The morning is still early enough for the air to be cool and crisp in Steve's lungs. The fresh scent of damp earth is something a Brooklyn raised boy like Steve can never get used to even if it has been 70 plus years since he lived in Brooklyn. He breathes it in deep huffing and buffing at a brisker pace than usual. Despite the fresh air Steve still doesn't feel like he can catch a good breath. It's all that Eddie Brock's fault. Maybe a little the Alien's as well, if Steve is being honest. For some reason Steve can't get the parasite and it's reporter out of his head. Their innate cellular bond something Steve can never actually understands, but as he runs and the nostalgic feeling of trying to catch a gangly brunette boy who curses worse than a soldier, Steve can't help but feel that yes he does get it.
Deep, past the meat of chest and his heart Steve aches. Not from the run, but of longing to curl his fingers with boxy square calloused ones, the way Venom had curled itself around Eddie. The yearning chokes the breath right outta of him. So much so Steve has to stop.
It's the first time since the serum Steve's had to take a breather during a run. He's not too far from the compound, but far enough away to still be in the thick of the forest. Steve leans against a nearby tree. Against the thin fabric of his shirt, the bark is rough. Steve closes his eyes and imagines another time on another early morning. The air was as fresh, and the animals were still asleep. The howling commanders had hunkered down in the thick brush of a Dutch forest.
Steve didn't need to sleep as much anymore, so he'd taken the first two watches and the last two. Bucky had been up for most of it too. He'd hardly sleep back then either.
If Steve had been paying attention, if he hadn't been so god damn stupid, he would have realized what had been happening. Steve snorts, there were plenty of signs back then. But he'd rationalized it between becoming a solider and the perception difference from little Steve becoming the Steve he is now. Bucky being moodier, angrier. He had a shorter fuse but had also become all that much more loyal to Steve (if that were even possible). Everything Steve had known about Bucky had increased tenfold. Just the way Dr. Erskine had said.
"I'm sure he would have picked you. If he'd have saw ya Buck." Steve whispered into the soft skin just below Bucky's earlobe that morning.
"I'm glad he didn't." Bucky breathed back into the croak of Steve neck, very serious. He'd become far more serious too. His breath tickled Steve. Boxy strong fingers toyed absently with a pocket flap on Steve's uniform. Finally, Bucky had looked up at Steve. And even though they were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by enemies thousands of miles from New York, Steve looked into those big blue eyes felt at home. Bucky had cupped his face, "You're finally healthy."
Steve's heart swelled and broke as Bucky's voice did in a rare open show case of his feelings. Steve remembers thinking if only the commandos weren't sleeping ten feet away. Steve may have always been naïve and maddeningly idealistic, but even he knew the chances of them both making it back alive were slim. If they had more time. God how many times had Steve thought that one, hunh?
"Hey sweetheart, don't go getting all choked up on me. I'm alright and I'm going to always be alright from now on." Steve had cooed to his darling.
Bucky had replied with a desperate kiss too intense for the morning, for the simple mission. Maybe it was a sign that Bucky new what they had done to him, maybe he could tell what was to come. If Steve could go back, he'd have held Bucky just a little tighter for just a little longer. If he'd only known.
More time….. It always came back to that. He'd begged for more time when the flue coughed and rattled in his ribs one particularly cold winter back in 1929. More time when they were making out sacrilegiously in the broom closet of The Cathedral Basilica of St. James on a Sunday morning after mass before Sunday school started in 1932. More time when Bucky had gotten his ship date. More time before the train mission to catch Zola.
There was no more begging for anything afer that point- except maybe a good death.
At least until he found out Bucky was alive. He'd started beggin again after that. More time in that shit hole apartment when he found Bucky till the Feds showed up. More Time before Bucky went back into Cryo. And of course, more time in that Wakandan Hut Bucky called a home. Then as funny as god or the universe was, the snapped happened.
