That Would Be Enough
A/N: Alright alright alright, the time has come for the longest oneshot I have ever written. This little beauty has been written in honor of @yourbuddyyourpalyourbucky‘s birthday. She deserves so much more than a fic, but I’m a terrible friend and haven’t gotten around to mailing the rest of it off yet. Regardless! Roo! I wrote this fic specifically for you! I really really hope you like it and that you have the best birthday ever!! I hope you enjoy the fic ;u;
Word Count: 7627
Warnings: Angst, lots and lots of angst.
There are a lot of things that we take for granted in life. Things we forget to take in, savour, relish and appreciate. When I met him I made a promise to myself that I would slow down and live in every single moment I had with him. I made a promise to him that I would never lose myself. That I would make sure to slow down and take care of myself. Coincidentally, I made him make me the same promise.
James Buchanan Barnes is an incredible man. He’s strong, kind, soft, caring and intensely dedicated. He has a focus unlike any other person I’ve ever met. I admire him deeply. I might even go so far as to say that I love him. The only drawback to that is the fact that he doesn’t feel he deserves it. He’s very self destructive in that respect. After so many years as an assassin and of being alone, he always seems to talk himself out of any and every good thing that could possibly have a place in his life.
I remember quite vividly the first time I realized he was doing this.
After one of Stark’s famous after parties died down, the whole team was strewn about in one of the various lounges on one of the upper levels of the tower. Everyone was laughing, drinking, talking amongst themselves and just enjoying themselves in general. I remember watching Bucky from the other side of the coffee table. He was sitting quietly, observing everyone, listening to their banter, a small smile playing at his lips. Then, in an instant, it was gone. The grip he had on the beer bottle in his right hand tightened and his left hand seemed to clamp down on his thigh. I could practically see the gears turning in his head as he talked himself out of having a good time. His gaze fell from the group to his lap and I felt my heart plummet to the ground floor. This man has been through hell and back too many times to count and if anyone deserved a win, it was him. The only flaw in that logic being that he was at war with himself.
After a moment of concentrating on his lap he had downed his beer, said goodnight to Steve and excused himself from the room.
I remember staring at the whiskey in my rocks glass, wanting so badly to go after him. To convince him that he was allowed to have fun and bring him back to the group. In the end, I talked myself out of it and, instead, excused myself and went to my own room.
Over time he and I grew close.
An injury prevented me from going out on field missions for a couple months. After everything he’d done, Bucky made a deal with Steve that he would only be called in on the team as a last resort. He didn’t want to get back into combat and field work, so he stayed back and took care of me unless a mission called for his assistance.
For the most part he just made sure I had food, water, and pain medication and ensured that I didn’t strain my body when I moved. In return for his help, I became his movie, music and book catch up buddy. In the span of a week and a half he read through the entirety of Harry Potter and got me to watch each movie with him as soon as he finished the corresponding book.
When he finished “Order Of The Phoenix” he, gently, dragged me out of bed at two in the morning to watch the movie. I was half asleep during the film, but I remember him crying when Sirius went through the veil. After the movie was over we both crashed on the couch. We fell asleep, my head on his shoulder and his head resting atop mine. I was the first to wake up the next morning. Bucky had shifted in his sleep and his arms were looped loosely around my middle, his head in my lap. He looked more peaceful than he had in months and, needless to say, I was no longer upset with him for waking me up in the middle of the night just to watch a movie.
When he first arrived, he had terrible nightmares. That’s not to say he doesn’t have nightmares anymore, but they were the “wake up in the middle of the night, yelling, screaming, thrashing and drenched in a cold sweat” sort of nightmares. At first Steve was called into his room to help calm him down, but after about a month of him taking care of me he started seeking me out instead. Most of the time he’ll just crawl into bed with me and fall back asleep, but other times he’ll gently nudge me till I roll over and curl into his side before gently wrapping his arms around me and falling asleep with his chin on top of my head.
Sometimes I’d be awake when he came in. I welcome him with open arms and an offer to talk. Until recently he would shake his head and decline the offer, but now he’ll quickly tell me what happened in his vision in a hushed voice before slowly relaxing and falling asleep.
Tonight is no different.
I feel the bed dip slightly, rousing me from my shallow slumber. When I roll over, I find bucky staring at me, but his thoughts are somewhere else entirely. His eyes glisten with the beginnings of tears and I immediately reach out to him, cupping one of his stubbly cheeks with my hand.
