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Captain America fic: You and Me ('Til the End of Time) (1/1)

June 30th, 2016 (09:16 pm)
moody

feeling: moody

Title: You and Me (‘Til The End of Time)

Disclaimer: I do not own Captain America or anything related to the MCU.

Pairing: Steve/Bucky

A/N: So, I actually haven’t even seen CACW, but I have heard about it extensively. That said, I cannot guarantee that I got anything right in this fic, but I still hope that it’s an enjoyable (if belatedly) offering for kristen_mara, who had a birthday earlier in June. This is very unbeta’ed, so mistakes may abound! This happens to fill my deprogramming square for this year’s hc_bingo. My card is here. Title with apologies to Biffy Clyro.

Summary: Just this once, after all these years, Steve wants a fairy tale.



-o-

Steve Rogers isn’t one for happy endings.

As a child, he’d never anticipated much. He grew up without a father, and his mother’s death had made him lonely on top of being poor. When the Army refused to let him enlist, it had some people might have seen that as his chance to build a different life, a better life.

But, at 18, Steve’s already given up on happy endings. He doesn’t need a fairy tale.

No, he wants to be a hero.

100 years later, he thinks he should probably be careful what he wishes for.

-o-

He’s stoic while Bucky is put under. He holds his head high, and acts like he understands. He has to respect this decision, especially where Bucky is concerned. His best friend has had too many choices taken from him, and Steve cares too much about him to take this one, too.

Still, when he watches Bucky’s body freeze, he can’t help but shiver, too. He wonders if this is what Peggy felt like, when his plane went down in the snow and ice.

Bucky’s the one who’s freezing.

But Steve’s the one who feels cold.

-o-

T’Challa has promised Bucky the best security, and Steve has no reason to doubt a man like that, but as it turns out, he has nowhere to go. He surrendered his happy ending a long time ago, and his alternative life as a hero has come to an inauspicious end. He left behind everything to follow Bucky, and now there’s nothing left of that, either.

His hands feel empty without his shield, and he can’t help but think of the people who stood and fought with him who are in prison because of him.

He wants to think that it’s worth it, that he made the right choice.

But as he stands vigil over Bucky’s frozen body, he’s really not so sure anymore.

In a war, no one wins.

Tony, Clint, Natasha. Sam, Scott, Wanda.

Bucky.

No one gets the happily ever after.

No one.

-o-

The fact that someone comes after Bucky is not a surprise.

The fact that it takes six months?

That’s a surprise.

Truth be told, Steve expected it sooner.

-o-

Steve gets a ping on the security network -- he has a direct feed, as a favor from T’Challa -- but he’s halfway across town. He tries to help out, working as a civil servant to earn his keep in T’Challa’s kingdom. It’s a far cry from being Captain America, but Steve’s always just wanted to do his part.

It’s just a job, though.

Bucky?

That’s why he’s here.

That’s the only reason.

Steve bears down, grits his teeth, and thanks God one last time for his superhuman strength.

And he hopes he’s fast enough.

-o-

They’re good.

Whoever has planned the attack has certainly done their homework. They take out T’Challa’s guards and completely circumvent the security measures. Of course, T’Challa is out of the country on official business -- no coincidence, to be sure -- and although Steve likes the security team, it’s doubtful they could ever fully understand what sort of valuable asset Bucky actually was.

By the time Steve arrives, the place is in shambles -- entire walls have been blasted. He checks the first few guards on the ground for any sign of life, but the carnage is fairly self explanatory.

And even if it wasn’t, bullets splinter the wall behind Steve’s head, and that’s a pretty definitive answer.

Steve’s been fighting for so much of his life that it’s almost reflexive. He comes up swinging, hard, fast and true. It doesn’t take much to disarm the first man, and he takes out another in the process. He rounds on a third, ducking hard and fast before bowling his way through several more. He takes a few hard hits to the ribs and misses his shield. He has to roll out of the way from a spray of gunfire from across the room and misses it even more.

Captain America, he used a shield.

Steve Rogers had been fighting battles long before that.

Besides, of anyone, Steve knows the difference between want and need.

He curls his fists and lunges into the fray again.

God help him, he knows.

-o-

When Steve’s done, the bad guys are on the floor.

All except one.

The man smiles, a long, menacing smile as he stands at the controls of Bucky’s chamber. Steve spares a moment -- just a fleeting second -- to look at Bucky, still and suspended.

Smirk widening, the man tilts his head. “I can see he is important to you,” the man says, his voice heavily accented. English, maybe. Not that it matters.

“You don’t know anything about it,” Steve says, narrowing his eyes as he takes in the full context of his current predicament. Bullet holes riddle the walls; the vast majority of the equipment has been damaged. The monitor above Bucky is intact, though, showing a steady, slow heartbeat.

