[Bucky Barnes; R] Uncivil War: Chapter 25 Character/Series: Bucky Barnes; Marvel Cinematic Universe Rating: R Notes: FINALLY. A happy end to be had. But further plot to be promised. Mwaha. (Also, yes, I know that Ativan is habit forming, and yes, Bruce knows this, and no, Bucky's not gonna be left on it. I've been on it for years now, and just now had a different medicine prescribed. If someone with my awful metabolism can be on it safely that long, Bucky can be on it regularly for a month. Shush.) Title: Uncivil War- Chapter 25: If I'm Alive And Well Author:yuuo Word Count: 6256 Summary:Maria insisted on braiding his hair after their shower.
Maria insisted on braiding his hair. He didn't know if it was the remnants of the strange bonding rituals of preteen girls at sleepovers, or if she was making light of how disgustingly long his hair had gotten.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked, for the sixth time since she'd started combing his wet hair out.
She peeked around his dead left shoulder, her hair comb in her mouth. "'cause i's 'un," she replied, or tried to.
He rolled his eyes. "What have I told you about talking with your mouth full?"
She grabbed the comb out of her mouth, holding the twisted locks up in one hand. "That you fear for your safety when I do," she said. "And to answer your question, because it's long enough that a braid almost makes more sense than a ponytail and you have to get it out of your face somehow."
"That's depressing," he heaving a melodramatic sigh.
She made a noncommittal noise rather than offer any comments to pacify his ego, and the tug-of-war taking place on his scalp resumed. He could only assume that she had the comb in her mouth again.
It didn't take long- his hair hadn't gotten that out of control -but it felt weird. After she leaned over to set the comb on the counter, she wrapped her arms around his waist, slipping under his arms. "There," she said. "Out of your face?"
"We'll see how it looks when my hair's dry," he said, looking at her reflection.
She rested her chin on his shoulder. "And by then, it'll be curly from the braid."
Someone save him from the women in his life. He rolled his eyes and gave her an aggravated look. "Gee, that'll be great. I can't possibly imagine how many ways Steve won't make fun of me for that."
"He's cutting your hair after this anyway," Maria said, then patted his ass. "Come on, get dressed before they get back."
He gave her an indignant look, but started dressing, realizing how long it might take Steve and Sharon to get back. That 'quickie in the shower' hadn't been quick at all, and he wasn't sure how much time had passed.
Getting on his t-shirt wasn't terribly difficult, but his pants, as they had that morning, proved an exercise in frustration.
He nearly slipped out of them when Maria grabbed hold of his jeans.
"Need help?" she asked, already standing and pulling them up.
"No," he grumbled. "I'm not helpless."
"I know that." The jeans went over his hips. "You don't have to get snippy."
He moved his functional fingers to take the button from her hands. "I know, I'm sorry," he said.
Maria batted him away, working the button herself. She slid her hand down to catch the zipper, deliberately being a slow tease.
He sucked in a breath, grabbing her hand. "Do that again and I'm bending you over the counter and doing horrible things to you on purpose."
In the mirror, he saw her grin, pressed up against his back in just her shirt and undergarments as she nuzzled the back of his neck, and it was suddenly a very tempting prospect. "If we had more time, I'd ask if that was a promise."
It was a serious debate. "Keep it up and-"
The decision was made for them when he heard the hotel door lock click open, and the sound of footsteps.
So much for debate.
"Later," she said quietly, kissing the back of his neck, then stepped back to finish dressing.
He zipped his pants and dumped the wet towels into the corner so they'd be out of Steve's way.
"Just a second!" he called back. He kissed Maria's cheek. "Don't forget to brush your hair. It's a mess."
The look she gave him was wicked. "What, and surprise Steve by coming out after you?"
He flashed her a bratty grin in return. "He deserves it." Then he frowned, listening, hearing sounds of Sharon's voice. "Besides, he invited in his girlfriend to intrude on my privacy. He definitely deserves it."
"Come out dressed, Sharon's with me," Steve replied through the door.
"Thanks for the warning," he said, slipping out of the bathroom and shutting the door behind him. "Lucky for you, I was already dressed."
"I would've sent her out if-" Steve paused, looking at him. Studying him. Staring. Then at the closed door behind him. Then back at Bucky. "Maria's in there, isn't she?"
