Chapter 3: Flickering Flames (part 2)
Coffee wasn’t exactly the term Steve would have used to describe his time with Bucky. It was more like coffee followed by a tour of Steve’s favorite bakeries, lunch then a walk around the city. So coffee wasn’t exactly the correct term. Bucky didn’t seem to mind, and Steve sure didn’t.
”I should probably take Cap home before he starts nibbling at my leg,” Bucky said with a chuckle after the thousandth knickknack shop.
”Yeah, I get it,” Steve said quietly trying to hide his disappointment and, embarrassingly, a little jealousy. They both stood awkwardly in a way where it was to close to be just friends, but not close enough to be in a relationship. Steve looked up when he heard Bucky clear his throat.
”You know,” he started taking a short breath, ” you could come over. If you want,” he added quickly. Steve could feel his heart beating in his chest, like it was going to burst from excitement.
”Yeah, okay yes, I would like that very much,” Steve managed his face felt like it would break, he was smiling so big.
”Great, come on then,” they started walking and it wasn’t long before they were there, Steve was surprised to learn Bucky only live fifteen minutes from his apartment. Steve was giddy, he was trembling with nerves, and he was trying really hard not to make a fool of himself. Once outside Bucky’s door though, he was suddenly panicked. Steve’s palms started to sweat, and he could feel his knees turn to Jell-O.
”So here it is, sorry its a bit of a mess…” Bucky left Steve standing in the door, Cap ran off to some back room, and Steve grew more anxious by the second. Half way to the kitchen Bucky seem to finally notice that he was missing something. He turned and looked back at Steve with a smile that could kill.
”You coming or what,” after a moment of hesitation Bucky saw the problem, “Ah, I see you’re nervous about the whole ‘Come over to my place’ thing I sprung on you, I get it. You don’t have to stay, I completely understand,” Bucky shuffled awkward not looking at Steve who was staring open mouthed at him.
Steve started to shake his head, then realized Bucky couldn’t see him.
”No, no, I uh, I’m just really awkward, I want to stay, but I’m just…” Steve let out a frustrated huff, “Look, I’m not going anywhere.” He could feel Bucky move to his side, and lean in close to his ear.
”Then come in,” Steve could feel a shiver run up his spine at Bucky’s voice in his ear, and warm breath on his neck. He felt Bucky intertwine their fingers and pull him into his living room. He led him to the couch, and they sat, knees touching.
”So, today was nice,” Bucky said his arm coming around to rest on Steve shoulders.
”Yeah, it was,” Steve said his voice barely over a whisper.
”Want to watch some television?” Bucky asked him, and Steve just nodded dumbly. Steve could feel the rumbling of Bucky’s laughter as he pulled Steve closer to him and flipped on the TV. There wasn’t anything on but crappy reality shows, but that didn’t stop them from watching Keeping up with the Kardashian until 3am. Then when Steve tried to leave to go home, Bucky convinced him that being out this late at night wasn’t safe and the only logical solution was for Steve to stay the night, and sleep on the couch with Bucky. Steve agreed of course because who could argue with Bucky Barnes.
It was a bright Wednesday morning. After spending the whole night comforting a sobbing Trash Bash, Veves needed some sort of pick-me-up. She scoured the kitchen, digging through shelves of odd canned goods and a pantry full of Pokemon food, hoping to find something either full of caffeine or sugar.
Trash Bash had come to visit her in the middle of her Hearts & Hooves Day Firebug marathon, crying about how he messed up his date, wearing a periwinkle suit, a pair of gold-rimmed shades, and a pair of cat ears, all while holding a patchwork pony hoofpuppet that sort of reminded her of Scary Crows, but grey.
After getting rid of the disturbing-looking hoofpuppet, Veves listened to her alternate timeline son cry for hours until he passed out on the couch.
Finding some Arkhosi tea in the back of the pantry, Veves began the process of preparing the warm, spicy beverage. As she watched the water boil, she heard her son’s hoofsteps enter the kitchen. “Hey mom?” Trash inquired shyly, his face a bit red, “Can we talk?”
“Sure.” Veves replied, leaning on the counter next to the stove. “What’s up?”
Just as Trash Bash began to ask his question, he was suddenly interrupted by a loud crash coming from Veves’ bedroom. The two of them rushed down the hall, only to stop at the door. They pressed their ears against the wooden door. Inside, they heard strange chittering and thumping, accompanied by the pitter-patter of small feet tapping against the wood floor. The monoceros pony gently pushed her door open and peeked her head inside, followed by Trash Bash, and was met with a shocking sight.
Mick Rory was nineteen when he left his uncle’s home by himself. He was tempted at eighteen but his friend’s nagging to get some savings had him holding back. He didn’t have much money saved up by the next year. Instead he left with his things in a small duffle bag and walked until he found a place in the city to squat in.
Two years later and he has one and a half in prison under his belt, and he is exactly where he was before. He wears the same old clothes he left home with, steals the majority of his food, and when he sees Leonard he says that he was doing alright and is eager to hear each new plan his friend is putting together carefully- plans that currently are small jobs but jobs that help Mick and Leonard alike in saving up for better places. He’s fairly certain his friend can see through him, but neither has mentioned it yet. It hardly mattered as long as they kept working towards what they were.
It would probably help though if Mick didn’t go awol.
At the moment he simply needed time to himself for a handful of reasons, none of which he wished to speak of. And so with one message not to worry he turned the disposable phone off and hasn’t been heard from since.
He wasn’t in isolation, however. Instead Mick spends the majority of his days outside, quiet and alone until nightfall.
On a particular day though, sat in a local park out in the warm sun by the walking trails, he hears footsteps approaching until right beside him. Curiously he looks up at the stranger with a squint. “You need somethin’?”
A faint crinkle of paper reached Roderick’s ears, the doctor looking down to where he had accidentally trodden on a note, scrawled with messy handwriting, which looked to have been pushed under his Infirmary door. A quick scan over it, and the doctor frowned, pale blue eyes darkening with sudden worry.
Jack, no doubt. Bea’s nephew - a sweet, yet nervous, child with a few too many pyromaniac tendencies. Roderick wasn’t the best around children, however often felt the burning (ha!) urge to protect the small boy; they shared a similar childhood, after all.
Sighing, Roderick folded the note up and shoved it into the pocket of his trousers. Luckily, the team had the week off due to some ‘technical difficulties’, and so Jack was spending time at the base. Which meant it was easy for Roderick to stride down the seemingly endless corridors before coming to the room Jack had taken as his own.
With surprising gentleness, Roderick knocked three times.
“Jack? Are you in there?”