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Title: you know for me, it's always you
Fandom: Marvel movies
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Taylor Swift
Warnings: violence, references to brainwashing/torture
Pairings: post-Steve/Bucky
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 400
Point of view: third
Prompt: author's choice, any, (504): i'm trying to reconcile what i did last night with who i am as a person.



A part of him is reeling in shock, even twelve hours later. That part of him is sure he should stop, hole up somewhere, and think. Call up Natasha and Stark, definitely Sam.

The rest of him watches Buc-James watch him, eyes shuttered like Bucky's never were.

James doesn't say a thing. He's coiled tension, waiting for Steve's orders, and Steve hates that. Hates Hydra and Zola and SHIELD and Pierce. Hates himself. Even in the war, when Steve gave orders, Bucky would have some smartass remark and he'd obey, most of the time, but he'd do it with a flare.

But James...

Twelve hours ago, James got them into a research facility. It had a recalibration chair. James had kept darting glances toward it, his breathing just a bit hurried. There were a few guards, but most everyone in that facility was a scientist. Useless in a fight. They were terrified and begging for their lives the second they realized James was there.

Steve had gone in there planning to call in Hill, have her take them in for being Hydra. Those were the orders he’d given James, and only the guards had been put down. The scientists were still sniveling.

“James,” he said softly, “begin the self-destruct protocol for this facility.” He didn’t watch James leave, eyes focused on the scientists cowering on the floor.

“Tell me,” he commanded them gently, “how many of you ever dealt with the asset?”

Half of them raised their hands. He killed those monsters first.

And now, he’s watching James watch him. He killed people in the war, and he killed people on SHIELD missions. But that was always in the heat of battle, self-defense.

Part of him thinks he should stop. Go home. But home is 73 years ago, and he can never go back to it. And he knows –

“New mission protocol,” he says, and James’ head tilts to the side, waiting. “No more detaining unless we know for sure there’s non-Hydra present.”

James nods once.

The history books, the public – there’s an image of Captain America, a belief in who he is. Captain America is an idol, an ideal. He’s not real. And Steve’s not playing the game anymore.

“We should rest,” he says. There’s a manufacturing plant half a day away and they’re hitting it within the week.

Part of him thinks he should feel guilt.

He doesn’t.



Title: beneath the birth of the sky
Fandom: Marvel
Disclaimer: not my characters
Warnings: post-Cap2, violence
Pairings: Steve/Bucky
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 130
Prompt: MCU, Steve/or& Bucky, Bucky keeps saving Steve's life


The asset leaves the mission on the riverbank.

.

He circles back around the ex-mission as the ex-mission chases after him and shoots the three members of the STRIKE team stealthily approaching the ex-mission.

.

The robot zooms in from the north while Captain America is distracted; James uses up the rest of his ammunition taking it down and then has to utilize hand-to-hand combat to escape before Captain America's team attempt to apprehend him (again).

.

“Bucky!” Steve goddamn Rogers shouts as Bucky falls over the edge.

“Stay up there, you fuckin’ punk!” Bucky shouts back because if Steve gets himself killed after Bucky broke cover to save his life –

Wilson swoops in to catch him, shoves him into Steve’s arms, and returns to the battle.

“Bucky!” Steve says again.

Bucky sighs. “Hi, Steve.”



Title: Just because you're clean don't mean you don’t miss it
Fandom: Political Animals
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Taylor Swift
Warnings: post-show
Pairings: none
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 230
Prompt: any, any, there are no happy endings because nothing ends


They still look at him like they're worried, like they don't trust him, like he's not quite good enough because he's been sullied.

He’s in town for Mom’s second inauguration speech. He didn’t help the campaign this time. Last time nearly killed him and this time, he just… he had to choose. He knows they all think it was selfish of him, getting out, but he just can’t take it anymore.

He never could, really. He figures he must finally be maturing because he knows now.

He already knows where this is going, too. They’re turning 35 this year, him and Dougie. The whole thing is going to start all over, but TJ knows himself, now. He spent years self-medicating because he wasn’t strong enough to walk away.

He loves his family, really he does. But he loves himself, too. And he doesn’t want to die but staying in their orbit, in the fishbowl, it’s going to kill him.

He can walk away and survive. So he smiles for the cameras, shakes hands and kisses cheeks, answers shouted questions with bullshit, and cheers loudly when Mama is sworn in as president for the second time. He dances once with Mama, hugs Dad and Dougie, kisses Nana and Annie.

