I wanted to give him a talking to.”

“Were your fists going to do the talking?” Darcy asked, laughing a little as Bucky slid his arm around her waist. Tugged her close to his side.

Bucky didn’t blame Steve. He’d been sorely tempted to go let his fists do some of the talking even now when Rollins was in custody. But he hadn’t.

Wouldn’t have done any good.

Wouldn’t have changed the past. And it would have cut into his time with Darcy.

“You know, it wasn’t actually me who took care of the guy. It was Darcy. All her.” Bucky gazed down at her, the pride practically oozing from his pores.

He squeezed her waist once more. She was safe. His girl was safe and she’d absolutely proven her worth again. Not that Bucky needed reminding. Especially this kind of reminder. He could go the rest of his life without this kind of reminder.

The thought damn near took his breath away. The rest of his life?

They hadn’t even discussed the ‘l’ word yet, and he was already making plans for the rest of his life? The thought made his throat go dry. But it didn’t scare him. Even if it should, given how far gone he was on this girl already.

“I know, I got to hear the debrief when I landed…” Steve said with a laugh. “It was impressive. Although, I’m not sure I’d expect anything less from Darcy Lewis.”

She just smiled and leaned against Bucky, her body feeling heavier and heavier against him as her head lolled to his shoulder. She was tired. And their house was full of SHIELD agents.

He was about to ask Steve about lodging for sleep, but Steve started talking before he could.

“You know, we have to ship you out in the morning Buck…” he glanced down at Darcy, directing the next bit at her. “I know you two have grown close, so if you want to go with him, you should probably let Coulson know.”

Bucky paused, thinking for a split second of fear that maybe Darcy had gotten enough of his brand of drama and maybe wanted a break. But he shouldn’t have worried, because she wasted no time in replying.

“Hell yes. I’m going wherever this idiot’s going.” She checked his shoulder with hers. Well, it was more like his bicep. Her shoulder couldn’t reach his. “Point me in the direction of Coulson and I’ll say the necessary words. Bowie’s coming too, don’t forget about him.”

Bucky smiled fondly at the mention of the cat. “I don’t think I could ever forget about him.”

That earned him a sleepy grin from her.

Steve pointed her to the kitchen and she walked off, tripping over the strip of wood separating the two rooms, but righting herself soon enough. After she’d left their sight, he leaned over towards Bucky, lowering his voice.

“Look, I don’t know exactly where you’re gonna be… for safety’s sake this time. The only people who know are Bobbi, Lance, Darcy and you. But I know it’s going to be colder than it is here.  Bobbi’s probably got you covered for a starter setup… I was able to arrange you guys a room in this fancy schmancy hotel in Albany. Kind of the least I could do… wish it could have been more.  I know you guys are dead on your feet, but you can probably get there in about a half hour. Sleep all day and you’ll be heading out at 2100 hours tomorrow night.

Bucky almost resisted the urge to wrap his arms around him. But there wasn’t really a reason to resist. He wrapped both arms around Steve, who relaxed into the embrace and patted his back. When they eventually broke off the hug, Bucky cleared his throat before asking, “Someone gonna drive us, or--”

“Someone’s gonna drive you.”

“Bless you, I’m dead.”

“I know, Buck.”

 


 

They fell asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillow in the hotel room, the pillows were too soft, and the lights were too low to do much else. Bowie had taken to the place like a fish to water, already prancing around in the main room of the suite, aware of his litter box and of the floor to ceiling windows he could look out of.

Bucky woke up many hours later to an empty bed, but there wasn’t even time for the shock of being alone to set in, because he noticed how the bathroom door was wide open. Light flooded the room from inside, and the shower was running.

He slipped out of bed and walked across the floor, he knocked on the open door. “Darce?”

“Morning,” she called. “Sorry about leaving you in bed, but I felt gross after yesterday… earlier this morning… whatever.  Anyway, I tried to wake you up, but you were dead to the world.”

That didn’t sound like an over-exaggeration, but he definitely wasn’t dead to the world now.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Not in the slightest, but I have to insist upon showering before we get up to any shenanigans …”

His body was primed for shenanigans, but he guessed he understood.

