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The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows

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Just stand in the darkness
And laugh with your heel on its throat
'Cause not everything means something, honey
So say the unsayable
Say the most human of things
And if everything is temporary
I will bear the unbearable
Terrible triteness of being...

- "The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows" by Gang of Youths

 

 

 

 

“Y'know, you done that about four times, sweetheart.”

Darcy stopped in her tracks, unable to make herself keep moving to avoid the conversation, which he was surely about to bring up. She was sort of a coward. Not about most things, but territorial boyfriends of exes was one of them. She didn’t know that before a six months ago, when she moved back to New York with Jane.

“What?” she said, spilling some coffee in her haste, flicking her scalded fingers, drops of the stuff falling to the tiles. She sighed, putting down her mug to find something to clean up.

Bucky Barnes was still standing nearby with his arms folded, and Darcy couldn’t stop her heart racing, her face burning with shame. She didn’t expect him to outright say it.

“Every time you see me you run in the other direction,” he went on, and Darcy avoided his gaze, dabbing at the spilled coffee with a paper towel, scrunching it up and tossing it aside.

She thought about letting that accusation hang there and ignore it. She didn’t need to talk to him. They didn’t hang out. They didn’t work together. Last she heard, he was still settling into the Tower, not doing active service.

“Steve told me,” he said, and her stomach dropped.

She couldn’t leave. Something told her she’d feel sick from the guilt if she didn’t talk to him. She finally glanced at him, setting her mouth in a thin line. Her hands settled on her lower back, her elbows out.

“I understand the whole bogeyman thing with the other guys, but…”

Darcy waited for him to say what made her different. The fling with Steve was a mistake. She knew that now. She never would have done something like that if she knew there was any possibility of Bucky being alive, and she was sure she didn’t have to check if Steve felt the same way.

The silence between them was taut, and she blinked a couple times. She didn’t do well with confrontations. She thought of her taser sitting in her desk drawer downstairs.

“Anyway,” he said, and she saw a flash of teeth. “You don’t have to…”

She felt very seen by those big blue eyes. It was her first time witnessing the famous Bucky Barnes charm. She’d seen some of the news reels from back in the day. She was pretty sure he and the other Howling Commandos were in her eighth grade history textbook. He was different in very obvious ways now. Those photographs from the 40s made him seem so green.

She realized he wasn’t going to wait for her to apologize. She didn’t plan on saying sorry, since it already happened. How was she even meant to phrase an apology to Bucky fucking Barnes, years after the fact?

Sorry that your boyfriend was inside me repeatedly for several weeks. We both thought you were dead. Congratulations on the reunion, though.

It would seem like an asshole move. She picked up her cup of coffee and left him there, walking back to the elevators. She played the conversation back. This historical figure, responsible for the Kennedy assassination, talking to her like he knew her. Worse still, he seemed to have made his mind up about her already. What had Steve told him?

She finally pressed the button for the labs, the doors closing. She tried to process it all, twisting his voice around in the memory, starting to convince herself that what she heard may have been different to his intent.

He probably hated her. She’d hate it if someone slept with someone she thought was hers. It happened once in college, but Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers were legendary now, for all sorts of reasons.

I understand the whole bogeyman thing with the other guys…

He meant the way people avoided him when he first got there. He was like a ticking time bomb, and they didn’t know what to do with him at first. When he came in, he was barely speaking from what Darcy had heard. The office gossip was not kind. She didn’t think he’d kill her for what happened with Steve. Maybe glare at her like he wanted to hurt her, but never actually touch her.

She spent the rest of the day distracted, playing back each step of the conversation. She imagined it going differently, maybe her puffing her chest out and provoking him, so he wouldn’t try engaging ever again. It wasn’t her style. She hated that she wasn’t so tough, despite everything she’d been through. She thought about texting Steve more than once.

But why the hell would she do that? How was that supposed to not come across as pathetic? Every time she thought of Steve now her guts would twist with dread. He hadn’t spoken to her since she’d come back. There was a distance there that shouldn’t be messed with.

She wished Barnes hadn’t said a thing. It fucked with her head for the rest of the week.

-

She was on the F Train, a new plant under her arm. The car was stifling, her shirt sticking to the back of her neck.

There was nowhere to sit, and she didn’t mind it so much with her headphones in, listening to some new tracks she’d added for her trip. She had the day off and she made the trip to find new things for her apartment. She’d been putting it off. One morning she looked around her living room and saw how sad and bare it all looked. She kept glancing down at the plant, seeing its leaves were brown around the edges. She grabbed it on the street for only a couple bucks, the guy was more interested in selling her the blue pot it came in. There were tiny little mirrors scattered throughout the polished surface.

She kept hitching the pot as it slipped, the sweat on her palm making her fumble. She kept reminding herself that she only needed to wait a few more stops and then she’d be close enough to walk back to the Tower.

A man got on wearing a dirty white t-shirt and jeans, looking like he hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks. He looked sunburnt and mean, and Darcy immediately tensed up as he moved closer to her, adjusting the backpack he had slung over his skinny shoulder. Darcy automatically scanned him, checking to see if he was noticing her. He looked at her for a microsecond, his eyes blank.

He could kill me.

She couldn’t stop the thought from bubbling up. The look in his eye changed in her head. She pictured him reaching into his backpack and taking out a knife. She thought about the surprise, the horror, the pain. She remembered putting her taser in her bag. If he turned to her with the knife, she might fumble the taser and it would be too late. What if she was stabbed because he went out to find some random woman on the subway? Could he be some kind of lone wolf?

She felt the sweat double under her arms, her stomach churning. Her heartbeat picked up and she unlocked her phone, trying to pretend she wasn’t panicking. She scrolled through her contacts.

Jane picked up after a few rings.

“Uh, hello? What’s up?”

Darcy didn’t know how to respond. Her mind and mouth didn’t match up for several seconds and Jane kept asking her, telling her she was hanging up.

“I didn’t buttdial you.”

“What’s up?”

“I-I just,” she babbled, “I’m on my way back…”

“I can’t really hear you.”

She did not appreciate Jane’s tone. She was edging towards impatience, or at least that’s what it felt like to Darcy. She wanted to reach outside of the car and stop the train somehow. She needed to get the fuck away from this guy who could at any second –

The doors opened and he walked out, Darcy’s body tingling as she heard Jane say her name in the distance.

“I can’t-I-I can’t…”

She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t get it out of her mouth that she couldn’t breathe. She stood still, Jane’s voice drifting in and out. She blinked, looking around. She wasn’t on the subway anymore. She’d got off, two stops too early, and she was standing in the sun with the plant still under her arm.

