A/N: It starts from catfa until cacw, and I've twinged the canon parts a bit because yes
The smile on Bucky's face stretches a bit wider than before, amusement outgrows the exasperation that has been battling to get his attention the moment he finds Steve in a ratty alley yet again, blood already crusting above his upper lip while the purple bruise on the sharp edge of his cheek blooms bigger by the second. Bucky clasps a hand on Steve's shoulder as they leave the helplessly drunk man groaning on the ground, walking out of the place. "I didn't even say anything."
Steve snorts in disbelief, and Bucky is glad that Steve doesn't swat his hand away. "Sure, Buck." Steve laments as he tries to wipe away the mess from his face with the back of his hand, causing some of the dried blood to come off. " Sure ."
It's always like this, Bucky supposes, where Steve lashes while Bucky deflects and it'll be this play of swords using words that they would par each other with ease. Despite the state Steve is in, where every short of breath can be his weakness and every broken nose can be his enemy, his will and rightfulness is what makes him excel in those things that Bucky can't help but admire; and what's best is that he has first seat in watching Steve do those amazing things.
And it prompts this feeling of protectiveness inside Bucky that he lets it reign his veins, where he ignores Steve's protests of where he's able to end his own fights and he can clean his own wounds; because Bucky will always be by Steve's side no matter what he says.
Bucky likes to think that Steve enjoys his mother hen tendencies sometimes, where the fights gets a little trickier than the normal bullies Steve usually encounters and then he only let's Bucky push him to the chair as he gets the emergency kit Mrs. Rogers usually keeps at the Rogers' residence back when she's still alive -now in their custody ever since they moved into the tiny and mostly empty hostel they managed to get- cleaning those cuts that Steve isn't able to reach while he does most of them on his own.
"It's true, Stevie," Bucky raises his hands in mock surrender, trying to get the laughter out of his voice but obviously not succeeding when Steve gives him a dull look. "I'm didn't even say anything, it's all in your head."
"Uh huh, you're clearly having a contraction or something because that expression on your face isn't a smile and the way your voice wavers is telling me you're not laughing." Steve scoffs, shoving his hands into his pants pockets.
"Punk." Bucky chuckles, nudging him in the arm.
"Jerk." Steve shoots back.
When they've arrived at their place, where Bucky doesn't have to say anything as Steve only drags his feet towards the dining table, plonking himself on the chair with a grunt while Bucky pulls out the kit from the cabinet, the routine settles around the teenagers easily.
Bucky drags the other chair towards himself and sits in front of Steve, setting the kit on the table as he starts pulling out the gauze and alcohol.
"You know, you don't have to do this."
He's already wiping Steve's shoulder blades when Steve says this, and Bucky raises his head to look into those bright and firm blue eyes that he knows all too well now. He studies him for a while, taking in the bruise on Steve's cheek and the way he's frowning slightly at him. Bucky only shrugs before getting back to wiping the cut. "You're right."
He can feel the way Steve raises an eyebrow. "And?"
They're familiar with this, this conversation has been going on for years that Bucky knows how it goes next, and he doesn't mind when he's repeating it every time.
He smirks, pasting the plaster on. "I want to."
Bucky is surprised when Steve questions, because Steve usually nods slowly in understanding as he processes what Bucky says, and comfortable silence usually fills up the space between them that Bucky enjoys these little sessions they have.
But now, he's caught off guard a bit as he blinks at Steve, and Steve only slips back the shirt on. "Well," Bucky begins with a whoosh of breathless chuckle. "It's kinda obvious, don't you think, Stevie?" He clasps Steve's shoulder with a grin, but he tries to send the message through his eyes to show how genuine he truly is, that despite the playful banter and tackle they both do, he really wants Steve to see that he means it. "we're pals, and I'm with you til the end."
Steve stares at him for a moment, before he pats Bucky's hand with a cluck of a tongue as he shakes his head in what Bucky assume is disappointment, but he's able to see the crooked smile that Steve makes no attempt to hide. "You sure can be a goddamn sap, Buck."
Bucky snorts, giving his shoulder a squeeze. "You ruined the moment."
"There was a moment?" Steve asks with mock confusion, making a show of scrunching his eyebrows together that Bucky pushes him again playfully. "I didn't notice, probably because you were being all teary eyed on me."
"You asshole ." Bucky laughs, standing up to put back the alcohol in the emergency kit while Steve throws away the bloody gauze into the bin with a grin on his face.
"I appreciate it, Bucky, I really do. But," the grin softens into a smile that Bucky feels himself stare at Steve in curiosity and some anticipation, his movements ceases at the same time. "When it's my turn to look after you, you gotta let me do it, alright?"
This happens to be the second time Steve surprises him like this in such a short span of time, and Bucky has to remind himself not to stare too much as he walks slowly towards the cabinet to keep the kit.
He hasn't expect this. He's the one who usually takes care of them both ever since he first finds Steve has been bullied for money when they've been smaller and naive, helping the alarmingly smaller boy chase off the hooligans that hurt Steve and ironically, it became the starting of their inseparable friendship. Despite the huffs and puffs of seemingly begrudging gratitude Steve makes when Bucky comes to the rescue, the thought never crosses his mind that somehow Steve wants to take care of him too. Bucky knows he probably shouldn't be startled at Steve's statement, they are best friends after all, and Steve is a force to be reckon with when he wants to do what he wants.
That makes the faint heat of affection he usually tempers down roars again in his chest, filling him with this warmth he has been trying to hide for as long as he can remember whenever it comes to Steve, and Bucky makes a vow in that quiet moment of his mind to never leave his side. Even if they're old and their knees threatens to break or even when they're going to die young by some natural or deliberate disaster that bursts through their door, Bucky will always protect Steve.
"Yeah," Bucky finally speaks. Realising that his words are a bit fainter than he allows them to be, he shoots Steve a grin. "I'll keep that in mind."
It's years later, when Bucky is already twenty-four and he's visiting Steve one last time before he has to leave for England, trying -repeat: trying - to convince Steve not to enlist anymore than the last few times since he's been rejected. Of course, the attempt is rather fruitless when Steve has already set his jaw and mind into the thought the first time they hear the news of America joining for World War II, and Steve hasn't been giving up since then that Bucky is getting frustrated that his friend isn't listening to anyone at this point.
Even though Bucky can't help but sigh in defeat once in awhile at Steve's firm beliefs, he worries for Steve that the thought of him joining war makes Bucky's stomach clench uncomfortably. He tries to gently tell Steve with reason of why he isn't able to join the army, all while making sure he doesn't hurt Steve's feelings.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work.
Now, Bucky only watches Steve from the corner of his eye as he gulps down his beer, worry gnawing in his chest as Steve only glares wearily into the still full pitcher, jaw set as his bony hands clutches defiantly around it that his fingertips turn white with pressure.
