|The Pen is Mightier! (penismightier) wrote in chaotic_library,|
@ 2016-08-31 07:09:00
|Entry tags:||bruce banner, bucky barnes, maria hill, marvel, novel, r-rated, sharon carter, tag information, tony stark, yuuo, yuuo: marvel|
[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 23
Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe
Notes: I like hotels. I suspect that in this case, these guys don't.
Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 23: Along The Dusty Boulevard
Word Count: 5082
Summary: Bucky was forced to don his only long-sleeved shirt to hide his metal arm and a glove until they were safely in a hotel room and not where it'd give their presence away
the circus gathering
moved silently along the rainswept boulevard
the procession moved on
the shouting is over
the fabulous freaks are leaving town
they are driven by a strange desire
unseen by the human eye
the carnival is over
-Dead Can Dance
Bucky was forced to don his only long-sleeved shirt to hide his metal arm and a glove until they were safely in a hotel room and not where it'd give their presence away, which was exactly what it'd been packed for in the first place. It still felt cruel, after he spent an afternoon fighting the electrical system and then trying to prep for departure with a dead arm.
At least the BMW had air conditioning.
Under his shirt sleeve was a cold pack that rapidly becoming a tepid pack on his port. The conductivity of his metal arm had led to the intense heat from Kitty's attacks causing a mild first degree burn around the port itself. He'd argued that he didn't need it, not with his healing factor, but Steve had replied with 'humor me', a statement backed up by Maria, followed by Sharon saying she refused to suffer burn treatments alone.
Buncha ungrateful bullies.
The only two of the four of them that could drive just then were Steve and Maria. The burn on Sharon's neck made turning her head and pulling on that skin painful, and while she could do it, it didn't make sense to make her when there were two other eligible drivers.
Not that Bucky believed Sharon could do it, not after the force of that electrical energy she took. She probably felt like shit warmed over.
As for Bucky's usefulness, he had a dead arm. Not useful at all.
So he found himself sitting in the back, Maria in front of him at the wheel, and Steve playing navigator in the passenger seat. Beside him was Sharon, gauze and the same self-adhesive tape around her neck that Bruce had put on Maria's burn on her head. Bucky hated being in the back seat, hated not seeing what was coming on ahead, and it was hard to watch their back from a buckled position.
At least he had good company.
He amused himself after the first few miles away by flopping his hand and fingers that hung out of his cast. Nothing. No sensation of artificial nerves firing, feedback from computers, nothing. It was disconcerting, and he couldn't stop fiddling with it. It was a trainwreck that had left him partly crippled.
A soft touch on his other arm accompanied by an equally soft voice saying 'hey' drew his attention over to his seat mate.
Sharon took his flesh hand away from playing with his dead artificial one. "You know that's only going to make you feel worse," she said, voice quieted to only be understood in the back seat.
Bucky looked down at his metal arm. "I know," he said. He shook his head. "I was careless." He looked over and motioned to her throat. "If I'd been paying attention, that wouldn't have happened."
Sharon touched the bandages lightly, but not lightly enough to prevent a wince, for which he sighed and took his turn at pulling her hand away from an injury. He kept hold of her hand to keep her from doing that again.
"Maybe," she said. "We all wanted to make excuses for her, not just you. She was a child, none of us wanted to believe she'd make that kid from Silent Hill look nice." She turned her hand in his just a bit to grip his tightly. "You took care of us. You protected us. Just like you wanted, just like the Soldier wanted."
Bucky snorted. "I don't think the Soldier 'wants' anything but to complete his mission." He looked down at their hands, then- after a quick, if pointed, glance at his arm -then once again motioned towards her, still holding her hand. "And this mission was a failure. I sent you to try to control something that couldn't be instead of getting everyone to safety and worrying about the school itself later."
He looked at the front seat for signs of the two up there listening in. Maria was probably paying more attention to the road, but Steve might be eavesdropping.
