Till The End Of The Line

Chapter 3

A small knock came from Frankie’s door. Wrapping a scarf around her throat, she looked around to make sure he wasn’t in sight and opened it.

“Francesca Dugan?” the man asked, reaching a bit behind the door she grabbed the bat she kept hidden.

“yes, how can I help you?” she smiled, eyeing the guy up and down. He stood there, his black suit looking brand new, not a single wrinkle. The big black sedan sat behind him, he grabbed his sunglasses and pulled them lower.

“I work with Tony Stark, Captain Rogers asked him to have someone come and check on you” he smiled, handing her a card.

“Happy Hogan, well it’s nice to meet you, but please tell Mr. Stark I’m okay. He can pass that message along to the Captain”

Closing the door, Bucky slowly turned the corner, eyes beet red, looking at the floor.

“I’m sorry Frankie, I don’t know what happened, i don't know what came over me last night” he mumbled.

“it’s okay, Buck” she whispered, softly touching the scarf she’d been using to hide the bruising.

With a quick movement, he was next to her. Unwrapping the scarf quickly, using his real hand, his metal arm basically glued to his side. He slowly pulled it off, staring at the bruises that scattered her neck. His breathe caught in his throat, his nose scrunching a bit. His arm finally raised, the cool metal softly touching the marks.

“I can’t believe I’ve done this” he whispered, mostly to himself. “I’m leaving tonight”

With another quick movement, he was sitting on the couch, still trying to understand how he could’ve hurt her. She sat next to him, legs folded so she could be closer. She took the metal arm in her hands, tracing the star that was etching into it.

“you know, I’d always pictured myself close to you. All those stories Steve and my grandfather used to tell, I wanted to be your friend”

“I’m no longer that person” he told her, confused where she was going.

“you were and still are a very good-looking man. Steve told me you were a lady killer. All the girls swooned over the great Bucky Barnes” she chuckled “I was only twenty-two when Steve and I first met. He’d come to the hospital to see my grandfather. The two of them sat there for hours, catching up on all the things that’d been going on. For almost two hours though, they talked about you. I sat at the end of my grandfathers’ bed, in complete awe of how they talked about you. I wished I could’ve known you, been your friend. Grandfather taught me how to shoot when I was only seven. It was a year after my parents passed, he was so worried someone would come after him, he knew HYDRA was still out there. He told me the first time I ever picked up a gun, that you were the best shot he’d ever seen. And if I was lucky, I’d learn to be just as good as you. I’m not, by the way. I’m pretty good, but not even close to what you are”

He stared at her, still a bit confused. She’d started tracing the point where the metal arm was attached to his shoulder. The tank top he’d been wearing showed everything, he was no longer ashamed to show himself around the house anymore. While she paused in what seemed like her random rant, he stared at her. Caught her staring off into the distance, gently playing with the singed skin.

“you were what I wanted to grow up and be. Grandfather loved having a granddaughter that was a huge tom-boy. I wanted to grow up to be a good shot, to defend my country, to be a good person. You looked after Steve your entire life, were with him till the day you died. I wanted to be like you”

“you don’t want to be like me, not now” he told her, lifting her chin with his hand, bringing her attention off his arm. “I am no longer that Bucky. He is long gone”

“but he isn’t. there are moments like these, moments when you’re soft and gentle, that I know the real James Buchanan Barnes is there. We will work to get the Winter Solider out of your brain. And I am no letting you leave until he is gone”

“you aren’t safe here with me, I can’t control the asset, I refuse to hurt you anymore” he stood, pacing in front of the tv. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if I hurt you again”

“do you promise not to hurt me again?” she asked, standing up and getting in his way. She stared into his eyes, holding onto both shoulders. She knew he could easily push her to the side, throw her across the room with probably just his pinky if he wanted too.

“I promise” he whispered.

