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Coiling Up His Ropes

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James Buchanan Barnes died in 1940.

Steven Grant Rogers never thought he could outlive his best friend. With his health and his size? It seemed almost like a nightmare.

Bucky’s family had offered him a place to stay, since Bucky had been the one to earn most of the money. Steve himself had always been too weak to work every day. But, as stubborn as he was, he couldn’t accept it. He’d rather die on the streets than be an inconvenience to the Barnes' family.

Steve was standing at his friend’s grave. He couldn’t believe this was happening. It was not fair. It was too cruel for words.

They had known each other since they were children. Bucky was Steve’s day and night, and the other way around. Every day, they would see each other. When Steve’s mother died of cancer, Bucky was there to hold him and dry his tears.

He sometimes wondered if he even deserved such a friend.

When Steve was sick, Bucky would be there to make him chicken broth and tell him a joke to cheer him up.

Steve smiled fondly at the memory. They had been living together for a few years now. While Bucky was working at the docks, Steve tried to earn money by working for the neighbours and doing drawing commissions for anyone who would ask. Steve had a passion for drawing, and he was always excited when he and Bucky had a few dollars to spare for some extra pencils.

Day after day, Steve could be found sitting by Bucky’s grave. Softly talking, or drawing, or sometimes even singing. But no one would answer him. Bucky was no more.

That was the moment Steve decided to bring him back.
His plan seemed to be no more than a dream at first, but the tiny blonde was diligent and ambitious.

It would take him days and months and years before he was even close to discovering the formula of bringing back the dead.

***

The night was bleak and dark when Steve came to the graveyard with a shovel and a bag. He smiled happily at the sight of Bucky’s tombstone, because this time, his visit meant something entirely different.

He put the shovel against the cold ground and started to dig. Steve, being not as strong as an average man his age, felt sweat on his forehead before he could see any signs of the coffin. He had to stop to catch his breath again.

But he succeeded. He laughed with triumph. He jumped down to the coffin and opened it, seeing his beloved, but very dead friend. Steve had to cover his nose with his scarf: the smell was unbearable. God, the smell alone made Steve doubt his actions.

Nonetheless, he kneeled down to pull Bucky Barnes’ body out of the coffin. This task seemed simpler than it actually was. Steve was hauling with all his might, but he almost couldn’t keep up with the hefty body of his dead friend. Steve did not give up though, and at last he dragged the body on the floor with a satisfied sigh. Steve looked up, searching the graveyard for any signs of life. But the place was abandoned and silent, except for the leaves in the trees. The wind made him shiver slightly.

Steve had to act fast now, because dragging a body across New York without getting noticed was almost impossible.

“I’m sorry Buck, but I got no other choice.” Said Steve with a grimace as he pulled out a saw from his bag.

***

Steve made his way back to his apartment in silence, occasionally glancing around for any signs of being followed. He climbed up the stairs, all the way to the top floor. Since he couldn’t afford a place lower with the money he made, he had to make do with this. Walking up the stairs was bad for his asthma. He had to occasionally stop to catch his breath as he did now.

“Steve, where have you been at this time of day?” Sounded a voice, and Steve wiped around in a hurry. He stood face to face with his next door neighbor, Ms. Hallaway.

“Oh, nothing, Ms. Hallaway. I was just going out for a-,” He pointed at the stairs, “stroll.”

“Well, that seems to be good for you, boy. You seem to be inside a lot lately.” She said with a raised brow and a shake of her head.

Steve bit the inside of his cheek, and glanced at the door. He was so close to safety, but he also didn’t want to raise any suspicion. “I am just a little sick lately.” He faked a cough. “I better rest for now.”

Ms. Hallaway looked worried. ‘You do that. It’s better that you rest well for now.”

“Y-yeah, goodnight.” With a blink of the eye, Steve had opened the door and closed it again. He rested his back against the door and took a long, deep breath. ‘Thank God.” He murmured at the sky.

He had already emptied the table and covered it with an old sheet for Bucky to rest. He was quick to sow Bucky’s body parts back together. He winced, because it was awful to watch and even crueler to do. But Steve had no other choice. He put Bucky’s body on the table, cleaning his grey skin with a wet cloth. He got rid of the maggots and dirt that was all over the dead man.