Then he slips out the back because he’s got a flight to catch and this isn’t a life he can live anymore.




Title: if thou diest, my love, I know not where to go
Fandom: Marvel movies
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Keats
Warnings: violence, torture, brainwashing, death
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 650
Point of view: third
Prompt: author's choice, any, "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to become a villain."

Bucky Barnes died in the mountains. Died saving Captain America's life. Died a hero.

He should've stayed dead.

.

The asset is a magnificent weapon. Terrifying.

Great care is taken to ensure that it stays a weapon with no mind of its own.

.

Bucky Barnes died in the mountains.

No. That is inaccurate.

Bucky Barnes died in care of Hydra in 1957. It was not an easy death. It was slow, inch by agonizing inch. He fought till the very end.

For a long time, Hydra remembers.

Hydra should not have forgotten.

.

The Winter Soldier is not in the files released on the internet. No clear image was recovered of the madman who attacked Captain America in DC. Captain America gives one interview when he’s finally out of the hospital, before vanishing from the public eye for three years and nine months.

Captain America promises that the man who attacked him is dead. (Very few notice (and no one listens to them) that he didn’t name anyone in particular. Many men attacked him over the course of those two days.)

.

Bucky Barnes died.

.

“You should let me go,” the ex-asset tells the ex-target. “’m’broken. Put me down.”

“Not ever,” the ex-target tells the ex-asset. “I don’t care what they made you do. I don’t care where we go. Just please let me go with you.”

They stare at each other in silence for eight minutes and 39 seconds; the ex-asset counts. Finally, he sighs and sags back against the wall. “Don’t wanna be caged,” he confesses.

Steve promises, “You won’t be.”

.

Bucky Barnes died.

He begins to resurrect when Steve Rogers, in the midst of battling for his life, pauses to ask, “Bucky?” in shock and awe and just the smallest bit of heartrending joy.

.

They never called their weapon Winter Soldier to its face. Occasionally, they gave it a male pronoun, depending on the particular handler or scientist’s sensibility.

The asset noticed but was not programmed to care.

Bucky cares a great deal. To Hydra’s detriment, Steve Rogers cares more.

.

Bucky Barnes died a hero.

The Winter Soldier goes down in history as a nameless madman who worked for Hydra and did his best to kill Captain America so that Hydra’s masterplan could be initiated.

(Bucky Barnes and the Winter Soldier’s best friend destroys a gym when he learns that.)

.

When needed for the supervillains and would-be world-enders, Captain America (the original flavor) comes out of retirement. Sam Wilson has taken over the designation, with an upgrade of wings. No one knows where Captain America retired to.

(In fact, Steven Grant and his husband James live in Eguisheim, American boys fleeing from their disapproving families. James speaks French like a native, but Steven’s American accent is still quite obvious, no matter how much he tries to hide it.

James has a very high-tech prosthetic left arm, and he never talks about how he lost his real arm. Steven, though, says that James is a hero.)

Sometimes, if the threat is high enough, someone else arrives to the battle with (original flavor) Captain America. He wears a mask that covers his entire face (not a muzzle) and gloves, in full body armor. He’s as fast as (original flavor) Cap, and seemingly as strong. Nobody knows his name or his story, but he’s got a massive following.

After every battle, though, (original flavor) Cap and the masked stranger disappear.

(A lot of people think they go home together, to wherever that is. A lot of other people think that’s ridiculous.)

.

In Eguisheim, James drapes himself across Steven’s back as Steven’ sketches, his head resting on Steven’s shoulder.

“Are you happy, Stevie?” he asks softly.

“I am,” Steven says, turning his head to press a kiss to the top of James’ head. “What about you, Buck?”

James sighs. “I’d forgotten how it felt,” he says. “But, yeah. I am.”




Title: Just grab my hand and don’t ever drop it
Fandom: Marvel movies
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Taylor Swift
Warnings: violence/torture/brainwashing; post-Cap2
Pairings: Steve/Bucky
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 850
Point of view: third
Prompt: Avengers movieverse, Steve/+Bucky, "No matter what anyone else tells you, love is not necessarily a good thing."


There are things that are weapons, when used dangerously. Emotions, you understand, are dangerous at the best of times. Anger can cause incidents of violence. Envy is the same.

Our weapon, Sergeant Barnes, will have no emotions beyond loyalty to the cause and the handler. Do you understand? Nod if yes.