Bucky gave him a bland smile. "She helped."
"Yeah, I'll just bet," Steve said, shaking his head and walking away. "Must've been some helping, if you're just now finishing up in there." He dug into the minifridge wedged between the TV stand and the desk. "Sharon, want your drink?"
Bucky looked at Sharon. She still had bandages around her neck, and they didn't really look any different except the color of the adhesive tape holding the gauze down. "Were they able to help?" Bucky asked.
"Please?" she said, setting her purse down on the desk and holding her hand out for her soda. Once it was safely in her grip, she turned to face Bucky. "They couldn't really do anything more than we had. They gave me a prescription antibiotic cream and instructions to apply a cool wet washcloth to the site regularly for fifteen minutes or so, and then reapply the cream. I have to watch for blisters causing seepage. They didn't say it would hurt to leave it uncovered when I'm in a safe place to let it air out, but they didn't say it'd do any good, either." She shrugged. "Basically, not a lot of help."
Behind him, the bathroom door opened, and Bucky stepped out of the way, giving Maria room to get out. She had her wet hair clipped up off her neck. Bucky knew how sensitive that spot was to light touches and oh, how he was tempted to brush his fingers there just to make her jump.
He did it anyway, reaching up casually and ghosting his fingers over the back of her neck briefly before stepping out of hitting range to get his own drink.
Bad's a behavior. It counts.
As he'd hoped, she jumped with a squawk, narrowly missing hitting his arm as he quickly ducked out of her reach.
"You got lucky that time, Barnes," she growled at him. Then she looked at Sharon. "Did they give you a painkiller of any sort?"
"No," Sharon said, catching herself just as she started to shake her head. That probably wouldn't feel too good on that burn. "Just told to keep up with Advil and if it's bad, use one of my Percocet."
Bucky pulled his drink out of the fridge, but didn't make any move to figure out how to open it one-handed, watching Maria. She seemed to be considering something, and that meant an idea was forming. An idea he might have part in.
"Steve, grab one of those plastic bags for the ice bin and come with me, please?" Maria said. "And grab Sharon's bags for her."
"I can carry my own bags," Sharon protested.
"I know," Maria said. "But you were choked by a live wire and ended up with a second degree burn because of it. You are in more pain than you are letting on, so I'm going to help you clean up. Steve?"
Steve had already moved to grab a plastic bag, not questioning when the women gave orders, because all else being equal, he was a smart man. "Yeah?"
"While I'm helping Sharon, I need you to cut that plastic into a long strip wide and long enough to be taped with medical tape over Sharon's dressings. There's no way in the world to keep from dampening them a little, but that'll reduce how much water gets to her wound when we wash her hair. I'll change her dressings after she's dried off and dressed. At which point you will be back here, because as soon as you're done prepping the plastic and her dressings for me, you're coming back here for a shower. You stink of smoke as much as the rest of us have since leaving the school."
Then she glanced at Bucky with one corner of her lips pulled up into dry amusement. "And I'm sure Bucky would appreciate it if you chopped that jungle off his head. He wasn't happy about the braid."
Sharon looked like she was grateful for the help, but a bit too prideful to accept it without at least a token protest. "This isn't necessary, Maria, I can bathe on my own."
Maria gave her a stern look. "I'm sure you could, but it'll be easier with help. I outrank you, Sharon. I have seniority over you in the Avengers."
Sharon looked to Steve for help, who was not going to give any. "Don't look at me," he said. "I'm not getting in the middle of this."
Bucky bit back on the urge to tell Steve to say something kinder to his own damn girlfriend who was injured, but Steve was tired, Sharon was tired, they were all tired. At least Bucky and Maria had a chance to shower, however little scrubbing was done until the last minute.
He also knew that Steve was trying to put Sharon at ease with some light humor, so he let it go. He really was itching to assume the worst of Steve, and that needed to stop if they were to get anywhere.
"Sharon," Bucky said, pulling her attention to him. "When Maria starts giving orders, we listen, because she's usually seeing something we're not. You know she doesn't do it often. Just listen to her on this. Humor all of us, we're worried about you. You took a helluva hit."
"You and Steve have taken worse."
