Shuri contacted JARVIS, who contacted Tony who contacted Bruce because brain science wasn’t one of his many and vast specialties. Bruce read over what she sent and they babbled back and forth about synapses, temporal and parietal lobes and things Tony never wanted to hear about again.
At the same time Tony was monitoring the groups of suspicious soldiers that were roaming the city, JARVIS plotting real time on a map when Pete or someone else reported a group.
Having a sixth sense about most things that were after him, Bucky avoided areas that were easily turned into an ambush, keeping to the roofs or crowds.
One late afternoon Bucky was loitering on Macy’s rooftop downtown, frowning at the soldiers that were trying to be stealthy. And doing a terrible job of it, when his phone buzzed.
“Manners, I swear they went the way of the dodo bird in the forties,” Tony’s voice lamented in his ear.
Bucky smiled, “What’s up, old man? You sound like a disapproving nonno. You want I should get off of your lawn too?”
“Very funny, Barnes. Junior heard something from someone who heard something and I think it’s a definite threat. Can you stop by?”
Looking at the angle of the sun in the sky, Bucky replied, “Be there is twenty?”
“We’ll keep digging for information,” Tony senior replied and disconnected.
“You know, I’m glad to be dealing with regular police stuff,” Danny said un-ironically as he methodically pounded on his keyboard. “Drug dealers are so much easier to deal with than Nazis or giant robots or aliens.”
“God-damnit, Reagan,” Carlisle barked from across the bullpen, “You better not have jinxed us or imma gonna rip out your tongue and wear it as a necktie.” The very black, Army special forces veteran and now NYPD detective was glowering at Danny.
“Army, who knew you were so superstitious?” Danny teased.
“Jar head, if something happens…”
“There’s a medical chopper that just crashed downtown,” their Captain called into the bullpen and Danny ducked the stapler that Carlisle winged at him, grabbing his gun as they headed out.
Eddie smacked Danny on the back of the head, making him yelp.
20 minutes earlier-
Bucky was racing across roof tops, headed towards St. Victors, heart pounding. Again, he wasn’t going to be strong enough or fast enough to stop a tragedy happening to his family.
Spiderman was winging through the concrete canyons when he caught sight of the hospital helicopter lift off of St. Victors, its nose going down to gain speed when suddenly the rotors seemed to seize, and the huge machine seemed to shudder in the sky.
Bucky watched in horror as the helicopter seemed to stall, and start to drop like a rock.
Spiderman starting shooting webbing, anchoring to buildings and shooting more grabbing the helicopter and, shoulders straining as the weight of the machine violently jerked him forward.
Inside of the medical chopper Linda bit her lip to keep from screaming. Convinced she was going to die, never see Danny or her babies again, even as the pilot was cursing up a storm as he fought the controls and gravity. She swallowed her screams and held onto the gurney that their unconscious patient lay on, when the whole machine juddered and stopped midair.
“What?” the pilot blurted. “Linda?”
“I don’t know,” Linda replied, heart in her throat. She was about to give their patient a fatal dose of pain killers through the infusion pump so they wouldn’t suffer when they fell, but abruptly realized that the helicopter was hanging suspended between St. Victors and the office building across the street like a giant dragonfly in a spiders web, so close she could see open mouthed people in the windows.
“Will it hold?” someone shouted at Spiderman, who was grunting as he used more webbing.
“Probably? Maybe? I don’t know!”
Bucky nodded. He removed his jacket. “I’m going to get them out!” he shouted.
“Do it quick!” Spiderman shouted back as the whole thing dropped a foot then rose just as abruptly as the webbing expanded then contracted.
Taking a deep breath, Bucky took a running jump and arms and legs windmilling, landed on the tail, his weight making it shudder and causing Spiderman to shout in alarm and add more webbing. He caught Linda’s wide-eyed surprise, “I’m getting the door. Get ready to come to me.” He grabbed the door and jerked it open, ignoring the clatter of small items sliding out.
“My patient needs to go first,” Linda said firmly, her face white but calm. The pilot had already unbuckled and scrambled into the back with Linda, causing the whole thing to lean slightly.
The sound of repulsors brought Bucky’s head around. “Stark.”
“Russian Pop,” Iron Man replied.
“Can we get everyone out!” Spiderman shouted, the whole thing sinking again.
“Get the patient,” Bucky barked at Ironman and the pilot and Linda worked feverishly releasing the gurney and getting it to the doorway where Iron Man grabbed it and the patient and swooped away.
Bucky swung into the helicopter and leaned forward to shout at Spiderman, “How much longer?”
“Not long,” he shouted back and used more webbing.
“Okay, we’re going to…” he began but Iron Man roared back. “Linda, you and the pilot go now,” he ordered.
