[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 12 Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe Rating: R Notes: Nerd talk ahoy! Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 12: Look At This Photograph Author:yuuo Word Count: 5138 Summary:Bucky peeled off his shirt, sweaty and sticky from the outside heat.
every memory of walking out the front door i found the photo of the friend that i was looking for it's hard to say it, time to say it- -Nickelback
Bucky peeled off his shirt, sweaty and sticky from the outside heat. Scaling walls, or at least attempting to, was hard work, it turned out, and it left him feeling a bit disgusting. He'd discovered no real good place to scale, so many windows around the place, which at once relieved and annoyed him. No place to scale meant a more secure building. It also meant there was no way for him to get to a high place outside, something he was feeling the need for more and more as his and Steve's relationship bounced between normal and fighting so fast that it gave him whiplash.
Sometimes it was almost normal. There were smiles. There were jokes and laughing and even sometimes basic manners. There was late night talking before falling asleep.
Then there'd come the fights, Steve shutting down Bucky's attempts at picking on him and Bucky getting progressively angry at the stuff he found in Steve's sketchbook that more and more focused on the Soldier and less on Hydra in general until he'd blow up at Steve and Steve would storm off to hide in his art, or if it was night, he'd go to the lounge to sleep on the couch.
Bucky was usually left too worked up and hurt to even want to go to Maria's room. So he'd take more Ativan than he was supposed to and slept off the loneliness.
Bucky would've really liked to be able to get to a high place easily on the building, just to get away.
But there hadn't been a way to get up there, short of flying, anyway, so he'd just shower and then go find Maria; Bruce had decided his facial hair had turned into enough of a forest to hide his identity and gone into town with Sharon to look for a Radio Shack and several other places for what was needed to build the EMF detector.
Bucky had given them a list of parts; he was an engineer, and that had dropped the job on his head. It didn't bother him, he liked playing with engineering toys, no matter how basic. But he wasn't sure how much he wanted to do it that night.
Tomorrow. They could come back any time they wanted and expect him to work, but they could just all damn well wait until the next day. Bucky was going to relax once he was clean. Maybe find Maria. Leave Steve to his own devices.
There was a knock at the door that made him pause, about to strip out of his pants. "It's open, Steve."
"I'm not Steve," Maria's voice said from the other side of the door.
Hm. Too bad he shared the room with Steve. He'd invite her in to share that shower with him.
He walked over to the door, opening it and leaning on the door frame. "So if I didn't have a roommate, I'd be pulling you in to share the shower I'm about to take with me."
Maria leaned back, giving him a look over. "I'm disappointed by this myself," she said. "I was actually going to invite you to my place. Steve's working with his pastels in the lounge and I just finished a book. I thought rather than start a new one, I'd look for someone who could spare more verbal power than 'hi.'"
Bucky smiled. "Lemme get cleaned up, and I'll indulge you on that. And anything else you want me to indulge you with."
She leaned forward, tilting her head up to nuzzle his neck. "Mm. I'd say we could save some time and you could shower later, but you smell awful." She leaned back, a smile on her face that better belonged in the bedroom and an eyebrow raised in challenge for him to retort to that.
He tilted his head down to look at her. "I'm not going to disagree with that." Then he lifted his head, stepping back to open the door. "You're welcome to wait here, though. Steve doesn't exactly walk in here naked, so you won't be intruding on anyone's privacy."
"Thank you," she said, stepping in and looking around. "That second dresser makes the room feel a bit claustrophobic."
Shutting the door and locking it, he glanced over at his dresser. "Not too bad. You should've seen our bedroom at the apartment in DC. It was smaller than this and housed us both."
She sat down on the bed. "I haven't had to live in a room that small since college. You actually don't mind this?"
Bucky shook his head, stripping out of his pants. "Nope. My apartment after I got home from college wasn't very big, and Steve's was smaller. We stayed over at each other's places a lot, so we're used to being in small spaces with each other."
Maria smiled, leaning back on her hands. "You know, if you were from any other decade, I'd worry I had competition."