“Darcy?”

“I’m here,” she babbled, “I’m coming back.”

She hung up on Jane, feeling sick. People were moving past her in the street and she felt a sob bubble up and she bit the inside of her cheek. She stayed still, skipping through several songs, none of the lyrics sticking in her head long enough to register. Everything felt so wrong, and she didn’t know what to do, cycling through the shuffle mode of her playlist.

Happy songs weren’t helping perk her up. Sad songs were making her feel like a self-indulgent asshole. She couldn’t remember the last time this happened, but now she was afraid that music was no longer enough, and that was insane.

She managed to walk back to the Tower, keeping her eyes scanning the people she walked past. She felt like everyone could see it on her face, how fucked up she was. She got back to her apartment and sat on the couch in a stupor.

-

Steve came by the labs. She tried to not visibly shrink away from him. She knew what his come tasted like – that was her first thought when he showed up, dressed in his Under Armor shirt and pants. She didn’t know how people did this regularly – have sex with someone and then act like it never happened.

“Can we talk?”

She followed him out the door without another word. Jane tilted her head after them and Darcy shook her head, but she was sure her boss would think of all types of questions to ask. She walked with Steve to the exit, slipping out into the hallway.

“How are you?”

She rose her eyebrows at him when he asked this. She hadn’t spoken to him in months and now he was asking her how she was. Not that she blamed him for anything that happened. That was a weird time for everyone. It was just after the Avengers first got together and New York was reeling from the Chitauri attack. Steve had barely found his feet and he was a wreck.

Darcy knew she was the same.

“Good,” she replied, crossing her arms. He copied her. “You?”

She waited for him to mention Barnes and he didn’t stall too much. His brow pinched just the same, like it was difficult to breach the subject.

“You got that email about Bucky?”

She nodded. “I could say no, but then someone at HR is bound to ask why –”

“You can decline,” he said. Darcy didn’t appreciate the interruption. “You can even tell them why you don’t want the job.”

“Oh, can I?” she retorted, and he frowned some more. “Your generosity is second to none, Steven.”

Darcy was a petty little bitch at heart. She couldn’t help herself. The second it was out her mouth she felt her cheeks flush. She was meant to be more than this – the bitter ex, the one who was tossed aside. She reminded herself that she never even put up a fight.

“He doesn’t want it,” he said, his voice softer, lower.

Some people walked past and Darcy felt eyes on her. She leaned against the wall and waited for them to be alone again. She sensed Steve was watching her.

“You can’t force it, right? So –”

“I’m asking for you to try,” he said, and he held her gaze. “Please, Darce.”

“I’m not doing it for you,” she said. “Or him. I know this shit looks good on a resume.”

There was a hint of a smile on his face as she said this and she felt her own lips curl slightly. It was easy to laugh and smile around Steve Rogers. She hoped she wouldn’t fall back into it – wanting to make him laugh, to see the brightness of joy in his eyes. She remembered the way he’d clutch his chest when he had a really good howl at a joke she made.

Those memories were tainted now. She glanced away.

“Tell him I’ll come by tomorrow.”

-

She knocked on the apartment door, her insides twisting. There was every chance in the world that he’d tell her to fuck off – name and shame her for what happened, then everyone would know. It might mean she’d leave her job.

She waited half a minute, touching her hair, her hand dropping to her side when the door was wrenched open.

Bucky Barnes wore a pair of grubby sweatpants and a black t-shirt, his metal arm on display. She knew she shouldn’t openly stare, but she didn’t want to look him in the eye. It was an odd compromise, looking at his mouth instead. He looked like his neutral resting point was a constant scowl.

“Hi.”

“Hey,” he replied. “Steve wasn’t kiddin’.”

His Brooklyn twang came through and she nodded, unsure of what to say. They were in the awkward space again, both of them knowing too much without really knowing one another. She thought of everything Steve could have possibly said. She hoped he wasn’t a blabbermouth. He’d never acted that way before, and she didn’t think her judge of character was completely fucked.

“I worked with him and Thor. I’m… told I’m very helpful,” Darcy murmured.

She blushed. She did that always, the blushing thing. It didn’t help that she was pale as a sheet, her skin way too reactive. Barnes was attractive. That was a given. Every person knew him as the pretty boy from the Howling Commandos. Except now the female fanbase all sighed in frank disappointment – the best ones are always gay or taken

“I’m sure you are,” he muttered, and he turned, leaving the door wide open.

She found her feet, moving forward into the hallway. It was a lot like her own apartment. Every residential space in the Tower had the same design unless one required specific things because of their enhancements or special needs. She heard that Bruce Banner had multiple Hulk-proof rooms. Thor had a wide balcony for obvious weather-related reasons.

Barnes’ place was ordinary, and dark. It reminded Darcy of her own space, so void of personality. The bare essentials were scattered around.

She thought about what he said, sure it was some type of innuendo and maybe she deserved that. She was a little unprofessional for sleeping with the guy she was meant to help reacclimatise.

She didn’t address it. If she was about to be offended by that, she’d never survive this first meeting. She followed him into the living room and he sat down on the small couch. None of the furniture matched but it looked all worn in. Darcy knew that meant he’d found all this stuff second-hand, which she appreciated.

She sat down in one armchair that made a soft squeak when she landed. She took out a notebook and pen from her bag and flipped to a new page, writing the date.

“I’m here for the necessities. You think of something, you call me, ask JARVIS to patch you through, whatever –”

She committed to the role, tearing off a piece of paper with her number on it, putting it on the coffee table covered in food wrappers and empty mugs and beer bottles.

“I can get a maid to come here. I can buy groceries, I can get you clothes.”

“I’m not supposed to leave this building,” he said, and Darcy glanced at his face.

“No, not really,” she muttered.

There was a pause and he looked down at the number, blinking.

“Steve’s still got your number, I think.”

She ignored that. Whether or not it was a jibe, she didn’t care to know.

“You got any special requests or needs I can help you with?” she asked, and his brows lifted slightly.

His gaze swung to hers and she was pinned there, those eyelashes way too long for a man. His long hair was partially in his face. She knew if she could see him clearly she’d never be able to look him in the eye.

“How long did it take for…?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she replied, looking down at her notebook. “Since you’re in the middle of an impending lawsuit, I would recommend leaving all purchases up to me to fulfil.”

He broke into a smile then. She only saw it in the corner of her eye.

“I’m curious, I guess. If it was you who made the first move…”

She thought about him torturing her with these questions at length over months at a time. She knew his life was chaotic enough. Having his boyfriend’s ex in the same room as him might be piling onto the rest of the shit. It made sense he was a little fixated.