Iron Man gathered them both up and shot straight up. Unfortunately, the heat from the repulsors caught the webbing and the webbing gave up, making the copter begin to drop. Bucky leapt out into space and was caught with more webbing and swung up alongside Spiderman and they watched as the machine dropped onto the street below and exploded. The boom and the resulting car alarms and the sound of crashing glass was loud, but it looked like that everyone had been evacuated from the immediate area so that was good.
“Well crap, I was trying to avoid that,” Spiderman groused.
“Hey, you saved three people’s lives, one of them my niece so I’m grateful,” Bucky pointed out. The sound of other helicopters, news and police, in the sky made Bucky make a face. “I’m gone. See you around, Spiderkid.”
“That’s Spiderman!” Peter shouted, wincing as his voice cracked. After a moment Iron Man landed beside him with a thump and looked down at the firefighters dealing with the fire on the street.
“Well, that was a dramatic ending. Good rescue though.”
“I was hoping the webbing would hold,” Peter complained, inspecting his web shooters and realizing that he was on empty and pulled another out of his concealed storage pocket in his suit.
“We’ll work on something new that’s more impervious to heat,” Tony consoled. “C’mon, they want me and by extension, you, to move the debris off of the street.”
“Fine,” Peter huffed and swung down, Iron Man behind him.
On the roof of St. Victors, Linda was conferring with her head nurse about the patient’s status, resolutely ignoring the fact she’d almost died. The pilot (obviously former military) was stoic but obviously in shock as the emergency staff swarmed them. The Chief of Staff of the hospital asking questions about what happened.
“We should be dead,” the pilot told the man abruptly. “I flew that thing yesterday and it worked perfectly, then checked it over carefully this morning, it’s really hard to break these birds. I know what the hell I’m doing, I’ve been flying for fifteen years. All I can think is sabotage.”
“Sabotage?” the Chief parroted in shock.
The door to the roof opened and several police and feds spilled out and everyone was whisked away.
Bucky lurked in the hallway until he caught sight of Linda and she saw him at the same time and her face crumpled and he swept her into a hug, crooning wordlessly as she sobbed into his shoulder.
“You’re fine, you’re fine, it’s okay,” he whispered, ignoring the milling Feds in their marked windbreakers.
“Are you her husband?” someone asked and Linda choked a laugh back and took the handkerchief Bucky offered her and wiped her eyes and blew her nose.
“Uncle,” Bucky offered briefly. “I’ll get Danny.”
“Thank you, Uncle Bucky,” she smiled and kissed his cheek. He responded with a bright smile and chucked her chin before striding away.
Danny kept checking his phone anxiously as he helped direct traffic. The crashed helicopter was lying on its side, burned and broken in a couple of pieces, in front of the hospital his wife worked. His only consolation was that witnesses said there were no casualties due to the superheroes currently in front of him.
As Spiderman and Ironman lifted pieces of the machine onto the back of a flatbed hauler Danny abruptly noticed several Mob types loitering in the area, including Joey ‘Three Guns’ Boccho leaning against the wall of St. Vics' and the big, bulky mob enforcer gave him a genial nod and Danny’s eyebrows rose up as high as they would go but he nodded politely back while his inner ‘what the FUCK’ screamed.
The familiar sound of a military Humvee made Danny glance over his shoulder and he assumed that they were there for traffic control, though he did question why the it was armed to the teeth.
The doors to the hospital slid open and a shrill whistle caught his attention and he saw uncle Bucky standing to the side gesture at him. Danny’s heart fell because if his uncle was there then something has happened to Linda. He grabbed a patrolman and stationed him where he’d been directing traffic before he sprinted to the hospital.
Bucky stopped his incoming rush, both hands on his upper arms. “Take a breath, Linda is fine.”
Heart beating out of his chest, Danny stopped and whooped in a breath, then another, before he nodded at his uncle. “Okay. What the fuck happened?” he asked.
“I got a call from a friend, he said there was a threat to Linda. Turns out someone sabotaged the medical helicopter but Spiderman caught it,” Bucky reported. He escorted Danny between patients, cops and NTSB and pulled him into the elevator.
“Jesus,” Danny blasphemed sharply. “Who was it?”
Bucky shrugged, “Some drug dealer. I don’t know but Tony took care of it.”
“Tony?” Danny parroted but realized that he already knew a ‘Tony’, which explained the mob guys stationed around the hospital.
“Tony Galvano Senior, Stevie and me go back a ways,” Bucky explained briefly.
“Tony Galvano of the Galvano family,” Danny parroted flatly.
Bucky smirked, “Hey, before I was a war hero I may have run numbers.”
