Buckynat week prompt: "We've met before, you know." "Yeah, you made a great impression on my chin."
“We’ve met before, you know.”
“Yeah, you made a great impression on my chin,” Bucky gestures vaguely, aimlessly towards his face, managing a small smile even though the pounding of his heart.
Natasha’s eyebrows rise subtly and her lips curl just a little, an echo of a wry little grin that has been ghosting around his memory during too many sleepless nights in an apartment in Romania. “Was it really your chin hurting afterwards?”
“Well. No.” An aborted half-shrug, his left shoulder still feeling too light, the absence of weight constantly putting him off-balance, still. He can feel his shoulders try to curl inward and forces himself to remain still in a weak attempt to not give everything away.. “Pretty sure you hit me in the head several times and kicked me in the groin.”
His memory is still hazy of those moments, like so many of them.
Bucky chances another look up into her face, into her eyes, the question that has been a constant companion for months now repeating itself in his mind. Does she remember?
‘We’ve met before, you know.’
He gets to watch that little thing of a smile widen into something more prominent.
God, she’s different now. Not so painfully young anymore, grown up, and beautifully so, her hair the same shade but in soft waves opposed to the wilder curls, her eyes older, calmer, surer of herself and of everything around her. Happier too. She grew up into everything he hoped for her.
Bucky’s not sure if even if she did remember, he’d even fit in anywhere in her life anymore. She has so much now - teammates, friends, people she obviously trusts. Hell, for all Bucky knows she could even be married now.
His gaze slides away from her, a tightness rising in his chest that’s hard to swallow down. He’s being ridiculous. She’s probably only here because -
Why is she here?
“I didn’t mean that though,” Bucky hears Natasha speak up again, still finding himself unable to look into her face again. Just like back then, at the very beginning, when she was so vibrant and bright in the twilight of his own existence that it almost hurt to look at her. “I didn’t mean the bridge in D.C. Didn’t mean Odessa either.
She’s shifting, and Bucky’s heart rate ticks up another notch when he realizes that she’s sitting down on the low coffee table right in front of him, and at the same time what her words mean.
Not Berlin. Not D.C. Not Odessa.
His head jerks up to look at her again after all, and it’s startling to have her closer suddenly, close enough that it would make him pull away from everyone else except for Steve. Natasha looks up at him with her fingers entwined underneath her chin, looking so calm and collected, but there’s something in her eyes he can’t quite interpret.
“Do you remember that?”
There’s a horrible, terrifying feeling of vulnerability fighting the hope that wants to rise in his chest, the ridiculousness that comes with the realization that she does remember. She does. They made him watch as they put her in the chair and wiped away everything they had, and somehow, at some point, some things must have broken through again, must have come back to her. There’s no other explanation.
And Bucky tells himself, his thoughts racing, that this has to be enough, he can’t expect - can’t hope - there’s a ravine of so many years to bridge where she kept living, lived her life without him anywhere near it, probably for the longest time without even remembering, and -
Her voice drags him back from that place he fell into for a few moments without even realizing and Bucky swallows and presses his lips together. But there’s so much warmth on her face, so much softness, so… so much.
And that’s what makes him take that jump, to push through that uncertainty and nervousness and fear and finally meet her eyes again.
“Yes. All of it.”
It takes a moment, but when a smile breaks over her face, it’s the first moment since waking up from cryo where Bucky thinks that maybe, somehow, things could actually be okay.