Sometimes, contentment is a matter of will. You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you’ve lost. I know this to be wise and true, just as I know that pretty much no one can do it. - Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You)
Summary: The day Bucky Barnes stumbles into your clinic with a bullet in his side is the day your life changed forever.
A/N: soooo here we are, a new series! i tried to write something funny and cute but i came up with this instead… i hope you enjoy anyway! fyi, this is a post civil war fic but bucky’s arm wasn’t blown off by tony for reasons. please let me know what you think, any feedback you have, and any ideas you might have for the series! title is from palace by hayley kiyoko.
After a slow day at the clinic, you decided to take pity on your Nurse Practitioner, Richard, and send him home. You let your receptionist off as well, promising to take care of everything yourself before locking up for the night. It’s nine at night and you’re just finishing up the last of the patient logs in your office when there’s a loud crash from the direction of the lobby, and then a series of booming knocks on the glass door.
You don’t hesitate to arm yourself with the glock your security guard, Yakov, made you learn how to use. As you cautiously approach the lobby, you can hear Yakov’s rough Russian accent discussing something with an unknown voice outside - he doesn’t sound angry, but he’s not exactly talking about the weather either. You clear the corridor, and allow yourself only a second of shock before you’re tucking the glock (safety on, thanks Yakov) into the waistband of your slacks and running to unlock the door.
Dreams of Syria are not unusual, and they always go something like this: the bone deep rumble of distant explosions, crumbling plaster raining in dust clouds around you, the wailing of those mourning the dead. You’re in the hospital, and it’s falling down around you but you can’t move an inch. People are screaming at you to help them, limbs half falling off and wounds so deep you can see organs spilling out, the shock-white of bone beneath blood that’s too red. You can’t help them, because you can’t move. You’re stuck.
When you wake up, every muscle in your body is stiff and sore. In this nightmare you lock up, paralysed, while you watch the world burn around you. You wake up with the guilt of having done nothing, of letting people die, and it stays with you for the rest of the day. And the day after that. Maybe it stays with you forever.
This time, you wake up to someone stroking your hair and calling your name.
After the Winter Soldier and Black Widow’s night-time visit to your clinic, nothing is really the same. There isn’t some dramatic change in your life, like superheroes falling out of the sky or something, but everything just feels slightly different. You scan every patient’s face for James’, you stay an extra hour every night just in case he shows up again with an urgent injury, and you can’t bring yourself to cash in the cheque from Tony Stark for a lot more money than a quick stitch-up requires.
You’re staring at that cheque in your office, as you have been for the past fifteen minutes during your lunch break, when your receptionist, Peter, knocks on your door. He pokes his head in looking absolutely terrified and frazzled out of his mind, which instantly has you standing up and focused.
Summary: The day Bucky Barnes stumbles into your clinic with a bullet in his side is the day your life changed forever.
Warnings: unprotected sex (remember to wrap it people)
A/N: so apparently i can’t write smut without feelings. but i think i like this anyway, hopefully you guys do as well! thanks so much for all the amazing feedback i’ve gotten so far, and remember if you wanna be tagged just let me know :)
As you expected, a month passed with no sign of Bucky or any of the other Avengers. You cashed Tony Stark’s two massive cheques which allowed you to pay off a considerable heft of the mortgage on your clinic, but otherwise - nothing. It’s been so long that Peter’s stopped giving you weird looks and muttering to himself, going back to his normal geeky ways, and you’re beginning to think the whole thing was just a dream.
After a busy day at the clinic (you had about ten different cases of mono to treat, and one of the Riley kids got a piece of lego lodged up their nose and took hours to calm down), you’re locking up late as per usual. Richard and Peter went home an hour ago, and you’ve given up on your paperwork. Yakov walks you to your car, and you wish him a good night as you get inside.
You chuck all your shit in the backseat, seeing Yakov head to his own car out of the corner of your eye. When you twist around, there’s a flash of some dark shape outside which you barely have time to register before the passenger door is being pulled open and someone slides inside.
You press yourself to the door, wide-eyed and breathing heavy - so afraid you can’t even get a scream out. But only for a second. As soon as you move, you realise who your supposed assailant is. He’s grinning, sharp white teeth broad and bright in the dim glow of the street light, and you press a hand to your jackhammering heartbeat.
“You’re a fucking asshole,” you groan, closing your eyes as useless adrenaline spikes through you. Bucky laughs, head thrown back and sound so rough and sweet you lose the spark of anger towards him instantly.