“No shenanigans until we’re both clean. Got it.”

The thing about being in the army was, you kind of learned how to clean yourself quickly.

Very quickly.

It would have been even quicker, if it weren’t for Darcy slipping between him and the spray of water, allowing the water to sluice down her front and wash the suds from her bare skin.

He had his hands in his hair, shampooing. Or at least, that’s what he’d been doing. Right now, suds were running down his forearms and his eyes were glued to her body. The rhythmic flow of water over her chest and down her belly was hypnotic.

And that was before she’d started touching herself.

The sight made his mouth go dry. Made everything was going in slow motion as he watched her hands move lightly over the surface of her breasts. Her fingertips caught on her nipples, dragging too slowly to not have been purposeful.

His eyes met hers and she giggled, her tongue poking between her teeth for the briefest of seconds. “You a tits man, Barnes?” Those teeth raked over her bottom lip as her eyebrows rose.

“I’m a you man,” he retorted, flattening his palms and pushing the water back over his head and down his neck, along with most of the shampoo. “Anything you do, I’m interested.”

“Just asking. Because you certainly seemed to be focused in with that sniper’s eye. And it wasn’t on all of me…” she teased, turning to face the stream of water. She ran her hands over the top of her head, gathering the mass of wet curls and pushing them back over her shoulders. When she did so, he reached out to rub his hand over the swell of her ass.

“The back’s just as good as the front, doll,” he murmured, leaning over to nuzzle against her shoulder.

“What did I say about shenanigans, you filthy boy?” she whispered.

He chuckled softly, wrapping one arm around her waist and lifting her in the air.  He turned around and set her down behind him. “If you’d let me get at the water, I wouldn’t still be filthy. Woman.”

He smirked and stepped back into the water, allowing the soap to completely wash away, leaving him super clean and dripping wet.

Darcy wasn’t one to let him get the last word, though. He’d no sooner washed off the soap than she’d crowded in close to him, her hand sliding down his belly until she wrapped her whole hand around him.

His breath caught in his throat and he pushed the wet hair out of his eyes, keeping his hand there so he could open them. Just in time to see her kneel in front of him.

“Darce…” he murmured, his voice low against the thrum of the water.

“If this place is as fancy as Steve says it is, I’ll bet they’ve got tons of hot water…” she replied, leaning over to suck the straining tip of him into her mouth.

She felt hot. Almost too hot as he felt himself slip deeper into her mouth.

Her hand stayed at the base, wrapped tightly and moving when she did, creating a long line of suction down his entire length.

Bucky had to reach out, grab the bar on the side of the shower to keep from falling. She glanced up at him when he did it, and he could just hear all the senior citizens jokes she was about to tell him, but instead of teasing, she slid one hand up his thigh to splay over his belly, to feel when his muscles tightened. Which they did whenever she ran her tongue up the underside of him, wriggling as she got to the tip and sucking hard before she went back down again.

He grunted as she moved, his hips softly canting forward into her mouth. She hummed around him, the sensation making his toes curl where he stood. The water was beating down on his back, but he couldn’t stop watching her. Watching his cock disappear into her mouth.  Those gorgeous lips of hers wrapped around him.

After what felt like a forever stretch of pleasure that never changed, never ended, she sped up.

The fingers on her left hand curled around his hip as she removed the hand at the base. He gasped when she took him all the way in.

“Jesus,” he ground out, the water dripping off his hair and down onto her back as she moved. His body tensed her tongue seemingly attached to a nerve that ran down his entire length and towards the base of his spine. When she drew against him, he felt something release.

The tingling wave of pleasure rushing through him.

“Fuck, Darcy… I’m close. I’m close, Fuck... Darcy, I’m about to…”

She pulled away at the last second, her hand reaching for and grabbing his throbbing cock and pumping only twice before he convulsed, his hand gripping the bar as he pulsed into her hand and down onto the floor of the shower.

“Jesus Christ…” he gasped, dropping down to kiss her. Her lips felt lazy and slow. She tasted like him and he fucking loved it.

She stood and reached around behind him, turning off the shower and grabbing the curtain.

“Not so fast,” he said, reaching for her. “Stay here.”

