[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 15 Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe Rating: R Notes: This ain't the end, folks. Not by a long shot. Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 15: You Lay Out Your Case Author:yuuo Word Count: 4901 Summary:The Soldier released from active duty for the moment, Bucky returned to the uniform room and- with Maria standing guard at the door -changed back into his regular clothes, storing his uniform and weapons in their display.
i don't know where I'm going in search for answers i don't know who I'm fighting i stand with empty eyes you're like a ghost within me who's draining my life it's like my soul is see through right through my empty eyes -Within Temptation
The Soldier released from active duty for the moment, Bucky returned to the uniform room and- with Maria standing guard at the door -changed back into his regular clothes, storing his uniform and weapons in their display. His clothes clung to him uncomfortably, his skin sticky with sweat from the workout and the heat of his uniform. He rubbed the back of his neck with a cringe; it was wet and overheated. He wanted to be dunked into a pool of cold water.
Maria looked up at him once he'd stepped out. "You're probably going to shower now. You look like you could stand one."
"Thanks for the assessment," Bucky grumped at her. "Yeah, I figured on a shower. I just hope Steve's taken your advice and gone on a run or something, because I don't wanna get trapped in that room with him." He sighed. "I'm not sure how to avoid that. I guess I could move to a dorm on the other side or something."
"I have an idea," she said, any earlier trace of formality she'd used in addressing the Soldier was gone. His verbal cues about who was who at any given time weren't exactly subtle, but even if they were, he knew she'd be able to figure out if she was talking to him, or his coping technique that he really had to figure out how to get rid of.
Probably wouldn't be able to though.
But Maria had an idea, and that was more important than morbid ruminations. "I'm open to it."
"Move in with me."
Tempting. But not without problems. "Maria, we agreed, we don't live together, being around each other that much would drive us nuts. We like our space."
"We do," Maria agreed. "But this is a temporary situation. I know it's not permanent, you know it's not permanent. But I think you and I will get along a lot better right now than you and Steve, and it'd make your mission to protect us difficult if you were on the other side of the building from us and something happened."
He let her words sink in, looking for fault in the argument. Sometimes there was, Maria wasn't perfect, but this time, he couldn't find anything wrong with her logic on the issue. "I won't turn down a new roommate," he said. "I hope you don't mind that I get a bit fussy about the bathroom."
She smiled. "I do too, we'll make our fussinesses work together. I'll go make room for you, you pack as many of your things as you think you need until this can be cleared up." She tilted her head down slightly, looking up at him with a pointed stare. "And it will get cleared up." No threat, just assurance. "You two mean too much to each other to let this go here, and I think you both know it. But grab what you need, and if this looks to take longer, we'll get that extra dresser out of Steve's room and into ours. I don't think it'll take long, but if it does, I'll clear out the space. We'll manage."
"So I'm gonna be living out of a suitcase for awhile?" He didn't relish that thought, until he remembered the alternative was staying with Steve.
She shook her head. "No, I only take up three of the drawers and half the closet. It's not much, but you're not bringing over everything. Some things may need to remain in a suitcase, but not everything. And I'll try to find more room while you shower. Then we can work on making the bathroom into something we can share."
He kissed her cheek, careful to not smother her with his sweaty grossness. "You're a peach, Maria."
Now, to make it past Steve with his things.
Which, he found once he and Maria had gotten to the dorms and she'd disappeared into hers, he was not going to.
Steve was sitting on his side of the bed- the side closest the closet, but he could sleep on whichever side he wanted now, Bucky didn't give a damn -looking through one of his sketchbooks. Bucky didn't know which one. And he didn't really care.
Bucky didn't escape the dark look on Steve's face, hurt and anger and something Bucky didn't remember ever really seeing on Steve's face, not directed at him- hatred -when he stepped in. Any hope of Steve just ignoring him was gone.
"Relax," Bucky said in as nasty a voice as he damn well felt like using. "I'm the one you lie to, not the one you hate." He headed to the closet, trying to get to a suitcase stashed on the floor in the back while keeping as much room between him and Steve as possible.
"So you are separate."
Bucky didn't even know how to read that tone. He could hear that hatred, but it didn't seem directed at him. It seemed directed far away, while what Bucky was on the receiving end of was an accusation of lying. Fucking hypocrite.
"That's what you want to think," Bucky replied, finally getting hold of one of the suitcases. He grabbed his one pair of shoes besides his boots on his way out of the closet. "I'm not going to correct you anymore."