Steve shakes his head trying to shake away the guilt, and the ever-lingering tightness in his chest. He begins to run. It's a sprint really. Just to get away—to get back.
When he finally finishes his ten mile jog the Upstate New York forest surrounding the Avengers compound has only just began to wake up.
Steve enters in his code, presses his thumb for verification and states clearly "Cap-cicle" with an eye roll. The gate finally unhinges and begins to roll open letting him in.
Steve makes his way to the common area of the compound. It's too early for anyone else not on duty to be up if there isn't any emergency or active mission.
This part of the compound always smells like fresh linen hung out to dry, to Steve. He likes it. Stretching an arm across his chest, he heads for the coffee machine. Cap makes three cups; although he's sure Barton would just prefer Steve hand him the entire pot, and heads to check in with the Avenger's most recent 'house guests.' Steve knows they are essentially prisoners, but he's not a fan of that word.
The door to the observation room slides open. Sam is sitting in one chair, just shaking his head not really looking at anything. Clint is leaned back eyes covered with a forearm. Both look utterly traumatized. All the monitors in front of them seem peaceful, So Cap isn't sure why.
"How are our guests?" Cap asks by way of greeting, sounding official and friendly – the only Captain America should sound.
Sam shakes his head again and attempts to blink away something, "I've…I've…I've" He stutters "I've seen some things."
Barton mumbles gibberish along the lines of "Why couldn't I have lost my sight too?"
Steve arches an eyebrow, "Do I want to know?"
"I could have lived my whole life without knowing man!" Sam complains still not looking at anything in particular. Barton just nods in agreement.
Which just confuses and intrigues Steve even more. He doesn't think the reporter and his goop could have gotten into too much trouble while being observed and monitored in a highly secured room. Leaning forward, Cap hands both his scared teammates their mugs and assesses the situation on the monitors.
Brock seems to just be relaxing, simply petting the pile of black goo pooled on his stomach absently. Every so often the words "beloved" and "sweetheart" are uttered so lovingly between the duo.
The absolute easy bliss of the couple shoots another pang right through Steve. He suddenly has an over whelming urge to go—to seek out such a feeling. He bares the two a goodbye, wishing them luck on the rest of their shift. Both groan as Steve exits the observation room. The old soldier walks right across the white hall. His heart giving a good thump before picking up it's pace, the way his ticker does every time he enters the room. Another door slides open into an empty dim metal corridor. Only five feet in parameter, there is only another door on the other side. He walks up punches in a pin. The keypad pings and the second door groans as the locks begin to undo, until finally it wheezes open.
On the other side is a contemporary designed studio apartment. To his left is a kitchenette and in front of him is a king sized bed. On the wall in front of the bed, Rocky III is being projected for what Steve can only assume is the millionth time. His shoulders visibly relax.
"I hear they made six other films." Steve says dryly, grinning like the devil.
Bucky doesn't even look up from the movie, "Yeah, but this is the best one." He says as he absently tosses a knife up and catches it.
Steve doesn't say anything, for a moment he just takes Bucky in. When Steve woke up from the Ice he mourned a lot of things. Peggy, Baseball, the simplicity that modern day life just didn't have. There was nothing he mourned more than Buck.
It still strikes him dumb every time Steve gets a look at that strong jaw, or that almost perfect nose- only slightly bumpy from a childhood scrap gone astray. Now that there's time, Steve lets his eyes slowly roam over his best friend's shirtless body, scarred from war, and torture- molded into Adonis like proportions by it. Bucky took his breath away when they were five, when they were fifteen, and he's stealing Steve's breath away right now.
"I thought we confiscated all of those?" Steve jokes finally remembering how to speak, walking over to the edge of the bed.
That gets Bucky to look at him. For the first time that morning Steve feels like he can breath freely. Lookin at Bucky—seeing his clear blue eyes; that remind him of the open country sky of rural Europe—Steve feels like he's at home. As they look at each other, Steve just knows Bucky feels the same way, even if he does give Steve his cocky "yeah right" face.