She looked at him, blinking. “I understand that having a girl your boyfriend –”

“My what?” he cut in, and Darcy resisted the urge to snap at him. “Steve ain’t my boyfriend.”

“What?” she blurted, closing her eyes for a second. “What do you mean?”

“Sure, we… we have sex and we’ve had sex for years, but I’m not a – I’m not a queer or anythin’,” he muttered, and Darcy stared at him.

She thought of the mental gymnastics it took for him to form that opinion and then say it out loud. She looked down at her notebook, laughing awkwardly.

“Okay, then. Noted.”

“I know how it sounds,” he added, and she shook her head. “I know it doesn’t make sense, and I’ve never been with a dame but it’s not… it’s not what you or anyone thinks it is.”

He let out a little laugh as Darcy tried to let the idea sit in her brain that Bucky Barnes of the Howling Commandos had never had sex with a woman. Not even once.

“A handjob between pals wasn’t what it is today back when…”

His voice trailed off and Darcy stared at her paper.

“You can get married now, you know. They passed that a couple years ago,” she murmured.

She knew she wasn’t the first one to say it. She probably wasn’t even the millionth person to say it, either. The silence between them was deafening and she thought maybe he’d throw her out the door. Maybe not physically, but he’d stalk over to the front door and rip it open, and then she’d have to explain to HR how that happened without an incident report being made.

“It was him, right?” he muttered, and she met his gaze. “Steve made the first move.”

“Yeah,” she murmured, ducking her eyes to her notebook again, feeling her cheeks deepen another shade. “I don’t think SHIELD thought it was a possibility of happening. I mean, it turning unprofessional…”

She swallowed, remembering that first kiss. Steve was sitting on the couch staring straight ahead. She came over because she was worried about him. He fucked on that couch minutes after their first kiss, pulling out of her at the last second to come on her stomach. She could still remember the warmth of his spill on her skin.

“Sounds like Steve,” Bucky muttered. He didn’t sound pissed off at all, maybe a little fond.

She cleared her throat. “Anyway. Got a grocery list?”

“I don’t think I need you,” he said.

He got up from the couch and she wondered where he was going. He gave her a glance over his shoulder and she rose from her seat, following him to the kitchen.

He opened the cupboard and fridge for her to see. It was mostly empty.

“For a guy who doesn’t have a boyfriend, you sure live like one,” she muttered, and he stopped in his tracks, something passing over his face.

It tended to happen with the men in Darcy’s life, whether they were merely passing through or there much longer. At some point, they all came to the same conclusion, that she was funny. She saw the briefest smile on his lips as she said her little joke.

“Fridge full of condiments and no food,” he said, and she smirked.

He slammed the doors shut and Darcy consulted her list.

“I’ll get you the basics. Plus anything you can think of,” she said, going back to helpful and neutral. “And then we can tell Steve we gave this a shot.”

“Right,” he said.

She capped her pen. “Is that all?”

“Yeah.”

-

“If we’re to believe everything we’re told, James Barnes never did anything wrong. By that same token, I’d say hundreds if not thousands of convicted felons could say the same.”

Darcy sighed as she twirled her fork of spaghetti before shoving it into her mouth.

“All I’m saying is that we’re being extremely lenient on this person who has done so much to this country. Irreparable damage over years and years. We’re expected to take his word over anyone else, that he did this against his will. All of it.”

The anchor was not being ignorant. He would have read the same report as Darcy, the one that SHIELD had released to the public pending Bucky’s trial.

“He should be in a cell. Not sitting in some penthouse digs because Tony Stark waved a magic wand. This just goes to show that these people can do anything and there is no justice in this world. The system is broken.”

The female guest sitting beside the anchor shook her head as if grieving some massive loss and Darcy rolled her eyes.

“And we should consider the kids who witness these atrocities being brushed under the rug. Especially when you think of the sexual orientation –”

Darcy flipped the channel before the woman could spit more bigotry. She didn’t need to finish that sentence for Darcy to get the gist of it. It was her own fault for deciding to watch Fox News. She did it sometimes to see how far they’d spin something.

So Bucky Barnes was gay and Captain America was his lover. The whole country was treating it like it was a massive deal for all the wrong reasons. It made Darcy sick, thinking of Steve wanting a private life. All he ever wanted was to help people and do the right thing, but the people he was trying to protect had begun to turn on him. They felt lied to. He was a human and they felt he owed them so much more than that.

She’d spent the last week buying Bucky whatever he needed. Sometimes she’d text him yes or no questions to make it easier. She didn’t trust he was going to reach out to her. She didn’t hear from Steve at all. She hated that she wanted him to say something, maybe thank her.

-

“Milk,” she said, holding up the plastic gallon in greeting as Bucky stood there with his door open. “I saw that your other one was about to expire.”

“You spyin’ on me?” he muttered, a hint of irony to his tone.

She moved past him, aware of their size difference with his eyes on her. She walked down the hallway and into the kitchen, opening the fridge to replace the milk.

“You better not have brought me any of that skim shit you people drink these days,” he said, and she shut the door, her brows lifting. “Or that soy crap.”

“Full-bodied,” she said, and he smirked. “Greatest Generation needs healthy bones.”

It slipped out, but she knew it’d be appreciated. She made to leave but he stepped slightly in front of her, blocking her path.

“What?”

When he didn’t say anything, Darcy felt her heartbeat pick up. Maybe they’d reached it, and he was about to tip the world on its side, tell her what he really thought of her. She knew about women being thrown out of houses for premarital sex back in the day. He probably saw dirt when he looked down at her.

He stumbled, his hand reaching out. Darcy jumped back, and he fell forward to the floor. She screamed and covered her mouth, the shock of the moment enough to make her freeze for a whole three seconds.

Then he began to shake. She crouched beside him, her mouth gaping as her hands hovered over his form.

“JARVIS!”

“I have patched through to the medical department, Miss Lewis.”

“Is it… is it a seizure?” she hissed, and she finally touched him, feeling his body jerking as she tried to move him onto his side.

She tried to remember what she knew about seizures. Something about airways – she could feel he was breathing when she put her hand close to his mouth. His eyes had rolled back into his head.

“Bucky! Bucky,” she whispered, and she gripped his cybernetic shoulder hard.

She had no idea how long it lasted but she felt herself shaking all over with nerves, and then there was a bang of the front door being opened. She stepped back when two paramedics stormed in, pushing her out of the way.

“When did this happen?” one of them asked, and Darcy babbled about the incident.

She felt something wet on the floor and realized she’d dropped the expired milk she meant to throw out, the smell hooking into the far reaches of her psyche as she tried to breathe –

“Miss? Are you alright?”