Setting down his own half filled pitcher onto the table, Bucky rests his eyes onto his friend's form, taking in the hunched structure. "What's your resolution for this year?"
The question comes unexpected that he's as surprised as Steve is when he snaps his head up to stare at Bucky in confusion, but Bucky only meets his gaze calmly until Steve raises an eyebrow almost in disbelief. "Resolution?"
Bucky is trying to take Steve's mind of the war for a while, where he has been trying to do this ever since they walk through the door of the pub full of people, taking their seat by the end of the room where no one would disturb them if they could. He's hoping that Steve wouldn't notice, he doesn't want to start a fight with Steve that could strain their friendship because of their thick headed selves and their amazing ability to ignore each other's word when they feel like it.
Bucky wants to snort at the irony.
He can feel Steve's stubborn ways of starting fights leeching onto himself that he isn't sure he finds it amusing or worrying.
Bucky shrugs at Steve's expression, taking another sip of his drink. "Yeah, you gotta think of a resolution every year, y'know? To feel good about yourself."
Steve looks down into the contents of his mug again, his brows now creases with thought that Bucky could see the wheels spinning in his head. Then, he shrugs as he starts to tap his finger on the mug. "Doing what I think is right, surviving long enough that I get to chase kids of my lawn with my cane," he gives Bucky a wry twist of his lips. "same ol', same ol'?"
Bucky ignores the twist in his gut at the first part of his second statement as he lets out a snort. "Chasing kids off the lawn, Stevie? Like old man John down the road of our street?"
Steve chuckles, finally drinking some of the beer. "Well, when you're me," he gestures to himself with a sweep of a hand, indicating his physical structure along with the sickness that hides in his body. "sure." Then, he tilts his head to the side slightly when he faces Bucky again, strands of soft blond hair falling into his eyes that Bucky tightens his grip onto his pitcher to quench the way his fingers itched to brush them away. "What about you, Buck? Got any life changing ideas you wanna do?"
"Sure." Bucky answers with a half shrug, forcing himself a smirk as he loosens his hold on the glass. "But it's been the same thing for years that I don't think I'm changing it anytime soon."
"Copycat." Steve scoffs that makes Bucky roll his eyes. "Fine, I'll bite. What is it?"
Bucky takes his time to answer by finishing off the last of his beer, purposely making Steve wait as he tries to word his thoughts properly, making sure he doesn't mess it up when he can. "Looking out for you, pal." He smiles when Steve blinks at him in surprise, the hinge of his jaw loosens from their tense grinding. "I've been making sure you haven't killed yourself when you're in the middle of doing something dumb all these years, so I thought, why not? Y'know?" He lets out a breathless chuckle. "It's something I'm good at anyway."
He can feel Steve's eyes piercing at the side of his face, and he only leans against the back of his chair as the beginnings of something warm licks in his chest. He doesn't know whether it's from the beer he just finished or something else entirely but he welcomes it nonetheless.
"It feels as if I'm dragging you down," Bucky raises his head to stare back at him incredulously, meeting the frown on Steve's face. "and I can't allow that."
"You're not dragging me down," Bucky let's out a breath of laughter, shaking his head. "I wanna look out for you, simple as that."
" Why? "
Both of his eyebrows shoots upwards. "Why not?"
Steve lets his eyes roam over his face, and Bucky only stays still as he stands firm to want he says, waiting for Steve to speak a word. "You know don't have to do that, y'know that, right? You're going to England in another few days and I'm just going to stay here," there was a twitch of a humourless smile. "probably trying to sell my drawings through the paper while trying to enlist again."
"I'm going to do it again, Buck," Steve cuts him off with finality, his fingers tightening on the mug again. "I don't care what it takes, I want to fight for my country." He smiles wryly again. "For once, I wanna do something that makes me feel useful."
Bucky clamps his mouth shut, unable to say anything else as Steve gulps down his beer, and worry begins to bloom inside him again.
Is it so selfish of him to think that he wants Steve to remain in Brooklyn while he goes to war?
Where the moment he comes back from the fight, probably wearing a cast or lost an eye, he'll meet his old pal at the train station with a grin of victory whether or not they lost or won, where he'll be able to take in the bright blue eyes with golden hair, the familiar twist of his lips would be stretched on his face while they would greet each other with open arms. Content, happy.
But Steve isn't giving up, and Bucky has to stop the disappointment that crawls in himself from getting too out of hand as he reminds himself again and again that Steve shouldn't know what he thinks. Whatever thought that runs through Bucky's mind has to be locked up forever so that no one is able to see what he desires, no one is able to see what he truly wants because he knows that he won't get it in the end. It's just the way it is.
Bucky swallows the lump down, giving Steve a solemn smile. "I'll see you when I'll see you then."
It's years later of regret and pain that he realises that is his first mistake.
He isn't able to protect Steve properly then.
He doesn't remember where he is.
He knows he's lying on something hard and cold, he knows he's in some sort of room and it's dark where there are no windows to let the sun in. He knows he's alone in that room, because the shallow breaths he hears are only his and the only other people with him are sometimes the doctors and nurses that does things to him.
He's too weak to fight them off, and he feels so cold that he can feel himself shiver when he's there, and it gets worse every time they come in with a needle, words far from soothing despite the way they say them, hauntingly soft and dangerous that Bucky tries to resist. But they're stronger and he's just so weak that he moans out the first thing that comes to mind.
" Steve ."
There's a click of disapproval from above as he feels hands on his body. "I suggest you stay still, Sergeant Barnes." The voice says coolly, and Bucky doesn't know when they come in but it makes a flash of anger shoot down his sternum that he gnashes his teeth together, baring his teeth into a snarl at whoever it is around him. "You don't want to make things difficult."
"Fuck you." Bucky spits, pulling onto his bonds that is wrapped around his wrists and ankles.
There's the click of tongue again, and callused hands firmly pushes his shoulders down when he tries to get up. "Touchy."
He feels a stab of a needle sinks into his arm, and suddenly he feels as if his head is floating in the air while his senses to the world slips easily through his fingers. Panicking, he tries to hold on, tries fight his way through the sedative that they force his body to take as he tries with all his might to think of something, anything, that doesn't make him yield to the poison inside him.
He tries to to think of his ma, of Becca, those peals of laughter that he always hears between his two youngest sisters as they play together with their dolls, the sound bouncing off the walls that he always rolls his eyes whenever one of them starts to argue, and then ma would scold them for making a ruckus.
He tries to remember Mrs. Rogers, a sweet woman who takes care of him when ma passes away, becoming the next best thing that Bucky has as a mother when she peppers him with all the love he can get as if he's her own son, where she'll greet him with open arms every time he spends his time with Steve at their house.