“Hey, Buck,” My voice comes out quiet and groggy sounding. “What’s up?”
“I killed them,” He whispers, his gaze still far off. “I killed all of them…”
“Whaddaya mean, sweetheart?” I ask, my mind still too tired to understand what he’s talking about.
“Tony’s mother, his father…” He squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head, a couple of tears rolling down his cheeks. I quickly wipe them away with my thumbs, waking up more at the sight of his distress. “So many people dead… so many… and it’s all my fault,” He covers his face with his hands, his fingers tangling in the hair that frames his face and pulling harshly. “All my fault…”
“Bucky,” I say, my tone gentle, trying to loose his hands from his hair. He just shakes his head, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Bucky!” I say with a little more force this time, trying a little harder now to calm him down. “Come on, sweetheart, I can’t help you if you don’t let me.”
His grip loosens slightly and I seize the opportunity to grab his wrists. I gently pull his hands out of his hair and away from his face. He makes no attempt to pull at his hair again and I quickly busy myself with wiping away his tears.
“I’m so sorry.” he looks up at me, eyes tired.
“There’s nothing to apologize for.” I card my fingers through his hair, trying to soothe and lull him back into sleep. He yawns widely, wrapping his arms around my waist and nestling into my body.
“I’m sorry…” He repeats, his voice more drowsy now.
“Don’t worry abou-”
“I love you, (Y/N).”
The words seem to fall easily from his mouth before his soft snores fill the room.
“I love you too.” I whisper.
I don’t know where to go from there.
Bucky just told me he loves me and then promptly fell asleep before I could say anything. I told him I loved him, but I don’t think he heard me. What am I supposed to do in this situation? Wake him up to tell him I love him? No, I can’t take his rest from him. Should I confront him in the morning? What if he didn’t really mean it? What would even happen if I asked him?
I lay awake, trying to think of what to do until my body can’t handle it anymore and I fall into an involuntary sleep.
I’m roused by a siren piercing the air. It can only mean one thing: We’ve got an emergency mission.
I scramble out of bed, racing to my closet in search of my uniform. Throwing open the doors, I rip the outfit from its hangers and toss it onto the bed. I peel off my pyjamas before struggling into my sports bra and leggings. From there I tug on my pants and tight compression shirt. I hear something shift on my bed as I’m tucking in my shirt. I’m startled for a moment before I realize it’s Bucky. He didn’t leave this time. I pause for a moment, amazed that he’s still here. Then I remember what happened last night and yank my overshirt and coat on, harshly berating myself for being soft. He was just tired. I’m his friend and his colleague. I can’t afford to think like that.
Before he can even sit up in bed I scoop up my kevlar vest and combat boots before sprinting through my door and down the hallway. I practically throw myself down the stairs as I descend them two at a time in an attempt to get to the hangar in record time.
When I arrive at the quinjet I startle Steve so badly he nearly drops the tablet he’s holding. He just looks at me, surprise etched into his features. He’s never seen me ready for a mission this quickly, let alone in an unscheduled one.
“Good morning.” I say, quickly boarding the quinjet and plopping down in my seat.
“Good morning.” He responds, watching me with curiosity as I tug on my boots and tie them almost too tightly. “You’re up early.”
“I guess I am.” I pull at the tongue of my left boot to loosen it up a little. “Before you ask why, I’m trying something new.”
“Alright,” He shrugs and goes back to his pre-mission prep work.
As soon as he’s out of sight I shrug off my jacket and unzip the collar of my overshirt. I rise from my seat, leaving my jacket and vest in a heap on my seat and busy myself with my own preparations. I move about the quinjet making sure all of my gear is there. My goggles, guns, knives, brass knuckles, extra magazines, rounds and clips. Everything is in it’s rightful place, ready for use when the time is right. I move on, doing a systems check of the software for my goggles. The scanners are working perfectly and the information readout is clean. Everything is good. From there I move on to setting up comms for the mission.
I sit in my seat, legs criss cross, hunched over the tablet and keyboard set up in my lap. I’m focusing on syncing up everyone’s earwigs, making sure connections stay strong and that everyone can be reached, even in a dead zone.
When I look up from my work, I find that almost everyone has taken their seat. When clint jogs up the ramp and buckles into his seat beside me, Tony takes off and we’re headed off to the mission site.
It’s about five hours before we’re able to land. Finding a hidden landing spot takes time and Steve takes the opportunity to fill us in on the mission at hand.