"Bucky? You're being too hard on yourself," Sharon said. "You did what you could with what you had. We didn't exactly have the upper hand in there. And you were in far more danger than any of us. Stop taking on everything yourself and trust us to help."
Bucky desperately wanted to tap his finger. "It's not that I don't trust you-"
"-it's that you're used to the people around you being there to keep you in line while you do the mission yourself," she interrupted. "How right am I?"
He didn't want to admit to that. But she was right. He looked at the back side of Steve's head, willing him to not be listening in. If Maria could hear his answer, right in front of him, that was fine. Her, he could deal with. He wasn't ready for Steve to hear his answers yet.
If there were any forthcoming in his brain.
"Your silence tells me I'm pretty right," Sharon said, when his brain failed to produce words that could get past his throat. "We never should've put you in a position to go back into a Hydra lab. That was on us."
Bucky shook his head. "No, I agreed to it. Someone had to go there, someone with a ghost of a chance to get those files away from them and prevent another Winter Soldier. Nobody wants another me around, trust me on that."
She raised her eyebrows. "Another brainwashed Winter Soldier, no," she agreed. "But you, the Winter Soldier now, you're not too bad to be around."
He snorted. "Thanks for the vote of confidence." Then he looked out the window, trying to find more words. They were there, they wanted out, but they were having trouble translating from the feelings and images that were spawning them.
After a moment, he took a breath, deciding he had enough to try. "I may be more Bucky the farther I get away from Hydra," he said. "I may even have taken the Soldier away from them fully, or at least until Palestine." He shook his head "But I can't get away from Howard. From Eva Volkov. From Nick Fury. From Natasha." He swallowed, his throat trying to constrict and disallow that guilty act. "From Steve. That's all guilt I can't get away from. I don't even want another former Winter Soldier. Nobody should have to carry that shit."
For the longest few seconds in history, Sharon didn't answer but to give his hand a comforting squeeze. "Maybe not," she said. "But you've still turned out to be an amazing man that we're all honored to call family. Even Steve, even while you two were fighting. I talked to him a lot while you were hiding behind Maria and your work. He cried over you a lot. Threw things a lot. He knew part of you got left behind at Hydra and he couldn't figure out how to help you out."
Bucky stared at Steve's head from his eight, wishing to beat him with just the power of his brain. Then he finally looked back at Sharon. "Because he saw the Soldier as part of Hydra, rather than me."
"I did my best to explain, but that really wasn't something I could convince him of," she admitted.
Bucky huffed, blew too long bangs out of his face. "He's a damn hypocrite. The Soldier's only stuck back in Hydra because Steve refuses to get up and leave the lab with him. That was our part of the mission. Get Steve out of there safe and alive. Steve won't get out of there as long as all he sees of me is Hydra. And that leaves me stuck. I know the way out, I know I do. He doesn't. He won't follow me."
Sharon looked at the front seat, at Maria, then at Steve ahead of her. "Have you told him that? In those words?"
"Never had a chance," Bucky said. "We're usually already fighting because the Soldier comes up and Steve loses his damn mind." His voice lowered as his gaze dropped back down to his dead hand. "Might be able to now, I got him calmed down a bit. And he called me his partner. Full uniform and everything. So there's a chance."
"There never wasn't," Sharon said. "He's missed you like crazy. He loves you dearly, Bucky. Enough that quite frankly, if you two decided you're not as straight as you thought, I'd happily back off, because between you two is not where I belong. And yes, I got that from Maria. We both would step back."
Bucky couldn't help the exasperated smile and the eye roll towards the roof of the car. "Believe me, you don't have to worry about that. Those jokes are just that, jokes."
"I know," Sharon said, giving him a soft smile. "And Maria knows too. I was just saying that's how much you're loved. There was never not a chance to repair things. You both mean too much to each other. You've both had a chance to get a quiet discussion in, you slept on the couches together, you baked him a pink cupcake for his birthday. And he ran into a burning building to help you. I think the blocks are being laid back down on the foundation. You'll be fine."
