A/N: Yay, here's chapter two! There wasn't much response for this story here on Fanficiton but AO3 seemed pretty welcoming so hopefully the love will pick up here soon! Hope you all had a great holiday! Enjoy!
Chapter 2: Bucky Takes It In
Bucky watched Darcy go and felt the urge to rush after her and keep her close, fearing irrationally for a moment that maybe this was all a dream and the second he let her out of his sight she'd be gone; this whole place would be gone and he'd wake up alone, cold, and still nothing but another weapon for HYDRA to wield. Instead of following those urges though, he steeled himself with a deep breath and turned towards the closet. He entered it carefully, making sure to leave his exit open and studied the clothing that hung inside.
He couldn't decide which shirt to choose (too many choices; orders! he needed—no, he was Bucky Barnes, not the Asset, he didn't take orders from anyone anymore)so he just grabbed the first one he could reach, a dark grey and red stripped sweater. Turning he grabbed a pair of black pants and pulled open one of the three drawers installed in the wall to find a pair of black socks and a pair of red boxers.
Exiting the closet, still a little upset with his momentary slip back into the Asset's mindset, he moved into the bathroom and froze. There was a bathtub and a shower. Which one was he supposed to use? His eyes flipped back and forth between the two separate units as his mind tried to piece memories together to form some sort of context for what the correct choice to make was. He remembered lukewarm baths as a kid, and slightly warmer than ice water showers in the Army, baths in frozen creeks and—his mind flinched back as he remembered the harsh spray of cold water from a HYDRA agent held hose. (Yeah, that.)
He carefully set his clothes down on the high counter, wondering absently why there were two sinks, and slowly began to strip as he contemplated the issue he was faced with. Ultimately deciding on the shower stall he pulled open the tall glass door and stepped inside. There he stood blankly staring at the handles in front of him, trying to figure out what came next (waiting for orders, he was supposed to-)He cut his thought process off and turned the biggest knob until the water was on.
He flinched at the sting of the cold spray, but forced himself to ignore it. He grabbed a bar of soap off a shelf and quickly soaped up his body and hair as best he could. Rinsing it off, he stared at the other dozens of bottles lining the shelves in the shower and briefly contemplated what they were for as he switched off the water. Stepping out of the shower he looked around for a towel, (should have thought of that before, would have thought of that before on his own if HYDRA hadn't-) locating one he toweled his body off with a shiver at the cold air.
Just as he finished pulling on his boxers he heard Darcy approaching, "Bucky?" her voice called followed by a squeak. Turning around he looked through the open door and found Darcy gaping at him with increasingly red cheeks, "Sorry!" she squeaked again, "I didn't know you weren't—why aren't you…why didn't?" she couldn't seem to find the right words, and he certainly didn't know how to help her.
It took him a few seconds to realize that most people probably close the door to the bathroom when they shower. His face fell, (stupid, stupid, stupid)as he realized his simple but telling mistake, "Sorry," he apologized belatedly, with another shiver, "I…forgot that I was supposed to…" he indicated the door (why can you remember even the simplest things?)and shifted his weight.
But Darcy wasn't paying attention to the door anymore, she was frowning at him, "Why are you shivering?" she asked, stepping closer to him. Part of him welcomed the lack of distance between them, anytime he could be near her was time to be celebrated if you asked him. Her hand reached up and touched his hair only to recoil almost instantly; "Geeze Bucky, you're freezing!" she seemed bothered by this.
He didn't understand, "The water was cold," he told her.
"The water was—" she cut herself off, "JARVIS," she spoke to the voice in the ceiling, "What was Sargent Barnes' shower temperature?"
"Approximately sixty three degrees," the voice answered promptly.
Darcy stared at him, "And did you even wash your hair?" she asked, her hand reaching up to try and touch it again.
He frowned, "I used the soap," he indicated the bar of soap still in the shower. Was that wrong? What else was he supposed to have used?
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a second before speaking to him again, "If I ever see another HYDRA agent again, I swear on Mew Mew's power that I will—"
"Again?" he interrupted, panic squeezing his heart, "When have you met HYDRA before?"
