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Pieces of the Past

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The stench of urine soaked garbage, mingling pheromones of horny, drug addled townies, and the faint residual cigarette smoke floods his nose as he descends the stairs leading out of the Hotel Rexford. With the sun dimmed by clouds, the hotel's red lights tint the wet, cracked asphalt streets. He nods, really just a faint twitch of his head, to one of the Neighborhood Watchmen. The security guard nods back, more noticeably, and continues on his way down and across the street. 

 

He rounds a corner and the flickering sign that reads THE THIRD RAIL beckons him. 

 

"James Barnes?" A male ghoul approaches him once he has sat down at the bar after buying a two-hundred year old bottle of Jack. The white star on the chest of his faded green combat armor screams no nonsense. He had clearly been an Alpha, once upon a time, if his still muscular build had anything to say. He can't imagine losing his designation to the radiation. "Sorry, I hear you prefer Bucky." 

 

Still, he mutters an uninterested, "do I know you?" with a noncommittal head tilt towards Whitechapel Charlie, silently requesting another whiskey. The robot passes him another dusty bottle, and adds it to his tab. 

 

"No," the ghoul says, not taking a seat at the bar, but standing just to the side of him, "but I know you." From the corner of his eye, he spots Angie taking her place on stage, her sparkling blue dress clinging to her slight Omega frame. Peggy's going to have a fit after all those catcalls if she's still in town, he figures. "You recall shooting up a place called Parsons State Asylum, don't you? A place that just so happened to be owned by my boss." 

 

"I shoot up lots'a places," he takes a swig, shrugging halfway through his sentence, "don't remember all of 'em." 

 

He does, in fact, remember being around Parsons. Bucky had argued with the mercenaries guarding the place, they wouldn't let him pass through, and it pissed him off. When he trief to bribe his way through, they started shooting. He only killed two guards.

 

This time, the ghoul does take a seat. "The guards remember you, hard to miss a guy with that," he gestures to Bucky's left arm, "at least, according to the ones who are still breathing." 

 

"Did you want something, or are you lookin' to pick a fight? We can always take this outside." The rampant sound of Charlie's sensors whirling is just enough to make him rethink his offer. He doesn't want that cockney accent ringing in his ears for the next hour.

 

The ghoul, however shocking this may be for Bucky, shakes his head. "No need, all is forgiven, I won't hold it against you. It's the cost of business these days." 

 

Bucky swivels in his barstool, his whiskey bottle wobbling as he slams it onto to the counter and it slashes out the top, much to Charlie's dismay. "What do you want?"

 

"I'm always looking for people who know how to hold their own in dangerous situations." He takes a step towards Bucky, shortening the distance to just four feet, but he never loses the militaresque form. He drops a small, cloth bag onto the counter, caps jingling inside. "From what I hear, it seems like you may fit the bill. Each job comes with a nice payout, but you'll have to talk to my boss first, he's meticulous like that." 

 

Bucky's eyes fall to the bag of caps, it can't be more than one hundred. "That's my motivation, I assume?" 

 

His potentially new boss nods, "give it some thought. Come down to Cabot House in Beacon Hill when you've made your choice. Name's Edward Deegan, but ask for Jack Cabot. I'll let him know you're coming." And then he was gone, up the stairs and passing Logan on the way out. 

 

The brunet turns to face the bar, offhandedly thumbing the bag of currency. He stares at it for one, two, three minutes, tuning out the carefree sounds filtering through the bar before he opens it. Fishing out several caps, he slaps them onto the counter, grabs his whiskey and plods up the stairs, sparing a nod to Angie, who had just began her break. He'll have to visit with her and Peggy later. 

 

Two hours later, he's made up his mind. He can't not take the job, he needs the money to send to his family, even if they don't know it's him, and no one else is jumping at the option to hire him. 

 

Being outside Goodneighbor's walls is always refreshing, in every sense of the word. The air is fresh - or, as fresh as it can be. The overwhelming amount of lingering pheromones is gone, and it's quiet, mostly. An offhand explosion, a few screams and some distant gunfire is normal, though. 

 

He grips his gun close, diagonal against the leather armor on his chest, and marches across the broken, trash littered asphalt in the direction of Beacon Hill. The road isn't clear, not that it ever is, but sniping Super Mutants from afar is an easy task in itself. The big green morons never know what hit them. Raiders are usually easy to sneak past, too hyped up on chems like Jet or Day Tripper to notice his passing movements. Mongrels and other wild dogs never bother him, something he attributes to his Alpha designation, one of few positives, as his designation typically caused him problems of the violent sort.

 

Despite the frequent gunfights, his journey is not troublesome and he reaches the house before nightfall, his laser rifle still humming in his hands from the last fight. Ahead of him, past a series of PRIVATE PROPERTY signs, a Sentry bot unfolds, rolling up to him as it reiterates what is written on the signs. He brushes past it, and a Mister Handy, which had been tending to some awful looking shrubs, and punches a gloved forefinger against the intercom to the left of the front door. 

 

"Go away," is the gravelly response he receives. He quickly recognizes the voice as Deegan's.

 

Bucky's mouth pulls into a frown. "You told me to stop by if I wanted the job. I'm here to talk to Jack." 

 

"Oh," he's pleasantly surprised at the sound of shock in the ghoul's voice. He loves when he finds that someone has underestimated him. "Door's open, come on in."

 

Half an hour later, after a lecture from Cabot about intelligent life from unspecified planets of origin, Bucky has a new contract. He's also decided that Jack Cabot reminds him of Tony Stark, only his new boss isn't an asshole, he's just weird. His first mission: retrieve a missing package from the surrounding area of, ironically enough, Parsons State Insane Asylum. 

 

Bucky is really starting to hate that place. 

 

He's nearing the entrance to the Asylum when a woman call out to him, "this is private property!" He will admit to considering shooting the place up again, but the thought only lingers for a brief ten seconds. 

 

He holds a nonthreatening hand up as a sign of peace. "Deegan hired me," he says when he's gotten close enough. "I'm supposed to talk to the guard captain about a missing package." 

 

The woman frowns at him, scrutinizing, no doubt. "I remember you." Her finger hovers near the trigger of her rifle, but she doesn't raise it.

 

"Tough shit, your guys shot first," and yeah, maybe he shouldn't be sassing her like this, but he's already cleared this once. 