Steve set down the sketchbook as Bucky walked by. "What're you doing?"
Bucky delayed an answer until he had the suitcase open and was putting as minimally needed clothing as possible in it. "Moving in with Maria."
"I thought you two needed your own space too much." Steve sounded surprised, and perhaps a bit desperate. Yeah, see, Steve? Your shit just lost you your best friend. Congratulations, asshole.
Bucky didn't answer, just walked into the bathroom and gathered up his things.
He came back into the main room to find Steve standing almost too close to the suitcase. Bucky arranged his things in the various pockets in the suitcase. "Don't try it, Steve," he said, dragging the suitcase over to the bed to get a couple pairs of pants out of the closet. "You're not winning any sympathy from me. I'm moving in with Maria."
"But leaving some of your stuff here."
"For now," Bucky said. "It's not a permanent situation."
Steve followed him to the closet. "Then you'll be coming back?" Hopeful. Still not willing to listen about the Soldier though, Bucky would bet. Not good enough.
Bucky zipped shut the suitcase, then looked up at Steve. "Don't act like you deserve a damn thing from me," he said, grabbing the handle of the suitcase and standing up. "You lied. You lied, you don't get a say in anything I do anymore."
That was hardly the heart of the issue, but it was a good element to throw out that might actually shut Steve up instead of letting things escalate into another fight about the Soldier, one that might come to blows.
Even though Bucky could see Steve actually starting to get wet eyed, fearful, like he might grab Bucky and refuse to let go, Bucky wasn't going to give him an inch. "Don't," he said. "Just don't. This is your own fault. You made this bed, you lie in it, and you lie in it alone, because I want nothing to do with it anymore."
With that, he left, closing the door behind him. It clicked shut, and he paused, just for a second, hoping to hear crying, hoping to hear that those tears had manifested. It'd give him hope, just a little, that Steve's regret would make him stop and listen. Bucky would give him as many chances as Steve wanted, he wasn't going to deny that, not even to himself, but until Steve was willing to really listen, those chances weren't going to matter.
At the silence, he crossed the hall and knocked on Maria's door.
"Come in!" came her voice from inside. Likely still setting things up for him; he'd packed quickly.
He put his hand on the doorknob and hesitated. Crossing that threshold with his suitcase in hand meant he really was doing this, that the packing hadn't just been a show to threaten Steve with.
The knob twisted in his grip and Maria opened the door. "I said come in," she said, confused. She studied him for a moment, a long moment in which he still couldn't bring himself to cross into her room, then drew in a deep breath, her shoulders lifting and dropping noticeably. "He was in the room, wasn't he?"
"Yeah," Bucky said, then nodded in the direction of the rest of the room behind her.
She took the unspoken request and stepped aside to let him in, then wordlessly took his suitcase from him and shut the door. She set the suitcase down and pulled him into a hug, burying her face against his metal shoulder and rubbing his back with one hand. "It'll get fixed," she promised.
Bucky didn't know if he was too riled to breakdown, or too close to a breakdown to react. But he clung to her, clung to those words. It was real, he was living with Maria and entirely because he and Steve were fighting too much for living together to be smart.
Smart would be having them separated by more than a hall, and that killed him more than being there did at all.
He straightened, pulling out of her grip. "I'm gonna shower before I sweat on you," he said, leaning around her to grab his suitcase. "I won't be long."
Maria probably knew he was dodging, and she probably knew he had fault in things and would eventually take him to task for them, but for now, she let him go. "Once you're done, set up your stuff on the sink, we'll figure out an arrangement that we both like."
"You got it," he said, disappearing into her bathroom. Their bathroom.
Really not the way he ever pictured living with a woman.
In the name of not doing the thinking thing the shower would inevitably give him too much time to do, he decided to dig out his toiletries and mess with her counter, trying to arrange his things around hers in a way that didn't make his brain twitch. He knew she'd said they'd do it together, but showers were too easy to think in, and he wanted to put that off.
But arranging razors and toothbrushes really only took all of a minute, if that.
So he stripped, tossed aside his dirty clothes to wash later, and got into the shower. Because why not? He was sweaty and felt disgusting and maybe, just maybe, the water would wash away the tight knot in the center of his back and he could focus on that instead of the thoughts that were already manifesting.
He'd gotten used to tub/shower arrangements, although at that moment, with the Soldier still lurking so close to the surface, he almost couldn't make himself get in under the spray. Cold. Too hot. Burned. Hurt. Too much. Too much everything.
