[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 13 Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe Rating: R Notes: This is not the end, I promise. Don't hate me. Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 13: And I'm Saying Goodbye Author:yuuo Word Count: 4724 Summary:It was early morning when Bucky got up and got dressed, packing his overnight clothes back into his bag.
say something i'm giving up on you and i'm sorry that i couldn't get to you and anywhere i would've followed you say something i'm giving up on you say something -A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
It was early morning when Bucky got up and got dressed, packing his overnight clothes back into his bag. Maria didn't seem disturbed by his movement, nor by his absence when he got up. She remained in the bed, sleeping peacefully.
Deciding that it was safe to leave, he slipped out, turning the knob on the door to let it slide in without noise, then walked across the hall to his own room. Just as silently, he opened the door and stepped in. Steve was still asleep, curled up on his side facing his night stand, his three sketchbooks scattered about.
All three, huh? Steve must not have expected him back until later than it was.
Bucky set his bag down by his dresser and almost left, but something made him pause. He looked back at Steve, sleeping soundly. How soundly, Bucky wondered. Steve was a light sleeper, he should've woken at Bucky's entrance.
Bucky's Ativan bottle was on his own nightstand, left behind on nights he stayed with Maria. He walked over to it and looked inside. It seemed emptier than it should be. He looked at Steve, wondering if Steve was raiding it for easier sleep when Bucky wasn't there.
He'd talk to Steve about it. Nights were hardest, maybe they both needed the Ativan at bedtime. Might even stop the fights that wound them up and made going to bed a chore in angry awkwardness.
Recapping the Ativan bottle and setting it back down, Bucky walked around the end of the bed with silent footsteps, heavy boots muffled by the carpet. He took the sketchbook he was pretty sure Steve was using for memory recovery and flipped through it, careful with turning pages, hoping, aching to see some sign of himself in there. Something, even something bad, just to prove that he wasn't gone.
He set down the sketchbook and crouched down by Steve. Steve, if he wasn't asleep, was good at faking it. But his breathing was too even for Bucky to think he was awake. Risking waking him up, risking another fight, or maybe risking a chance to start a real conversation, something that'd go somewhere good, Bucky leaned over and pressed his cheek against Steve's. "Trust your big brother yeah?" he whispered.
Steve stirred a little, pressing his face into his pillow a little, then settled back down. Bucky decided to leave it there and left the room.
Nobody in the other two rooms made sounds of waking, and the hallway, almost dark still with the sun rising on the other side of the building, was empty.
Good, he had his morning to himself. Time to build an EMF detector.
Or do that stupid camera IR thing. Thanks a lot, Bruce, at least you stopped at a library and got a list of the right pieces online. He'd printed out a how-to as well, but Bucky didn't need it, just the parts.
Once in the work room, he shut the door and walked over to the counter, examining the bags and pieces scattered about. It would've at one time made him have a nerdgasm, but now it seemed, while still fun, a distraction from what was really on his mind: those sketchbooks.
No. Have fun with engineering fun parts. Steve and his issues can wait.
With his mind still full of those thoughts against his will, he set aside the breadboards and other pieces for the EMF and the magnet and the variable power source, and went for the camera. He hopped up onto the counter, crossing his legs and grabbing his tools and glove for his left hand.
Making a camera see in IR wasn't actually that hard. The camera's CCD chip had a filter on it to keep out infrared, it was partly a matter of removing that. Ripping open the camera was easy, although keeping the two sides from falling apart required taping them together.
Ah, fun with engineering. Taping big electronic pieces together without setting something on fire. All the reason in the world he'd needed to go into the field. Designing weapons was almost secondary to getting to play with weird electrical circuits. Steve used to make fun of him, but Bucky would point out that he tried to color while colorblind, so don't talk about ridiculous.
No, toys first. Steve can wait until he was done with the damn work.
The CCD chip's filter removed, he grabbed a roll of old camera film, exposed to the light until black, and started cutting it down, until it was roughly the same size as the filter he'd just pulled out. That left pulling out the camera lens and placing in the new filter that blocked out visible light. He probably didn't need to, but he'd remind Bruce that he couldn't expect to see anything through the camera when he set it up. He'd have to make sure it was pointed in the right direction without seeing through the lens and hope he got a good shot.
Bucky put the camera pieces back together, removed the tape, and set it aside. There. Camera done.
He hopped down off the counter and started organizing the pieces for the EMF detector; the power source he needed for the magnet would come second. If all else failed, he could take the detector up to the watchtower and see what the computers put off.