 

She raises a bushy, dark brow. "So I've heard." She sighs and her finger falls away. "Our courier got ambushed by a group of raiders not too far down the road but most of our guys are too chicken-shit or dumb to go down there and get it back." 

 

He shakes his head, dismissing her comment. "That's where I come in, just give me the location." 

 

The guard captain hadn't lied. Parsons Creamery is right up the road, but he can see why some low-grade mercenaries might have wanted to stay far, far away. These raiders are no joke, that's for damn sure.

 

He lurks behind a clump of rocky earth, knealing down and pointing his rifle towards a window of the building. He can see two guys exchanging blows on the top floor, and the rest of their raider buddies were fighting each other. Bucky suspects a coup, but he lets their fight pan out until their numbers have slimmed down before he takes his first shot at one of the two on the top floor. The other gleams with satisfaction, but it's not long before he crumples to the ground with a bullet in his ear. Four more perfect shots, and then there is an eerie silence and the scent of gunpowder lingers around him, adhering itself into his clothes. 

 

He approaches the building with caution, knowing that there could very well be a straggler or two. Slowly creeping up the wooden stairs, not a quiet task, he finds the two authority figures who had been fighting on the top floor. Both dead, but the object they had been fighting over rests on the ground. 

 

This is the leading reason as to how James Buchanan Barnes finds himself, another two days later, handing Deegan a strange syringe containing a glowing green substance with no explanation other than "don't worry about it." And shit, who is he to argue with that? He wants no business with that radioactive-looking time bomb. He takes the one hundred fifty cap payout and leaves.

 

He finds himself wandering around the 'Wealth, not quite ready to go back to town, but still, he tries not to stray too far. He nears a Bunker Hill and realizes he's done just that. 

 

In spite of his better judgement, he enters the settlement and from the farthest dark corner, he watches as his little sister lifts his nephew from the ground, both of them squealing with joy. It's only then that he realizes he's being followed. 

Chapter Text

OCT. 23, 2077.

BOSTON, MA.

"Peter?" Steve calls through the open kitchen window. The teen has been outside for nearly an hour, calling for their missing dog. He had been Steve's companion during his time in the war, so the boy knows the man is hurting at the pup's disappearance.  "Come inside for a little while, would'ya? Breakfast is almost ready."

 

Peter makes his way inside, dusting off his shoes before he nudged them into a corner with his toes. Steve gives him a fatherly kiss placed directly on top of his head before Peter grabs his own mug of coffee as their Mister Handy, Codsworth, leaves the room to tend to the laundry. The brunet had just taken a seat on their bright red sofa when the doorbell chimed.

 

Steve glances up from his spot in front of the stove, "can you take over for me here? I think it's that salesman again, the one who keeps knocking. I'm gonna go give him a piece of my mind." He wipes his hands on his jeans, taking several long strides to the door. 

 

Peter sighs, putting his mug down on the coffee table before he trudges to the kitchen, passing the blond Omega.

 

It had been a feat, adopting Peter. It took extensive vetting due to his PTSD, and the fact that he was an unmated Omega surely hadn't helped, but after three grueling months, Peter was free from that hell-hole of a foster home. Steve always bristled with happiness at the thought of the boy never having to go back there again.

 

Steve pulls the door open, noticing he was been correct in his assumption.

 

The salesman's attire is an obnoxiously dull mustard-yellow coat that reads VAULT-TEC over the left breast pocket, and worst of all: he has a matching hat. 

 

"Good morning!" He sing-songs as he steps forward, just over the edge of too excited

 

Steve keeps his face neutral, but he is certainly fighting off a cringe. "Mhm, morning. Sorry, so soliciting." He brings his right hand up to point at the sign next to their doorbell, which reiterated what he had just said.

 

"Oh, of course not! I'm not sellin' anything, sir," he replies with a grin. "Vault-Tec would like to thank you for your service to our country by giving your family free admission into the local Vault!"

 

The Vaults. Steve has heard about them, the President's contingency plan for the concern of nuclear weapons. There were hundreds of Vaults created in order to keep the people safe, but that didn't mean they were free to get into. At least, not always. Vault 111 had just been finished, the elevator laid up on a hill overlooking the entire neighborhood of Sanctuary Hills. He remembers thinking it to be quite the eyesore, to be frank.

 

"My family?" He questions with a raised brow. "For free?" It sounds fake, even coming from his own mouth.

 

"But of course! Save for your Mister Handy, unfortunately, but the Vault will have all the amenities you'll need, including a robot or two," he concludes with an exaggerated wink.

 

The salesman sounds a little too sure of the idea of future nuclear warfare, but he figures it is meant to be a selling point. "Alright," he sighs, sparing a glance back to Peter who is entranced by the omelette he is currently flipping in the air even though Steve is positive that he's told the boy not to do such a thing. "Let's do it."

 

Less than a half hour after he and Peter have been preapproved for the Vault, the Great War has begun and a nuclear warhead drops straight down onto Boston.

 

An hour later, Steve Rogers and Peter Parker-Rogers are cryogenically frozen in one of Vault-Tec's many experiments.

 

Two hundred years later, Steve Rogers wakes up, alone, cold and afraid of the new world that grew around his frozen prison.

 

OCT 23. 2287.

VAULT 111

 

He stares blearily ahead, blinking as the pod door opens, then he's crumpling to the ground. He lands hard on his hands and knees, bruising them and shuddering in the cold air, a chill having set deep into his bones. He pushes himself up, chin wobbling as he peers into the empty pod across from his. 

 

Bright flashes of memory creep up on him. Images of walking up, not being able to move. Someone opening Peter's pod -- because they weren't fucking decontamination units, Vault-Tec had lied -- and his boy fighting tooth and nail before someone hit him over the head with a gun.

 

Fighting the stinging tears, Steve stumbles towards the door, still shivering. He passes by the other pods, peaking in, but the others are sleeping -- or dead. He finds a terminal by the door, already unlocked. The other cryogenically frozen residents are dead, because Vault-Tec's experiment had failed on everyone except him. The door opens, sensing the moment. 

 

He goes straight down the icy hall, towards the sliding doors he recalls entering the Vault through, but the door buzzes a sound of error as he presses the manual open button. It's locked from the other side. 