She seemed to realize that she'd surprised him and her eyes widened, "Oh," she shook her head, "My previous boyfriend turned out to be a HDYRA drone," she waved her hand as if it were unimportant, but he could tell that the betrayal was still strong. Her eyes wouldn't meet his and he felt anger rising in his chest at the thought that someone had hurt her, someone she'd trusted (it wasn't just because she'd dated someone else, he wasn't that naïve or petty).
"Tell me he has been taken care of," he ordered, his voice low and demanding.
A nod was his answer, followed by a mischievous grin that made him relax a little, "I tased him," she told him proudly, "In the face. And when Thor came home and found out what happened he threw Ian out the window before tying him up and handing him over to the police."
"Good," he stated, glad that she'd been able to protect herself.
Darcy laughed a little, "But that wasn't the point of this conversation," she shook her head at him as if he were at fault for the digression, "The point is," she stepped closer to the shower and pointed, "That black bottle there is shampoo, it is for your hair," she took on a tone that made her sound like a teacher he'd had once when he was little; the memory made him smile faintly, "The bottle next to it is the conditioner, it is also for your hair," she ignored his amusement, "It makes your hair soft and tangle free," she stepped away from the shower door, "Now you are going to get back in the shower and use those two things and then take a nice long, warm soak, alright?" she ordered (but it wasn't the bad kind of order, it was actually kind of…cute).
He slowly nodded, not at all sure about what she meant by warm soak, but willing to do as he was instructed, "Alright," he agreed.
"J," she spoke to the room again, "Make sure Sargent Barnes' shower temperature is at the optimum range to provide for a relaxing shower will you?"
"Of course Miss Darcy," JARVIS accepted his instructions, "I was remiss for not having done so before."
Darcy's gaze softened as she stepped forward and placed a hand on his chest (her hand was so warm it gave him chills), "And if he ever tries to punish himself with a cold shower please let me know," she added to her instructions for the AI.
"Of course," the voice sounded somewhat approving.
"Enjoy your shower Hot Stuff," Darcy told him, lifting on her toes to press a slow kiss to his lips (and how he wanted to scoop her up and make her his right there and then!) he returned the kiss with matching warmth and reined in the discouraging grumble when she pulled away. He watched her leave and smiled a little when she pointedly pulled the door shut behind her with a wink.
The water suddenly switched on in the shower stall and small billows of steam began to collect in the space as he stared in surprise. It took him a second longer to step out of his boxers and back into the spray, but once he did he couldn't help the gasp of pleasure at the comfortably warm temperature of the water. He stood under the spray for a moment just enjoying himself as ordered (suggested, as suggested, not ordered) before reaching for the shampoo bottle Darcy had indicated.
It smelled good, he decided as he caught a whiff of the scent coming out of the bottle, like sandalwood and…something else he couldn't identify right away, but it was something familiar. He efficiently shampooed and conditioned his hair and then stood back in the water to just take it in. So this was a warm soak? He'd never felt so warm during the winter in his life.
Still unable to soak for very long, he reluctantly turned the water off five minutes later and stepped out of the shower. He toweled himself dry and easily stepped into his clothes, surprised at how well they fit him. He tugged open the door then and felt a wave of slightly cooler air flow into the room.
He was only a little surprised (and admittedly a lot relieved) to find Darcy sitting on the bed in the room, staring down at her phone. She looked up when she felt his eyes on her and he watched her offer him a wide grin, "Warm showers are awesome right?" she declared, not really seeming to need his approval or agreement but he gave it anyway.
"It was very enjoyable," he agreed.
Her smile widened and she rose from the bed to walk over to him, "I like the shirt too," she patted his chest as she brushed by him and into the bathroom.
"Always appreciate compliments from beautiful dames," he flirted (did he even still remember how? He remembered he used to be good at it, but…) the laugh he earned in return told him she at least appreciated his attempt.
"Do you remember how to shave Handsome?" she questioned from where she was rummaging in a drawer for something.