“Y-Yeah,” she breathed, and she moved to grab paper towels.

They were checking Bucky as she cleaned, murmuring about taking him downstairs for some observations and tests. They whisked Bucky out of there within minutes and Darcy was left alone, staring at the floor.

She took several deep breaths, trying to settle herself. She was wasting time. She pulled out her phone and scrolled through the contacts, pressing a number she was glad she never deleted.

Steve picked up almost immediately, probably sensing an emergency.

“Darcy, what happened? Are you alright?”

“It’s Bucky,” she said, and she heard her voice wobble. “He had some kind of seizure and they took him downstairs.”

“Oh, shit,” he said, and she could picture him passing a hand over his face. He sighed. “He didn’t tell you about the epilepsy, huh?”

Darcy shook her head, then remembered Steve couldn’t see her. “No. No, he didn’t…”

Steve launched into the explanation, that Bucky had acquired a massive brain injury from all the years of shocks and cryotasis during his years as the Winter Soldier. HYDRA had given him heightened healing abilities but it still wasn’t enough for his brain to avoid being damaged.

“He’s on this new medication but it’s all trial and error…”

“Right,” she murmured, and her eyes stung.

Why did she feel like crying? She knew Steve could hear it in her voice and she felt a new wave of shame.

-

Steve came back from his training, finding Darcy in her apartment. It was several hours after Bucky was taken away but it still felt fresh.

“They’re gonna keep him overnight,” he said, sitting down on the couch beside Darcy. “I’m sorry I didn’t… I should’ve told you.”

“It didn’t come up. You probably didn’t think there was a chance of it – of it happening,” she muttered, her throat sore. “They… fucking gave him epilepsy?”

Steve nodded, his tongue darting out to run along his lip. “Yeah.”

She shook her head, running her hands through her hair.

“That’s so fucked up. So fucked up.”

He made a vague sound and Darcy swung her eyes to meet his, seeing there was something more there. She could feel the dread begin to seep into her bones. It was a sickly, familiar feeling.

“Steve.”

“I can’t tell you anything, it’s not my place,” he said, and she frowned.

“I… know that. If it’s what… I think it is,” she whispered.

Steve looked like he was in pain, closing his eyes. “Darcy…”

This mirrored a conversation that they had months ago, only down the hallway in her bedroom. It was after she started crying with him on top of her, and she couldn’t keep it in. She wasn’t able to name it easily that night, though she knew what it was, and Steve had more or less guessed.

It was a flashback. Darcy had flashbacks during sex sometimes. It was unpredictable. She enjoyed sex with Steve for the most part, but the intrusive sensations would kill anyone’s libido. It would scare any partner of hers if she looked like she’d seen a ghost when they were inside her.

“Are you okay?” he murmured, and she blinked a couple times.

He seemed to be thinking the same thing as her and she sniffed loud and long.

“Yeah. I’m just peachy.”

I’m traumatized.

“I’m glad he wasn’t alone when it happened,” Steve murmured.

He was looking down at their hands when he said this, noting where hers gripped her knee. Darcy bit her lip, sure that he wasn’t daring enough to move. He didn’t want to startle her. She reached for him, squeezing his hand before letting it go.

That night she didn’t sleep well. The thoughts kept swirling around. At one point she got up from the mattress, slipping into the kitchen to the fridge to get cold water to sip. She drank from the glass bottle, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

She felt sick to her stomach. She had to remember that she was standing and that she needed to move her own body to get to places. She opened the cutlery drawer, took out a serrated knife. She pulled back the sleeve of her pyjama shirt and let the cool metal drag across her arm, not quite breaking the skin.

Would it take the edge off? Probably not. She had the urge to slash away, to really let herself go. She didn’t know how she was going to explain that to anyone if they saw fresh cuts on her arm. Her scars were prominent and white, thick haphazard lines on her skin. On the rare occasions she showed them off, she tried to not see the stares.

She put the knife back, her arm tingling.

-

“I’m about to shit myself out of boredom.”

That’s all he said when she answered the phone. Bucky had been back in his apartment for three days without acknowledging her and opened with that line when she finally got a call.

She’d texted him about groceries or filling pill boxes. She’d tried and all he’d done was give her radio silence. She couldn’t help feeling that relief when he finally called.

“You’re going to shit yourself because you’re bored, or has the boredom given you the shits?” she muttered, and Jane looked up from her paper she was highlighting, confused.

“Both, I can’t decide,” he muttered.

“Hold on. I’ll come by with some diapers,” she said. She hung up, not before hearing his laugh in her ear.

When she reached his apartment a few minutes later, he took less time to answer the door. When she saw him, she didn’t know whether he was glad to see her. His frown was there. He turned without saying another word and she followed him in, shutting the door behind her.

They walked into the living room and she saw it was its usually disgusting state. It reminded her of the guys she used to know in college. She felt herself pause too long at the plate with chicken bones lying on it.

“Yeah, I know,” he muttered. “For a faggot, I’m a slob.”

His self-deprecation brought her back to the present, the words like a slap to her face, to be said so baldly. She glared at him.

“Don’t use that word around me. It’s offensive.”

He blinked, a little surprised. “It… offends you? I’m sayin’ it about me.”

“And when you said ‘queer’ the other day, I know you meant it as a slur.”

“I’m sorry, did I get swept up in a fuckin’ cyclone and land in Oz? Since when do you care if a guy like me says that type o’ shit?”

She felt her face flush. “I’m… not straight.”

She saw the surprise on his face, his lips parting.

“And even if I was straight, it’s offensive to me. Same as the ‘n’ word, or –”

“I would never say that word,” he cut in, all humor gone.

They fell silent and Darcy shook her head, unsure of how to recover from the moment. She knew it was how he dealt with it, being himself in this century. He was allowed to be who he was, but it didn’t mean he was without growing pains. There was a level of self-hatred because of the time he was born in. It wasn’t even seen as homophobia, because gay people weren’t a thing. The level of denial was staggering when Darcy looked at it close enough.

Sometimes she just wanted to ask out loud, America, are you okay? But she knew the answer.

“Steve’s…” he began, and she looked at him.

“Yeah, I know,” she muttered. “No shit.”

Otherwise he never would have slept with her. Bucky nodded. He switched on the TV, flopping down on the couch.

“Don’t watch TV,” she said, and he looked at her, his hand still holding the remote. “None of that shit is worth hearing. Especially if you keep calling yourself… you know…”

“A faggot?” he muttered, and she frowned. “A dick swallower? A pillow biter? A fucking… girl?”