 

"Fuck!" He kicks, bangs his fists against the door, sobs as a few tears escape him. He plants his hands on the door, holding himself up, but he lets his head drop to hang between his biceps. "God damn it. . ."

 

The familiar hiss of doors opening causes him to jerk his head up, turning to see where the noise had come from. Another door has slid open, enticing him to pass through. He walks and walks, narrowly bypassing a giant fucking cockroach as he slips into an electrical room. There's an issue with the electricity, though, and he thinks this room may be why the other pods failed. He moves through the room by sticking close to the wall to protect himself from getting shocked with who-knows-how-many volts. 

 

He stomps on two roaches, one having actually bit him, and he blinks away the burning sensation of frightened tears. The next room he enters is an office of sorts, and he has to use another terminal in order to open the evacuation tunnel. He plucks a gun from the desk where the terminal rests, and stuffs a few extras rounds into the pockets of his vault suit before he slips from the room. 

 

More roaches. At least this time he has a gun. 

 

 By the time he's standing in the vault's elevator, he's looted a skeleton and killed a total of eleven giant roaches. The roaches hadn't bothered him much, honestly. If it had been giant spiders, however, that would have been an entirely different story. 

 

He doesn't know what to expect when the elevator doors open above him, but he lets out a keening whimper and squeezes his eyes shut and brings a hand up to shield them from the pain of the relentless sunlight peaking through the slowly gathering clouds. 

 

After several agonizingly long minutes, his eyes have adjusted enough that he can bring his hand down. Once his vision has cleared, he gasps. 

 

His city is in shambles. Steve can see half-torn down buildings in the distance, the ominous green lightning in the dark clouds around him, and as thunder rumbles, the Geiger counter on his Pip-Boy goes berserk.

 

Shelter is the first thing on his mind after the clicking on his wrist catches up to his ears. Moving quickly down the hill towards his old neighborhood, he can't help but take in the scenery. While a good chunk of the trees and shrubs are lacking life, some larger grandfather trees have vines of greens, yellows and oranges swirling in the flashes of lightning. They make the neighborhood appear as though it is worn down, and Steve is fairly sure it is. 

 

He ducks into the first house he can easily get into, and the first thing he sees is another damned roach. It's sitting on the wall, unmoving and not at all bothered by him, so he leaves it be. The roach scuttles up the wall a few feet away. Steve takes a seat on the lumpy, blue sofa that has a few peculiar stains he doesn't want to think about. Outside, through the broken and chipped glass of the windows, lightning sparks across the dark green sky, and Steve closes his eyes. 

 

When he wakes, the green tinge is gone, leaving behind an array of grey the clouds and misty rain. The roach is still there, now resting above an old photo on the wall, crooked and somehow still stuck in place. 

 

It's a photo of his neighbors, he knows, had recognized the house after walking in. In the picture, Charles is looking at something of camera with Erik's arm wrapped around his shoulders, eyes crinkling as he gazes down at his husband. In the background is their house and a moving truck. Steve remembers that day, the day the happy couple moved into the neighborhood. He had, and still does, envy a love as strong and unquestionable as theirs.

 

Steve's heart clenches as he recalls passing the two men, huddled together in fear as the military allowed him and Peter through the gates to the sectioned off Vault. 

 

He never saw them in the Vault.

 

Outside, the air is wet and cold, the moisture clings to his vault suit as he approaches his own home.

 

"Peter?" He cries, pushing through the door. The house is empty and looks as though a tornado had struck it. His old sofa is overturned with the still upright armchair tucked under it. The back door is missing, and there's a huge chuck of a tree wedged through the window above the kitchen sink. He hears a mechanical whir behind him and he spins around less than graceful. 

 

"As I live and breathe. . ." The  irony is lost on Steve as he takes in the appearance of his old Mister Handy. "Captain Rogers, oh how wonderful it is to see you! I've waited for you and the young sir to return for quite some time. . . I'm sure I can scrounge something up for breakfast. Perhaps French toast for Peter?" 

 

When Steve doesn't answer, the robot jets past him to hover before the stove. 

 

"Where is the young sir, by the by?" 

 

The Omega steadies himself against the unstable island counter. "He's gone, Codsworth," he croaks. "They took him," blinking away the familiar sting in his eyes, he clears his throat, "but I'm gonna find him, I'll find him." 

 

"Oh dear," the robot's programming allows the sound of distraught to raise in the room. "Might I suggest visiting Concord, Captain? Perhaps some of those surly residents have seen him!" 

 

Steve stands in place for a minute or so, letting the thought simmer. There are still people alive, he's not the only one -- and he comes to realize what a ridiculous thought that had been -- and maybe they will help him find Peter. He has to try. 

 

Crossing over the bridge and wandering past a Red Rocket gas station -- where which he aquires the most adorable German Shepherd ever -- he passes the town limit sign with a shiver. His body temperature was still low, not low enough that he's ready to stop, but he feels like he's still standing in the Vault's cryogentics room. The dog, lovingly nicknamed Dog because Steve as about as original as any Hollywood remake, trots happily beside him until he abruptly stops, flattening his esrs.  

 

Steve stops as well, the sound of rapid gunfire and angry shouting finally reaching his own ears. Peering around the edge of the building he had stopped by, he catches a glimpse of the Museum of Freedom and a group of men and women shooting at it. He can only see two men and a woman, but he can hear shouting that isn't coming from their unmoving mouths. Dog growls lowly at his side. 

 

"Hush," the blond mutters, readying his pistol and gradually creeping around the corner. 

 

Dog the dog follows close behind, and the duo pauses behind an old car. Steve peaks his head up over the hood but quickly ducks back down as a bullet ricochets six inches from his head. They saw him. He double checks that there is a bullet in the chamber before he rises up and unloads the mag in the direction of the man who had shot at him. 

 

Dog takes off towards the attacker, Steve sprinting after him against his better judgment. The dog sinks his teeth into the man's arm, occupying him still that he isn't firing rapid, messy shots at the Omega. While his animal companion aids him, Steve takes out the nearby woman with a clean shot, and breaks another man's nose -- undoubtedly an Alpha, because apparently scent suppressors don't exist anymore -- before he slams his head into the brick wall. The Alpha falls to the ground, unmoving. 

 

During the action, he hadn't registered the lack of gunfire. He looks up, holding a steady gaze with the ginger man on the balcony of the museum. 