"Not right now you wouldn't," he said without thinking, then bit the inside of his mouth, wishing he hadn't said that.
Of course she knew. They all did. The stable and strong friendship between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes was dying like a tree struck with lightning and split in half. There really wasn't a lot of point in pretending anything else.
So he simply ducked it by looking at her and saying "talk later, shower first. You said I smell bad, that's a horrible assessment for a guy to get from his girl." Before she could say more, he simply disappeared into the bathroom and shut the door behind him.
Before getting into the shower, he stopped and stared at the man in the mirror, tired and haggard from the thoughts in his head. He'd fix this. Somehow, even if Steve didn't want him to, he'd fix this. He hadn't spent a lifetime with Hydra only for them to rob him of his new life free from their shadow. They wouldn't have the Soldier back, drag him from the present to drown in the past.
And god willing, he wouldn't be fighting against Steve on it. He could tell Steve was trying. Past the nightmares and the fights, he was trying. He'd just never dealt with Hydra in his head and it was making it hard to see the path out. Bucky would show him. He'd help him. Things would be fine.
Things would be fine.
First, though, shower. Maria's statement wasn't wrong, he was disgusting.
Showering didn't take long, rarely did, and he was dried off, hair brushed- jesus christ, his hair needed cutting, but he wasn't sure he wanted Steve near him with scissors at the moment -and pulled back within about ten minutes.
"Didn't wait long, did you?" he asked, knowing Maria hadn't, once he stepped back out into the room and started digging in his dresser for clothing.
"No," Maria said, and he glanced back in time to see her look up at him. There wasn't any sign of even the threat of teasing him or making suggestive comments, which made him think that something was on her mind. They usually spared each other remarks that weren't serious.
"Good." Clothes, yes, also good. "What'd I miss?" He turned and motioned towards one of Steve's sketchbooks in her hands. "You do know that Steve doesn't like people seeing unfinished work, right?"
"I know," she said. "I found these three over here." She waved one in her hand, two more on the bed. "I know it was an invasion of privacy, but I was hoping something would tell me how to help you two. None of us like what we're seeing going on here. You two and your friendship has been the stable foundation of our family. We don't want to see that fall apart. Steve will have to forgive me later."
Bucky finished dressing and joined her on the bed, not yet sure how to comment on that. "What'd you find?" he asked, still putting his mind to work to figure out how to answer her.
Maria frowned, opening up one that Bucky recognized as the nightmare sketches, the things Bucky hated seeing. "Well, these I can imagine are just nightmares," she said. "He really doesn't like the Soldier, does he?"
Bucky pursed his lips and shook his head. "No, he doesn't. I've been trying to fix that, but he's been stubbornly ignoring me on it."
"Mm." Maria set that sketchbook aside and grabbed an older looking one. She opened it and set it out in front of him. "You're practically an obsession in this one. I don't know what's going on in these pictures, I assume they're memories of things that have happened, but almost every picture after about halfway through is of you and him."
"Really?" Bucky took that one, flipping through it, then smiled, just a tiny uptick of his cheek muscles on one side. "Oh, these. Yeah, most of these are from the apartment. This one was a vacation we took. He beat the shit outta me at putt putt." He flipped a couple pages. "This is Junior, when we first found her. That's the day Tony showed up to pick her up. She slept with me that night. I worried she'd develop an attachment too strong to be happy with Tony and Pepper." He set the book back down. "With how he spoils her, it's pretty obvious that he warded that one off."
Then he nodded at the third one. "What's in that one?"
That one made Maria frown, as she opened it and pointed to a picture of Sharon in her ball gown from the charity ball that last Christmas. Pepper and Maria accompanied her. "This one seems to be things he's trying to remember since rejoining the Avengers after SHIELD went down. The most recent things are here first, older stuff towards the end."
"So? That's good, he needs to remember. Please tell me there's a lot of pictures of Sharon."
That frown never went away, deepened in fact. "There are," Maria said hesitantly. "The odd thing is that there's not one picture of you in here. Even when there should be."
"What?" That didn't make sense. Steve was meticulous about preserving things in his drawings. He took the sketchbook from her once offered and flipped through it.
