"Your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. I would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name.”
To my dear Mrs. Barnes,
Hello my lovely wife, I hope these words find you well and safe at home, curled up on our couch and possibly knitting me a sweater because I'm freezing my ass off out here, but I'm willing to bet high stakes that's not where you are. You won't believe how cold it gets, but the stars, oh baby, you can see them all from out here. Most nights I think of you while I stare at them, but it's nothing like seeing your pretty face. And yes, I'm fine, you don't have to ask every time you write.
Speaking of which, I'm gonna need a new picture of you, I'm afraid the old one is barely recognizable now, so maybe you could round up another care box and send it over? Oh, but you're probably too busy, aren't you? Always so headstrong. Why, I'll be damned if you're not leading some war relief effort down at the station on Tenth Ave.! I'll wait to hear if that's true, but if word gets out that I'm damn proud of you, I'll deny it. After all, I don't want people thinking I'm too fond of you or that I'm soft for the doe-eyed girl I left back home. I'll swear up and down you're at home, making those butterscotch cookies Steve and I love so much, and if you so much as whisper a word of it, I'll withhold any and all forms of affection when I get home - kisses included. So, send me a picture and a batch cookies, would you? I know, I know, only if I shut up and stop pretending like I'm not wrapped around your ring finger.
You know, it's strange, but I think about your cooking a lot while I'm out here and it makes me too damn nostalgic for my own good. You know that pot roast you make, with the potatoes, carrots and onions, God, what I would give for a plate of that right now! And those cinnamon rolls! Baby, if that doesn't make my mouth water, nothing ever will. You spoiled me, you know, and now I can't stand this canned, boiled meat. I blame you. You've wronged me, peaches, really you have and I'll probably waste away out here thinking of roast and apple cobbler.
Did I say I was sorry for not writing? It feels like it's been so long, but it gets hard to keep track of time out here. Everything moves at the same pace, the skies are so gray that you can't tell the sunrise from the sunset, but there is the temperature difference - cold and colder, that is. Some days, I don't even remember how long I've been out here but it feels like years and with each, blurred second that passes I miss you more. I lay there and think about you every night. Sometimes, and don't you dare repeat this to anyone, I hum that song you like to sing and it helps me fall asleep. Maybe you'll sing it to me when I get back?
And it's so damned cold out here! I miss lying with you in that little bed you've had for years. I can see you so easily, laying there in that pale blue nightdress, and in those little minutes, I find comfort. Hell, I even almost miss that scratchy quilt, but anything would be good right now. I'm finding that you don't really miss things until they're gone and I miss everything about our apartment, small and freezing as it is. I swear you'll get that farmhouse one day, peaches, with the picket fence and the dog, God, maybe even a few kids. Can you imagine us with kids? They'll be Steve's size by the time they're twelve.
It's late and I can't even remember why I started this letter. I think it was just to talk to you, but I can't recall. Have I always had such a bad memory or is that just a side-effect of war? Honestly, it's embarrassing. Have I been too sappy? You're not crying, are you? I hate it when you cry, but so long as you don't send me any tear stained letters, I guess I'll never know. I think my lights about to go out, baby, so I'm going to have to wrap this love letter up, but I promise to pen another soon. Promise that you'll wait for me to come home, baby girl.
To my dear Mr. Barnes,
You're lucky your letter arrived when it did! I was just about to put another care package in the post, but rest assured, I've added another photo and a tin of cookies. It'll be on its way in the morning and don't lose this one! I'm running out of good pictures to send. You're going to force me to spend my extra change getting new ones taken, but somehow I don't think you'd mind that very much.
And you're sure you're alright? I'm going to ask, so you might as well stop worrying about it and just answer me honestly. I worry about you, I'm sick with it, so don't ask me to just stop. I won't stop worrying until you're here in front of me, safe and sound, and not moment sooner. I can't wait until that moment, until I see your handsome face again, so just promise me not to be reckless and that you'll be careful. Please be safe, Bucky.