"And we've been genetically engineered to," Bucky said. "You're good, you're damn good, but you're still a normal human who just got hung by a live wire. You're lucky to be alive. Let us fuss a bit. Maria knows what she's doing, go along with it and make your family happy." Then he shot Steve a dirty look. "And while you're at it, humor him, too. His shitty attempt at lightening the mood aside, he's probably the most worried of all of us. So take care of yourself."
So much for letting it go.
Steve took in a calming breath, returning Bucky's dirty look for a fraction of a second, before looking back at Sharon. "If you still feel like this later, I'll stay with you tonight," he said. "I'll throw Advil at you and make you rest."
Good save, Steve.
Sharon held up her hands in surrender. "Okay, you win. But you don't need to stay with me tonight." She glanced just as pointedly at Bucky as she had at the damaged recorder that morning before all hell broke loose.
Steve looked back at Bucky, who made himself shrug. He didn't really know which way to stand on that issue; on one hand, he and Steve needed the time. On the other, Sharon needed Steve, too. So he decided to remain a neutral party.
Steve looked at Sharon. "I see I'm going to lose this one, with that look. All right, let's get you and your things over to your room." He grabbed Sharon's bags while Maria picked up her own suitcase and duffel bag with her uniform and weapons. "Lemme get the door."
Sharon grabbed the keycards for the girls' room. "I'm closer, and I'm not carrying anything. I'm not so bad off that I can't handle a couple doors."
"Ladies first, then."
"Keep that up, Sharon," Maria said, following Sharon. "You'll have him trained in no time."
Whatever Sharon had to say to that was lost to Bucky's ears as she left the room.
Bucky watched them leave, then turned on the TV, intent on finding the news channels. There wasn't much choice, Fox or CNN or MSNBC, but he'd take almost anything at that moment.
Fox News was busy bitching about the election season and CNN seemed to have its attention split between election coverage and Israel. Bucky decided to check MSNBC to see if they had anything more focused on Israel, but the election was everywhere, it seemed.
Which, while good, was not what Bucky was looking for. So he settled in to watch MSNBC, watching the news flash headlines scroll by at the bottom of the screen while the talking heads went over the news.
Even with the scrolling headlines along the bottom of the screen giving half-assed updates to the situation in Israel- which included Iran, as Tony had said -the election still dominated the talk.
While he really would've rather'd known the status of the Avengers in the Middle East, he surrendered himself to learning about the election. Last he'd seen- over a month ago -one of the GOP candidates had conceded, but there were still two in the running; a GOP strong man of color, retired Army Colonel Dean Bishop, and a former libertarian Senator, Jordan Hinn, who had been riding heavily on 'religious freedom' to hide his indifference to some of the bigger hot button issues the right rode on.
The Democrat party had been neck and neck between the only two candidates, a House Representative named Joyce Water and Senator Max Bartlett that had, in some of the speeches Bucky had listened to, reminded him a bit of President Ellis. For that reason alone, he'd been hoping for that candidate to win, because anyone else would be an unknown in how the Avengers would have to interact with them. If Bartlett turned out to work similarly to Ellis, the American government and the Avengers might continue to get along.
The delegates had all already been counted and assigned by the time Bucky and the others left for Palestine, and apparently, both sides had too close of a count to declare a clear nominee. And since Palestine and Israel and the Avengers' hand in that had happened after those months, it looked like everything had to rely on the conventions later in July.
"So what does the news say?" Steve asked, Bucky already focused back on the TV after diverting his attention away for a second at the click of the lock.
"The election, mostly," he said. "Turns out we just became the most important issues. After all the votes were counted, of course."
Steve stopped and looked at the TV. "So we're the big platform issues now?"
"Yup. Go shower, you can catch up when you're done."
Election news dominated the airwaves- Bucky even checked the other two news stations. But all that he could find was about the elections. The only mention of Israel and Iran and the Avengers (with exclusive shout outs to Bucky and Bruce personally) was in context of how that'd affect who would get sent to the White House that November.
Steve's shower didn't take long; in fact, his insistence on drying his hair with a dryer so he could put that silly crap in it to make it stick up took longer. He emerged before Maria returned, leaving the two of them alone, without supervision.
Bucky looked up at him. "So."
"We behaved earlier. No more need for a referee?"
Steve went quiet, looking off in the direction of the TV, but his eyes didn't look like he was actually focused on it. Then he looked back at Bucky. "It was pink, not red." Then he grinned. "But thanks for the effort."