"It's like he's written you out of his memories," Maria said. "That's a horrible thing to say, I know, but there should be something of you in there and there's not."
Horrible, heart-wrenching, and probably more true than Bucky wanted to think about. "Maybe," he said, working the words out of his mouth as fast as his brain would let him. "He might be trying to remember everyone else first. He's got this whole notebook of stuff with me, like you said."
There. That had to be it. Had to be, or Bucky might go crazy. He refused to believe that Steve had just kicked him out of his own head. Their friendship may have been having a rough spot, but it wasn't dead yet, and wouldn't die, Bucky wouldn't let it. Steve wouldn't let it. He felt confident that he still knew Steve well enough to know that he wouldn't let it either.
"I have a better idea than my room," Maria said. "Unless you were set on it."
"Not set on it, but I wasn't about to protest it," he said, sitting back slightly, careful to not fall off the bed. "But when you have an idea you decide is better than sex and cuddles, I figure it's worth listening to."
"Glad you agree with that," she said. "But cuddles aren't out of the question. Steve might still be in the lounge. How about we go there and read, just spend some quiet time together, the three of us? Maybe having me there would take pressure off of you two to have to interact, let you have some peaceful time together?"
That actually did sound better than her initial idea of hiding in her room with her. Most of his 'peaceful' time with Steve was in the bedroom at night, and that was full of nightmares and arguments, and probably more tears than either would ever admit to.
"I like the way you think," he said. "I haven't read that last book Peter sent to me yet, been kinda putting it off, since I'm not sure when he'll be able to get the next one to me."
Maria gathered up the sketchbooks she had still scattered on the bed and carefully returned them to their place on Steve's night stand, the older one that Bucky had recognized put into the drawer.
Goddamnit, that was gonna make talking to him about it later harder. Bucky wasn't going to indict Maria in finding it, he'd take the blame himself, but Steve wasn't going to be inclined to listen after knowing that Bucky had been into a sketchbook that Steve had hidden. Especially after all the arguing they'd done about Steve getting into the Winter Soldier Project files.
Instead of saying anything about it, he got up off the bed and offered her his hand to help her up. She accepted, keeping hold as they left the room and headed to the lounge. Maria didn't say anything on the way there, but did give his hand a reassuring squeeze when he paused at the stairs to the lounge, the biomechtium in his hand shifting at the pressure change.
He took in a deep breath and looked at her, offering her a smile that said he was okay. He wasn't sure he was, uncertain if this would work out the way Maria said it would, but he could hope.
Steve was still drawing with his pastels, giving it a critical look that only stopped when he looked up at Bucky and Maria entering the room. "I thought you were going to take Bucky to your room," Steve said to Maria, glancing at Bucky.
Bucky looked desperately to see what that glance had in it, irritation or maybe he was happy to see him, or even just apathetic. Bucky'd take apathetic.
But he couldn't quite read it, gave up on it after a few seconds, before Maria even finished saying "we decided to keep you company."
"I'm not much company right now," Steve said, holding up his book a bit in a pointed fashion. "I'd like to finish this before Sharon gets back, if I can."
"We're just going to read," Maria said, and Bucky decided to prove that by going to the bookshelf and grabbing the last of his Dresden Files books.
He held up for Steve to see. "Figure I'd better get this one done. Peter's gonna find a way to get the next one for me soon. I have no idea how he thinks he's gonna do it, but he will."
Steve snorted. "He's a Barnes man, he has his ways."
Another statement Bucky couldn't quite read, so he left it and sat down on the end of the couch closest to Steve's seat, putting him on Steve's left side, but leaving his metal shoulder for Maria to lean against while reading. He didn't like sitting on Steve's left side, it felt unnatural, but there wasn't anywhere to sit on his right side anyway.
"That's an understatement," Bucky said, getting comfortable. At least physically. Mentally, he wanted to leave and maybe go to the training room and exhaust himself, or go cook an early dinner, a feast to impress Tony, just because the cooking would calm his nerves.