Danny facepalmed and then the elevator doors opened and he saw Lynda and everything but her dropped off of his radar.
Rikers Island Prison-
Tony nodded genially at the prison guard and sat down in the chair across from the man he’d came to see. The other man was in his prison blue uniform, chambray top and dungaree bottom, handcuffed to the table and feet in shackles, a sign the prison considered him a dangerous man.
“You’re not my abuelo,” Luis Delgado remarked, eyeing the slight, white haired old man in front of him. The old man was wearing grass green slacks and a polo shirt in a pale green with a hideous plaid windbreaker. He looked like someone’s papi about to head out to golf, just not his.
“Eh, I had to tell them something,” Tony waved a hand negligently.
“Then why are you here?” Luis asked imperiously, like he was better.
Tony smiled mirthlessly. “You young punks, don’t like getting busted by cops? What the hell, let’s murder the cop’s wife. That will solve your problems, only real life doesn’t work that way.”
The other man’s face shuttered and he stiffened. “I think we’re done here.” And tried to stand but was hampered the cuffs.
“Sit down, you fuck,” Tony barked. “I’m gonna give you a life lesson.”
Luis glanced over at the guards but now he realized they were deliberately ignoring what was happening in the room, and he felt the first frisson of uncertainty.
“See,” Tony sat back, “Cops and the Families go way back,” he began and watched with satisfaction as the penny dropped on the two bit drug dealer. “And while we’ve had our differences, there’s been a lot of mingling, if you will, between the two.”
“You mean corrupt cops,” Delgado replied evenly.
“Eh, that too, but I meant long relationships, relationships that go back to when everybody was so poor that cops and the Family shared food, information, protected our town from outsiders and upstarts. The Sicilians,” Tony pointed at himself, “The Micks, the Polacks, the Russkis etcetera. We stood back to back against the Nazis and the Fascists and sometimes even our own government to protect our families, our communities and our city.”
Delgado rolled his eyes insolently. “Was there a point to this history lesson?”
“You outsiders don’t appreciate our history, trying to muscle in where you’re not wanted,” Tony replied. “The wife of that cop? Granddaughter of a Polack WWII hero from Greenpoint, married to a Mick Cop from Brooklyn who happens to be family to Bucky Barnes.” The old man smirked at the shock and stood. “Yeah, THAT Bucky Barnes, World War II hero ~and~ best pal of Captain America. Oh, and Bucky, Cap and I go way back. Circles within circles,” he said cheerfully as the other man started to get an inkling of how deep the shit he was now in.
“She survived, by the way,” Tony threw out as he walked to the door and knocked on it twice. “But your survival? Eh.” He shrugged, waggling his hand back and forth and walked out, leaving the ashen drug dealer behind in the room.
Bucky stepped out of the hospital, checking out the pieces of downed helicopter that were on the back of the flatbed truck and shook his head. It had been too close. He smirked at Spider kid as he began to cross the street when suddenly the sound of weapons charging and men shouting startled him.
“Winter Soldier! Get on your knees! On your knees! Hands on your head!” the shouts came from different directions and Bucky froze in the crosswalk as civilians started to run in every direction, startled screaming bouncing off the buildings.
He castigated himself for getting too comfortable, he’d ~known~ there were soldiers in the city but had dismissed it. He slowly sank to his knees onto the street, hands folded on top of his head, ignoring the fascinated people who were in the cars at the stoplight.
A soldier in fatigues, rifle at his shoulder started to head for him, three soldiers behind, armed as well.
“No! You can’t arrest him!” a female voice shouted and a slight form darted out to stand defiantly in front of him.
“Ma’am,” another soldier with a squad on the ground sounded exasperated, “He’s dangerous, please get out of the way.” The squad of four had stopped, waiting, expecting, the civilian to move.
“He’s the Brooklyn Angel and you cannot have him,” she replied stoutly. At this point Bucky had gotten a good look at her and she was young, blue and green hair piled on her head, fuzzy boots, blue jeans and he abruptly realized she was the dame he’d saved in that alley in Queens.
“What she said,” a Sikh taxi driver got out of his little yellow prius and went to stand beside her, arms crossing his chest defiantly. “He is of Brooklyn and he is ours.”
Bucky wanted to laugh and cry. He was sure there were snipers on the buildings, he’d seen the glint out of the corner of his eye. “Hey,” he croaked, “Don’t do this. I don’t want you hurt.”
“Nah, Mr. Bucky,” a voice said as a big man lumbered up beside him, and he recognized Tony Jr.’s man and the man stood beside him, implacable as a rock. “They can’t have you.”
Spiderman swept down and landed lightly on Bucky’s other side. “I knew something was up,” he said, standing straight, slight arms crossed against his chest. “I’ll take you out of here if it gets messy,” he murmured.
