Till The End Of The Line

Chapter 2

Frankie knew who Bucky was. Steve told her mostly everything, things that weren’t on his official SHIELD file. She knew his whole life story. It’d been two days since he arrived, but he never left the study. Life had been complicated since his untimely and unsuspected arrival.

Frankie wanted so badly to call Maria or Steve, to tell them that Bucky was currently rifling through all her grandfather’s things but felt the need to protect and help him. Her stomach forming knots as she reminded herself that Steve was out there somewhere looking for his long-time best friend, knowing she couldn’t say anything and was lying to him. He would flip out if he only knew.

“I’m going for a run Bucky, I’ll be back” she yelled, bouncing by the study door as she pulled her hair tighter in the pony tail. She heard him shuffling around inside, but no answer.

Running quickly, trying to get her mind off who was currently sitting in her house, she absent mindedly ran to where the Triskelion used to stand. Still crumbling, she sat on a boulder next to the lake. The lake that the scraps of the last helicarrier went down in, where Steve’s nearly lifeless body plunged until Bucky pulled him out. She stared at the area where her desk used to sit, where Steve would deliver her a coffee to let her know he’d be leaving for his next mission.

Without thinking, Frankie crossed the broken-up bridge, making her way to her office. Climbing and scaling pieces of concrete and steel, she stood below where her desk would’ve stood. Scraping away at the debris, she tried to dig down to where it would’ve fallen. There was a picture of her grandfather, Steve and Bucky. Gifted to Steve from his dying friend, he’d given it to Frankie for safe keeping while he was away on missions. Her lab was two floors above the main floor. Frankie remembered the day like it was yesterday.

Fury had died. Steve was named a fugitive from SHIELD. Frankie tried calling him multiple times but could never get through. Alexander Pierce came down from his office to meet her, ask her where Steve had been, where he was going. She knew enough to know he would send someone to follow her. A day or two had passed, Frankie so stressed with worry she lost all track of time. She received a phone call from a stranger, a new friend of Steve and Natasha’s. She met him at a little coffee shop, before they found and met with Agent Sitwell. Steve promised her he was safe and okay, but she saw it in his eyes that he was just trying to make her feel better. She went back to work, tried her best to act like nothing was going on. It felt like forever had passed before Sharon called, filling her in on what was happening. Told her to keep it to herself, that she couldn’t trust anyone. She insisted she left the building, that she would tell Steve meet her at home.

Pacing back and forth in her living room, she began to wonder what had happened and where Steve was. Sam barged into the door, nearly falling as he tumbled over his feet. Scratches, cuts, blood all over him. They sat next to that hospital bed until Steve woke up. Happy that she’d made it out of the building with no scratches, he began explaining everything. That Bucky was the one that pulled him from the lake.

Frankie stared down at her fingertips. Staring at the scratches as they began to swell and bleed. Giving up, she sat back on the large slab of concrete behind her and stared down into the small hole she’d managed to dig.

“what are you doing?” Bucky asked, surprising her and making her jump.

“what are you doing out of the house?” She yelled, jumping up and looking around her.

Without realizing, the sun began to set, and it was becoming dark. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been gone, she completely blanked of everything.

“I was trying to get a picture that was on my desk. It was of you, Steve and my grandfather. He’d given it to Steve before he passed away and Steve left it on my desk. I didn’t get to grab it before the building collapsed”

Bucky stared at her, leaning down and taking her hands in his. He grabbed a small napkin from his pocket, wiping away some of the blood.

“you shouldn’t be doing that with your wrist bruised, you could’ve really hurt yourself further” he looked into her eyes. He didn’t understand the sudden flutter in his stomach while he looked at her. It was unusual to him. What he didn’t know was that she felt the same flutter, and it was just as unusual to her.

“you need to get back to the house before someone sees you” she demanded, getting up and almost stumbling off the crumbled building.

Without any warning, Bucky leaned down and picked her up, carrying her away from the shredded walls and mangled steel. Placing her back on her feet after they got off the bridge, she walked back down to the water.

“you know, this is where you almost let him die” she mumbled, walking along the ledge of the dark substance. It was dark enough now that she could hardly see him standing against the tree line. She had no worry if anyone was going to see him now. The sun was set, all the electrical to the headquarters had been turned off.