There. Nice and organized, and his tools ready in reach. He hopped back up on the counter and got to work, sketching out a circuit pattern that he attached with tape before pulling out a nail and his small hammer. He missed making breadboard circuits. He'd worked with the modern ones; they were fun, and much easier, but if he was going to be working while dealing with relationship problems, he wanted the comfort of the old fashioned stuff.
"Why are you sitting on the work counter?"
He paused in hammering a nail onto the breadboard, careful not to move his circuitry pattern, searching briefly for the safest answer to give Bruce. "It's comfortable."
Bruce walked farther into the workshop, taking one of the actual chairs and pulling it over to the counter to sit on the other side of the circuit from Bucky. "You only sit on the counter to work when you have something on your mind." When Bucky didn't answer, Bruce continued, turning his attention to Bucky's work. "Steve?"
Once again, Bucky paused. "Isn't it always?" And on the subject of Steve and the problems he created. "I'm almost out of Ativan, by the way."
Bruce raised his eyebrows. "Already?" He folded his arms on the table and leaned forward. "You've been overdosing, haven't you?"
Overdosing. What an ugly word. He went back to hammering. "Dealing with Steve warrants it." He refrained from mentioning that he thought Steve was getting into it occasionally.
Bruce drew in the breath of a frustrated doctor dealing with a problem child patient. "How bad?"
Bucky shrugged. "Two at bedtime if we've been fighting," he said. "That's a milligram, it puts me to sleep for about half the night. Another two when I wake up from those to get sleep the rest of the night."
"So just adding a fourth allowed dose would do it?"
"Maybe." Bucky sighed, grabbing another nail. "Honestly, I'd rather not be on it at all. I come from the psychiatric dark ages, it's terrifying being on mental health drugs. And I'm not happy with it anyway."
And Steve would be forced to just get his own damn supply.
"Pride's getting in the way," Bruce said in an absolutely correct assessment. His assessments usually were. He was starting to understand Bucky in ways that didn't always make Bucky comfortable.
Bucky ignored that statement long enough to finish nailing in the last nail on that row of the circuit. "Even people in this time don't like admitting it or needing it," he pointed out.
"I know," Bruce said, tilting his head as Bucky started pulling out the copper wire. "I could up your dosage to a milligram, limit three. Two for sleeping, and the third one for when you absolutely feel you need it."
Bucky glanced up at him. "I just said I don't want on it at all and you're upping my dosage?"
"Just for now," Bruce said. "It won't be like this forever, we all know it won't. But you're free to otherwise use whatever coping techniques you need. Just know that third pill is there if you need it."
"Like to keep myself from making you guys victims of a misplaced temper," Bucky said, finishing a thought he knew was hiding in Bruce's brain somewhere.
"That'd be a good time for it, yes," Bruce said. "If you want, I can have Sharon go back to town and look for something to hold that third pill for you during the day that doesn't look like a pill holder or your bottle itself. Hide it easier so nobody knows you have it."
That didn't sound bad; if he was stuck being on the medicine, and he knew that until Steve and he had repaired things and were back to normal, he'd probably need the help. At least with sleeping. The Soldier part of his brain had been instructed by the doctor to use those pills when needed, and now that was part of his programming, so when fights with Steve escalated that high at bedtime, his orders were to take enough of his medicine to sleep properly.
The fourth pill was all Bucky, though.
"I'd rather you go on your own," Bucky said. "If nobody's supposed to know about it, Sharon would be the wrong one to send."
Bruce made a thoughtful noise, watching Bucky guiding the bare copper around the nails into a circuit. "Are you going to be okay without your medicine for a few days?"
"Yeah," Bucky said. "I'll just go tire myself out in the training room if I have to. Or sit up with a cup of cocoa. I'll settle down." He cut the wire, setting aside the large spool and soldering one tip of his voltage regulator to the copper. The work was therapeutic on its own, tools in his hands, putting together circuits and power sources. It was basic work, stuff he could do in his sleep, but that made it all the more relaxing.
What hadn't been terribly entertaining, though, was that stupid video camera.
He nodded his head slightly in the direction of the camera on the other end of the work table. "There's your camera, by the way," he said. "It should work."
Bruce turned his head to look at it. "Oh, thank you. Sorry about dropping that one on your lap."
Bucky made a vague noise that hovered in the area of saying 'it's all right', too distracted by soldering on one side of the battery connector to the voltage regulator.
Bruce got up and grabbed the camera; Bucky barely saw him do it, wasn't sure if Bruce was even gonna stay with his camera to go play with. But, Bruce came back over and sat back down. "I hope we can help this little girl."
