AN: Happy Halloween! slightly wish that this chapter was spooky themed but unfortunately I'm not that organised. Hope everyone is doing something fun on this important holiday, whether that be trick-or-treating or worshiping Satan. Personally I'll be spending the holiday writing and re-watching Jessica Jones because I just finished Luke Cage and Oh My God!

Anyway it's time to meet the team :)


Chapter 2 A New Struggle

"He's never told me about his nightmares before but this just seems to be weighing on him". Steve ran a hand through his damp hair as Natasha planted a cup of coffee in front of him.

They'd just finished their 10 o'clock sparring session early, due to how distracted he'd been but Natasha couldn't really blame him for his mind being elsewhere. "He didn't go running with me today and he's been acting distant since then." Steve heaved a sigh. Bucky had been staying at Stark tower for 5 months and he'd improved greatly in that time. Slowly but surely. The Nightmares were still a hurdle they had to cross but both Steve and Natasha had seen the ex-Soldier relax into his new surroundings."I'm scarred he's going to run, Nat" Hearing about his friend's pleasant nightmare hadn't put the Super Soldier at ease at all.

Sure, hearing that maybe someone had his friend's back all those years was like having a weight lifted from his chest. To some degree Steve was excited for him.

But Steve was uncomfortable with the idea of Bucky running away to chase after this ghost. He could relate to the want to know if this 'X' was alive but Bucky wasn't off Hydra's radar yet and probably never would be. Steve simply couldn't risk losing him.

Natasha hide the pity she felt for the man in front of her, behind her coffee cup. The past 5 months had been tough on all of them. Personally, it had taken her a while to truly trust the Winter Soldier but then again he had shot her. Everyone had struggled with it but no-one more than Steve, Bucky and of course Tony. She found it intriguing to watch the self-centered billionaire try to deal with the killer of his parents living under his roof.

Surprisingly Tony had managed not to attack the recovering man. At least not physically.

Snide remarks had made both Bucky and Steve's lives harder but slowly they fizzled into Tony's usual playful insults. Natasha had to admit his self-control had been impressive but she knew part of the credit was due to Pepper. "He won't go looking for her without a lead, he's not that stupid, Steve".

A third voice echoed into the conversation from the ceiling, causing Steve to jump a bit. "But he might go looking for a lead"

Natasha wasn't shocked, she realised he was hiding up there when they entered the kitchen.

The ventilation grate above the fridge slide open and Clint hopped out, first onto the top of the fridge, sliding off and landing on the counter before jumping onto the laminate floor. "You know Tony doesn't like you being up there" Steve gave Clint a disappointed glance before taking a gulp of coffee.

Clint merely shrugged "He's free to try and stop me". He opened the fridge, scavenging for food.

"But how easy would it be to find that lead, He could end up trailing halfway around the world for a ghost". Natasha got them back on topic, responding to Clint's point. "Bucky knows it could be a hit or miss."

"What could be a hit or miss?"

Steve sighed deeply as he heard two sets of shoes make their way into the kitchen from the living-room. 'So much for keeping it on the down low'.

Tony walked into the kitchen with Bruce by his side, having decided to come up for a break from the lab. Noticing Clint's presence Tony's eyes quickly flicked up to the vent grate above the fridge to see that it was open. Despite his annoyance he plastered on a classic Stark smile. He'd get him later.

"It's a long story, Tony" Steve sighed, not really wanting to explain it to the genius. Things were still sketchy between Buck and Tony. Steve doubted that dragging the entire team into Bucky's ghost issue was going to make Bucky ecstatic.

"Good thing I have time then" Tony grunted as he hopped up onto the stool next to Steve's, eyeing Bruce as he went to make himself a sage tea or something. Usually Tony would have steered clear of anything involving Bucky Barnes but he was intrigued. Mainly because most of Barnes's problems were dealt with between the two super Soldiers and Tony wondered what made this problem different.

Natasha gave Steve an apologetic smile. "Bucky's remembered something". Bucky was going to kill him.

Steve gave her a small glare as Stark responded. "Okay well good for him. You're right Cap that story was such a drag" Tony loved his sarcasm, it made almost all situations better. At least it did for him.

Bruce set his cup of tea down on the counter before take a seat next to Nat, looking just as invested in the conversation. "What's the problem, then?" Bruce asked giving Tony a small reprimanding look.

