Stucky AU? Where SHIELD finds Bucky in cryo in an old Hydra base, he has his metal arm but the brain washing/memory wipes didn't happen because the scientists in charge of him were killed. So he sat there frozen until a few years before Steve when he's found, heartbroken and on a revenge mission to get every lingering hydra agent or base destroyed. They took his sweetheart from him. Then he gets a call "We found him, Sargeant Barbes."
Imagine Bucky’s anger - no, his rage - when he finds out what happened to Steve. He wants to rip every Hydra down right that moment. He sees red and only sees red for a long time.
The hollow, aching feeling in his chest is too much to bare. He can barely get up some days but he always does when he has another tip from Natasha for another Hydra base to tear down.
His rage fuels him. His rage keeps him fighting. He tears each base down, leaves hardly any survivors and when he does, he leaves them to Natasha, who is not merciful when it comes to avenging the ones she’s lost.
If he stops going on missions, then he’ll get swallowed up by the misery, depression and guilt that taints his heart. He’ll drown in his sorrow and never resurface. Sometimes, he wants to fall away. But he knows it’s not what Steve would have wanted. So, he keeps going, to keep his memory alive.
Hydra will not take Steve away from him. Not his memory or his love.
And then the day comes, when he gets a call from Natasha. “Hey Nat,” he says, “you got another base for me - ?”
“No. It’s something else. You’d better come in,” she says and she sounds…happy. Bucky hangs up right away, showers and throws on some clothes and boots before leaving his apartment.
He’s at SHIELD headquarters within fifteen minutes and is led by Natasha up to the infirmary. “What is it?” he asks her, “seriously Nat?”
She merely smiles, “we found something. Or rather, someone.”
“Look.” Nat nods towards the hospital door.
And there, in the room is Steve. He’s smaller than Bucky again, not by height. But muscle wise, Bucky’s larger due to Hydra’s torture and the need to feel stronger than anyone else, Bucky had made sure he was impressive in size. Steve is all refined and wrapped up in that wonderful body of his, lying there in bed, staring at the ceiling.
His hair’s damp and his cheeks are wet. He’s been crying. He looks just like he had the day Bucky had last seen him, except he’s dressed differently, rested and confused.
“Stevie,” Bucky whispers to himself and then rushes into the room, nearly tearing the door off it’s hinges.
“Bucky?” Steve croaks, sitting up. In a flash, he launches himself into Bucky’s arms, sobbing loudly. “I thought I’d lost you. I thought I’d lost you forever. I’m so sorry. I let you fall. I let them take you.”
“No, no, oh baby no,” Bucky croons, cupping Steve’s face. “No, you didn’t leave me. You didn’t. You couldn’t have known. What were you goin’ to do, eh? Jump after me, they would’ve gotten you too. The only thing that kept me alive all those years was knowin’ that they never got their hands on you.”
They’re level in height now, but still Steve looks down so Bucky has to dip his head to meet his gaze.
“No, baby boy, no,” Bucky shakes his head, “no. Look at me, sweetheart. It’s not your fault. I’m here. You’re here now. Are you okay? Oh doll, I should’ve been lookin’ for you. I did, I did and we had the best people searchin’ for you -
“Bucky,” Steve whimpers, clutching at Bucky’s shoulders, at his clothes, at his neck, “Bucky, Bucky…” He looked into Bucky’s eyes and felt himself crying even more so. “I love y-you.”
“I love you too, darlin’,” Bucky growls, kissing Steve firmly on the mouth. A couple of the doctors look away, blushing at their public display of affection. “I’m never lettin’ you go. You’re got gettin’ out of my sight, ever again. You hear me?”
Steve nods, nudging his nose against Bucky’s, “you too.”
Bucky grins and laughs wetly. They had a lot to talk about and work through but right now, all Bucky wants to do is hold his sweetheart.
And so, he does.