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Close But Not Quite; a Finders Keepers Timestamp

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Darcy reached toward the door to Steve's apartment. Pulled her hand back. Reached again. Touched the smooth surface. Pulled her hand back.

"This is nuts." She crossed to the other side of the hall and sagged against the wall. She'd never not been welcome in Steve's apartment. Not in the crappy one bedroom in Brooklyn before they'd started going out. Not after in the ridiculously large suite Tony'd provided in the Tower. And he'd never not been welcome in hers. Oh sure, they didn't go wandering into each other's bedrooms or bathrooms without an invitation, but the public areas were fair game – living room, kitchen, even Steve's studio and Darcy's office.

Of course, back then, three whole hours ago, James Buchanan Barnes aka The Winter Soldier aka SHIELD's most wanted aka Bucky-who-hadn't-died-falling-off-a-mountain, Steve's best friend for his whole freaking life hadn't been tucked into the second bedroom.

Or maybe not the second bedroom. Who knew?

She didn't know if she'd be welcome now.

Steve had taken Bucky down to medical – unwilling to release his hold even temporarily. At a nod from Agent Coulson, Clint had followed, bow in hand.

With Bruce and Natasha gone, and Thor making pancakes, no one wanted Skye exposed to Tony without adult supervision so they were debriefed together.

They'd wound their stories of finding The Winter Soldier and bringing him home around each other, tangling the narrative in such a way that any man not used to dealing with the unique debriefing styles of Hawkeye and the Blackwidow would have been hopelessly lost. Coulson had merely nodded twice, hummed once, raised an eyebrow in a silent request for further elaboration, and refused to allow either of them to leave until they completed their after actions – the bare bones version with a promise of further, more extensive paperwork in their future.

When Coulson finally let Darcy leave...

"Just me, Boss?"

"Yes. Skye and I need to discuss the use of a Chitari artifact as a wifi boost."

"It wasn't an artifact," Skye pointed out. "I think it was part of a Chitari."

"How innovative," he said, his tone drier than Darcy'd ever heard it. "Be in the garage in half an hour, Agent Lewis. I'll drive you to SHIELD and your meeting with Director Fury."

"You could..."

"No. Protocol states that the agent who brings in a brainwashed super-soldier, used as an assassin by forces antagonistic to SHIELD, has to personally explain their actions to the director."

"You just made that up."

"I wish I had."

...she'd started for medical until Jarvis had told her that Steve and Bucky were in Steve's apartment. That Bucky had been given a large protein drink, a hot shower, and put to bed.

And here she was.

In the hall.

Outside her boyfriend's apartment...

Outside Steven Grant Roger's apartment...

Outside Captain America's apartment...

Wondering which bed Bucky had been put into.

"Okay, fuck this." She squared her shoulders and stepped forward. "You're Darcy Lewis, Agent of Shield, not some insecure weepy heroine in a Lifetime movie of the week."

The door opened as she reached for the handle.

"Give it a break, Tony. You can check his arm tomorrow." Standing in the open doorway, pulling on a different t-shirt from the one he'd been wearing three hours ago, Steve blinked as his head emerged, looked confused, and finally said, "Oh."

"Yeah. Oh." She reached out and smoothed down his hair. It was dry. He hadn't showered. But his other t-shirt had gotten covered in ex-Russian/Hydra assassin snot during the super-soldier cuddle in the elevator – a perfectly valid reason to take it off. Not that he needed a reason to take off his own t-shirt in his own apartment. "I take it Tony's angling to spend some quality time swearing at Russian slash Hydra engineering and declaring he could've done it better blind drunk and tied to a chair."

"He was more vehement." Steve stepped back and held open the door. "Were you going to come in?"

"I wasn't sure..." When he frowned, she shrugged and walked past him. "You know... Buc..." Steve's hugs were all encompassing. Not only because of his size and elevated temperature, but because of how when he committed to a thing, he committed one hundred percent. They made her feel safe, and cared for, and slightly squashed. But in a good way. After a few moments of silence, his heart pounding against her back, his cheek resting against the top of her head, she wriggled, loosened his hold enough for her to turn in the circle of his arms and looked up. His eyes were shining with unshed tears. "What?"

"I can never thank you enough for saving Bucky and bringing him back to me. You are the most amazing, wonderful, astonishing, brave, crazy person I know."

Her lips twitched up into a smile. "Considering the people you know, that's saying something."

"It is." He rested his cheek against her head again and sighed. "I'm overjoyed to get him back, but I'm not kidding myself. He could've killed you."

"Bucky? No."

"The Winter Soldier..."

"Well, yeah, but he didn't." She pressed her palm against his chest. "They're not the same person, Steve, and since Bucky is the core personality, without constant reinforcement of the introduced personality, he'll be able to maintain control."

"And you're basing this on?"

"Three years of psych electives at an excellent university and an episode of Dr. Phil where this girl who'd been held by a cult got rescued and went home. There were changes, sure. She wasn't the person she'd been before, but she was herself."

Captain America serious, Steve pushed her out to arms' length. "He's dangerous."

Darcy rolled her eyes. "As I told him, so's everyone else I spend time with."

He released her to scrub self-consciously at the tear tracks on his face and managed a slightly lopsided grin. "True." The grin disappeared. "Why didn't you just come in?"