But they already had a lot of pre-cooked meals in their fridge from him doing that, they couldn't really fit any more food in there.
So feeling vaguely uncomfortable it was.
But he'd try. He'd try and Steve better damn well let him and try himself. This feeling of not being comfortable around each other couldn't last. So he pretended to bury himself in his book, Maria sitting relaxed against his shoulder, her legs draped over the couch arm. He occasionally made a point of looking over at Steve, his gaze aimed at Steve's art book.
Steve, as Bucky expected, started looking up at him. "May I help you?"
"Just wondering what you're drawing," Bucky said. "You know I'm nosy. Also curious how the pastels are working for you."
Steve sat back, setting aside the chalk he had in his hand. His fingers were a mess of colors. "They're okay. I can tell I'm gonna have to practice with them, but I like the blending effects." He used one of his colored fingers to smear something on his picture. "It's easier than with paints."
"And you don't have to isolate yourself in the dining room."
"That too." Steve looked at him. "And to answer your other question, nosy, I'm drawing a picture of Sharon with her brown hair. Trying to get used to it. I remember her blond hair the best, and I'm not sure I like the new look."
"It's weird," Bucky agreed. He noticed Maria was staying out of it, reading a book he knew she'd read before. He actually doubted she was reading at all, but merely listening in. He knew her too well to think she wasn't monitoring the situation for trouble. "But it'll grow out. It's necessary right now, that's all."
"I know." Steve didn't look happy about it. "But at least it's flattering." He smeared some color again, then looked at his fingers. "These are messy. Might have to start using these in the dining room, too, just to have access to a sink."
"Use a wet rag, Steve," Bucky said, rolling his eyes. Sometimes, Steve, sometimes.
Steve made an assenting noise. "Probably a better idea," he said. Then he lifted the book again, still in a pointed fashion. "Sorry, bit distracted."
"That's fine," Bucky said, then held up his book just as pointedly. "I should stop distracting myself. Harry calls."
Before he could even really focus on the words, satisfied with the conversation enough to actually read now, Steve spoke up. "Thank you."
He looked over, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Maria actually looked away from her book as well. "For what?"
"For getting me these," Steve said. "I think I like them better than the paints."
Bucky raised an eyebrow. "You remember that I got those for you?"
Steve shrugged with one nod of his head. "Yeah, Christmas. Kinda."
Kinda. That was bullshit, Bucky could smell it a mile away. If Steve remembered that much, and it was obvious he did, why wasn't that in the book? Why was Bucky not being put in his memories? Why was Bucky getting wiped out like sidewalk chalk in the rain?
Book. Read the book. Don't focus on that. Then and there was not the place for that discussion, it was best to let Steve work and just ask him about it sometime later. Interrupting Steve's work with arguments just made them that much worse. Steve was touchy about getting interrupted when he was trying to do that stupid art thing he did.
Bucky would ask at bedtime. Might as well keep up their ritual of most of their arguments happening just before they were supposed to sleep. Get them nice and riled up and unable to sleep. Perfectly idiotic, which is why they did it. Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes never did things the easy way.
Better idea: get him on neutral grounds. That night he could spend with Maria to keep him from asking before he was ready.
Book. Read the book.
Fortunately, a loud noise disrupted his sorry attempts at reading, coming from the front door area. He slowly put his book down on his lap and turned on his comm. "Junior, who is that?"
"That would be Doctor Banner and Miss Carter," Junior answered his ear.
"Thanks." He turned off his comm. "They're back."
He couldn't say 'they're home,' the school wasn't home, would never be home without the other Avengers. It was a temporary situation.
They'd get home as quickly as Bucky could get them there.
Steve huffed as he set down his drawing. "Your paranoia's getting tiring, Bucky."
Bucky set his book down on the table next to his side of the couch. "Don't start," he said. "We've been playing nice, we're not doing this."
Maria was staying wisely out of that, instead, redirecting the conversation. "We should go see what they brought Bucky to work with."
"Whatever it is, it's waiting until tomorrow," Bucky said with a grumble. "I have better things to do."