He leant casually against the counter, "You don't like my beard?" he joked, truthfully he didn't like it much either, but it was good for hiding his face in a crowd.
She sent him a look that made him chuckle before she found what she was looking for, "Do you want it all gone or mostly?" she asked.
Hesitating as he contemplated the odd tools she'd fished out of the drawer he spoke carefully, "All?" it was definitely more of a question than an answer and she gave him a knowing look.
"Alright," she nodded, moving the odd tools to the side and pulling out a few items that were much more familiar, "They have electric razors these days," she informed him indicating the odd shaped tool on the counter, "But I kind of figured you'd prefer it the old fashioned way," she gestured to the straight razor and the cream and aftershave, "Steve definitely does," she added.
He felt a small amused smile spread his lips, "He's probably just glad he has to shave at all," he chuckled a little, "Punk used to be able to go weeks without shaving," he reached for the brush and cream and fiddled with them for a moment before letting muscle memory take over.
Darcy chuckled at his memory and set to talking as he shaved, lifting herself up onto the counter and reclining against the mirror as she told him little bits and pieces about herself and the other occupants of the Tower. Once he was finished shaving he wiped off his face and reached for the aftershave. He flipped open the lid and nearly dropped the bottle when his senses were assaulted with the surprisingly familiar scent. He stared at the bottle in surprise before lifting his eyes to see Darcy watching him carefully.
"Is it alright?" she inquired, "Steve was glad for the familiarity, but I wasn't sure if you'd—"
He cut her off by pressing his lips to hers, unable to stop himself from the action, "Thank you Darcy," he murmured as he pulled back. He applied the aftershave and glanced at her for her response.
She grinned at him, one hand lifting to trail over his cheek, "Nice," she complimented, "Much better than the mountain man look," she leant forward and stole another quick kiss before reaching for his metal hand and pulling him until he was forced to move between her legs. He looked down where her hand was wrapped around his metal hand and couldn't help but wonder at the ease she seemed to accept this part of him. She left him to his thoughts as she reached over the counter and grabbed a comb, "Now to comb out your hair before it dries the rest of the way in knots," she muttered as she brought the comb to his hair.
He froze in surprise as he felt her begin to slowly slide the comb through his hair, parting it to the side he'd always parted it. A few strokes of the comb later, he was relaxing into her as she instructed him to turn so she could continue combing his hair. Once she was finished she turned him back to face her and brushed some hair back from his face with her fingers, "Hey," she greeted with a soft smile.
"Hey," he smiled back, placing his hands on either side of her to lean in and offer her another kiss. She accepted without any hesitation and he couldn't help the low hum of contentment that slipped through when her hands slid up his chest and around his neck. Pulling away a few minutes later he pressed his forehead to hers and simply breathed her in. Meeting his soulmate hadn't been part of his plans for the day, and it certainly hadn't been planned that she was so close to Steve (he remembered being unwilling to stay with a woman if she'd been unable to hold a comfortable conversation with little Steve, he was glad Darcy was already friends with his friend), but despite all that, he wouldn't change anything about this day. This ease and comfort that stretched between them already was a godsend.
"Do you have any idea how distracting you are Barnes?" Darcy murmured, her eyes slowly opening to peer into his, close as they were.
He smiled at her, "I have an inkling," he returned, leaning closer until their lips were millimeters apart and pulling back as she attempted to close the distance. He teased her for a few seconds before she growled and tugged on his hair to hold him still so she could kiss him mid laugh.
She pulled away a few minutes later with a sigh and a small smile, "Come on," she scooted forward and pushed him back a little so she could get down, "Steve's going to be on TV any minute," she took his metal hand and guided him out of the bathroom ad bedroom and into the living area, "J, Steve's interview if you will."
The large television mounted on the wall came to life revealing two news reporters visiting with one another. She pulled him around the couch and down until he was sitting next to her on the couch. She shifted eagerly as the hosts announced Steve and Tony Stark as their guests for the day citing their connection to the continued freedom of the country. Stark appeared first, all smiles and showmanship followed seconds later by a familiar face.