"I will throw this remote at your head, Rogers."
Steve chuckled, shooing Bucky over to the other side of the bed so he could sit down next to him. "I think we'll be okay," he said. "We got time."
"Last chance to back out and stay with Sharon tonight."
Steve gave him a sidelong look. "How much of that question is because you want more time with Maria that doesn't involve hiding in the shower?"
Bucky shook his head. "None of it. I asked for you. I already said I figured on gendered pairs tonight."
"Then you're comfortable with that?"
Bucky shrugged. "Why not? Maybe we can sleep without both of us wanting to smother each other with our pillows."
Steve drew his knees up, the position that was more normal for him than cross-legged, as he'd been doing when they first got home from Palestine. His own memories and likes and dislikes had come back, so he was no longer mimicking Bucky for lack of any other way to think.
"I think we'll be fine," he said. "Unless Sharon needs me tonight."
Bucky gave him a flat look to hide the smirk he wanted to give instead. "You know, tonight's probably out with how she's feeling, but if you stay with her tom-"
"Don't even, Bucky," Steve said, a warning rattle that lacked the venom that it might've had not even a few days ago. "We will get there when we get there, and in the middle of a stressful time is not the time for that."
"Says you," Bucky said, then turned up the TV. "Check it out, they're talking about us. And get the scissors, you're cutting my hair before I start using this braid as a deadly weapon."
Steve shook his head, getting up. "Come on, into the bathroom. That floor's better for this anyway."
While Steve dug into his bag for the scissors, Bucky turned the TV up a bit more to be heard from the bathroom, then headed in and planted himself on the toilet, lid down and facing the wall.
While the news went on and on over stuff Bucky had already heard, Steve joined him in the bathroom. He'd been hoping he'd hear something new, but it was just a constant looping of the same stuff. But Steve hadn't heard any of it, so Bucky kept quiet.
The braid was undone with only a little laughter that earned a little dirty look up at the offender before both settled into their jobs, Bucky holding still, and Steve snipping away.
"Colonel Bishop looks at the Avengers as a special force," a talking head on the TV said. "And the only one that should hunt down Hydra, with little government interference. He referred back to Captain America's position in history and he certainly has the patriots fired up. He has implied, but not stated explicitly, that he thinks the Avengers should only work for America. Whether he's lost or gained any support with that statement will have to be seen in the GOP convention later this month."
Steve sighed, pausing briefly in his cutting. "I wish politicians would quit using my name to support their platform. Leave Captain America out of politics, please."
"They don't care, Steve," Bucky said. "Captain America is the national treasure you want on your side."
There was another sigh, this one more frustrated than the last, but at least he'd gone back to work. There wasn't much left to cut. "I know, and one of these days I should just start asking Tony to put me on TV so I can yell at them."
"Bad PR for yourself," Bucky argued. "And for the rest of us."
Steve went silent a minute, like he didn't like his idea being shot down, but he didn't argue and went back to work. "What about the last guy?"
"Hinn? Who you just talked over?" Bucky asked. "He's playing on the conservatives' dislike of big government and thinks we should be left to do whatever we have to to take care of Hydra, short of dropping bombs on America."
"Still not voting for him."
Bucky heard the sound of the scissors being set on the counter, and felt along his shoulder, where his hair blessedly ended.
"My head feels like you just cut fifty pounds from it."
"Now you're just be dramatic. You look better, though."
Bucky looked at him. "Thanks." Then he motioned out the door, in the TV's direction. "Did you know that I'm an issue they're fighting over?" He got up and started gathering up the miles of hair left on the floor to dump into the trash.
While Bucky did that, Steve grabbed the scissors and headed into the room to see the TV again. "Did I miss that while I was in the shower?"
"Yup." Bucky finished throwing the hair away and rinsing what stuck to his hand off, then joined Steve in the room and gave the TV a grumpy look. He hit the mute button on the remote. It wasn't telling him anything he wanted to hear; the election was big news, but his more immediate concern was Israel and Iran and how quickly he and the others could get out there to help.
"Bartlett's the only one that likes me. They're all quick to say 'oh, American hero, poor POW, we failed him,' but as soon as they can, they all say that I should be off the field so I'm not a potential loose cannon in case Hydra gets too close to me. Like they have some sort of magical programming words in my head that's going to turn me on a dime."