There’s at least a dozen feet between him and the man, though, and Steve has no clear sight of the control panel. Steve’s fast, and he’s risked his life on that fact before.

He’d rather not risk Bucky’s.

“Oh, I think I might,” the man continues. “You see, he is important to me as well.”

Steve takes a step forward, slow and cautious. His eyes glint dangerously as he flexes his fists. “Step away from the controls.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be happening,” the man says smoothly, feigning a look of honey-like remorse.

“Then I should warn you,” Steve says, moving closer still. He controls his breathing; he hones his focus. “I’ve seen this story play out before, more times than you can count. And it’s going to end badly for you.”

“Yes, probably,” the man says with no hint of remorse. In fact, if anything, his smile just grows, stretching over his features sadistically. “But this isn’t about me, hm? This? This is about him.”

He nods back toward the stasis chamber, where Bucky is still lying, unmoving and unaware of the events unfolding around him. He’d hate this, of course. He’d hate to be the cause of more pain, more conflict, more death.

He’d also fight like hell to finish this.

Steve’s volunteered for every fight he’s ever been in. Bucky’s been forced into each and everyone. People think this makes Steve a hero, but Steve knows better.

He keeps his eyes on the man.

“This is his story,” the man says, conversationally as he pleases. “And I’m simply here to make sure he tells it.”

“He’s not under the control of anyone anymore,” Steve says, bucking up his shoulders. He knows what an impressive figure he cuts. More importantly, he knows how to use it.

“Except these machines and all the men watching him day and night,” the man observes. “And you, swooping in here like a knight in shining armor.”

“I’m respecting his wishes,” Steve insists as he moves closer still. He’s closing the gap, slow, steady and sure. “And this is what he wants.”

“All he’s been through, and you still think he can make such decisions for himself?” the man wonders, eyebrows lifting.

“All he’s been through, more than ever,” Steve says, not hesitating as he steps forward again. He’s almost close enough to make a lunging grab, but not close enough to ensure that the man won’t do anything to retaliate first.

The man shrugs, diffident. “And if I hit this button, if I wake him up, you think he’ll be of sound mind?”

Steve moves another steps, but says nothing.

Drumming his fingers on the panel, the man shakes his head. “If he wakes up, right here, right now, do you think it’ll be a fairy tale ending? Or perhaps a nightmare?”

“Disorientation after stasis is normal,” Steve says. “Trust me. I know.”

“You do, you do,” the man muses, his smile returning. “But disorientation is one thing. A homicidal rage -- well, that is entirely another.”

“You just keep talking,” Steve warns, another step closer now.

“You don’t believe me, do you?” the man says with a low chuckle. “You see, your friend has been programmed to eliminate conflict and escape. I don’t even need to stay alive to deliver him to my superiors. He’ll tear through you and everyone here before he even realizes who he is or what he’s done. He’ll be following orders given to him years ago before he even remembers he has another choice.”

Steve shakes his head. He’s just a few feet away now, and he toes an invisible line purposefully. Close enough to act; close enough to stop it; just a step away from provocation. “Not going to happen,” he says. “Told you; I know this story.”

“Well, then,” the man says with an easy roll of his shoulders. “Just one way to find out.”

Just like that, he pushes the button on the console, the kill switch to bring Bucky out of stasis. Steve knows the button, he knows it better than all the rest because he stares at it every time he visits, stares at it and longs to push it.

Not like this.

An alarm blares as the chamber hisses with activation.

Not like this.

Steve’s never wanted to kill anyone.

Until now.

-o-

The man can fight, Steve has to concede that.

With two punches to the face and a boot to the gut.

Steve grinds his teeth, mounting a more pronounced offensive. He uses every ounce of his super strength, hitting once, twice to the head before pulling hard and throwing the man across the room.

The man’s reflexes are good; he catches himself, licking the blood off his lips as he comes at Steve again.

Steve, he can do this all day.

He glances toward the console, which is alight with activity now as the stasis reverses. The chamber itself is hissing, air flow streaming in at an audible rate.

It’s too fast, too sudden. Because for as much as Steve knows the button that will bring Bucky back, he knows all the reasons not to push it. He knows about the leveled sedation, and the influx of steroids and other drugs to bring Bucky’s body back up to full functionality before pulling him out. He knows about the warnings of organ failure, brain damage, death if it’s done too rapidly.

So sure, Steve can do this all day, but Bucky can’t.

God help Steve, Bucky won’t.