I already knitted you a sweater, dear, don't you remember? You said it looked like a sheep that had been dragged through the mud, but I didn't take offense and I do forgive you for that, but don't you have it? Oh well, I'll make you another one and send it soon. Try to keep warm until then. Snuggle, if you have to, I won't be jealous.
Oh, Bucky, forgive me but I'm so lonely here. It's like the city is full of people, but it's so empty. I'll say your name and you're not there to answer, I have to remind myself of that, and I feel so silly because I'm talking to myself. I'm sorry, I shouldn't bother you with such confessions, but I just needed to let it out. I took your advice, though, and I did talk to some of the other military wives. It helped but they all seem so brave, I don't think I can compare, but they did invite me back anytime I needed to talk. I guess it helps. You know Steve left, right? He didn't even say goodbye and I have no idea where he went. No one seems to know, no matter who I ask, and I'm worried. Try to find out, would you? It would help ease my mind a bit, to at least know where he is. I hope he's safe.
Don't fret, I'm not crying, but I haven't stopped hurting since you left. It's like a weight, of knowing and not knowing, of fear and God knows what else, so just promise that you'll come back to me. Bucky, I don't know what I'd do if-but if you promise, then I promise to sing to you and maybe I'll even teach you the words to my song. How's that? Fair? So, keep warm and keep safe. I'll be here when you come home.
All my love,
"I can't do this to you...not again...not anymore..." you whispered to yourself, choking on your tears as you rocked on your knees, arms wrapped around yourself. You were in the supply closet, adjacent to the medical room, where you'd been hiding for the last hour. You could hear shouting outside, your name-no! It was the name they called you, the fake one, and it wasn't you!
You were [Name] Barnes! Your name was [Name] Barnes!
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," you cried, falling forward on your hands and slowly bending toward the floor to put your forehead against the cold tile. You clenched your teeth, squeezed your fingers into fists and repeated your name like a mantra in your head.
"I married him. I loved him. He fought in the war. His name is James. James Buchanan Barnes. He's Bucky. He's Bucky," you couldn't stop yourself, the words tumbling from your lips as the memories raced through your brain. Ivory lace...white dresses...Steve's stars and stripes...and Bucky, oh God, Bucky!
They had started just over an hour ago, they had brought him back, bruised and bleeding, and the first memory of him had flashed through your mind. He'd come back to you before like that, bleeding, wounded, but he had been different. He had run to you, held you, hugged you and he had...smiled. You hadn't been able to stop them after that, they were like an avalanche rolling down a mountain and you were powerless, only able to stumble in here and fall to your knees. But you were so confused! Memories of the past, a past you couldn't recognize as your own, swirled like blood in a drain and you couldn't make sense of any of it.
"Here we are," a man's thickly accented voice filled your ears and light flooded the room. Hands were on your shoulders, pulling you to your feet. "There's a good girl. Stand up. Straight now, come on!"
"Stop..." you muttered, trying to pull away but he grabbed your chin, shining a penlight in your eyes and watching your pupils react. You jerked away, but you were pulled forward, back into the hall. "I can't-"
"He needs you now," the man told you, stopping at the medical room door and again taking your shoulders. He gave you a good shake. "He trusts you. He listens so well to you and you don't want someone else to be in there with him, do you? You've always been his nurse, his caretaker, his angel, you won't stop now, will you?"
"No," you whispered, shaking your head. A moment of weakness, that was how they would see it, a crack in their perfect mold, that was all they would see and you make sure they would never suspect anything more. You had to remember now. You couldn't forget. They would never make you forget again.
"Good girl," he patted your cheek again and you flinched, avoiding looking at him or any of the other soldiers surrounding you. He nodded and opened the medical room door, hand on your back as he guided you inside. "Be a good girl," he whispered to you and you nodded, quickly moving to stand at the sink. You heard the door close and you turned on the water to wash your hands, splashing some of the cold water onto your face.