Steve with his small fists clenched as he tries to fight those bigger than him, face bloodied and bruised as he says things that will always get him into trouble.
Steve having asthma attacks while Bucky comforts him, murmuring encouragements that makes worry clench in his chest every time he has to see his friend bow over the sink, skin clammy with sweat as tumours went over his body from the strain.
Steve calming down when Bucky pulls him onto the bed, where two small boys tries to ensure each other that they're fine. Bucky letting Steve plant a hand on his chest, over his heart, to chase away the horrified way Steve tries to breathe, choking on his own breath as Bucky rubs his back soothingly.
He failed , Hydra is growing and he has to warn them before it's too late but he's here trapped with no means escape that he's hopeless he failed and oh god Steve-
He gasps, tearing his eyes open when he feels warm and firm hands on his shoulders that he's afraid that they've come again, and he's surprised to find that there aren't any bonds to hold him back this time when he hurls himself up and over the steel table, throwing a punch in their general way. But the same warm hand closes over his fist, while the other one tightens onto his shoulder that Bucky tries to pull away.
"Bucky! Bucky, it's me!"
He blinks rapidly to get rid the last of the blackness that obscured his vision, his sluggish brain tries to comprehend the familiarity of the voice as he feels his body is given back to him then, and he's conscious of the way he's breathing heavily through his mouth while his shirt sticks onto him with sweat.
When he has his full vision back, he feels the way his breath hitches in surprise again the moment he sees Steve in front of him.
Steve is frowning in worry as he searches for injuries on Bucky, lips purses into a straight line. When he's satisfied to see nothing out of place, Steve let's out a small breath of relief that he grips Bucky's shoulder a bit tighter than before, putting down the hand enclosing his fist slowly on his lap. Bucky thinks he's doing it subconsciously by the way he bows his head. "I thought you were dead."
But there's something different about Steve that Bucky doesn't notice at first, and it hits him like a truck when he realises that Steve is bigger now.
Bucky studies him with a sweep of his eyes, and he realises he still has one of his hands clutching onto the front of Steve's uniform to prevent himself from collapsing on the ground that he's able to feel his full chest, noticeable biceps stretches under the thin material of his uniform before Bucky drags his gaze all the way to his sharp and broad jaw.
He's still half delirious with the drug they give him, and he doesn't control his mouth as the words comes out of his mouth. "I thought you were smaller."
Steve let's out a breathless chuckle. "Yeah, something changed."
"No shit." Bucky mumbles when he tries to straighten himself up, and grunts in pain as he only slumps back against Steve.
"Woah there, pal, I've got you." Steve bends down slightly as he lets Bucky swing an arm around his muscular shoulders, while the same warm hand holds onto his waist to not let him fall down. Bucky feels something akin to disbelief when he realises that Steve is actually taller than he is now, where he has to hunch slightly to make sure Bucky can have a firmer grip onto him. "Let's get out of here."
It's much, much later when they've finally settled themselves in the same bar they've been going for years, seated at the counter that Bucky is given the chance to just look at Steve again, almost not believing at what he's seeing.
He narrows his eyes, lifting the glass to his lips to hide the churning envy that has been growing inside him ever since he has time to study him properly. "I left you alone for a while only to wake up and found you selling yourself to be experimented." He gives Steve a twist of a smile. "Surprise doesn't even cover all of it."
Steve winces in guilt. "Bucky."
"Steve," Bucky mocks. But then preventing himself from saying anymore in that tone, he shrugs before he polishes off the scotch. "And then you became an icon to the country."
He has no right to be like this, lashing out to Steve after he's saved by the torture he's been going through the whole time he's been treated like a lab rat. But he can't help it, he has never felt like this towards Steve before that he finds it almost horrifying, where he suddenly has the urge to say all the things that's fueled by this sudden streak of ugly emotion just so he would have the satisfaction of hurting Steve.
But then something else arise whenever his gaze rests on those blue eyes, something that twists and folds in his chest whenever people cheer for Steve of his bravery, his quick determination to set things right and doing whatever it takes to make sure it happens despite the fact that he abandoned specific orders. It taunts Bucky by the way it whispers in his ear that Steve is supposed to be his , where he knows the feeling is ridiculous and he shouldn't feel like that when Steve belongs to no one. He's free to do what he wants without anyone stopping him or pulling him back.
But Bucky feels abandoned, because he feels as if something is taken away from him when Steve wears that suit, something personal and private that Bucky has been holding onto for years. Now, it seems as if everyone knows this secret Bucky's been hiding from them, the goodness of Steve Rogers that Bucky has been selfishly keeping to himself where he uses as anchor to make sure he stays in check in case he might mess up later on.
This possession Bucky feels is wrong. While wanting to blame Zola for his suddenly heightened senses that makes Bucky feel every touch is sensitive, he still isn't sure.
"I had to do it, Buck," Steve murmurs, shifting in his seat that allows their arms to brush against one another, and Bucky tightens his hold onto the glass when he feels the electricity that shoots past his body. "I had to do the right thing."
Bucky smirks. "I know, it's not like I can stop you even if I was there."
Steve snaps his head up, and Bucky evenly meets those bright eyes despite the press of his heart. "You're okay with this?" Steve briefly gestures to himself. "You're okay with me being different?"
Bucky can't stop the chuckles if he even tried, carefully hiding his bitterness to not let Steve know. "You're still the same little guy from Brooklyn who picks fights in the dark alleys, trying to stop the bullies." He asks for another glass from the bartender, before facing him again. "You're still Steve Rogers."
Steve looks into his beer. "Yeah," he smiles. "and I'm glad I was able to save you myself, don't know what I'd do if I found you dead."
"Well," Bucky accepts the refilled drink. "I'm not dead, and I'm still gonna look after you even if you're going to do something dumb."
Steve snorts softly. "Same resolution?"
Bucky can't help but smirk again. "What do you think?"
"I'm not surprised."
Bucky let's out a thoughtful hum. "What about you? Still trying to stay alive?"
Something grim settles on their shoulders when the words are out, and he can't take it back when he watches Steve contemplates the thought. "Same thing, remember?" He finally says, wringing his fingers around the pitcher. "Not gonna change anything."
"Until when?" Bucky pushes, because there's an irrational thought that nags at the back of his mind that makes him want to know. "How long are you going to stay alive?"
Steve is staring at him in mild curiosity at his persistence, Bucky only answers his prodding look with both eyebrows arched.
Steve purses his lips, and Bucky makes a point not to stare as he takes a sip of his drink. "As long as it takes for me to stop this war."
Bucky smiles at him softly. "You can't do everything on your own."
"I have you," Steve replies without missing a beat that Bucky forces himself to hold onto his gaze. "til' the end of the line remember?"
