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Captain America fic: Five Times Steve and Bucky Fought Together (1/1)

December 18th, 2015 (05:47 pm)
exhausted

feeling: exhausted

Title: Five Times Steve and Bucky Fought Together

Disclaimer: I do not own Captain America or the Avengers.

A/N: For my good friend kristen_mara. Thank you for your friendship all throughout the year, so I hope your holidays are especially wonderful. No beta I’m afraid, but it does fill my combat square for hc_bingo.

Summary: Steve’s been looking for a cause to fight for, this much is true, but what he’s needed was someone to fight with.



-o-

One

The first time Steve’s fingers close into a fist, he’s seven years old. It’s a bit surprising, actually, that it’s taken him this long. He’s small for his age and too bright for his own good, and it makes him a prime target for the boys at school.

Honestly, it’s a little strange. Steve’s used to reaching for something and closing his fist around nothing, but this time, there’s a purpose to it. There’s power.

Not enough, though.

He takes a swing at the other boy, who barely stumbles when it connects. The larger boy laughs, returning the swing with even more force and knocking Steve onto the ground. The other boy is on top of him, but Steve doesn’t stop swinging. He flails and hits because he’s found something he can finally hold onto: a fight.

Steve doesn’t have money or things; he doesn’t have a lot of food or nice clothes.

That just makes him close his fist tighter.

And throw his punches a whole lot harder.

It’s Bucky who stops it, pulling the other kid off of Steve and landing him on his backside with a single punch. The other boy flees, hand pressed to his bleeding nose as he disappears down the street.

Steve looks at Bucky in disbelief.

Bucky returns the look with equal vigor.

“Why’d you stop?” Steve asks while Bucky helps him up. “He needed to be taught a lesson.”

Bucky snorts, peering at the bruise that was blossoming on Steve’s cheek. “Why’d you start?”

“He’s picked on me every day since kindergarten,” Steve said, touching his own cheek tenderly. “I wasn’t going to take it anymore.”

Nodding, Bucky seems to think about that. “Doesn’t seem worth it to me,” he says. “You probably weren’t going to win. It was sort of stupid, even for you.”

“If you’re so against it,” Steve says, starting to limp with Bucky back home. “Why’d you join in, then?”

“You’re my friend,” Bucky replies, a little indignant. “What else was I going to do?”

Despite the aching in his face and stomach, Steve smiles. “We make a good team.”

Bucky rolls his eyes, but keeps pace with Steve anyway even if he has to slow his longer legs down -- a lot. “Yeah,” he says, smiling in return. “I guess we kind of do.”

Two

It’s three PM, and Steve is in the abandoned school yard. The other kids have gone home, but Steve’s not ready yet.

No, he rocks back on his heels and flexes his fingers.

He’s not ready.

Bucky is slumped against the fence next to him, shaking his head. “We could still leave, you know.”

Steve bounces again, just like a boxer. “I can’t.”

Bucky does not look inspired. “You’re always looking for fights,” he complains.

“No, I’m not,” Steve says, jabbing at the air experimentally.

Bucky makes a face. “You keep trying to prove yourself.”

Making a face, Steve tries an uppercut. “No, I don’t.”

Eyebrows up, Bucky scoffs. “Then why are you here every week?

Steve rolls his eyes. “It’s the principle,” he says. “No one should be able to do what those guys do.”

“It’s pocket change,” Bucky says, not quite callously but he doesn’t get it. “If you need food, come by the house.”

Steve stops, sighing. “It’s the principle,” he says again, emphatic now. “Some fights are worth fighting because the cause is good enough. Besides, if they’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to other people. It’s not fair.”

“You can’t stop that,” Bucky says. “Some people, they’re just bad.”

“And they should be stopped,” Steve says. “I mean, if everyone in the world looks the other way, then what good is there? If I don’t take a stand, then who will?

Passionate and convicted, Steve has a good point, and he knows it.

Bucky knows it, too.

He’s just not as impressed by it.