 

"Hey!" The man calls down to him, "I've got a group of settlers inside, the raiders are almost through the door! Get up here and help us!" 

 

Inside the museum, Steve sends Dog ahead, he's realized the dog is actually fairly responsive to commands, and takes out two 'raiders' on the second level. By the time he gets to the third floor, standing in front of the closed door that separates him from the man and his settlers, he has killed a total of twelve people. 

 

A wave of nausea washes over him, but the door swings open and he has to time to ponder. Inside, the ginger man from the balcony clutches a musket with a red glow -- a modified laser weapon, Steve assumes, and takes a step forward. 

 

"Shit, kid," he says, the ridiculously thick mustache on his top lip moving with his words. "You showed up just in time, thought we were goners. Dum Dum Dugan, Commonwealth's Howling Commandos." 

 

Steve faulters in his entrance, "Howling Commandos?" 

 

Dum Dum dismisses his confusion in favor of telling the Omega their story. They had come all this way from Quincy after their old base camp was attacked. One of their members, a male Omega around Steve's age called Loki, has the gift of Sight -- not that he has any inking as to what that means -- had a vision of a safe place to rebuild, Sanctuary. Their journey was interrupted and the group was forced to take shelter in the museum, but Steve makes a promise to help them out. He regards the other Omega, tall and lithe with long and greasy black hair, and sees Dog sitting by the man's crossed legs. 

 

"He's your dog, then?" The dog wags his tail happily, like he knows they're talking about him. 

 

"Ah," Loki hums. "Not quite, Dogmeat is my Alpha's mutt, but Thor is never around much to care for him so the chore falls upon myself to do so." 

 

Steve bites his tongue in favor of judging the dogs name, instead saying "he's a good dog," as though that is any better. 

 

"Yes?" Loki gives him a onceover, as the blond makes to retreat to the roof where Dugan had mentioned seeing a suit of power armor, "you'll do quite well, take care of him." 

 

He stops, halfway through the door. "Pardon?" 

 

Loki's grin is sharklike and full of teeth. "Dogmeat makes his own choices, and he seems to have chosen you. Just," the man winces, just barely, as though he had developed a particularly bad headache, "watch out for the claws." 

 

The Omega's words stick in his mind the entire walk to the roof, and through him slamming the fusion core into the slot on the armor's back. Is he referring to the dog's claws? It's such a strange thing to say, Steve can't think of anything else he could be referencing. 

 

And it remains that way until nearly fifteen minutes and several dead raiders later. He's just eliminated the last raider and is walking back towards the museum entrance, snatching a rather sturdy looking laser musket -- much like Dugan's -- from the ground when something metal clangs loudly. For a moment, he believed it was his armor, perhaps he had crushed one of the fallen raiders' weapons, but then there was a chilling growl and he turned just in time to watch a monster crawl out of a sewer entrance. 

 

This is what Loki had been referring to, surely, because those claws looked like they could shred the Omega in less than a second.

 

There, twenty feet away from him and well over nine feet tall, with dark scales and horns that curved dangerously downward to stop at its nose, stood the most terrifying thing Steve has ever seen. He had watched his city be demolished by a nuclear bomb, he'd fought in the war, and still, he had never been more afraid that in this moment. 

 

The creature's tail swayed dangerously, knocking over a newspaper dispenser on the sidewalk, and Steve does the only thing he can think of. 

 

He shoots at the hood of a car near the creature until the vehicle explodes, sending its monstrous form to the ground.

 

Several seconds later, just as Steve is beginning to think that he has gotten lucky, the thing rises with a stomach churning roar. Dogmeat barks in response with raised haunches, and Steve nearly cries because that thing is charging at them, and he knows they can't get out of the way in time, so he does what he knows best. 

 

He raises the musket, cranks until the laser is fully charged, and fires straight at the creature's soft belly. 

Chapter Text

OCT 26, 2287

GOODNEIGHBOR

 

He's drowning his sorrows in Goodneighbor, The Third Tail to be exact, when he hears Bruce sit down next to him. The good doctor hardly ever comes into the bar, but Bucky knows he's there to talk to him. He takes another swig of stale whiskey and ignores the man's presence. They sit in there for a few minutes, enough time for Bucky to finish one whiskey and order another, the only sounds are the creaks of the old repurposed subway station and the quiet conversing of other patrons. He can hear Sam and Scott a few seats down from him, and Brock and his boyfriend are arguing in the hallway, but Logan pays it no mind. They're almost always arguing about something.



"Thank you," Bruce says, almost quiet enough that Bucky could've prentended not to hear him, but he didn't. 



The Alpha swallows, brushing a stray piece of hair that had fallen from his bun back behind his ear before taking another swig. "For what?" He knows what the Omega is thanking him for, knows what he did for the ones who actually made it out of the warehouse. 

 

He also knows that not everyone made it out.

 

"For helping us," Bruce frowns, ordering himself a drink of purified water. Doctors, Bucky thinks begrudgingly. "They wanted me to tell you: the mission is ov-."



Bucky slams his bottle onto the bar counter and grips the edge with his left hand. It nearly breaks, and the counter creaks dangerously under the force of his metal hand.

 

"No," he waves off Brock and Sam, who have turned to check and see if backup is needed. Bruce looks older than he appeared days before, but Bucky supposes that an assault by one of the Commonwealth's numerous bogeymen will do that to a person. "It's not done until it's been finished."

 

"James," Bruce corrects himself at the man's glare. "Bucky, the mission is done for, it's over. All the research, our resources are gone. Stolen, you heard Tony."



"I also heard that no one has the you-know-what yet. I can get it."

 
"No, no you can't," Bruce's frown deepens as he hisses to the Alpha, "it's on the other side of the Commonwealth in an area overflowing with radiation, Deathclaws and God only knows what else."


Bucky finishes his whiskey silently. "Guess I'll just have to be prepared then. See you around, Doc," he leaves Whitechapel Charlie the appropriate amount of caps and leaves without another word.

 

Later, when Bucky is about to head out of town again, the bright red lettering of Kill or Be Killed highlights the wet ground in the darkness of the midnight hour. Despite the lateness, he can still hear the patrons of the town yammering on. Stepping through the gate, he catches sight of something he's seen many times before. Grant Ward and some poor schmuck who's never been to Goodneighbor before, and probably thought the town would be as nice as its name.