“You come out here, the water was getting cold,” she said with a wink.

He made it as far as the counter, before he hoisted her up onto the vanity, kissing her and nibbling on her lips. He still hadn’t completely recovered, but he’d had a plan to give her payback for the shower… if she’d just let him kneel down.

But she wouldn’t. She whimpered when he tried to stop kissing her. Her hands running down the length of his cybernetic arm until they could grasp around his hand.

Even as she was tugging it to her core, he could feel her pulse hammering through his fingertips as he brought two down to slowly spread her open.

He didn’t have time to ask if this was what she really wanted, her reaction to just those fingers petting her was enough.

She went all slippery in seconds. Not that she wasn’t wet before. But this was different.

He pressed those two fingers inside her, the drumming of her pulse quickening as he felt more blood flow to her sex. She was soft and wet, thighs spread open as he slowly pushed two fingers in and out.

Bucky brought his thumb into the mix, rolling softly over her clit. She practically purred into his mouth as he started to move. He could look down, watch those fingers moving into her body. Into her soft pink sex.

“Like that?” he whispered. “Just like that? Does that feel good?”

“Fuck yes, you feel good,” she cried, almost on a sob as her hand went down to grip his forearm, to hold him in place. Like he’d try to stop before she was satisfied.

Her hips were moving, rocking into every thrust of his hand. She was tightening around him.

She whispered his name as she started to pulse. He got to watch her as she rocked faster and faster, both hands wrapping around his forearm. Her mouth fell open, her eyes flew open to latch onto his. Wide and dark with only the thinnest ring of blue ringing them.

He felt her walls start to flutter before she started slowing down. Bringing herself down as he pulled his fingers from inside her and she pulled him close.

Wrapped both arms around his neck and kissed him again. Breathless.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

He had to laugh. “You’re thanking me? I feel like you did way more than I did…”

“Not a competition,” she replied, kissing him again. “But if it was, you’re right. I’d be winning.”

He had a retort all ready to go but decided to sit on it until she wasn’t expecting one.

“Race ain’t nearly over,” he said simply.

She hopped down from the counter and grabbed a towel, she brought it up to her head, patting softly at the curls before dropping it on the countertop. “Maybe they’ll let me cut my hair for this new identity?”

“You might wanna keep it, Steve said it was gonna be cold where we’re going.”

Bucky took the towel she’d tossed onto the vanity and wrapped it loosely around his hips.

“You think I’m gonna wrap up in it to keep warm?” she asked, finger combing it gently.

“No, but I might,” he replied, bringing one hand up to his beard. “What about me? Think I should shave it?”

“Is it bad of me to say I absolutely love it and you should keep it forever?”

“Yeah, but if I shave, then you get the five o'clock shadow.”

“You do raise an interesting dilemma… Do I like stubble burn or beard burn?”

“Can’t really answer unless you’ve had both,” he reminded her.

“Probably should wait on any major changes…” Darcy said, reaching out to tug his towel from his hips and drop it on the floor as she left the bathroom

He had to laugh, catching sight of his grin in the mirror and almost not recognizing the face that was sporting it.

Bucky wasn’t one to stare at his own reflection though, so he turned and followed her back out into the room.

“I love you, you know that?” he said, the words feeling like huge pillars. For some kind of gargantuan structure.

“I do now,” she replied. “And I love you back. You naked idiot.”

Your naked idiot.”

“My naked idiot.” She flopped back on the bed. “You’d better get over here if you’re mine.”

He was crawling over her seconds later. “This is where I pull out in front, Darce…” Her legs were wrapped around his waist, tugging him closer.

“I feel like I should remind you that it’s not a competition…” she said. “But hell if I don’t wanna see that maneuver.”

Chapter Text

One Year Later:


 

Darcy


“Darce… hon… you should probably try to rest, okay?” Bucky placed his hand on hers, slowly plucking it from the handle of the iron.

“You know pregnancy isn’t a disease, right?” she teased, placing one of the freshly folded towels on the end of the ironing board. “I don’t need to constantly rest.”

“Third trimester… the doctor thinks you should stay off your feet as much as possible…” he reminded her.