They’ve been friends a long time, he and Bucky. It’s not like Steve is telling Bucky anything he hasn’t heard before. “Fine,” he says, long suffering as he pushes himself up off the fence. “What time is this thing anyway?”

Steve eyes him skeptically. “You still want to talk me out of it?”

“No,” Bucky says. “I just think if you’re going to run off and get beat up, I should join you. On principle.

Steve stiffens a little. He’s proud, sometimes more than he should be. “I don’t need you to fight my fights, Bucky.”

Bucky looks him in the eye -- sometimes it feels like he’s the only one who does that anymore, who doesn’t see a skinny kid and instead sees a person. That’s why they work, him and Bucky. No one has ever taken the time to see him for who he is, for what he’s all about.

He’s Steve’s best friend.

He’s Steve’s only friend.

Sometimes, he thinks he’s the only friend he’ll ever need.

“We’re friends, right?” Bucky asks. “Your fights are my fights.”

“I got myself into this, I can get myself out,” Steve says solemnly. “I can handle this on my own.”

Bucky’s smile is easy as he claps Steve on the shoulder. “Sure you can,” he says, coming shoulder to shoulder with Steve. “But we can handle it better together.”

Three

Steve’s fists are broken on the knuckle and hurt to move. All the fights in his life, and he’s lost more than he’s won, but none of them hurt like this.

Another rejection note.

Bucky’s letter of commission just makes it an even more bitter pill.

Tired and bruised, they shuffle home together. Steve is limping, and Bucky’s got a cut above his eye.

“What’d did they do to you anyway?” Bucky asks with a wince.

Steve limps another step and grunts. “Harassed the waitress,” he says. He turns a look up at Bucky. “You didn’t even know and you still joined in?”

“Eh,” Bucky says. “Figured you had to have a good reason.”

Steve looks down the street, forcing his feet along. Three on one had been terrible odds; two on one hadn’t been much better. “Huh,” he says finally, not sure what else to say.

Keeping pace with a shuffling gait, Bucky nods. “Huh.”

“Well,” Steve says. “At least we got to get another one in before you shipped out.”

“One?” Bucky asks, eyebrows tweaked skeptically. “Knowing you, you’ll still have a few more in you before the big day.”

The big day. It’s not something they talk about; it’s not something they dare to talk about. This is the only time in Steve’s life that Bucky’s going to fight for him instead of next to him. It’s hard to say who hates it more.

Finally, Bucky inhales deeply, and his sigh is long. “Yeah,” he says quietly as they tread on the cement. He tilts his head thoughtfully. “Just like old times.”

Steve leans in toward Bucky, and Bucky leans back. They prop each other up, the two of them. They’re quite the pair, and they win together or they lose together. That’s how it’s always been.

But Bucky’s got his orders, and Steve’s got fifteen medical conditions he can’t fight.

Things change, and usually not for the best.

Steve smiles sadly, nodding his agreement. “Just like old times.”

Four

A lot has changed since the last time. They’ve both seen things, done things. Steve’s a foot taller than he used to be, and he outweighs Bucky for the first time in his life. And Bucky’s been tortured in ways that he won’t talk about, ways Steve can’t bring himself to ask. They’re not the same boys they were, scrapping in the schoolyards in Brooklyn. The stakes are higher now.

But some things are the same as they’ve always been.

Him and Bucky, back to back, heart to heart. Steve’s been looking for a cause to fight for, this much is true, but what he’s needed was someone to fight with.

With Bucky and the rest of the Howling Commandos, he’s got that.

Steve’s got everything.

The work they do, it’s not all artillery. They go places where other units won’t; they take the missions no one dares think about. It’s hard; it’s dangerous.

But they’re good.

Steve always comes in hot, taking the lead because that’s where he belongs. He wields the shield perfectly, deflecting gunfire and taking a few combatants down as he goes. They need to break this barricade to reopen a supply line, providing the necessary support for troops down the line. Others have tried -- and failed -- but Steve’s always been a sucker for lost causes.

