Hell Bound

Start by pulling him out of the fire and
hoping that he will forget the smell.
He was supposed to be an angel but they took him
from that light and turned him into something hungry,
something that forgets what his hands are for when they
aren’t shaking.

When is a monster not a monster?
Oh, when you love it.

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37. Chapter Thirty Seven

I knew Bucky was planning on leaving. His wounds were healing too quickly. Though he still seemed to be in some pain, he was getting better at hiding it. He could get up and down the stairs without help. He could move without wincing. He was starting act like the injuries weren’t there at all. We never talked about what we would do when he left, but I could see that he’d already made the decision in the morning. All I managed to do was stall him for a little longer.

We spent the day just like the ones before. The only difference is that he spent more time with me than on his notebooks. He seemed more comfortable touching me whenever we were close. He wrapped his arm around me on the couch, or just sent me one of those half smiles from across the room. But I knew what he was doing. He wasn’t being more affectionate because he wanted to. He was just trying to soften the blow.

Later that night after we cleaned up, he took my hand and we headed up to my room even though it was too early to sleep. I thought he might want to talk about whatever he’d uncovered in the book the rest of the day, his speculations, or even his dreams. But he didn’t bring the book, and he didn’t speak. When we were alone in my room, he kissed me in the dark, peeled off my clothes, and pinned me to my bed. He was no longer in too much pain to move, and he only spoke in whispered Russian. I fell asleep in his arms reluctantly. I knew he wouldn’t be there in the morning.

I woke up alone. The backpack and notebooks were gone, and there was no evidence that he’d been there at all except for my wrinkled sheets and the one pillow that he’d gripped in his metal hand so hard it was mangled out of shape. I laid in bed for a long time. I hoped that he’d just gone downstairs early. Maybe he was just in the bathroom. But I knew hoping was useless. I couldn’t hear Graham talking to anyone downstairs, and he didn’t come back.

Eventually, I had to get out of bed. I had a job and a life I had to get back to. Once again, he hadn’t stayed very long. But he left a mark. It was invisible this time, but it still hurt.

I could hear Graham singing to himself when I walked down the stairs. There was no one in the living room. I found Graham dancing in the kitchen as he cooked breakfast in a pot on the stove. He’d been wearing the headphones almost nonstop since the day before. When we didn’t warn him and then shifted my bedframe at least a few inches. I went right to the coffee maker.

“Jesus shit!” Graham said when he spotted me. He yanked the headphones out of his ears. “You scared the bejesus out of me.”

“Sorry. I think that was unavoidable. You were singing really loud.”

“I was going to make oatmeal for breakfast. I hope you guys are hungry. I made way too much.” I decided to forego creamer and sugar altogether. I was going to need a kick in the teeth to make it through the day. I filled my mug and turned back toward the hallway.

“Bucky’s gone,” I told him.

“Gone where?” he asked.

“Just gone.”

We didn’t say much for the rest of the morning. Not until we were on the road to the VA.

“So,” he started slowly. “I got an interview at Arby’s.”

“Did you? I didn’t get a call?” He pulled out Stark’s MP3 player and waved it in his hand.

“I downloaded a phone app and the email stuff.”

“Oh—I didn’t even know it could do that.” He shrugged and moved his fingers across the screen. He seemed to have no trouble getting the hang of the thing.

“It’s the most high-tech thing I’ve ever seen. Like man, you said it was an MP3. It’s not. It’s like a fully functional computer. Apple wishes they were this good.”

“Don’t let Stark hear you say that. It’ll go to his head. But just FYI, he probably has JARVIS scan your emails.”

“It’s only for work stuff anyway. So does he have a name for this thing or is it just ‘MP3?” I shrugged.

“I have absolutely no idea. If it does have a name, it’s probably really stupid or obnoxious or only makes sense to smart people.” He did a few things with the small screen, and I focused on the road.

“So why’d he leave?” he asked after a long silence. I didn’t even have the radio on, and I regretted my habit of not turning it on.

“He always leaves,” I told him.

“Yeah, but—you guys were like really close. Like disgustingly close. Like rabbits close.” I rolled my eyes and sighed.

“His life—the things that he does—I can’t really be part of that.”

“Why not?”