“Yes. Third trimester. We’ve got like… two months left and so much crap to do to make this cabin baby-ready,” she reminded him, even as she allowed him to pull her hand from the iron and take her place at the board.

The cabin was small, but baby-proofing while in witness protection in the Northern part of Canada was more difficult than it appeared. Baby stuff stores were few and far between, and shipping to the Great White North was obscene. Not to mention that the winters often went sub-zero up here, and they were in the middle of a cold snap that could freeze spit on the sidewalk.  Literally.

So try getting a delivery guy up here in that.

Darcy had an OB/GYN in town, which was about one hundred kilometers away from their house. She was seeing them every two weeks now that she was in her third trimester, and yes, technically Bucky was correct. She should be off her feet.

He seemed to pride himself on being correct and by the book. Especially since he’d read so many of them.

Ever since she’d revealed the joyous news nearly six months before, he’d been reading everything he could get his hands on. He was kind of the best boyfriend ever, actually. Even if he was annoying with his pregnancy facts.

But, since New Year’s, Bucky had ceased being simply the best boyfriend ever and had become the best fiance ever.

Didn’t curb his annoying pregnancy fact knowing in the slightest, though.

She took a step back, placing her hand on her belly.  At thirty-two weeks along, she couldn’t imagine this stretching out for another eight, but apparently, it would.

“Why don't you go sit down for a little while? Your feet are all swollen. Let me do this.” Bucky extended his arm and helped her over into the easy chair, propping her feet on the ottoman and leaving her there while he took her place at the ironing board. “Don’t know why you need the towels ironed anyway… isn’t it a little early for you to be nesting?”

Darcy shot him a look.  “I’m a lifestyle blogger. I’m perpetually nesting. And besides, they’re too damn fluffy to fit in the linen closet now with all that extra baby stuff. I need to iron them flat so they’ll store better!”

“Mmhmm, sure. This has nothing to do with your being a control freak.”

“You love that about me,” she countered.

He smiled at her fondly and proceeded to iron the towels. “I love everything about you, doll.”

She couldn’t help but return the smile, folding her hands neatly over her rounded belly and sitting back to relax and watch him.

She really wished she could blog about this. About how cute he was when he was preparing for their little Banana Cupcake to join them.  Except she was kind of acting like she and Bucky had moved further south. To one of the vacant safe houses SHIELD kept in the Caribbean.

Her posts were about beach art. Weather-treating a beach bungalow, and the rainy season.

Definitely not about preparing for a baby in practically the Arctic.

One of SHIELD’s preventative measures that allowed them to keep their previous cover going.

If all the nasty-bads thought they were living the life in the Caribbean, then they wouldn’t think to look for them where they actually were.

Why they couldn’t have done the reverse of this was apparently beyond her thoughts and pay-grade. At least being pregnant meant she got to walk around with a little heater built right in.

“There. Finished,” Bucky stated, laying the last folded towel on the pile in victorious glee. It didn’t take him long, not with the iron already preheated and the towels practically flat anyway. He was walking them to the linen closet when someone--or something--knocked on the door.

The sound startled them. No one knew they were here. Save Bobbi and Lance, who came up once a month for a check-in. But they’d just come up the week before. They weren’t expecting any visitors for at least three weeks.

There weren’t any neighbors. Their place was only accessible by four-wheel-drive, anyway, so...

Darcy froze and reached under the side table to where her taser was strapped. Bucky dropped the towels and grabbed a shotgun he had hidden behind the bookcase before approaching the door to peek out the peephole.

Darcy was surprised when Bucky lowered the shotgun and turned to glance at her over his shoulder.  “It’s Steve.”

“Rogers?” Darcy asked incredulously, her stomach settling somewhat. Even though Steve didn’t know they were here. For everyone’s protection.

So if he was here, it could only mean one of two things. Someone had blown their covers, or it was over. Darcy wasn’t sure which one had happened, to be honest.

“One and the same,” Bucky replied, reaching for the locks on the door to let his friend inside.

Steve raised his hands in mock surrender when he saw them holding their weapons “Whoa. Sorry. It’s just me.  Comms were down and I wanted you guys to know first…”

“Know what first?” Darcy asked, lowering her taser again.