Ah, good. You look confused, Sergeant?

Fear not. Soon, in fact, you will not fear at all. Sergeant Barnes is long dead, is he not? You are our greatest weapon. You will be known only as the asset.

Nod if you understand.

Good.



The first thing the asset feels is anger. It pushes through the greatest malfunction in all the asset’s missions and allows the asset to keep beating the target long after the asset should have stood down.

The second thing the asset feels is fear as the mission falls into the water.

The third thing the asset feels is confusion that it feels anything at all.



It is four months after the asset’s last mission that the asset realizes what love is. The next day, the asset chooses to call itself James.



Six months after the asset’s last mission, James decides to use male pronouns.



Eight months after the asset’s last mission, James returns to Steve.



James feels a great deal. He has had to relearn his body’s messages and the emotions that rip through him. His control is hard-won, but burning Hydra to the ground helped.

Always, the asset’s targets on the close contact missions had been afraid. Had begged. Some had fought. The asset had noted everything and understood none of it.

James understands, now.

Bucky Barnes, he knows, had hated Hydra. So too does James.



Hate scares him.

Love scares him more.



“Bucky,” Steve breathes, eyes wide.

“Steve,” Bucky replies.



Hydra took everything from him. There is much he doesn’t remember and probably never will. They left him only loyalty, but it was not true loyalty. His true loyalty has only ever been to his family and Steve and his team. Only Steve remains.

James knows that he is a man now and was a man before. But he was the asset for far longer. He is a weapon.

He chooses who wields him now.



“They didn’t want me to remember emotions,” he tells Steve late one night. “Because it would mean I remembered you.”

Steve (stupidly) leapt between James and an energy blast from one of AIM’s latest projects. James then proceeded to tear apart every member of AIM present, including the ones who had already surrendered.

“I love you, Stevie,” James whispers, reaching out with his left hand to stroke Steve’s cheek.

Steve’s team fears him. SHIELD is still trying to rebuild but James knows they want to take him in. Lock him away somewhere. Perhaps put him down like a rabid animal. He’s dangerous. Steve’s the only reason he’s still free.

James will never be caged and shackled again.

He knows that Steve loves him and that’s a dangerous thing. Emotions cause foolishness. Hydra was right to take them from him because the depths of the love he feels for Steve are utterly terrifying.

“Love you, too, Buck,” Steve murmurs, barely conscious.

For an entire two minutes, James had believed Steve to be dead, and it was the worst thing in his memory.

“Don’t you ever do that again,” he says, leaning over to rest his forehead against Steve’s.

Steve says, “You either.”



James’ choice will always be Steve. He chose Steve when he knew nothing. He chose Steve when he was a boy in Brooklyn and when he was a man in the middle of war.

Love is a dangerous thing, and Steve will choose James, too. He will choose James over the Avengers and SHIELD, and when it comes down to it, he walks away at James’ side.

Steve has fought his whole life. He has sought out fights. Bucky Barnes fought when he had to. The asset’s only purpose was violence. And James –

“What do you want?” Steve asks him.

James – James says, “I want to feel safe.” He has never felt safe outside of Steve’s presence.

“Then let’s leave,” Steve says. “Not fight anymore.”

Bucky Barnes would’ve argued that Steve couldn’t stop fighting if he tried. The asset would have simply followed silently. But James asks, “Are you sure?”

“I don’t want you to be my weapon, James,” Steve says. “You’re my friend. You’re my – my – the other half of me.” He reaches out to clutch James’ shoulder and leans in, resting their foreheads together. “You’re not happy here. If you’re not happy, I’m not happy. So let’s leave. I’ve done my part. I’m done.”

“Where will we go?” James asks.

Steve laughs softly and shrugs. “The world’s a big place. Let’s explore.”



He still fights, Dr. Zola. It is extraordinary. I fear that if we dig too far, we will do permanent damage.

Of course, sir. He heals very quickly.

Yes. I understand. Nothing left but a blank slate that we will write over.

Dr. Zola, please... you know the subject best. Instruct us.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
maldeluxx
Feb. 28th, 2015 03:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, Steve... still caring for James even if he's never going to be what he was. :( And in the last:another way of how things should go *nods*

Although I've never watched Political Animals, I very much enjoy this piece. A lot of atmosphere in it.
tigriswolf
Mar. 1st, 2015 04:34 am (UTC)

Thank you!

Dude, Political Animals is heartbreaking. Poor TJ.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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tigriswolf
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