"Even both GOP candidates?"
Bucky shrugged his one good shoulder, lifting his busted hand in his other, flopping it back and forth in a disturbing parody of 'so-so'.
"Don't do that."
"It's gotta do me some good," Bucky said. "But no, Hinn doesn't seem to like me at all. He all but called me a traitor."
"Not voting for him," Steve said with a noise of disgust. "He can't appeal to me and leave my best friend swinging from a rope like that."
Bucky stared at him. "Steve. That is exactly what you've been doing the last few weeks."
Steve closed his eyes, turning red faced. "And I'm sorry for that. We had a talk last night, didn't we?"
"One of many we need," Bucky said. "But all right, you're right, you said sorry."
Before the discussion could turn into an argument, there was a knock at the door. "Are the girls welcome in?" Maria's voice asked from the other side.
"I'll get it," Steve said, getting up to go unlock the door. Nobody had thought to lend the girls one of the keys for Steve and Bucky's room to rejoin them after Sharon's bath.
Sharon, if anything, looked worse for the wear than before her bath. "Sharon, you okay?" Bucky asked, sitting up.
Sharon nodded slowly. "The air was just cold after a hot bath. The AC's on in there."
Bucky slid down off the end of the bed. "Here, take this spot. You can hide under the covers. It's too hot for us to not have the AC on, but you can have blankets."
"You're an angel, Bucky," she said, stepping past Steve, then paused and looked at him. "Were you sitting on the bed?"
"I was," Steve said. "I'll just sit by you, as long as you don't mind if I skip hiding under the blankets."
She smiled and reached up to kiss his cheek. "You're an angel, too. You're all angels and I think I'm going to go get under the covers before I start calling the TV an angel."
Bucky walked over to Maria while Steve helped Sharon get settled. He lowered his voice. "How is she, really?"
"In some pain, but mostly shaky," Maria answered, just as quiet. "Burns are bad enough, but electrical burns- well, to use a potentially too appropriate word, they zap your energy and cause you to hurt all over." She looked at him. "And yes, that shot I took in the shower probably was Kitty. And yes, I felt pretty awful after it, and yes, some sleep will probably help her feel better, like it did for me. She got hit harder than I did, though, so she might be down a few hours more than I was."
Bucky looked back over at Steve and Sharon. "Think we should just swap luggage around and let them have this room? It'd be easier on Sharon."
"We'll discuss that later. For now, just let Sharon relax so she can recover."
"You got it, pretty lady."
While Maria took the chair that nice-ish hotels tended to have but where never comfortable, Bucky took the desk chair, kicking his feet up and putting his tablet in his lap to argue with Junior over internet connection. It left the bed for the two lovebirds in a way that wouldn't- or at least shouldn't -make anyone feel guilty over hogging the bed.
Sharon, I'm looking at you. Stay under those covers.
Steve relaxed back against his pillows, propped up at the headboard. Sharon snuggled against him, covers up to her shoulders. He let her grab his arm to hold like a stuffed animal. "You wanna watch something other than the news?"
Sharon peeked out over the covers enough to look at the TV. "What's going on in the news?"
"Election coverage, mostly," Bucky said, trying to get internet connection. "Bartlett and Waters still are in the race on the Democrat side, and Bishop and Hinn left the other two GOP in the dust. Right now, they're all debating over us and Israel. Hinn is the only one that likes Bruce, but Bartlett's the only one that likes me. They all seem to like the team to a degree or another, but Bartlett and Hinn seem to be the only ones that wants us to remain free agents. Waters doesn't want us acting without her permission, and Bishop practically said he wanted us to be his personal special forces."
"Is that the rundown?"
"Pretty much. They're not talking about what our teammates are doing in Israel and Iran as much as I'd like. It's all about the political repercussions on the election."
"Meh." Sharon sat up a bit to look for the remote. "Weather Channel's better. When we get internet again, I'll catch up more."
Steve grabbed the remote and handed it to her; she flipped through channels until she found the Weather Channel- required watching in a hotel room -before she settled back down, using Steve's chest as a pillow so she could watch the TV without emerging from the covers.
Other than the occasional trip to the vending machines- always by Maria, who flat out refused to let Sharon get up and told Steve to stay put as her pillow, and Bucky needed to hide his arm until they were leaving so everyone shut up and listen to her -and a run down to the restaurant for a take out lunch, they pretty much all sat back and were bored senseless.