“Bucky got pardoned. You’re free to come back.”

“No more undercover couple stuff?” Darcy asked, her heart leaping in her chest. “We can come back to New York?”

“We can get hitched for real?” Bucky asked immediately after.

Darcy grinned and pushed the ottoman back away from the chair so she could stand. They were going back to New York. Getting married. All of this was for real.

That kind of trumped swollen feet. She was going to hug her man. She had to sidle up to his side in order to do so, but she didn’t care.

“When are we leaving?” Darcy asked, looking up at Steve.

“As soon as you want.”

“Give us till tomorrow?” Darcy asked, turning to nuzzle Bucky’s jaw. “I’d like one more night before the clusterfuck happens.”

“Not sure you’re gonna get that…” Steve said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

“Why not?”

“Darcy?” a voice came in from outside.  A very familiar voice that Darcy hadn’t heard in a long time.

“Oh my god, JANE!”

Boots run up the porch steps and Jane appeared at the door, grinning widely and holding out her arms. “DARCY!”

Darcy enveloped her friend in a hug, surprised at just how much she’d missed this. “Oh my god, Janey, I have so much to tell you!”

“No kidding!” Jane replied, reaching down to brush the palm of her hand over Darcy’s belly. She glanced over at Bucky. “I take it this is a real bump and not a fake one for your cover?”

Darcy scoffed. “No, it’s super real. I’ve got the cankles to prove it.”

“Congrats,” she said softly, slipping her arm around Darcy’s shoulder. “I certainly hope the man who gave you cankles is worthy of you.”

“Not in the slightest,” Bucky answered, shrugging a little. “But I try to be.”

Darcy didn’t know what instantaneous friendship looked like in practice, but if she had to guess, she’d guess it was the look Jane gave Bucky in that second.

“Wait, so if Jane’s here…” Darcy started.

A very snowy Thor appeared at the door, ducking to get inside. “Greetings,” he said quickly, looking around. “This is smaller than they told me. It’s nice, though…”

His eyes scanned the room, settling on Darcy and her swollen belly. “You didn’t have that a year ago.”

Darcy laughed. “Didn’t I? Feels like I’ve been pregnant for that long…”

She gave Thor a hug after warning him about squeezing her too tightly.

“I would never harm your child, Darcy.”

“It’s not the child I’m worried about. It’s my propensity to spew at the slightest provocation,” she replied before slipping in under Bucky’s arm again.

He moved back from the doorway to allow Jane and Thor to enter their tiny cabin. “Four people and a god of thunder are kind of a lot for this place…” Bucky muttered. It was only three rooms, so she definitely understood his worry. “Not that I don’t want them here…”

“One more shouldn’t push us over, right?” Steve asked, glancing towards the door where a woman was standing sheepishly back. Unsure if she should come in. Darcy recognized her from the news. She had long dark hair and a red dress.  Her nails were painted, but she was chewing on her thumbnail as she shuffled in through the door.

Wanda Maximoff. The Scarlet Witch.

Bucky smirked. “That your girl?”

“She’s no one’s girl. But she’s with me,” Steve said quietly.

They hadn’t welcomed Wanda yet, so Darcy took it upon herself to squeal out a welcome, walking over to lead her inside and finally close the freaking door. “There’s plenty… well, not plenty of room, but we’ll figure it out,” she assured everyone, gesturing towards their dinette so Bucky and Steve would grab those chairs.

Thor and Jane took cushions on the floor, Wanda and Steve took the dining chairs, and Darcy squeezed onto the sofa beside Bucky, laying her head on his shoulder and finally feeling warm enough. She was filled with a giddy sort of feeling. Like a laugh about to bubble up from her belly. Perpetually.

Bucky’s hand slipped into hers, tightening slightly until she looked up at him.  He smiled, leaning down to kiss her lips. “Love you,” he whispered.

“Love you too,” she replied, her eyes skimming over his face.

“Everything okay?” he asked, reaching down to press his hand over her belly. “Here too?”

“Everything’s perfect…” she said, beaming. “It’s like a dream. Actually, I cannot believe this is happening.”

“Believe it.”

That was actually the easiest thing anyone had ever asked her to do lately.