whispers i tried

Imagine a jinn just chilling with you and laughing at your memes and you didn’t even know it

F E E L. (a short klance oneshot)

by redpaiadin (aka kris)

SUMMARY: 

“End training sequence.” It isn’t Keith who says it. It’s the blue, like water, eyes not leaving his.

Keith breathes. He lowers his arm and the bayard collapses.

Lance.

NOTES: 

back at it again at krispy kreme

this is just a self-indulgent angst dump in response to dreamworks ripping my heart out, no real plot or anything. i just wanted keith to be able to cry and open up to someone else? so i did….this…whatever it is. 

lyrics and title are taken from FEEL by kendrick lamar!! also, slight tw for a very minor allusion to abuse, but that’s all! have fun reading this mess lol. 


It’s that familiar lick of flame in his lungs. Aching and bone-like, as he slashes through another automated enemy, training gladiators dropping one by one before him. His chest is heaving, short with breath from more than just exertion.

He yanks the headphones out of his ears once the floor is strewn with dead machinery, and yells, “end training sequence,” sweat prickling his skin. That feeling of cold pleasure pain heat swallows his nerves, and it is grounding. It is something reliable. The gladiators disappear and Keith stumbles toward his water bottle, downing a good third of it in one desperate swig.

The music still blares from where the headphones dangle at his shoulders– I feel like I’m losing my focus. Keith grits his teeth, sword still clutched tightly in his free hand. He remembers green black blue multicolored brown eyes staring at him, expectant and sad, and growls, low and feral in the back of his throat. Without forethought, he throws the empty bottle across the room and storming back to the center of the training deck. “Begin training level 5!” he shouts. Once again, gladiators drop from the ceiling; their vacant faces are almost as familiar as the warmth of his friends’.

Keith plugs the headphones back in– I feel like I can’t breathe, look– and then brandishes his bayard, knuckles bone white around the hilt, as he charges in for another round.


Keith starts to feel dizzy once he gets to level 6.

Normally, he wouldn’t make it this far, but there is a searing ache that feels good, feels real. So he prolongs it. His own blood is heavy on his tongue.

It comes to a point where he is so overexerted he begins to tremble, struggling to stay upright. Dissociation, he thinks, can strike at the most inconvenient times. He feels like he’s not there. The adrenaline escapes with each labored breath as he slashes aimlessly, drifting into survival-level autopilot.

Keith’s mind goes somewhere far, turning the stars over in his head. There is a young boy with dark hair at a playground. He is beaming, waving his arms enthusiastically from the top of the tallest slide, eyes a soft lilac. “I did it, Mommy! I made it to the top!”

The world shifts. That same young boy is standing in the doorway of his parent’s room, his lower lip wobbling as he bites back tears. His mother is not there. There is no note, no indication that she’d ever been there before. Just an unfamiliar barrenness, a concavity that dims the vibrancy of a childlike world. Was it his fault?

Another gladiator, down, limbs burning–it is that boy again, but his eyes are darker now, more indigo than violet. There is a doubled vacancy, one that stains pale skin with ugly tears. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” The voice is tinny and insincere. “We’ll find you a nice place to live now, okay?”

Lies, the young boy thinks, and the music picks up–fuck your feelings I mean this for imposters–and epinephrine flourishes red blue red. It’s hot and vigorous, something metallic careening to the ground with a loud bang. A vicious sound claws out of an empty stomach. Lies.

Bayard sluices through metal, crackling heat, and the little boy is older now–that smiling brilliance from playgrounds and sunsets hidden. There’s a girl, maybe a year or two older than him, sitting beside him at a tall, oakwood dinner table. The plates before them are empty, and everybody else has left the room.

Her voice is quiet, and kind. The boy has water in his chest, salient, threatening to flood, so with great effort, he swallows thickly and listens, but says nothing. This won’t last for long, he thinks, the love and gentility in her voice a throbbing pain in his skull. The good ones never last for long.

The next time he is at a dinner table, it is pristine glass and he’s being yelled at, screamed at. Purple black blue litters his arms, like he’s something rusted, decaying. He keeps his jaw hard-set, sucking the tears in, and in, and in.

“Level 7!” His own voice startles him. Three more gladiators descend upon him. This will be a losing battle now.

The boy comes back–well, now he’s a teenager. There is something militant about him, taut and hard-wired; the elasticity only comes with flight, with recklessness. There, he feels. There, he can fill his heart with wind.

(The elasticity only comes at night, when there is nobody to hide from. He softens and stares up at the ceiling, wondering if he’s doing enough. If it’ll ever be enough. If he should try harder.)

Blood. Keith feels it, trickling down his arm, and he grunts, sprinting to the nearest gladiator, dodging another blow with startling agility.

The same boy again. An outburst of screaming, clawing mess leaves him shoveled out into the world once again, blindly stumbling through a foreign desert. The boy’s shame is thick and hot, hotter than the sun that beats against his back. That is all they think of him now, he realizes. Just anger. Just fire. That is all he is to them, and the thought brings out the water in him, dulling his outward flame. He never wanted to do that. He never wanted to leave.

Then, another image. The boy is just a bit older, hair tied up halfheartedly, barefoot, jeans rolled up to the ankles in the dizzying summer heat. The dull buzz of cicadas hums in the distance and he scribbles something thoughtful in a notebook. It is a quiet picture, but something about it is off-kilter. Something about it screams for touch.

The images continue to fracture and spin out of control, coloring Keith’s world with overwhelming noise. It becomes too much. Past slides into present and he can’t shove off each failure, each shaky command, frail as a ghost in a cockpit much too large for him. The need to do better is so bright.

Violently, Keith gets shoved to the ground. He is bloody and beaten and can barely breathe. Deep pangs of gnawing hunger in his stomach, heaviness in his eyes–and water. Water. He feels the water in him. Desperate to keep it at bay, he drags his body off the ground and charges again, replacing fear with bloodlust, snarling like an animal and plunging his bayard into the heart of the assailant.

Then there are footsteps behind him, and a hand brushes over his shoulder. Keith spins, mouth open for a yell, ready to strike, but the hand then curls around his raised arm and stops him. Blue penetrates his blurred vision, and it is the only clarity in the haze. The hand is tight, strong around his bicep.

“End training sequence.” It isn’t Keith who says it. It’s the blue, like water, eyes not leaving his.

Keith breathes. He lowers his arm and the bayard collapses.

Lance.

“Keith,” Lance says, taking in his battered form, the blood, the bruises, the wild look in his eyes, the headphones ripped from his ears. “You’re gonna kill yourself if you don’t take a break. You need to chill out, man.”

The words have a fondness to them that shatters Keith. He is burning. There is water. Water, like a drowning victim, caught in his lungs, and if he doesn’t cough it back up, he’ll suffocate, he’ll–

No. No, not in front of someone else. Not in front of Lance.

Keith’s eyes are strangled. He forces himself to pull away, despite how much he just wants to lean in. How much his body craves touch, craves love.

“I’m fine,” he manages, but his anger is weary and thin, and Lance knows it. The look in his eyes says this much.

“You’re not,” Lance replies, indignant, planting his feet firmly and refusing, as he usually does, to give up. Taking his challenges head on. “Keith, you know you can trust us, right? You can trust me.”

Keith’s throat hurts. “Of course I know that, ” he says, acidic. “I’m not an idiot. We wouldn’t be able to form Voltron if I didn’t.”

God, Lance’s eyes are so blue. He wants to swim in them, to die there, cradled in the softness of them. He trusts Lance. He more than trusts Lance, but he stops that thought before it can spiral.

“Keith,” Lance echoes. His voice is surprisingly gentle, brow furrowed in concern. He doesn’t say anything else, but the way he looks at Keith is very quickly unwinding him.

He’s quiet, but the images from earlier aresplintering–and Lance is looking at him like–like–

Keith starts to cry.

It is not a particularly foreign thing, but it is a shameful one. Keith despises crying, with everything in him, and this brittle hatred only makes him cry harder. He’s a drowning victim finally coming up for air, salt filling in his lungs as he awakens and spits it out in terrifying bursts of heat.

It hurts.

And Lance is right in front of him. Oh, God.

For a moment, Lance is still. Keith crying is something the red paladin had made sure nobody would ever see. But Lance…there is something about Lance that shatters the glass around him and plunges his hand past the fire in Keith, setting the water loose.

Faint. He feels faint, and hungry, and tired, and his limbs ache. Keith feels like he is dying and he hates crying in front of Lance, but what he wants, what he needs…It’s so close but he can’t do it. He just can’t.

Lance does it for him.

Cautiously, Lance brings Keith into his arms, holding him in a gentle embrace. Unable to help himself, Keith leans in, crying harder, soaking Lance’s baseball tee with saltwater. “I’m so sorry–”

“Don’t.” Lance starts combing his fingers through Keith’s hair, cold and soothing. “It’s okay. Just cry, Keith.”