Bucky made a grumbling noise. "That was not pink. It was red."
That soft smile turned into a wide grin. "Bucky? That was pink. If I'd known you were going to need an actual red food dye, I would've tried to find a more professional grade bottle. But that stuff was pink."
He flashed her a dirty look. She returned it with that same wide smile that looked way too amused for her own good.
If his metal hand worked at all, he'd flip her off. But since it didn't, and she had a firm grip on his flesh hand, he couldn't, and had to settle for another dirty look. "You and Steve are perfect for each other," he said. "You're both punks."
That grin once again toned it down to that softer smile. "And you're a jerk, according to him. He says that's an old exchange. Don't pull me in on it, that's for you two." Then she laced her fingers with his. "Seriously though, talk to him. We get to this hotel, I'm not letting you throw him at me. Maybe if we have to stay more than one night, I'll see if I can't lure him into my trap, but at least the first night, you two have a lot of talking to do and I think you both need to be close to each other again. Talk to him. Say these things to him. He's missed you so much."
She let go of his hand. "And with that, I'm done lecturing. And that cupcake was still pink."
He glared, taking in an annoyed breath, counting to three, then releasing it. "You know, Sharon, if looks could kill..."
"Then I'd still be alive because you like me too much to do that to me," she said. "Now go back to brooding. You have a lot to think about."
"I do not brood," he protested, but he did take the invitation to disentangle himself from the conversation and tune things out for awhile. He was tired. Not physically, not from fighting, anyway. But mental exhaustion, emotional exhaustion from the last forever, it was taking its toll, and he felt achy and bruised, like he'd been hit with a baseball bat until even his muscles protested the abuse. He wanted sleep. He wanted his medicine, and he wanted this all to be over before he lost his damn mind.
Tune things out now. Deal with them later.
Good idea. That includes you.
Is that a mission?
Shut up and do it.
His mind quieted back down to its normal dance of images and feelings and the occasional burst of color and stray note of music here and there. It was weird, it didn't feel natural. At least, it didn't feel like it should be natural, but it'd been so long ingrained that he couldn't remember how to think in any other way.
God, it'd be nice if people could just see into his brain so he didn't have to try to translate that complicated mess into words. Of course, if anyone else saw the random shit that floated around his brain like a nebula of really ugly space dust, they'd probably be even more confused by it than when he tried to make it make sense in words. Sometimes he really wanted a normal brain again. One that hadn't been scrambled by chemicals and electric shocks and programming.
Sharon didn't bother him further on the trip, making it a long and quiet one from upstate down to Ithaca. It wasn't as long as it seemed, not according to the map, but the silence and the time to get lost in his own head made it seem to take forever. He contemplated napping, but he didn't feel they were safe enough for him to until they were at a hotel and in contact with Tony.
Junior had contacted JARVIS back at the school, so he and Tony were on standby, Tony probably pacing, wherever he was at the time. Bucky hoped he was on his way back to at least the Tower. Faster for him to come take care of Bucky's arm than if he were still in Iran somewhere.
Bucky couldn't relax until his arm was fixed and there were clearer plans than "hide in that hotel awhile." He'd really prefer a plan that didn't involve them hiding any longer, but he also knew his teammates needed at least a short break before they ran headlong into the Middle East.
Things to discuss with Tony.
The empty spot between himself and Sharon reminded Bucky that somewhere out there, probably not far from the school, Bruce was probably already back to his senses and completely lost. That probably wasn't an uncommon problem for Bruce, and Bucky knew his friend could find his own way home, but it sat uncomfortably on his stomach that they'd left him behind. The other guy hadn't given them much choice in that matter.
Another thing to discuss with Tony. Tony might have a way of tracking him and getting him back to civilization.
Bucky had gone back to playing with the fingers of his dead arm by the time they got to Ithaca, his brain trying to make up for his inability to do his usual nervous tapping. He figured that was a good thing; that tapping tended to drive people crazy, and with as pulled tight as they all felt, it probably wouldn't have gone over well.