“Don’t worry Buck, you are going to get better.” Steve said silently as he fondled Bucky’s cheek. God, he couldn’t wait to speak to him again after all those years of preparing. He boiled himself some warm water for tea and waited on the couch, staring out of the window until it started to rain.

When it started to pour, he knew it was time.

***

James Buchanan Barnes died in 1940 at the age of 23.

He knew it wasn’t fair, and he never thought he would die earlier than his best friend Steven Grant Rogers. But life is life, and it works in mysterious ways. It was painful to leave his family behind.

Then again, he was dead, what could he know? He hadn’t seen them cry or mourn. He just assumed they had done so.

What he did know is that he gasped for air and opened his eyes 6 years later, on a cold, stormy night. He gasped and coughed and wheezed and he could feel tears in the corners of his eyes. He felt a hand rub his shoulders.

“Hey, calm down pal. Calm down.”

When he finally calmed down, he panted softly and looked at Steve Rogers’ smiling face.

“Where am I?” Bucky rasped breathlessly.

***

Steve couldn’t believe his luck as he stared into the dark brown eyes of his formerly dead friend. Bucky had successfully been revived. Steve had managed to do it! He felt tears in the corners of his eyes, because this meant that it was not the end of their lives. He gave Bucky a tight hug and cried of joy.

“Buck, I can’t believe you are here. I missed you so much.” He sniffed, and he squeezed the man tighter as he felt a familiar hand caressing his back.

“What happened? I don’t understand.” Said Bucky softly. “Didn’t I-, y’know, die?”

“Yes, you did. But I brought you back. Isn’t it amazing?” Steve looked at Bucky and smiled broadly.

Bucky looked confused at the blonde. “You? Brought me back? What? How?”

Steve laughed as he jumped off the table. “Don’t ask me how! Just be happy!” He looked at his formerly dead friend and felt his heart swell up with joy and pride. He was really here. “Are you hungry? Or thirsty? Tell me, what do you feel?”

Bucky sighed deeply and blinked a few times, as if he was trying to find out what he was feeling, “Tired. Not hungry, no.” He glanced around the room. He looked puzzled at the room. “I dunno. Um, Steve, how long was I gone?”

“6 years.”

“6 years?!” Bucky cried with horror.

Steve turned pale as Bucky jumped off the table in a hurry and ran towards the bathroom. He cautiously followed the man and saw him staring at his own reflection. He had to admit, Bucky didn’t look much like his former self. His hair was a mess, his skin was grey and his finger nails were black and filthy. Steve didn’t think it much of a problem. But for Bucky, it had to be the most awful thing to bear. He kept touching his face, to see if it was real. His eyes looked tired and sad and when he tried to touch his hair, he had plucked a handful of dirty, brown-grey strands in his hand.
“What the fuck did you do to me?!” He said with wide eyes.

Steve shook his head and gently pulled James away from the mirror.

"Don’t worry about that. Nothing we can’t fix together, right? Just like old times.” He pulled Bucky’s arm. However, he accidently tugged too hard and with a plop, he held Bucky’s arm in his hand. Bucky’s face showed absolute disgust. He started to scream, loudly.

“WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?” He yelled as he stepped away from his arm and his friend. “A-AM I SOME SORT OF FRANKESTEIN’S MONSTER?” He looked haunted at the sights of his fingers that were still moving on the torn out limb.

“Don’t worry, I-I can fix it. Please, just stay calm.” Steve said while putting the arm down.

“Steve, how in fuck’s name am I supposed to remain calm?”

Steve looked in absolute pain at Bucky as he was shaking terribly. He stood petrified in the corner of the room. “Please, we can work this out. Do you feel any pain?”

Bucky looked with wide eyes at Steve, and then raised his shoulders. “I dunno... I really dunno.”

“Come, sit on the couch and I’ll sow the arm back, okay? Then I’ll make you some tea. Sounds good?”