"What happened?" his voice came so lowly, like a whisper, but the soft baritone registered so easily with you now. So familiar...why had it been so hard to recognize before? "I heard them out there. They said you were missing."
"Just a bout of sickness," you explained, switching off the water and walking around to stand before him, face perfectly composed and ruby red lips upturned into a smile. "I'm afraid I didn't have time to tell anyone before I went running."
"You're sick?" he asked and you thought there may have been compassion there, but it must have been your mind, still flooded with memories, imagining things.
"It's just a bug," you told him, patting his shoulder as you sat down on your swivel stool and grabbed the supplies to start an IV. He would need antibiotics, pain medication, fluids and stitches. All before he went back to sleep. "It's been going around. Funny thing, not even we are immune to illness."
He didn't answer, so you went on, moving onto his wounds after the IV was in place. He didn't flinch. Didn't wince. He didn't make a sound as you stitched him up, he just sat there, his breathing slow and steady, so you started to hum.
His song. You knew it's name now.
"You always hum that when you work," he commented suddenly and you looked up at him, tipping your head slightly.
"Do I? I hadn't noticed," you laughed, applying a bit of numbing salve to his incision line before straightening up. You pulled off your gloves and tossed them in the trash bin before looking at him. "You're IV just has to finish and you'll be all set."
"How long this time?" he asked, his dark eyes holding yours and for a moment, just a moment, you wanted to tell him. Tell him everything. Who he was. Who you were, but you bit your tongue. No, it would be different if he knew. If he remembered. You knew what happened if he statred to recall too much...and you would not hear those screams again.
"I don't know," you told him, shrugging again. "They don't tell me that. I'm only the nurse," you laughed again, suddenly going back to the sink and grabbing a washcloth and a bowl of warm water. You returned to him and started to clean the blood, dirt and grime from his skin. He let you, not saying a word. "No sense for you to go to sleep dirty."
"Will you be here when I wake up?"
"Aren't I always?" you asked, smiling at him. Why didn't he know your name? Maybe you could tell him, ask him to say it, just one time, but you scolded yourself for the thought. He couldn't know. Your eyes suddenly went to his IV line and a thought crossed your mind. It would only take a little air in the line, that's it, and it would kill him quickly. He would be dead and all this would be over. No more fighting, no more killing, and you could follow him right after... "You should know by now that I'll never leave you."
"Maybe I just need the reminder," he muttered, so quietly that you weren't certain he'd even spoken at all, but you didn't question him. You just sat back down on your stool and waited, watching the drip of the IV as it ran the length of the tubing connecting his body to the bag. It would take about half an hour, to be safely infused, so you had some time to spare with him. "What was that book you were reading last time we were together?"
"The Last Unicorn?" you asked and he nodded. You smiled fondly. "It's been out for a while, since the 60s I'd say, and was just something I picked up last time they let me out, so about ten years or so ago."
"Do you enjoy reading it?"
"Very much," you nodded, half curious as what this idle chat was about and what on Earth could have spurred it on from him. He was never one for conversation, never talking to you more than he needed to, and he had never once asked you if you enjoyed something. While it neared on the side of alarming, you stayed quiet and just relished in this unexpected moment with him, happy to talk about your sole possession in the entire bunker. "I've worn the pages, the covers all but fallen off, which is fine because I've memorized by now."
"All of it?"
"Mhmm. You're not the only secret experiment around here," you whispered to him with a coy smirk and wink. "Do you want hear some of it? I'm betting we have time to get through most of the story."
"I think I'd like that, yes," he answered quietly and you smiled at him, settling a bit more comfortably in your seat. He watched you and, without thinking, you reached out to brush a bit of hair from his eyes. He reacted immediately, jerking away from your touch and setting alarmed, suspicious eyes on you. You backed off, apologizing profusely and ignoring the faint pink that burned on your cheeks, and started to stand to leave. He caught your wrist. "The story. Don't go without telling me the story."