"You could try, punk." Bucky says with a wink and a cocky smirk.
They both chuckle. Bucky scoots over giving Steve room to kick his feet up next to his best pal. Steve settles in, only leaving half an inch between them. Neither says much as the movie continues to play. All the while Bucky absently toys with his knife.
` Bucky once called it his fidget spinner, and when Steve offered to get him an actual fidget spinner, he found said knife stuck in the wall a millimeter from his ear.
Bucky is transfixed in the boxing match. Steve- having had to sit through the movie more than a dozen times- just sits and listens, as if it's some show playing on the radio.
If he closes his eyes Steve can almost pretend they're back in the thirties. Back in Brooklyn. Just lazing around in their crummy old crumbling apartment on one of the rare summer afternoons where neither were working and Steve was in good health. He can pretend he'd just put his sketch pad down after finishing yet another sketch of Bucky curled up on their secondhand lumpy couch reading a book. Steve can almost smell the boiling cabbage of old Mrs. Henderson wafting in from across the hall. There's an entire world outside of their little apartment, where a depression is going on and the rumbling rumors of war loom over head. They've got two cents between them and only three-day old stew in the ice box, but as Steve listens to the sound of the radio and Bucky's breathing beside him, none of that matters.
"You ain't fallin a sleep on me are ya? 'Cause it's only eight in the morning, lazy punk." Bucky jokes giving Steve's shoulders a quick shake.
"Just Day dreamin is all." His old Brooklyn cadence always comes back in full force when it's just him and Bucky.
Steve opens his eyes to see the credits scroll up the wall. Bucky's shifted his focus to Steve, giving him an easy look. One Steve returns.
"Typical." Bucky rolls his eyes, but it's good natured.
"You have some neighbors." Steve tilts his head in the direction of the door.
"Oh really?" He says faking intrigue. "They more brain washed assassins?"
"Aliens." Steve answers nonchalant, just knowing that will peak Bucky's interest. He was always one for science, technology and all the space stuff.
"Really?" Bucky turns full on his side, giving Steve his attention, the way a child does when a mother is telling a captivating bed time story.
"Well, One Alien and one reporter who is sharing his body with it." Steve explains mimicking Bucky. The pair making closed parenthesis.
"Holy Hell…" Bucky trails off amazed.
"It's the cannable I was telling you about last week. The one that only eats bad guys. Apparently, the Black goo alien that lives inside the reporter needs a certain chemical, which get this, can only be found in two places: brains and chocolate…"
"No shit!" Bucky interrupts completely enraptured.
"Yeah, So this black sludge—his names Venom—just shares a body and a shitty apartment with this really sweaty reporter. Who seems like a nice guy. Both just seem to want to be left alone."
"Can relate…." Bucky mumbles. Steve nudges him, physically calling his bluff.
"The weairdest thing though, Buck, is that they ae still two separate beings. They have different wills and thoughts and feeling but share on body it's crazy."
"Sounds pretty out of this world even after the snap."
"And they're in love." Steve adds like it's the weirdest part. "So the symbiote – the aliens species- will kill their host if they aren't a perfect match. Eddie Brock would have been eaten from the inside out he hadn't have been the aliens perfect partner. Like souls mates or something."
"No, shit?" Bucky says in a 'good for them' tone.
"You don't think it's odd?"
Bucky shrugs, "In our day, we were odd, illegal too. 'member?"
"Yeah, trust me I do." They had to be so careful. Plan out every touch, calculate how far apart they had to stand. They reinvented language turning insults into terms of endearments. Bucky faked so many dates with poor dames that never had a chance.
"Plus," Bucky adds, "I am a 101 year old, brain washed, reformed, one armed, assassin, I try not to judge."
"Point. You are kinda funny." The captain shrugs smiling.
Bucky shoves, "Yeah, I'm the funny one? 'Mr. Star Spangled man with a plan?'" Bucky makes a teasing face.