Shut up, you've gotten us in enough trouble.
Letting the hot water pound on his back between the shoulder blades, Bucky leaned his head against the wall, his left arm raised and resting on the wall above his head.
He'd moved out. He'd left Steve. He'd seen that hurt and fear and panic and he'd fucking walked away and it twisted in his gut like a gun shot. He smacked his fist into the wall in anger, anger at himself for walking away, and anger at Steve for not fucking listening.
His metal fist left a small dent in the wall and he jerked his head back, staring at it. Shit, Maria wasn't going to like that. He stared at the guilty hand, at the familiar lines and grooves of the biomechtium that shifted and flexed, just like flesh. Like a normal hand. Like his own.
A weapon hand. Belonged to a weapon.
He almost hit the wall again. He hated the Soldier. Hated the weapon, hated that he didn't know how to keep up with Steve to protect him without that leftover relic that should've been hung at the swinging tree when he left Hydra. Saying he hated Hydra was such a broad statement, that it was like saying the sky appeared blue due to how sunlight interacted with the atmosphere.
But the Soldier. Bucky had never hated that part of himself as much as he did right then, not since the early days, not since finishing detox and realizing what the Soldier had done to Steve. But he blamed Hydra for that more than the Soldier. This was all the Soldier. This was Bucky. If he hadn't needed the Soldier so desperately, if he'd only been able to exorcise that ghost before Steve could see him and fear him and hate him.
There was a little girl who needed to be turned over someone's knee and told to behave that haunted the wires, and he didn't care to get zapped because he was causing destruction to the walls of 'her' home, so he washed up quickly and got out, dried off, got dressed.
"Hey Maria," he said, poking his head out the bathroom door, leaning forward on one foot and gripping the doorway for balance. "Care to come see if my attempts at sharing the sink are acceptable?"
Maria was sitting crosslegged on the bed, an unopened manilla envelope on the bed in front of her. She looked up at him. "Of course."
"Why do you have that?" he asked, stepping fully into the bedroom. "Those are the Winter Soldier files."
"I know," she said, looking down at the envelope. He couldn't tell if there was any apology in that or not. "I know you're sensitive about these, and you'd probably prefer it if I never saw them. I haven't looked. I guess I thought I'd find something in there, like I did with Steve's sketchbooks." She sighed, setting the envelope on the nightstand on the side of the bed he took when he visited. "But that only made things worse, I think."
He had to count to ten. "Those files are what makes things worse. If I was smart, I'd shred the whole fucking thing." He walked around the bed to pick up the envelope and look at it. Whatever Steve had first seen in that file, way back, he didn't know. Maybe just the horror that had been inflicted on Bucky by people Steve already hated. Reason to find and help him.
What he saw this time was Hydra's weapon that he tied around Bucky's neck like a noose and dragged him around by, trying to remove Hydra.
He tossed the envelope down in disgust. "No," he said. "Things'll be fine, but I needed to know about those. He needs the chance to figure his own shit out, and I don't think he would if I hadn't called him on those books." Finally, he looked over at Maria. "It's like an infected wound. That was a lie that had to get dragged up to the surface."
She smiled faintly. "I'm glad that you still are able to see that. I guess the shower made you feel better."
He shook his head. "Not really," he said. "I'm saying something nice in the hopes it'll make it true."
She sat silently, looking at him, and he knew she was thinking, so he stayed quiet and let her think. "What do you need me to do?"
"What, with Steve? Tell him he's a dumbass who needs to start thinking of acceptable apologies pretty damn quick."
"He's not the only one I'm going to be telling that to," she said, crawling across the bed to sit on the edge of his side, nearest to where he was standing. "And I think you know that."
He scowled. "Please tell me what I'm supposed to be apologizing for here." He looked back at the files. "I'm not apologizing for those files or what's in them."
"I never said you should," Maria said. "And even in his state of mind right now, I don't think Steve would ask you to, either. What was done to you was done against your will. I haven't even read the files and I don't have to have to know that. If I were to talk to Steve and decided he genuinely blamed you for that project, I'd tell you to cut him loose. I'd tell Tony and everyone else here to cut him loose. You know I would."
That thought didn't sit well in his stomach- either thought, really, that Steve would blame him for Hydra's experiments, or that he'd have to permanently end their friendship. Even without the Soldier all but imprinting himself on Steve like a puppy starved for affection, Steve had been part of his life for so long that Bucky could barely remember a time before him. Steve was the single most important thing in his world, had been for decades. His friend, his brother, his partner.