"Ah, right," you slowed your breath and sat, gently taking his hand from your arm before nervously readjusting the pins in your hair. He watched you, again, expectantly. You took a deep breath and began, "A unicorn lived in a lilac wood and she lived all alone..."
You were halfway through the story before he finally fell asleep, the slow rise and fall of his chest to achingly familiar. You put a gentle hand on his bicep and leaned forward, pressing your cool lips to his forehead. "I'll remember for the both of us now, so sweet dreams, baby," you whispered, blinking away the tears from your lashes. "I love you," you paused, "Bucky."
Steve felt the weight of her head before he opened his eyes, before he saw her laying there, snoozing soundly against his arm, and he hesitated in waking her. She looked so beautiful, even through the fog that lingered in his brain that he didn't want her wake up. If he could just look at her a little longer, maybe a minute or two, surely that might make him feel better. "Napping on duty, pretty lady," he said, his voice hoarse from coughing fits he'd suffered throughout the night, but she still stirred, lifting her head and stretching her arms.
"Hey, Stevie," she said, smiling a tired smile at him as she rested her elbows on his bed. She put her chin in her hands. "How're you feeling?"
"Sore," Steve answered and she flashed him a grin, standing up and turning to rummage through his dresser. She found what she was looking for and turned back, twisting open a little, brown bottle and instructing him to open his mouth. She put a small pill on his tongue and then handed in his water, holding his head up so he could take a sip. "I didn't need one of those yet. You spent so much on them, you shouldn't-"
"You'd never get back to sleep without it," she interrupted him, giving him a gentle smile before adjusting his pillow and sitting back down, taking her hand in his and giving it a squeeze. Steve stared at her, wondering how many years she'd spent sitting at his bedside, caring for him like she did, and he knew he could never repay her. Her or Bucky. Even when they were young, she'd been so diligent in her care of him, but now at nearly twenty-two years old, she was downright devoted to it. If he so much as sneezed, she was checking his temperature and sending him off to bed before it turned into something much worse.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, already feeling the tingling effects of the medication she'd given him. In his frail body, the medication worked fast, often knocking him out in ten minutes or less. He didn't want to sleep yet. He wanted to talk to her, look at her, but he wouldn't be able to fight sleep off for long. His mouth felt dry, his tongue like cotton, and she must have noticed because she helped him take another drink of his water.
"Nah, don't be. It's great practice. I guarantee none of the other girls get this much firsthand experience so early," she smiled and Steve felt himself smile back. "You don't have to be sorry to me, Steve. I would do this even if it didn't help me in school."
"They should just give you your certificate," he said and she smiled, shaking her head slightly at him. He suddenly had the thought that if he could just stay sick, she'd never leave his side, and he could forever wake up to the sight of her beside him, but Steve quickly banished the thoughts. Those ideas, those glimmers of longing and wishing, always made him sicker to his stomach.
She was Buck's girl. She had been for years now, but he'd only fallen more in love with her with every day that passed and he couldn't stop himself. He would never act on it, of course not, but sometimes his thoughts made him feel like he'd already betrayed his best friend. No, he could never, ever do anything to have her as his own.
"You're fighting it," she said and Steve frowned at her, annoyed at how well she could read him, how easily she deciphered his motives, and looked away from her. "Stevie, you won't get better without your rest, so let the medicine do its job."
"Alright, alright, nurse," he said, unable to resist turning back to her and giving her a weak grin. "Just don't write me up, okay? I'll be a good patient."
"You better," she threatened, poking him on the shoulder before standing. "Or you can make your own chicken and rice soup! Now, go to sleep, Stevie, I'll be here when you wake up."
"Steve. Steve! Steve!"
"What?" Steve Rogers was jolted awake at the sound of a voice, and not the soft, pleasant one he'd been dreaming about. It took all but a minute to reorient himself and figure out what was going on. He'd fallen asleep, head against the car window, and Sam was yelling at him, apparently for being a rude passenger. "What's wrong, Sam?"