There was so much to unpack there but she wasn’t his therapist. She wasn’t even his friend. She put her hands on her hips.

“I’m kiddin’,” he added, which made her narrow her eyes. “I’m tryin’ to get a rise out o’ ya. Ya get that pissy look on your face and you try to cover it up…”

“How’s your head?” she cut in, and he grinned wolfishly.

“No complaints so far.”

She closed her eyes, a short laugh escaping like a sigh. “Right. I walked into that one.”

The Misfits was playing and Darcy watched Clark Gable on screen. She hadn’t seen that movie in years. She felt Bucky’s eyes still on her as she stalled.

“Sit down,” he said eventually. “For fuck’s sake.”

She obliged, sitting beside him for once instead of taking the armchair. They watched the movie in silence for several minutes.

“You know your accent makes you sound like a fucking cartoon character, right?” she muttered, and he began to chuckle under his breath.

She looked at him, seeing he was less grumpy-looking.

“Do you know what happened to Marilyn Monroe?”

His eyes swung to the screen where the platinum blonde bombshell was then back to Darcy.

“You killed JFK, so I thought –”

“Why?” he grunted. Not because he was irritated by the question, but because he didn’t know why she cared.

“People think the mafia or the Kennedys or…”

Bucky shook his head. “Killed herself. Accidentally.”

She didn’t know why that hurt so much, to hear him speak about it in such a simple way. Yet his voice was softer, a little sad. She nodded, pressing her lips together.

She finally looked at the screen again and they went quiet once more.

-

Darcy was shoving her work away at two minutes after five PM a couple weeks later, aware of Jane’s eyes watching her. She wasn’t about to fall into the habit of working more than necessary. The data entry could wait.

“Got something you want to share with the class, Janey?” she said, without looking up from her phone.

“Are you guys friends now or something?” she said.

Darcy could chalk that up to her being a little tactless and narrowed her eyes at Jane.

“No. Not really. He doesn’t give me an inch.”

“Sounds familiar,” Jane muttered.

She didn’t like that every so often people made that connection, that Darcy was both open and closed at the same time. She couldn’t stop herself from keeping others at arms-length, so maybe she did have some things in common with Bucky apart from Steve.

“I watch movies with him. We don’t talk much. I buy his cereal. I bought his Calvins the other day.”

“What size?”

“They don’t measure their dicks for underwear, Jane, you know that,” Darcy said with mock shock and they both began to giggle.

She couldn’t get Jane’s comments out of her head later as she sat beside Bucky watching The Third Man.

“Don’t tell me,” he murmured, lifting his beer to his lips without looking at Darcy. “Orson Welles.”

He smirked with the accusation.

“You wouldn’t?” she replied, and he chuckled.

“Yes, I would.”

“I have crushes on a lot of dead people,” she murmured. She sipped her beer. “He directed Citizen Kane when he was twenty-six. Tell me that doesn’t make you want to jump out a window.”

“People did more back then,” Bucky muttered. “Didn’t sit around trying to figure out what made them happy. Just… did shit. Didn’t have to go on about it. You kids…”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said. “I’m from The-period-Worst-period-Generation-period-Ever. Period.”

“I saw Nazis are back again,” he said. “And not the HYDRA kind. What’s that about?”

“The world is a horrible place,” Darcy said instantly.

Their laughter died almost immediately and she felt her stomach twist. She didn’t want him to be staring into space while she was gone later, agreeing with what she’d just said. She needed to pretend she wasn’t so cynical. She could if she put an effort in. With Bucky she felt like she didn’t have to.

“You… liberated concentration camps, right?” she said.

“Yeah,” he replied.

The moment hung between them and his face changed as he breathed deeply through his nose. Memories passed over his features and his eyes met hers.

“I’m a New York Jew,” she said, to try to break the tension. She thought if she made a joke at her expense they’d go back to how it was before, him ribbing on the 21st century as always.

“How did Steve handle that?” he said, and she blinked.

The elephant in the room hadn’t been discussed in several days. She licked her lips, considering how to answer the question.

“Him being Catholic and me being Jewish wasn’t really… discussed,” she said. “Didn’t do a lot of talking. Didn’t get… too serious.”

His eyes rested on her mouth for a few seconds and she felt her stomach twist.

“You miss him?”

Yes.

“Now you’re being mean,” she said, tipping her beer back.

“I think I’m… allowed to ask. I was the reason you two…”

Darcy sighed. “Contrary to what you believe, you’re not the cause of all my problems. You’re not the center of my tiny universe.”

“Sweetheart –”

“I’m serious, it’s rude,” she went on. “And none of your business.”

“So I’d be wrong to think that if I’d never got out you two would be together?”

Why did he care so much? Was he suddenly having cold feet? She glanced at him, trying to assess his true motives.

“Yes, I miss him. But everyone misses that companionship,” she snapped.

Bucky’s mouth shut and she rolled her eyes.

“It wouldn’t have worked out anyway. I don’t do relationships.”

They watched the movie for several minutes in tense silence until Darcy finished her beer and put the empty bottle down on the coffee table, sighing at the sight of all the mess that seemed to never go away.

“Let me get you someone in here to clean up this dump –”

“That’s bullshit,” Bucky interjected, sounding like their conversation before had never stopped. “Since when does someone young lookin’ like you not have guys callin’ her all the time?”

“Why do you sound so offended, dude?”

“Because it’s stupid to me, okay?” he retorted, and Darcy bristled. “I can’t imagine a world that has you all alone out of choice –”

“Well, you’re in it,” she muttered. “I’m a cynical bitch.”

She sounded like some quote on a shirt from Hot Topic and she hated that. She hated how pathetic it all sounded when it was said out loud. People had it way worse than her. The guy sitting next to her was living proof of that.

“It makes sense if I’m that way, but…”

“Don’t worry about it,” she mumbled.

She got up from the couch and went to the kitchen, the movie still going in the background as she got two more beers. She walked back into the living room to see Bucky wasn’t watching the screen, still distracted by what she was saying.

“Why with Steve –?”

“I think I could see myself pulling back,” she said, glancing down at her hands holding the beer bottle. She began to peel off the edge of the label with her nail.

She saw Bucky work his jaw.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“I kinda did,” she mumbled. “What are you supposed to do with that, anyway?”

They stared at one another, the movie ignored.

“Something’s happened,” she said.

He looked away. “Nah.”

“Oh, fuck you, then,” she snapped.

She put down her beer and got up from the couch, stalking down the corridor. She didn’t need these mind games. She did enough of it to herself. She didn’t need someone else bullying her.

“Sweetheart.”

