[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 21 Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe Rating: R Notes: This took too long to finish. I had no idea why Sharon was the one to choose to get into uniform and go outside for like... two weeks? Damnit, Sharon. Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 21: You're Gonna Go Far, Kid Author:yuuo Word Count: 4907 Summary:Morning conversation turned easy after that.
with a thousand lies and a good disguise hit em' right between the eyes hit em' right between the eyes when you walk away nothing more to say see the lightning in your eyes see em' running for their lives -The Offspring
Morning conversation turned easy after that. Instead of everyone trying to part Steve and Bucky in different directions, the five of them all stayed at the table, chatting. Sharon took some pictures, despite Steve insisting he could draw all of them together for her. She turned it down, stating she liked taking photos.
"So who started this tradition?" Maria asked once the cupcakes were down to the last two blues and three whites, most of the damage done by the super soldiers and not by the normal people who'd just consumed a semi normal sized meal.
"Bucky did," Steve said, wadding his last piece of paper around a sizeable ball of wrappers that he set down in front of him. "I didn't want cake for my birthday after Mom died. That was a couple years after Bucky came home from school, and a few years before the war. She would make me a cake every year, until she got sick. It felt wrong having a cake without her. Bucky tried one year, and the whole thing ended up just going to his family because I couldn't take it. So the next year, he made cupcakes instead and argued me into submission that it wasn't a cake, but it was still my birthday, so I needed something baked for me." He shrugged. "Sometimes, when Bucky wants something, even I can't outstubborn him."
Which was a miracle, given how bull-headed Steve could be. Bucky refrained from giving that thought voice.
"Then the war happened, and cupcakes weren't really a priority anymore," Steve continued.
Bucky heard the reluctance to keep going in Steve's voice, so he picked up the story for him. "I wasn't around for the first two years Steve was back out from under the ice, so he didn't get anything to my knowledge, but I got home there in DC in time to get him a cupcake." He propped both elbows on the table and rested his chin in his hands. "I hadn't really regained my skills that weren't necessary to killing people, so I sucked up my anxiety, stole a little money from our savings jar, and went out and bought him a cupcake from a grocery store."
Steve didn't say anything about the following year, staring at Bucky silently, and Bucky couldn't tell if it was reluctance to talk about Peggy's death, or something else entirely. Maybe Bucky's mention of his lack of skills outside of assassinations those first few months.
He decided to test the waters.
"Last year, Peggy died, so the cupcake kinda got shoved aside." Bucky looked at Steve. "I didn't see why this year couldn't have them, though."
Fighting wasn't a reason to stop that tradition, at least until they had both called it quits for good. Bucky didn't foresee that happening, and while he and the Soldier were still feeling like Steve had drawn his line in the sand, it was just that- in the sand. Tides would wipe away that line and the two (three, if the Soldier counted as his own person, which Bucky didn't) of them could work out a different line- in stone, rather than sand. Something more permanent. Bucky just had to have patience.
His patience was running out, but the night before and that morning had helped put a pause on how fast it was disappearing.
"So we're all stuffed on cupcakes," Sharon said, head tilted back to stare at the ceiling, "so they may not fit right now, but I think we should get into our uniforms." She lifted her head to their confused faces and held up a hand before anyone could ask her if she'd lost her mind. "I have a reason, but we'll go outside first." She gave a pointed nod at the radio sitting next to Bucky.
Oh. Get away from Kitty. The uniforms suddenly made sense to Bucky's paranoid nature, and he very much agreed with her.
"We can test the training center while we're out there," Maria said. She looked at Bruce. "You don't have a uniform, but you can come observe. The other guy hasn't really had a chance to see one of his allies in action, it might be good for future endeavors. We're not staying here forever, after all."
Good, make it sound less suspicious than that they're all going outside in their uniforms for no real reason.