Bucky set aside his soldering gun and sat up to look at him. "You feel guilty about her."
Bruce grimaced, something that looked like it was trying to be a reassuring smile, but just looked guilty instead. "It was the radiation from my experiment that made her the way she was."
"It wasn't your fault," he finally said, picking up his gun. He motioned it at Bruce. "And don't you tell me otherwise. Her mother knew that radiation exposure was part of the game. She got out as soon as she found out she was pregnant. Unless she could telepathically communicate with an embryo, she had no way of knowing sooner than she did."
He went back to soldering the other side of the power supply to a copper wire to take the circuit back full circle. "So relax, it's not your fault. And if she's got any sense, kid or not, Kitty's not gonna blame you."
Hear that, kid? Behave.
"Don't act like you wouldn't feel guilty in my position," Bruce said. His tone sounded far away, and Bucky felt the need to set aside the breadboard to focus on his friend.
"Bruce," he said, putting his hand on Bruce's shoulder. "Listen to me. You had no way of knowing what that experiment would do, any more than Erskine was certain of what the stuff used on Steve. Hypotheses are great, but that's all they are. So you set up an experiment that didn't work. It happens to every scientist out there." Bruce looked ready to interrupt, but Bucky kept going. "And yes, I know, your experiment resulted in the other guy. But time's given him a chance to direct himself to help people. Sure, there's always a bad chance, but I trust him to recognize us as allies. Tony does. Sharon and Maria do. Steve probably does, although he may not remember why." Bucky leveled a serious look at him. "The Soldier trusts him, Bruce."
That looked like it surprised Bruce. "The Soldier trusts a potential time bomb?"
Bucky gave him a pained smile. "You think the Soldier or I feel that we aren't one? Especially right now?"
Bruce patted Bucky's knee. "I think you both underestimate him. Steve may not realize it right now, I'm willing to bet the other two will back me up when I say that while the Soldier may still be a brutal killer, you've reprogrammed him to use those skills to protect the people you love."
Bucky looked down at his abandoned breadboard, trying to figure out how to safely reply to that. "That's what I've tried," he finally said. "But after seeing Hydra trying to experiment on Steve, I can't be a hundred percent certain that he'll recognize anybody but Steve as someone to protect."
"I don't buy that," Bruce said in a firm tone. "You still recognize us as your friends, and while he may be able to call shots, you told me outright that he'll listen to you when it's needed, like when dealing with the other guy. I don't think that you'll have any problem with the Soldier protecting us just as much as Steve. Steve just needs the help more right now."
The breadboard called as a lovely distraction, a way to escape the conversation, but Bruce deserved an answer. "Steve's the only one he wants to focus on."
Bruce raised a stern eyebrow at him. "And what was that I just said about Steve needing the help right now? Steve needs help getting back from Hydra, of course the Soldier's only focused on him. The rest of us aren't in danger. If Kitty turns out to be a danger, I don't believe for one second that the Soldier won't come storming out to get rid of her and make us safe." He dropped his hand and looked at the breadboard. "I really doubt it'll come to that, though. She can be reasoned with, I'm sure."
"Well, she's the daughter of a scientist who went to a school for gifted children," Bucky said. "She probably can be." Hope hope hope. Hear this kid? We're sucking up, be nice.
Bruce sighed, turning the camera in his hand. "Her mother was one of the brightest people on my project." He frowned. "I wasn't much interested in her beyond as a person and a coworker, but she was a beautiful, brilliant woman. I was happy for her when she married, and I worried when she came up pregnant, precisely because of potential results like what happened with Kitty, but what was done was done." He sighed. "I guess we don't always get what we hope for."
Bucky stopped, halfway done with securing the power source with rubber bands - what fun oddities his field had - and set the whole device down. "There's something you're leaving out here," he said. "What else does that statement mean?"
Bruce looked like a kid caught taking spoonfuls out of the sugar container. "I-" He cut himself off, then heaved a very deep, very sorrowful sigh that made Bucky almost regret asking. "All right," he said. "You've trusted me with information and with your mental health, I'd be a hypocrite to blow you off."
"With a caveat like that, should I tell you to not worry about it?" Bucky asked, resting his elbows on his knees.
Bruce frowned, shaking his head. "No, you noticed it, I'm not going to tell you to go talk to someone about what goes through your mind and keep stitches on my lips around you."
"Tony does most of that nagging," Bucky pointed out.
That got a quirk of a smile from Bruce. "I'm not much better," he admitted. "I briefly considered asking Elizabeth out early on in the project. It wasn't just the fact that dating coworkers isn't a good idea that stopped me. I had no idea how to be in a healthy relationship with a woman. My father wasn't exactly a good example."