Sharon fell asleep at one point, and Steve took advantage of the situation to start working on a sketch. Maria seemed like she'd turned into a statue, watching the TV and occasionally marking time. Steve gave her the remote after Sharon fell asleep, making Maria move from that stillness and let her find something to entertain herself with.
Bucky spent most of that time arguing with Junior, via text so he didn't disturb anyone, and she said no to his requests to be allowed on the internet so many times, she finally hit him with the original 'NOPE' meme.
Fine, be that way.
At least his tablet had books, books he was already sick of, but they were better than watching TV all day.
Sharon woke up for dinner, emerging from the blankets but not off the bed while she ate, then laid back down, facing away from Steve and ignoring the TV.
Bucky watched her a bit. "Steve, I think it might be best if you and I switch rooms with the girls. She's already comfortable and under the covers."
Steve looked at Sharon. "I think you're right." He nudged Sharon's shoulder lightly, until she gave a soft 'hm?" "Sharon, we're switching rooms. Bucky and I are taking our luggage next door and bringing yours and Maria's back."
Sharon sat up a bit, forced by the pull on her burn to sit properly rather than just look over her shoulder at them. "No, it's okay, I can get up and help. Is it time to go to bed?"
"No," Steve said, "but you're already comfortable here."
"Go back to sleep, Sharon," Maria said. "I'll come to bed when I'm tired." She muted the TV and turned on the captioning. "We'll let the boys go play with their toys or something."
"I'll 'or something' you," Bucky muttered, gathering up his things off the desk and shoving them back into his suitcase.
"You did earlier," Maria said. "I'm 'or something'd out for awhile."
"Go to bed, dear, before you say something stupid."
Steve had wisely stayed out of that exchange, but didn't seem to resist the urge to laugh at Bucky's expense once they were out the door.
"Shut up, Steve."
Steve unlocked the door to their room and flicked the lights on. "What? You two have good interactions. Laughing's part of that."
Bucky's indignation fell flat at that. "You and Sharon do too," he said. He dropped his luggage by the desk. "We did at one time, too."
Steve put his luggage down by the bathroom, pausing and studying Bucky. "We can get that back."
Bucky didn't answer, digging into his suitcase. "Go take the girls' stuff over to them. This conversation can wait."
There was no arguments to that to be heard, Steve merely gathering up the two uniform bags on one arm and two suitcases in his free hands, and heading out.
As soon as the door lock clicked, Bucky started pushing around clothes and toiletries until he found the notebooks he'd hastily tossed in and buried after Steve had rescued them from the lounge for him at the school. He sorted through them, pulling out the two oldest and putting the other three back.
He dropped those on the closest nightstand. Those were for Steve. It might leave Bucky sleeping on his metal arm, taking the other side if Steve decided not to move the notebooks, but since it was useless for pulling back blankets when he had to get up, he may as well deal with it.
He was already struggling into his lounge pants when Steve came back. "If you're about to offer help, don't," he said.
Steve held up his hands in defense. "Okay, I won't offer." He looked at the nightstand. "Already picked your side?"
"Nope," Bucky said, grabbing his t-shirt off the bed, pants successfully pulled on.
Steve crossed his arms, leaning against the wall where the entry way opened up to the room itself. "No."
Bucky put his dead arm through its sleeve, then pulled on the rest of his shirt. "You heard me. Those are for you."
With a slight frown, just a tiny drop of his eyebrows, Steve walked over to the nightstand and picked up the notebooks. "Bucky, you know I can't read your science notes."
"Those aren't science notes," Bucky said, returning to his suitcase to pull out his medicine. "Those are for reading when you can't sleep, instead of stealing my Ativan, and yes, I know you do, and I'm telling Bruce on you."
The sounds of the notebooks getting set back down with a light smack was Steve's guilty response to that.
Bucky stood and pointed at Steve sternly with his bottle. "I mean it. I need this shit right now, and Bruce isn't around right now to renew my prescription."
While he walked into the bathroom to grab a glass of water to down his pill with, Steve half followed as far as to get to his bag. "I didn't know you really needed that regularly."