Steve rubbed soothing circle into his forehead before answering "To be more specific, He's remembered someone. They worked together, He even went as far as to suggest they were friends".

Bruce gave him an understanding smile with sympathy laced in it. "And you think he's going to run away, try and find his friend." It wasn't a question. Bruce couldn't claim to know Bucky well but he had a good understanding of Steve. This team meant a lot to him and it was something both Bruce and Steve had in common. The entire team knew that Steve was like a mother hen and it only made sense that he'd naturally mother Bucky more than the rest of them.

Steve gave a small nod but it was Tony who spoke up next. "Does this friend of his have a name?" In Tony's eyes Hydra wasn't exactly a great place to meet new people and make friends but he was always fascinated by the thought of more enhanced people and assassins being out there. Especially because almost half the people in the room were scientific masterpieces.

Steve shook his head "The only information he could remember was that she was some kind of re-enforcement and that the Hydra Agents called her 'X23'" Honestly, Bucky had seemed just as confused as Steve was. The Winter Soldier was efficient and effective so the thought that Hydra felt he needed backup was disturbing. Partly because it lead to the question of what kind of battlefields were they sending Bucky into, and partly because it lead to the question of exactly how dangerous was 'X23'.

"Ah, Bummer!" Tony mumbled. He thought Winter Soldier was a weird name to be stuck with but X23! What the hell did that even mean?

"I still stand by my point, Bucky's not going to just up and leave without knowing where to go" Natasha reintroduced what she'd said now that everyone was up to speed. She already sort of knew that she would struggle to reassure Steve when they started the conversation but now that the others had joined in, they collectively had a better chance.

"Plus, what's the odds that this girl's dead?" Clint pointed out between mouthfuls as he devoured a leftover chicken drumstick. He kicked the fridge door closed just as he got a response.

"It's possible"

Steve didn't have to turn around to realise how dead he was. With wary eyes he looked up at Natasha, receiving pure pity in return. He was so dead. "Buck?" Steve twisted to look at the man that everyone's eyes were trained on.

Bucky stood leaning against the door frame, looking like the personification of casual, with his plaid PJ bottoms still on. Despite his relaxed appearance Nat could see through the façade. She could see the small amount of tension in his shoulders but she didn't think it was anger. It was something else. "It's very possible that she's dead" Bucky continued paying no attention to Steve. "But if I knew her like I think I knew her, then she'll have survived".

"How can you be so sure?" It surprised everyone that Tony was the one to respond. "From the sounds of it, you barely remember anything about her". Having Barnes in the same room as him sent a small spark of anger through Tony but he suppressed it as best he could. Now wasn't the time.

Bucky seemed to think for a second and Natasha suddenly realised that the ex-assassin was actually apprehensive about talking to them about this. "What I remember is an introduction but I don't think it was the first time I met her"

"What makes you say that?" Bruce asked finding it strange to have Bucky talk about his memories. Strange but quite refreshing.

Bucky sighed softly, arms coming to rest at his sides. "The Agents, My handler, they always referred to me as 'Soldier' but when 'X' addressed me, she called me 'Winter'"

"But still what makes you think that she's alive" Clint questioned curiously, aiming the bone from the chicken drumstick at the bin and landing the shot perfectly. He would celebrate later.

Bucky took another second to think, his eyes finally meeting Steve's. However Steve was surprised not see no anger or disappointment in his gaze. Only an uncertainty that Steve knew all too well. He'd felt the same thing every day that he'd searched for Bucky. Not knowing if he was doing the right thing or if he was wasting his time. But with the uncertainty came the determination. "I don't know, the memory is short but she seemed resilient".

"Still they're millions of people out there and you don't even have a proper name, so I guess that's the end of that story". Tony's comment was harsher than he'd intended it to be but he felt it was a valid point. He still expected nothing less than Cap's best glare so he chose not to look at the blonde instead keeping his eyes on Barnes.

However Steve hadn't really been paying attention to whatever snarky comment Stark had made, instead he was having a conversation with Natasha completely through the medium of looks.

Natasha could easily see what Steve was trying to say. The look in his eye was one she thought she'd finally escaped from 5 months ago. That man's heart was outstanding and dumb…but mostly outstanding. She felt an overwhelming urge to sigh but pushed it back as her eyes lifted to Bucky's. "How well do you remember her?"

Her question actually caught Bucky off guard but he didn't let it show as he responded "Remember her how?"