Steve smiled as Bucky nodded and obediently sat down on the couch. This reunion wasn’t exactly as Steve had planned, but they would work it out, Steve was sure of it.
Bucky remained paralyzed on the couch as Steve made some tea. He didn’t say anything anymore. Only when Steve handed him a cigarette he started to unwind.

“Why did you bring me here, Steve?“ Bucky said, breaking the silence.

Steve bit his lip, “I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet.” He did not look at Bucky. He heard him sigh softly and inhaling the cigarette.

This will pass, Steve told himself firmly and he closed his eyes.

***

When Steve woke the next day, he jumped up.

“Shit, fuck, shit fuck!” He cursed as he put on his pants and his shirt. He stumbled out of the bedroom to find Bucky sitting on the couch, staring bemused at him.

“What’s wrong?!” He asked, ready to stand up at Steve’s worried form.
Steve took a deep breath and chuckled. “I thought-“ He put a hand on his forehead. “I just thought you were gone! But it wasn’t a dream. You are really back!” Steve said with relief.

Bucky nodded while sitting back down, his jaw was tense as he tried to fake a smile. Steve noticed none of it, as he walked to the kitchen to make breakfast. “Do you want to eat anything?” He asked.

“No, I’m good.” Bucky said with a dull undertone. Steve looked at the brunet.
“Are you okay? You need to eat to regain energy, y’know?”

Bucky scowled and looked away. “Yeah… I’m just not hungry.”

Steve wanted to object, but he decided it was good for now. There was no need to upset his friend. Especially after such a rough night.

He sat down at the kitchen table, and was surprised to see Bucky join him. Just like old times, Steve thought joyfully.

“So,” Bucky began with a cough. “I see you moved out of our old place.” He said with a glance around. “What have you been doing these past 6 years?”

Steve gladly told him about the years studying and learning about the wonders of bringing back the dead. He had spent all his time to bring his friend back to the land of the living. Bucky did not seem happy. It seemed to only make his frown deepen.

“So you have done nothing else, except working on bringing me back?” Bucky asked.

‘”Well, of course I had to work. It has been awfully rough without you… but I managed!” Steve took a bite from his toast. He swallowed and looked at Bucky, who looked at his own grey hands.

***

“Let’s get you clean.”

Steve put on his coat and was ready to go downstairs to get some water.
“I’ll be back in a few,” he said.

“Wait, let me help. God, Steve,” Bucky put a hand on his head, “That’s gotta be bad for your back, pal.”

“I can manage. We don’t want to raise any unwanted attention until you’re patched up. Stay put. Don’t move.” He pointed at the couch, and Bucky huffed in annoyance.

***

Steve started to pump the water into the bucket with great effort. He was overjoyed. He couldn’t wait to get back up and get Bucky clean. Maybe they could go to the park afterwards.

When he returned upstairs, he was exhausted already, but opening the door and seeing Bucky sitting on the couch gave him strength. “Ready?”

He filled a wooden tub with water and even boiled some water so the water wouldn’t be freezing. Bucky stripped himself off his clothes and lowered himself in the small tub, his knees against his chest.

“Here’s some soap.” Said Steve as he handed him a small bar of soap.

“Thanks.” Bucky responded as he started scrubbing. Immediately, a piece of skin started to fall off and Steve and Bucky stared at it. Bucky was trying not to look utterly disgusted at the sight of his own skin falling off. He swallowed and continued to clean himself in silence.

When he was done and dry, he put on his old clothes Steve still kept. The rest he had sold. Bucky did smell much better, but his face was still skinny and grey, with huge, purple bags under his eyes.

“How do you feel?”

“I dunno Steve… how do you feel?” Bucky sounded uncertain.

“Great.” Steve hugged the taller man. “I’ve missed you.”

“I know Steve, I know.” Bucky breathed sadly.

***

“Wow, the bakery is gone…”

Steve and Bucky were walking around Brooklyn. Bucky had a scarf wrapped around his face and a hat on his head to hide his eyes. Not that anyone would suspect he had been raised from the dead. Of course not.

“Yes. Closed down last year. Gotta walk a few extra blocks for my bread now.” Steve chuckled. “But now I won’t be a problem.” He nudged Bucky’s side.