And he does.

Keith isn’t sure how long he stays there, foolishly satiating his need for human contact. He sobs, ugly and wet, right there in the middle of the training deck, with Lance holding him, murmuring gentle reassurances, hushing softly, once and a while helping to control Keith’s breathing. Keith doesn’t know how Lance is so good at this, but he remembers shortly after the thought that Lance has a big family, a lot of them younger siblings. It probably hasn’t been the first time he’s held someone while they cried.

After a while, Keith feels like he’s going to collapse from exhaustion. He stumbles, and Lance catches him. “Whoa there, samurai,” he says, steadying Keith gently. “You need some food and water. Come on, let’s get you to the kitchen.”

Keith’s heart seizes. “No,” he says weakly, shaking his head. “Lance, not like….not like this.”

Lance pauses, nods knowingly, and rubs a soothing hand up and down Keith’s arm. “I can take you back to your room,” he says, “then I’ll bring you something. That okay?”

Keith can’t believe this is happening, but he manages a weak “yeah” regardless, his breathing shaky as he follows Lance out of the training deck.

It is during that silent walk that Keith lets the shame and embarrassment fully sink in. That had been so raw. So vulnerable and broken, and Lance had seen it all….god, what could he possibly think of Keith now? One thing he knows for sure: Lance had peered into him, peeled back an invisible armor, and now he is stuck there and Keith….Keith doesn’t know what to do about that.

What if Lance finds out how big of a place he has in Keith’s heart?

Tears threaten to spill again and Keith sucks them in. Enough.

Finally, they reach Keith’s room, which is eerily, though not surprisingly, barren, barely lived-in despite how long they’ve been here now. (Keith doesn’t like to make a home of things. Home, in his eyes, is always uprooted.)

Lance leads Keith to the bed, and Keith stumbles a little, but sits down, feeling his limbs sag with tiredness. “Jesus,” Lance says, frowning, “you look like shit, dude.”

That actually draws a snort out of Keith. “You just watched me cry for nearly an hour and that’s the best thing you can come up with?”

“Be nice,” Lance teases, crossing his arms. “I am nurturing you, Keith. Don’t take my love and care for granted.”

I don’t, Keith thinks fiercely, but instead, comes out with, “Yeah, yeah. Go get me food. I’m starving.”

“Bossy,” Lance jokes, pouting at him. But then he goes soft again. “Lay down, mullet boy. I’ll be right back.”

Keith does as asked, curling up under the covers. God, he aches. He still hasn’t cleaned himself up at all–getting food and water in him is a priority–and he feels like an unkempt mess, weak and pathetic. I feel like it’s just me, look, I feel like I can’t breathe, look, I feel like I can’t sleep–

When Lance gets back, he has to make the boy promise to forget this entire moment had even happened. Forget that Keith had cried, had broken down. Forget the way Keith had leaned into his arms and nuzzled him, like an insatiable addict desperate to fulfill a craving. He’s so touch-starved, so guarded, he hadn’t realized how badly he needed and ached to be held.

It didn’t really help that it was Lance, of all people.

Lance. That deep, tranquil blue–the same blue that lit up with electricity and excitement after a successful mission, that softened when he looked at his friends, that brightened when he spoke about his family, that glittered like stars when he laughed. The blue that had drawn Keith out of a violent stupor and stopped him from getting himself killed.

Keith’s pulse is wild and reckless, fluttering at these thoughts, at the picturesque blue of Lance’s eyes. The way Lance had held him, soothed him, played with his hair.

Oh god, he’s fucked.

Lance returns then with a bowl of food goo and a bottle of water. Keith, reluctantly, sits up and finishes both at an alarmingly fast rate. “Wow, record time,” Lance says appreciatively. Keith rolls his eyes and tries to ignore the fragility in his chest.

After that, Lance helps Keith clean up his wounds before the boy stumbles off to take a shower. Still, Lance stays in his room and waits. When Keith comes back, Lance is there, sitting on the bed, flicking through a tablet aimlessly and playing some dumb game. At Keith’s entrance, he looks up and brightens a little. “Hey, you’re looking better,” he says, scooting over so Keith can lay down. “You want me to shove off now?”

Keith considers it for a moment. He should say yes. Make Lance promise not to tell anyone, and then push him away. That would be the end of it.

His body trembles with the starvation of touch, and he frowns.

“No,” Keith answers, despite his better judgement. “Stay.”

“Will do, buddy,” Lance says, sending Keith a fond smile that makes the other boy’s heart melt.

They stay that way for a long time, Keith just laying there, breathing clean and slow, while Lance reads something and brushes his fingers through Keith’s hair. Before they know it, night falls (or, the simulated version of night that aligns roughly to earth time on the castle so they can have a relatively functional sleep schedule) and Lance and Keith are together, still and quiet, basking in each other. Keith feels equal parts warm and sick to his stomach.

He swallows something heavy. “Lance.”

“Hm?”

It takes Keith a moment, as if he can’t decide whether to burrow under the blankets to avoid being seen, or to stay here and look Lance in the eye. He settles on the latter. “You can’t tell anyone about today.”

Lance gets a thoughtful look, and he sets the tablet down, turning to look at Keith. His hand trails from Keith’s hair down to his cheek, brushing his knuckles briefly over the smooth skin there before pulling away, almost nervously. “I won’t,” he begins, “but, Keith, you gotta understand, no one is gonna think differently when they find out you actually, like, have feelings.”

Keith’s brow furrows, and he opens his mouth for a retort, but Lance cuts him off.

“I know, ha ha, good one Lance,” Lance says, mimicking Keith’s deadpan, before his eyes go serious again, “but, I mean that, Keith. This doesn’t change anything, okay? Well, I mean, it does, but in a good way. You know that you can trust me. You know that I’m here for you, which like, has always been a thing, but you’re too busy to notice it.” Keith stares at him, a little unable to process. “And now I’m trying to tell you that any of the team would’ve done the same thing. They would have listened. Because we care about you, Keith. When are you gonna see that?”

“I do.” Keith’s voice is a defensive whisper, weak and uncertain in its denial. “I know you care. I mean, I care about you guys too. We couldn’t form Voltron without–”

“Forget about Voltron, for a second,” Lance interrupts. “Yeah, this whole crazy fighting aliens in space with a giant robot super weapon thing is what brought us together, but if Voltron went away, or when we kick Zarkon’s butt and stop his creepy empire once and for all, we’re not gonna stop caring.” He’s so soft, so gentle and warm, and Keith thinks then how much like the ocean Lance is, wide and open and kind and full of possibility, but dark, fierce when it needs it to be, and deeper than most people care to discover. Keith’s heart feels like a singular wave in the midst of that ocean, swaying and bobbing unsteadily in Lance’s heart.

“And, you know,” Lance continues, undeterred by Keith’s silent gaping, “honestly? Even though I don’t like seeing you cry and stuff, I’m glad you did it. You have to let that stuff out, man. It’s eating you up.” Delicate yet calloused fingers scratch soothingly at Keith’s scalp. “Crying doesn’t make you weak, Keith. Trust me, you’ll be a better leader after a good sob session every now and then.”

“How do you know that?” Keith asks. He doesn’t tell Lance that this is not the first time he’s cried since they boarded the ship. It’s crying in front of someone that’s, well–that’s new. That’s what make the catharsis suddenly feel like a weakness.

(At some point, they’ve settled in so Lance, too, is laying down, and Keith is curled up against his chest. They don’t say anything about the intimate position, and Keith can’t decide whether or not he prefers that silence.)

Lance shrugs. “I just do,” he answers. There seems to be more to it than that, but Keith doesn’t want to push. “You know, Keith, you really aren’t a bad leader. You’re adjusting. But I know you can do it.” He pauses, and Keith can hear him swallow, as if with nerves. His face is flushed red. “I mean, we all do.”

“Thanks.” Keith is a roiling hurricane of emotion, a wall half-broken, off-keel, though still structural and breathing. (Part of it was destroyed in a sudden swell of blue). “Really, Lance. Thank you.”

Lance grins and pokes Keith playfully, impishness rising back in his voice again. The seriousness dissipates. “You’re such a softie, Keith,” he laughs. “You liiiike me. We’re buuuddiesss.”

“Not if you keep doing that, we aren’t.”

“Hey! I’m taking care of you! Appreciate me!”

Keith snorts, tension melting at the familiar banter. “I do, I guess,” he answers with feigned half-heartedness.

“Fine,” Lance resigns, “good enough, I’ll take it.”