In the name of minimizing their online presence until Bucky could get them on a secure line to the Tower, Maria was forced to stop at a gas station an ask for directions to a decent hotel.
Once she returned and before even starting the car, she half turned in her seat to put her list where it could be seen by them all. "There's a Hampton, a Best Western, a Country Inn and Suites, or we could go higher pricing. We can afford better, but I don't think we want to stand out that much. We're going to look funny enough, with how much we all need showers."
To wipe off soot and dirt and treat minor burns and other injuries, yes, that might make them stand out.
"I think you're right on those," Steve said, then leaned farther over the list that was more facing the back. "I see a couple crossed off already."
"I decided we could do better than a Motel 8," Maria said, her tone too tired to be as deadpan as it sounded like she wanted to be.
"Motel 8s have terrible bathrooms anyway," Sharon said. "And we'd really stand out with a nice BMW going to a pit like that."
"Rather my thought," Maria said.
Sharon took the list, leaving the others to wait on her patiently- or impatiently, take your pick -while she made their decision for them. After a moment of deliberation, she handed the list back to Maria. "I say Hampton Inn. We've been in those before, we know they're good and affordable."
"Good point," Maria said, handing the list to Steve. "The addresses are on the back with directions. You're navigator." She started the car while he took it and looked over Maria's writing in the next few pages of her small notebook she kept in her purse.
The hotel, it turned out, required some back tracking, passing scenery that Bucky had already seen; it didn't provide any sense of familiarity, but at least he didn't feel lost.
The hotel itself did the same; hotel chains didn't tend to vary building and room design too much, as allowed by the surrounding area, so the Hampton Inn looked very much like the one they'd stayed at in DC, just before they were offered the Palestine contract.
Why hello, bad memories, how are you doing? Enough of your shit right now. Showers, food, and naps are required at this point, not brooding over a goddamn hotel.
But before all those things, contacting Tony. Once they had rooms, of course.
"We need two rooms, preferably close to each other," Maria said at the front desk once they were inside. The other three and their bags surrounded her, everyone in a state of disarray that probably made the desk clerk feel a bit alarmed.
But he did his job- and bravo to him for not showing any reaction he might've had to their haggard group -and immediately went to his computer. "I have two rooms on the sixth floor," he said. "They're next to each other, six two three, and six two one. That floor is no smoking, but is pet friendly. Neither of those rooms have microwaves, but there's a very small fridge in them to hold drinks and such. Both rooms have one king-sized bed. I have better rooms, but those two are the only ones I have right next to each other that aren't reserved or currently in use."
"That'll be fine," Maria said. "We're hopefully not staying long. How much?"
"It'll be one-eighty for one night for both rooms."
That didn't even seem to faze Maria, who was already digging in her purse for her wallet. "Are those rooms open for a second day, just in case?"
"Let me check," the desk man said. He tapped at his keyboard a couple times. "They are, but at that point, we'd prefer that both nights be paid for at the same time, just to make sure they stay reserved for you."
"So three sixty?" Maria confirmed, then handed over her bank card for the dummy account Tony set up for them.
"That's correct, ma'am," he said, taking the card and swiping it. A long few seconds passed, Bucky wanting to pass out on the spot during them, then the silence was interrupted by the clerk. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but this card declined."
Maria stared at him, then behind her at the others. "It- it did?" Her unspoken question was 'how'- Tony had assured them that the dummy account connected to one of his accounts, so money shouldn't be an issue.
Something occurred to Bucky and he held out his hand. "Your phone?"
Maria still looked dumbfounded, with worry starting to take it over as she handed over her phone. "We have money in there, don't we?"
Good job, make it sound like a normal panic and not an Avengers-level panic.
