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In Between

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–A Month Later –

Upstate New York, U.S. // 3:00 P.M.

“Lunch was really good,” Bucky said softly as he walked with Sam in the park after they ate at a restaurant Sam had chosen.

“I’m surprised to hear that. I didn’t think you’d eat anything that didn’t have at least three courses,” Sam said joking lightly with him.

Bucky squint his eyes at Sam. “Is that what you think of me? A stuck up snob?”

Sam wrapped his arm around Bucky’s and leaned against him. “Oh no babe, I don’t think you’re a snob. You’re a little bougie but not a snob,” Sam clarified.

“‘A little bougie’,” Bucky said considering Sam’s words.

“You might be a lotta bougie,” Sam said smiling wide when Bucky looked at him again. “But that’s just how you are and I like you just the same.”

“Yeah?” Bucky asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said assuring him as he looked into his eyes. “Thank you for coming with me to the art museum as well.”

“No problem, I enjoyed it,” Bucky said as they walked down near the fountain in the center of the park.

“I took my students last month on a field trip to a different show they had and I really wanted to return to that printmaking exhibition. Just didn’t think I’d make it back to see it,” Sam explained.

Bucky smiled on the inside that he’d been able to do something special like that with Sam.

“All of the work was amazing,” Bucky added.

“Wasn’t it?! Just phenomenal the level of skill required to achieve that detail,” Sam said as he gushed about the artwork they’d seen on display.

He glanced at Bucky and felt comfortable enough in the moment to speak freely between the two of them.

“I always wanted to go to the Louvre and see their collection of Rembrandt etchings,” Sam admitted softly. “Maybe one day…we could go together.”

It was a dream Sam had had since he was a kid. He’d never shared it with anyone. Sam wasn’t much of an artist but he was a reader. He’d fallen in love with the illustrated pages of old books. Once he learned how they were made he became enamored with the process and techniques of printmaking.

Bucky considered Sam’s words and thought about how many times he’d been to Paris just this year. He realized he’d never set foot in the Louvre or anywhere near it for that matter. He bit his tongue on agreeing with Sam about seeing it together one day. As amazing as it sounded to see that work with Sam and experience his joy at seeing it, Bucky couldn’t bring his self to give Sam false hope about something he knew Sam wanted dearly.

Sam took note of Bucky’s silence after his statement and laughed softly.

“I know I’m moving kind of fast talking about traveling internationally together and whatnot,” Sam said stopping them in their tracks to look at Bucky. “But it can’t hurt to talk about the future right?”

Sam wanted to take things slowly with Bucky; he wanted what they had to last. However he wanted Bucky to know, he could see his self with him for the long term.  

Bucky searched Sam’s eyes and felt that certain feeling coming back into his chest. He wanted nothing more than to dream of a future with Sam. Nevertheless Bucky knew every day in his line of work was not guaranteed, so he wouldn’t utter a promise to Sam but he could talk about that future.

Even if they may never see it together.

“You’re right, doesn’t hurt at all,” Bucky said softly as they began to walk again. “Would you only want to see that printmaking collection? Nothing else?”

Sam swooned at the thought. “Oh no, there’s tons of things I’d want to see there,” Sam said before he started talking about all of the different artworks he’d love to see as Bucky happily listened.

 

 


–Next Week –

Manhattan, New York, U.S. // 5:00 P.M.

Bucky loaded bullet after bullet into his backup clips as he watched Val from across the room as she strapped on her bulletproof vest in preparation for taking down his target. Bucky felt a bit of pride in being able to convince Val to help him gun it. He got up and strapped on his holsters as the movie they’d been watching to kill time continued to play; forgotten in the background as they prepared.

It was a tense evening for more reasons than one. They’d been planning for a month for this assignment only for the target to end up in Bucky’s city at the last minute! That took adjustments but nothing either of them couldn’t handle. Val caught a flight within the last two hours and made it just in time. It didn’t help that Bucky had other things on his mind as well.  

Val checked her watch and saw they needed to leave immediately.

“Let’s go. If we leave now we can get there with five minutes to get into position,” she said slipping on a black jacket.

"Let's make this quick shall we? I have a dinner date tonight," Bucky said picking up the sniper rifle case off of the bed. Val rented a vehicle so he could use his own weapon on the job.  

Val just looked over at him. "What?” she asked in confusion.