They laugh, and suddenly their position doesn’t feel so terrifying anymore. Keith is, admittedly, still very afraid. Afraid of what he feels, afraid that Lance will run, that Shiro will run, that Hunk will run, that Pidge will run, that Allura will run, that Coran will run. But with Lance’s hand in his hair, other curled around his side….With Lance’s warmth pressed up against him, sweet and soft, smelling of saltwater and ivory soap, he forgets what he’s supposed to be scared of, at least for now.

Human contact, he thinks, isn’t so bad after all, and tears prick his eyes again in total relief as he realizes: this is all he’s ever wanted. Laughter, bright smiles, arms around his own, someone to cry with, someone to talk to– someone.

Don’t give in, his mind warns him, it’s a bad idea. He’ll leave too. He’s going to leave.

But the little boy with the bruises and the glass dining table and the empty house and the desert wind is no longer there. It is this, with Lance, in his arms, not knowing for sure but hoping that somehow, someday, this could be something–this is what’s real now.

It feels so odd, Keith thinks, now that his body is drained of the water. There is a warmth now, but not the kind of fire Keith is used to, the kind that sears and spits and burns. It is something soft, something less jagged. It is something Keith always has been.

A gentle balance between fire and water.


thank you for reading!

Blue and Red.

Rating: Teen and Up Audiences.
Relationship: WonTaek (Jung Taekwoon | Leo/Kim Wonshik | Ravi)
Characters: Jung Taekwoon | Leo, Kim Wonshik | Ravi
Additional Tags: obligatory whisper mv inspired fic, red string of fate - freeform, Alternate Universe - Soulmates, Getting to Know Each Other, Getting Together
Words: 2252

Taekwoon doesn’t remember how he got there or why is he there in the first place. He also can’t remember how long it’s been since he arrived.

Read on AO3!

Third Time’s a Charm // Tom Holland

Request: Can I request a tom X reader fic where he takes the reader to a premier for their first date!? Please, and thank you (:

Requested by: @impalalalalardis-1067

Pairings: Tom Holland + Reader

Warnings: None!

Notes: Sorry this took so long I suck omg but I didn’t know how to write out the actual date/premiere so I wrote about Tom asking the reader to be his date!! I hope this is okay!!


“Sorry your date tonight was such a bust.” I directed my attention from the TV to Tom as his spoon dug into the bowl of ice cream in his hands. He was seated next to me on my couch, my head on his shoulder with a blanket thrown lazily across both of our laps as we devoured the rest of the chocolate ice cream I had in my freezer. I shook my head as I laid it back down on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m only sad that I bought this dress for this date, and now I probably won’t ever wear it again.” I shrugged. We were in this current position because I had been on my second date in the past week (each with a different guy my friends had set up for me), and it turned out to be the worst date. I ended up ending the date earlier than he expected, claiming I had just gotten my period and needed to be home as soon as I possibly could. He asked to reschedule the date (after trying to talk his way into my apartment to “take care of me”), and I said I’d let him know when I was available.

As soon as he left I called Tom and after laughing at the lame excuse I had given the poor guy for twenty solid minutes, he brought all my favorite romantic comedies to help me forget about my horrible love life.

“It doesn’t have to go to waste, y’know,” his voice was a whisper, I would have missed it if I weren’t right next to him.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I, uh,” he sat up straight, prompting me to do so and as I did I shifted my body to fully face him, “well, the premiere I’m going to for Doctor Strange is in a couple of days…”

“And why would I wear it there?” I asked him, a hint of a smile on my face, already knowing what he was trying to get across, but I wanted him to ask me the full question.

“Because you could, I don’t know, I mean if you wanted to – you could come as my date?”

My smile grew wider as I watched the light shade of pink rise to his cheeks. “You asking me on a date, Holland?”

He laughed a little, facing me fully now too, a smile on his face. “Yeah, I mean you know what they say, third time’s a charm, right?”

“Shut up,” I laughed a little, going back to resting my head on his shoulder. Tom’s arm found its way around my shoulder, bringing me closer to him and resting his head on top of mine.

“I don’t know why you went out with those losers anyway,” his voice returned to a whisper as John Krasinski’s character in Something Borrowed declared his love to his best friend on the TV.

“What?” I asked in a teasing voice, “Were you jealous?” I expected a laugh to come out of him and for him to call me stupid but he only shrugged and sighed. I looked up at him slightly, only to see him already looking down at me, my eyes wide at his reaction.

“What? You never thought about me?” He smiled a little as he quoted the movie we were watching. I reached for the remote and paused the movie, sitting up straight again to look at him fully.

“Tom, I need you to be serious right now.”

“I am being serious.” He sighed again, his hand reaching out to hold mine. He played with my fingers and I sat in silence waiting for him to continue. After a couple of minutes of unbearable silence, I was about to say something before he started talking again, “I don’t know. I guess I just can’t stand to see you with these guys who don’t deserve you. No one deserves you, not even me,” he put a hand up to stop me from talking, already knowing I would retaliate to that absurd statement. “No one deserves you, but, God, I will spend every single day with you trying my best to be the guy who does.”

It was quiet again and I had assumed he was done, so I began speaking. “Tom,” his eyes remained where our hands met in the middle of us. My free hand came to meet his cheek, caressing him lightly. His head lifted, his eyes finally meeting mine with a light smile on his face. “Of course I’ve thought about you,” his smile faltered slightly as his eyebrows furrowed, but I continued. “Tom, I didn’t know what I wanted until I met you.” His intense stare intimidated me, my eyes began to find our hands just as interesting as Tom had a couple of minutes before. We sat in silence until Tom let go of my hands, scooting closer to me.

“And? What do you want?” I could hear the smile in his accent as his hand returned and he tugged on mine. The taunting atmosphere was back, him already knowing I meant him but him wanting to hear me say it.

I smiled and lifted my gaze back to him, leaning into him a little more. His arms steadied me as I straddled his waist, he hung them around me loosely as my arms wound around his neck. “You,” I whispered my answer before his lips connected with mine. One of his hands finding its way to the back of my neck and deepening the kiss. My fingers carded through his hair as I felt him sigh in the kiss. We broke apart as both of our smiles grew too wide for the kiss to continue.

“I’ve waited years for you to do that.” My voice remained at a whisper as I tried to catch my breath, our foreheads resting against each other.

“Sorry it took me so long.”

We shifted so we were pressed against each other again on the couch, playing the movie again. It was silent before Tom turned toward me again. “So, that’s a yes to the premiere, right? I mean you didn’t really answer.”

I laughed loudly, throwing my head back and hitting his shoulder in the process as he smiled back at me, pulling me back against him.

“I’d be delighted, Tom.”

Saving Gabriel

gif is not mine

Title: Saving Gabriel

Characters: Gabriel x Reader, Lucifer

Word Count: 1,024

Warnings: Angst

A/N: Happy Sweet Treat Saturday! This wasn’t requested, but I thought you all might enjoy this and I hope you do! Feedback is welcomed and appreciated! I love you all so much! <3 <3

Gabriel met you as a college student back when you were twenty years old.  He tried to stay away from you, but he couldn’t.  You were special.  You were unlike any other human he had encountered.  Every time he tried to run from you, somehow you always found him without trying.  He knew you loved him, but he didn’t want to hurt you.

He knew what was going to come and he didn’t want to risk putting you in the crossfire.  There were many times in which you had saved the archangel.  A few times you did so without meaning to, but he was thankful nevertheless.  You soon found out about the two people he kept running into; the Winchesters.

You knew something was wrong when Gabriel didn’t meet up with you that night.  Without a second thought about it, you got into your car and started to drive home.  However, there was an unusual storm brewing and you could hardly see through the pouring rain.  You pulled up to the motel you saw in the distance.  You had a bad feeling about this motel, but you had no other choice.  People began to pour out of the building as you entered.  

Keep reading

Arya holds the torch tightly in her hand. She doesn’t need a torch to go in the crypts now, not when she has been blind. She still knows the way, even with her eyes closed. She closes them now and she can smell the dust, and her footsteps sound different when she gets near the bottom of the steps.

Her eyes open and she moves quickly. Jon isn’t here, she heard the men say so, and there’s one other person she needs to see. Jon will be back, and soon, but Arya can’t wait. She knows where he will be, and slows her pace as she nears it. She closes her eyes again, wishing that when she opened them it would be him and not a statue made of stone.

“Father.”

Her eyes fill with tears. It looks like him, but it’s not. The stone is cold to touch, and her father was warm, even when he had his Lord’s face on.

“I’m home,” she whispers. “I tried to be strong, just like I said I would.”

She doesn’t feel strong now. Her heart hurts. It’s not like when it was a hole, she doesn’t feel numb. She feels pain, and she can’t stop crying, and it’s just a stupid statue. The nose is the shape she thinks his was, and she traces it, remembering the way his nose used to brush against her hair when he kissed the top of her head.