The idea of having to 'cut him loose' was a terrifying one to even let into his head.
But Maria had more to say, and she'd flat out stated that Steve wasn't the only one who needed to apologize. Right that second, Bucky couldn't see what for.
"So what am I supposed to do?" he asked. "Where's my blame in this?"
Maria didn't seem bothered by the sharp crack in his tone. She patted the spot beside her, inviting him to sit down. He declined. She leaned forward, resting her forearms on her thighs. "Bucky, I don't think he had any idea before any of this that the Soldier was still a solid part of your mind."
"You must be joking," he snapped. "He's had every chance to see him still there every time we suit up, including after we moved to the Tower."
Her temper remained cool, despite how his wasn't. "But did you ever tell him outright?"
Bucky opened his mouth to answer, then stopped. "N-no," he said, stumbling over the word in confusion. "Why would I? What kind of conversation is that to have?"
"A necessary one that you're trying and failing to have right now," she said. "And that could've been avoided if you'd been honest from the start." When he looked away, she moved her head to look him in the eye. "And you know he'd understand it now, even if he didn't remember that conversation. He's responding to all of us as if he'd never lost his memories for the most part. Except you."
Bucky crossed his arms defensively, his left index finger tapping on his flesh arm. "It's not a conversation that would have any sane reason to come up," he protested. "And what he's doing right now is trying to hang me for the Soldier. That's not my fucking fault."
She shook her head. "No, it's not. But again, this situation might be going different if he knew about the Soldier. And I know he didn't, because I know him well enough from before that drug that he would've come to me to try to help him free you from what he thought was a mental prison you'd stuck yourself in."
Even in his anger, Bucky couldn't deny that. "You don't know it'd be going differently," he said. "That lab was cold-blooded murder, he still could've easily thought that they did something to me to change how the Soldier and I interacted, and we'd be right where we are now, him trying to drown Hydra's influence in me when what I did to those doctors was just as much my decision as the Soldier's. Nothing would be different."
That earned a deep, heaving sigh from Maria. "Maybe, maybe not. Either way, you weren't honest, and if you had been, chances are high that he'd be reacting differently now than he is."
When Bucky refused to answer, Maria finally stood up and stepped in front of him. He leaned back a bit, almost taking a step away. Maybe living with her wouldn't be any easier; he didn't need a fucking lecture for not doing something that he never should've had to. "The Soldier isn't some 'mental prison'," he snapped.
She shook her head. "No, he's not. I know that. I understand that. So do the others. But Steve doesn't, and I'm willing to bet you never gave him reason to even realize he was still there, much less form an opinion about his presence. If he'd known, I could've corrected him for you. I told you, he would've come to me, and you know that."
Desperation to get out of this conversation- even if not smoothly -made him latch onto the last thing she said. "You really think he would've believed you?"
"Not without you confirming what I said, but I could've kept him in a calm mindset so you could explain." She started to lift her hand, then paused, lowering it. "You're afraid of something."
Bucky wasn't really sure what she saw- he was afraid of a lot of things right then. "How about that right now, my partner has turned into such a prick that I've been forced to move out because I can't stand being around him anymore?" he said, unfairly, not accurately, or not entirely, anyway. "Seems like watching a friendship die that way is something to be worried about."
She was quiet, studying him. "That's not it at all, is it?"
He closed his eyes, trying to tune her out, her concern, her voice, tune out everything but the sound of his heartbeat so his brain could try to coalesce something in there into words she could understand. Maybe something that would satisfy her and keep him from having to give voice to what he was really the most afraid of, had been afraid of since he entered that DC apartment.
Now was not the time to focus on that fear. That was something that would eventually have to be dealt with, but not then, not yet.
But nothing else wanted to form shape, so he decided that ghost would have to get set aside in favor of another one.
"We have a ghost to talk to," he said, abruptly changing the subject. "I can't repair the EMF detector until Sharon gets back with that part, but you can ask Steve a favor."
Maria let the change in subject slide. "Is that a good idea right now?"
"Probably not, but if he wants to track down this ghost and find out if she's friendly or not, he doesn't get a choice. Just don't tell him it was my idea."
"I need him to draw a picture of Kitty. After dinner, we'll prop it up on his table easel and check out the cats for awhile. We'll put the recorder right by the picture. It seems stupid, but it might give her a solid object to latch onto to talk to us. I don't like bringing in the magical psychic hoodoo shit with this, but we don't have a lot of science to work with. I'll take what I can get."