Bucky's stomach sank as he realized Steve was staring at him, no longer as happy as he was just a bit ago. Maria had indirectly mentioned the Soldier, in the context of being in uniform. Wonderful. Steve was already geared up to stick with the assumptions he'd already been making.
So much for their few steps forward.
But, Steve didn't disagree, and Bucky really didn't either, so while Bruce waited in the cafeteria, the other four made their way up to the uniform displays.
The others were quick to grab their uniforms; Bucky hesitated. They were waiting for him, and that put more pressure on him as he looked between the tactical vest and the jacket with his liquid armor in it. He was uncertain about using either of them, not wanting to see which would get what reaction from Steve. Both felt bad to him.
Fuck it. Bucky grabbed both, bundling up his weapons in them. He'd decide which to wear when he dressed. "Coming," he said in reply to Maria.
With the look on Steve's face- almost unreadable, like too many conflicting emotions trying to express themselves all at once -Bucky was just as glad that he wouldn't be changing in the same room as Steve. While it might help Steve to see that yes, under that uniform, it really was just Bucky, Bucky wasn't in the mood to deal with the chance that it would just make things worse.
So he split off from the others in the hall, following Maria into their temporarily shared quarters.
They dressed quickly, or at least Maria did. She had less to fuss with, her suit mostly a once pice with a hip holster that held a single semi on her right side, the holster slightly loose to allow the gun to rest more on her thigh than her hip. There was a sheath with a throwing knife in it on her left side. He hadn't noticed that before; maybe she just hadn't used it where he'd seen, but now she was.
"I didn't know you knew how to throw knives," he said, securing his knee pads.
"I have more skills than just with a gun and hand to hand," she said. "I'm former SHIELD, and not one of the desk jockeys. I have to have as much as possible."
He pulled on his boots, ignoring the jacket and tactical vest sitting on the bed still. "You still in practice?"
"I stay in practice with everything," she said, and he could feel her watching him while she spoke. "I may not have as much experience as you, but I'm still deadly with them."
He glanced up at her, one foot braced on the edge of the bed for him to lace up his boot. "I never said you weren't. I just wondered."
She frowned faintly. "You also still have some old-fashioned sexism in your brain. You don't give me enough credit sometimes. I'm sure it's the same with Sharon."
Bucky made a grumbling noise, lacing up his other boot. "That's not true," he said. "I barely saw you fighting at the club, and everyone between us and the front door at Palestine were already dead by the time you found Steve and I." He dropped his foot and grabbed his hip and thigh holsters to start strapping them on. "I don't mistrust your abilities, I saw where you both were in training for Palestine just fine. I just haven't seen you in real action. Makes me nervous about where to put you two in a real mission."
She raised an eyebrow. "Does Steve usually leave you in charge of those details in a mission?"
Bucky paused, turtleneck half pulled on. "Sometimes. Last time he did. That mission's not really over." He finished pulling on his shirt. "But sometimes he does." Then he stared at the awkward pile of what was left of his uniform on the bed in front of him. "But I forgot you're in charge now. So come make a decision for me."
"I'm only in charge if you want me to be," she reminded him, stepping around the bed. She looked down at the mess of the vest and the coat. "What are we deciding?"
At first he couldn't articulate what decision this was, knew what it was, but what were words?
At his silence, she wrapped one arm around his shoulders, leaning her head on his metal shoulder. "What's wrong?"
He took in a deep breath, deciding to just spit out whatever came out and hope it made sense. How much easier it'd be if he could just pick up someone and stuff them in his head so they could see instead of waiting for him to find words, like he'd wished before many times.
"Steve's seen both of these as Hydra's Soldier. Palestine, but I really doubt he doesn't remember at least the helicarrier." He looked at her. "I'm not sure which would prevent a fight the most." There, that was it.
Maria studied him, then looked down at the vest and coat to study them. "If he remembers the helicarrier, then he remembers finding you under that uniform. Go with the vest. Besides." She looked back at him. "It's probably too hot for the coat anyway."