He clenches his jaw before abruptly releasing it, holding back his tongue. It takes hard work, since his thoughts aren't exactly in order when one part of him is screaming at the unfairness of the situation, that he wants to shout at Steve for asking this from him when he's unstable as it is from whatever Zola has put inside him, to have so much faith in him in wanting to fight this heavy weight in their way when he isn't sure he can even control himself. But it's not Steve's fault that he doesn't know and Bucky doesn't have the right to act that way when he already vowed to be by his side no matter the consequences. And so he smiles again in the end, where he hopes it's considered as reassuring for the both of them.
"You're right about that, Stevie." Bucky raises his glass into a toast. "You won't be alone."
They clink their glasses together as an agreement.
Bucky feels the way the sniper let's out a loud sound when he shoots the people that tries to kill Steve.
Bucky sees the way Steve looks at his way, relieved and grateful, sending him a two finger salute that he only reloads his weapon as a response.
Bucky feels the icy wind of the Alps biting into his skin despite the layers he wears, Steve's body heat a constant calm by his side that it soothes the rattling emotions inside himself as he watches the height of the drop grimly, unable to see the surface below.
Bucky relishes on the soft touch of Steve's hand on his bicep or shoulder to alert him of company, taking the advantage of using it as his anchor again.
Bucky holds onto the railing, the wind screeching past his ears as Steve shouts for his name, hand reaching out for his that they're almost touching almost holding on-
Bucky is falling, Steve is getting smaller and smaller as both of them scream for the other.
The world is black before he finishes the thought.
The next time Bucky wakes up, he's blinded by white lights, overwhelmed by the smell of medicine and steel that claims his senses easily, where a horrendous sound fills his ears.
He realises then the noises around him is the howl that tears out of his throat, where he's able to feel the white agony that bursts on his left side, as if he's being dumped into a pool full of acid that stars dances behind his screwed eyelids.
He hears the distant shouts of other people around him, but he's already in action when he blindly hits anyone that dares touch him, hearing the crunch of bone against tile as he tries to get up through the wires that's attached to his skin.
Hands pushes him down to the cold cot, struggling for him to stay still when he hardly feels the prick of a needle that's being buried into his flesh. And then he feels his energy weakening at an alarmingly fast pace, but he fights his way through, tries to wrench himself off the tight bonds that's becoming increasingly difficult to break away. Before he knows it, he slumps on the cot, his eyes rolling to the back of his head before his conscience is stolen from him again.
He wakes up again.
This time, there aren't many people, just a man in a uniform standing menacingly in front of him with a red book, and he's able to see the black star on the cover.
He doesn't look up when the word is said, because he's trying to know how is he there in what looks like a large cold room in the first place, and he's able to hear the hum of machines somewhere behind him.
"You are to listen to me when I say these words."
He frowns, because he doesn't know what that means and he doesn't know what his brain is straining for him to work hard for. He can feel it though, something hanging at the tip of his tongue but is unable to say it out loud.
Then, he feels the way his blood begins to course through his veins, his pulse jumping at high speed.
He rolls his head, the metal arm flexes with life that he's able to feel the rush of energy in his body.
A stab of pain pierces through his eyes, and he groans loudly that the sound bounces off the walls.
A low keen escapes his mouth this time when the pain begins to spread through his spine, as if a million knives are being stabbed into his back that causes him to arch off his cot, the bonds around his wrists and ankles prevents him from lurching forward.
He screams then, tries to wrench away from the sound as his body feels like it's going to explode.
With another jerk, he is free.
The last of the man's scream is cut off when he grabs his neck with the metal arm and squeezes it with all his might, and he's satisfied to hear the snap of bone under his fingertips that the man sags in his hold immediately.
He realises what he's done and drops the body, scrambling back as he stares in horror at the man on the floor, his breath comes out in heaves of air while blood roars in his ears that he doesn't hear the sound of boots stomping towards his way nor the shouts of alarm that blares in the building.
It isn't until he's been hit at the back of his head with something hard that he falls to his knees, hands roughly takes hold onto his arms to drag him towards the chair he has escaped.
He feels several hands pushing him down, slipping something into his mouth for him bite on as he's been manhandled by those people.
And then, pain blinds him again.
"The New Fist of Hydra."
There's a face in front of him, greeting him with a cold smile that doesn't stretch across his face, beady eyes blinks back at him from behind his spectacles.
"Ah, welcome back, Soldier." the man in front of him greets almost warmly, but he's able to detect the cruelty underneath the mask. " We were expecting you ."
He opens his mouth, lips and tongue parched dry from dehydration as he tries to speak.
"Who are you?"
His voice sounds as if it's been unused for a long time, scratchy and dry that he prevents himself from coughing.
"Presentations aren't necessary," the man hums in front of him, the small emotionless smile still etched on his lips. " you already know us ."
The language the man speaks sounds different from the one he is using, and he is almost confused, since he has no problem understanding it easily. But, he doesn't get to say a word when the man talks again.
"There's no need to worry," the man continues as he gestures for something from one of the other men that stands behind him, and a red book with a black star is being settled into his palm.
He stares blankly at it.
"I have a mission for you."
The Asset wakes up to white lights.
The first thing he sees is the empty and cold room in front of him, whips of cold air curls around his body as he comes out of the cryogenic cubicle.
A man with a red book and black star stands in front of him, face blank with passiveness as he begins to leaf through the pages with gloved hands.
The Asset only looks ahead when the man walks around him.
The Asset flexes his left arm.
The Asset wakes up to white lights.
There's a mask protecting his mouth and nose, strands of hair brushes against the edge of black leather when he lifts his chin slightly to see a man holding a red book with a black star on its cover.
The man drones on as he walks around him.
Boots clicks against the stone floor, hollow as it fills in the vast and empty room.
The man stands in front of him again, face blank with no emotion.
"Good morning, Soldier." The man says callously. "I have a mission for you."
The Asset wakes up to white lights.
"Ready to comply."
The years blurs together, where he has no knowledge of the days he kills since it's not in his mission to know. The face of his targets morphs together that he has trouble differentiating them from one another, those images flashes through his mind that screams sometimes accompany them, whether it is the cry of pleading people or even the shrieks of terror they make he isn't sure.
The Asset only hunts when he is needed, when he is wanted.
He feels the soft flesh of a woman's neck under his bionic hand, metal plates shifts under the pressure he applies as he only watches her gasp for breath, red hair sticks to her forehead with grey eyes bulges wide, clawing onto his wrists as her lips turn pale.
She let's out a choked laugh, and the Asset would have cocked his head in confusion if he hasn't have any self control. "I know you," she garbles, a wide manic grin stretches across her face. "You're a ghost, a myth told to children for them to oblige," She wheezes when he flexes his fingers. "A monster under the bed."