-o-

The thing is, Steve’s fought a lot of people for a lot of reasons. He’s taken on bullies of all shapes and sizes. He still remembers squaring off against Red Skull, and he sure as hell can’t forgive the sound of Peggy’s voice when he puts the plane down in the middle of the ice. He’s fought alongside the Avengers, stopping alien races and overpowered robots with sentience.

He even fought people he considers friends to make sure Bucky was safe and free.

So this guy? This nameless flunky working for a nefarious, unknown boss?

He doesn’t stand a chance.

Because Steve has the means. He’s got the motive.

And this time, he’s taking the opportunity. He has nothing to lose, after all.

Bucky has everything, though.

Steve’s never hit harder in his life.

-o-

When the man goes down, Steve doesn’t stop until his knuckles are cracked and bloody, and the man’s head falls to the side, blood running from his mouth and nose. Steve’s not sure if he’s dead, but he’s effectively incapacitated, and as much as Steve would like to make sure he’s brought to justice, he has bigger things to worry about.

Bucky.

Getting to his feet, Steve staggers, his balance wavering as his vision threatens to dim. He blinks it away with tenacity, gritting his teeth and cradling one hand to his damaged ribs as he limps his way back to the control panel.

It hurts -- he’s broken a few ribs and there’s going to be bruising everywhere -- but the sound of the alarms going off hit him even harder still. Super strength, super speed, but Steve’s still no expert at technology, and for all that he’s study this console, the multitude of lights is almost overwhelming.

Blood perfusion, heart rate, oxygenation. Sedation levels, brain activity, temperature. The system is in full reverse, and Bucky’s body is being drawn back into full functionality at lightning speed.

Desperate, Steve tries pressing the activation button, then he presses it again, trying to get it to undo itself. The process has already started, though. Steve punches another few -- the sedation controls and air flow -- but this far into the regeneration cycle, and there’s seemingly nothing he can do.

Then, another alarm sounds.

Frantic, Steve tries to place it and then he finally looks up.

Bucky’s vitals.

The medical panel is lit up like a Christmas tree, and every system shows unprecedented activity. His heart rate is spiking; his metabolic function is in overdrive. Brain activity is all over the place.

It’s too much, too fast.

Bucky’s not going to be homicidal when he wakes up.

He’s going to die.

The strain on his system is likely to be catastrophic.

Another alarm sounds -- an irregular heartbeat, rapid and skipping more beats than it hits.

It’s like rebooting a computer in the shower. The thing’s going to do its best, but the process wil be short circuited before any real progress can be made.

A louder, more insistent tone blares: oxygenation levels are failing. For all the fresh oxygen being pumped in, Bucky’s lungs aren’t working to move it. It’s a cascading failure; without oxygen, his heart will slow down and every other organ will follow until….

Steve turns, stricken, to look at Bucky. In the chamber, his chest is hitching dramatically but his eyes are closed, still oblivious to the obvious peril. Bucky’s dying right in front of him.

He’s lost Peggy; he’s mostly lost himself.

He can’t lose Bucky.

That’s not how this story is going to end.

Not if Steve has anything to say about it.

-o-

Inside the stasis chamber, Bucky’s still being brought to life. The walls are impenetrable, made out of bullet proof casing that protects against external threats and creates a sanitary, controlled interior. It’s meant to keep everything and everyone out. It is made with almost any threat in mind.

It’s not made with super soldiers in mind.

Not that it’s easy, necessarily. The casing won’t break, and Steve’s already sore from his fight. It takes all his strength to get the door open at all, enough to wedge his fingers in and rip back with all his might.

Even that doesn’t work until he braces himself with his legs, giving himself as much leverage as possible before he takes one look at Bucky, who’s starting to go blue.

As if he needs more motivation.

-o-

Steve doesn’t remember exactly getting the door off. He doesn’t remember exactly throwing it clear. He doesn’t remember busting inside and ripping the tubes and wires off of Bucky and pulling the other man into his arms and dragging him clear of the chamber.

He doesn’t remember screaming Bucky’s name until his throat is hoarse. He has no memory of the tears on his face.

He can’t even recall all the things that got him here. All the years, all the choices, all the mistakes. He can’t remember two boys from Brooklyn or Bucky’s draft notice. He can’t remember the scrawny kid pulled out of alley brawls or the strong soldier who walked into Nazi territory to pull his best friend clear. He can’t remember the punches he’s thrown against friends and the laws he’s broken. He can’t remember the people he’s buried or the emotions he’s never let himself give voice to.

All he knows is a very singular thing, the last bedrock of truth that matters to Steve in this life. Before the Avengers, before the ice, before the Nazi and the super serum. Before Sharon, before Peggy.

There was Bucky.

Cradling Bucky’s body in his arms it’s the first thing he knows.