He won’t kiss her ever again.

She’s still there, sitting on the floor of the crypts when she hears footsteps. Her sobs have subsided to a sniffle, and her breath catches in her throat when she turns to see the figure approaching.

He has the same nose.

“Arya?”

His tone is doubtful, as though he doesn’t believe. Arya jumps to her feet, wiping her nose with the back of her hand. She thinks she’s going to cry again, and then his long, solemn face breaks into a smile that can’t be hidden by the beard that now covers the lower part of his face.

“Arya!”

He’s walking quickly, and Arya moves to meet him and he’s grabbing her as she reaches for him, pulling her into a hug and kissing her, on her cheek, her temple, the top of her head.

“Jon,” she cries, holding onto him tightly, never wanting to let him go because she thought she might not ever see him again.

“Little sister,” he murmurs, his voice thick and Arya knows he’s trying not to cry too. “I knew I’d find you here.”

“You look like him,” she whispers.

“The Stark look,” he says dismissively, but Arya can tell he’s pleased. “We both have it,” he says, almost as if reminding her.

It hurts, but it’s a sweet hurt, because now that she’s found Jon again she’s home, in more ways than one. And she thinks father would be pleased.

Will You Stay?

Bucky x Reader

Summary: Don’t let go of him. He needs you. He wants you stay, but he doesn’t know how to say it.

Warnings: Angst, all that good shit, it’ll end with a sort of cliffhanger idk i like to call it an interpretive ending but whatever floats your boat, also the obvious language warnings and mentions of baby buck not being okay :-(

Word Count: 9.1k (i’m SORRY)

Author’s Note: so, again, thank you to my inspo tag bc I saw this quote and it’s been churning in my head for so long but I’ve never had the chance to actually sit down and write it. This literally took me a full year to write so let’s see how it goes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Also this could possibly go into a part two if you guys want it. I have an idea for it but if people want to use their imagination to create their own ending then by all means! Anyways, feedback is more than welcome and please leave requests; I’d love to see what you guys want to read :)



It’s funny how easily someone’s world can come crashing down. How easily the bright colors that once painted your world turn to an ashen gray within a few short minutes. It’s sickening that love can raise you up to the sky and show you the world and the beautiful blues and golds of the sky. It’s intoxicating how drunk you feel off of the beauty and the glory of having it all, of seeing it all. How warm you feel, how weightless and limitless, like you’re the air. Twisting and turning, light and free. Young and spirited, wild and reckless and untamed.

Poets, authors and painters convey love with the prettiest words and the lightest shades of pink and yellow and white. They romanticize the fall, the moments before the leap and how wonderful it feels when you finally do.

What they never tell you about is after the fall. 

When you land. When you hit the ground so hard you feel yourself slip away for a little bit, your head spinning and you’re grasping for that feeling to be light again. They never tell you about how tight your chest is and how much it fucking hurts, like you’re bleeding yet desperately trying to sew yourself back together at the same time.

No, they never tell you about after the fall. Because where’s the romance in that? Nobody wants to write about the hardships, the pain and emptiness. Nobody wants to look at a painting splattered with red and black and the darkest purples. Where was the beauty in that?

There was no beauty. There was nothing to put on a pedestal, nothing to turn into a pretty picture with a smiling face. All that is left are cracked smiles and bruised knuckles and whispered hopes of trying, begging for an answer. There is no beauty in stained cheeks and watery eyes. There is no romance in a broken chest and empty lungs.

Beauty is pain, perhaps, but pain is not beauty.

Pain is not painted with flowers and rich silks and velvet trim. Pain is lurking in the shadows, the silent master that waits patiently for its turn to remind you that beauty is not everything, that love is misconception, confusion and a liar. Pain is the reality that you refuse to believe in when you’re suspended in the clouds.

And how stupid was I, how naïve I was to believe I could escape reality. That I could live in my pretty little painting. Idyllic and serene and fashioned perfectly to what I wanted. Created by my own fantasies and selfish heart, my pretty little painting. My perfect world. Gone, without a warning and without a sign.

Beauty is pain, but pain is not beauty. And how I wished I had realized that sooner.


I stared at the wall; the blank white wall was all I saw. I focused on the chipped paint and tried to regulate my breathing.

The apartment was quiet. Deadly silent, not even my own breathing could be heard.


A loud clang of a coffee mug meeting the edge of the counter jolted me from my sleep. The string of curses that followed forced my eyes open as I tried to curl deeper into the mattress. Sleep seemed to evade me as the strong scent of crushed coffee grounds filled the apartment, followed by a low whistle that didn’t follow a tune but was catchy in its own way.

I stayed in bed until the heavy footsteps and continued whistling drew closer to the bedroom.

“Good morning,” a deep voice broke through the last of the drowsy haze that covered my eyes. I ran my eyes over the low slung sweatpants and loose gray shirt, the scoop neck revealed the slight swell of his pecs.  When I finally met his piercing blue gaze, my heart stuttered wildly in my chest and judging by the smirk on his face, he could hear it.

“Hi,” I answered in a soft voice, completely anticlimactic but it was all I could muster. He chuckled and bent down, pressing a soft kiss to my temple. He brushed the hair from my neck, the warm skin of his palm elicited goosebumps over my arms.

“I made you coffee,” he murmured as his thumb traced my jaw.

I hummed. “I know, I heard you.”

He winced and I couldn’t help but laugh as I sat up, letting the comforter slide from my shoulders. I crossed my legs as I took the coffee mug from the bedside table and took a tentative sip, careful of the steam that curled from the rim. His hand slid from my neck to my shoulders then dipped beneath my shirt to trace my spine. I watched him, amazed how the sun light reflected in his eyes and how warm his skin looked.

“Will you stay?” I whispered as I glanced at the clock. He usually had to leave me early in the morning, most of the times before I woke. It was rare for him to stay past nine. I was lucky if he even stayed until nine.

He smiled, soft and apologetic as he kissed my lips briefly, humming that silly little tune under his breath.

“Only for a little bit,” he replied but I nodded anyways. I took what I could get it. So we sat as I drank my coffee and chatted aimlessly, stopping every now and then for a lazy kiss. He made me laugh so hard I spilled coffee onto the white sheets of the bed, but I didn’t care. I saw it as another memory, a little reminder.

And when he took my mug back into the kitchen, he was still whistling that tune, quietly but it reverberated throughout the apartment until the birds outside were singing along too.


There was no whistling now. No humming. No empty coffee mugs and no chatty birds. There was nothing.

I turned my head away from the wall and immediately my eyes fell to the droplets of coffee, still stained on the sheets of the bed. They hadn’t gone away, no matter how many times I washed the sheets. But I hadn’t minded then, I had liked knowing that they would always be there. The faint coffee smell always sent be back to that morning, that little slice of heaven. Now it seemed to be taunting, reminding me of everything good that I had lost.

“I’ll kill him,” a voice spoke from the doorway. I chuckled, but it was humorless.

“No, you won’t,” I whispered. I tried to take my eyes away from the drops of faint brown, but I couldn’t. I could feel his lips on my forehead, temple and lips. I could feel the giddiness in my stomach and the fluttering in my chest. I felt it all.

“No, you’re right.” There was dip as the mattress moved to accommodate the extra weight. “That would be too easy. We need a better plan.”

I smiled but it felt wrong. There was a flash of red in my peripheral as a head came down to rest on my shoulder. A sigh rattled through my body as a fresh wave of tears threatened to consume me again but I fought them. I wouldn’t cry. Not again.

“I’ll be fine, Nat.” It sounded like I was trying to convince myself more than I was trying to convince her. Perhaps I was.

“Sure you will,” her voice had an easy confidence to it, something I wished I possessed. “But you’re not fine now. And that’s okay.”

I shook my head as I shrugged her off and pressed the heels of my palms into my eyes. “What a way to end the week,” I chuckled bitterly as my palms became slick with tears. Natasha laid a gentle hand on my back and was silent. She didn’t try to assure me that everything would be okay, that the world would answer my prayers that this day would end and the next day would be better. She knew. She knew how easily fate switched hands.

She knew what I knew, except she accepted it long before I did.


I gripped my umbrella tightly as the rain pattered against the polyester, the cool air bit at my cheeks as I waited at the crosswalk. It seemed the white man would never appear, just the harsh red hand telling me to stop. I sighed and tucked myself tighter into my coat as I allowed my eyes to gaze out to my surroundings until the fell upon a flower shop that acted as a coffee shop too. The faint scent of coffee and buttery scones caused a harsh ache to flourish in my chest.


“Jesus, how much sugar do you take?” He raised an eyebrow at me as I sat idly in one of the wrought iron chairs. The air was clear and the sun was strong as the bustling streets of Brooklyn seemed like an afterthought as I stared at him.