“Heh, yeah.” Bucky said toneless. “So,” he continued, “what, uh, are your plans?”

Steve stopped walking and looked at his friend. “What do you mean?”

Bucky looked at the ground. “I mean… with me?”

Steve looked at Bucky with a raised brow. “We can do whatever we want to, I suppose.” He said with a smile. “We can go to Coney Island if you want?”
Bucky shook his head grimly. “No, not really.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Maybe it’s best we head back home. I’m pretty tired.” Bucky started to chuckle gravely. “Hadn’t slept a wink last night.”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever you want, Buck.” Steve felt his stomach drop, but he put on his best smile to ensure everything was alright. He was just happy Bucky was back.

***

“Do you feel alright?” asked Steve as he sat down next Bucky who had draped himself on the couch.

Bucky did not answer, but just closed his eyes. He put his head on Steve’s lap, who tenderly played with his hair.

“I’m happy you are back” Steve said softly. He smiled down at the brunet who stared at him with a scoff quietly.

“Please, Rogers, I look terrible.” He responded while covering his face with his hands.

“Don’t bring yourself down, please. Maybe we need to put some make-up on. Wouldn’t look to bad on ya.”

They laughed and a comfortable silence fell.

“Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea, though.”

***

There was a knock on the door. Steve and Bucky both looked up.

Steve slapped himself. “I forgot. Ms. Hallaway wanted to bring me some soup. I told her I was sick.” He stood up. “Just in case, hide in the bathroom.” James did so, and when the bathroom door was closed, Steve opened the door to stand face to face with…

“Rebecca? What are you doing here?” Steve became pale as he saw Bucky Barnes’ sister in his doorway.

“Hello Steve. I haven’t heard from you for a while now. I came by to see if you were alright.” She held up a basket. “I brought a delicious stew we knew you wouldn’t want to miss.” She smiled sweetly.

Steve sighed mentally, because he couldn’t let her stand in the doorway. It was not Steve Rogers’ style and it would only raise suspicion. Especially since he had been locking himself up for so many years now. “Uh, yeah. Come inside, please. I don’t have long though. Y’know, work, work, work.” He tried to laugh off.
“Oh, it’s no big deal. I’ll be gone in a blink of an eye. Hey, have you changed the place?” She said, gesturing at the table in the middle of the room.
“No, it’s only for a… project of mine.”

After some quick chitchat, Rebecca finally left. Deep down, Steve felt grateful for such a good friend. She knew he had it difficult with Bucky’s death and she had always been there to offer help.

He opened the bathroom door for Bucky, who looked around the room.

“So… ‘Becca’s still around New York it seems.” Bucky stated gloomily.

“Sorry you couldn’t talk to her… I know it must be difficult for y-”

“Oh, Sorry Steve, I forgot my-“ Rebecca’s eyes grew the size of dinner plates and shrieked at the sight of Bucky Barnes’ grey and tired form. From her point of view, it was clearly her dead brother. Bucky inhaled his breath.

“’Becca, please-”

“What the- Steve? W-” She reached for her head, and passed out right there in the doorway.

Steve and Bucky looked at each other with wide eyes.

“I-”

“Help me get her on the couch.” Said Steve softly.

Bucky was staring sadly at his sister. Of course, he did know she was just in shock because she thought she had seen her brother who was supposed to be dead. Nonetheless, it hurt him… a lot.

“What are we going to do?” Asked Bucky as he put a hand in his hair.

“Don’t worry. It’s a good thing she passed out.” Steve shrugged.

Bucky glared back at him, clearly not happy with the result of this reunion.

“Look,” Steve pointed at Rebecca, “I’ll tell her she passed out. That’s it. She’ll figure out she saw an hallucination on her own.”

“Yeah, but she did not. Can’t we just tell her?”

“How do you want to tell her? She’ll freak out.” Steve shot back.

“It’s just… keeping secrets will only make it worse… Steve, just-”

“No Bucky, we can’t tell anyone. Don’t do this now, please”

Bucky glared at him and stood up. “Fine.” He marched out of the apartment. Steve quickly jumped up and followed him.

“W-where are you going?”