"In a very bad way."
Bucky clenched his left hand tightly. "He never touched you, did he?"
Bruce shook his head. "No, and he's long dead anyway, so calm the temper, there's nobody to go after."
Bucky let loose a tension draining sigh. "As long as he's gone and didn't hurt you."
Another quirk of a smile. "Not physically, he didn't. But like I said, I had no example of a good relationship. I was afraid I'd end up like him." He frowned. "Then the other guy came along. I did try for a relationship with one woman after that, but the other guy made it pretty clear it wasn't going to work."
Bucky almost asked if the Hulk simply didn't like the woman, but then his brain clicked into gear. There were a lot more situations that caused physical and mental stress than anger and fear, and you must be fucking kidding. "Jesus, that far?"
Despite Bucky's words, Bruce didn't flush, just looked more miserable. He set the camera down on the counter. "Yeah, that far. But it's fine, I have you guys, I have a family." The smile he flashed Bucky at that seemed only half sincere. "Pretty good family, too."
Bucky was glad to hear that, but another thing clicked in his brain. "It's tough seeing the four of us paired off though, isn't it?"
Bruce shrugged. "Sometimes. But mostly I'm glad that you guys are happy. You don't leave me out. Sharon's reached out enough that the other guy will listen to her, at least somewhat, and she's able to get him to let go of me. You trust me with your research, and as a scientist, I know that's not always easy. And Steve leaving someone out is incomprehensible. Same with Maria. Once she decides her loyalty, she's there for good, unless you betray her. I'm fine." Then he grinned. "And I do have Tony, who is enough to deal with that I'm not sure I'd want to go home to a wife and potentially mouthy child."
Bucky rolled his eyes. "That I'll agree with."
After a look over the circuit for the detector, Bucky decided it was done and he wouldn't know what adjustments he'd have to make until he'd set up his magnet. Which meant working on that variable power source.
Pulling the other breadboard over to him and the tiny parts involved in that, he stopped to stretch his back and neck.
"You should take a break," Bruce said. "Your back needs a rest."
Bucky shook his head. "No, I'm fine. Longer endurance, remember?"
Bruce frowned, clearly not entirely convinced, but not willing to argue. "Then I'll let you get to the next thing there. Unless you need me for something?"
Bucky almost said no, but then Steve's sketchbooks came floating back to mind and Bucky was as calm as he was gonna get about it, and the work room was semi-neutral ground, better than the bedroom.
So instead of 'no, I got this', he replied with "can you let Steve know I'm here? I got something I need to talk to him about." He was hoping that'd be enough to prod Steve up there.
Bruce raised an eyebrow. "Good or bad?"
"Dunno yet," Bucky said, looking over his parts again. "Hopefully neither. I just accidentally stumbled on something private of his that I wanna ask about, but the bedroom's easy to argue in, because we always do. I figure somewhere away from there might be better."
Bruce didn't answer that beyond a noise of agreement, then straightened and grabbed his camera. "I'll let him know," he said. "And then set this up. Thank you again for working on it."
Bucky waved him off. "It wasn't hard, and it wasn't a bad idea. Go on, I have a power source to make."
Time passed, and Bucky had actually finished making the power source, tested and working, and was finishing wrapping the copper wire around the nail when Steve finally appeared.
Bucky spared him a glance, close enough to the testing phase to actually be a bit distracted, momentarily enough that he'd forgotten why he'd wanted Steve to come see him.
Oh. Right. The sketchbooks.
"Hey yourself," he said. "Hang on, I'm almost done here."
Steve walked over and sat down where Bruce had been before, watching him. "I remember you making one of those in third grade," he said.
Bucky grinned. "Yeah, electromagnets are neat. Feels good to get back to basics sometimes."
"I hear you," Steve said. "Sometimes pencil and paper feel nicer than paints or pastels." He didn't inquire about Bucky's summons, watching Bucky hook the insulated wires to the power source.
Bucky knew that gave him a good opening, but he wanted to finish that last thing. He got the wires hooked up, and grabbed some paperclips off the counter. "And now we test it," he said, turning on the power source. The paperclips bounced around under the magnetic forces coming from the nail before attaching themselves entirely to it. "Pretty cool, huh?"
Steve shook his head with a laugh. "Bucky, I watched you make so many of those growing up, they've lost their shine."