“Why do you even call me that?” she snapped, whirling around to see him looking down at her, his eyes slightly wider. “You don’t have to talk like it’s still 1945, you know. You can call me by my name. Or just anything else, really. It’s what –”

She said too much, groaning as she saw Bucky put the pieces together. It’s what Steve used to call her. Bucky even sounded like Steve when he said it, too. It was his accent, the way he said it with ease. Every woman, no matter what he thought of her, was ‘sweetheart’.

“Fuck my life,” she muttered, grabbing the door handle, her handbag in her other hand.

His hand slammed onto the door to prevent her opening it and Darcy let go, her back pressed against the wall beside the door, Bucky towering over her.

“Let me go,” she said, her voice small and rushed. “Let me-Let me go, let me go –”

He moved back, his eyes wider. She grabbed the door once more and ducked out.

When the elevator doors closed behind her, she began to sob.

The images came without needing to sift through them all. Her therapist talked about how some people see their memories as like a locked safe. Maybe a filing cabinet. Darcy felt hers were like a stack of papers sitting haphazardly on top of one another on a shelf. She could picture reaching for them and having them all topple onto her.

Her mother’s face, tear-stained and strained as she whimpered, her head on the side as Darcy kept as still as possible, smelling dust under her bed.

“Darcy, close your eyes, honey.”

She didn’t. She didn’t think she could. She was eight years old and her mom was grabbed, thrown down again. She crawled out from under the bed to see her dad standing over her with his fists raised to strike, and she screamed, knowing the consequences of standing up to him.

“Stop it! You’re hurting her!”

Her mom driving while sobbing, swerving through the traffic. Overhearing the phone call to her nana, who was telling her mom that she needed to go to the police. There were no charges made. The struggle to not hate her father for what he did. The struggle to not see him in other men. The struggle to not seek him out.

Stepdaddy yelling, more volatile than Darcy’s blood. Her mom sure liked to pick men who hated her. She didn’t blame her. Darcy understood better than her mom could ever know.

When she got back to her apartment, Darcy went to the fridge and got out a bottle of chardonnay, not bothering with a glass. She lifted the bottle to her lips and gulped. She gulped until she had to stop to breathe and she belched, disgusted with herself. She drank until it was half gone. She passed out, waking up on the living room floor in a puddle of her own piss, her head ringing.

-

“Darcy.”

Jane nudged her and she glanced up, seeing Bucky looking completely out of place, hanging around the glass doors of the labs, staring at her.

“What’s he doing here?”

“Fucked if I know,” she retorted, and she sighed, moving past Jane to reach the door.

When she opened it to step out, she held up a hand to stop him from talking.

“What is it?”

“You got a minute?”

“No,” she snapped. “I’m working.”

He looked a little twitchier than usual. She hated that she noticed that, like she couldn’t help herself caring about him even though he scared her the other night. Story of her fucking life.

“I’m sorry,” she heard him say, and she let herself look at him properly, to register his face. “I’m sorry I was such an asshole.”

She only looked at him for several moments, unsure of whether to push him for more. She was certain she struck a nerve the other night, asking him what happened. She thought about the news.

“Are you okay?” she said, avoiding taking his apology.

He frowned slightly. “Why do people ask that?”

“Because… because they care,” she breathed, and she ran a hand through her hair, sighing. “It’s fine, I thought I’d try, I thought maybe you’d be honest –”

“There’s a lot of shit about to come out. I might win because of it,” he said, and she stopped in her tracks, seeing his eyes take a different shine.

His ghosts, whatever they were, he could see them now. She felt the panic rise in her, and she moved, startling him. She managed to grab his cybernetic hand, squeezing his fingers. He stared down at her hand, blinking harder than usual.

“Bucky…”

“I need to go,” he said.

“I’ll come with you.”

She ducked back into the labs, telling Jane it was an emergency but she couldn’t elaborate. She grabbed her bag, seeing Bucky was waiting for her outside when she raced back, and she began to walk with him to the elevator, pressing the button to call it.

“I’ll make you lunch.”

“I’m not hungry,” he retorted.

They moved inside the car and the doors shut behind them. She kept checking him, seeing him stare into space. She had to bite.

“Where’s Steve?”

“With Natalia and Sam. Told them I needed a minute.”

“You should call Steve,” she said, and he nodded vaguely.

They went quiet, reaching his floor. He let them in, and Darcy wandered through with him, seeing one of his armchairs was in pieces, papers strewn everywhere.

“I can’t go back there,” he said. He was talking to himself.

She dropped her bag, moving closer to him, touching his arms and then his shoulders. He stared at the floor, his hair in his face.

“I can’t go back,” he whispered. “I’ll kill myself before I go back there.”

She knew he didn’t mean a place. If he was about to win this trial, there was no reason why he’d be going away, or going back to HYDRA somehow.

She rose a hand to touch his face and he let her, her thumb gliding over his cheekbone.

“I can’t go back…”

“You’re here right now, okay?” she said, and his eyes snapped to hers. “You’re here with me. Say something to piss me off, come on.”

“The meeting we had with Nat and Sam,” he said, his gaze unfocused. “They… they have everything. And there’s photos.”

She felt like she was going to be sick, her hand freezing against his face.

“Videos, too,” he murmured. He smiled a little. “They got proof HYDRA turned my ass out on the regular.”

He started to laugh quietly, his eyes brimming with tears. Darcy felt her own eyes mist and she sucked in a breath.

“I can’t… I can’t even say the word to my therapist,” he whispered. “Can’t say it to Steve, either.”

Darcy was transported. Trauma was a specific type of superpower that ordinary people could have. It created a kind of time travel. She felt as if she was in all areas of time, her memories still occurring. Her throat felt tighter, and she remembered the friend in college who didn’t let her come up for air when she went down on him. He made her gag, fucking into her throat while her hands scrambled on the sheets. She remembered the anger she felt, the hurt.

“You were raped,” her therapist said, writing something down. Her name was Cheryl. She watched the woman cross her ankles under her chair, saying the word like it didn’t carry the sum of everything.

“I… I mean, it’s not as bad as –”

“This man committed a crime, Darcy,” Cheryl said. “You were sexually assaulted.”

I’m not one of those women, she thought to herself. Even when it happened she remembered pushing aside the notion of being that statistic - one in three. This wasn’t some stranger danger story, a guy who grabbed her when she walked home at night. This was a friend who she lost her virginity to. She was twenty-one and embarrassed of her virginity.

She thought about her perpetual shyness, the aversion she had to touch since she was a child. If she went down that rabbit hole –

Her phone was buzzing in her pocket and she was back in Bucky’s apartment, taking her hand away from his face to answer it, seeing Steve’s name on the display.