"Better things to do than try to contact this ghost that may or may not be causing problems?" Steve asked. "Like what?"
"Hiding in Maria's bed, for one," Bucky answered, flashing Maria a dirty smile.
She sighed and rolled her eyes theatrically, probably for Steve's benefit. "One night away from working on that project probably won't hurt anything. I don't have reason to believe she's a danger."
"And the shower?" Steve asked.
Maria frowned, sitting up. "I already made my assessment on that incident. I was the one there, you were not. Please trust my judgment, even if you don't care to trust Bucky's."
Steve looked caught on the spot and not liking it. "Sorry," he said. "I'm just worried about you guys." He glanced at Bucky, just a quick flick of his eyes. "Bucky's not the only one that starts acting goofy when it comes to protecting his team."
"At least you admit it," Maria said, finally getting up off the couch to put her book away.
"We're back!" Sharon's voice called up the stairs. "Don't everyone come greet us at once."
"Who says we want to greet you?" Bucky called downstairs, getting up, his book forgotten on the table. He followed Maria downstairs, Steve right behind him.
Sharon was already giving him a dirty look by the time he and the other two made it down to where she was. "You, I'd hope, Mister Engineer who gets to play with this stuff we bought."
"Ooh, toys." He stepped past Maria, following Sharon to the dining room.
"We didn't take them to the work room," she said. "We bought a couple other things, some food, mainly."
Bucky raised his eyebrows in her direction. "We have enough frozen meals to last a lifetime, why more?"
She gave him a sidelong look. "To let you cook more. It gives you something to do and some of the veggies you needed fresh to add to reheat meals have gone bad because we're trying to go through too much. We made a shopping list. We've already gone through and trashed what went bad."
Bucky scrunched his nose in disgust. "I guess I have kinda been overcooking."
"Kinda?" Steve asked. "If you're not with Maria, you're in the kitchen."
"I could be doing worse," Bucky said casting a baleful look back at Steve.
Like fighting with Steve. Steve, please don't turn this one into a fight, it isn't necessary. Remember the nice conversation just a few minutes go? Stick with that.
Steve seemed inclined to follow that unspoken advice. "We clearly need to get the other Avengers here for a reunion meal. Probably make you happy enough to wet yourself."
That got Bucky to laugh. "After we're sure Kitty's okay company. If she is, I'm going to ask her to mess around with Natasha for my amusement. But speaking of our resident ghost, I'm told I have new toys to play with."
"We got what you asked for," Sharon said in response.
Bruce, for his part, was already in the kitchen, putting away groceries. On one of the tables were several smaller bags of electronics and small parts that made Bucky's mind wander off to happy work places.
Happy bed places were happening tonight, but come morning, those electronic pieces were getting locked away in the work room with him.
"So what do we have here?" Steve asked, hands still held up as if he were being very careful with those messy fingers.
Bucky sat down at the table. "Go wash your hands, then come out here and I'll answer that."
While Steve disappeared to do that with a relieved thank you, Bucky started digging into the bags. Keyboard, check, smoke detector, check. A look in the Radio Shack bag revealed a voltage regulator, five volts. Good, they didn't miss that. He didn't think they would. There were a number of other fiddly bits he needed in there too, bitty ones, that would look comical on what the circuit was gonna be soldered to.
One bag was from an office supply store that had him figuratively scratching his head. "Hey Bruce?" he called back towards the kitchen. "Why'd you get a bag of rubber bands? Those weren't on the list."
Bruce appeared out of the kitchen. "You told me there were rubber bands in it. I couldn't find any in our work room, I'm not sure where they went."
Oh. "Uh, they're around. They got twisted into a stress ball." He looked back at Bruce. "Thanks, I'll just use these instead of trying to untie that thing."
Bruce sat down next to him. "Just don't take off with all of these, too," he said.
Steve rejoined them. "Okay, nerd, explain this for the rest of us."
Bucky glared at him. "Soak your head." He dug back into another bag, pulling out two old bread boards, a large roll of uncovered copper wire, along with some insulated wire, and a bag of nails. He looked over all his parts to work with. "We have paper clips upstairs, right, Bruce?"
