Burnout (Bucky x reader)
Warnings: burnout, overworked, mental breakdown/panic attack
A/N: Take care of yourself, burnout is real and you CAN get sick. Trust me. I’m always here if you wanna talk to someone about anything or want another friend. Stay strong <3
Includes: Lyrics from the song “Weight of the World” by Citizen Soldier
These nights were becoming more common. And that wasn’t a good thing.
You sat at your desk surrounded by papers, empty cans of energy drinks, and a bright laptop screen. You held your head in your hands and you tried to keep your eyes awake, turning the screen brightness higher.
You sighed and rubbed your eyes, trying to rub the sleep out of them. You took your hands away and looked back at the screen briefly before covering your face again.
You lived with the Avengers and were a huge asset to the team. Not only were you enhanced with powers, but you were incredibly intelligent. That being the case, you worked with Tony and Bruce in the lab either developing new ideas or fixing suits after missions. As well as being on the mission yourself. Therefore you trained early every morning with Steve and Bucky. You also did most of the mission reports, switching off with Steve once and a while.
Most nights you could be found either working through paperwork, down in the lab working into the morning with Tony, or researching for new projects in said lab. You never meant to stay up as late as you did, but no matter how hard you worked, more work kept appearing. Every 10 PM soon turned into 2 AM, and you could never quite catch a break. You had turned to caffeine not long ago, quickly using it as a crutch to supplement sleep.
You had just gotten back from a long mission with the team, and were incredibly sore. Steve hadn’t gone on this mission, leaving you to finish the report. Add to that, Tony wanted to make a better suit for Peter, and Sam’s wings were busted. Tony was working on Peter’s suit, wanting to make it perfect, leaving you with fixing the wings for Sam.
You decided to work on Sam’s Falcon suit first, seeing that you lived on Planet Earth and he could be scheduled for another mission at any time. What seemed to be superficial damage turned out to be extensive, and required much more repairing that you had anticipated. What you had planned to be a 2 hour process had turned into just over a day of work in the lab.
Not wanting to lose your place and needing a distraction from the soreness, you had worked for hours straight, only breaking to relieve yourself every so often. You were exhausted and ready to fall asleep when you laid back in your bed. Only to check your notifications and see an email from Fury requesting the mission report immediately.
Which led you to where you were now. You hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours, sore from the mission, with a tedious mission report to fill out. Taking a deep breath, you removed your hands from your face.
You groaned, but brought your hands back to the keyboard and began typing. The words were blurring together and you shook your head a few times trying to stay awake. Somehow, you finished the report and sent it off and looked at the time again.
You rubbed your temples before climbing back into your bed, sighing out as your eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t uncommon for you to go to bed this late/early. Lately Tony had been coming up with more ideas and would ask you to help. Since Tony works through most of the night, you had learned to do the same. You don’t remember the last time you had more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep.
You were off the hook for training for a few days, due to having just gotten back from a mission. And while you had been hesitant at first, you were grateful now that you had a bit more time to sleep. Despite the caffeine you had consumed to stay awake, you were absolutely exhausted. Tears threatened to fall from your eyes but you tried to breathe through it. You just wanted a break but couldn’t seem to catch one.
You curled into yourself as your stomach began to growl. ‘When was the last time I ate?’ you thought. Not that it mattered, there was nothing that could bring you out of your bed at that moment. You drifted off to sleep.
You woke up to your phone chiming and groaned, picking it up to see what was so important. Your eyes find the top message, informing you that the mission report you had submitted was incomplete. You jolted out of bed and over to your desk to begin working on the report again, biting back tears of embarrassment at such a ridiculous error on your part. How could you have been so tired that you missed an entire section of a report?
You cracked open another energy drink that you kept in your room and began guzzling it. You were still in the same clothes as the day before and you hadn’t taken your hair down from it’s bun in days. Your stomach grumbled but you answered it with more of the energy drink. You would deal with hunger later. This was much more important.
Your head was pounding and you could barely sit up straight. You had barely gotten a few hours of sleep and somehow felt more tired than you had before it. Your sight became more blurry as it became harder to suppress the tears. You were angry at yourself, why couldn’t you just get this one fucking thing done?
You worked through the section quickly, or at least, you tried to. You kept having to reread sections, not comprehending what the words were saying anymore. You rubbed your eyes aggressively and shook your head, trying to concentrate. You reached to grab the energy drink again, but instead accidentally spilled it all over yourself. Letting out a “Fuck!” as you stood up, something inside you snapped.
You threw the can across the room, not caring how much was left inside of it. You flipped your chair and crumbled the miscellaneous papers on your desk. You let out a scream of frustration, and threw a picture frame across the room. After which, you bent over and placed your hands on your knees, small sobs beginning to wrack your body. You were just so tired, you had work to do, but you couldn’t do it no matter how simple it was.
