Pretence - 4
summary: “For Nat’s sake, Y/N, will you pretend to be my girlfriend?”
Bucky had heard once that if it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen. His mama lived by those words. Maybe that’s why she fought every battle with bright eyes and a smile. It’s why there was never anything she couldn’t do.
There were several times in his life when he questioned the validity of those words. When Sarah Rogers died, he wondered if it meant that he was always going to be responsible for Steve. When Steve liberated the 107th, he wondered if maybe it had always been the other way around. The words lost meaning to him when fell of that train.
When he looks at Y/N, though, with her naked body curled up against him, eyes closed and soft snores escaping her nose, he can’t help but remember them.
He wonders if she remembers anything from last night. He knows he does. He remembers every last word he said, the exact number of times she whispered his name, the expressions on her face of bliss and hurt and anger and desperation. He remembers his own matching desperation, how the only thing on his mind had been bright red hair and sea green eyes and how somehow, somewhere along the way, suddenly all he could think about was Y/N. He remembers how he did what he did to deal with his own misery, like the selfish bastard he is, but how at some point it became something else, something more.
And even now, in his fully conscious and sober state of mind, when the feeling of her skin touching his is supposed to be wrong, it isn’t. He can’t move; He doesn’t want to move, and that scares him. If it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen.
She stirs beside him, and his breath catches in his throat because he wouldn’t be caught dead staring at her at his most vulnerable, especially when he knows exactly how she’ll react waking up beside him: with a red face, mumbling “this was a mistake” and rushing out of the room as if he’s hurt her.
(And he has, he realizes.)
When she only flips over and falls back asleep, Bucky lets out a breath of air and his lungs can function properly again. He decides maybe it’s best if he goes to take a shower. He’s not sure he could handle himself being beside her when she does wake up, anyway.
They’re at a club, and it’s when Bucky’s sitting between Steve, Sam, Wanda, Sharon, and Y/N, loud music pounding in his veins, that he realizes that if anything, Y/N deserves an Oscar. She’s avoided him expertly for days, and he hasn’t done much on his own part to seek her out either. It’s little things that he’s slowly registered: that she needs space, that he’s probably going to make a bad situation even worse, that this whole dynamic is toxic. For him too, but especially for her.
But this woman, oh god. She’s sitting with the others right now, laughing and talking as if nothing’s wrong at all, and the only reason Bucky can tell that something is off is because he’s concealed his own emotions for years. It’s like someone’s flipped a switch, and Bucky’s not sure why or how, but he’s become aware of how selfish he’s been, to ask someone to leave their whole life behind just so he can deal with his own crushing self worth.
She excuses herself from the group, saying something about getting a drink and winking at Wanda, who laughs in return. He notices her empty glass, and how everyone else has barely had any to drink, and he feels his eyebrows furrow in concern.
He watches her as she sits at the bar, watches how she down a drink quicker than he’s ever downed one, watches how she orders another, then another. And he knows what she’s doing, because drinking to forget? He’s tried that so, so many times.
“Oh my god, Bucky. You’re obsessed with her.” It’s Sharon Carter who finally gets him to look away and tune back into the conversation, and he realizes that everyone’s grinning at him. So he flashes his signature smile, laughs along with the others, when really, it feels like he’s only just noticed her.
Slowly, everyone disperses to their own activity. Wanda goes to the dance floor, Steve and Sharon head out to grab something to eat, saying they’ll be back, and Sam disappears to who knows where?
Bucky stands his ground for a while, until even the bartender is giving Y/N looks of concern. Then he gets up and walks over to the bar, standing beside Y/N. She doesn’t say anything when he gently takes her glass out of her hand and sets it to the side, only looks up at him with hollow, emotionless eyes that make his own throat tighten.
“That’s enough,” he says, but he can barely get the word out of his mouth. He sends Steve a quick text, then slips his arm around Y/N’s back to help her off the bar stool and onto her feet. “Let’s get you home.”
She’s quite as he guides her outside and hails a cab for the two of them. She just stares straight ahead, emotionless, not acknowledging anything. It isn’t until they’re on their way back to the compound that she speaks.
“Bucky?” She says his name so softly he has to strain to hear her. “Why– why me?”
And all Bucky can say to that is “I’m sorry.” He wants to say he’s sorry that she’s hurting, that it’s not at all her fault, that he owes her the biggest apology in the world, but the only words that he can manage to say through his constricting throat are “I’m sorry.” Over, and over, and over.
She doesn’t cry or yell at him like she should. She just goes back to staring outside quietly, leaning her head against the window. Eventually, he sees her close her eyes, and he thinks that maybe she’s asleep, but then she opens her mouth to speak again and the words she whispers make Bucky’s heart clench and his breathing stop.
“I just want the pain to end.”