"Nothing," Sam shrugged innocently, "I just don't you drooling all over the interior of the car. We gotta return her in mint condition, you know."
"I know, Sam," Steve laughed a bit and shook his head. "I don't drool. I'm a very clean sleeper."
"Uh huh. Sure," Sam rolled his eyes at that and turned into the parking lot of the old building, giving a low whistle as he shut off the ignition and stepped out. "You sure this is the place?"
"I could never forget it," Steve answered, pulling on his jacket and making his way toward the apartment building, surprise to still see lights inside and a woman at the front desk. The interior had changed a bit, updated to match the modern technology that now ran everything, but it still felt so familiar. The lobby had the same style furniture, the old phone he'd made countless calls on still hanging on the wall, and even the wallpaper behind the front desk was the same, though the young woman was admittedly a more welcoming face than the old woman he remembered. "Hello."
"Ah, hello," she looked up at with a kind smile. "Are you looking to rent?"
"Possibly," Steve smiled at her. "I'm just kind of checking places out for now and I was hoping to be able to look around the building. I hear it's pretty old."
"Built in the 1920s," she answered happily. "Though we provide all manner of modern conveniences, I promise," she grinned at that. "But we've tried to maintain a lot of the old world charm, so we've kept a lot of decorations the same. We even have a lot of the original furniture."
"It sounds great," Steve smiled at her. "You don't happen to have a room available on the eleventh, do you?"
"Ah, no, we only rent the first nine floors," she smiled apologetically at him. "The rest are kept blocked off, to preserve them, since Mr. Milton wants to turn them into a historical museum. Everything above the ninth floor is original, nothing has been changed or removed."
"Really!" she smiled. "He plans to open it next year, so you should definitely come check it out, even if you don't decide to live here. It's going to be fantastic. The stuff up there is beyond amazing. There are even some personal artifacts left behind, so you can look at old pictures, and newspapers, and jewelry. It's great."
"Sounds like it," Steve nodded. "Is it okay if we take a look around? We won't get into any mischief, I promise."
"Normally I'd say no, but go ahead," she nodded. "Take the stairs there if you're going above the fourth floor. We're working on repairing the elevating, but that should be done within the week. Don't let that deter you!"
"Mischief?" Sam asked Steve, raising a brow at as he followed the blonde man into the stairwell. "Wow, Cap, no wonder she believed us! Your words are so persuasive."
"Oh, shut up," Steve rolled his eyes and stopped at the door to the tenth floor. After a moment, he snapped the lock and pushed open the door, silently breaking through. Sam nodded, impressed. "Up we go."
"Didn't she say the upper floors were closed off?"
"Hence the locks," Steve nodded, continuing his way up until he reached the eleventh floor. Steve was quiet as he walked down the hall to apartment twenty-two. He paused at the door, staring at the chipped gold numbers before easily pushing through the lock and going inside. The dust was the first thing he noticed, it covered everything, and he absently thought how, seventy plus years ago, it would have sent him into a severe asthma attack. [Name] would have never stood for it. At least the windows had screens and someone had cracked them, so there was a lingering bit of fresh air.
"This your old place?" Sam asked him, gun on his hip as he moved around the living room. Steve shook his head, too lost in his memories to speak. He turned to go into the bedroom, where he could see the yellow quilt [Name] loved, and muttered something in reply to what Sam said. Sam, for his part, was a bit confused on what they were doing here. If this wasn't Steve's place, what was it? What were they doing here? "You think Bucky might've came here?" he suddenly shouted and got an affirmative grunt in response, which was good enough for him. So that's what it was! "I don't think he's here, Steve!"
"He could have been," Steve answered back, sitting on the bed and holding a bunch of old pictures in his hands. He found them in the bedside drawer, likely just where [Name] left them, and he couldn't stop staring at them. [Name] and Bucky. Bucky and Steve. Steve and [Name]. Then just [Name], in her wedding dress. Steve stood and tucked them into his coat pocket, brushing the dust from his hands and leaving the bedroom to find Sam. Bucky wasn't here, so there wasn't a reason to stay. "Alright, Sam, let's go ahead and get out of here-"
"She was in the kitchen," Sam muttered, staring at Steve with a very annoyed frown on his face. He had his hands up. "She has something to say to you."