"A myth," he repeats with a rasp of his voice that surprises them both, for the Asset does not speak when he is on a mission nor does he converse with his target. This is the first time he thinks, that he communicates for over the past few decades if his voice has any indication in that, where he will be punished with such ways if he so much speaks a word. He has a feeling that whatever that comes out of his mouth dissatisfies them , and so he suffers for it.
He narrows his eyes, pulling his attention back to the mission as he presses harder around her windpipe that she causes her to whine, the mask he wears covers his scowl. "Where is it?"
"I don't have what you want," she gasps in English, fingers attempt to tug onto his fingers. "What you're looking for is destroyed, turned to dust with the rest of the supplement years ago."
He doesn't say a word when he bores his eyes into hers, and with a flick of his wrist, he manages to snap her head to the side that she slumps down to the ground, eyes rolled to the back of her head.
The Asset calmly walks over her body as he makes his way towards her kitchen, taking no mind of the yapping chihuahua locked inside a room as he stands in front of the empty wall beside the fridge, engulfing him in the shadows as he uses what little light he has to his advantage.
Without wasting anymore time, he punctures a hole through it with his left fist, tearing the bricks and plaster apart before he reaches for the suitcase inside, pulling it out as he slams it on the counter behind him, unlocking it swiftly.
Three tubes of Zola's serum blinks back at him, informing him that his mission is complete.
He locks the suitcase again before vanishing out of the house, leaving the mess behind.
He teaches girls how to be like him.
It's almost as if they're picking a perfect candidate for him to train as his protégée, where she would be as ruthless and invisible as the the Asset himself that people would fear her as much as they feared him.
Their backs are perfectly rigid with discipline when he runs his eyes silently over them, their expressions withdrawn with passiveness, hair pulled into a neat bun on the top of their heads as they stand shoulder to shoulder, their age vary from child to young adult for the Asset to choose from. The protégée, he is told, would be easier to train if she is younger, where the chances of treachery and rebellion is harder to occur if she doesn't understand anymore than why he is there with all the other girls in the first place.
There's a pull somewhere at the back of his head when he sees those girls standing in a perfect line in front of him, a murmur of warning to his carefully quiet mind. But, he brushes it away easily when the girls begin to face each other as their handler bark orders -a woman with high cheeks and eyes sharp despite the slight wrinkles at the corner of them while her lips are pursed into a thin line- before she sidles up beside him.
"I have a personal preference, if I may," she begins quietly as they watch the flurry of kicks and punches that are being displayed in front of them. "Natalia. She's sixteen and is newly recruited only two weeks ago, and yet she has made progress I've ever seen than other young women I've trained, where she's able to shame an elite group in a short span of time on her own while it takes others years to do so," the handler continues even if he doesn't say a word, and the Asset follows the subtle incline of her head as she shows him a girl with bright red hair at the other side of the room, where the girl looks at ease as she handles her partner. "She's remarkably well."
He says nothing.
In the end, the only ones fighting are Natalia and the other girl, and he scrutinises them from where he stands with the handler still beside him. From what he gathers, Natalia plays with her opponents by the way she easily dodges the punches and kicks the other girl lands on her, hair still perfectly in place while the other girl begins to breathe heavily despite the obvious fact that she tries to hide it. Natalia's stormy green eyes briefly meet his, before she makes a sharp swerve to the side, grabbing the outstretched arm from where the other girl wanted to initially hit her, and Natalia swings her foot out to give the her two swift kicks at the back of her knees while holding onto her arm. The other girl grunts when she falls, her arms locked on the back of her head as Natalia has a knee jammed on her the slope of her spine.
They stay like that for a minute that all of them are able to hear the other girl's laboured breathing against the training mat, the room deafeningly quiet.
Like a whip, the handler's voice snaps through the air for them to break off, and Natalia hesitates a second longer before she smoothly straightens herself, not giving her sparring partner a second glance as she strides out of the room with the other girls, causing The Asset to acknowledge her at the corner of his eye.
"Like I said," the handler comments as she watches her as well, but she doesn't hide it like he does. "Remarkable."
It's exactly two days later when the Asset begins Natalia's training, and the young woman is in her tutu as she does an arabesque with her back to him, red hair still ties in a neat bun that he doesn't announce his presence first from where he hides himself at the shadow of the hallway, trying to find any flaw that he might see by the way her arms and leg stretches high above her head.
But even in ballet, she is almost flawless.
"I know you're there."
The Asset doesn't react when she slowly puts her foot down and turns towards his way, a calm look occupies her eyes when they give a brief sweep of him from where he stands at the door, and he can see the way she takes note on his own dark uniform of ballet. "I was told we would be training here."
She speaks with a monotone that doesn't give away what she truly feels, her face a wall devoid of any emotions she has firmly set in place, preventing him from prying anything about her.
"Yes," he agrees shortly, walking into the studio that he's able to see the way she eyes him warily, but she still holds her ground when he stands in front of her. "We will be doing Black Swan."
She doesn't comment when the keys of the piano at the corner of the studio is pressed gently by another handler -younger than the first one he saw- and before they knew it, they're moving.
He finds that she's as fluid as water, moving elegantly across the polish floor as he follows her, her smaller hands lightly pressed against his while they retraced the steps of the performance with the same focus one would use when pouring over maps to find routes that will be used to war.
It's five months later and they're in the training room this time, bare feet squeaks across the plastic mat from sweat, beads of them running down their backs and the side of their heads, dodging every attack that is sent at their way while advancing the defensive walls the other set up with equal ferocity.
She has yet to win against him.
And it's obvious that her patience is thinning as time passes. He can see it in the way she purses her lips when she delivers an undercut at his way, but he easily bounds back to prevent the hit before he pounces into her space, quickly using his metal arm to clamp it around her wrists while he holds her into a choke hold with his right arm.
She grunts in surprise, gripping onto his arm for a few seconds before tapping his wrist with her fingers, a code for them to let the other go if they started to hurt badly them in any other way.
He releases her from his hold, taking a step back while she tries to catch her breath, rubbing her throat as she winces.
He growls lowly, his own impatience crawling under his skin. "You miscalculated, Natalia."
"So I've noticed," she grouses, pulling down her hand as she levels her gaze towards him, a hint of annoyance glinting in her eye. "But I'm doing better."
"Not good enough." he rebukes easily. "Again."
He hasn't had the chance to finish his sentence when she suddenly jumps at his way, wrapping her thighs around his neck that he's snapped out of his shock and immediately slams them towards the padded wall, trying to shake her off. But she remains firm on his shoulders before she twists them around and pushes him down, where they both fall on the ground with her perched on his back while holding his arms into a vice grip between his shoulder blades, effectively trapping him.