You walked around the mess and into your bathroom, closing the door. You turned on the shower and got in, not even bothering to take off your clothes or wait for it to warm up. You didn’t care. You couldn’t. You sank to the floor, tears streaming down your face as the shower began to warm. You couldn’t bring yourself together, every time you tried to calm down a new wave of frustration and exhaustion would hit you and you would start crying all over again. You held your hand to your chest, trying to catch your breath a little, not having much success. You were gasping for air, it felt like you were breathing fire. Unable to fight it anymore, you started choking out lyrics to one of your go-to sad songs.
Feel the weight of the world over me tonight.
If I break, if I break down this time
You took a shaky breath and choked out the next line
Meanwhile, Bucky had been thinking about you. The two of you were very close, you had been ever since Steve had introduced you to him. He was in awe of how you could both rival Tony in the lab and himself in the training room. That and how much you did for others. You had helped him a lot when Bucky had first come to the compound. And he was very grateful.
He knew you had gotten back from a mission a few days ago, and were probably exhausted. From what he had heard it had been a brutal mission. However, in the past, you had usually gotten back into the routine of daily life pretty quickly. He hasn’t so much as seen you since you got back.
He couldn’t help but worry.
He decided to go to your room to check on you, seeing as it was later in the morning and you had had a chance to sleep. Little did he know, you hadn’t. When he got to your door he knocked and waited for a response. He was met with nothing. However, with his enhanced hearing, he heard muffled singing from inside. He couldn’t hear the words, but you sounded in pain.
My mind’s such a mess, I can’t handle it, I’m at the end of my rope.
Worried, he let himself in and took in the state of the room. It was completely trashed, shattered glass, overturned furniture, crumbled papers. He heard the shower running and could hear your cries through the lyrics
My neck is breaking body shaking
Sometimes it’s so hard to breathe
But no one sees it follows me i always end up underneath
You began coughing, still gasping for air and holding your chest. Bucky came over to the bathroom door and opened it, concerned you were in pain. You were sitting on the floor, drenched and shaking. Steam filled the room, fogging up the mirrors. He came over to you, trying to get your attention but you couldn’t hear him. Worried, he stepped into the shower as well, swearing as it burned his skin. He crouched down in front of you and took your face in his hands, trying to guide your face to his.
“Y/n, y/n can you hear me? Can you look at me?” he said.
Coming back to your senses slightly, you tried to figure out who was in front of you. You grabbed one of his forearms and focused your eyes, still struggling to breathe. You found Bucky’s blue eyes looking back at you.
Bucky, knowing you were now aware of his presence, reached to turn off the water while still maintaining eye contact. You were coughing, choking on each breath, still shaking and crying. Bucky had never seen you like this. You tried looking around again, forgetting briefly where you were and what had happened, breath picking up again in confusion. “Hey, hey, y/n? I need you to keep your eyes on me okay?”
“It...hurts..” you gasped out, feeling like fire filled your lungs. Your arms had gone numb and in the absence of the warm water your wet body was now shivering from both the cold and anxiety.
Bucky quickly looked you up and down. “What hurts, y/n?” he said calmly but firmly even though he was freaking out internally.
Fresh tears spilled out of your eyes. You tried to talk but couldn’t speak through your panic. You rubbed your chest, willing your heart to slow down but it wouldn’t.
Bucky, still keeping his eyes locked on yours, said “Listen, y/n, I need you to try and breathe with me slowly, okay? Like this,” he breathed in deeply and let it out slowly. You tried to copy him and after a few breaths lost your pace. You shook your head. “I can’t…. I...I…”
. “It’s okay, you’re okay, you’re safe y/n. Try again, I’m right here okay? Look at me.” he said, still breathing deeply. Eventually, you were able to find a rhythm and catch your breath, becoming aware of the situation and everything that had happened. Now able to breathe, you felt new tears of shame rush to your eyes. There were a few moments of silence
“What happened?” Bucky asked, concern etched on his face.
You let out a small sob and covered your face, and Bucky’s heart shattered. He had never seen anyone this upset, nevermind you. You had always been so strong, energetic, joyful. And here you were, soaking wet and shaking on the shower floor. What the hell had happened to you?
He stood up and got out of the shower, also soaked, but he didn’t care about that right now. He leaned down and put one arm behind your back and the other looped under your knees and he picked you up. He placed you down on the vanity and stood in front of you. He carefully took your wrists and pulled them away from your face, you looking at him through bloodshot eyes.
“You - you’re soaked,” you said, both out of shock and in an attempt to deflect the attention from you.
“Wh- I mean, yeah, so are you,” Bucky said. “Y/n, can you tell me what happened?”
You looked down at your hands and swallowed thickly, embarrassed. “I, uh…” you cleared your throat. What had happened? You closed your eyes and rubbed your head.
You sighed out “Shit, I just…” again, shame began to overtake you. “It’s stupid, forget about it,” you said, trying to stand up.
Bucky stopped you, confused. “Y/n, whatever just happened, that… That’s not caused by something stupid. I’ve never seen you so upset before. Hell I’ve never seen anyone so upset before. But I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”
“Really, Buck, I’m fine,” you said.