 

Ward is pulling his "insurance vs bloody accidents" schtick again, by the nervous look on the stranger's face. He's an Omega, the stranger, but he certainly doesn't look it. Big, broad shoulders that screamed Alpha, and Vault suits must come in one size - small - if the way the blue suit clings to his various muscles means anything. Blonde hair and blue eyes, a strong jaw and a nose that's been broken more than twice, but he's still the most gorgeous Omega Bucky's ever seen.

 

". . . or you'll be the one needing insurance," Bucky catches the end of the stranger's reply. The Omega bears his teeth, but his voice is unsure and telling. Even if the blue suit hadn't screamed I don't know what I'm doing, his voice sure as hell did. 


Ward laughs mockingly, a sound Bucky finds akin to a hyena, not that he's ever heard one. He can imagine. "Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of all that pathetic. Empty your pockets, little Omega, or accidents will start coming your way. Big, bloody 'accidents.'"


Before the Omega can comprehend that he's being robbed, Bucky steps in. "Ward," he calls from the dark alley. "I thought Wilson told you to cut this shit out." He takes a few steps towards the other Alpha, posturing, and he catches the Omega staring at him in his peripheral.


"Barnes," Ward greets with a certain level of distaste that would make anyone think Bucky had spit on the man's shoes, "I was just making friends with this sweet piece here." His gaze is borderline feral at the mention of the mayor. "Wilson's going soft, won't be long 'til there's a new mayor in town.


It's then that Bucky remembers Wade's request to him, should someone like Ward -  he recalls the mayor mentioning him by name - start spewing this sort of bullshit, especially to newcomers. He stalks towards the other Alpha with a friendly stance, as though he were going in to hug an old friend. Ward, albeit surprised, opens his arms with a menacing grin towards the Omega, leaving his chest and abdomen wide open for an attack.

 
Bucky's serrated combat knife sinks into the smaller Alpha's gut, earning a gasp from both him and the Omega, though the latter is one of shock, not pain. He tugs it out and plunges it back in once more, higher this time, hitting the man's liver in one last, fatal blow. Ward sputters as he falls to the ground, and Bucky kneels down next to him, leaning in close so his lips are hovering two inches above the man's ear. A few drifters are watching, but no one interferes. 

 
"Only mayor of Goodneighbor you'll ever see is Wade Wilson. He doesn't need your bullshit causing people to question the good guys," he punches the man with a gloved metal fist and rises to look at the Omega with a welcoming grin. "Sorry 'bout that, doll." 

 
"You. . ." Baby blue eyes dart between Ward's bleeding out form and Bucky's still bristling figure and the Omega takes a short step back. "You killed him."

 
"Yes, I did." Bucky wipes the bloody knife off on his black pants. "No worries, ain't your fault. I've been looking for an excuse to gut this pig for weeks. Forget about the insurance thing, it ain't real."


"I figured," comes the deadpan response, and Bucky huffs out a laugh. The blond isn't traumatized from Ward's asshole scheme.

 

"Right, well," the Alpha takes a step back, ready to depart. "Welcome to Goodneighbor, it ain't always like that -" he flicks the end of the knife towards the lifeless body before he slips it back into the sheath on his hip, "-except when it is. Have fun, the bar's always open to newcomers, and the hotel's got some nice, questionably stained beds."


Bucky is about ten feet away, ready to enter Wilson's place to brief him about Ward, when he hears the Omega run after him.

 

"Hey! Wait," Blue Eyes says, not even panting as he makes a grab for Bucky's right forearm with a delicate, yet large and calloused hand. "Maybe you can help me? I'm looking for someone," he lets go of the Alpha's arm and activates the Pip-Boy on his wrist, reading over something. "James Barnes? Do you know him? A friend of mine said he lives here."

 

Bucky shrugs nonchalantly, pulling the blond off to the side to allow a trio of drifters pass by. They are the same ones who had watched him gut Ward, and they each tip their head towards him. "I know him." Sue him, he never gets to talk to anyone this gorgeous, so what's a little teasing between strangers, huh? Nothing.

 

The stranger's eyes light up. "You do? What's he like? I asked around on the way here, but no one wants to talk about him, and I don't know if I want to hire someone like that." He shifts his weight back and forth, his scent giving off a faint tinge of nervousness.

 

Bucky fights the smirk threatening his lips ad he leans back against the red brick of the Old State House. "Someone like what?" He observes the man as his eyes rake down the Alpha's body.

 
Blue Eyes flushes prettily down his neck and far under the suit covering his chest. "Well, he's has to be at least a little shady. If no one wants to answer my questions about him, they all seemed pretty frightened."


"Maybe 'cause they know he'll gut 'em if they start spreadin' bullshit lies." The Alpha purposely repeats his earlier words. His smirk wins, and he revels in Blue Eyes' reaction.


Both of them look to where Ward's body is, and realization dawns on the blond's face. He looks up at Bucky, blinking stupidly, mouth agape like a fish.

 
"Uh." He swallows, then with the utmost eloquence as his powerful scent spikes with anxiety, "shit."

 
Bucky barks out a laugh, "no worries, pal," he claps the stranger's shoulder. "No one knows shit about me 'cause I'm good at my job, whatever it may be, so long as it ain't Omegas, families or kids. Payment's two hundred caps, up front, and I get a negotiable cut of any loot."


The blond Omega fumbled around in a shoulder bag, pulling out two jingling cloth bags. "Each bag has one hundred."


"Organized." Bucky nods his appreciation, contemplating before he tosses one back, "you should know, I have another ongoing contract. I'll cut the price in half."



"Cabot, right?" At the Alpha's curious nod, the blond elaborates and presses the little bag back into Bucky's hands. "I'm working with him too, it won't be a problem," sticking out a hand between them, he smiles. "I'm Steve Rogers, your new boss."

 

"Bucky Barnes," he shakes the hand with a grin. 

 

___

 

Traveling with Steve is, well, Bucky won't say fucking weird. Strange, maybe. 

 

No, it's fucking weird. 

 

Steve will stop unpredictably in front of older buildings that still bear the distinct pre-war look. He'll stare at whatever the object of his attention is for roughly a minute or so, the same scent radiating from him each time. One of longing, sadness and something Bucky can't quite put his finger on. Then, he'll grunt, or sniffle even, before he says, "let's go," and they don't talk about it.

