A/N: It's a little short, and a lot late, but here's some Steve POV.


~x~

Bucky's sleeping, his eyelids twitching frantically like they used to in Europe during the war. His body is unnaturally still, not relaxed and loose like it was when they were kids curled up in the same bed, or awkwardly scrunched up like it was on the hard ground they typically slept on after he'd found Bucky on Zola's lab table. He makes no noise, but then, he was always a quiet sleeper. Not like Steve, who wheezed and hacked his way through the first two decades of life.

Steve doesn't know how to sleep with Bucky in his bed anymore. He should. It should be more familiar than anything, including the bed itself, which is bigger and more expensive than anything he could have even dreamed of back in Brooklyn. Not having Bucky next to him at night was one of the hardest things to get used when he woke up and now, now he has him back, alive and as close to well as could be expected, and he can't sleep.

He's not afraid of Bucky. He is incapable of being afraid of Bucky. He is afraid for Bucky, but that's a constant state of being—one he's experienced before—and it shouldn't interfere with his ability to enjoy a few hours of unconsciousness and terrifying nightmares, as per usual.

He doesn't even miss the sex. Well, that's a lie. Of course he misses the sex. But just having Bucky there, being able to see him and touch him—it's more than enough. More than he ever thought he'd have again.

But he still can't sleep.

So he lays there and watches Bucky, a strange reversal of fortunes from the many years in which it was Bucky who watched him all night to make sure he didn't die while Bucky wasn't looking.

Bucky wakes up with a suddenness that is all the more unnerving because he still doesn't move, just breathes heavily and stares at the ceiling. Steve shifts, enough to remind Bucky that he's there without actually bringing them into physical contact. After his breathing slows, Bucky turns his head to look at Steve with a bleak expression in his eyes.

They stare at each other for a long moment and then Bucky smiles, a crooked thing that makes Steve's chest hurt with a vicious mix of happiness and pain. "Hey, Stevie, did I wake you?"

Steve shakes his head and then reaches out to touch Bucky's cheek, no longer afraid to touch but still not sure enough to pull him close. "I was already awake." He doesn't ask if it was a bad dream, he knows that's the only kind Bucky has left.

In this, as always, Bucky is more sure than Steve is and slides over until he's close enough to breathe Steve's air. "Now I still don't remember everything, but I'm pretty sure even supersoldier you needs sleep. And you are not allowed to lose sleep over me. I remember enough to know that's my job. Even if I might be no good at it anymore."

Steve smiles, letting his arm fall so that it's wrapped securely around Bucky. "No version of you knows how to be bad at taking care of me. It's kind of a character flaw."

Bucky chuckles, rough and raspy but still the best thing Steve has ever heard. "Yeah, well, you're no peach yourself. Always getting in trouble."

Steve grins and ignores the burn in his throat, the teasing so familiar it aches with how good it feels.

Bucky shakes his head, the warmth fading from his eyes. "And now look at you, living in a tower full of crazy superheroes and a fucked up amnesiac best friend who's killed a whole lot of people." His voice starts light like Steve's, but it's filled with self loathing by the end and that burns more than anything since the ice. It's wrong, to hear that tone in Bucky's voice. Wrong and terrible and all he wants to do is tear the world apart and put it back together into something that makes sense—a world that doesn't have room for the horrors that happened to his best friend, his other half, the only person who knows him, all of him.

"I've killed a lot of people. So has every single one of those superheroes. And not all of them were bad, and not all of them deserved it. And you deserved absolutely nothing that happened to you. And I know you're smart enough to get that, because you used to tell me the same thing when I was breathing in my own vomit and wanting to die." Steve takes a breath, trying to control the sharp edge of fury at every person who has failed Bucky, every person who has hurt him so badly that Steve has somehow become the confident, self-assured one. "So how about we make a deal? You go on taking care of me and telling me to stop getting into trouble, and I'll go on losing sleep over you and loving you and ignoring you like the stubborn fool I am."

Bucky laughs, a sound full of far more things than amusement, and then kisses Steve. It's rough and messy and he breaks away far too soon, breathing heavily as Steve's heart feels like it's going to beat right out of his chest. "Sounds like a plan. Now go to sleep, because I don't trust myself with you right now and you are entirely too tempting when awake."

Steve's answering chuckle sounds too much like a sob, but he obediently closes his eyes. He can't fix his best friend tonight. He doesn't even think fix is the right word for something as big and awful and complicated as this is. But he can lay here, and he can be happy that Bucky is with him, and he can direct all his stubbornness into being patient.

Bucky deserves everything Steve can give and more, and giving him this is not a hardship.

x

Staring at the device in Tony's hands, a contraption designed to help them capture another victim of power-hungry experimentation, Steve feels that sharp burn of fury rise again. This is not what he signed up for, all those decades ago. And it's not what he agreed to, when a new century and a new government called him back to service. He signed up to save people like this girl, not hunt them down in order to protect the assholes who'd hurt her to begin with.

This is wrong and his team knows and Maria knows it and, on his less cynical days, Steve is pretty sure that Fury knows it.

"We're not giving her to SHIELD," is what he says, his voice quiet but implacable.

Natasha looks unsurprised, and Bruce scowls in clear agreement. Thor and Clint look concerned, and Tony fiddles with the device for a moment before raising an eyebrow. "What did you have in mind, Captain?" There's a hint of sarcasm underlying the last word, but its use is also a clear acknowledgment that Tony will follow his lead in this and Steve's lips crook into the faintest of smiles.

"No matter what, I won't be a party to locking her back up. Beyond that, I'm open to suggestions." He shrugs, smile widening into something more amused. "I happen to know a group of people with an excess of extraordinary abilities and a lack of common sense that she might fit in with."

Clint snorts and Natasha grins, bright and sharp. Bruce's smile is slower, darker, but he catches Steve's eye and nods. Thor is frowning, but shrugs his massive shoulders after a moment's pause. "It would be honorable to offer her the same second chance many of us were given. And it would give me great pleasure to help her defeat these cowardly men your government wishes to protect."

"If we do this, there's no going back. The WSC is not going to let this one slide and I'm pretty sure Fury won't be able to stop them from taking direct control of the Initiative if we disobey SHIELD"s orders," Tony pauses, letting his words his sink in, and then jerks his chin at Steve. "And we're not the only ones on the chopping block if they start flexing their muscles."

Steve bares his teeth in a grin that's all challenge and righteous rage. Bucky would recognize it in a heartbeat and Steve can almost hear the resigned sigh he'd let out. "Let them try."

His team grins back, variations of the same stubborn disregard for what 'should' be and the same dangerous anger that the WSC will never be able to control. Steve feels content for the first time in months as they settle in to wait for the next alert from their no-longer-target.

It's nice to be back on the side of the angels, even if his definition of angel has never quite matched up to the ones the nuns described back in the orphanage.

But faith for him was never about God anyways, it was about people, and he couldn't ask for anyone better to believe in than the people he has right now.