“Alright, when we were woken up, not so long ago, F.R.I.D.A.Y. had picked up a distress signal from somewhere in Russia. Upon further investigation we determined that the signal came from a Hydra base that was thought to be deserted. We don’t know what we’re going to find once we get in there, so we should be prepared for the worst.” He looks around the cabin, very serious. “Be safe and don’t do anything stupid.”
“I will try my very best.” Clint says from my side. I elbow him in the ribs and he laughs. “Sorry, just trying to diffuse the tension.”
I roll my eyes and shove him, gently, before standing and distributing everyone’s earwigs. We do a quick comms check before everyone gathers their gear. After going over the plan, the ramp is lowered. We exit the quinjet only to be hit with a sharp gust of cold wind.
“Alright,” Tony says, hands on his hips. “Let’s do our jobs and not get killed.”
Everyone splits off into their pairs. Steve goes with Sam, Nat and Clint head off on their own, Tony flies off with Rhodey hot on his trail and Bucky and I are left to our own devices.
Our task is to sweep the upper and lower levels of the east wing. There are five floors altogether. It’s a lot of ground to cover and we don’t have a lot of time.
“Should we split up?” I ask.
“No,” Bucky answers. “Whatever’s here could be dangerous. We need to stick together.”
I nod stiffly and we head into the facility.
The East wing is furthest away from the entrance. We sprint down the hall to our assigned area. When we arrive we find that the ground floor is covered in dust except for about eighteen spots that look like they could be human footprints. Based on the shape of the prints I would guess that whoever they belong to isn’t a soldier.
“Steve,” I press a finger to my earwig so he can hear me. “We’ve got footprints on the ground floor of the East wing.”
“Find out where they came from.” He says. “Be careful.”
“Got it.” Bucky responds.
I pry open the door to the stairway and peer inside. The shaft is lit by flickering emergency lights, giving the entire space an eerie feeling. Without much thought I pull an industrial glow stick from my belt, crack it and hang it around my neck before pulling out my flashlight.
“So,” I shine the light up the stairwell and then down. “Up first, or down?”
“Down,” Bucky produces his own flashlight and turns it on.
“Alright, down it is.”
We quickly descend the stairs to the level labeled B3. After a little looking around we determine that the level is deserted. We move on to B2 and it’s a completely different story. The area is brightly lit and clean. There are different machines everywhere and nearly all of them are making some sort of whirring or beeping noise.
“I guess we know why everywhere else is on emergency power now.” I comment, eyeing our surroundings warily. “Most, if not all, power in the wing is being diverted to this floor.”
“Y’know, I really don’t like that tone of voice.” He says, his voice hushed. “Especially in places like this and on missions like this one.”
“Sorry,” I quickly apologize. “I’m worried about what we might find here. I swear if we find more like the twins I’m gonna lose it.”
“I don’t think we will.” Bucky peers through a windows set into one of the doors, the grip on his gun tightening. “This doesn’t look like the places where they experiment on people. Even if it is, the experiments won’t be down here. They’re more likely to be kept where whoever’s working on them can keep an eye on them. This looks more medical than anything else.”
“Still,” I open one of the doors. “I don’t like the look of… this…place.”
I reel back from the sight before me. There are bodies and flies everywhere. The smell alone has my eyes watering.
“They’re… they’re dead.” Bucky breathes. “All of them. I-I, (Y/N), I can’t… I-”
A loud, pained moan stops his words instantly. Bucky and I both immediately cease any movements, surprised by the sound. We frantically look around, desperately trying to find the source of the noise.
“Where are you?!” I hiss, sifting through the bodies in search of the one live person.
“H-here,” A voice says weakly. I whip my head around, still unable to pinpoint where the voice came from.
“It came from over there.” Bucky points to the other side of the room.
I rush over to where Bucky had pointed to find a man slumped against the wall. He’s covered in blood, his hair is matted and his breathing is labored. The soft orange light from the glowstick makes him look gaunt and sickly.
“Hey,” I say quietly, pushing his hair back from his face. “Hey there, darlin’.” He lazily lifts his eyes to look at me. “What’s your name?”
“D-david,” He manages to stutter out. “M-my name is D-david.”
“Hey, David. I’m (Y/N), this is Bucky.”
“Hi.” Bucky crouches down beside me.
“We’re here to help you.”
“Are there any more of you guys here?” Bucky asks.
“No,” He shakes his head, his words slurring. “They killed everyone else. Th-there was an uprising amongst all of us a-and they killed e-everyone.”