He's feels surprise licking in his chest for a moment, and then the way she rises up from her position that he follows her quickly as well. She sends him a smile that doesn't reach her eyes. "Soldat."
Mockery. He has a distinct memory that he would have snorted if he could, and so only ignores her as he grabs the small towel from the bench, wiping his forehead.
"Did I pass?" She's already sitting on it as she twists her water bottle open.
"Yes." He replies without a glance at her way.
He feels the way she eyes him. "I'm glad."
It's minutes later after they rest that they spar again, this time he used his knife to attack her while she vehemently avoids it.
"I've realised something," she voices out when she ducks from his onslaught. "After this, there's a chance that we'll see each other again, not remembering who we are, and so won't be able to protect ourselves from each other."
There's something familiar about those words that makes him stiffen, though he doesn't know if they're in the right order or the sentence is something else than what his brain had subconsciously relates. But nonetheless, he feels the way his chest constricts when a flash of blue eyes and blond hair blinds him for a while, where he's able to see a kind smile filled with pure adoration that he stumbles back a step from the ferocity of it.
He snaps his head up in a flinch, his hair curtains his eyes when Natalia frowns at him in wariness and worry that he can see the way she wavers with reluctance, unsure what to do and fearing that she would trigger anything else that made him this way.
He realises that he's been breathing heavily before he darts out of the room, leaving her to stare at the back of his head as he makes his retreat.
The Asset wakes up to white lights.
"Good morning, Soldier. I have a mission for you."
He purses his lips slightly, feeling the way they're chapped.
"Ready to comply."
He knows him.
His mission, he means.
But he can't remember who it is specifically.
The Asset sees the way the man is looking at him, his face flashes clearly with heavy emotions that it's starting to overwhelm the Asset. But he knows it's a sensation that he's used to when it comes to this man that somehow, he has to endure whatever it is the man gives him in the past because it's familiar even though he hasn't met him before.
Or he hasn't remember.
It's impossible for him to know, even if his heart keeps shrieking for the man's touch and comfort when his mind is empty of memories as it has always been when he comes out of the cryo.
The man has blue eyes that looks too remorseful currently, the earlier determination to take down the Asset disappears entirely the moment his mask is teared away, where the man's grip on his shield sags the slightest bit when the Asset shows his face towards him.
The Asset knows that he should have this advantage of assaulting his mission when the man only stands there with disbelief and longing, and that alone makes the Asset go rigid as a stone when he takes one good look at his mission's face.
But he doesn't know who this man is, he doesn't have the right to know when he is his mission.
And so, like a predator and it's prey, the Asset lunges forward.
He shouldn't be surprised they would punish him for saying a word about it, he should have known better.
He's so sure now that he knows the man at the bridge.
And it doesn't help that the Asset hesitates to kill him properly when they're on the helicarrier, where the blond man absolutely refuses to retaliate to the Asset's blows that he is getting frustrated and afraid that he's snarling now as he pounds Captain America repeatedly in the face; purple and blue bruises blooms steadily at his temple while his bottom lip is already swelling. But Captain America -damn him- has given up without so much of a fight because he doesn't want to hurt him; and the Asset is screaming with rage at that point as he raises his fist again, ready to strike down for another punch.
But then Captain America's voice stops him abruptly, where words are spoken so softly that the Asset wouldn't have heard if he isn't cursed with those enhanced senses, that he would have missed the way those words are filled with hope and surrender at the same time that the Asset is stilled into staring at the man beneath him, body refusing to budge while his brain remembers that damned vow they made long ago.
Before he can react, the world falls under him, and he watches Captain America plunges into the water willingly.
The Asset doesn't understand why he dives after him, why he pulls the man out of the water by the strap of his uniform to drag him to the shore.
He doesn't understand why he pauses at the man's side, watching the way those lashes curled lightly against his cheeks that for a sickening moment the Asset thinks that Captain America is sleeping rather than suffering injuries that he has caused, blood oozes out of his cuts and replacing those that has been washed away by the current, his skin looking deathly pale against the vibrant colour of red.
The Asset doesn't understand why he bends down slowly take have a better look where his arm, his real arm, was shaking without no apparent reason that he can think of as he gently brushes those wet bangs away, a sledgehammer of nostalgia hits him in the chest that he suddenly has a hard time to breathe properly.
There's sirens and he jerks his arm away, as if he's been burned when he stumbles backwards, eyes still flickering over the man who still hasn't notice him there. And then, the Asset turns around to walk away from him, from the man who tries to protect him from people, from Hydra, despite the Asset's attempts at eliminating him.
He fails his mission while Hydra burns into ashes along with S.H.I.E.L.D, and the Asset realises then that he doesn't have anyone to tell him what to do anymore; the chains that binds him to them is cut down by Captain America and his allies, the woman with red hair along with a man with wings.
It's been more than half a year since he makes himself scarce from them all, and it's obvious that Captain America is still searching for him.
The Asset softly closes the door to the apartment he manages to get the first few weeks after the helicarrier crashes down, steps heavy as he walks towards the sink with a plastic bag of plums in hand, the lone light of the bulb above his head being his only company at the moment.
He peels the gloves he wears and tosses them with his cap at the counter, and he begins to roll his sleeves to his elbows, the pipes making a gurgle of sounds as he begins to wash the fruits.
It's been eight months, and the longer he is being out of the cryogenic monstrosity they put him before, more memories starts to drip in like a leaking faucet.
Sometimes, nightmares and memories collides with each in the middle of the night that makes him wake up in cold sweat that he has to bite his tongue to prevent himself from screaming out loud, drawing blood if he punctures the soft flesh too hard while he tries to catch his breath, body shaking with fear.
They're mostly about his last mission; feeling the heat and cold at the same time, hearing Captain America's murmurs over his scream of rage as he takes out his anger and fear over a man who tries to help him, who tries to protect him from the people who tries to kill the Asset. He remembers everything vividly from that point and he doesn't know how to stop it.
He doesn't know how to quiet his mind like last time.
Gently setting aside the fruits in one of the only two bowls he has, he wipes his wet hands on his shirt before he sits on his bed, switching on the television to hear about the news he's been hearing through the whispers of people.
Sokovia is hovering, that's the first thing he sees when the device in front of him crackles into life that he purses his lips when he sees the Avengers darting around to kill the last of Ultron's kind as well as saving civilians, and he sees Captain America and Black Widow helping them towards one of the pods that the CIA has brought with them. The Asset knows that it's not enough, he also knows that they're too late to save all of them when buildings topple to the ground like those stack of blocks he vaguely remembers he used to have when he's a child, the sound of people screaming abruptly cut off when the building lands on them with a heavy crash.