“Darcy, I can’t get hold of Bucky –”

“He’s with me,” she murmured, her eyes resting on Bucky. “We’re at his place.”

He went to sit down on the couch, staring at the floor some more. She heard Steve let out a sigh of relief.

“Can I talk to him?”

“I think you should just come back,” she murmured. She wasn’t sure if Bucky would take the phone if she let him.

Within a few minutes the front door was opening and Darcy’s head turned toward the sound of approaching steps, seeing Steve rushing over.

He sat down beside Bucky, taking his hand in his.

“Buck.”

He didn’t respond to Steve. Darcy exchanged a look with Steve.

“Did he -?”

“He told me,” she whispered, nodding. “So… what’s meant to happen?”

“Whole thing might get thrown out,” Steve said.

Darcy knew she should be thankful, but it felt a little too late for that. How was she supposed to try and make things easier for Bucky? How was her role not completely pointless if all he had was his memories?

“Darcy.”

Bucky said her name and she looked at him.

“Where’d you go before?” he asked, and she felt as if she was about to fall through the floor.

Both pairs of eyes stared at her. It was then she realized she hadn’t moved on at all, and maybe being with Bucky had made it worse.

She remembered sobbing in Steve’s arms about the college incidents. She knew the words she’d have to use in a court of law, if she ever had the balls to pursue it. It was so repetitive, being a victim of a crime. You had to go over it all the time, remembering it, telling the story to people you trusted (if you even trusted anyone at all).

“Nowhere,” she said, and she forced a smile. She felt sick doing it. “You guys hungry? I’m starved.”

She wiped the tears that were falling and she walked out to the kitchen, going to the fridge. She stared at the food inside, the same stuff she’d bought Bucky and helped sort and pack away. She felt a hand on her shoulder and she flinched.

She began to sob, because it was all her body could manage. She smelt the person who tried to touch her was Steve and she turned toward him, his big arms wrapping around her. She trembled in his arms, his lips pressed to her face as he held her.

-

“Why didn’t he run away? I hate to be the one to point it out, but these people being sexual around him were vulnerable. They were in a vulnerable situation and he didn’t run away when he had the chance.”

“Turn it off,” Steve said, and Darcy shook her head, holding the remote in her hand.

“I wanna hear.”

“Well, I don’t. JARVIS.”

The TV screen switched off and Darcy put the remote down on the coffee table, watching Steve get up in the corner of her eye.

They were taking turns checking on Bucky. Darcy waited in silence for Steve to return, feeling the couch shift as he sat down.

“Who had the files?”

“Black market. Intel said it was some guy high up in HYDRA. We’ve been bouncing around trying to find the source, but it’s all real. Not that I doubted Buck.”

“I know,” she murmured.

“We don’t have to talk about it,” he added. “I know how hard it is to hear.”

She thought of him asking her about the college boy, where he was, whether they should pay him a visit. Steve was a lot angrier than people ever gave him credit for. She read about some of the shit that went down during the War. He would rip someone apart with his bare hands if it meant some relief for his friends.

“I get triggered all the time, Steve,” she whispered. “It feels like I’m a giant ball of scar tissue. I’m covered in it.”

He nodded, and she knew he understood. Being a veteran meant he wasn’t bullshitting her when he said he related to her.

“I still wouldn’t put on the news,” he said, nudging her knee with his. “Just sayin’.”

“Yes, sir,” she murmured, and he chuckled.

She thread her fingers through his and he picked up her hand, pressing his lips to her knuckles, his throat bobbing.

Oh.

“My turn to check on him, yet?” she whispered, and Steve shook his head.

“We can watch a movie or something.”

-

Darcy let herself into Bucky’s room a couple hours later after she knocked lightly on the door in warning.

She could see the shape of him in the dark, lying on the covers. She glanced around the room, wondering if she should linger.

“Sweetheart.”

She moved toward the bed, hovering above him. His eyes were open, looking up at her.

“You need anything?”

“Stay,” he whispered.

She watched him reach over to turn on his lamp, brushing some of the hair out of his face. His eyes were red. He swiped at his eyes and Darcy sat down on the bed, her back to him, glancing over shoulder.

“I’m not lying down,” she murmured. “Because then I’ll nap and then I won’t sleep tonight.”

“Naps are good,” he retorted.

They smirked at one another until Darcy turned her body toward him. The strain wasn’t worth it. She looked at his face, the lines there, the way he looked completely exhausted.

“It happened to you, too,” he said, and she nodded.

“Steve found out when I had a flashback,” she whispered. “Just poured out of me after that.”

Bucky let out a little exhale, the hint of a laugh. “Yeah.”

“I think people think there are blurred lines, but… maybe because it’s sex,” she murmured, shaking her head. “It’s a different type of violence.”

She met his eye, swallowing. “Y’know his name was James, too.”

“Oh, you’re shittin’ me,” he whispered, and she shook her head. “Jesus, sweetheart…”

She smirked. “Sucks that it’s kind of a common name. I couldn’t hear it for years without losing it a little every time. Same as my stepfather’s name growing up.”

“Your step -?”

“No, he never touched me,” she cut in, shaking her head. “Not sexually.”

This was the most she’d ever said out loud beyond a therapist’s office.

“It’s all… I mean, it fucking sucks that so many things come down to this past shit. It’s why I feel so alone. It’s hard to not feel like I’m all the bad shit that’s ever happened to me.”

Bucky let out a shaky breath. “I couldn’t swallow my food for a long time, after I got out. I’d gag, I’d throw it up. I’d remember the enemas I got, the tubes up my fuckin’ nose –”

“Jesus, Bucky,” she gasped, and she took his hand in hers.

“I don’t know how people don’t want to slash their wrists after this shit happens. It’s all I got now. I mean, it felt that way when I got here –”

He cut himself off, huffing. A few more tears fell and he shook his head.

“I keep walking over you, though. I know you got more to say.”

Darcy waited for him to let it go, but he didn’t, he just looked at her for a long time. She wondered how she was meant to phrase any of it.

“This is going to sound… I mean, I know it happened. But when I say it, it sounds like I’m making a big fucking deal out of something…”

She squeezed her eyes shut, taking a deep breath.

“I started remembering shit a few months ago. Shit that – I thought if I let myself look at it, I’d never come back from it. So I know what you mean… about not going back.”

He blinked up at her, frowning.

“Darcy.”

The words were thick in her throat.

“When I was really little… a guy…” she sniffled. “See, this is the shit that makes people look at you differently. That… unspeakable, literally unspeakable shit.”