"I think they just call me the first steroid user now."
Bucky snorts a laugh and god, Steve has always loved the way that sounds.
"So how long ya Keepin'em for?"
"Just until we can reach a compromise on the eating people thing. I think they'll be out around the same time as you. If not before…" Steve trails off feeling bad about it.
Bucky doesn't say anything for a moment, probably counting the days he has left. After the Snap and everything settled, the UN had come to a compromise. Two years in confinement to make sure Bucky was truly reformed, then he could go come and go as a free man.
The Team had rallied behind Steve, and got the UN to agree the Confinement could be at the compound. Reckoning it was one of the safest places to hold anyone. He meets with an appointed Psychologist twice a week, who already signed up to be his regular therapist once all is said and done. In a little less than a year Bucky will finally be able to roam freely. Each day Steve comes to visits Bucky, he can see the itch to be free, the fight not to break free from yet another cage, right under the surface.
"Was it worth it?" Steve asked. It's a question he hasn't broached since Bucky agreed.
Steve doesn't clarify what he means, they both know.
Bucky takes another moment to answer, then shrugs, "Yeah, I want to be free again. Take a jog around Brooklyn. Go to a dance hall if they still exist, maybe finally get you out on that dance floor now that it's all legal."
They lock eyes, a wide grins spreads across Steve's face. Bucky's got a small smile, which might as well be a giant grin, for all the times Bucky actually smiles these days.
"Hey I'll step on your feet right now if you're itchin' for it pal?" Steve winks. Getting a playful shove from the former Russian spy.
"Punk…" Bucky mutters, before finally pulling Steve in for a kiss. His real hand palms the back of Steve's head, holding him in place. The vibranian one graps at the front of Steve's sweaty shirt. Steve wraps his arms around Bucky, holding for dear life as they kiss each into near suffocation.
Bucky pulls away first, like always. Again Steve is begging for more time.
Four times in his life, Steve had thought he'd lost Bucky and each time he'd wish he'd kissed him a little longer. And So Steve promised himself he'd never be the first to break a kiss ever again. He'll kiss him for as long as Bucky lets him. For as long as time allows.
"Don't you have meeting or something important to get you?" Bucky breathes into Steve's lips only a milimeter a part.
He's lucky, he knows he is. Steve and Bucky were on their fifth chance. Most people don't get a second and yet here they are. Someone out here, through the trials and pain and waisted time was looking out for them. Maybe Steve had begged so much, that who ever was watching finally got sick of hearing it and granted them the time just to shut him the hell up.
"There's nothing more important than this." Steve breaths out without thinking and means it with his whole heart.
Bucky pretends he isn't blushing, "You Big old Sap."
Steve stands, stretching his hands over head, giving Buck space to work out his feelings. "But I should shower. Had a long run before coming here." He tilts his head to the only other door in the room, that leads the decent sized bathroom with a fairly large tub. Later when Bucky is allowed out for supervised fresh air they'll get sweaty and Steve will need another shower… but that's later.
Bucky sits up recovered and peels off Steve's T-shirt, "Allow me to assist you in the washing?" a husky drawl in his voice.
Steve winks, "If my best guy insists, I really can't tell him no, can I?"
"No, you absolutely can not." Bucky licks his lips and follows a laughing Cap.
Hours after the steam has cleared, and the meeting has been missed, Steve is still coiled in Bucky's embrace. He can hear the soft lull of his loves heartbeat- slow and easy as Bucky snores. He's fighting sleep for just a little longer to hear that heart beating… just little more time he begs. He's granted mere moments as his eyes grow heavy.
Before content, satiated slumber finally takes him, Steve thinks of the pair across the hall and just knows the reporter and his alien are in the exact same position he and Bucky are in. Steve thinks he's happy about that. He has a vague concern about whoever is watching from the observation room for Bucky. But that thought fades as the last bit of time runs out before he falls asleep.