More and more people were stepping into the street and surrounding Bucky to the point that the baffled soldiers had backed up to their vehicle and were calling for orders.
“Isn’t it interesting that the Army thinks they can come into ~our~ city and take one of ours without due process,” Danny’s voice rang out over the camera’s flashing and the people’s excited voices as they filmed the entire thing live on their Facebooks and Twitter accounts, because it had become a serious media event by this point.
“Excuse me, excuse me,” he said as he muscled through the protective crowd.
Bucky closed his eyes from where he was still on his knees until he felt the air displaced in front of him and he opened them to see Danny’s smirk as his nephew knelt in front of him.
“You gotta tell them to stop. The Army is all over the place, someone’s gonna get hurt.” Bucky told him desperately.
“Oh, I think that we’re not gonna have to worry about it, Uncle Bucky,” Danny said wryly and pulled Bucky to his feet, and Bucky could only stare at the sight around him.
The street was filled with people. People from Brooklyn and the surrounding area, mob guys, hipsters, mom’s with babies strapped to their chest, cabbies, cops, and more. There was a line of people in front of the Humvee and all of the soldiers has retreated to it, a senior NYC policeman was having a serious discussion with the Army Lieutenant, full of head shakes, pointing and arm waving.
“Danny!” a voice called and Bucky and Danny’s head swiveled to see Frank and Steve moving through the crowd. Stevie was wearing his famous suit, but the cowl was off and his blond head was like a beacon, clearing the path to them.
“Captain America!” people were murmuring.
“Great, I’m never gonna hear the end of this,” Bucky groaned. Danny swallowed a chuckle as his dad and Steve made it to them.
“Bucky Barnes,” Steve said with a giant grin and he wrapped Bucky up in a hug, in the middle of Brooklyn’s streets, in front of God and everybody.
“Punk,” Bucky murmured back into Steve’s shoulder, eyes closed against the burn of tears.
Becca and Darcy were both crying as they watched the news, watching as their city surrounded Bucky with their love and support.
Epilogue-a year later
“No,” Bucky said, shaking his head at the man in front of him. “I don’t want to be part of the Avengers. I know I told you this already,” he added with exasperation, pointing the greasy wrench he was holding with emphasis.
“C’mon Buck,” Steve wheedled from the stool he was perched on, watching as Bucky fiddled with the car he was fixing.
It had taken time for his pardon to make it through the courts, the entirety of his torture, brainwashing by Russia and Hydra and the elements of the U.S. Government who’d known about it (General Ross had been detained for a court-martial after his part of the Hulk debacle and his knowledge of Bucky’s imprisonment tanking the man’s career and Presidential aspirations) at the top of the news for months.
Princess Shuri and Dr. Banner had worked successfully to remove the triggers words after months of therapy, physical and mental. Support from his family and Brooklyn had meant more to him that anything.
“Punk, I love you, truly, but I don’t want to spend every waking moment with ya. I’ve got my own stuff, so give your boss a most sincere ‘Fuck off’ from me, will ya?” He stuck his head under the hood of Linda’s SUV.
Steve sighed, “Fine,” he pouted.
Bucky peered at him from where he was bent down and sighed, “You look like Sister Margaret took your book away.”
“She always gave it back,” Steve reminded him brightly.
“Cause she was a sucker for your baby blues but I’m made of sterner stuff,” Bucky retorted but his sternness was ruined by the smirk on his face as he tightened the bolt. He finished up and stood, wiping his greasy hands on a rag as he regarded his friend.
“I’m not ready, Stevie. I might not ever be ready.”
Steve looked at him for a long moment. “Yeah, okay.”
The backdoor opened and Becca stood there, hands on her hips. “Listen boyos, you need to get in here and wash up. Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes.”
Steve and Bucky looked over at her and for a moment, both of them saw the stubborn young woman they’d left behind when they went to war. She’d had a long life they had missed, but they were grateful for the little time they had left with her. Though the way she was going, she might outlive them all.
“Is Darcy coming?” Bucky asked, letting the hood slam down.
“Of course, and she’s bringing Jane.”
“Kicking and screaming, I’ll bet,” Steve said wryly, making Bucky laugh. They’d gotten to know Darcy’s boss and she was a spit fire, standing toe to toe with anyone (usually Stark) when she felt like the other person was wrong. She was also a helluva friend to Darcy and for Bucky, that’s all that really mattered.
“C’mon, Punk. I’ll race you to the kitchen,” Bucky said, shoved Steve hard enough to fall over and raced for the back steps.
“Hey! Cheater!” Steve called and got to his feet, a grin on his face as he raced after the other half of his soul.
Holy Cats-this is DONE!!!