She tilted her head. "That's not a bad idea, actually," she said. "We'll take care of our things in the bathroom, then I'll approach him with the idea. Once I know where he wants to go work, I want you to find a place where he's not to do something to occupy yourself with."
"That's easy, the workshop. He never goes in there."
"Then go there. Make something. Tear something apart and remake it. Don't break the EMF detector more than it already is, but how much do we need that electromagnetic field generator anymore?"
Breaking something so he could repair it sounded relaxing, actually. "I can keep myself busy," he said.
"Good, let's take care of the bathroom, then I'll let you go hide before I approach him."
Deep breath. Calm. Calmer. He took Maria's hands. "Sorry, I didn't mean to get angry at you. I'm just really not in the mood for that discussion anymore."
"I know," she said. "It was something you needed to consider. And you know that whatever is causing that fear, you need to deal with. You know you can talk to me about it, too."
Sigh. "I know, I just-" He shook his head. "Nevermind, I'm not getting into it. Let's just go take care of the bathroom so I can get to work."
The bathroom took a little work, but not much. Bucky had done a decent job working around her things as it was. Once they were both comfortable with the arrangement, they left the dorm, Bucky heading down first as fast as he could to get some wood glue from the basement to try to reinforce the breadboard the broken EMF detector was built on.
The variable power source was in pieces by the time Sharon showed up with a replacement for the voltage regulator. She knocked on the door to the workshop before opening it and poking her head in. "Hey, I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"
Bucky looked over at her without turning his head, seated up on the work counter, the EMF next to him, glue almost dry, and the pieces of the variable power source scattered in front of him.
She walked over to the counter, setting down the tiny bag with the broken part. "Steve seemed upset when I came home. What happened?"
"I moved in with Maria," Bucky said, tossing the parts for the power source out of reach so he had room for the EMF detector. "Steve and I need some space."
Sharon's voice dipped into a scared whisper. "So it's over?"
Keep a level head. Don't frighten her, and for the love of everything good and holy, Soldier, keep your mouth shut. "For the moment."
A several second pause passed while he pulled the EMF detector over to him. He thought she might just leave at that rate.
"What am I supposed to do?" She sounded like tears were threatening to form.
"Keep Steve away from me."
"What about you?"
"I have Maria."
Then her voice got thick. "Steve's not the only one I care about here," she said. "You're like a brother to me too, not just Steve. I want to help repair my family."
He looked at her, blinking, then set the piece down. He felt the guilt take over his expression. "Sharon, that is what we need right now to repair things," he said, reaching out his hand and setting it lightly on her shoulder. "Steve and I are at a point where we can't work on repairing anything. We're both too angry. So just keep us separated as much as possible. Be there for him. He needs you."
Then he moved his hand to wipe away the few tears that had escaped. "And if you want, you can talk to Maria, see what you two ladies can come up with to beat us over the heads with brooms. Might accidentally work. But right now, he and I need space and he needs someone. Bruce would rather avoid the fights and just take care of our medicines to keep us going on our own, so that leaves you two ladies in charge."
She nodded, grabbing his hand tightly. "You need to come back to us too." Then she let go of him and stepped back. "I'm going to go see what Steve is doing and let the others know you're working on the EMF thing. Should we go ahead and start dinner?"
"Yeah," he said, looking at the breadboard. "I just need to replace this one piece, it won't take long."
Once she left, Bucky had to clench his jaw to keep his own emotions in check. Instead, he rested his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands, fingers gripping his way too long hair tightly. "How do I get rid of you?" he whispered, staring down at the table, fighting back tears of frustration. "You're supposed to be a ghost."
The Soldier had to wait. Right now, Kitty was the priority ghost. They had to determine if she was a threat before Bucky could even try to worry about getting rid of the Soldier for good, if it was even possible. That may be one ghost that he'd never get rid of. But he could try.
Kitty first, though.
The repairs on the circuit were easy, and he was done within a few minutes. Not enough time for dinner to have been cooked, and Steve was likely to be in the dining room by now, and if not now, then soon.
Another haunting ghost. One he'd have to deal with. They couldn't avoid each other forever.
With that unpleasant thought in mind, he grabbed the EMF detector and hopped off the work counter. Food might make him feel better, even though he really didn't feel up for eating. But with as much energy as the Soldier had expended in the training center, he needed it. Especially if they were gonna be chasing ghosts all night.