"Can't deny that," he said, shrugging out of her grip to grab his tactical vest.
She waited silently while he messed with the straps on his vest, then loaded up his weapons. "Ready?"
"Yeah." He pulled on his glove, then grabbed his mask and goggles. "Ladies first."
"You send your lady to clear the area?" There was Maria's dry humor. Normally inspiring a back and forth of sarcasm, but Bucky wasn't in the mood.
"If we were going anywhere but into the hall, no," he said. "Come on, let's go see what Sharon wants."
Maria got the hint, took the rebuffing with grace, and headed out, leaving him to close the door behind them.
Bucky had taken long enough to change- not just his indecision, but because the tactical vest was a pain in the ass to get into, and he easily had the most little pieces to strap and buckle on -that they were the last ones to meet in the cafeteria.
"Before anyone makes a quickie remark, please observe his uniform and how unnecessarily complicated it is," Maria said upon entering the room. And not without prompting; Sharon looked ready to say just that very thing. Bruce tried to look as innocent as possible.
The only one who didn't look ready to make a joke- that he would've at one time -was Steve. That look from the uniform room was still there, studying Bucky like he wasn't sure if the familiarity of the uniform was comforting, or alarming. If trust or mistrust was required in their current situation.
Trust, Steve. The person wearing this uniform has saved our butts more times than we can count. Please.
Whether Steve heard that silent plea or not, he didn't show it, just looked away to Sharon. "We're here, now what?"
"Well, the training building's out that way," she said as innocently as possible, pointing out the back door. "I mean, the cafeteria's really not built to let these uniforms stretch their wings."
Steve ran a hand down his face, giving Sharon a mild glare. "Sharon, you make me feel tired all over sometimes."
She flashed him an impish grin. "No I don't, you won't let me." Then she backed up to the back door. "Come on."
Bucky was sure at that point that nobody questioned what she was doing, or rather, why. She'd been fairly pointed with that look at the exploded recorder, and getting into uniform while talking about what Bucky realized the others were viewing as more of a threat than he had so far been willing to was smart, but she was still being weird about it.
He had a feeling that the second they stepped outside, she'd switch languages or find some other way for them to communicate without Kitty understanding them.
She turned to walk backwards towards the training center. "Does everyone know Russian?" she asked in the aforementioned language once they were all out the door.
Yup, called it.
"I know enough to have a conversation," Bruce answered with an accent that indicated he'd learned from immersion and not a text book.
"I am slow, but if nobody goes quick, I can follow," Maria said, and she sounded like she came out of a text book. Bucky made note to help her finish learning the language after they were no longer dealing with a potentially dangerous ghost.
"I'm mostly fluent," Steve said, slow for someone as fluent as he claimed, but he was looking at Maria when he said it. Good, Bucky didn't have to rag on him to take her into account when talking.
When Sharon looked at Bucky, he just shrugged. "Second language."
There, avoid making it Hydra's fault that he knew the language. Steve would guess, know from those files, but Bucky didn't have to bring more attention to it than necessary. This upcoming conversation was obviously going to be important, so just best not to bring in potential fight material.
"Good." Sharon didn't remark more on that, instead, turning away and motioning the others to follow her to the training building. Bucky itched to ask her what was going on, and he was sure the others felt the same, but they all knew she'd tell them as soon as she could, and not before.
Someone, Bucky noted, had gone in to the training center after him the other day and reset the dummies and programs. The destruction of innocent fake opponents was nowhere to be seen. He didn't know who, wasn't even sure who to guess, but it was a relief; Steve had 'first met' the Soldier in there, or at least had first spoken to him, and Bucky wanted Steve to pay more attention to Sharon than any unhappy thoughts the place would dredge up. The more neutral the surroundings, the better.
Pay attention to Sharon. Yes, a good idea. Stop being hyper paranoid, something more important was obviously going on than Steve's issue with Bucky's uniform and coping technique.