A smirk stretched across her face. "Do you think you could describe how she looks to Steve?" All eyes were on her now, including Steve's who had some kind of idea of what she was up to.

Bucky hesitated "Yes". He didn't really understand the Widow's thinking but he had to admit if he wanted to find someone, she was probably the best person to talk to.

"What does that have to do with this?" Bruce questioned softly, staring at Nat curiously.

"Well, it's not really a secret that Cap's amazing at drawing". Natasha's smirk grew wider as she caught the small blush grace the Captain's cheeks. The sly smirk quickly turned into a sickly sweet one as her attention went to Stark. Tony turned a shade paler, knowing that he probably wasn't going to like whatever came out of her mouth next. "If the sketch is good enough, I'm sure Stark could hack into some databases and run it through. See if we can't find her."

There was silence, everyone waiting to see what Tony would do. Tony didn't even know what he wanted to do. Yes, he could do everything Nat had suggested. Yes, it could help find the mystery girl. Yes, a big (scientific) part of him did want to find the mystery girl. But did he really want to help Barnes? To a degree…Yes but Stark was above all else, stubborn. "I'd need search parameters. I can't search the entire world."

Stark's statement didn't faze Nat in the slightness. "Then I'll get on the phone to Fury. See if he hasn't heard of this 'X23'". Not really allowing anyone time to respond, Natasha stood up, clutching her coffee and proceeded to stride out of the room.

There an awkward silence that was left in her wake, no-one really knowing what to say. Some were still processing what was happening. The situation had escalated rapidly.

"Well, It looks like we've got a lot of work ahead of us" Clint spoke up, stretching to get rid of the stiffness from standing all that time. "I'll be down in the range if you need me" and with that Barton quickly climbed onto the worktop before jumping up onto the fridge and disappearing into the air vent.

Tony blinked back to reality just in time to see Clint's foot slip out of sight. He gritted his teeth, making a mental note to punish the archer somehow.

Letting his anger out with a sigh, Tony became aware that someone was staring at him. His first suspect was the good old Captain but Steve was just staring into his Coffee cup like he'd find the girl in there.

Of course, suspect number two was the amnesiac but the man was just staring off into space, probably lost in his thought.

Last but in no way least, was his beloved Science Bro. Tony's eyes met Bruce's as the scientist gave an expectant look. God! Doing the right thing was such a bother…

"Right! I'm off to the lab. See you down there, Brucie." Tony informed gaining the attention of the two super Soldiers as he made his way out of the kitchen and towards the elevator. "Call me when Itsy-bitsy is off the phone with Long John Silver"

Bruce didn't let the silence return as he got up and put his empty cup into the sink. He turned back around hoping to catch Steve's eye but caught Bucky's instead. Bruce's small smile was warm and his eyes encouraging. "Good luck"

Bucky nodded as a reply before watching Bruce make his way towards the elevator. Bucky turned back toward the kitchen with determination set in his eyes. He wasn't angry that Steve had told the other's about his memory.

If had wanted it kept a secret then he simply wouldn't have told Steve. Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead, kind of thing.

But he had told Steve, in the hope that maybe he could get some help. Bucky wasn't an idiot, he knew it could take years to find a ghost or worse, a grave. But this was the Avengers, Steve was Captain America and He used to be the Winter Soldier. If anyone had a chance at finding her sooner rather than later, it was them.

He had expected to find Steve still sitting on his stool with his back to him but Bucky was impressed to find the blonde over by the sink, pouring away the rest of his coffee. Steve could be really stealthy when he wanted to.

Steve watched the black liquid slip down the sink drain, signalling the start of a new chapter. A new struggle, A new search.

His eyes rose to the last person left in the room. A small smile tugged at his lips as Steve glanced at the determined scowl on Bucky's face. It was a scowl that Steve himself had worn many times since waking from the ice. The 21st century was full of struggles. Things he took for granted back in the 40's: Family, Friends, Love were hard to find in this day and age. It had been a fight to find a place he could call home. When learned that Bucky was alive, when he brought Bucky to the tower, Steve knew that Buck would have to fight, just the same as he had. But Steve would be damned if he was going to let his friend struggle by himself.

At the end of the day, he was with him 'til the end of the line.

"We've got work to do".


AN: As you can tell, I'm keeping one thing from CW because I'm a sucker for drama.

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