Status: in progress and will be finished this year wohoo and will probably get a sequel



No matter how many people were occupying the safehouse, nor their combined strength, nor the ensuing noise could completely eradicate Liz’s uneasiness and the slight panic that still welled up at every loud noise. Granted, it had not even been three days since she had been brought here but the relief she had felt in the beginning had slowly started to fade and had been gradually replaced by a more realistic perspective. Of course she had known from the beginning that her current situation wasn’t exactly ideal. She didn’t even want to think about all the things that had happened and she was sure that had only been the bare minimum of things Hydra was capable of.

But now she had a lot more time on her hands than usual and nothing to occupy herself with except for annoying the others. The TV in the living was only for show, her phone had been lost in her struggle with the Hydra goons and the only book she had found had been a cookbook from the 70s. So in an attempt to keep herself from stealing the neighbor’s newspaper she spent most hours watching a neighbor’s cat from inside or staring at the blank TV screen while the rest was off talking about possible plans and tactics. But being left alone with her thoughts made her worries grow and one reckless idea after another started popping into her head. Sometimes she convinced herself that a big deal of these ideas were not as reckless as they had at first seemed but she was sure that no idea that involved her getting possibly harmed in the process was ever going to be considered by any of them. So she kept still, kept watching and kept recuperation.

She didn’t want to vent to anyone. She didn’t even know whether she was even allowed to. They were all involved in this, every one of them had emotional baggage and every single person in this house alone was at a bigger risk of falling victim to Hydra’s evils than she would ever be. They might have been reluctant in involving her in their plans but she knew that if there was one person that Hydra didn’t watch as much as them, it was her – and that was despite her being caught in this mess, too.
Steve was reluctant in involving Bucky in their plans, too, but he had the most information about Hydra and was therefore an essential asset for them, leading her to be completely on her own and left out of the loop. She had hardly any information that would be essential for them, so she took a step back and let them deal with it the way they wanted. They knew who she suspected of being affiliated with Hydra and that was all she could give them. Maybe when she went back to working she could give them more useful information. But for now she kept her mouth shut.

This however had led to unpleasant side-effects which she was now dealing with. Therefore, deciding that she didn’t want to be woken up by yet another nightmare, she carefully made her way down the dark hallway that led to the kitchen.

It was way into the night by now and the house was finally at its quietest, only disturbed by the faint buzzing of the fridge and the occasional car driving by outside. As far as she could tell every person who stayed in the house was asleep, except for Sam who had left soon after the sun had set.

She had anticipated that there were quite a few people involved in trying to track down Hydra that didn’t work with government institutions. But she was glad that they were also here to keep Bucky out of harm’s way, at least for as long as they could. And she had to admit, she liked Sam. But she still wondered how many more people were involved. All she knew was that there was at least one more person since she was currently wearing the clothes she had left in the safehouse’s guest room. But still, having a whole group of spies and soldiers and assassins on her side still wasn’t as comforting as it should have been.

Shaking herself out of her thoughts, she carefully peeked into the kitchen which thankfully appeared to be empty. Explaining why she was up in the middle of the night raiding Clint’s kitchen wasn’t on her list.
So after letting out a small sigh, Elizabeth grabbed the box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch from the counter and retrieved a bowl from the cupboard. Clint might have been a mess of a person but at least he had proper taste in cereal. Therefore, armed with milk and a spoon, she started filling up her bowl to the brim with the cinnamonic cereal .
She normally never ate sugary cereal but she could remember her mom buying it for her, her grandfather always having a box of it somewhere stashed away in his house for her and her brother, too. It was as far as non-greasy comfort food went for her - because, granted, she loved pizza - but she had been too anxious and stressed out the last few days to think about food at all. She only ate so she wouldn’t collapse again. However, the moment she had spotted the box in the kitchen, it had all come rushing back to her and the sense of familiarity seemed like the only thing that could be able to pose as some sort of remedy for her nightmares.

And so she found herself sitting alone at the kitchen’s bar sometime around 3am, slightly freezing in the too-thin-for-this-weather shirt and sweatpants she had found, eating spoonful after spoonful of cereal in the hopes that it comforted her enough to let her get back to sleep soon.
She didn’t exactly feel lonely but the minute she saw Bucky’s tousled hair, still somewhat bleary eyes and his mismatched idea of pajamas in the doorway, she knew that any feelings of loneliness she might have felt had faded in an instant.

“Hey,” Liz mumbled with her mouth still full, her smile genuine but still not quite reaching her tired eyes.

“Hey,” he echoed with a hint of confusion but with another look at the bowl in front of her and a slight nod to himself, he immediately went to get a bowl, too. “You didn’t strike me as the cereal type.”

“To be fair, neither did you. More like… scrambled eggs and bacon,” Liz smiled softly and watched as he poured the milk into his bowl and grabbed the box. “I’m more of a cold-pizza-for-breakfast-type, as you know. But I figured the circumstances called for something like that.” Bucky hummed in agreement as he poured the cereal into the bowl and grabbed a spoon from the cutlery box. But she had to suppress a shocked look at his frankly ineffective way of pouring his cereal. “You know it’s cereal first, then milk, right?”

“Yeah, Clint made that clear a few days ago, actually,” he told her, “But he likes his cereal soggy and I don’t.”

“You do you,” she told him with a laugh but kept watching him as he suppressed a yawn. “So how come you’re up, too?”

“You’re a lot less stealthy than you think, Liz,” he said and leaned against the kitchen bar, balancing his bowl in one hand and holding the spoon in the other. “Even without a gunshot wound.”