"And I'll shoot him if you're uncooperative."
"Oh, no you won't," Sam clicked his tongue and cast a dark glance at the woman standing behind him, her gun pressed into the small of his back. How had such a tiny thing snuck up on him? She just grinned and shook her head. Sam watched her step out from behind him, lowering her gun, and face Steve with what Sam could only describe as familiarity. Steve noticeably stiffened, his large body going completely rigid, and Sam swore the super soldier looked like he was staring down a ghost.
"You know, Ms. Peggy, I think Stevie really likes you," you said, sitting beside the woman at one of the work station tables, your nurse's notes spread out before the two of you. Peggy had wanted to go over the Commandos last physical reports and you had been more than happy to oblige and spend a few spare moments with the other woman.
"Oh," she brushed that off with a laugh and continued reading over the reports. "Your Captain Rogers? Liking me? I've never heard a crazier thing in my life!"
"No, it's true!" you laughed, putting your chin in your hand and your elbow up on the table. "I've known Stevie all my life and I have never seen him look at a woman like he does you. He's just shy, that's all."
"He was not shy with the secretary I saw him kissing," Peggy muttered beneath her breath and you smiled at her, shaking your head.
"Don't hold that against him. That was likely his first kiss!" you said with a soft laugh. "None of the girls back home wanted anything to do with Steve, they never so much as wanted a walk or to hold his hand, so it's easy for me to imagine that pretty blonde sucking him right in without his notice. Kisses are something he's never experienced before and the moment just overwhelmed him."
"I suppose I can take that into consideration," Peggy said after a moment, giving you a little sideways grin. You smiled back. "You sure know a lot about him and Mr. Barnes."
"Well, of course!" you answered, "They're my boys, Ms. Peggy, it's my job."
"[Name]." your name sounded so wonderful coming from his lips, soft and beautiful like you remembered it to be, and it took all you had not to smile at him. He looked exactly the same as you remembered, post-serum memories that is, and the sight of him calmed your weary mind in a way you'd never thought would happen again. Even though he could, and might, shoot you at any moment, you weren't afraid to face him. On the contrary, you welcomed it. "[Name]? How are you..."
"Not bad, all things considered," you answered, knowing full well that wasn't at all what he meant, but you didn't care. Seeing the sudden, pouted frown on his lips was so familiar, so wonderful, that you almost wanted to laugh out loud. If that wouldn't make them think you were crazy! "You?"
"How are you alive?" Steve asked, ignoring your question and not lowering his gun a single inch. The man from before also held his gun trained on your head, unwavering, and looked ready to shoot you out of sheer annoyance, but you paid him little attention. "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for Bucky," you answered, throwing away any caution or need to lie to him. He would either believe you, that you were his [Name], or he wouldn't and he'd shoot you. "He never returned after his last mission and they've sent people looking for him. I need to find him first, before they kill him, and I came here first to see if he had the same thought."
"You're...looking for Bucky?" Steve asked and you nodded, "You remember Bucky?"
"I remember everything," you whispered , looking over his shoulder toward the open door to your once bedroom, eyeing the faded yellow quilt. He had always loved that quilt the most and you could suddenly remember the cold, rainy nights spent under there, wrapped in his arms and thinking that's how the two of you would always be, side by side. You were a fool, you realized. Steve looked at you, almost as if he knew there was a bigger meaning behind your words, but he didn't press you, not yet. "You're looking for him too?"
"With Sam's help," Steve nodded and you glanced over at the other man, noting how he was far more impressive in person than his surveillance photos. Well, if anything, he was taller. The man stared you down and you watched his finger twitch at the trigger. You couldn't help it. You laughed.