“Your face was priceless,” he says, grinning at you over the centre console. Then, because he truly is an asshole, he mimics your whole-body reaction and starts laughing again. You scowl, shifting in your seat so you can glare out the front windscreen with your arms folded.
“Shut the fuck up,” you grumble. “This is a sketchy neighbourhood, ok? I don’t keep Yakov around for kicks.”
“I’m sorry,” Bucky says, still a bit breathless from laughing but you do know he means it.
You glance back over at him, and he’s smiling but he’s not making fun of you anymore. He looks- good. Unfairly good for ten at night, while you’re a mess from your hectic day. His black shirt is skin tight and long-sleeved, hugging every single ridiculous muscle has has - which you’ve touched, by the way, and really didn’t appreciate at the time. His eyes are somewhat obscured by a ball cap but you can still make out the bright blue as they spark at you, still amused and something else, too.
“What are you doing here?” you ask. “No one’s hurt, are they?”
“No,” Bucky says, that small smile still tugging on his face. “I don’t have a legitimate reason to be here this time.”
He lets that hang between you, loaded and shimmering in the shadows of your car. It’s so intimate with nothing but the console between you, the intense catch of his eyes on yours, how the dark shrouds the car in hushed quiet so it feels like the whole world is just the two of you. You bite your lip, and you could say something, but you’re irrationally afraid of breaking whatever spell this night has put you under. So, without looking away from him, you put your key in the ignition and turn the car on.
The drive back to your apartment is quiet, but not awkwardly so. Bucky looks out the window and watches the streetlights pass, and you try not to look at the flashes of his profile they illuminate. You don’t live all that far from the clinic, but traffic is a bitch any time of the day in New York. When you stop at a red light, it fills the car with an ominous glow but Bucky turns back to you with a smile that crinkles his eyes at the corners, and it doesn’t feel so foreboding. You think you like this, just sitting in the dark with Bucky and watching the light change. You think you could do this forever.
You park under your building, but you both stay in the car when you shut off the engine. Bucky lolls his head towards you, grin building soft and slow as he looks at you. It’s a lot, that look, and it has you fumbling your hands in your lap and blushing like an actual child. He makes something inside you shiver, unsettling all the settled parts and leaving you scrabbling for purchase. It’s kind of scary, you guess, in the same way adrenaline burns but still leaves you craving for more.
“Hey,” Bucky says softly, and reaches across the console to tap one finger on the back of your hand. You look up, and he catches your jaw in his hand - big and calloused and warm when he strokes his thumb over the skin right beside your mouth.
“I didn’t know if I was gonna see you again,” you say, aiming for nonchalance but failing miserably. You don’t want to admit you were thinking about him that whole time, but you were and in an achy, terrible way, it hurt.
Bucky rolls his lips together, considering you for a moment while still stroking your skin. His thumb is so close to your lips that every single nerve he touches is on high alert, hyperaware of the catch of his rough skin against yours with every sweep.
Eventually, he licks his lips and says, “Neither did I.”
You’re not sure what answer you were looking for, and so his words don’t settle right or wrong with you. They just are, hanging between you as everything seems to, like a thing you can touch or push away. So you decide. You tilt your head into his touch, feeling the rough warmth of his palm on your cheek and his fingertips nudging into your hairline. Your eyes flutter closed, but you aren’t at all surprised when you feel the ghost of his breath over your lips right before he kisses you.
And maybe you should be scared to have the Winter Soldier in your car, alone, and maybe you should be wondering why now, why you, why it’s happening at all, but you’re not. Your mind is velvet quiet and his mouth is liquid soft; plush lips against yours; heat that sears and soothes at the same time.
He moves with the kiss, arching over the console closer to you and pulling you into him with his hand on your jaw, and you let him. Your hands move forward as you do, sliding up his thighs and holding on both for balance and because, hello, those things are like tree trunks. You can’t seem to get close enough, inching closer and closer until you’re half-straddling the console and the hard plastic is biting into your thigh. He bites your lip to make you gasp, and then his tongue is in your mouth and you have no breath at all.
You only break apart when you move a bit too far and nudge your hip into the car horn. The sound is jarringly loud in the empty garage, and you spring apart with a startled “Fuck!” and a loud laugh from Bucky. He catches you by the hips so you don’t go falling and hurting yourself, and then you’re laughing too.
“C’mon,” you say, placing your hands over his on your hips and prying them off. Bucky squeezes your hips once before he lets you move him, and then you’re both out of the car and heading to the elevator with hardly enough space between you to walk properly.