Faking offense, Liz’ eyebrows shot upwards before she replied, her mouth still full from her last spoonful of cereal. “I am one hundred percent sure that if there are two thing I absolutely cannot do,” she told him, muffled until the swallowed, “,it’s being stealthy and not being offended by that statement. But if you cherish a good night’s sleep you’ll have to show me how to be a stealthy assassin like you,” she shrugged and went back to eating. Bucky shook his head in amusement.

“You’ve never had to sneak up on the bad guys?”

“Suits and holsters aren’t exactly sneaky,” she shrugged. “I’ve also never been involved in an undercover mission, so that might have something to do with it.”

“I’ll show you when you’re leg’s all good again,” Bucky told her. “No use in trying when you fall over every few steps.”

He hadn’t meant to pull her thoughts towards their predicament again but Liz felt her stomach drop anyway and he watched as the amusement faded from her face.

“I’m gonna need it, won’t I?” she whispered and swallowed hard, letting the spoon drop into the mostly empty bowl to rub her suddenly cold bare arms. “I mean, I’m not…”, she stopped and wondered what she even wanted to tell him. That she wouldn’t get out unscathed? He sure as hell wouldn’t either? They couldn’t lock themselves away and hope that Hydra slithered away like a frightened snake? That no matter what they did, there would be no ending to this anytime soon? But Liz caught herself and ignored Bucky’s defeated look. No venting. “I would like that. I mean, you showing me how to do that.”

Forcing a small smile, he nodded and after briefly watching her rub her bare arms again, he suddenly went to take of his blue henley, making her come face to face with not only muscles but also the rim of angry scars on his left shoulder.

“What are you doing?” Liz asked confused but undecided whether to be thankful that he was wearing another shirt underneath.

“I’m not going to let you sit here shivering, am I? I don’t need it. Sped-up metabolism,” he explained and handed it over, urging her to put it on. “Do you need a blanket too?”
“I- No, I… I’m good,” she answered, still confused both by the gesture and the shirt’s smell but she put it on nevertheless, the already warm shirt immediately enveloping her in a sense of safety “Thank you.”

Distractedly looking down into her bowl of cereal, the soggy pieces of cereal caught her eye, only being able to pull her partly away from her thoughts. This was the first time she had seen his shoulder, where his metal arm met his skin, and the amount of scarring was worse than she could have imagined. If she had to be honest, she would have said that it seemed as if Hydra had had fun in causing more damage than needed. But before she caught herself, she motioned towards his arm with her spoon, “Does it hurt?”

Looking down onto his shoulder as if he had only now noticed that it was displayed, he thought for a few seconds before he answered with a shake of his head, “No.”

She didn’t quite know whether she believed that but the arm’s complex metal plating had caught her eye and she had started to become even more curious.

“Do you… Can you feel with it?” she asked and reached out to trace her fingers over his arm’s length. “It’s so intricate, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could.”

Bucky kept watching as she studied his arm in wonder. He had never looked at his arm as anything other than a weapon but the almost childlike wonder Liz studied it with made him think. He now had full control over his arm and the things it did. As long as Hydra didn’t get their hands on him again, he could use his arm for whatever he wanted. Hell, he could go picking daisies if he wanted to.
“No,” he finally answered with a shake of his head, “I feel pressure but nothing else.”
“Huh, amazing,” she replied, turning his hand over to look at his palm when she suddenly dropped his hand like it was on fire. “Sorry, I’m- I didn’t ask whether you were comfortable with this, I’m sorry,” she stuttered and quickly grabbed her bowl to put it into the sink. “I’m just-,” she trailed off. She had gotten distracted but felt her sleep deficit catch up with her. It was probably close to 4am anyway and she needed to wake up early to make the dreaded call to the FBI. “I should probably go to bed.”

But there was one thing that she still wanted to do. So after emptying her bowl’s contents into the sink, she stood for a moment, pulling the henley’s sleeves over her hands before she pulled herself together and went to give Bucky an awkward side-hug. “Thank you,” she told him again and started to pull away. However, he gently held onto her arm, carefully but quickly tugged her towards him again and enveloped her in his arms properly.

Elizabeth didn’t know why she felt alarmed at first but the moment she rested her cheek against his chest, his steady heartbeat, warmth and the smell of fresh laundry did the rest to make her feel safe.
To be fair, she couldn’t quite remember the last time she had hugged someone like this or when she had felt this safe in someone’s arms, even with her own family members. Although she wasn’t sure whether she could compare a hug between family members to this, whatever she could classify their relationship as.

No matter the case, she didn’t want to let go – at least not yet. She felt his arms tighten around her, pushing her closer against him, enabling her to listen to his heartbeat more clearly and feel his muscles shift beneath his shirt. When his chin came atop of her head, tucking her safely against him, she burrowed her face further into his chest.

But just like his arms had tightened in the beginning, after a short while they were slowly starting to let go. Still, when she slightly pulled away, too, she came face to face with Bucky, his gaze soft but intense at the same time, his mouth slightly agape and his lips utterly inviting. Elizabeth thought that she might have imagined it when she saw his eyes briefly flit down to her own lips had he not suddenly spoken up, his voice hoarse and low.

“Can I…,” he trailed off.

She wouldn’t have been surprised had she forgotten to reply as she was gaping, too. But then she heard herself breath “Yeah, absolutely,” and the next thing she could feel was his lips on hers, warm and softer than she had thought a man like him being capable of. But then, when their lips started moving together, she thought that, yes, things weren’t ideal. But kissing him felt like really coming home for the first time in forever, and god, if it didn’t feel like the safest place in the world.
♠ ♠ ♠
hello friends, it is I, the most unreliable person in the universe (but to be fair, life is weird right now and I've got to deal with love*5 and my bachelor's thesis)

Sorry for the delay but I hope this chapter makes up for any... inconveniences