 

Bucky really, really wants to talk about it. Because it's just so strange. He's met his fair share of people who came from Vaults, like the assholes from 81, but none of them ever acted like this. It was like Steve was reliving something every time they stopped, but it can't be -- living in a Vault can't possibly be anything like living pre-war, if all the shortages in Vault 81 were anything to go by.

 

"Hey," the Omega calls from his position in the alley below him. Bucky is perched halfway up an old fire escape, close enough to the ground that he could jump down without rendering himself useless on his feet. "It's clear, let's go." 

 

Another weird thing about Steve: he never lets the Alpha scout ahead for them. Whenever Bucky suggests it, the blond gets this authoritative look in his eyes and denies until the brunet gives up and finds somewhere to rest his rifle. It reminds him of the higher ups back when he used to run with the Gunners.

 

It has only been approximately ten hours since their first meeting, but Bucky thinks he's picked up some of the blond's mannerisms quite well.

 

Bucky takes the stairs down three at a time until there's only half a flight left, then he jumps over the edge and lands in a crouch next to Steve. It's not until they reach the edge of the alleyway that he realizes where they are. 

 

"Uh, Steve?" His voice is quiet and wary, and he slows until he's walking a couple feet behind Steve, "you sure you wanna chance this?" 

 

Steve's pace as they pass a steadily collapsing gazebo doesn't slow, and all he does is hum in response, "hmm?" There's a skeleton laid out before a couple of radioactive barrels, causing the duo to make a hasty retreat until they're a safe enough distance away. Unfortunately, this lands them closer to the pond. 

 

"I'm just sayin'," Bucky grips his rifle tightly, his knuckles whitening on his flesh hand. "We're taking a big chance walkin' through the Common." When the blond still doesn't respond, he says, "people don't typically come back from here."

 

This causes the Omega to pause, turning to look over his shoulder at him with intrigue. "Why not?" 

 

Oh, no. No, no, no. Absolutely not.

 

With crossed arms, Bucky huffs. "I'm not gonna tell you." 

 

"Why not?" Steve mimicks with his own arms with a frown, cocking one hip. 

 

"'Cause you'll do somethin' stupid, and I'm gonna have'ta help you." 

 

Steve raises a brow, "you don't have to help me." 

 

"I do, actually, or did you forget? You're paying me to help your blue ass become acquainted with the 'Wealth." Bucky squints at a ripple in the pond water. It's just for a second, but the Omega catches what he had fixed his gaze on. 

 

"There's a pond monster, isn't there?" 

 

Bucky scoffs, ". . . no." 

Chapter Text

OCT. 26, 2287

DIAMOND CITY

 

When Dum Dum had told him: "I have this old friend, I hear he hangs around Goodneighbor. Little on the rough side, but,” he brought his hands up to Steve’s biceps and patted them. “I'm sure you can handle it," Steve hadn't considered the fact that the man would be an Alpha, let alone a mercenary. Dum Dum himself is a Beta, as is all of the Sanctuary group, save for Loki and his reclusive Alpha who Steve has yet to meet. 

 

But Barnes is an Alpha, and he is a mercenary. And now he is Steve's employee. 

 

Steve's irritating employee. 

 

If Bucky - because that's his name, though Steve will continue calling him Barnes for as long as possible - isn't being an asshole, he's trying to do things for Steve, like scouting ahead, or suggesting that they take a break so Steve can rest. Typical pre-war Alpha mannerisms certainly haven't died, even if the amount Alphas and Omegas in the general population is at an all time low. Barnes can't help but act on some of the concepts his hindbrain imposes on him. 

 

Like he said, irritating.

 

They are descending the stairs into the Diamond City Market when the Alpha inquires, "why are we in DC, anyway?" 

 

DC - Diamond City, that is - is not at all what Steve had been expecting. It's a rather large settlement, the largest he's seen so far, and it is bustling with people. There are guards wearing repurposed umpire gear as uniforms, helmets included, and there's a noodle stand run by a robot who doesn't speak English, but ironically understands the words "noodles" and "yes." In fact, the area is so established that it takes Steve a moment to realize that DC used to be Fenway Park. 

 

Steve tucks his newly modified pistol - courtesy of one of Dum Dum's men, he forgot to ask for the man's name - into his thigh holster. It is no longer needed now that they're mostly out of about danger zones labeled on his map. "I'm picking up a dog and meeting an friend." 

 

He catches Barnes' furrowing brows in his peripheral as he mouths the word dog, and smiles smugly to himself. The Alpha gives him a pleasant ten second show of sputtering out his exasperation before his mouth closes with an audible click of his teeth clenching. 

 

Steve waves to Gabe from across the noodle stand, the Beta whistling for Dogmeat's attention. The dog comes bounding around the stand and plants himself right before the Omega, rolling into his back so the blond can kneel down to scratch his belly.

 

Gabe catches up, huffing, "damn dog just won't stay put," and claps Steve on the shoulder. "Nice seeing you again, man." 

 

The Omega pats him back with a nod of agreement, and then turns to a gaping Barnes. "You two know each other, right?" He asks, teasing.

 

"Holy shit," Barnes says, and much to Steve's surprise, he hauls Gabe into a hug. "Ain't seen you in years, man," he pulls back, grinning as he pats the man's biceps. "How've you been?" 

 

Gabe shrugs one shoulder, "been better, honestly, but the Commandos are back. We've got a base set up and everything, and this guy," he points his thumb over to Steve, "is gonna help us reclaim the Castle." 

 

Steve tries not to preen as Barnes' keen eyes sweep over to him. He thinks he contained himself very well, all things considered. 

 

Barnes is handsome, he knows. There had been a heavy feeling of attraction directed at the Alpha from the moment Steve saw him. He's certainly the sort of Alpha Steve's old friends would have deemed his type: tall, beefy and utterly handsome. 

 

The Alpha hums in approval, "sounds like we've got our work cut out for us, huh, Boss?" Barnes wears a knowing grin, not that Steve knows what the knowing part is. 

 

"We've got some time before any of that goes down," he says to both Barnes and Gabe. "You and I are chasing a missing persons case while the Commandos work on some recruitment.

 

Barnes' eyebrows furrow, "who's missing?" 