Bucky watched interestedly as Steve followed Stark across the set to where the two hosts were waiting and clapping, "That's his showgirl face," he spoke his thoughts to the woman next to him, "He'd put it on when he was on the road with the USO girls, and whenever the news people were around beggin' for interviews," he huffed a small laugh, "His speech always turned real nice whenever he had his showgirl face on too," he told her, "He didn't talk like some skinny kid from Brooklyn, but some proper Midwestern man. He hated it."
Darcy sighed and rested her head on his left shoulder, lacing her fingers with is metal ones, "I know he hates it," she acknowledged, "But he is very good saying what needs to be said and not making a scene. Stark is an expert with the media, but he's well known for making a scene. I typically can't send Stark anywhere without having one of the other Avengers there to cover for him if he starts to go off script, which he does. With annoying frequency. He and Steve bicker a lot when they're at home, but they are incredibly close. When you put them both in front of a camera," Darcy kissed her hands at the screen, "It's magic. Everything gets said that needs to be said, important points are made, the Avengers win points with the public and Captain America and Iron Man look like capable men who run a team full of superheroes."
Bucky ignored the interview as he glanced down at Darcy, "You sound like you know a lot about this stuff," he commented.
"That's because it's my job," she tilted her head and propped her chin on his shoulder, "When I first moved into the Tower I was pretty much just a gofer for Jane, one of the scientists," she explained quickly, "I soon took Tony and Bruce under my Science! umbrella, making sure they were fed, watered, walked and napped on time every day. I was already good at making sure Clint behaved himself, and Natasha respected me for that, and after I requested self-defense lessons from her we grew even closer. Steve was a little tougher to crack, but after I brought up my connection to Dum Dum and started to make him food he started to open up. Then like I said, Sam and I are co-therapists for the Avengers, and Rhodey thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread because of how well Tony listens to me. Pepper figured all this out and decided to make me the official Avenger PR expert and wrangler."
While she'd been speaking, Bucky had watched her fiddle with his fingers and couldn't help but ask, "It doesn't bother you?"
"What?" her eyebrows furrowed in confusion, "The Avengers? Because I have to say, they aren't actually as much of a handful as you might think—"
"No," Bucky shook his head, "My arm," he shifted some plates in the metal arm to make a point.
Darcy frowned at him, "No," she shook her head, "Why would it?" and he really didn't have an answer to that, so he just shook his head quietly and refocused on the television.
"And would you say there were a lot of differences between the way we celebrate Thanksgiving today and the Thanksgiving you grew up with?" the woman host was asking.
Steve glanced at Stark and seemed to hesitate, "Well, when I was a kid…" he paused, "When I was a kid we didn't have much in the way of money," he started, "I didn't even know what a Thanksgiving dinner really was until I was thirteen."
"And what changed when you were thirteen?" the man inquired curiously.
Steve's expression became real for a moment as he glanced down at his lap in remembrance, "I asked my best friend Bucky Barnes what they needed a turkey for," he lifted his eyes and smiled at the hosts, "He was so scandalized he told his mother and she came over that night and all but demanded that my mother and I join their family for Thanksgiving. I remember my ma was blushin' real hard at the invitation, she had to struggle a lot to make ends meet you see, what with me being so sick all the time and her being a single mother and all."
Bucky smiled a little to himself as he remembered the story, Steve had looked so panicked when he realized that he'd unintentionally let slip the fact that he'd never had a turkey for Thanksgiving and that that wasn't typical.
"My ma spent the next day baking up a storm, cooking every kind of pie you could think of," he grinned mischievously, "She was a great baker," he added.
"Don't know how many times that punk got the both of us in trouble for stealin' somethin' his ma had made," Bucky grumbled to Darcy, making her giggle.
The woman on screen seemed enchanted with the story, "And what would you say was your favorite pie Steve?" she inquired.
Steve didn't even bother trying to hide his smirk, "Apple pie of course ma'am," he answered promptly.