Bucky scrolled through her phone, trying to find where Junior had uploaded herself to. He couldn't find her; she might be offline, or her interface with the phone might be hiding somewhere where nobody else could find it. He handed the phone back over. "The banking system's down, it looks like," he said, confident that the others would figure out what he meant, then dropped his bag, crouching down next to it.
It was difficult to open with one arm, but he got the zipper open just enough to feel his fingers close around a smaller bag. "You guys still take cash, right?" he called up to the desk jockey.
"Yes, sir, we do."
Bucky struggled a second to pull out some money to count out, but the zippers on both bags weren't open far enough. "Fer fuck's sake," he muttered, putting his foot on one end of the larger bag. It held the bag still as he got the zipper pulled open a bit more- not too much, that had his uniform and weapons -enough for him to get to the smaller bag.
"Need help?" Steve offered.
Bucky grabbed the smaller bag and held one end with his teeth. "No," he said around the corner of the money bag, unzipping it further. He set it down and started rifling through the money until he found a few hundreds and some twenties.
Their cash was in all sorts of denominations and every time Steve messed around with it, he left the bills in an annoying array of random orders. Bucky would normally bitch at him for it, his sloppy habit making it difficult for him to get out the money, but it wasn't worth the fight then.
He handed the money up to Maria. "There. Count that, make sure I have enough." He clamped his hand around the top of the money bag to hide its contents from anyone passing by while Maria counted.
"A bit too much, actually," she said, starting to hand a twenty back to him.
He waved it off. "Call it a tip for him. He found us the rooms we need." He didn't feel like trying to get money back into that bag and it was only a twenty, he didn't care that much.
While the card keys were coded, Bucky packed the money back up and swung the bag over his shoulder. He grabbed the handle of his suitcase containing his regular wear and toiletries, and waited.
"Here are your cards," the clerk said, handing Maria a stack of four cards in those little slips that got damaged so easily that Bucky sometimes wondered why hotels bothered with them. "There's free breakfast every morning from six until nine-thirty. We have a fitness room on the second floor, along with a pool. We have a partnership with The Maui, it's a bar and restaurant located there just behind you. They open at ten and stay open until midnight. There are meeting rooms here on the first floor; they come with a charge for use, and an advance warning."
Bucky wanted the guy to shut up and let them just go to their rooms, but he knew it was the man's job, so he stayed quiet as the desk man continued.
"You'll find a discount on the delivery service in town connected to your keys. When you call them to pick up food from whatever restaurant in town you choose, give them the code on the back of your cards and it's ten percent off. In the rooms is the list of restaurants the delivery service will pick up from. There's free wifi, and of course an ethernet connection in each room, in case your device doesn't have a working wireless card. The information for getting online is also in the room."
An ethernet port. Good. Bucky could use that to secure a line to Tony easier than over the wifi. Letting the man finish turned out to be a good idea.
"Is there anything else I can help you with?" the man asked, looking over all of them.
Maria looked at the others, and at the collective shaking of heads, she turned back to the man. "No, I think we're good."
"Excellent. Elevator is to your right, just around the corner. Vending machines and ice machines are on every level. Enjoy your stay."
Thank god, it was over. He was a short elevator trip away from getting to drop his shit and get on with things.
"I say we worry about picking which rooms are for which pair after we've talk to Tony," he said as the elevator dinged the floors by. "It's awhile before bed time needs to be worried about anyway."
"I agree," Maria said. "We'll just pick whichever one is closest to the elevator and drop our things."
"No arguments here," Steve said, "but contacting Tony raises a question. Are we sure we can? The dummy account was offline, we must've lost connection with him."
Bucky shook his head. "It's because Junior was offline. She shut down at the quinjet, and she's dormant in Maria's phone. I couldn't find anything to activate her. If we can, we'll transfer her to my tablet and get her woken up. Might make the call with Tony easier anyway. My tablet has a 3D image function, we wouldn't have to all crowd around over a smart phone on the table."
"I should be able to transfer her," Maria said. "If I can figure out where she hid herself in my phone."
