“Here he is, Mr. Schmidt,” Zola’s unsettling high voice could be heard everywhere.
“Fascinating, is it not? I’ll have to wait to show you the full extent of it's programming until after it’s completed its mission… Asset! Look behind you…”
He turned to see Steve looking at him, pity all over his face. His metal arm was raised against his consent, a gun in hand, aimed at the wide blue eyes, ready to pull…
“Buck. Hey, Bucky… C’mon, wake up…”
Bucky’s eyes did not open, but his body slowly relaxed, mind released from its own prison.
“Was it bad?” Steve asked after a moment, running his fingers through Bucky’s hair. He sat up in their bed, looking down at his boyfriend.
Bucky sighed quietly. “I’ve had worse.”
“Aw, come on, Buck… Admit it. You’re getting better.”
“I know I am, Steve, it’s just…” Buck rolled over onto his back, looking up at him. “Sometimes, it- it just feels like I’m stuck in this one place, not moving one way or the other. And that I’ll be like this, forever. I won’t go anywhere…” He chuckled. “Kind of like I’m frozen, huh?”
“But you’re too hot to be frozen,” Steve said, adding a whine to his tone.
“If I’m so hot, how come I’m the Winter Soldier?” Bucky said sarcastically, adding his trademark smirk.
“‘Cause… ‘Cause you’re too cool… Too cool for Hydra, yeah…”
“I’m gettin’ kinda sick of these one-liners o’ yours, Rogers.”
“Come on, Barnes, I think they’re pretty ‘ice’.”
“Hey, you just need to chill out.”
“Did I ever tell you you’re my special snowflake?”
This was the one to break that stone cold scowl into a laughing grin. “C’mere, you big dork…”
“Aw, you cold?” Steve asked mockingly, but complying just the same. He adjusted the blanket and lay back down on the bed, allowing Bucky to spoon him.
After Bucky burrowed his nose into Steve’s neck, they laid there for a few content minutes. Steve’s eyelids were already drooping, about to fall back asleep…
“Steve.” Bucky’s tone was cold and serious.
“Mmm… yeah?” He was half-awake.
“Why is your heart beating so fast, and you’re covered in sweat?”
His eyes were now wide open, senses on high alert. Play it cool, now, Rogers. “I was just worried for you, Buck.” It was a reasonable excuse, right?
“Uh-huh. You’ll have that physical of a reaction when you become a better liar.”
“Come on, Steve, you can tell me. What’s wrong?” Bucky sat up, taking his body heat and part of the blanket with him. Chest exposed, Steve shivered.
“Bucky! It’s all fine! Is it so wrong for me to be worried about you?”
A look of determination crossed Buck’s face, his eyes alit with grit. “Steve.”
“Buck, it’s fine!”
“Don’t worry about it!”
He shrunk under Bucky’s gaze, feeling about as emotionally strong as he used to physically feel.
Avoiding Bucky’s hardened eyes, he couldn’t see the brunette’s expression as he pulled Steve closer to him, metal and flesh arms wrapping around his bare chest. Bucky’s chin resting on his head, he sort of melted in the strong grip of Bucky’s arms.
“Are you gonna tell me what’s wrong? Or are you just going to keep all your emotional baggage bottled up tight ‘till you explode?” His breath warmed the top of Steve’s head.
He stayed silent for a moment. “I… I had a nightmare this morning. It woke me up, then I saw you were having one too.”
No big reaction that he could tell in that silence. “Have you had these before?”
“Well, every once in a while…” Probably best to downplay the reality of years of restless nights.
“Steve! You need to tell me these things!” Bucky started. “I-”
“Why should I mention a little scary dream when you are still recovering!” You still have big nightmares! So there’s no point in bringing up a little issue of mine when your issues are more pressing and more important!”
He hadn’t realized he’d gotten fired up. He leaned back into Bucky, so very tired.
“Steve… You, you need to stop putting everyone else before yourself. You told me this a while ago, that you deserve to have the attention and treatment you need.” Bucky scooted to the side, bringing his concerned face into Steve’s view. He found his boyfriend’s hand in the entangles mess of their bodies and blankets, and grasped it. Tightly.
“Never thought I’d be the one saying this to you, but you are important, Stevie, not just Captain America. You deserve the best of everything in the whole world, and if you don’t see that, then god dammit, I will tell you this every single day of our crazy lives until you believe me. I-I realize now that I’ve kinda gotten off-track and that I’m rambling, but my point is that you can and should tell when things are wrong or upsetting you. God, I’m terrible at this, we just to get you a real therapist.”
He started chuckling nervously to himself, which brought Steve to laughter, and after that they were both laughing, at nothing and everything in particular.
Bucky pulled Steve closer, into a sort of laying down-cuddle-hug-spoon fusion. Instead of Steve comforting the brunette, it was now Bucky who ran his fingers through Steve’s hair. “You know I love you, Stevie.”
A smile crossed his face as he lay in his lover’s arms. “I know. And I love you too.”