"First time you and Bucky have had some alone time in seventy years; that's heavy. I didn't want to interrupt." After a moment or two, Darcy shifted under the weight of his gaze. "What? You have lots of ground to cover." She tugged at the edge of her sweater. "I didn't want to be in the way. In case you guys..."

When she left the sentence dangling, he sighed. "Do you know what I dislike most about this time?"

"The designated hitter rule?"

No... well, yeah, that too." Steve ran his hand back through his hair. "That love has to mean sex. That I can't love Bucky with all my heart without the world assuming I want to climb into bed with him. That I can't touch him or hold him or cry over him without everyone assuming we're heading for his and his towels after a stop at city hall."

It sounded like he was quoting. "Tony?"

"Clint. He told me if I broke your heart I'd end up with an arrow somewhere Buck'd have to go looking for it."


"Yeah." His hands were warm cupping her face. He leaned in, eyes serious. "Why I can't I love you and Bucky?"

"No reason."

"Why can't you love me and Bucky?"

She thought of the man who'd broken conditioning to save Steve. Who'd been trying to figure out a way to live again. Who'd sobbed on Steve's shoulder. Who'd grabbed her ass. "Again, no reason." She needed to start doing yoga. Maybe she should talk to Jane. Did two super-soldiers equal one God of Thunder?



Steve smiled and straightened, eyes shining. "And I can love Natasha and Bruce and Pepper and Thor and Clint and Phil and Tony without wanting to climb into bed with them."

Okay, her mistake. He was still on the love not having to mean sex thing. Polyamory – not so much a forties concept. She raised a brow – fully aware both brows were getting into the action. "And Tony?"

Broad shoulders rose and fell in an exaggerated shrug and his eyes crinkled at the corners. "Most of the time. So, we need to discuss..."

"Agent Lewis? Agent Coulson is on his way to the garage."

"Thanks, Jarvis." Darcy grabbed a handful of t-shirt and pulled Steve close. "I have to go talk to Director Fury now. I'm going to need ice cream and cuddles when I get back."

"As I understand it, after most of your talks, Director Fury needs ice cream and cuddles."

"Then he can find his own super-soldier."

Steve kissed her the way he always did, like there was nothing he'd rather be doing, and whispered thank you against her lips as he pulled away.

Darcy patted the wrinkles out of his shirt. "You're welcome. Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. The good stuff."


She paused, hand reaching for the door.

"SHIELD can't have Bucky."

Half turning, just far enough to meet Steve's eyes, Darcy smiled. "Duh."


"You think she can stop SHIELD from hauling my ass into lockup?"

Steve turned to see Bucky leaning against the bedroom door, a borrowed pair of sweats hanging low on his hips, ribs showing through skin, the monstrosity Hydra had attached to his shoulder only bearable because it was now a part of Bucky.

"Never mind. What am I saying. She's already stopped SHIELD from nailing my ass." He grinned and Steve's heart felt ready to burst out of his chest at the familiar sight. "I've only known your girl for a few hours and I get the impression she can do whatever she sets her mind to. She confuses the hell out of the Soldier."

"He's not..."

"He's not me, yeah..." Bucky expression turned serious as Steve crossed to him. "...I know that, but he's a part of me. I doubt I'll ever be completely rid of the murdering son of a bitch, so I'll settle for controlling him." The grin returned. "Gotta admit, Darcy's method beats the hell out of Hydra's. Those are a pair of..."

Steve put his hand over Bucky's mouth. "Enough. You should be in bed." He let Bucky pull his hand away. They'd been careful about testing their strength against each other. He expected they'd be careful about a lot of things for a while.

"Not alone."

"Not alone," Steve repeated. "Never again."

"You can't..."

"Yes, I can."


Bucky tasted the same and just for a moment they were back on the floor of the tenement, because the bed made too much noise and if the neighbours found out... Back under damp canvass, in the pitch black so as not to put on a shadow show for the commandos...

"So, I should be in bed."

Laughing against Bucky's mouth, Steve put a hand under Bucky's ass and lifted, walking him backward into the bedroom. "You need to sleep. Medical's amazed you're still functional."

"Yeah, yeah. Too bad Darcy had to leave."

"Not happening, Buck, you just met her. You two need to get to know each other first."

"I know a great way..." He hit the ridiculously comfortable mattress and opened his arms. "You joining me?"

"Until the end of the line."

"Oh for... Stop crying, mushball."

"I'm not crying." He scrubbed his cheeks with the palms of his hands.

Bucky patted his hair as he lay down, head in the familiar curve of the other man's shoulder. He'd always slept on the right anyway. "You're sure Darcy's good with this? Because she saved my ass." Steve's head rose and fell as Bucky drew in a deep breath. "She brought me home."

"You heard her. She said really." Their legs tangled together the way they always had, familiarity relearned after Dr. Erskine.

"Damnit, Stevie, I can't believe you went and fell in love with two dames who agreed to keep me around. Even if Peggy only agreed in theory."

"Because you died."

Bucky's grip tightened as Steve wiped his cheeks again. "Didn't take. And it still counts. Two dames. Unbelievable."

"Yeah, well." Steve rubbed the back of his wrist under his nose. "I'm Captain America."

"Fuck that..." Warm lips kissed the top of his head. "'re Steve Rogers."