The Asset notes that this time, he isn't the one who's playing grim reaper.
"-the Avengers are saving lives as we speak with the help of the CIA, bringing the civilians away from the scene as they will be moved to a safer place and would not be severely injured-"
The camera then zooms and focuses on one of the vehicles that's bringing the people to safety, where Hawkeye is carrying someone over this shoulder with obvious strain that the Asset is able to see the red splotches of blood on the blue suit of the body, as well as devastation that stretches across Hawkeye's face.
Then, the view switches again and the Asset straightens slightly when he's able to spot Captain America fighting off the last of the robots. The video is held with partially steady hands, but the Asset now knows the face of Captain America when he sees it.
The Asset trails his eyes over the broad of his shoulders, the way Captain America swings his fist and shield into the face of another Ultron robot before tackling another, face set with determination and a twinge of helplessness when he sees more coming, before he abandons everything and runs into one of the flying vehicles, jumping into it before it flies away.
A minute later, Sokovia falls.
The Asset grinds his teeth together before switching the television off, not wanting to see more deaths than he already has that is caused by his own hands.
Now, he's hoping long enough to avoid Captain America and his team all together.
The Asset should have known than to dwindle on hope.
Because Captain America is there in his apartment looking through his notebook he has left on top of the fridge after six months during the battle of Ultron, and the Asset knows more of the man as time passes.
He knows his name is Steve Rogers.
The only evidence he has by going to the Smithsonian is the said notebook that Captain America- Steve- is going through, broad fingers tentatively leafing through the pages that the Asset is almost entranced by it.
Best friends since childhood, Bucky Barnes and Steven Rogers were inseparable on both schoolyard and battlefield. Barnes is the only Howling Commando to give his life in service of his country.
Almost, of course. He doesn't loose focus when he has someone he vaguely knows in his place.
He meets Steve's eyes and sees those blues are crowded by mild surprise, before he shutters it down with relief and worry as he stands straighter, making the Asset regard him with wariness when he starts to speak.
Bucky Barnes, the name of the Smithsonian has mentioned and is claimed to be Steve Rogers' comrade from before, and the Asset shares the face with the cheery and happy Bucky Barnes that makes the Asset wonder if he can do such things before Hydra captures him to be their lab rat.
The video he saw at the Smithsonian has evidence that confirms his thought, and from what Captain America has greeted him concretes it.
But, believing it is a different thing altogether.
"No," the Asset whispers hoarsely when he sees the red book, the damnable red book that has made him done things he has left behind, things he is not proud of ever since the dawn of the Winter Soldier. He begins tugging on his bonds, teeth gritting into a snarl while Zemo starts to walk around him. "No!"
The pain begins in his eyes.
He's running again.
He doesn't know why, but he knows he's running again.
He can feel his body move without actually doing it himself, his own focus flickering in and out.
And then, darkness envelops him again.
He wakes up again to the smell of something metal and damp, and standing by the door is the Falcon, who doesn't look all too happy to see him awake as he calls for Steve.
Steve looks wary now that he faces him, demanding to know which one of his split personalities is he facing now.
Bucky let's out a rueful smile.
"You're mum's name was Sarah."
They're trying to find undercover, squeezing themselves in a blue Beetle as Bucky sits at the back, trying to collect his thoughts as Steve drives to meet one of the ex-S.H.I.E.L.D agents -now CIA, Sam interjects- at somewhere deserted enough for them to get their equipments back without being seen, since the whole world now views them as something dangerous and out of control, where they're needed to be supervised to let the people feel safe.
Steve thinks they're wrong.
Bucky can't help but eye the side of his face from where he's sprawled at the back, the stubbornness of Steve Rogers makes Bucky clench his jaw discreetly when he knows that he's not worth all this mess he has caused, that decades of killing should be justified by locking him up in a place where no one should have access to him until they get rid of poison inside him.
But he knows that Steve would be diligent in making sure he stays alright and by his side, no matter the consequences.
Bucky thinks Steve is being a dumbass.
"Do you remember anything else?"
Bucky meets Steve's eyes through the rearview mirror, and he would have choked on the expectant look Steve has if Bucky doesn't have control of himself fully. He purses his lips once Steve drags his gaze back to the road, but it's obvious he's still waiting for Bucky's answer.
"I know enough." Bucky answers slowly, and when Steve's glances up again, Bucky only gives him a look that says more than he can offer now.
Steve slumps a bit in disappointment, causing Sam to glance at him at the corner of his eye. "Alright," there's a pause. "We're here."
Bucky watches the way Steve interacts with the woman -Carter's niece he's told- and is surprised to see the way they kissed, holding onto each other as if it's the last one they're going to share as his hand cradling her nape while she has her arms winded around his broad shoulders.
"Sly dog." Sam mutters, amusement colouring his tone as they break it off, a tinge of pink blooms on their cheeks that Bucky is able to see from where he sits.
Bucky only offers Steve a strained smile when he turns towards them, suddenly feeling heavy at the back of the car.
He has a feeling that he knows the woman with red hair blocking their way.
He knows that she's Black Widow, of course, he knows that she's one of the Avengers that people are afraid of, someone dangerous who can get under your skin without you knowing until it's too late.
But there's something else about her he can't quite grasp, brushing against the edge of his mind that he comes scrambling to find out who this woman is, stance rigid and oddly familiar as she shoots the Black Panther with her weapon, electricity crackling around his chest to prevent him from attacking Captain America and the Winter Soldier from behind.
And as he runs past her, her vibrant green eyes briefly meeting his, he's jolted with the sudden realisation what her name is, and it seems she notices his disbelieved revelation that she tilts her head slightly to the side, a ghost of a smirk graces her lips.
He forces himself to join Steve on the quinjet before they lift off.
Howard's boy is enraged.
Bucky doesn't blame him, he killed his parents after all.
Iron Man isn't merciful with his hits as he attacks, and Steve is trying to prevent him from Bucky hurting too much while he tries to find a way to get out of the collapsing hideout.
I'm sorry , he wants to say as he narrowly avoids the punch Stark wanted to land on him.
It's my fault they're dead , Bucky grabs the stray pipe from beside him, swinging to hit Iron Man in the head.
I didn't want this to happened.
And then, Steve is throwing his shield for Bucky to use for himself, where Bucky would dodge while Steve would hit.
Just like old times , Bucky growls bitterly.
He doesn't want it to be like this, where bonds are broken because of him.
He has enough.
It's days later, and Bucky is at a sanctuary at Wakanda that T'Challa offers for them to rest. An apology, the king says, for thinking such ill thoughts towards them when they actually meant no harm towards him.
Bucky stares out of the large windows of his room, the fog floats around the trees outside of the building that makes him at ease for a while as he waits to be called by the doctors.