“Enough to make me happy,” I shot back. He shook his head but I could see the smile across his face as he made his way back to the counter to get me more sugar packets.

“You know this shit is fake, right? This isn’t what real sugar tastes like.”

“Excuse me. Did I judge you when you tore through that whole pack of gummy worms last night? No. So let me use my fake sugar in my coffee.”

He smirked and handed me the pink packets. He sat down and picked off a piece of blueberry muffin and popped it into his mouth. He was beautiful. Mahogany hair pulled into a loose bun as his strong jaw worked at the muffin. I hid behind my coffee cup to hide my blush as the sweetness nearly burned my throat. Perfect.

“Wait here,” he said as he abruptly stood up. I didn’t even have a chance to question him nor remind him that I couldn’t go anywhere since he was my ride. Instead, I waited while I sipped away at my coffee and people watched. I wasn’t sure how much time had passed when I heard a distant pair of footfalls become louder. I turned my head and saw him walking towards me, a single rose clutched in his left hand.

“For you,” he murmured. My heart nearly fell out of my chest as I gasped softly. He normally didn’t do romantic gestures. He wasn’t a hearts and flowers kind of guy. Any sort of affection I got was behind locked doors where no one would see but us.

I took the flower, afraid if I reacted to quickly the moment would shatter. The faint scent tickled my nose and I couldn’t help but smile. A hand cupped my cheek gently, his thumb brushed over the rise of my cheekbone. It was fleeting, it was quick, but I felt the burn for hours after.

“Will you stay?” I whispered, staring into his bright blue eyes and begging for a different answer. His smile was forlorn as his eyes flickered to the rose, then to me.

“Only for a little bit,” he murmured then took the empty sugar packets in his hand and turned on his heel to throw them out.

And just like that, the moment was gone. Nothing but a memory and a rose to remind me that it was real.


I turned my head away, cursing the burn in my eyes. It had been two weeks since I had last cried over him and I refused to break that streak. I was finally doing better. I finally buried the pain deep enough so that it didn’t matter anymore.

The red hand changed to the white man and the crowd around my pushed me forward, leaving the memory behind me as the dismal rain pattered against my umbrella.


I moved four months after he left. The apartment was too suffocating; too much of him was left. Every time I stepped outside the streets of Brooklyn reminded me of him. I couldn’t turn a corner without seeing something that made me think of him. When my job had an opening in Boston, I pounced immediately and without a second thought I told my landlord I was leaving that month and paid the last of my rent.

“I wish you weren’t leaving.” Natasha frowned as I zipped up my suitcase, having to sit on the top due to the amount of clothes I had managed to stuff inside.

“Hey, it’s not forever,” I assured her as I rolled the suitcase out to the living room. “It’s like, a two hour ride in the jet, if that. I’m sure you’ll find some way to stop by after every mission.”

“He misses you,” she whispered and I froze as my heart crunched painfully in my chest.

“Nat, don’t.” I stalked into the kitchen and began to close the boxes filled with plates and cups.

“I know he’s why you’re leaving,” she murmured as she followed me. I recoiled like she had stuck me with a hot iron. “I know the job in Boston is good, but you don’t have to go. You don’t have to leave.”

“Yes I do.” I turned to face her. Her eyes regarded me with a soft sadness that made my mouth dry and my throat clench. “There’s nothing here for me, Nat. I came to Brooklyn for him. He’s gone. There’s no reason for me to stay.”

“If you just talked–”

“Natasha,” I finally snapped. I cursed the break in my voice as I turned my face away.

She sighed reluctantly and walked forward. “I know, I’m sorry. It’s just – I don’t want you to leave. You’re like my sister, y’know?”

I smiled and felt a surge of gratefulness for her and flung my arms around her. She stiffened but relaxed a bit as she wrapped her arms around me. “I’m not far. You can’t get rid of me that easily.”

“I know. I’ve tried.” She smirked as I feigned offense. And just like that, the playful atmosphere returned but neither of us could ignore the taste of bitterness that tinged the air around us.


Mornings were not my thing. They weren’t something I avidly wanted to be a part of, especially on the weekends. So when some unseen force woke me up at seven on a Saturday morning, I was anything but happy. Yet, sleep evaded me and with a frustrated groan, I kicked off the covers and made my way into the kitchen. When I turned on the light, a scream forced itself out of my mouth when I caught a glimpse of the figure sitting at the breakfast bar.

“Hey,” the voice said, unphased and I immediately clutched my chest as I glared at the shadowy form.

“What the fuck Steve. Couldn’t you have knocked?”

Steve shrugged as he leaned forward. His blonde hair was limp against his forehead and his skin was paler than normal. “Didn’t want to wake you.”

“Oh, so sneaking into my apartment is your next best option?” He shrugged again and I rolled my eyes. “You Avengers need to learn a thing or two about privacy, Jesus.” Scowling, I stalked to the cabinet and pulled out a mug. “Coffee?”

“Please.”

I pulled out another and went to my Keurig and powered it on. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure?” I asked as I stopped by the refrigerator to grab the creamer.

“Nice place you have here.” Steve ignored my question as he glanced around my apartment. “Boston suits you.”

I nodded as I narrowed my eyes, trying to figure out his play. “Yeah, I love it here. It’s peaceful.”

His eyebrows flickered up before the settled back down and he stared at the Keurig. He looked haunted. I frowned at his gaunt expression and turned to the Keurig and inserted Black Silk and slid his cup beneath the spout and pressed a few buttons and soon coffee was pouring into his cup. I knew how he took his coffee I had made it for him only how many times at the Facility. As soon as the coffee finished, I added creamer and one sugar before stirring idly and slid the mug to him.

He nodded his thanks and wrapped his hands around the mug. I saw the slight tremble to his fingers as he gripped the ceramic and I frowned again.

“Steve,” I murmured. “What’s going on?”

He flicked his eyes up and seemed surprised for a moment. “I forgot how perceptive you are. Bucky always loved that about you.” I winced at his name and immediately turned my head to the floor. Steve sighed and set down his cup and rubbed a hand over his weary face. For the first time, he looked his age, 98 years old and tired of the world. “Something’s happened. Things aren’t so good…at the facility,” he muttered and my blood ran cold. I gripped the edge of the counter as I struggled to remain composed.

“Is Natasha–?”

“She’s okay, it’s not her,” he assured me quickly and I visibly relaxed. “She wanted to be here but she had to stay.”

I furrowed my brow as I stared at Steve, my brain turning to try and keep up. “What happened? Why couldn’t she be here?”

Steve swallowed as his shoulders hunched forward. “She had to watch Bucky.” His voice was so quiet I could barely hear him.

“Watch Bucky?” His name felt weird against my lips. It was the first time I had spoken his name in months and automatically I felt something stir deep inside me. “Steve, what are you trying to tell me? What’s going on?”

Steve stared at the creamy liquid inside his mug. When his eyes finally met mine I was shocked at the pain that swam in the blue irises. “Bucky…he’s lost it. He, I don’t…I don’t know what to do.”

My heart shattered for Steve as I saw the hopelessness weigh him down and gray his features. “Steve…” I whispered softly.

“He’s just…he won’t eat. He won’t sleep, he won’t talk to anyone. He hasn’t left his room in two weeks. Nothing I say matters. It’s the…this is the worst episode he’s ever had. I’ve never seen him like this in my life.”

Tears pricked my eyes as I rounded the breakfast bar and collected Steve into a hug. He didn’t relax. His shoulders still tense but he let me rub his back. “I’m so sorry, Steve. I am.” I sighed softly as I pressed my cheek to his hair. “I don’t know what to tell you Steve, you know how he gets. There’s nothing you can do, nothing any of us can do.”

“Yes there is,” he whispered and pulled back as he stared at me. Instantly, I knew what he was going to say and I began shaking my head.

“Steve–”

“Please, listen. Please,” he begged. “He needs you. He’s not…he hasn’t been the same without you.”

I shook my head again, this time more adamant. “He doesn’t need me,” I whispered.

“He does. He’s…he does, believe me, please.” Steve sighed and carded his hand through his hair roughly. “I can’t…I can’t help him. I can’t say anything, I can’t do anything. But if you…if you could just see him, just talk to him. Maybe–”

“I’ll make it worse.” My voice was hollow and it didn’t sound like me. “I promise Steve, I’m the last person you want there.”

No, goddammit,” Steve growled as he glared at me, years of pain burned in his eyes. “Don’t you see? He’s not…he’s not Bucky. He’s pretended that he’s been fine but he’s not.”

“Steve–”

“Don’t abandon him, please. Don’t. Not now, please.”