“Just getting some fresh air. Don’t worry. I’m not going to spill any secrets, okay.” He spat back as he wrapped a scarf around over his mouth. Steve swallowed nervously.

“Fine, just be back on time.” All he heard was some muffled response. Steve turned towards Rebecca with a sigh.

***

When Bucky returned, Rebecca was long gone. When she woke, she only looked around and apologized for suddenly fainting. It took Steve minimum effort to convince her the sight of her dead brother was just in her mind. She left with an extra sorry and that was it.

Steve was already eating dinner as his friend returned. “Hey, dinner is ready.” Steve said as Bucky closed the door behind him.

“I’m not hungry.”

“Not hungry? Well, okay…”

Bucky sat down on the couch, while Steve ate in silence. The blond man observed him quietly. Bucky didn’t look happy at all. He appeared tired, but maybe it was because of his skin. It probably was.

After he cleaned up he sat down next to Bucky.

“Are you still upset about Rebecca?” Steve asked.

Bucky looked at the shorter man, with sad, brown eyes.

“I know it shouldn’t upset me. Things are different now. It just… hurts.” He looked away again. Steve rubbed his hand. “I’ll be fine…”

“I’m sorry, Buck.”

Bucky sighed, but smiled gently, “Does that offer for Coney Island still stand?”

***

Coney Island was busy at this time of year. Steve looked at Bucky as he paid for their tickets.

“What’s wrong?” He asked as Bucky stood there, holding his arms tightly against his chest.

“Is this a good idea? It looks pretty busy. What if-” He swallowed nervously. But Steve just smiled and walked up to his friend. He tightened the scarf around his neck, so it covered his face.

“If anyone finds out about you, then we’ll figure it out. Just,” Steve huffed a laugh, “relax and enjoy this, okay?”

Bucky smiled and rolled his eyes, “Fine, okay. You’re a little punk, y’know that?”

The rest of the day was calm and enjoyable. Steve saw Bucky having fun in the different attractions. He even managed to convince Steve to go into the roller coaster. This time Steve did not puke. He only laughed until his stomach hurt.

When they found themselves in the hall of mirrors, something changed in Bucky’s behavior. At first, Steve thought it was because the mirrors tend make one dizzy, but when he got closer he saw Bucky look closely at his reflection. He quickly grabbed Bucky’s hand, ready to comfort his friend.

“I don’t want to be here anymore.” He only said in whisper. He then turned around and walked off. Steve sighed to himself. Maybe he made a mistake in this all.

He walked outside and saw Bucky sitting on a bench. They sat down next to each other. Steve took Bucky’s hand and caressed it carefully.

***

Steve saw Bucky trying to enjoy his time back in the world of the living. Steve never saw him sleep and doubted if he ever did. Anyways, Bucky always smiled and laughed.
Unfortunately, Steve knew him longer than today. Steve loved him too much to let him go. So he did not question it. He kept on making meals for two-persons, even though Bucky always declined.

He was shocked as he saw Bucky lean over his toilet, spitting blood and vomit and coughing violently.

“Oh my God.” Steve kneeled down next to his friend and rubbed his back. When Bucky stopped coughing and was only heaving and panting, Steve grabbed a wet towel and helped Bucky on his legs so he could lay down on the couch. Bucky was sweating and Steve became increasingly worried. He did not know what was happening. Could Bucky even get sick?

“Tell me what happened.”

“I tried to eat something…” Said Bucky with his eyes closed and a deep breath. He then sat upright and wiped his forehead. “I feel weird. I think my stomach don’t work anymore.”

“Okay, okay. No more food for you. We’ll scrap that.”

“I’m tired.”

“When was the last time you slept?”

“I-“ Bucky stopped talking abruptly and looked to his shoes. “I can’t sleep. I tried.”
Steve didn’t know what to do and bit the inside of his cheek. “Then… we’ll just scrap all activities that require a lot of energy and--”

“Steve,” Bucky put a hand on Steve’s shoulder. He looked solemnly at the smaller man, “you know what to do…”

“You-?” Steve’s eyes widened. “What? No. No, that’s out of the question.” His shoulder dropped and he blinked his eyes rapidly. Bucky looked sadly at him and turned away. Steve winced and bit his lip.