The elevator dinged, and the group piled out, studying the signs directing them to which hallway had their rooms. A left turn, then another left, at the end of the hall. Two rooms, side by side. Six two one was closest to them, and after a second to sort out which keys went to that room, Maria got the door opened. It took a collective strength of willpower to not try to crowd into the room in one big pile of humans, and file in like civilized people instead.
The bags and suitcases were all deposited by the bed, Bucky holding back closer to the bathroom so he had room to get into his suitcase and find his tablet.
"Need help, Bucky?" Steve asked, walking over.
Bucky shook his head, paused to push his way too goddamn long hair back over his shoulder so it wasn't getting in his way while he dug through his stuff, haphazardly thrown in with only one hand to pack and a flashlight that had to be positioned awkwardly to be of any use. "I'm crippled, not helpless," he said, digging under clothes until he felt the tablet, hiding somewhere between a ziplock bag full of razors and other hygiene related products, and his clothes. He pulled it out, set it down, rezipped his suitcase, then grabbed his tablet off the floor and headed to the desk.
Maria was already sitting in the chair, playing with her phone. "I'm having trouble finding Junior," she said. "I hope her UI got fully downloaded."
"If she didn't, we might be in trouble," Bucky said, setting down his tablet. He peered at the ethernet outlet inches above the desk. He moved the lamp a bit to study it closer. "Fuck," he said, moving the lamp back with a sigh. "I don't have my tools."
"You said they were okay to leave behind," Steve pointed out, then walked over to lean over his shoulder. Damnit, Steve, stop that. "What were you going to do with them?"
Bucky ducked out from under Steve, trying to breathe fresh air instead of the smell of Steve's sweat and ash from the fires. "I was going to try to secure a line to JARVIS," he said.
"We're not even sure we can contact JARVIS," Sharon said. "If we can't get Junior to load, then I'm not sure what to do."
"If we get desperate we can make a phone call and let JARVIS secure it, or give minimal information and let Tony just find us from wherever he is on his own."
Maria looked up from connecting her phone to Bucky's tablet. "Why is that desperation option only?"
Bucky pointed to the tablet. "It'd be a helluva lot easier to make a phone call where we can all take part, and hotel phones don't have speaker phone on them. We'd at least have that much on my tablet."
That didn't get any argument directly from Maria, who sighed, going back to digging in her phone. "We might have to resort to that desperation if I can't get Junior to transfer. Or even boot up. I might not have gotten all of her data downloaded. I don't know how big of a data pack her UI is compared to what I had on my phone. It's a Stark designed phone, specifically for Stark Industries and Avengers work, but we have that recording from the school, that might've interfered with Junior's ability to download."
Damn. He hadn't thought of that.
He looked at the others. "Okay, while Maria messes with that, Steve, can you take some ones down to vending and get us drinks? Sharon, help the one-armed guy sort through our stuff, get Steve's and my stuff separated from yours and Maria's. We'll sleep by genders tonight." He raised an eyebrow in Steve's direction, cutting off any relief he might show from that. There was still talking to do. "If we're here another night, I'll let you see if you can seduce Steve. Otherwise, same arrangements."
Sharon gave him a tired look. "I'm not sure I'd be in the mood to seduce, but if I can coax him into cuddles, I'll call it a win."
"And this is a conversation for later," Steve said, digging into Bucky's uniform bag where the money bag was kept. "Buck, there's ones in here, right?"
"Better be," Bucky answered. "If not, you can run downstairs and break a ten or something. I'll stay up here with the girls in case Junior downloads while you're gone."
"If she does, wait for me before you call T0ny."
Bucky glanced back at him. "Well, no shit, Steve. We have never left each other out of things like this, we're not starting now." Then he waved his good hand at Steve. "Now shoo, I want a damn soda."
Steve rolled his eyes. "I'm going. Fortunately for you, I remember everyone's preferences."
A decent wad of ones in his hand, he grabbed one of the key cards and headed out.
Bucky went back to watching the transfer.