Glancing down, he thinks it's strange to not have his bionic arm anymore, off-balanced, where it has been a part of him for decades that he's already used to it being there; since he thinks it's his identity as not only as the Winter Soldier that people fear, but as the Bucky Barnes that Steve hopes him to be.
He's not fully what he was, no, but he's a part of Bucky Barnes from Brooklyn, and the man he used to be wouldn't have to feel such weight on his shoulders, where he wouldn't have to handle the responsibility of having the world breathing down his neck for all the deaths he has caused years ago. The Bucky Barnes then was much too naive of the world, he wouldn't have able to cope with what has happened now.
There's a knock on the door that causes Bucky to stiffen.
"Bucky? Is it okay if I come in?"
Letting out a breath of relief, Bucky relaxes. "Yeah."
Steve slips in at the same time Bucky turns around slightly to acknowledge his presence, the door closes with a quiet click that leaves it echoing through the whole room before Steve leans onto it with his arms folded across his chest. And Bucky isn't as surprised as he should be when he sees that his usual bright eyes are clouded with worry, a small crease between his brows that indicates that he isn't as happy as he tries to be the moment Bucky makes his decision yesterday.
Bucky only stares back as Steve tries to come up with a sentence, opening his mouth to do so, but shut it closed again with a click of his jaw before he shakes his head, tugging onto his hair. "I shouldn't even be like this."
"This," Steve gestures between them with a swipe of his hand, sharp enough to show his frustration. "Upset just because-" he stops himself, before shaking his head again as he finally meets Bucky's eyes. "I'm an idiot for thinking like this and it's not fair to you."
Bucky thinks it's ironic because it's not fair to him that Steve is giving him that look, and he's been out of the cryo long enough to get a glimpse of his memories where that look has been rendering him helpless in the past, and he thinks Steve is using it on purpose to make him have a hard to himself.
He tries to give the smirk the old Bucky Barnes would have done, and it seems to do the trick when Steve flushes red from his ears and down his chest, clearly embarrassed. "You've always been an idiot. A stubborn idiot who didn't know how to stop," Bucky let's out a low chuckle, leaning against the large windows that he lets the chill of the glass seep into his thin shirt and the back of his arm, where he momentarily uses it as anchor. "but it saved me- it saved us , from dying so I can't exactly complain much, can I?"
Steve gives him a half smile, before it wanes. "You're going to do it, aren't you?"
Bucky twists his smirk into something more of a sneer at the thought of going inside that freezer again, but drops his head to cover it from Steve, his hair obscuring most of his expression. "I'm doing this for everyone's safety. Can't let some grubby hands get hold of my manual and use me as a damn puppet again."
There's a sharp intake of breath from Steve. " Don't ," and Bucky hears the way he walks quickly towards him, before stuttering into a halt three feet in front of him as if he just realised what he's doing. "don't talk about yourself as if you need someone to control you, Buck. As if you're some thingthat people use for their own goddamned intentions."
Bucky snorts out a bitter laugh. "Aw, come on, Stevie," he ignores the flinch of the man in front him as he purposely thickens the accent he's born with. "'s not I'm not used to it, or whether they actually care about what I think."
"Look," Bucky cuts him off, raising his head to give him a firm look that he hopes doesn't come off as a glare, because like hell is Steve going to see him like that when he's going to frost again in another couple of hours. "I don't want people to- I think it's-" he stops, pursing his lips as the words jumble in his brain but he's unable to form a coherent sentence without stumbling onto his own tongue. "it's better this way."
"God, I know, Buck, I keep telling myself that but I just-" Steve takes a deep breath. "I've only seen you for a few days and now you're-" he swallows, refusing to meet Bucky's bewildered stare while he lets out a puff of air that suspiciously sounds like laughter, as if he can't believe how pathetic he sounds. "you're going away again."
He takes a step forward without really realising it, and Bucky leans his head against the glass window to peer at him through his lashes, regarding him once over. "Resolution, Steve." He quirks his mouth into a half smile when Steve looks at him in surprise. "I'm still keeping mine the way it is, I'm not gonna change it anytime soon." Then, he raises an eyebrow. "Think of what I'm doing now is related to that."
The corner of Steve's eyes softens a bit that Bucky is tempted to look away, because it's been so long since he's been near with any raw emotions that it pains him a bit, but he doesn't want to give Steve the wrong idea and only levels his gaze calmly.
"Still the same thing, huh?" Steve smiles. "Keeping me in check?"
Bucky forces out a smile of his own. "Who else if not me?"
Steve hums, and Bucky feels the way his heart flutter under his ribcage when one long finger traces the edge of his jaw. "I thought of changing mine though."
Bucky wets his lips, and the motion clearly doesn't go unnoticed when blue eyes dilates. "Yeah? What's wrong with staying alive?"
His stomach drops when Steve smirks faintly. "Overrated."
Bucky let's out a gust of laughter, clutching onto the hem Steve's shirt when he has his fingers in Bucky's hair. "Punk."
"Jerk." Steve snarks, but then Bucky is already lifting his head and presses his lips to those bow shaped ones that he's been admiring ever since he's a boy at Brooklyn, where he's been resisting the urge to taste them the moment he's been noticing Steve.
Relief crashes onto Bucky when Steve answers just as strongly that he slants his head to have a better taste of him, sliding his mouth across his almost teasingly that Steve growls slightly at the back of his throat, hands cupping Bucky's face as he nips his bottom lip without a second thought.
Then, the kiss becomes harder, more daring and open mouthed that Bucky feels the way Steve presses his chest against his, all delicious planes aligned with his own body that Bucky takes the chance to trail his hand up the curve of Steve's spine, smiling when the man under his hold shivers at the cold fingers that touches his warm skin.
"Jerk," Steve mumbles again, and stutters when Bucky swiftly runs his trimmed nails near his pelvis. "Jesus."
Bucky snickers, turning his head to the side to kiss the corner of his mouth. "Just me."
"Shut up." Steve grumbles when Bucky presses another kiss on his cheek.
"God, Steve." Bucky mutters against his skin. "You have no idea how I-" he shakes his head. " Jesus ."
"See, you're saying it too." Steve presses his lips to Bucky's hairline, and he closes his eyes briefly at the contact. "I know."
"Long enough. Too long. I don't know." There's a pause when he doesn't withdraw his lips from Bucky, and Bucky feels the way his sigh tickles his head. "I'm gonna miss you, y'know."
Bucky steals a kiss at the end of his jaw. "Me too, Steve." He meets his eye. "What's your new resolution?"
Steve smiles. "Protect you."
Bucky snorts. "And you said I was a sap." He purses his lips, before sighing through his nose. "Just wake me up when the world decided to end."
Steve chuckles, squeezing him once. "I'll look forward to it."