Bucky outright laughed at that, "That is a bold face lie!" he crowed. He chuckled and felt more laughter bubbling up as he pictured the expression Steve would get every time his mother would serve him some of her favorite apple pie. The memory brought on another round of laughter that had him laughing harder than he could remember having laughed in decades.
"He hates apple pie," he choked out a moment later when he finally noticed Darcy's humorous and incredulous expression, "Don't know how he managed to hide it from his ma for so many years," he shook his head as he calmed down a little, "It became an inside joke between us whenever someone would ask that question. He'd answer, honest as anythin' that it was apple pie, when we both knew he hated the stuff and really preferred cherry."
Darcy laughed a little then, "Something tells me he was hoping you might remember that," she commented once he'd finally pulled himself together, "Steve doesn't typically wear Stark's I'm-about-to-make-trouble-expression when he's doing an interview."
Meanwhile onscreen Steve began some plea for the American people to remember how good they have it. Bucky listened halfheartedly and found himself watching Stark and his barely contained amused annoyance, "Stark can see right through him," he decides.
"Most of the time," Darcy agreed, "It's part of the reason why they argue so much. Steve will typically say what he thinks he's supposed to say, Tony will point that out and call him on it, they'll fight, Tony will argue him around until Steve is arguing for the point he'd started against and once he even realizes what's happened Tony's already declared victory and gone his separate way."
"Sounds like a couple of two year olds," Bucky commented.
Darcy snorted, "Dude, you have no idea," she grinned up at him as Stark and Steve were being escorted off the set and kissed his jaw before rising to her feet, "I've got to throw the stuffing together if you want to help," she suggested, "Steve should be back in about half an hour, I was thinking you might like to see him before you see everyone else?"
Her face was turned away from him in a move he sensed was deliberate, and as he felt himself stiffen up at her suggestion and the reminder of what he'd initially wanted to come here for he understood why. He forced himself to relax, and trust her and all the comments she'd made about how Steve was likely to react to seeing him again, "Darcy," he called, when she only acknowledged him with a hum he sighed, "Hey, Pretty Girl, come here," he wrapped an arm around her waist in an instinctive move and tugged her back into his chest, "Hey," his lips pressed against her ear as he spoke, "I would prefer to see Steve alone before everyone else, you're right," he agreed, "And I'm going to be nervous about that until it's over, but you don't need to worry about it alright? I believe you when you say it will be fine."
He felt her slowly relax into his backwards hug and he took the chance to inhale the scent of her hair to try and commit it to memory, he never wanted to forget this smell.
"Sorry," Darcy took a deep breath, "You don't need my…insecurity stuff on top of everything else you have to deal with," her hands flapped around expressively and he released her long enough to catch her hands and pull them back to hug them to her, "I'm just…I seem like I know what I'm doing, but I'm not…that put together I guess. I don't want to make you do anything that will make you feel like you have to leave, and I really don't want to screw up this reunion betwee—"
Bucky frowned and couldn't resist the pull to turn Darcy around, "Hey," he interrupted, "I'm not leaving you," he stated firmly, "No matter what happens from now on, this?" he lifted a hand to wave his finger between them, "is not going to end until or unless you decide it should alright?" he brushed some hair back from her face, "You are the best thing that's ever happened to me Darcy," he squeezed her tighter to him, "And I'm not just going to leave you behind. So I guess you and all your…insecurity stuff," he quoted her, long pause and all, "are stuck with me for as long as you'll have me."
"That might be a long time," she seemed like she was warning him about something that may change his mind.
He ducked his head to give her a quick, chaste kiss, "I'm counting on it Doll," he whispered. He gave her a wink and a kiss on the forehead before taking a deep breath and moving around her, "I have to warn you, I've never done much cooking before," he changed the subject.
"Never a better time to learn than the present," Darcy followed his lead, hip bumping him as she moved to grab one of the boxes in front of him.
A/N: So that's it for Bucky's PoV of things, let me know what you thought! Reviews are the lifeblood on which I live my tragically boring life, so every single one of them helps! Next up, Steve's PoV and a very important reunion (finally!).