“I have a date,” Bucky said simply not seeing the problem.

“Who the hell are you anymore?" Val wondered, hoping to high Heaven whatever Bucky was talking about wouldn’t get in the way of the job.

 

They arrived three minutes before the target and ungracefully got in position. Bucky cringed at how unorganized he felt in the moment but decided to roll with it. He ran over the plan in his mind again to make sure he knew what to do and looked to Val crouched with him in the stairwell landing on the ninth floor.

Val watched her phone closely. Silence rang through the stairwell as they waited. Val watched and waited and began to countdown with her fingers. At one, Bucky checked the security camera and saw the target leaving the office.

“Now,” Bucky whispered.

Val cut power to the elevator as Bucky watched the group of men walk down the hall to the elevator’s at the other end of the hall where they’d be pinned.

Just before they arrived at the elevator, with the element of surprise on their side, Bucky and Val stepped out of the stairwell, a hallway’s distance away from the target and opened fire.

Gunfire rang out loudly. Dust and plaster from the walls being shredded, kicked up into the air clouding their line of sight down the hallway. Val gave cover fire as Bucky switched to his sniper and lined up for the shot at Walker. But he couldn’t see him.

Halt,” Bucky said in his comms to Val so she could hear him.

She ceased fire and allowed the dust to thin a bit. It took only seconds for them to realize there was no one at the other end of the hall. No bodies, no blood, nothing.

“What the fuck?” Val said astonished.

The next second the group of men reappeared raining bullets back at them from the other end of the hall.

FUCK!” They cried rushing back into the stairwell.

“What the fuck?!” Bucky cried as he cringed. He’d just barely caught a bullet in his vest near his left side. Two inches further to the left, it would have missed the plate and he would have taken it right below his rib cage.

“I told you this wouldn’t be easy,” she said opening the duffle bag they prepared as Plan B. She handed Bucky a bulletproof helmet to protect his head and shield his face from cameras.

What the hell is wrong with the elevator?!” They heard from out in the hall.

I DON’T CARE GET IT WORKING NOW!!!” They heard soon after.

“How much longer do we have with the elevator?” Bucky asked as he drafted a quick text to Sam from his watch to tell him they’ll have to push their date back an hour and that things ran late at work.

“Two minutes maybe,” Val said slipping on her helmet and cocking her rifle. “You’re texting?!!! Right now!? Seriously!?

“Letting him know I’m going to be late,” Bucky said as he sent the text. He slipped on his helmet and reloaded his gun.

He was pissed now. He was going to be late for dinner.

They headed back into the hall and heard, “HEADS UP!

Val opened fired as they slowly pushed up the hallway toward the elevator. Walker’s henchmen were shooting around corners but Bucky was picking them off one by one as they inched closer. The elevator dinged and lit up as two henchmen ushered Walker into the elevator and shielded him as three others continued firing at them. Bucky tried to shoot through one of the henchmen but only succeeded in shooting the man in what was probably a bulletproof vest.

Angry that Walker was going to get away, Bucky landed a head shot on one of the remaining men as Val took out the other two.

“Dammit!” Bucky cried underneath his helmet. The elevator doors had shut! Walker had gotten away.

“We need to leave. Now!” Val said running back up the hall toward the stairwell to get the duffle and back up to the roof so they could hop over to the next building. Bucky followed close behind her. Troubled that nothing in his plan had worked out.

 

Upon arriving back in the hotel room, for his own sanity, Bucky pushed aside his anger at the fact he missed his target and rushed to undress and pack away his gear. Val changed out of her lightweight tactical gear and took off her bulletproof vest.

“Bucky.”

He didn’t want to talk about it.

“Bucky.” Val was trying to get his attention.

“What Val!? WHAT!? I know I missed him. I know! That’s my problem. I’ll deal with it. But I have somewhere to be right now,” Bucky snapped.

He was angry at his self but he didn’t have the time to talk about what went wrong or if they could even remedy the situation. He wanted to run, wanted to forget the problem, leave it behind, if only for the next couple of hours.  

Val cocked her head to the side and threw her things back into her suitcase and zipped it closed.

“Whenever you snap out of playing house or whatever the fuck it is you’re doing, and get your head back in the game, you know where to find me,” she said heading out.

When the door to the hotel room closed behind her, Bucky rested his hands on his hips and sighed. He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair frustrated.

It had been twenty years. He had never missed a target.