“Just see how it goes. We can work this out. You’ll get better. We’ll get better.” Steve said firmly. He couldn’t lose because of a minor setback. He’d worked too hard and he’d lost too much already. He was not ready to lose anything again.

Bucky lay down again and closed his eyes.

***

Steve and Bucky were lying in bed, since there was only one to share. Bucky’s skin was cold but familiar. Bucky hated it. Before he died he was able to warm Steve up very easily, but now Steve only shivered more when they lay side to side.

“Do you remember being dead?”

Bucky hummed in response, “Yeah.”

“Wow, how was it?” Steve put a hand under his head and looked at Bucky with curiosity.
“It was… peaceful. Calm. Silent. I don’t know. T’is really hard to explain.”

“Is there a heaven?”

“No.”

Steve snuggled closer to Bucky and wrapped his hand in Bucky’s.
Bucky pulled his hand back.

“What’s wrong?” Asked Steve as he held his breath.

Bucky remained silent for a long time, until he finally spoke,
“I don’t feel anything, Steve.” He managed to say. Tension hung heavily in the air.

Steve shot up in his bed. “What when did that happen?”

Bucky shrugged and looked in Steve’s direction. Steve was barely able to make out his form in the dark.

“Since I woke up. I didn’t want to say anything but… it makes me uncomfortable. So don’t do it. Touch me I mean.”

Steve was at a loss for words. All that time, Bucky kept it from him. All the touches and pain and coldness: it was all gone for Bucky.

“Why didn’t you tell me? This is important, y’know.” Steve shot to Bucky.

“Well I’m sorry, Steve. I didn’t want to worry you. Besides, I told you now. So lie down and sleep.” Bucky shot back just as loudly as Steve did. His tone became softer.

“Please, let it go for now.”

Steve lay down and they sighed together in silence.

***

They were sitting in the apartment. Steve was drawing and leaning against Bucky’s side.

“I’m sure that after some rest you will be fine. We’ll do whatever you want.” Steve said while scratching on the paper. Bucky said nothing and sat motionless on the couch.

“Do you want some tea?” asked Steve finally. Bucky looked at him, and smiled.

“Yeah, I’ll make some for us.” Bucky said as he stood up. Steve carefully watched him as he put the kettle on the stove.

“It’s probably weird to ask if I can see my folks again, right?” Bucky asked softly, not looking at Steve.

Steve put his paper and pencil down. “Well, it will be risky, but if you really want to-”

“No, it’s fine.” Bucky interrupted him. “Uh… are they okay, though?” He asked softly.

“Yes, I think so.”

“Okay.” Bucky started to pour the tea in the mugs, but it started to spill over the edge. His hands were shaking.

“Whoah, calm down.” Steve rushed towards his side, clasping the kettle and holding Bucky’s trembling hands. To his surprise, he saw that Bucky was crying.

“I dunno what’s happening to me...” He wept softly. Steve felt miserable for seeing his friend like this.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be okay.” He cooed gently as he rubbed Bucky’s hands. He sat Bucky down on the couch and rubbed his back.

“I don’t feel anything Stevie. It scares me to the core.” Bucky murmured with a clenched jaw. “I don’t feel right. Something is terribly wrong with me.”

Steve nodded as he rubbed Bucky’s hands again. “You’ll grow accustomed to it. You are only back for a few days now. Of course it’s weird for now.” He looked at Bucky. “Well do it together. I’ll be there every step of the way.”

“No, you don’t understand…” Bucky sniffed ash e pulled his hands back. “I’m not supposed to be here. Why did you bring me back?!” He said, a hint of fear in his tone.

Steve looked at Bucky with wide eyes. “W-What are you saying?”

“Steve. Maybe it’s best if you let me go. I don’t belong here.”

Steve couldn’t believe his ears. After all the possible ways of failing, he never thought it would be Bucky himself to be the cause. He shook his head and gritted his teeth. “S-so this is how you thank me?”