“How are you alive then?”
“I got hit here,” He points to a dark wound on his hip. “A-and I went down. I covered myself w-with as much of the others blood as I could a-and they thought I was dead too.”
“That was a good move.” I nod, impressed by his quick thinking. “Can you walk?”
“I-I think so, if I have help.” He says, nodding slowly, his fatigue obvious in his movements.
“Don’t worry,” I quickly unzip my jacket, take it off and help David into it. “We’ll get you all the help you need.”
Bucky hands me his gun and helps David to his feet. David’s got his arm draped loosely across Bucky’s shoulders, but Buck y has a firm hold on David’s waist. There’s no way he’ll fall from Bucky’s arms. When we reach the stairs, David’s legs won’t carry him, so Bucky scoops him up and carries him bridal style up the two flights of stairs to the ground level.
“Steve, we’ve got a live one.”
“Okay, get them out and keep your guard up.”
“Got it.” I nod even though he can’t see me. “Let’s get outta here, Buck.”
When we reach the main hallway we hear the sounds of combat outside. There are shouts, loud clangs of things against Steve’s shield, both Tony and Rhodey’s repulsors firing, the staccato sounds of shotguns being fired and the short, sporadic bursts of machine gun fire.
“Sounds like a warzone out there.” Bucky says quietly.
“We can do this, we can do this, we can do this, we can…” I chant, bouncing on the balls of my feet a little bit.
“Of course we can do this.” Bucky says. I let out a shaky breath and nod, bouncing a few more times to try and calm myself.
“Is there anyone out there who can grab this guy we found and take him to the quinjet?” I ask over comms. “I mean, we’d do it, but we’re kind of in the killbox right now.”
“I can probably manage a flyby.” Sam’s voice crackles through my earpiece. “Where you guys at?”
“Main entrance.” Bucky answers.
“Meet me outside in, uh, now.”
Bucky and I rush out the doors to find Sam running towards us. As soon as he meets us, he take David from Bucky’s arms.
“D’you want your coat back?” David asks, moving to take the clothing off.
“No,” I answer, placing my hand over his. “You need it more than I do right now. Gotta give you all the protection you can get.” I look up at Sam and find a deadly serious look on his face, different from the light hearted expression he usually wears. “You sure you’ve got this?”
“Of course.” He says. “Do you doubt my skill?”
“No, I just want you to be safe.”
Sam nods once before breaking out into a run and taking off into the air. I watch as they disappear, zoning out for a moment before the sound of gunfire pulls me back. I hand Bucky his gun before punching him lightly in the arm and running out to join our teammates.
We throw ourselves into the fray, trying to incapacitate without killing our adversaries. We all do our jobs efficiently and quickly.
Work like this becomes monotonous and methodical, and sometimes things can get blocked out which isn’t good. It just makes our job that much more dangerous.
Bucky gets caught up in battle easily and I notice the danger headed for him before he does. There’s a soldier behind him, gun at the ready and I have to think fast.
“Bucky!” I cry, quickly jumping in between him and the shooter, shielding his body with my own.
“No!” He screams as the sound of gunfire pierces the air.
Most of the bullets only sink into the thick kevlar material of my reinforced pants and vest, but a few lucky shots manage to find weak points in my armor. One hits one of the first bullets that hit my vest and they both pierce my abdomen, finding a painful home there. Another takes up lodging in my right femur and the last nicks something that’s probably important on my neck.
My vision starts to go dark almost immediately and I feel myself teeter on my feet for a moment before I begin to fall to the ground. Someone catches me before my body can make contact with the packed gravel, and through my hazy vision I can see that it was Bucky. From what I can see, he looks distraught and all I want is to reach out to him, to tell him that everything is okay, that he’s gonna be okay and that he’s safe.
I can see his mouth open and close, but it takes a while for his voice to reach my ears.
“No,” He whispers. “No, no, no, no ,no. Please, no.” He pulls me in tight to his chest, rocking back and forth. “You shouldn’t’ve done that. Why did you do it?”
“I couldn’t… let you,,, die.” I manage to splutter. “You’re too… important.”
“No, I’m not. I’m not.” He insists, leaning forward and pressing his forehead to mine. “You’re more important than I am. I can’t lose you.”
“I’m clockin out here…” I say, my breathing labored. “Don’t worry… you’re okay.”
“No, (Y/N), no!” He cries watching my eyes flutter shut. “I just told you I loved you, you can’t leave me, (Y/N).”