Abandon him?” I laughed. It was humorless and empty as I backed away from Steve. “He’s the one who left me, Steve. You don’t…you have no idea what he said…”


“Hey,” I called out when I heard the front door open. “I’m making dinner, hope you’re–” My words died in my throat when I heard the dorm slam shut again, the force shook the apartment. I froze and listened as heavy feet stormed from the door into the kitchen. I turned and saw his face, brooding and dark and I knew it was going to be one of those nights.

“How was training?” I tried. He ignored me as he strode to the fridge and ripped open the door nearly taking it off its hinges. He peered inside then scowled heavily before slamming it shut again. He didn’t offer me a glance as he stalked out again. I sighed heavily as I stirred the pasta and put the lid on. My first instinct was to run after him but I knew that wouldn’t do me any good. When he got in these moods, the only thing I could do was give him his space until he calmed down enough to come out.

I ate dinner by myself and stowed a plate for him in the microwave. I cleaned the dishes and went through a movie before I looked at the clock and realized it was past ten and he still hadn’t made an appearance. With a resigned sigh, I steeled my nerves and approached the bedroom door. Slowly, I creaked it open and found him lying on the bed face up. His hands clutched the sheets so tightly I could see the tears in the fabric and the whole room crackled with tense energy.

“Bucky,” I murmured. “Your dinner’s cold.”

“Don’t care,” he muttered and I tried not to flinch. I hated when he got this. Angry at everything but most of all, angry at himself.

“Yes you do,” I said as I closed the door behind me. I stepped forward until I could sit down on the bed, careful to keep my distance. “Bucky, what’s going on?”

“Nothin’.”

“Please,” I whispered. “I hate seeing you like this.”

Bucky laughed and I looked up. I wished I hadn’t. There was so much anger trapped in his blue eyes it made my skin crawl. “And what, you think I like being like this? You think I enjoy doing this?”

“That’s not what I meant and you know that,” I protested. He snarled as he sat up and the sheets tore with him.

“Then what did you mean? You hate this part of me? Is this not good enough for you? Sorry love, this is who I am. Can’t always please you, can I?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Forget it,” he snapped as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and clutched his head in his hands. My heart cracked in my chest as I watched his shoulders shake from the tremendous weight that constantly threatened to suffocate him. “You can’t fix me. I can’t be saved,” he muttered.

“Bucky, I don’t want to fix you. There’s nothing to be fixed.”

“Bullshit,” he spat. “You know damn well I’m as fucked up as anyone. That’s why you’re here. You want to help me, make me better. Change me. I can’t change, can’t you see that? Can’t you understand?”

“I don’t want you to change, can’t you see that?” I met his eyes as I begged him to understand. “I want to help you, please, let me.”

“Help me?” He scoffed. “Help me? You can’t help me, you don’t understand. You’ll never, ever understand.”

“Then help me understand,” I shot back as I leaned forward. “Let me in, please Bucky. Don’t try to do this yourself, please.”

“You don’t get it,” he sneered as his upper lip curled. “You come from a perfect fucking world. A perfect fucking family, white picket fence and everything. You’ve got your perfect fucking friends and your perfect fucking job. You don’t know a thing about what I go through, you don’t know jack shit. Stop pretending you understand because you don’t.”

I gaped in silence as his words lashed out like a whip, scalding over my face. “You don’t mean that,” I whispered.

“You think so?” He growled as he stood up abruptly, his blue eyes like ice as he vibrated with anger. “You think I need you? You can’t do anything for me, you’ve never been able to help and you never will. I don’t need you, I’ve never needed you.”

“Bucky, stop,” I pleaded. This wasn’t him. This couldn’t be. I’ve never seen him this angry, never in my life.

“Fuckin’…you know what? Forget it.” He whirled around and stormed out of the bedroom. I sat in shock, my eyes wet with tears without even realizing it. I listened as the door was thrown open and winced as it slammed shut and shook the apartment. In the silence that followed, I crumpled onto the bed and gripped the holes he had made in the sheets as I tried desperately to control my breathing.

It’s not real, he didn’t mean it. It’s just a dream, it’ll be okay, I thought to myself like a mantra but the more I said it the less I believed it.

“Will you stay?” I whispered into his pillow as tears burned against my skin.

The silence that followed was the only answer I needed as I finally let the sobs rack my body.


“He needs you,” Steve whispered and I shook my head. I knew I was crying, I couldn’t help it. The memory of the night burned like a fresh burn.

“Believe me when I say this, he doesn’t,” I whispered as I backed up against the counter. The Keurig was hot behind me but I ignored it.

“He keeps asking for you,” Steve said and I closed my eyes at the fresh pain the flared in my chest. “Every time…every, every day. He always asks for you. And then – we have to tell him that you’re not there. And he just…he just breaks and I don’t know what to do.”

“He doesn’t know what he’s saying,” I whispered as I looked at Steve. “You know that, when he has his episodes he’ll say whatever comes to mind.”

Steve shook his head adamantly. “Not now. He begs for you, he needs you. Please, don’t let him go. Please. He needs you, he misses you so much.” He held his hand up when I tried to interrupt and I reluctantly kept it shut. “I know, I know what he said. He told me and so did Nat. He hates himself for it, every day he blames himself for making you leave. He’s scared. He’s so scared and he doesn’t know what to do but he needs you. Please, don’t let him go. He just…I know what he said and I know it hurt more than anything. But don’t give up. Not yet.”

I was really crying now and I furiously tried to wipe my eyes as I shook my head. “Steve, I…I can’t, you know I can’t.”

“Is there anything I can do to make you say yes?” Steve leaned forward and just the look on his face made me want to climb onto the quinjet. “Please. He’s my best friend…I can’t, I hate seeing him like this. You’re the only one who made him better.”

I bowed my head and watched as my tears splashed against my leg. “Steve…I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But I can’t do anything. I know he says he needs me but…you don’t understand, he doesn’t…it’s not like that anymore. Maybe…maybe I’ll come when he’s calmer, when he’s out of his episode. But not now, not when he’s so vulnerable. I can’t do that to him, I can’t.”

Steve sighed and nodded gravely as he stood up and set his mug into the sink. He turned to me and enveloped me into a strong hug, a hug I hadn’t realized I needed until I was in it. I took in a shaky breath as Steve squeezed my shoulders. “You’re the only one he’s ever truly loved,” he whispered and my chest cracked open as I held back the hard sobs. He stepped back and gave me a sad smile and I could see in his eyes that he was trying to understand. That walking away right now was the last thing he wanted to do. “Please…think about it. That’s all I ask.”

I nodded and watched as he turned his back and disappeared out the window, the distant purr of the quinjet was what I heard before I sagged against the kitchen counter and cried harder than I had over the past six months.


It had been two days since Steve had come to my apartment and our conversation was all I could think about. I tried to move on. I tried to shake off his words. But they were like a mantra in my head that never went away.

He needs you.

He’s my best friend, please.

You’re the only one he’s ever loved.

He needs you.

And the more his words repeated in my mind, the more my resolve began to crack until finally I found myself purchasing a plane ticket and arriving at New York.

I approached the facility late at night, the lights still blazed despite it being close to midnight. With a sigh and fear clenching my insides, I strode through the front door and walked up to the security desk. The security guard was flicking through the CCTVs with a bored expression when I approached him.

“Sorry miss, no visitors at this hour,” he drawled as he kept his gaze fixated on the computer screens.

“I’m…um, I’m here to see Captain Steve Rogers?”

“No visitors at this hour,” he repeated again, monotone. I sighed and gripped the counter to hide my frustration.

“I need to see Steve Rogers. It’s important.”

“No visitors at this–”

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” I muttered as I whipped out my cell phone. The guy didn’t even acknowledge me as I dialed Natasha’s number.

“Romanoff,” she replied in a brisk voice though I could hear the exhaustion that dripped behind the cold voice.

“Nat, it’s me.” I eyed the guard as he still dutifully ignored me. “I’m here, at the facility. Where are you?”

What?” There was a sudden commotion through the speaker before her voice returned. “I’ll be there in a minute, don’t move.”

I ended the call and glared pointedly at the security guard who didn’t even move, his finger clicked on the mouse every interval of three. Some security I thought wryly to myself before I heard the elevator ping and out stepped Natasha. She looked exhausted, her hair was knotted and the bags beneath her eyes were a dark purple as she practically ran towards me.

“Hi,” I said once she stood in front of me. She nodded in greeting, her face grim.

“C’mon, he needs you,” she said in a stiff voice and I could tell she was barely holding it together. I followed her into the elevator and she pressed the button marked 35. Bucky’s floor.

“Nat,” I murmured in the quiet elevator. “How bad is he?” I knew Steve told me he was bad, but Steve had a tendency to overdramatize things especially when it came to Bucky. I wanted to make sure that what Steve told me was in fact, the truth.

“It’s good that you’re here,” she whispered. It’s all she said, but it was enough.

