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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18. Chapter Eighteen

I really wasn’t looking forward to working and leaving Bucky at home all day. I would have canceled my meetings if it wasn’t for the fact that so many people looked forward to them. And I also didn’t want anyone to become suspicious about what was going on in my house. So once we were all ready for the day, Graham and I said goodbye and headed to the VA.

“So what were you guys talking about last night?” I asked as I drove. “I could hear you from my room.”

“Oh, just making some observations mostly. I did most of the talking,” he explained. “He pretty much just grunted at me and contemplated the many ways he could make my death look like an accident.”

“What kind of observations?”

“Um—well—I kind of mentioned that you seemed upset, and the right thing to do would probably be to talk to you. And he asked why I didn’t go talk to you. And I said ‘Because I’m not the one who made her mad, dumbass.’ And then he put me in a headlock and threatened to put my hand down the garbage disposal.” I was silent for half a minute.

“Are you joking? I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.”

“I’m not.”

“Christ.”

“Anyway, he probably would have gone to talk to you if he could get up the stairs. He didn’t say that was the problem, but I’m pretty sure it was.”

“So—that’s it? That’s all you guys talked about?”

“No, of course not. Once I was sure that I wasn’t going to lose my hand I mentioned the—you know what we talked about before—the starry eyes thing. And he was kind of confused about that. I don’t think he’s used to people being able to read his expressions.”

“He’s probably not used to having visible expressions. It took me weeks to get him to smile. Even longer to make him laugh.”

“Yeah, well that too. But it seems almost like—he’s just not used to people paying much attention to him at all.” I sighed heavily.

“He’s not used to people treating him like he’s human.”

“That makes sense.”

“I also think that’s why—we had the almost thing. I don’t think it was genuine. Just that I was the first person to show him any—warmth.” He shook his head.

“Nah, it’s not like that. He doesn’t look at you like you’re the only person who shows him warmth. He looks at you like you’re the most beautiful and important person in his life.”

I didn’t have anything to say to that. I knew Bucky looked at me differently, but mostly because he just kind of scowled at everyone else. Except for Steve. And I knew there was a bit of affection in there, even if he didn’t understand why. But I couldn’t imagine it being anything like that.

“I told him that,” Graham continued a moment later.

“You told him what now?” I asked.

“What I just told you. I told him that he looks at you like you’re the most beautiful and important person in his life.”

“Oh.” I almost asked him how Bucky reacted to that, but I figured I already knew. He would have just put the scowl back on his face or pretended to be emotionless before leaving at the first chance.

“Do you want to know what he said?” Graham asked.

“Wait, he actually had a response for that?”

“Yeah, he did.”

“Well—does he want you to tell me what he said?” He shrugged a bony shoulder.

“Probably not. Maybe I should just keep it to myself. That way he doesn’t kill me. You should ask him then. He’ll probably tell you.” I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel.

“Maybe.”

“He also accused me of having a thing for you,” he added.

“Did he really?”

“Yeah, and I told him, ‘That’s crazy, man. She obviously likes guys built like fucking tanks. And not puny kids.”

“You did not tell him that.” He snorted and shook his head.

“No, I’m just fucking with you. I just said you can’t really keep things like that to yourself, you know? You never really know what’s going to happen. It’s always better to be honest about how you feel. Just in case you never get a chance to say it.”

“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.”

“That’s exactly what he said. Word for word.” I glanced at him. He was staring out the window at passing buildings, but not really focusing on anything. Like he was thinking about another time and place.

“So who was it?” I asked.

“Girl I knew in the Marines,” he explained.

“What happened to her?”

“She stepped on an IED.”

“Jeez. I’m sorry.” He shrugged like it was no big deal, but it was evident to me now why he was so happy and jovial all the time. It was how he masked his pain. I knew a lot of people like that.

“I just kind of figured, you know,” he started. “You still like him, and he still likes you. Even if you think he doesn’t remember. It’s obvious. Maybe if I say something you’ll both stop being so dumb about it.”

“It’s a little more complicated than that.”

“Isn’t it always? That’s the thing about people like us. You meet someone you really like, and you don’t tell them because you think you have all the time in the world. Then they step on a bomb and die, and you spend the rest of your life regretting all the times you could have told them but you were too dumb and scared to do it.” I nodded slowly.

“I guess you’re right.”

“Just try and give me a heads up if you guys decide to do the nasty.”

“The what?” He turned to give me a look that clearly said, “Don’t play with me,” and also, “You’re full of shit. You know exactly what I’m talking about,” at the same time.

“I’m not an idiot,” he said.

“I never said that you were. I’m just curious about how you came to that conclusion.” I had my eyes on the road ahead of me, but I could still see him staring at me from the corner of my eye. The expression was still on his face. He was silent and I finally just stuck my hand on his face and shoved him away.

“I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t in your house you probably would have done it on the couch this morning,” he told me as he righted himself.

“I was checking his stitches.”

“And sleeping next to him.”

“I had a nightmare.”

“That’s convenient.” I scoffed, but I had nothing more than that. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. A lot. “I just want a warning is all.”

“I’m not going to give you a warning. What the hell do you want me to do? Put a sock on the doorknob?”

“At least let me borrow your MP3 player.”

“You can have it. I never use it.”

“I don’t want to keep it. I just want to be able to face the two of you in the morning without wanting to die.”

“Don’t act like you’re a saint, okay? You’re a twenty-three-year-old male. Not an angelic ten-year-old.” He shrugged and turned to look at the road.

“Still don’t want to hear it.”

“Just keep the damn MP3 player. It was a gift from Stark. It can hold like a bazillion songs and movies. He already loaded it up with his entire music collection and like seven full movies. I literally never use it.”

“Fine. But only because I’m curious about what kind of music Iron Man listens to.”

“Take a wild guess. A lot of Black Sabbath and AC/DC.”

“That doesn’t surprise me at all. The MP3 player doesn’t turn into anything, does it? Like it’s not going to inject me with poison if someone other than you uses it, right?”

“Unfortunately it’s just an MP3 player. Though he did design it so I wouldn’t be surprised if it could turn into a small robot.”

“That would be radical.” I just shrugged.

 

 

More Q&A with Graham.

I'm currently reading Witch Hunter Angela: Secret Wars and I just... why can't Bucky be happy in ANY of Marvel's universes? Why you always gotta fuck him up and make him the most tragic ass character in the multiverse?

I feel like I need to write him a super fluffy story just to make myself feel better.

At least, in all these universes everyone can agree on one thing. Bucky is super hot. (I swear they called him handsome at least once a page.)

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