“I love you too… Buck…” I say, my voice and consciousness fading.
“(Y/N)? (Y/N)?!” He presses his hands more firmly to my wounds. “Help!” He yells. “HELP!”
His voice is the last thing I hear before everything goes completely black.
There’s a beeping. It wakes me up for a moment, but it’s annoying, so I ignore it and go back to sleep.
The beeping comes back, this time with an antiseptic smell. My eyes flutter open, only to feel the burn of the fluorescent lights. I blink a few time to adjust to the brightness of the room and sit up only to have my muscles scream at me for doing so. The wince that leaves my mouth is loud enough to catch the attention of a nurse near by. He tries to push me back down onto the bed, but I wave him off and try to straighten my posture. Everything hurts and it feels like my entire body is screaming at me, pissed as hell that I felt like moving in the first place.
I slowly look around the room, only finding white tiles with weird minty green accent patterns and pieces here and there. Aside from the two nurses fussing with some machinery across the room, I’m alone. I sigh quietly and allow my head to fell back on my pillow.
I doze off again momentarily only to be woken again by a commotion outside the double doors. The two nurses scurry out into the hallway only to have half of the Avengers push past them and into the room. Clint, Steve, Natasha and Tony stride up and place themselves in a protective semicircle around my bed.
“Hey, guys.” I smile at them and close my eyes, trying to gather the energy and strength for this interaction before opening them again.
“It’s good to see you awake, kid.” Tony says, gently taking my hand in his.
“It’s good to see you guys too.” I squeeze his hand and look around at my friends. “How long was I out?” Suddenly everyone seems to be incapable of looking at me. “Come on, guys, I need an answer here.”
“A week.” Clint finally answers for the group. I stare at him, shocked. “And a half.”
“There were a lot of surgeries, (Y/N), you needed time to heal.” Steve says. “You still do.”
“Fine.” I shake my head in an attempt to clear it and try to reposition myself again. “How’s Bucky doing?”
“He’s, uh… Bucky’s not doin so hot right now.” Steve scratches the back of his neck. “He really blames himself for what happened to you.”
“But it was my choice.” I furrow my brow. “Where is he? Maybe I could talk to him. We could get everything straightened out and-”
“(Y/N), Bucky isn’t here.” Natasha says.
“Then I can talk to him when I get released. Everything will be fine”
“No, (Y/N),” Steve cuts in. “He’s not here. He’s not in the country.”
“What do you mean?” Steve doesn’t answer. “Steve. What. Do. You. Mean.”
“Well, I said he left because he blamed himself for what happened to you.” Steve says hesitantly. “He’s in Wakanda.”
“Steve, I have to go see him.”
“(Y/N), you still need to heal. You can’t walk without a cane yet. You need more time.”
“Says you.” I mumble. “I can’t just stay here and hope he’ll come back. No one in Wakanda knows him and no one is going to be able to help him. He’s just stewing in his emotions and self hatred… he’s going to implode.”
“He’s safe there.”
“He was safe here.” I slam the end of my cane into the concrete floor. The sound echoes through the empty room.
“You can’t decide what’s best for him.” Steve’s voice is almost a growl.
“And you think you can?” I hiss. “Do you know what he said to me after I got shot? While he held me in his arms, hands pressed over my bullet wounds while I bled out?” I watch as Steve’s eyes widen and his mouth opens and closes as he tries to find his words. I don’t give him the time to find them. I advance on him, getting close enough for him to see the rage in my eyes. “He told me that he wasn’t important. He insisted that he wasn’t. He told me that I was more important than him and that he couldn’t lose me. He told me he loved me and that I wasn’t allowed to leave him.”
“No, Steve. Do you know what happened after I got injured last time and he was taking care of me?” Steve shakes his head. “When he had nightmares, he came to me. He told me what happened and I held him until he fell asleep again. When I couldn’t sleep I went to him and he would let me curl into his chest and he would tell me about his day. We were there for each other. We took care of each other, and you have the audacity to tell me that I can’t decide what’s best for him? I thought you were his best friend.”
“I am.” He whispers.
“Then act like it.” I jab him in the chest with my finger. “I’m going to Wakanda. I’m going to talk to him. I’m going to try to bring him back, and I swear I will beat you half to death with this fucking cane if you even try to stop me.”
“Fine,” He sighs in resignation. “But I’m going with you.”
“Fine.” I turn away from him and limp off to my room. “Meet me in the hangar in half an hour.”