Bucky presses you to the wall of the elevator and kisses you with none of the softness from earlier. It’s rough and filthy and perfect - you tangle your fingers in his hair and his hand tugs at one of your thighs, hooking it high up on his hip to press his dick against you. You thought you knew yourself well enough to think you’d be ashamed by the way you tug sharply on his hair and groan, but you’re not. You’re so not. It feels like every good thing to roll your hips up into his, to feel his teeth dig into your lower lip as you gasp at the friction, to hear your own shameless moan bounce around the tiny elevator.
The doors slide open, but you barely notice. Bucky grabs your other thigh and hoists you up, walking both of you out of the elevator while you wrap your legs around his waist. You don’t stop kissing him, just rough slides of tongue and lips now rather than any kind of finesse. But you do pause to say against his mouth, “401, back pocket.”
Bucky props you up against the wall next to your apartment door to fish around you back pocket for your key. It makes you laugh, his fingers dipping in while his other hand holds you up by your ass, and the sound makes Bucky grin against the side of your neck as he unlocks the door one-handed.
You don’t make it past the hall. Bucky slams you against the wall (you’re so gonna have bruises) but you’re trying to tug his shirt off while still kissing him, and it all turns into a bit of a mess. You end up tangled on the floor, laughing so hard there are tears in your eyes because Bucky’s shirt is stuck halfway. When he’s finally free, he’s grinning breathlessly up at you as you straddle his hips, tracing your fingers over the lines of his abs.
Everything gets quiet then. Bucky’s eyes are soft and molten in your dark apartment, watching you like you have all the time in the world as you reach for the hem of your shirt. Like you are the world, the only thing in it, and his gaze burns as you tug your shirt over your head reach back to unclip your bra.
Bucky sits up so you’re cradled in his lap and takes your hands away. He undoes your bra for you, his touch feather-light as he slides the straps off your shoulders and throws it away. He kisses you, full and soft in a way that calms your racing heartbeat, before peppering kisses across your jaw and down your neck until he can graze his teeth over your right nipple. The sting is electric, suffusing when he closes his mouth around the bud, and you can’t help but moan. The sound has his grip on your waist tightening, pulling you closer to him so there’s no room to move away.
Your hand slides into Bucky’s hair and grips tightly, tugging a bit when his teeth catch on your nipple again. All of a sudden he rolls you, pressing you into the floorboards and hovering over your body with this look - slack, wet mouth and heaving chest, the blue in his eyes blown nearly to black. You gaze up at him, hands trailing to rest either side of his neck where you can feel his pulse fluttering against your thumb. God, you want to kiss that spot. You want to kiss him, to feel him press heavy and solid against you, body everywhere so all there is is him.
“Are you scared?” he asks, and for a second you’re completely jolted out of the heady atmosphere you two have created. But then- he’s holding you down, and you know there’s not a thing you can do to move him if he doesn’t want to go. The plates in his metal arm whir and click as he props himself up, a reminder that it’s there, and what did he once call it? It’s more of a weapon.
You should be scared. But every way he’s touched has made your body sing, and the way he’s looking at you is more tender and gentle and fire-bright than you’ve ever been looked at before. So you shake your head, move your palms up to cup his face, and say, “No.”
Everything is a blur of movement and sweat-slick skin after that. You get each other naked and Bucky is back on top of you, sliding a hand in your hair to tug your head to the side so he can press his hot, open mouth against the skin of your neck. You claw at his back, rolling your hips up into his for something, anything, and when he grabs your hips so rough you can feel the shape of each finger and tugs you closer, you thunk your head back against the floor with a moan.
He sinks into you, holding your hips up at an angle that makes it so deep and full it almost feels like you have tunnel vision. Bucky groans, chin dropping to his chest at the feeling, and you grab at his forearms for something to hold onto as he starts to move. He’ll have crescent-shaped nail marks in his skin by the time you’re done, but you know him. It’ll heal faster than anything.
Sweat drips from the long strands of his hair and onto your skin as he thrusts into you, faster and rougher so your back slides against the floorboards in a delicious, burning drag. You arch up into every thrust, breath stuttering in choked off gasps each time he bottoms out into you. Your whole body feels like it’s on fire, sparks of heat where he holds you, everywhere your skin touches his.
“Bucky,” you groan when his dick twitches inside you, his grunts turning a bit more feral as his orgasm builds. At his name Bucky practically growls, dropping down so his whole body presses you into the floor as he pounds into you. Each breath he takes spreads hot and almost unbearable against the skin of your neck, and you tug at his hair again as all the muscles in your stomach start to tighten.