"All right, we're in here," Bruce said, sticking with the agreed upon Russian. "What do you have?"
Sharon motioned them to gather around her while she produced her phone from inside her uniform, tucked against the left side of her chest. Jesus, Sharon, who keeps their phone in their bra?
Bucky had a feeling he shouldn't ask that question.
Maria stepped over to her side, Bruce on the other, leaving the two taller and broader super soldiers to look over their heads.
"You picked up something last night in the walls?" Maria asked in a slow and deliberate tone.
Must teach her more Russian.
Sharon was scrolling through her camera pictures. "I did," she said, finally pulling up a video. She clicked on it.
The video, while a blank white wall, at least had audio. "That's not exactly filling us with confidence in this, Bucky." Steve's voice.
"I know." Bucky's voice, a bit closer to the camera's microphone. "But I don't know what else we can do. Bruce and I are shooting from the hip."
"We'll try this," Maria said in the video. "If it doesn't work, we'll see what else might be available to us."
"So another trip to town for me." Sharon's voice was loudest. "And why am I keeping an eye on a blank wall?"
"Wires. If our ghost lives in them, you might pick up something." A pause as the edge of the camera caught Bucky looking back at Sharon. "Sharon, switch with me. I'll pull up the rear."
"Any reason why?" The video moved forward and closer to the wall, Bucky disappearing from view. "We're not expecting to be attacked by anything from behind, are we?"
The video stayed of the blank white wall as the group in the recording walked, until a shadowy line appeared in the wall, something Bucky was certain he hadn't seen, followed by several more. The wires, it looked like, zipping around the wall, almost as if taunting Sharon that they couldn't be seen.
"Maybe a cat." Bucky's voice, farther away. "But back there isn't a good angle to get proper video from. I'd be in the way. Puts my arm farther from the detector, too. It was setting the damn thing off."
The hair on the back of Bucky's neck stood on end when the group reached the end of the hallway and the wires twisted, formed a noose, waiting to hang someone.
"If Kitty is hostile, does that put your arm in danger of getting shut down?" Bucky hadn't noticed how much concern was in Maria's voice in that statement at the time, too focused on finding anything that might point to them not being out of their minds, looking for a ghost.
Inside the noose, new wires rose to the surface until they made a distinct five pointed star in the middle.
"Maybe." Bucky sounded far too nonchalant with that, he realized, far too distracted from the actual possibility of a weakness. "I don't know. If we find out she's hostile, I'll get the hell out and contact Tony. But we don't know if Kitty's a threat or not."
Apparently, she was.
Sharon stopped the playback. "I noticed this when I was taking pictures this morning." She turned slightly to look back up at Bucky. "That's a pretty obvious death threat, Bucky, and it could be either for you or Steve."
"I'm betting Bucky," Bruce said, stepping away a bit to give the group a bit more breathing space. "Steve's shield is iconic, but it's been locked away up in the uniform room. There's not been a lot of reason for K-" He paused, cleared his throat, and looked at Maria. "Am I speaking too fast?"
Maria shook her head. "No, I am following okay."
"The ghost hasn't had a chance to associate the star to Steve," Sharon said, completing Bruce's thought, both the statement, and the unspoken one about not saying Kitty's name. It was doubtful that Kitty didn't already know they were talking about her, with that video on the phone, but at least she wouldn't know what they were saying.
Assuming she didn't know Russian.
"But Bucky's arm has been on display pretty much this whole time, with the short sleeves and tank tops because of the weather."
Maria frowned, looking over Sharon's shoulder at the phone again. "And he has been the most aggressive about finding the ghost of all of us. He has made most of the decisions on this issue."
"And he built the detector," Bruce said. "He seems the likely target."
Bucky motioned to Sharon to give him the phone, and he looked at the playback again, watching those shadowy lines, the wires just below the surface of the walls, staring at that noose. "She could be saying something else," he said, throwing an idea out that he knew was a bad one.