 

Steve's heart clenches, his stomach churning at the thought of Peter. "A kid," he says, and Barned doesn't ask anything else, but an unperceivable look flitters ovef the Alpha's face. Steve would almost call it a look of understanding.

 

The blond turns back to Gabe, "the detective?" 

 

A DC security guard passes by, shooting Steve a dirty look when he asks about the woman he has yet to meet. Steve doesn't notice, but Barnes does, and he glares challengingly at the guard before he departs with a scoff.

 

Gabe gestures vaguely over his shoulder, "around the corner. Just follow the signs." He claps the Omega on the shoulder and pats Dogmeat on the head before giving Barnes another hug. "Good luck, guys." 

 

Around the corner is a sign that reads: DETECTIVE JONES with an arrow pointing further down the faintly lit alleyway. Another sign hangs on an unlocked door. Steve and Barnes step inside, the metal door creaking faintly.

 

A few feet away stands a woman, Barnes recognizes her as the owner and reporter of Publick Occurrences: Darcy Lewis. Steve only sees an irritated Beta woman. She's muttering furiously to herself, sliding her gloved hands in and out of boxes, pulling out files and then tossing them away as she finds that it isn't the one she seeks. 

 

"Ma'am?" 

 

"Sorry, we're closed." And she must really mean business, because she doesn't turn around to see who she's talking to. Steve furrows his brow, ready to argue when Barnes places a palliative hand on his shoulder that sends Steve bristling. 

 

"Darcy," the mercenary says, and Steve figures that must be her name. "Don't have time for an old friend?" 

 

The Omega is borderline irritated that Barnes hadn't mentioned knowing the woman before they walked into the small office. She turns like a whip, some of her hair latching onto wet cheeks. She's been crying. 

 

"Bucky?" Darcy gasps. "Oh my God!" She crosses the room swiftly and Steve watches Barnes lift the short woman off the ground in favor of a tight hug. She sputters out a few incoherent syllables before saying, "Jessica is missing!" 

 

Steve holds back a possessive growl, a completely surprising and new edition to the rapidly building feelings he has for the mercenary, and looks over a few open files on the metal desk before him while Barnes comforts his friend. 

 

One particular file catches his eye, the familiar picture of a bald man lies on top of the documented witness statements.

 

JOSHUA THANOS -- ALPHA.

DOB: ?? - ALIVE

Multiple accusations of being an Institute supporter. Multiple accusations of kidnapping, murder, assault, witness intimidation and more

 

Steve can't stop flipping through the file. This man, Thanos. His face is engraved into Steve's memory. He was in the vault, had looked Steve in the eye as he kidnapped his son. Tears of frustration and despair fill his eyes, and he's sure Barnes and Darcy are staring at him. 

 

He holds up the file, blinking away the tears, "this man. . . where is he?" His voice is tight, rougher than usual. 

 

Darcy takes the file, flips through it. "Thanos? Guy's in the wind. He used to have place here, across from the stands? No one's seen him in a while. Last I heard he skipped town with a kid. Not too long after, Jess went missing."

 

Steve feels his eyes widen and he fully ignores Barnes' curious gaze. "A kid? How old? Was he a teenager," he holds up a hand to approximate Peter's height, "this tall, brown hair and eyes?" 

 

"Whoa, whoa, dude," Darcy passes the file to Barnes' beckoning hands. "All I know is that there was a kid, and then they were both gone. Happened a couple weeks ago, maybe a month or so?" 

 

Steve chokes back a whine and asks, "across from the stands, you said?" Darcy nods her confirmation while writing the house number on the file before handing it back over. 

 

The Omega takes the file and tucks it into his shoulder bag, already halfway out the squeaky metal door. He can hear Barnes reassuring Darcy that they will do what they can to find Jessica before the Alpha trots after him. 

 

Dogmeat is directly to Steve's left, while Barnes is a few paces behind to his right as they near Thanos' apartment.

 

He's picking the lock when Barnes finally asks, "how exactly are you planning on tracking down this Thanos guy?" 

 

"Dogmeat can track the scent." Steve answers simply, and Barnes scoffs. 

 

"You're putting the fate of Jessica and some kid in the hands of a dog?"

 

The lock clicks open, but the sound is downed out by Steve's growl. "We don't know that Thanos has Jessica, and he's not just some kid, he's my kid." 

 

Barnes quiets fairly quick after that, but Steve enters the apartment with purpose. 

 

Minimalistic is the closest he can get to describing the interior. There's a set of stairs in the corner of the already small space that lead up to a bed and a nightstand. Steve doesn't even bother going up there. In the main area, theres a desk and a chair. 

 

Barnes spends about ten seconds upstairs before he's in the main area again. He's particularly interested in a side wall, pushing his hands against it and humming to himself, but Steve doesn't hear what the man says.

 

He's rifling through the desk when he spots the wire leading out from under it. He kneels down and immediately pushes the red button the wire is attached to. The wall that had piqued Barnes' interest slides to the side, revealing a new room.

 

The room is similar to what Steve had expected from a mercenary like Thanos. It has a a few duffle bags half-full of weapons and ammo, likely things he simply couldn't take with him, and some empty beer bottles. There is a torn up armchair in beside a taboret with two broken drawers. On the taboret are three more empty beer bottles, a mostly full one, though it has been opened, and a half smoked cigar that has long since gone cold. Behind the armchair against the longest side of the wall, is a workbench with only a few remaining tools hanging on the wall above it. 

 

"A mercenary's paradise," Barnes quips, but his smile is wiped away by the Omega's unamused glare. Barnes lets out a sigh, "y'know, I've heard of this guy. If he's the one who has your kid, it's gonna be a tough fight." 

 

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Steve frowns as he sifts through the left-behind ammo, taking his pick of rounds he needs. 

 

The Alpha shrugs, Steve notes from his peripheral, and picks up the cigar. "San Francisco Sunlights," he taps the excess ash away, "Dogmeat could probably scent this. Even I'm getting somethin' off'a it." 

 

Steve glances up from shoving a couple boxes of .308s and some fusion cells into his bag, taking a long look at the cigar. "Dogmeat," he calls and the German shepherd trots in, his tongue lolling from his open and panting mouth. 

 

Barnes kneels down onto one knee, holding the cigar by Dogmeat's nose. He doesn't force the animal to sniff, but rather lets him approach the item himself. He sniffs for a moment or two, then lets out a loud, excited bark before he scampers to the door and paws at it. 