I nodded and swallowed thickly. “Are you monitoring him?”

“Full surveillance.” Natasha confirmed as the doors slid open and we stepped onto Bucky’s floor. “We have to.”

“Shut it off,” I whispered. Natasha was about to protest but I silenced her with a hard glare. “If I’m going to talk to him, it’s going to be just me and Bucky. He deserves his privacy. I’m not going in there until video and audio is cut off. I’m serious, Nat. I’m going to talk to Bucky as a friend, not as a psychiatrist. We don’t need to be monitored.”

Natasha nodded bleakly and squeezed my hand tightly. “Be careful,” she whispered before she disappeared down the hallway. I waited and calmed my churning stomach as I clasped and unclasped my hands in front of me. Two minutes later I got a text from Natasha.

Surveillance cut. Be safe, please.

I pocketed my phone and strode towards Bucky’s door. My hand hesitated in front of the keypad before I shook my head and steeled my nerves. I punched in the familiar code and the doors slid open.

Inside, everything was clean. The bed was made and everything was set within a specific place – nothing out of order. All of the picture frames were gone; the candles I had used to rid the metallic scent of blood were nowhere to be seen. The comforter was replaced with a dull gray quilt.

There was no color, no life.

Everything was too neat. There were no creases in the bed spread when I knew before he couldn’t have cared less how the blankets looked I was always the one who made the bed. The frames were gone but I saw the marks on the bureau from where the corners of the frames had hit too hard and chipped away at the stain. I could still smell a hint of the lavender candles I always used to light but it was overwhelmed with the scent of beech wood like he had done everything in his power to rid the lavender from the room. There were cobwebs laced in the corners of the room and when I looked down I saw cracks in the tile. I wondered how hard his fists had hit the floor to make those marks. The couches all had covers over them but as they fluttered in the air of the heating I could see the pockets of fabric missing from where he had ripped out chunks of the upholstery.

The entire room was set up to make it seem like he was fine when he was really anything but.

I turned my head and jolted when I saw Bucky staring at me. He stood in the doorframe of the bathroom seemingly frozen in place. His clothes were clean, his shirt pressed and his jeans free of grease stains. His hair fell loose around his face and his eyes were bright and wide.

“Why are you here?” His voice was rough, like he hadn’t used it in weeks and I flinched at the sharp hostility in his tone. I knew this was a bad idea, I knew it. My sudden burst of confidence was dwindling fast and I tried vainly to grasp onto it. I turned my head away and swallowed thickly.

“Uh…I just, wanted to…I don’t know. Um, I just wanted to see how you were, I guess. But if you want me to go then I’ll, I’ll go–”

“Wait,” he broke me off as he leaned on the balls of his feet. “Sorry, um, you just…surprised me, I guess.”

I nodded slowly as I rocked back on my heels. “Yeah, sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.”

Bucky nodded again and gave me a soft shrug. There was a pregnant pause and I opened my mouth to make my escape but Bucky beat me to it. “Um, sit, please.” He mumbled, pointing to the armchair facing the window. I chewed on my bottom lip before I relented with a sigh and walked forward, clutching my bag to my chest. Bucky sat on the loveseat that was before the TV.

“So,” I broke the silence once I sat down, “how have you been?”

Bucky shrugged, still not huge on conversation. It reminded me when I first met him. He barely spoke a word to me. It was like he didn’t know me, all over again. “You look good,” he muttered, completely dodging my question. I sighed inwardly as I subconsciously touched my hair.

“Yeah, well, you know. I’m trying. All in a day’s work, right?” I attempted to joke but I knew it fell flat. He wrung his hands together, spreading them apart then clutching them back together.

“And how’s that going for you?” His voice was empty, as if he was steeling himself for an answer he didn’t want to hear.

It was my turn shrug. “I dunno, seemed to have fooled everyone.”

“Everyone?” He murmured and his eyes finally met mine. The icy chasms took my breath away even now.

“Yeah,” I breathed out. His face was expressionless as he looked away. “So…you seem to be doing good.” I nodded to the bed with a small smile on my face.

“Of course I am,” he bit out. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

I winced, his words like a hot knife through his chest. Of course he was fine. He was the one who left me. Suddenly, everything Steve said flew out the window. Bucky never needed me. Just like he had said.

“Yeah,” I mouthed. “Right, of course.”

Bucky shook his head and I saw anger twist his features. “Why are you even here?” He stared at me, his eyes dead. My breath rattled in my chest as my mouth formed no words. After several heartbeats of silence Bucky shook his head and stood up, storming to the bathroom. The door rattled in the doorframe when he slammed it shut and I winced at the sudden sound.

“I don’t know,” I whispered into the silence. Hot tears formed in my eyes and I willed them to go away with a tight squeeze of my eyelids. I refused to cry again. I was done crying over Bucky Barnes. There was obviously no love lost with him, it was time for me to realize that. When I opened my eyes, my vision was blurry but I forced myself up with a staggered breath. With soft steps I pushed open the door and shut it quietly behind me. I looked up at the security camera that I knew was trained on Bucky’s door. Where I knew Nat and Steve were watching. I gave a small shake of my head, pressing my lips together as a fresh wave of tears flooded my eyes. My legs willed me towards the elevator and somehow my body followed.

It was almost mechanical, my actions, like the voice that spoke to me in the elevator. Once the doors closed I leaned against the cool walls hoping the cold will bring back some semblance of thought. I used the trip down to the ground floor as a way to gather myself. “Let him go, let him go,” I kept repeating to myself, like an endless mantra. I figured if I kept saying, eventually I’d believe it.

The ground floor was dead; the security guard had seemingly decided to leave the desk unattended. I rolled my eyes, shaking my head as I strode purposefully towards the revolving doors, repeating the three words in my head.

A sudden crash interrupted my train of thought as I nearly jumped ten feet in the air. I whipped around and saw the door that led to the set of the stairs plastered to the opposite wall, the hinges creaking slightly. Bucky emerged from the destroyed frame as he ran towards me, skidding to a stop before me. He was barely panting even though he had just launched a vibranium infused door into the next century.

“Don’t…don’t go,” he grated out, his voice so rough it sounded like sandpaper.

“What?” I managed to pull my gaze from the doorway to him. His eyes were slightly crazed, blown so wide I was worried they would pop out of his head.

“Don’t leave, please. Please…stay, stay.”

I gazed at him in shock, wondering if I was looking at the same guy as I slowly began to shake my head. “I, uh…I think I should go.”

No,” he sprung forward when I took a step back and froze in place. “Please, please. Don’t leave me. Not yet, not now. Please.”

I kept shaking my head as my legs unfroze and took two more steps back as I began to turn away from him. “I can’t, I can’t,” I repeated. I willed my voice not to break as I stumbled back, nearly tripping over my own feet. Bucky was quiet as I nearly sprinted to the revolving doors, my heart cracking against my ribcage. I almost made it, my hand outstretched to the handle when he spoke.

“I didn’t mean it.” Four words, spoken so softly but they reverberated throughout the entire room. “I…I didn’t mean, what I said. I never meant it.”

I couldn’t turn around. I couldn’t face him just yet. “Why did you say it? Why? Was it just to – to hurt me?”

“Yes.” I winced at the single word that cut through my heart. It was like the final nail in the coffin, the reminder that I didn’t matter.

“Right,” I muttered, shaking my head. “I have to go.”

“No, no wait,” Bucky began pleading behind me as I pushed the glass panel before me. The door began to turn and just as I was about to reach the exit, the door suddenly screeched to a halt and my face nearly went through the glass. I peeled my face off of the glass and whipped around to see Bucky’s metal arm holding the door back.

“Let me go,” I demanded as I slammed my shoulder against the glass. It didn’t even budge. “Goddammit Bucky, I am going to suffocate if you do not let me out.”

“I need you to listen to me.”

“By trapping me?” I nearly screeched. “God, what else do you want with me? Do you just want to hurt me some more, really destroy my self-esteem? Because honestly, I think you have done enough.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” his voice was fierce but I scoffed and nearly laughed in his face.

“How else could you possibly mean that, Bucky?” He bowed his head but didn’t say anything. He was dead quiet. I shook my head and slammed my hands against the glass. All it did was shudder. Tears pricked my eyes as my throat constricted. “Do you like seeing me like this? Is that what this is? Is this some sort of fucked up game for you?”

“What?” Bucky gasped. “God, no. It was never–”

“Then why?” I yelled, stepping three feet to the other glass panel that confined me. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because you know,” he whispered and I just gaped at me. A few moments passed as I waited for him to respond, to elaborate in some way. But he didn’t.

“Know what, Bucky? What are you talking about?”