“this is also where he said something to me that snapped me out of what I was” he told her, not moving away from the protection of the trees.

“I’m with you till the end of the line” Frankie mumbled, looking back at him to see his reaction. His face twisted a bit. “you first said it to him after his mother had passed away. You meant everything to him. Aunt Peggy told me stories of the two of you. How close you were. How devastated he was when he saw you fall off that train”

“Peggy” Bucky mumbled.

“Peggy Carter, you know Peggy” for a second Frankie forgot who she was talking too. She wasn’t with Steve, though in some aspects they did act alike, she forgot she was talking to a man that until earlier this year, was thought to be dead. Who had his brain scrambled like a million little eggs, trained to kill.

In silence, she stared making her way back to her house, Bucky following close behind. They entered the house, Frankie making a straight line towards the kitchen to begin making them breakfast.

“thank you” he mumbled, taking her attention off her task at hand “for allowing me to stay here, to allow me to go through all your stuff and try to remember”

“did it help?” she asked, stirring the pot of pasta and flipping the chicken.

“my name is Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes. Born March 10th, 1917. I was part of the 107th. I fell off a train trying to catch” he stumbled, stuttering his final word “Zola”

“Zola is the person who did this to you, Buck. He is the reason you are the Winter Solider”

“I am no longer the asset” he told her. She placed the dish in front of him. “can you tell me about that day”

“I sat in my lab. I heard Steve’s voice over the P.A system. Not long after a friend called me, told me everything. Two helicarriers went down before I made it out of the building, you and Steve were fighting in the third one. I made it off the bridge just as the third was smashed into the building. There were a few of us that stood with our Captain. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if he was alive or not. All that went through my head was the one person I had left in this world could’ve been dead. Sam found me a few hours later, pacing back and forth and nearly burning a hole in my floor. Steve told me it was you when I got to the hospital. That you were still alive. That you were the one that tried killing him, but you were the one that saved him”

They sat in silence while they ate. Bucky disappeared back into the study after he cleaned the dishes. Frankie laid in her bed, twisting the ring she had on her finger. Something she always did when she was nervous.

“where’d you get a ring like that?” Steve asked, taking Frankie’s hand to inspect it closer.

“it was my mother’s engagement ring. Grandfather gave it to me after they died” she plastered a fake smile onto her lips. Knowing her all too well, Steve saw right through her.

“you know, we’ve been friends for what, three years now, and you never talk about the death of your parents or Jim”

“and yet you don’t tell me about the death of yours either” she snapped back, apologizing immediately.

Her phone buzzed, looking down and seeing a number she didn’t recognize, she slowly opened it wearily.

We’re in Canada now, got a lead saying someone saw Bucky here. Just wanted to check in on you.

Stay bundled, Cap. All is well. Stay safe.

He wasn’t one to usually reach out during a mission, yet this one wasn’t exactly a SHIELD ordered mission.

She slept that night, the first night since Steve had left, the same night Bucky arrived. She awoke again to the sound of Bucky screaming, but it was closer. He’d taken up the extra bed that sat in the spare bedroom, the bed that Steve usually slept in. Brushing the sleep from her eyes, she grabbed the water bottle that sat on her nightstand and rushed into the room. sitting gently next to him, she tried shaking him. but nothing seemed to work.

She threw her leg over his waist, sitting directly on top of him. Screaming at him, she was able to shake him more vigorously while on top of him. She smacked him across the face, his shrill screams still echoing in the room. pleading with him, nearly in tears, she slapped him one more time. The scream stopped, his metal arm snapping up and around her throat.

“Bucky” she hardly could breathe. “James”

Squeezing a bit tighter, he leaned up. She let out another short breath, pleading his name. he blinked once, looked her in the eyes, tears starting to form as she could no longer hold on, her limbs going limp. He released his grip as she grabbed her throat and caught her breath.

“Frankie” he gasped, reaching for her and she scurried away from him. “I’m so sorry”

Without saying a word, still choking and coughing trying to get air in her lungs, she lunged off the bed, running to her room and locked the door.

For the first time, she saw what he truly was. The asset was still trapped in him somewhere and as much as he wanted it to be gone, she wasn’t sure it could ever really be totally gone. For the first time, she was scared of the man that sat in her home.
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thank you to those who've read so far. i wasn't really expecting any readers, just writing to get out of my own head a bit.