The rest of the team has spread out, moving through the bottleneck with precision and care. They have few points of reference in a place like this, and the enemy has all the sight lines to their advantage.

That’s why Steve’s at point.

Because if someone is going to take gunfire, it’s going to be him.

This had seemed perfectly reasonable to him.

Until, of course, he’s hiding behind his shield under an intense barrage of gunfire that is only getting closer.

Breathing heavy, Steve tucks himself in, wondering if maybe he’s messed it up this time. Maybe there are some things even Captain America can’t do. The Nazis would have a field day, splaying his red, white and blue corpse to the world.

Then, there’s a pause.

A grunt and an oomph before the gunfire changes direction.

Steve doesn’t have to wonder.

Steve doesn’t have to ask.

Because a lot of things have changed, but not this.

When Steve starts a fight, he never finishes it alone.

Balling his fingers into a fist, Steve comes up swinging. He takes out the first man, then uses his shield to take out three more. He kicks another two before yanking the last off the ground and sending him sprawling with a punch.

Then he sees Bucky, pinned to the ground, a German soldier on top of him.

Gun ready and aimed.

Steve’s gut clenches and he thinks quickly, sending the shield in a perfect trajectory. It knocks the soldier in the head, sending him falling lifelessly to the ground.

Crossing the distance, Steve picks up his shield, looking down at Bucky. His best friend is rumpled and pale faced, but alive.

Offering a hand, Steve gives Bucky a serious look. “I told you to stay back.”

Bucky grunts, taking Steve’s hand as he works his way to his feet. “You were going to get yourself killed.”

“Never happened yet,” Steve says.

“Because I’ve always been right behind you, even when you tell me to stay back,” Bucky replies. He checks his gun and adjusts his uniform. “Besides, it’s the principle of the thing. Right?”

The principle.

Steve’s always looked for causes, and there’s no better one than this. He’s never been afraid of the cost: a broken nose or a chipped tooth. Split lips and black eyes.

Any cause at any cost.

His gut churns heavily as he looks at Bucky, holding a gun and wearing a uniform.

It occurs to him now that this cause? No matter how noble, no matter how good. No matter that there’s no one else to answer it.

This cause might just cost him everything.

Steve takes a breath, clenching his fist unconsciously by his side. For the first time, he realizes that a fist is nothing more than an empty hand closed around itself. It’s nothing. The worth of the cause, the value of the principle, it slips right between his fingers like air.

A closed fist has never felt emptier.

He swallows hard, glancing down the road.

“Come on,” he says, nodding to Bucky. “We’ve got a lot left to do.”

Bucky inclines his head, lifting his gun a little higher. He doesn’t hesitate, not even for a second. “I’m right behind you.”

Five

Honestly, this is the best Steve has felt in about 100 years.

The rhythm of a team; the sense of purpose in a cause worth fighting for. He’s had that with the Avengers, and there are people here he cares about. Natasha and Sam; Clint and Thor. Even Tony when push comes to shove. And he’s a leader now, with the upcoming teams coming up after him. The Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man -- Steve finds that he likes teaching.

But none of it compares to this.

The team in battle, fighting against the latest threat. And there’s always a latest threat, no matter how many they deal with. That’s the nature of the beast, the thing that hasn’t changed in a century -- that probably will never change.

It’s not that Steve likes the violence, but he appreciate the way his team functions like a well oiled machine. It reminds him of the Howling Commandos, how his orders were understood implicitly and executed explicitly.

And Bucky, right at his side.

They fight well together, he and Bucky. They feint in tandem, and they outflank a combatant before they have a chance to look twice. They were always good, even when they were two kids on the playground. But they’re super soldiers now, but what most people don’t get is that it’s not the serum or the training or Bucky’s bionic arm.

It’s that they have each other.

There’s nowhere Steve can go that Bucky won’t follow.

So when Bucky takes the hit, Steve knows.

He almost feels it, burning through him, and Bucky’s muted cry is like a scream in his ears. He turns, horrified for a second, expecting to see Bucky hanging from the door of a train, dangling over a cliff.