“You only need half an hour?” I can tell he’s got his arms crossed and an eyebrow quirked up without even turning around.
“Forty five minutes.” I huff.
“King T’Challa.” I dip my head in respect to the man on the video feed.
“(Y/N),” He mimics my actions, much to my surprise. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I know I haven’t earned it, but I need to ask a favor of you.”
“Oh?” He raises his eyebrows at me. “And what sort of favor would it be?”
“I’m, well, Steve and I are on our way to your country right now. I need to speak with Bucky, and the Captain has insisted he join me. I hope we aren’t intruding. I guess I should have called ahead of time and asked for permission to visit…”
“There is no need to worry over such trivial things, (Y/N),” He chuckles lightly. “You are welcome in my country at any time. What is it that you need of me?”
“Bucky can’t know I’m coming. I know how much he blames himself for me getting myself shot and I’m afraid he’ll leave before I even get the chance to see him.”
“You can count on me.” He nods. “What is your ETA?”
“We’re about three hours out.” Steve calls across the quinjet.
“Alright.” T'Challa says. “Preparations will be made and I will be awaiting your arrival.”
“Thank you so much.” I sigh quietly in relief, sitting back in my chair. “Again, I’m sorry to just be dropping in like this.”
“Don’t worry, (Y/N). I was starting to worry that no one had come for him. I think it will be good for him to see you.”
“I hope so.”
“I look forward to seeing the two of you again. Be safe in your travels.”
“Thank you, your highness, we’ll do our best.”
He nods and ends the call, leaving a blank and fuzzy screen in front of me. I flick it away and haul myself to my feet, leaning heavily on my cane for support. I walk in slow, methodical lines, pacing in the open space in the jet, trying to exercise my leg to the best of my ability. After a while I have to stop, the pain in my leg getting to be too much. I shift my weight to my left leg, taking a short sharp breath as a pang of pain shoots through my thigh.
“You really should sit down. Your entire body needs rest.” Steve comments.
“If I don’t keep moving I’ll lose all of the progress I’ve made.” I step forward with my right foot, hissing when I put weight on it. “Use it or lose it, Rogers.”
“Fine,” He sighs. “But don’t come whining to me when you make it worse.”
“Oh shut up, Mr. “I’m a super soldier and I heal faster than a speeding bullet”. Let me mess up my leg in peace.” Steve laughs at me, keeping his eyes glued to the open sky in front of him. I slowly make my way over to the front of the quinjet and rest my arm on the back of the pilot’s chair, leaning heavily on my left side.
“Can I help you with something?”
“Why didn’t you go after him?” I ask, my voice hushed.
“It wasn’t my fight.” He answers simply.
“That’s very un-Steve of you.” I lean forward and rest my chin on his shoulder. “Usually you’re ready to jump in and save the day, regardless of what’s happening.”
“Maybe I’m mellowing with age.” He shrugs, making my head bob up and down once.
“Mmm,” I hum. “Maybe.”
“(Y/N), Steve.” T’Challa says, turning to each of us respectively and dipping his head to us. “It is good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too, your highness.” I dip my head to him in respect. “I just wish it were under better circumstances.”
“As do I.” He nods. ”He’s down that corridor, take a left, go all the way down the hallway, take another left and then an immediate right. You should come to a room that is nearly all windows and you should find him in there.”
“Thank you.” I nod and walk past him, slowly making my way across the room and down the hallway.
“Do you think she’ll manage to bring him back?” Steve asks softly.
“He is here because he cares for her. She is here because she cares for him.” T’Challa answers. “She will find a way.”
With my hindered mobility it takes a while for me to get down the first hallway. I get tired easily and I have to pause every five or so minutes to rest before continuing on towards Bucky’s room. Unfortunately the pace at which I’m walking allows me time to overthink.
What if he doesn’t want to see me? What if he hates me for what I did. What if he’s angry with me for my actions? Maybe he’ll tell me he never wants to see me again. Maybe that’s why he left. Maybe that’s why he’s here. So he doesn’t have to look at me and feel guilty for what I did to myself.
No. I shake my head and shove those thoughts aside. I’m here right now and so is here. There’s no going back now, so I have to muster up whatever semblance of courage I can and push forward.