Hey. A good conversation. Talking about happy memories. Maybe things were okay, that there was a good reason he wasn't in that sketchbook. Steve certainly acted normal, and while Steve could spit out the occasional lie convincingly, usually after coaching, the conversation had gone on too long for him to have maintained it.
Maybe the sketchbooks didn't even need to brought up. Bucky desperately didn't want to. But it needed addressing if they were going to get Steve's memories all back in proper place and get him away from Hydra's influence. And it was Bucky that knew the way out of there, meaning Bucky had to be there in his head.
Do it anyway.
"Speaking of getting back to basics, you've been using your sketchbooks for memories, right?"
Steve suddenly looked like he wished he could convincingly lie to him. "Yeah, sometimes."
Bucky took a deep breath. "Steve, I found the sketchbook in your nightstand."
Steve's cornered look immediately turned to anger. "So you snooped."
"You snooped in my suitcase," Bucky reminded him, trying so hard to sound calm and only barely making it. If Steve hadn't found that damn file, maybe this whole thing would've been easier.
"And you've ragged at me endlessly for it," Steve said, jaw clenching tightly and hand on the counter curling into a fist.
Bucky turned off the power source and set aside the no longer live magnet. "And look at the problems it made. I was hoping to find something to help you. That's all I've ever been trying to do." He took in a deep breath, tone evening off. "But I did notice something."
"More nightmares you don't like that I can't help?"
"No." Bucky looked down at his EMF detector, then back at Steve. "Why am I not in any of your memories since moving to the Tower? You have everyone but me. Why am I gone?"
Steve went supernaturally still, and Bucky could seek his thoughts trying to find a good lie that would be believed. None would come, Bucky knew that; even if Steve was a good liar, he'd never be able to trick Bucky.
Finally, Steve shrugged. "Because I have a sketchbook full of stuff with us. It's just the others that I have to work on the most."
A reasonable thought, that second one, the same Bucky had hoped for. But he didn't believe it. Maria was right, Bucky was getting written out of Steve's memories, anything past what he didn't already remember. Steve didn't want to remember the Soldier, and Bucky was inexorably linked to the Soldier. So avoid him at all costs. The nightmares were bad enough, right?
"All right," Bucky said. It wasn't, though, wasn't at all. Steve was so busy focusing on something that scared him that he was leaving his best friend behind. Bucky almost yelled at him, almost going over the old ground of how he was the Soldier, get over it, and stop trying to forget him, jackass. But none of that would help, it never had before.
So he simply turned the power source back on and grabbed the detector to test it. "I was just wondering."
Steve must've realized how lame that lie was, and how much it'd hurt Bucky, like a slap to the face or a kick to the gut, because he tried to admit he was lying in a round about manner. "You're not going to ask if that's true?"
To be fair, that was something they both asked during their fights, so maybe Steve wasn't even trying.
Bucky kept his eyes focused on the voltmeter and its readings. Good, the detector worked. "I trust you."
He didn't. But maybe, just maybe, one last attempt before he gave up would flush out Steve's lie and they could have a conversation that didn't involve yelling that might move towards fixing things, might pour water on the withering friendship they were both killing.
Maybe Steve would actually trust his big brother.
Steve didn't say anything about that, didn't even say anything at all for a good fifteen seconds, fifteen seconds too long that told Bucky that if Steve was going to try to fix things, he was going to go off somewhere to do it in his head alone, like he shouldn't have to and wouldn't have to if he'd just fucking listen.
"Does that work?" Steve asked, nodding towards the detector.
Jesus, Steve, not even a 'thank you' for Bucky's statement? Fuck off.
"Yeah." Bucky had to use every bit of willpower he had to keep his tone calm and quiet and non-aggressive as it'd been before, so Steve wouldn't see how upset he was. Steve no longer had the right to know.
"Should I tell Bruce? We could get started."
Bucky shook his head. "Bruce is working with the video camera. I wanna do some tweaks on this. It's gonna be boring for you."
Steve recognized the 'go away' that was pretty loud and clear, as he simply shrugged and said "okay, I'll leave you to that," and left.
Bucky waited until he couldn't hear Steve's footsteps anymore before grabbing the detector and flinging it at the far wall with his left arm. The device embedded itself into the wall, small pieces breaking loose and hanging by the soldered copper wiring over the hole the rest of the detector left.
Bucky's full body shaking from rage quickly shifted into hurt, a desire to cry, to wail wordlessly. He backed up against the wall the work bench was pressed against and drew his knees up to his chest, arms wrapped around his legs. Hot, angry, and hurt tears soaked into the knees of his jeans as he pressed his face against them to muffle any sound. Sound might bring Steve back. Might cause another fight.