Bucky didn't answer until his pill was swallowed and he'd emerged from the bathroom. He watched Steve pull out his night clothes before walking past him. "I didn't before Palestine. Now it just keeps off the nightmares." He looked back at Steve. "And I'm sure that's why you stole some of this. But get your own, if you need it."
"I don't-" Steve started to say, but the protest died before it could finish.
Bucky didn't sit down on the bed yet, not yet. If Steve picked the side wit the notebooks, it'd put Bucky's back to Steve and he wanted to see Steve's excuse as much as hear it. Steve's eyes were too expressive; any lie he might try to spit out if he were inclined wouldn't show on his face.
"It was just the once," Steve said, looking guilty. "And I wasn't sure what kind of dosage I'd need. I'm sorry."
Bucky set his pill bottle down on his nightstand. "Why didn't you get your Ritalin-C? That usually knocks you out. You didn't have to get into my medicines."
"It was in Bruce's office," Steve said, sitting down on the bed. Bucky decided to join him, fighting around his dead arm to get under the covers and sit comfortably, ready to just roll over when their conversation started to veer off into Not Good Land. "I didn't want to wake anyone going down to get it." Then he shrugged. "And it keeps you asleep, I thought it might help me. If it did, I could talk to Bruce, get my own, as long as things are still shaky and we're not in the same room anymore."
That was quite possibly the lamest excuse Bucky had heard Steve give, even though it was a truthful one, but Steve also still had the fear Hydra had chemically stuck into him lurking in his brain, so his thought processes probably weren't any better than Bucky's inclination to get angry at the drop of a hat. Steve was afraid and Bucky was afraid and it was all a big mess.
Well, that was over. Or going to be. They were on the path to that, they could keep going.
Bucky put his good hand on Steve's shoulder. "You make no sense sometimes, Steve. But all right. Did it at least work?"
"Pretty sure," Steve said. "I think I was aware of you coming back into the room, but I might've been dreaming."
That sounded suspiciously like a lie, but not enough for Bucky to not give him the benefit of the doubt. Steve may have been more aware of Bucky's presence that morning the missing medicine was discovered than he was letting on, but certainty of reality at that level of sleep could be fuzzy. Bucky decided he was just assuming the worst again.
"You were still asleep when I came in," Bucky said. Then he motioned to the notebooks. "But stay out of my drugs. If you can't sleep tonight, read those instead."
Steve reached for one, looking at its faded and beat up condition. "What is it?"
"Late night reading material," Bucky said. "I'm going to sleep, though, so you do whatever. Don't worry about the light, it won't keep me up."
Reaching across himself to turn out his light and then settling down with that completely dead arm was difficult, and elicited no fewer than five obscene words, but he finally got himself settled. How he was gonna push himself up off the bed in the morning was beyond him, but at least he'd be able to get the blankets out of the way to do it.
He didn't know how he was gonna handle another whole day of dealing with that thing until Tony could get them to New Mexico and fix it. He'd go nuts.
Steve's light was still on when he fell asleep.
The lights were all off when he woke, though at first he wasn't sure if he was awake or dreaming. A warm face pressed against his cheek, breath a whisper that said "trust your little brother, yeah?"
He cracked open an eye, deciding it was safe to assume he was awake. "If you kiss me, you're sleeping with the girls," he mumbled.
Steve pulled back, and set something down on Bucky's nightstand. "You're dreaming, Bucky. Go back to sleep."
Maybe he was. He let himself relax and closed his eyes again, waiting until he felt Steve get back into bed and move around until he was comfortable again, then- after a silent argument with his dead arm -reached over and grabbed the sketchbook that Steve had left on his nightstand.
Not a dream.
It was hard to make out the picture that the book was opened to in the dark, but after a few seconds of making his vision adjust to the lack of good light, he was able to make out smooth lines that indicated that Steve had spent a good deal of time and care on it. Time and care on a picture of the Winter Soldier and Captain America, both in full uniform, mission ready and plan agreed upon with a simple gesture of fists tapped together.
Bucky reached back and smacked Steve lightly with the sketchbook. "Punk." He put the book back down on his nightstand.
Steve returned the hit with one of Bucky's notebooks. "Jerk."
With a yawn and a sleepy smile, Bucky closed his eyes again. "Go to sleep, Steve. Your partner has your back tonight."
"Wouldn't trust anyone else there."
i really don't mind what happens now and then as long as you'll be my friend at the end -Three Doors Down