With my renewed determination I make it to the room where T’Challa said Bucky would be without having to stop. When I reach my destination I find that the door is open. I stand in the doorway, trying to find Bucky without actually entering the room. My eyes lock onto his form slumped on the white couch close to the wall of windows on the far side of the room. No part of him is moving and someone who didn’t know him would probably worry about him being dead. Instead I knock on the door with the handle of my cane. Bucky seems to almost jump off the couch, startled by the sharp noise. He slowly turns his head to investigate where the sound came from. I watch as his eyes widen when he catches sight of me.
“(Y/N),” He breathes. He stands abruptly, and a jacket that had been in his lap falls to the floor. He steps over it and crosses the room in long strides. He reaches out to me with shaking hands and gently cups my face. “(Y/N)…” He repeats.
“Hey there, sweetheart.” I smile at him, trying to blink away the tears that are forming in my eyes. “It’s been a while.”
“It has, I know.” His eyes flit over my features like he’s trying to memorize my face. “Why are you here?”
“Because you’re here.” I carefully take his right hand in my left, running my thumb over the knuckles.
“(Y/N)…” He trails off, looking at the floor. He notices something and his eyes go wide. “You… you’re using a cane?”
“Oh, yeah. The bone was in less than optimal condition, thanks to me, so they had to reinforce it with pins and things. I don’t know exactly what’s going on in there, I just know I’m in one piece.” I hear him inhale sharply and I look up at him, concerned. “What?”
“If I had been paying attention none of this would have happened…” He pulls away from me, slowly backing into the room and turning around. He runs his hands through his hair before bringing his hands together at the back of his neck and lacing his fingers together. “You wouldn’t have gotten shot and you wouldn’t have lost so much time, you wouldn’t be walking with a cane and-”
“And, and, and,” I cut him off, slowly managing to follow after him. “There are a lot of things that could have happened, but none of them did, okay? I got myself shot, I had to have multiple surgeries, I’ve had to go through physical therapy and I’m pushing myself to recover. You shouldn’t blame yourself for what happened. It’s a part of my job to make reckless and stupid decisions if it means keeping someone alive.”
“Keeping me alive isn’t your job.”
“Oh? When was that decided? Huh?”
“(Y/N)…” He groans, still walking away from me.
“Bucky, please,” I realize that I can’t keep following after him, so I hook the handle of my cane around his elbow. “Please, stop.”
“Why are you here?” He asks again.
“Do you remember the last thing I said to you after I got shot?” I unhook my cane from his arm and he turns around to face me.
“You told me you loved me.” He looks at the floor, silent for a time as if he’s thinking through what I said. He finally looks up at me and he almost looks sad. “Did you mean that?”
“Did you mean it when you said you loved me the night before that?”
“I… You heard that?”
“Yes. I told you that I loved you then too.” I wobble on my feet a little bit, just barely able to get my cane on the floor before I fall over. “I meant it both times, and I still do.” I stare at the floor, certain that I don’t want to watch his reaction. “I just need to know if you did. Because if you didn’t, I’ll leave right now.”
“I did, (Y/N), I did mean it.” He says quietly. I slowly look up at him, waiting for the ‘but’ that I know is going to follow. “But I can’t… I don’t deserve you”
“You know what I’ve done. You know how unstable I am.” He looks at me sadly. “You deserve someone who can give you what you need, and I can’t do that.”
“Why do you always do this?”
“Talk yourself out of being happy or having something good in your life.” He furrows his brow and frowns at me. “I’ve watched you do it ever since Steve brought you to the tower. You finally relax and start to have a good time and then a switch flips in your brain and I watch you talk yourself down like you don’t deserve friends or to have a decent time at a party. Why-” My voice cracks and I have to take a deep breath before I can continue. “Why do you do that to yourself?”
“I don’t deserve good things and I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve your help, I’m not worth it.”
“Bucky, if you didn’t deserve my help, I never would have offered.” I take a step towards him, trying to keep myself steady on my feet. “You spend all of your time knocking yourself down that you don’t recognize that there are people who love you, despite how you feel about yourself. You’re worth every second that I spend with you and nothing will ever convince me otherwise.”
“(Y/N), how can you be so sure that you won’t ch-”
“Bucky, will you please just-shit” I feel my right knee buckle and I take a knee to avoid crumbling completely. I try to haul myself back to my feet, but to no avail. I sigh loudly, frustrated by my body’s betrayal, and opt for staying where I am, glaring at the floor. When I look up again, I find that Bucky has crouched down beside me, looking over me, an intense look of worry on his face.
“What’s wrong?” He asks, his tone worried.
“It’s my leg.” I shake my head. “I’ve been standing around and walking. It takes a lot out of me. I’m fine.”