"Your friend there wants to shoot me. I think as payback for besting him earlier," you answered, watching Sam with a slight grin. "But he should be warned-" you paused, flicking a hidden knife from beneath your sleeve and into your palm. " I'll put a knife through his throat before the bullet leaves his gun. Care to test me, Sam Wilson?"
"I'm starting to question the people you used to be friends with, Cap," Sam muttered, finally lowering his gun and sticking it in the waistband of his pants. Steve did the same, so you sheathed your knife and put your hands in your pockets. "Freaky people."
"It's only because they've changed so much," Steve answered him and you watched him, almost worried about what he might say next. "How close are you to finding him?"
"No closer than you," you admitted after a moment, unable to lie to him despite how lying had become one of your greatest skills. Something told you Steve would know, even after all this time, if you were lying to him, so it wouldn't do anything but waste time anyway. "Isn't that why we both came here? Maybe we don't know him after all."
"No one knows him better," Steve told you and you smiled a bit at him. He started to smile back, but then cleared his throat and looked away, his features setting into a hard frown. He stayed quiet for a moment, staring out the screened window. You looked at Sam, who shrugged and then let your gaze wander about the apartment until Steve finally spoke again. "No one knows Bucky better than you. We can save ourselves hours of looking if we look together."
"Together?" Sam questioned, raising an alarmed brow at Steve. Steve nodded. "Can you excuse us?" he asked you and you nodded, stepping around Steve and into the bedroom, silently closing the door behind you. Knowing Sam would be listening for your footsteps, you walked around the room, occasionally reaching out to touch the furniture, or the windowsill, and finally stopped to sit on the bed. Despite not trying to eavesdrop on the pair, their words passed easily through the thin walls.
"Steve, you sure about this? Taking her with us?"
"Sam, if anyone can find Bucky, it's [Name]."
"I get it, but when's the last time you saw her? She's the woman from your photo, isn't she?"
"How'd you know about that?"
"Saw it the one time I used your money to buy gas. She looks exactly the same, Steve. That ain't natural, just like with Barnes. Either she spent the last seventy years frozen like you or someone's done some crazy shit to her."
"It's different than Bucky, Sam. She remembers. She knows me."
"Yeah, but how do you know that means anything to her? That you and Barnes mean the same to her. How do you know she's not just looking to put a bullet in his head?"
"[Name] would never hurt Bucky," you tuned them out after that, instead focusing your attention on the bedside nightstand. You pulled open the drawer, a little disappointed your old pictures were gone, but at least the newspaper clipping from your wedding was still there. You pulled out the yellowing page and red over the uneven, faded words, unable to stop the sudden tears that stung at your eyes.
[Name] would never hurt Bucky, Steve's words felt like a physical weight on your chest, a stone that was crushing your ribs and limiting your breaths. Steve believed that. Everything he said was done so with conviction, confidence, and you briefly wondered how much it would destroy him to know the truth. Oh, if only he knew the truth...
You replaced the newspaper clipping and hastily wiped your eyes, standing when the door opened. Steve stood there, like a giant in the small doorway. "Let's go."
"Wilson's okay with this?"
"No," the other man grumbled, "But Steve compromised on my demands."
"Demands?" you questioned, quirking a brow at Steve. He nodded and motioned for you to turn your back to him. You hesitated, but complied, surprised to feel the tightness of a pair of handcuff encircle your wrists. "Steve-"
"Don't worry. I'll let you out as soon as we get there."
"And just where is there?" you asked, frowning at the weight of Steve's leather jacket as he put it over your shoulders, hiding your cuffed hands. It didn't look completely right, but it would pass the average man's gaze. Steve put his arm around you, pulled you close to his side and motioned for Sam to lead the way. The strength of his grip was like iron, locking you in to place, and you knew in that moment that you had officially surrendered to him. For his part, Sam looked utterly pleased with himself, wearing a smug smirk as he scoped the hallway before signaling for Steve to follow. Steve finally answered you as the door of your once warm home clicked into place.