"Your tone does not sound like you believe this," Maria said.
"Then why say it?"
"Because I didn't want to be wrong about a kid being an evil little bitch."
Bucky looked at Steve out of the corner of his eye. Steve had stayed silent so far, which was odd, as Steve usually had something to say when a clear danger was presented to himself or a teammate. They had just had a good morning, the uniform couldn't possibly have already flipped things around so much that Steve didn't care.
Finally, Steve took the phone from Bucky, looking at it, then looked back at Bucky. "Make the call, Buck."
Bucky bit back the urge to argue- the habit that shouldn't have become a habit -to verbally bite with the accusation that Steve hadn't this whole time liked Bucky taking control. But that morning had been good. The night before had been good. Steve had said he'd get on the case of anyone who thought this mission belonged to anyone but Bucky, and though he hadn't been explicit, Bucky had heard that "including me" loud and clear in Steve's tone.
So Steve really was trusting Bucky to make the decision for the group. Bucky wasn't sure how he felt about that. He needed orders to proceed. While Steve was the one making that call, handing the details over to Bucky as he had with Palestine, the Soldier still didn't want to follow Steve's orders.
Bucky glanced at Maria. She'd agreed to take that spot until Steve and Bucky had fully reconciled, and the Soldier wasn't about to back out on his controller, temporary or not.
Maria squared her shoulders a bit. "You will make the best call," she said.
Damn, now the decision really was his.
He didn't want to leave just yet. He wanted to keep this place safe and secure, wanted to maybe find away to just exorcise Kitty. They could let Tony come in, or rather, send someone in, who could do that, but he wasn't sure where they could run to safely, and if Tony had any other place to hide them, he didn't know about it.
They needed to contact Tony, and it didn't seem anyone was going to until Bucky told them to.
He reached for the phone again, staring at the last frame of the stopped video, that noose with the star.
Little bitched wanted to play, and the Soldier ached to show her why that challenge was not a smart one. But that play wouldn't be smart; she was in the wires, what was he supposed to do to hurt her?
"Everyone go pack as minimally as you can. One suitcase each. If you have something that can't be replaced, photos, drawings, writings, whatever, pack those." He turned on his comm. "Junior, plug in."
"How can I help?"
"Contact JARVIS, put him on standby. We need to temporarily evacuate. Our ghost is unfriendly and can set the place on fire around our ears if we don't get out. We'll be out to board the jet as soon as possible. Get the engines fired up."
"Consider it done."
Bucky turned off his comm, just to be safe. He didn't need Kitty to fry it in his head if she started getting upset. "If any of you have your comms, take them off, give them to me. I have a spare pocket on my belt for them. I don't want her zapping any-"
Bucky's words hit a brick wall as a distant explosion rattled the floor under them, forcing everyone to grab onto something to keep steady. It sounded like a transformer crackling and blowing out a city's worth of electricity. The angry sound of cats growling followed, and the five of them scattered as all twenty of the school's ghost cats flew through the walls, the door- which sparked and popped at the lock -and started running up walls and dangerously close to human feet at a terrifying pace. Lightning followed in their wake, burning whatever they touched.
That particular group wasn't given to mass hysteria, but an electrical attack by twenty ghost cats had them all yelling and jumping up on exercise machines and onto grounded rubber yoga mats and up on the shoulders of stationary dummies, all to get away from potential harm.
Bucky risked turning his attention away from the cats to look up at Sharon's warning, almost not heard over the horrific noise the cats were making.
Bruce was slamming himself against the wall, a stray cat or two bouncing off him with no effect. His skin had turned a sickly shade of green, darkened, deepened.
"I don't think there's any stopping him," Bucky snapped, jumping as a cat went by, slid into the walls. The other cats followed suit, their electricity crackling and snapping along the walls, caging them in.
Bruce's size grew, pained shouts turning to angry growls as his shirt ripped.