Bucky’s mouth gapes and he struggles for air. His chest rises and falls precariously, the sluggish beat of his heart faltering underneath Steve’s touch.

He’s afraid it’ll be the last thing he knows, too.

-o-

The thing is, Steve Rogers isn’t one for happy endings.

He’s never expected one; he’s learned to live anticipating the opposite, in fact.

But this time, this time, Steve can’t help himself.

He wants one.

Just this once, after all these years, he wants a fairy tale.

Where all is good and right, where good triumphs over evil, where love wins.

He looks at Bucky, who falls silent in his arms with a shuddering exhale. His lips are dusky blue now, his eyelids shaded purple.

Just this one.

Steve closes his eyes, and thinks of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella. Even Anna of Arendelle will do.

He leans down, pressing his lips to Bucky’s, his entire body catching on a sob as he tips his head to Bucky’s, their foreheads touching as Steve holds him closer.

An act of true love.

-o-

In the stories, it always works. Snow White wakes up; Sleeping Beauty is pulled from her slumber to restore the kingdom. Cinderella marries her prince, and Anna learns that true love takes more than a first glance and a passing dance.

No, it takes a lifetime -- and then some.

Because Steve’s known Bucky since they were grubby kids in Brooklyn. It’s a century later, and a lot has changed, but not that.

Not that.

Love doesn’t conquer all. Friendship does, in fact, have its bounds. Loyalty, patriotism, goodness, morality: these things are fallible.

He and Bucky, though.

Some stories are meant to endure.

-o-

In his arms, Bucky takes a breath.

Deep and gasping, his entire body shudders with the effort, and his eyes open wide in shock.

The next breath comes just as hard, and Bucky’s entire body goes rigid, tensed and poised to strike.

Steve remembers what the man said, about Bucky’s training. It’s a possibility, of course. Bucky’s been brainwashed for over half a century.

The thing is, he’s known Steve longer.

“Easy, easy,” he coaxes, supporting Bucky as he flails. “Just breathe. Come on, Buck. Breathe.”

Bucky does, gulping breaths that leave him shaking and spent, and he blinks rapidly until his eyes settle on Steve. For an instant, all Steve sees is panic, a deep rooted fight or flight, but Bucky takes another harrowing breath and opens his trembling lips. “Steve?”


The noise Steve makes is somewhere between a cry and a laugh, and his throat his tight while his eyes burn. “Yeah, Bucky,” he says. “It’s me.”

The blue is receded from Bucky’s lips, and he struggles for another breath. Steve can feel his heart hammering, a fast, fluttering rhythm beneath his touch. Bucky’s cold and weak, and despite the tension in his body, Steve suspects the other man can’t actually move just yet.

With effort, he wets his lips. Bucky has to inhale again with a quivering exhale. “What happened?”

The question is spoken without disguise. There’s no trace of the Winter Soldier; there’s not even a hint of the soldier who fought by Steve’s side in the Howling Commandos. Here, in his arms, Bucky is just his best friend, the kid from Brooklyn who never needed super serum to fight the good fight.

When Steve lost everything, he’d always had Bucky, and that had been enough.

That is enough.

After Peggy, after the Avengers, after everything.

It’s enough.

He’s smiling now, so wide it actually hurts. Gently, he shifts Bucky closer, fingers tightening around him as he spares a glance around the decimated room and fallen men. “That’s kind of a long story, actually.”

Bucky’s brows knit together in clear concern.

“Don’t worry,” Steve assures him with a confidence that he doesn’t have to fake anymore. “It has a happy ending.”

Bucky, weak and confused, believes him.

Because it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be without sacrifice or consequence.

It just has to be together.

That’s the stuff, the thing fairy tales are made of.

Steve’s never had more reason to believe.

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: July 10th, 2016 12:10 pm (UTC)
James and Cat


You wrote Stucky for me!! Thank you so much!

**He wonders if this is what Peggy felt like, when his plane went down in the snow and ice.**

Eek, I hadn’t thought of that…

I like Steve becoming a civil servant while waiting for a cure for the mind control.

**Steve’s volunteered for every fight he’s ever been in. Bucky’s been forced into each and everyone.**

Very true.

**It’s like rebooting a computer in the shower. The thing’s going to do its best, but the process wil be short circuited before any real progress can be made.**

Meep, and meep again at Steve considering everything he’s lost.

Steve tearing doors off their hinges for Bucky, as well as love’s true kiss and foreheads touching are things that I love in fics. And Steve cradling Bucky. And and and. LOL. Whew for Bucky not turning into the Winter Soldier.

Yes, they do deserve a fairy tale happy ending. Thank you for giving it to them.


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