“You just know,” he repeated, the plates in his arm rippled as he gripped the handle harder. “You…you look at me, and you know. You don’t have to ask, we don’t have to talk, I don’t have to say anything and you just know. One look at me and it’s like you just…get it and no one has ever done that before.”

I blinked at him before I raised my hands up in defense. “You know, this might just be me, but isn’t that what people want? Someone who knows the other one? I really thought that was something good in a relationship.”

“It is, it was one…it was good. But it – it terrified me. Nobody has known me like that in…decades. Steve used to, but even now he doesn’t. But you…you, who has no idea what I’ve gone through. You’ve never held a gun in your life, you just know. You understand me like no one ever has and it scares the shit out of me. Because I’m so used to saying the right thing, to acting a certain way to make sure I wasn’t noticed. But you just…God you just see right through me no matter how hard I try to keep you out.”

“So…you said all of those things…because I know you?” I stared at him in disbelief. It was ridiculous, even for Bucky. I found it so hard to believe him. Suspicion began to grow in my stomach as I narrowed my eyes at Bucky. It was then that I realized he hadn’t looked at me. Throughout his whole speech he couldn’t even look my way. “Bucky,” I prompted. “Look at me.” He ignored me and I nearly exploded. “Jesus, the least you could do is look at me. At least give me that.” Seconds ticked away before Bucky finally tore his gaze from the ground and met mine. His eyes burned with an emotion I couldn’t pinpoint, but it was something so strong it nearly knocked my breath away. “What aren’t you telling me?” I whispered. “What are you trying to tell me?”

Bucky shook his head as a small chuckle left his mouth. “This is what I mean,” he murmured, “you see right through me.”

“Then can you please explain what I’m seeing? Because it makes no sense right now.” Bucky seemed to shrink away at my voice. He carded his fingers through his hair while my gaze flickered over his body. He was wound so tight I worried he’d crumble right in front of me. “Please,” I whispered my voice softening as I took another step forward. “Tell me.”

Bucky shook his head. “I can’t…I can’t.”

“Why not? Bucky…why?”

“Because it doesn’t make sense,” he hissed. “It shouldn’t…it shouldn’t be like this.”

I stared at him in confusion, trying to piece together his vague words. “Okay, okay,” I spoke to mostly myself but I knew Bucky heard. “You don’t have to tell me, that’s okay. Just, uh, explain, yeah. Explain to me what’s going on.”

Bucky sighed and dropped his head to his chest as if he was suddenly exhausted. His broad chest expanded as he took in a deep breath and I tried not to speak. I swallowed thickly and took a step back, to give him space though really he had enough.

“I don’t know…I don’t know how.” He began and I held my breath, afraid if I breathed too loudly I’d scare him. “It’s like, everything was a blur. I was okay, I felt, I loved, I knew what happiness was, I knew guilt and sadness. But it’s like nothing ever stuck, I just kept cycling through these emotions. And I, I always thought that if I ever met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I’d have to lay all of the cards on the table. I thought I’d have to have this great intervention with the drama and the fanfare and the tears and everything.

“But then…but then I met you. And I didn’t have to explain anything. You just looked at me and smiled. And the way you look at me, it’s like I’m all you see, y’know? And I’ve never…that’s never happened before. Even on my worst days, you never wavered. You just held me and let me be me. I never had to worry about being Bucky or James or…him. I was just who I wanted to be and you…you loved me all the same. And I saw it, how much you loved me.

“I’m not…I’m not a good person. I know I’m not, but you don’t. You refused to believe it no matter what people told you, no matter how right they were. It’s like you didn’t care and you should because I’m…I’ve done bad things. And it scares me, it scares me that you can love me so unconditionally and I can’t even give you a fraction of that because I’ve done so much, I’ve done such terrible things that loving you can hardly make up for anything. And I tried, I tried so hard to make things right with you. To try and be good for you. But you saw through that too, you saw through it all and God it scared me.

“And I knew the only way for you to see, to understand me, was for you to hate me. Only then would you let me go. And I didn’t want…I never wanted to hurt you. And I know I did, I know what I said hurt you in ways I never wanted to imagine. But you just…you saw too much. You saw too much and you knew too much and you loved so goddamn much and I can’t give you that. I can’t give you the love you deserve, I can never give you that. But you don’t…you didn’t get it. And I tried to make you see it but you…didn’t so I had…I had to make you see.”

His voice broke at the very end, a sob wrenching through his clenched teeth and my heart nearly broke in two. His breath was ragged, as if what he had just told me equaled climbing Mount Everest.

“So…” I finally spoke as my mind struggled to wrap around what he said. “You don’t love me? Is this…is this the point? I love you but you don’t love me.”

“No, God, no.” Bucky shook his head as he carded a hand roughly through his hair. “Don’t you see? I love you too much. I love you so goddamn much it hurts. I’ve never loved anyone like I love you. But that doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t…it’s just, it’s not right.”

I narrowed my eyes at him as I crossed my arms. “Do you see a judge anywhere? Are we in some sort of Congressional meeting I’m not aware of? Is there a jury sitting at the security desk right now?”

He furrowed his brows. “No.”

“Awesome. Then what the fuck are you trying to prove and who the fuck are you trying to prove it to?” I glared at him as I spoke. Bucky opened his mouth but I was too angry to stop. “You know what Bucky, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. Your past is fucked up. What happened to you is so beyond fucked up I can’t understand and I most definitely never will. But it’s exactly that. You’re past. You need to move on because I’m pretty sure everyone else has.”

“But–”

“Do not interrupt me.” I jammed a finger at him and he automatically shut his mouth. “You’re so goddamn immersed in your past you’re too blind to see what’s happening right in front of you. And you’re right. I did love you. I loved you so much that sometimes I don’t even think it’s real. Some nights I stay awake just to make a list of ways to prove to you how much I loved you without ever saying it.

“But fuck you. Fuck you for deciding who I love, or how I love, or when I love. Fuck you for not letting me prove it to you and not seeing it when I tried. Fuck you for never sticking around long enough and never showing that you cared. Fuck you for breaking my heart and leaving me to pick up the pieces afterwards. Fuck you for not staying.”

I was panting by the time I finished my rant. Everything in me buzzed as the adrenaline coursed through my veins. Bucky was silent as he stared at me, unmoving. I had never yelled like that before in my life and I was positive Bucky had never seen me like this.

“I’m–”

Don’t,” I snarled. “Don’t you dare say you’re sorry.” I shook my head and turned away from him, my stomach rolled and twisted uncomfortably. “God, I’m so mad at you. I’m so fucking mad.”

“I know,” he whispered. “I know.”

“Good,” I shot back. It was childish but I wasn’t about to let him get the last word. But as soon as I said it I felt a wave of exhaustion rush over me and my shoulders dropped in response. With a heavy sigh I rested my head against the cool glass in search of relief but found none. “What do you want from me Barnes?” I finally whispered.

“I want a second chance.”

I scoffed under my breath. “Second chance? I gave you too many chances. You had more than one opportunity to stay. You chose not to.”

“Fine,” Bucky acquiesced. “Give me one more chance.”

“Right,” I said bitterly. “What’s going to be so different about this one? You’re going to tell me you love me and then leave? Won’t that be the icing on the fucking cake?”

“Let me prove to you that I love you. This time, for real. No more running, no more games. I swear to you I’m gonna be there this time.”

I turned my head to the side and watched the moonlight dance on the steel beams of the door. “I don’t trust you,” I admitted honestly. I could feel the walls locking in around my chest, protecting me from whatever he said.

“I know,” he repeated. “Give me a chance to win that trust back.”

“That’s two chances, Bucky. You said one.”

“A chance to win your trust and another to prove that I love you, and that you love me too.” I turned to face him, about to give him a snarky remark but the moment I saw his face my voice died. He was open, raw, vulnerable. His eyes shimmered with unfallen tears and his gaze was so intense I felt as if I was drowning. “Please.” Just one word. But it was loaded with so much sincerity and desperation I couldn’t find it in me to say no.

“Okay,” I finally relented and his face utterly transformed. A glimmer of hope shone in his eyes and he immediately stood up straight. “This is not a yes,” I immediately snapped as I glared at him. “This is just an opportunity for redemption. But we go my pace. Whatever I say goes. You so much as cross a line I swear to–”

“I know.”

“And you’re not kissing me. Or touching me. Unless I say so. I’m serious Bucky, no funny–”

“I know.”

“This does not guarantee anything either. If I’m not happy or I don’t believe you then I have every right to–”

“I know.”

I scowled angrily at him as I placed my hands on my hips. “Do you know everything?”

“No.” He shook his head. “But I know you.” I forced the scowl to stay on my lips despite the smile that threatened to shine through.

“Right, of course you do,” I grumbled.

“So,” he smiled that million dollar smile that made me weak in the knees the very first time I saw it,

Will you stay?