“No, (Y/N), you’re not. Why do you have to push yourself like this?” He scowls at me.
“Because no one makes me stop.” I laugh. “You were my voice of reason last time I got seriously hurt. Steve only fueled it because he said I could travel to see you when I could walk again.”
“It was me being irresponsible, not him.” I wave my hand in dismissal. “Just gimme a sec, I’ll be back on my feet in a minute.”
“No,” He sighs. He gently slips an arm under my legs and wraps the other around my back and stands with me in his arms. “I’ll move you to the couch. You need to rest.”
“Okay.” I say quietly. I rest my head against his shoulder, silently wishing he could understand just how much I need him.
He slowly walks over to the pristine couch and pauses for a moment. I thought he would set me down on the couch and sit beside me, but instead he takes a seat and keeps me close to his chest. He doesn’t move or speak for a good five minutes and I finally begin to relax into his hold. My posture softens and my head lays more heavily on his shoulder. I almost didn’t realize how much I’ve missed being this close to him.
Bucky sighs quietly and shifts slightly so that he can rest his cheek on top of my head. I place a hand on his chest and angle my head so that I can look up at him. His eyes are trained on the window but his gaze is far away like it is when he’s talking himself down, but it’s different this time. He moves his arm from under my legs and brings it to rest around my waist, pulling me closer to his chest.
“I’m sorry.” He whispers.
“I shouldn’t have fought with you about any of this.” He shakes his head and pulls away to look at me. “I just need you more than you need me and I don’t want to be a burden for you.”
“Bucky, I need you just as much as you need me, if not more so.” I tuck a few strands of hair behind his ear before brushing my thumb over his cheekbone and trailing my fingers across his jaw. “You keep me from rushing through things and neglecting myself. It sucks not being with you. I’ve had one hell of a time trying to sleep without you.” I curl my hand into a fist and hold it to my chest. “That sounded way more selfish than I wanted it to.”
“Don’t worry.” The corner of his mouth quirks up in a half smile. “It’s been the same for me. I freak out and then you’re not there. ”
“I’m here now.”
“Just come back with me.” I plead. “That would be enough.”
“What if I’m not enough, (Y/N)?”
“We could be enough, Buck. You don’t have to do this on your own.”
He looks at me tearfully, a smile fully forming on his lips. He cups my cheek with his metal hand, brushing his cold thumb over my cheekbone. He leans forward, pulling me to his chest to meet him and ghosts his lips over mine. When he receives no protest from me he presses his lips to mine more firmly. I kiss him back, gently covering his hand with my own. Bucky breaks away and presses his forehead against mine. He sighs quietly before moving me from his lap to the couch and walking away. I watch him, curious as to what he’s doing.
He leaves the room for a moment before poking his head back in.
“I’ll be right back.” He says before disappearing again.
I sit with my hands in my lap, staring at my cane where it lays on the floor. The only thing I feel when I look at it is frustration. The only thing it represents in the fact that I’m not well yet, despite how hard I’ve been pushing myself. Bucky worries about being enough for me, but what if I’m not enough for him?
The loud sound of a heavy duffel bag landing on the concrete floor pulls me from my thoughts. I look around, trying to find the source of the sound and finding Bucky holding his hand out to me. I place my hand in his and he helps me to my feet, stooping down to pick up my cane and handing it to me. Once I’m steadily standing on my own he grabs his duffel from the floor and joins me where I’m standing. I stare at him, not quite sure what to make of this.
“Does this mean you’re coming back?” I ask hopefully. He nods and I can’t hold myself back from surging forward and wrapping my arms around him in a massive hug.
“I figure you can’t kill yourself if I’m there to stop you.” He hugs me back and I can feel him smiling into my hair.
“What if I’m not enough for you?”
“You’re more than enough, (Y/N).” He whispers.
Bucky leads me back down the hallway to the entryway where Steve and I met T’Challa when we first arrived. Steve and T’Challa stand at the mouth of the corridor, seemingly waiting for Bucky and I to emerge.
“She did it.” Steve breathes, a gentle smile shaping his mouth when he sees Bucky and I walking down the hallway. “She actually did it.”
“I told you that she would find a way.” T’Challa says simply. “They love each other. They will always find a way.”
“You think so?” Steve asks.
“Yeah.” I whisper, looking up at Bucky. “Always.”
Thank you so much for reading! Roo, I hope you have an amazing day! Feedback would be greatly appreciated!