"Let him do it," Bucky said, backing away as much as he could without hitting the live wires of the walls. "We need a way out. Just try to direct him to the arc reactor and away from the school. If he can destroy the arc reactor, Kitty has-"
The roar of the Hulk drowned out everything else, the electric shocks, their voices, the loud glitching of dummy opponents and holograms that were activated in erratic ways, their systems overloaded.
Sharon hopped down off a dummy's shoulders. "Big guy, the arc reactor!" she yelled up at him, and Bucky fervently hoped he heard her over everything else. "We can make it stop if we take out th-"
Her words choked off as a wire that Bucky hadn't noticed leaving the confines of the ceiling wrapped itself around Sharon's neck and flung her back against the far wall, away from the direction the Hulk was already running in, crashing through the front wall of the training center.
Steve was first to her, unwrapping the now dead wire from around her neck. Her throat bore a burn that looked nasty, sharp red and already blistering.
Bucky pulled on his goggles and looked up at Maria. "Go to Junior, call Tony immediately and find us a place to run to." He looked at Steve, who was more interested in Sharon at the moment. "Steve, take Sharon, carry her if you have to, follow the other guy. We still need him to take out the arc reactor and she's the only one that's got a chance at directing him."
Steve didn't argue with the order to pick up Sharon. "What about you?" he asked once up on his feet with Sharon cradled in his arms. She was coughing hard, wheezing between hacking fits. Good, at least her wind pipe hadn't been severed by that wire. She'd be sore and have trouble talking, but she was breathing, that was better than not.
Bucky pulled on his face mask. "I'm going to try to buy you guys time. The sledgehammer's still in the basement, I'll keep her busy."
The electricity in the room had died when Sharon had hit the floor, the wire she'd been grabbed by hanging dead. Bucky stared at it. "Maybe."
"Think the other guy already took out the reactor?" Maria asked, looking through the hole in the wall.
Bucky turned on the HUD in his goggles. There was still electricity crackling along the walls of the school, the lines sputtering and hissing where they hung loose from the other guy's line of destruction. At least it looked like he was heading in the general direction of the arc reactor. Making a helluva mess on the way there, of course. Bucky hoped the school didn't cave in on itself from that; there were some non-replaceable things in there.
"Negative," he reported. "I still see electricity in the building." He looked at Steve. "Orders remain the same. Chase after him, both of you, try to direct him to the arc reactor. If he catches on, get the hell out of the way of any damage Kitty might do if she fights back."
"I can walk," Sharon protested, trying to get out of Steve's grip. "I'm fine, you need Steve with you."
"Orders remain the same," Bucky snapped. Or maybe it was the Soldier. At that point, it didn't matter. "It won't take him long to knock that thing out, and you need someone who can get you away from him quickly if you can't calm him down. Steve can sprint faster than you. Now go, all of you."
He didn't give them a chance to argue, ducking under Sharon's legs, between Steve and Maria, avoiding having to shove anyone out of his way. The rubble of the hole the Hulk made slowed him down only slightly as he took off for the school as fast as he could.
The walls were blackening as he tore past the kitchen, through the ruined cafeteria, and down the hall to the door to the basement. He heard footsteps behind him. Steve's. The Soldier grabbed the doorknob to the basement door, half turned, and pointed towards the front door, now modified to fit an angry Hulk. "Go!" he snapped, not giving Steve a chance to argue.
Steve didn't, still carrying a winded Sharon, barely gave the Soldier a glance. Good, prioritize Sharon and the other guy, prioritize taking the ghost down. Let the Soldier be the distraction.
He opened the door to the basement and headed down the stairs.
The little bitch wanted to threaten to kill him and hurt his team? Then she'd get to see the Soldier at full flame, and if he had to set fire to the building around them to get her and any of her cats that remained, to buy those precious minutes it'd take to get through that arc reactor's core, then he'd do it.