That’s not it, though.

Bucky’s panting, pressing his human hand to his side with red seeping between his fingers. He looks up, strained but coherent, getting to his feet before Steve has a chance to double back.

“Flesh wound,” Bucky says, and he’s almost convincing but Steve can see the wince.

Concerned, Steve bends down, trying to pry Bucky’s hand away.

Bucky hisses. “We don’t have time for this.”

Bucky tries to slip past him, back to the ongoing battle, but Steve stands his ground. “We need to get this looked at.”

“Now’s not exactly a great time,” Bucky reminds him. “Bad guys bent on destruction? Sound familiar?”

“Very,” Steve says. “Sounds like another typical day for the Avengers.”

“Which is why we need to go--” Bucky insists, trying to move by Steve again.

This time, Steve catches him by the arm, holding him to a stop.

“Steve,” Bucky says, meeting his gaze now. “The fight’s not over yet.”

“You’re hurt,” Steve says unflinchingly.

Bucky’s brows knit closer. “But the fight--”

“Can finish without us,” Steve concludes for him.

At that, Bucky looks truly surprised. He’s a man of tentative emotions anymore, full of uncertainties and guarded truths. He’s quieter than he used to be, still learning what it is to be free again.

That’s the hardest part about this, Steve thinks.

All those years, Bucky didn’t have a choice in the fight.

Now, right when he’s got the power to choose, he still picks the fight -- for Steve’s sake.

That’s not the training or the brainwashing.

That’s the friendship, the one that started in a schoolyard in Brooklyn and almost died in a war in Germany.

And Bucky’s surprised.

It’s a hard revelation for a man who has spent most of his life as a soldier. He realizes with horrible clarity that he’s not a soldier who follows orders blindly, but he’s a soldier that doesn’t know how to stop. He’s trying to remember that some causes you fight for on a battlefield.

Some battles you fight far away from one.

That’s the life Peggy had offered him; that’s the one Bucky had been reluctant to leave when he got his marching orders during World War 2. That’s the only part of Steve that didn’t quite thaw out with the rest of him, not until this very moment.

Because Steve’s hand has been tucked into a fist so long that he’s forgotten that it ever held anything. But he remembers now, in a sudden burst of clarity that makes him wish he’d never had to forget.

He’s not a man with nothing to lose anymore.

Opening his hand, he offers it to Bucky. “The fight can wait.”

Bucky looks at his hand, still holding his side. “Did you actually just say the fight can wait?” he asks, incredulous. “Steve I-fight-for-principle Rogers?”

The battle rages around them, but Steve doesn’t even look. He keeps his eyes on Bucky; his hand outstretched. “War can’t just be principles,” he says. “It’s people, too.”

Bucky hesitates, something clouded in his eyes. Steve still sees it sometimes, the training he can’t quite shake. “Principles have to matter more than the people.”

“Not anymore,” Steve says, resolute and sure. “There’s always another principle, but there’s not always another person.”

Bucky’s eyes turn down, looking at Steve’s hand. Without the mask of a hardened soldier, he looks young again, younger than Steve remembers. Somehow, they’re still a pair of boys, fighting bullies over their lunch money.

Only it was never Bucky’s fight.

Steve started them all.

It was time for him to finish one.

He smiles.

Bucky reaches out his hand.

Bloody and trembling, Steve’s fingers wrap around it, pulling him away from the fight for the first time in their lives.

And he doesn’t let go.

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: December 19th, 2015 11:48 am (UTC)
James and Cat


*runs around in flaily fangirl circles*

Thank you SO much! My boys! *grabs them and hugs them*

I love the lessons that Steve learns here, how some things change but how some things remain the same.

And the details like Bucky making sure to keep to a slower pace for SmallSteve and throwing himself into the fight even though he doesn't know what it was about specifically, and his choices when he gets his ability to chose back. The imagery of the fist and Steve backing down from a fight finally, for a very damn good reason :)

Lovely bond in this

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