“Then why are you trying not to cry?”
You sighed. There was no other way out of this. You looked at him and said, “I was just done.” You looked back down at your hands, and continued trying to keep the waiver out of your voice. “I just, um...After the mission I had to fix Sam’s wings, and it took me longer than I expected. And then I still had the mission report which took me all of last night and then I found out that I had missed an entire section. And I got mad that I couldn’t focus or stay awake and I just kind of...broke.”
As you looked back at him, face not as red, he could see how tired you seemed. “Are you sleeping?”
“I mean, a little bit it’s not like I’ve been awake this whole time but -”
You looked at him. “A couple of hours a night at most,” you said quietly.
Bucky nodded sadly. “Anything else?”
You opened and closed your mouth a few times. “I mean it’s not a big deal -”
“What I just saw was a big deal,” Bucky said gently.
“I haven’t really made time to eat either,” you tried to laugh it off a little. “Just kind of chugged energy drinks. But then I spilled it all over myself, so...bad idea I guess.”
Bucky wasn’t laughing. But he wasn’t angry either. He was, but not at you, never at you.
“Why didn’t you say anything? The days off after missions are there for rest.”
You shrugged. “I had important shit to do.”
“Well you’re pretty important shit too,” he said a little more firmly, but still not angrily. He sighed. “But really, if you’re not okay then nothing gets done. You’re going to get sick if you keep doing this to yourself. When was the last time you had more than a few hours of sleep?”
“I don’t know,” you answered honestly.
He sighed once again. “I’m sorry,” you said, fearful that he was angry with you.
“No, it’s not your fault I just…” he looked away for a second before looking back at you. “I don’t like seeing you like this. I don’t want you pushing yourself so hard and getting hurt.”
You sighed sadly and rubbed your eyes. “Every day I tell myself it’s the last day I’ll stay up so late. I always tell myself I’ll eat after my project is done. But no matter how hard I work there’s just more and more work that needs to get done. And I can’t keep up. I feel like I’m drowning. But no matter how much I hate it I...I always come last,” you said.
“You shouldn’t have to,” Bucky said.
After a few moments of silence, Bucky pulled you in for a hug, you still sitting on the counter. You closed your eyes against his chest and sighed out, feeling good finally getting all of that off of your chest.
“You’re taking the next few days off.” he said.
You pulled back and looked at him. “But the report -”
“Is mostly done and Steve can get the rest of the information from Sam.” Bucky finished for you.
“Nope. There is not a single thing you could say right now that is going to prevent me from making sure you take care of yourself for a few days.” he said, and you knew he was right. Nodding, he pulled you back in for a hug.
“We should get out of these clothes.” you said softly, shivering a little.
Bucky laughed a little. “Yeah, we really should.”
You moved to stand up from the counter, still a little weak as you leaned on Bucky a little. You walked slowly out to your room and were met with the mess you created earlier. “Shit,” you said, taking in the broken glass and furniture.
Bucky turned you around and said “Do you want to come to my room? We can deal with this some other time.”
You simply nodded, stepping around the broken shards of glass and to the hallway. Bucky’s room wasn’t far from yours, and luckily no one was in the hallways to comment on how both of you were in wet clothes. Once in his room, he closed the door after you and went to his dresser. He pulled out a pair of sweats and one of his T-shirts and handed them to you. “They might be a little big but -”
“Thank you,” you said, taking the clothes and heading to his bathroom. You closed the door and peeled your current outfit off of you. You found a spare towel and dried off the rest of you, and pulled on Bucky’s clothes. They were huge on you, but you didn’t mind. You took your hair down and redid your bun before splashing some cold water on your face. Deeming you looked more presentable, you came back out and saw that Bucky had also changed. Smiling warmly, he pointed to the bed.
“So you are going to lie down, and I am going to go make you some food. I’ll be right back.”
You started shaking your head. “No, it’s okay, you don’t have -”
He raised his eyebrows, still pointing to the bed. Swallowing a laugh, you nodded and sat down on the bed. Bucky then left the room and returned a few minutes later with a sandwich. After you had eaten it, you laid back in the bed, melting into the softness of the mattress. You faced away from Bucky, who was sitting next to you on his phone. He was (slowly) texting Steve to finish your report, which took very little convincing.
After a few minutes, you asked “Can you lay down with me?”
Bucky smiled a little to himself. “Sure, doll,” he said, and he moved to lie down next to you. Unsure of what exactly you wanted, he gave you space. Not soon after, you turned over and scooted closer to his side. After a moment of shock from Bucky, you asked “Is this okay?” Readjusting a little, he wrapped his arm around you and pulled you closer. “Yeah, is this okay?” he asked in return. You merely hummed in approval, already feeling safer in his warm embrace. He let out a small laugh. “Try to get some rest, y/n. I’ll be here whenever you wake up.”
It was the most peaceful sleep you had ever had.