“see, that’s the Bucky I always wanted to be friends with. You are not leaving this house, we will find a way for you to be safe. I will figure out how to get the Winter Solider out of your brain”

“I couldn’t ask you to do that”

“you aren’t, I’m doing it for you, for Steve” she smiled.

He brushed passed her, grabbing something out of the study before meeting her back in the center of the living room. He handed her a frame. The wood was freshly sanded, glued together with a solvent. The smell of fresh stain still strong. She looked at it, smiling at the picture of Steve, Bucky and her grandfather.

“you found it” she whispered, smiling at him. “thank you, Bucky” he smiled back at her. “wait, when did go and get this?”

“last night, after the incident, I left. I wanted to let you get your life back together. I didn’t realize where I was going until I was there, staring down at that hole you dug. It only took me a few minutes, but I found it. And I stared at it for a while. It was supposed to be my thank you gift, my goodbye gift, so I fixed it up. I was going to leave it on the counter for you. but for some reason, I couldn’t just leave without saying goodbye”

“you were just going to leave, just disappear?” she was upset, hurt that he could just disappear without anything. The knot that formed in her stomach at the thought of it made her tear a bit.

“I’m not safe, Frankie”

“and if HYDRA is still looking for you, neither am I” she said through gritted teeth.


Bucky slammed the man against the brick wall.

“wo ist er?” he seethed, slamming the man against the wall once again. He wrapped the shiny metal hand around the man’s throat. “was will er?”

The man chuckled “he will find you asset. There is no escaping”

With a quick snap of his jaw, the man laughed, white foam beginning to fall from his lips.

“hail hydra” he mumbled, before choking. Bucky threw him onto the ground.

Picking up his duffle bag, he swung it over his shoulder and made his way back to the apartment. Second HYDRA agent he’s found that he hasn’t gotten anything out of. He was becoming annoyed. He wasn’t sure how many more were out there, but he was no longer safe. Frankie was no longer safe.

Two nights after he found the picture for Frankie, the day he’d told her he was going to leave, he ended back up at the old SHIELD headquarters. He stared at the water for a few minutes, remembering pulling Steve from the water. He still didn’t know why he did it. There was still a lot missing from his head. He remembered a lot, but not everything. It was starting to get very annoying to him.

“asset” came from behind him, with a quick twist he stared at the two men pointing the gun towards his head.

Before they could blink, Bucky reached to his back, pulled out his gun and shot one of the agents threw the eyes. He stared at the second one, who just stared at him with a sick smile on his face.

“we know you aren’t alone, asset. You come with us, or that little girlfriend you have will suffer”

With an instant, Bucky’s mind went to what they could possibly be doing to Frankie. Were they already at the apartment, did they already kill her? He shot quickly, hitting the man directly in the chest. He walked by his side, slamming his foot onto the throat and twisting his ankle, snapping his neck.

He ran as quickly as he could back to the apartment, his hood was down, he didn’t take any precaution. He ran the streets, knowing in the dim glow of the lights someone could spot him, but he didn’t care. What was important to him was getting to Frankie. He slammed into the door, running around the first floor, searching everywhere. Taking two steps at a time, he nearly knocked down her bedroom door.

“Frankie” he yelled, grabbing a duffle bag and shoving some things into it. She shuffled on the bed, letting out a quite moan. “Frank, wake up!” he yelled again. “we have to go”

“what are you talking about Buck, what are you doing?” she asked, wiping the sleep from her eyes. He brushed his hands threw his hair, something she noticed he always did when he was stressed or worried.

“we need to go, they’ve found us” he stared at her “I can not keep you safe here”

She jumped quickly from her bed, grabbing a few personal items and shoving them into the bag he had. She reached under her bed, pulling out a chest that had a few hand guns, some magazines as well as a long-range rifle. He gave her a look and she just shrugged with a smile on her face.

They made it down stairs when the door busted open. He yelled for her to hide, so she ducked behind the couch, peaking her head out past the end. She saw the feet of Bucky, as well as three others. A silent shot buzzed through the house, one set of feet falling flat.