Images come, but not so overpowering that Bucky’s bedroom melted away. The memories blended. A man, a bedroom with 70s style furniture. A wooden closet with a mirror on its front.

“The first time I had sex with a guy in college, I thought, this looks familiar,” she went on. “I kept thinking about how I’d done it before, maybe in a dream. Maybe my imagination was so vivid that I got myself through the first time thinking I’d done it before, because I’d imagined it so many times before.”

She sniffed.

“Then I remembered shit I used to do as a kid. I got these flashes… it’s hard to explain. I thought I was evil. I thought something was wrong with me.”

She looked him in the eye finally, seeing his gaze was steady.

“I was three.”

His lips parted and she felt her stomach twist. He knew everything. She thought there’d be relief but she kept searching for his judgment, his pity. His condemnation.

“First time I was three. And then I was trapped in this kid’s body from then on.”

She ducked her head, a little giggle escaping to mix with the tears.

“I can remember what his come tasted like.”

She nodded at her own words, falling silent. She felt his hand squeeze hers. She heard the whir of his cybernetic arm. He pulled at her, and she lay down beside him, his arms around her.

“Sometimes all I can do is… is feel it,” she sobbed, and he pressed his mouth to her forehead. “And it never fucking stops.”

She heard him sniffle. She winced.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t,” he said, but his voice was soft. “Don’t ever apologize to me. I love you too damn much.”

She cried more, looking deep into his eyes. She pushed the hair away from his face, revealing more of him, kissing him on the cheek.

-

As predicted, the case was thrown out. Bucky Barnes was no longer an enemy of the state. Countless stories came out about the systematic rape of HYDRA’s enemies.

It took Darcy a long time not to reject what Bucky said to her, that he loved her. She loved him back, and she had no idea when that even started. Maybe when he had that seizure in front of her in his kitchen. Maybe when she saw his photograph in that textbook back in eighth grade.

It took much longer for her to not hate that little girl, the one who was violated. She knew it wasn’t her fault, but it didn’t stop her from wanting to cut her out of her so that she’d no longer hurt.

It already happened. Unfortunately, life worked that way. Life was awful and beautiful that way, how it made things layer on top of one another.

Beautiful because she loved them both, under the layers of it all, Steve and Bucky.

When Bucky kissed her for the first time, it was a month after he was acquitted. They were walking through Central Park. It was a good day, neither of them were too anxious that afternoon.

He took her hand in his as they walked and she thought everything and nothing of it all at once. He tugged her closer, wrapping an arm around her waist.

It was colder, the snow threatening to fall later that night. Darcy remembered watching it on the morning news, and she was excited for it. She liked pointing out to herself the little things that brought her joy. Bucky’s smile was one of them and he beamed at her.

“What are you smiling at?”

“You,” he replied, and she felt her stomach flip. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

He leaned down and brushed her lips with his, and she closed her eyes, her heart racing. A very chaste kiss turned into something more, his hands catching her, pouring himself into it, and Darcy heard him moan. The private sound wasn’t meant for her ears.

“Bucky…”

“I want you,” he said, and she could see he was shy. “But I know…”

I know I have to meet you halfway. We’re both still new at this.

She nodded, a little dazed. She reached for him, kissing him back, allowing herself to enjoy it. When he pulled back, he pressed his forehead to hers.

“You’re gay,” she whispered, and he laughed.

“Yeah. Weird.”

Typical that there was so much to unpack but Darcy didn’t want to, and she didn’t mean to push him, either.

“What about Steve?” she whispered, turning serious.

“He knows,” he said, and she trusted he wouldn’t lie.

“This is a bad idea.”

“All the best ideas are,” he retorted, and she laughed, his head ducking to kiss her neck.

-

Hours later, he was beside Steve in bed, and she stood over his side of the bed.

“Darce.”

She let herself in moments before, her heart racing. She held up the little key in her hand, seeing Bucky look drunk, probably spent from sex with Steve, who was shifting in his sleep.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

He smiled up at her, and she felt the warmth radiating from it, his unbridled joy. He pulled back his blanket, revealing his naked body. Her breath hitched and she dropped the key, moving to yank off her clothes. Bucky’s eyes never left her, and she stood by the bed completely naked, his eyes going between her legs.

“Get in here,” he said, and she climbed in, settling in his lap as he sat up.

Steve turned over, blinking up at her.

“Darce.”

“This okay?” she whispered.

He nodded, glancing down at Bucky. “Jesus. Is he sure?”

“Yeah,” he breathed. He looked back at Darcy. “But you’ll have to walk me through it.”

She laughed, a little dizzy from the situation, shifting so she could stroke his cock. He pulled her into a kiss, tongues tangling. She felt him fatten in her hand, his fingers slipping between them to feel between her legs.

“You okay?” he murmured against her lips and she nodded, a little moan pouring from her.

“Bucky…”

“Tell me what to do,” she heard him whisper. “Gotta help me out, sweetheart. You feel kinda…”

“I’m ready,” she gasped. “Please.”

They went quiet, breaking the silence when she managed to sit on him, taking each inch of him until he was fully seated inside her. His eyes had gone wide. She felt Steve’s hand brush her arm, soothing her.

“You’re doing great,” she whispered to Bucky, who looked overcome.

“Fuck… I can’t…”

She began to rock and his mouth fell open, his eyes so big and blue and consuming her. She kept trying to stay in the moment, take note of each hitch of his breath, the feeling of his cock splitting her open, the way her skin prickled. She felt him shiver, his fingers digging into her hips.

“Buck, you gotta –” Steve whispered, nodding at the place where his lovers joined.

Darcy took Bucky’s hand off her hip and pressed his fingers to her clit, grinding more to make her point and Bucky began to rub in return. She tensed and he groaned.

“Fuck…”

“You can come in me,” she whispered, slurring her words a little. She felt wild, possessed by this feeling of wanting Bucky, possessed by the knowledge that he wanted her back.

She remembered staggering down to his floor like it was long ago. It felt as if so much time had passed in the last few minutes. A lifetime, maybe.

She felt tears spring in her eyes, feeling him tense up beneath her, throwing his head back as he let go, Darcy’s cunt gripping him tighter. The world was stripped away from them and she fell forward, Bucky catching her.

-

“If everything we have is our memories, then we make new ones,” she heard Bucky murmur.

It was in the dark, just before dawn. She had Steve’s head resting against her chest, Bucky’s head resting between her neck and shoulder. Her hands were stroking their hair.

“Yeah,” Steve whispered.

“Happy ones together,” Bucky added.

Darcy closed her eyes, letting herself smile, letting herself feel everything and remember everything.