 

Steve finishes up with his looting and meets his companions at the door. Barnes holds it open as they exit quickly, catching up with Dogmeat who is excitedly sniffing out Thanos' whereabouts. 

 

The shepherd leads them out of the city and in the complete opposite direction of any allies Steve has made. It's not as unsettling as he expected it to be, but most of his emotions have been clouded by the possibility of finding Peter, not that he'd admit it aloud. They go through a mostly demolished and partially underground turnpike and find bloodied bandages and two dead raiders. 

 

The raiders were killed efficiently, from what Steve can interpret. Both have a single gunshot wound to the head, and the machine gun turret looks like it's been out of commission longer than the raiders. The bandages were sniffed by Dogmeat and his bark of approval confirmed that they had been Thanos'. 

 

They're approaching a bridge when Barnes asks, "what's his name?" 

 

"Dogmeat," Steve answers despite his confusion. He has said the dog's name a couple times now, figuring Barnes would have caught on. 

 

"Not the dog," Barnes sighs, checking the area ahead of them with his riflescope. "Your kid." 

 

Oh.

 

Steve keeps his reply short. "Peter." 

 

"Nice," Barnes says, even though the Omega wasn't expecting an answer. "How old?" 

 

"Fifteen."

 

The blond watches Dogmeat with a faint smile as the dog laps up some river water before continuing on. 

 

"Fifteen?" Barnes asks incredulously. "You're, like, twenty five, tops." 

 

"I am twenty five, technically." Steve smarts. "Peter is adopted." 

 

Dogmeat barks, his ears erecting and he begins to pick up his pace. The two men speed up. 

 

Barnes frowns. "Technically?"

 

The broken remains of an assaultron lay against the carcass of a dead pack brahmin. ". . . known mercenary. . . excer-. . . extreme caution. . ." The broken jabbering of the robot is enough to send a chill down Steve's spine. There are several dead wanderers around them: the robot was a merchant guard of some sort. "System corrupt," the assaultron reports when Barnes nudges it with his boot. "I can't feel my legs." Steve doesn't doubt it, seeing as the robot's legs are in shambles five feet away. 

 

"This has to have been Thanos," Steve mutters under his breath, already rifling through the remaining usable gear. 

 

"Assailant confirmed: Thanos, Joshua. Known associates. . . HYDRA, Institute, Gunners-. . . " The robot's voice dies out for a moment. "Assailant route tracked. Pursuit possible due northwest."  

 

Dogmeat is already walking northwest, slowing for his humans to catch up to him. Steve slips the robot's SIM card into a smaller side pocket in his bag, ignoring Barnes' questioning gaze. 

 

Another set of bloody bandages leads them to a familiar building. Steve recognizes the building almost immediately, "Fort Hagen?" He ducks into the open space in front of thr blocked off front door. There are several live turrets on the roof. "Why is Thanos in Fort Hagen?" He's mostly asking himself this, but Barnes replies. 

 

"Could be full of old military shit," he rubs the top of Dogmeat's head. "Ammo, guns. Hey, do you think we'll find some power armor?" He asks almost excitedly. His eyes glisten with mischief. 

 

"I think we'll find a sociopathic, half-dead mercenary." Steve says dryly. 

 

Barnes focuses his attention on the shepherd. "He's no fun, huh, boy?" He sits with a groan that Steve nearly flushes in response to. "Hear that, Stevie? Dogmeat thinks you're no fun." 

 

Steve plants a hand on the stacked concrete bricks blocking the door. "Sorry for being a bit preoccupied," he shoots and glares over his shoulder. 

 

The Alpha throws his hands up in surrender, "sorry, just tryin'a lighten the mood. How are we getting in, boss?" 

 

"There's a hatch on the roof," Steve sighs. "We'd have to take out the turrets." 

 

"Is there another option?" 

 

"Sort of," admits the Omega. "If I remember correctly, there should be a way in through the garage." 

 

"And this is a problem, why?" 

 

"It's not." Steve says.

 

Steve wants to say, that section of Fort Hagen was turned into a brief history museum, so there's a ninety-nine percent chance my entire military history is going to be lined along the walls, and the door doubles as the entrance to my old unit's bunking area. 

 

Steve does not say this. Instead, he says, "let's go." 

 

Barnes has to break the door down in order for them to get into Fort Hagen. The rusted hinges break fairly easy under the force of his kick, and Steve finds that his prediction is correct. 

 

On the wall just ouside of the bunk room is a photo of him, his name on a golden plaque that has lost its shine. Captain Steven G. Rogers. Beside it is a photo of the original Commandos, Dugan's group's namesake, and under that is a short documentation of Steve's life. 

 

A documentation that Barnes is currently reading aloud.

 

Born on July fourth of 2052, in Brooklyn, NY, Steven Rogers was destined for greatness. He was valedictorian for the senior class of 2070, at Nicholas J. Fury High School. He went straight into the military, having been groomed by Fury High's elite ROTC program, and was promoted to Captain within two years. Rogers went on to lead the 108th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, code name Howling Commandos, and served in the Sino-American War, mainly being stationed on the front in Anchorage, Alaska. 

 

Captain Rogers earned the nickname Captain America through his ambitious efforts to regain U.S. control in the liberation of the city during the Battle of Anchorage until its end in 2077. He saved over four hundred prisoners of war before retiring. He retired at the young age of twenty-five and currently resides in Boston with his son, and is one of the most decorated soldiers of our time. 

 

Barnes quiets as the last few words leave his mouth. He stares at the plaque he had just narrated, then looks up at the photo of Steve in his uniform. He stares for what feels like a long time, but is likely only a minute or two. 

 

"That's, uhm-," the Alpha's brows scrunch together in a way that Steve would think is cute if the circumstances were different. "This your great-great-whatever-grandpa or somethin'?"

 

Steve contemplates lying and decides against it. "No, that's me." 

 

"But-." Barnes blinks helplessly at the dates. "This can't be you," he jabs a finger out, poking the Omega's birthdate. "It says twenty-fifty-two. You'd be, like, two hundred-thirty-somethin'." 

 

"Two hundred thirty five." 

 

Barnes blinks again. 

 

"Technically," Steve says, "I'm only twenty five."