"We do, yes," Bruce said. "That one I checked for. But his insult aside, I agree with Steve. You have me curious about all this. I'm not an engineer."
Bucky looked over his prizes. "EMF detectors aren't hard to make, and the parts are easy to get, as long as you have access to an electronics store that specializes in little circuit boards and such, or the internet. Since we don't have those, I'm having to butcher things. The keyboard has a Hall Effect sensor in it. Some printers have them, but I'm not sure what models would and keyboards are more reliable anyway."
"Hall Effect sensor?" Steve looked at Bruce.
Bruce shrugged and pointed to Bucky. "Ask him, he's the one building this."
"It's a transducer," Bucky said, then sighed when he was met with blank stares. "It converts signals from one form into another, like electricity. Hall Effect sensors specifically convert a magnetic field to an electrical signal." He frowned. "I don't get to wave my hand and say 'it's magic' with these things, do I?"
"Nope," Steve said, leaning forward. "We all like to learn, and we all want to know what we're going to be using here."
"You won't be using anything," Bucky said. "This thing's mine."
"We'll be playing with the recorder and the camera," Bruce said.
"Camera?" Bucky looked at him.
"Video camera," Sharon said, picking a bag up off the floor. "We mentioned early on getting one. Bruce had an idea about it. He said you can fiddle with it to get it to see IR so we can set it up in front of where Kitty died, see if we can't pick up an apparition or something."
Bucky gave Bruce the hairy eyeball. "You didn't tell me before you left that I had to mess with a camera's visual range, too."
To his credit, Bruce looked a bit guilty. "I'm sorry. I thought it was a good idea when I saw it and we don't have phones with service."
Ugly reminder of how isolated they were. "Fair enough. I'll do that first."
"What's IR?" Steve asked.
"Might I asked a question?" Maria said, speaking up for the first time. She was good at staying quiet and observing, which was sometimes unnerving.
"You don't have to ask," Bucky said.
"What are the rubber bands for?"
"They hold the battery connector to the breadboard."
"And what's a breadboard?"
Bucky picked up the small wooden board. "This."
"Oh, so you did mean literally when you asked for that," Sharon said. "I was hoping we were reading that right. I'm not seeing how that'll work to detect electromagnetic fields."
Bucky set it back down. "I'm going to be nailing copper wires on one and soldering them. Basically make a circuit board. There's easier ways to make them now, they sell types that don't need to be soldered, but this is the way we did it back in my day, and I have access to the parts for it."
"You had us get two of those breadboards," Sharon said. "What's the second one for?"
Bucky dug around in the bags to examine those tiny pieces again, taking inventory. "I'm going to make an electromagnet to test this thing on and I need a variable power supply. The second board's to make one. Most of these tiny pieces are for that. I could just take the detector up to the watch tower, since technology puts off EMFs like crazy, but I don't wanna chance frying something up there. Better to just make a small one of my own."
"Which is what the insulated wire's for," Bruce said. "I remember making those little nail magnets in class. I wondered about those."
"Oh thank god," Bucky said. "Someone gets at least that much." He looked at Bruce. "I hope I don't have to explain electromagnatism to you."
Bruce shook his head. "Oh no, that I know plenty about. Just because I can't build a circuit board out of a cutting board and make an EMF detector out of spare parts doesn't mean I don't know what we're dealing with."
"Good, someone does."
Sharon gave him a cross look. "We all took high school science classes, we all have learned about electromagnetism on that level at least."
Bucky peered up at her through too-long hair (must get that cut, must get Steve to stop being a prickhole long enough for Bucky to trust him with scissors). "Good, because I'm not a teacher, I couldn't begin to tell you how it works without using really technical words."
"So are we going to start on that tonight?" Steve asked, glancing towards the kitchen, his mind clearly already racing to figure out which of Bucky's many pre-cooked meals to heat up.
Bucky shook his head and started putting things back in the bags. "Nope. Tonight, we eat, I'm gonna read a little, then Maria and I are going to bed and you all can do whatever. I'll start on this tomorrow."