“I’d be a burden. He wouldn’t be able to protect me.”

“Dangerous stuff?”

“Yeah.”

“I understand that. Sometimes the best way to protect the people you love is to push them away. Still totally lame, though.”

“Yeah.”

“Is he going to come back around again? I was kind of sort of starting to like him. Since he stopped pulling weapons on me and trying to choke me out in the hallway.”

“He tried to choke you out in the hallway?” He gave me a shifty glance before turning back to the MP3 player.

“Well, I mean—it was just the one time.”

“You’re serious!”

“He just sort of—wanted to threaten me a bit more. To make sure I wasn’t secretly like working for Nazis or anything and going to ruin your life or kill you or whatever.”

“Still!”

“Well, he could have actually choked me, you know? He was surprisingly gentle with that metal hand of his. Didn’t even leave a bruise!”

“He used his metal hand?”

“Well, yeah. He was trying to scare me.”

“Oh gosh. I’m so sorry. I really didn’t mean for you to get involved or threatened just for staying with me.”

“Nah, it’s cool. He’s a crazy strong dude who wants to protect his girl. It could have been a lot worse. Probably would have been if you didn’t keep scolding him.” I shook my head.

“That still wasn’t very nice.”

“The only time I ever saw him ‘being nice’ was when he was talking to you. But it’s cool. I’m over it.” He turned toward the window again, and I kept my eyes on the road.

“You know you’re surprisingly calm for someone who had their life threatened thirty times in the past four days.” He shrugged.

“What can I say? I’m a chill dude.” I laughed. “Nah, I’ve just seen worse. Guy trying to protect the girl he loves isn’t as scary to me as—other things.” I nodded.

“I know what you mean.”

“That’s why you’re not scared of these HYDRA people, huh?” I shook my head.

“I don’t know. I’m scared. I am. But it’s more like—I’ve just accepted it, you know? I just kind of wish they’d hurry up and get on with it so I don’t have to keep waiting. Maybe I can have a life again.”

“With Bucky?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

We were quiet as the hospital came into sight. Graham kept his mouth shut until I turned into the garage to look for a place to park.

“You’re like super bummed out, though, aren’t you?” he asked.

“I’m fine. I knew it was coming,” I told him.

“I can hear it in your voice.” I sighed again.

“I just—Can I tell you something honestly? Like a secret. Between the two of us?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“I think—that I might love him.”

“Well, no shit.”

“I’m trying to open up to you, you doofus.” He reached over and ruffled up my hair in an almost brotherly manner. It was the exact same way Stark used to ruffle my hair whenever he found me camped out on his balcony in Malibu.

“I’m just saying. I knew that already. And I know you’re feeling kind of shitty and you miss him and all that sappy romantic stuff. So I’m only going to say one more sappy, romantic thing before I go back to being my ridiculously manly self.”

“What’s that?”

“He’s in love with you too, you big nerd.” I found a place to park and focused on that because it was easier than trying to think about what he said. But before I reached for the door handle to get out, he spoke again.

“Hey,” he said. I turned back to look at him. “For real this time. I’m sure he feels the same way. I’m sure it hurts him too. But he’s doing what he thinks is best for you. And it takes a lot of love—and self-control—to not be completely selfish.” I nodded slowly, but I couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Thanks,” I muttered. Then I climbed out of the car.

 

 

Idiot update pt 1: Still have internet.

Idiot update pt 2: Brother got sent home from the hospital. No need for brain surgery. Bleeding stopped. May still need surgery on ears, nose, jaw, and clavicle. Apparently also broke his hip and a rib. ALSO, this asshole HAD his helmet with him. But took it off because it was "hurting" his head. Go fucking figure.

Not an idiot but shameless self-promotion time: I designed a Team Bucky shirt/thing for Redbubble because I NEEDED ONE. If you all would be interested in that (and supporting me, hey what's up) then check it out here (http://www.redbubble.com/people/indigoxumbrella/works/21279582-team-bucky?ref=recent-owner ). If NOT (that's cool too) but you see someone out and about (aboot) with this design please stop them and thank them for me and tell them that I love them and to be good and drink lots of water and take care of themselves. Make sure they know I love them and would smooch them if I could.

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