His metal hand slides between you, finding your clit and rubbing slick circles that sends sparks all the way up your spine. Your toes feel numb as you arch up, a scream dying in your throat. Your grip on his hair must be brutal, but he just moans and buries his face in your shoulder, thrusts turning slopping as you begin to clench around him.
“Come on,” he groans, rubbing your clit just a bit harsher, and the cold of it against the heat of your cunt is so maddeningly good you see stars. “Let go, baby, c’mon. Just let go.”
You come with a moan, something embarrassingly drawn out and loud as the tingling, amazing warmth of your orgasm spreads throughout your entire body. It’s like fireworks under your skin, your whole body tensing and arching up, bowing up into Bucky’s sweat soaked body as he fucks you through it. You’re barely regaining feeling in your fingers when Bucky stiffens and comes, biting down hard into the curve of your shoulder.
He shakes through his orgasm, and you mouth at the skin behind his ear as he comes down. Your whole body feels weak, melting into the floor, especially when Bucky regains enough brain function to start pressing soft, wet kisses to the skin of your shoulder his teeth nearly broke. You just feel warm all over, glowy and sated as you turn pliant on the floor, tucking your nose into Bucky’s neck and breathing in.
Your sense of time is completely fucked, but at some point Bucky finds the energy to move his kisses from your shoulder, up your neck and to your slack mouth. You kiss slow, little smiles on your faces as you lick into his mouth with lazy, wet strokes. He pulls back, presses a kiss to the corner of your mouth and the tip of your nose before slowly raising himself off you.
You whine at the absence of his weight on top of you, but Bucky just laughs. He leans down again for one more kiss, mumbling against your lips, “I’ll be right back.”
In the dark he somehow navigates your apartment to find a washcloth and your bathroom sink, because he returns with the towel warm and wet to clean up between your thighs. You’re pretty much completely out of it at this point, eyes half-lidded and mouth pulled up in a permanent, slack grin.
“C’mon,” Bucky says, kneeling over you with a grin of his own. “That floor’s not gonna be comfortable for very long.”
“Hmm,” you mumble, closing your eyes and smiling into the dark. You feel Bucky’s hands on you and you sigh - his hands are so big, and they somehow feel both rough and smooth as they slide around your waist. You’re caught up in that feeling and the trail of warmth they leave behind, so you’re entirely surprised when he suddenly yanks your body off the ground and into his arms.
Your eyes fly open and you catch your hands on his chest with a rather undignified yelp. Bucky laughs and tucks your legs around his hips, holding you up as he stands and walks you over to your bedroom. You grumble something about cavemen and super strength into his shoulder as he walks you, completely content to be held despite your protests.
It’s late, and you’re settled on your bed with Bucky’s head pillowed on your stomach. He’s curled around you, playing with the fingers on one of your hands with absent-minded focus while you card your free hand through his hair, staring up at the ceiling. You’re the most content you’ve been in a long time, your mind drawing a wonderful, complete blank as you just bask in the weight of Bucky’s head on your tummy and his legs tangled with yours.
Eventually, Bucky says, “You have a lot of plants.”
That makes you laugh, but you try to contain it so as not to disturb Bucky’s resting spot too much. You tilt your head down to catch his smile even as he continues to play with your fingers, tangling and untangling them with his own.
“I like growing them,” you say. “They’re happy. I took a little cutting from one of my mum’s plants, and then I couldn’t stop. They’re my babies.”
“You have names for ‘em?” Bucky asks, and you can tell he’s teasing, but-
“Of course,” you say, grinning up at the moulding on your ceiling. “My first baby I called Rima, after one of my friends in Syria.”
“Syria,” Bucky repeats. The hand fiddling with yours starts to slow. “There was a war there. I think-“
He cuts himself off. The loose curve of his back turns rigid, and the hand in yours stops completely. You can take a guess at what Bucky’s remembering that has him turning so still. You don’t stop running your fingers through his hair, keeping up a steady rhythm he can match his heartbeat to while he calms down. Eventually, and after you start lightly scratching your nails into his scalp, he goes boneless again and resumes playing with your fingers.
Bucky doesn’t explain. You guess you don’t really have a right to ask - if he wants to talk about it, he will. And if he doesn’t, what can you do?
The night gets colder, but Bucky is warm and heavy against you. It feels kind of perfect, like a segment of a dream you can keep on reliving. You fall asleep to the feeling of Bucky lacing your fingers together for a final time and pressing a small, sweet kiss right beside your bellybutton.