“Steve-”

“No,” Steve jumped up, with tears in the corner of his eyes. “I spend 6 fucking years trying to bring you back! I was miserable and n-now you are here-” He took a deep breath. “Now you’re here and you want to go back?”

“Steve, you know this is wrong!” Bucky shot back.

“I don’t care if it’s wrong. You didn’t deserve to die. Hell, I’d trade myself for you if I could.”

“Steve, just listen to m-“

“I don’t know what I was supposed to do without you.”

Bucky closed his mouth and stared at Steve with sad eyes.

Steve shook his head again. God, he fucked up so bad. He started to shake and he kneeled down to grab Bucky by his shirt. “Please Buck, you can’t leave me. I can’t lose you again. I just- fuck…” He buried his head in Bucky’s chest and just wept silently. Bucky held him tightly.

“Steve, I know we want things to be different. It’s not easy to leave you… but you got to let me go.”

“I thought you cared about me? I thought you’d want to be with me again…”

Bucky tensed and looked away. “I do Steve. You have no idea how much I love you. How much I want to stay and try to be normal: my old self..”

“But?” Steve asked bitterly.

“But I’m not. I’m only tired... All the time. I can’t do this anymore.”

Steve sobbed, “You died so young. It’s not fair.”

“Life isn’t far.” Bucky chuckled sadly.

“Wow, fuck you…” Steve chuckled with tears in his eyes. He pressed his head into Bucky’s chest and hugged him.

“Can we just have one day together… so I can prepare myself?”

“Yeah, sure Stevie. We can do that.”

***

Steve lay awake that night, pressing his head against Bucky’s shoulder. He felt Bucky’s chest rise up and down in a calming way. He crawled closer to the man, feeling his coldness seep into his own skin. He did not care at all. He felt like nothing mattered anymore except this last night.

The next morning, Steve brought Bucky to his favorite place in the park. Bucky had left his scarf behind, because it would not matter now. No point in keeping the secret, when the secret was over the next day. They brought out his blanket and they sat down together, looking up at the clouds. The warmth of the sun felt pleasant on Steve’s skin and he now felt guilty for taking this feeling from Bucky. He didn’t feel any of this. The breeze of the wind, the smell of the grass.

“So what are you planning on doing when I’m gone?” Asked Bucky sweetly.
Steve took a deep breath and he smiled to himself, “Work again, I suppose. Draw of course. Maybe if I earn enough I could start painting.”

“Y’know? I could rob a bank for you now. Then I’ll hand you the money. They will never find me anyway.” Bucky grinned.

“Shut up, jerk. You would never.”

“Maybe not… but for you I would.”

“You sap.”

Bucky sat upright and grabbed Steve by his shoulders and pulled him towards him.
“These last days were fun.” He said, his eyes sparkling as Steve looked at him. He felt a wave of joy because he was able to see it for a last time.

“I wish it could turn out differently though.” His joy was quickly replaced by an ache in his heart. He pulled up his knees and looked at a few doves picking some fallen crumbs. “Do you hate me for bringing you back?”

Bucky didn’t say anything until Steve looked at him.

“Do you hate me for wanting to go back?”

“No…”

“Then there is your answer.”

Bucky put an arm around Steve. “I know you’ll be fine without me. You don’t need a stupid looking guy like me to watch your back.”

Steve scoffed. “Shut up.”

***

“Well, this is goodbye then...” Steve bit back the tears as he looked at Bucky.
“I hope I won’t see you soon.” Bucky laughed. Only when he saw that Steve was unable to respond, he wrapped his arm around him and gave him a big, tight hug.

“Don’t forget what you are able to do. If you can bring me back, then you can do anything.”

Steve laughed in his chest and he felt Bucky’s shirt starting to get wet with his own tears.

“Please stay.” He murmured.

“I will always stay in your heart Steve. But please let me rest. I’m so tired.” Steve realized how selfish he had been. He had brought his friend back, thinking it would solve both of their problems. It did not, in the end.

“Then please rest.” He looked at Bucky and smiled beamed with joy. Bucky smiled back and kissed him softly on his forehead.

***

James Buchanan Barnes died in 1946.

Steve never would’ve thought he would outlive his best friend twice.