There was too much noise that she couldn’t keep track. Boots were constantly moving and for a bit she lost track as to which ones were Bucky’s. she felt the couch move, someone reaching for her, grabbing her hair and pulling her over. She whimpered, staring at Bucky who had the man in a choke hold, gun pointed to his temple.

“put the gun down asset, and she will be fine” the man holding the gun to the back of Frankie’s head nearly whispered. His deep German accent hard to understand.

“Bucky don’t” Frankie told him, accepting the backlash of the gun against her skull. Falling to ground, Bucky pulled the trigger quickly, allowing the man he was holding to fall by his feet. Another quick shot and the last man standing fell beside Frankie, his eyes staring into hers as the blood trickled down his forehead.

Quickly, Bucky leaned down to grab Frankie, shoving both bags over his shoulders and bringing her out the front door. He strapped the bags onto the back of her motorcycle tightly, swinging his leg over. Steve never allowed her to ride the bike alone, feared that she’d topple over and hurt herself. It was a present from Grandfather. She swung her leg behind him, grabbing onto the bags to support herself.

She’d just witnessed the solider in Bucky. The look in his eyes was extreme, nothing but pure HYDRA. He started the bike, revving it a bit before he began down the road. Quickly getting onto the main roadway, he accelerated which caused Frankie to lean a bit farther back than she was comfortable with. His hand quickly reached behind him, grabbing her arm and forcing her to hold onto his waist. Wrapping tightly around him, she placed her face against his back, trying to erase the memory of the man staring directly into her eyes.

“go towards Boston, I have a cabin up there” she told him. she felt his nod.

It started to rain when they hit Connecticut. He suggested they stopped, warm up a bit, but she told him they couldn’t. they wouldn’t be safe. they needed to make it to the cabin.

Frankie awoke when the bike under her stopped vibrating. She was sore for being wrapped around Bucky for over seven hours. The sun was shining, a few dreary clouds still hanging above them. He let her get off the bike first, and she began unstrapping the bags.

“I’ve got it, go inside and warm up” he told her, trying to smile. “I’m sorry”

“it was going to happen sooner or later” she whispered, grabbing the one bag she got lose and walking into the cabin.

It’d been over thirteen years since she had been in the cabin. Under a fake name Grandfather bought it, wanted it to stay off SHIELD and HYDRA’s radar. As the only living member of the family, everything was passed down to her when he’d passed. The cabin was dusty, old. She threw her bag on the large bed that sat in the only bedroom. Bucky followed, putting down the other bag. She looked around. Though dust covered almost everything, it looked exactly the same. Nothing had been moved, nor changed.

“I’ll take the couch” Bucky told her. She removed the sweatshirt that was clinging to her wet body.

“we can share a bed Buck, it’s not that big of a deal. We’re both grown adults”

She saw his smirk as she closed the bathroom door, peeling her clothes from her body. The hot water felt great on her cold, shriveled, water logged body. She pulled on a pair of old sweatpants and a sweater, walking out of the bathroom, drying her hair in the towel to see Bucky asleep on the bed. He’d changed into sweatpants and a tank top, laying starfish.

Leaving him be, she walked into the kitchen. Staring at the pantry, she realized they needed to go food shopping. Grandfather had the bills automatically coming out of a certain account each month, allowing the hot water and electricity to stay on. All that was left was canned vegetables and soup. Heating up some chicken noodle soup and some tea, she sat at the kitchen table, staring at the bookcase that took up most of the wall. Grabbing a book, she took her tea and sat in front of the fire place, the same place she used to lay while Grandfather watched tv.

“good evening” she mumbled, watching Bucky emerge from the bedroom. She looked over, his muscles bulging as he reached behind him, scratching his head. He smiled at her, sleepily walking to the counter. “there is some tea and soup there”

“thank you” he smiled, pouring some tea and sitting on the couch across from her. “how long have you had this place?”

“Grandfather brought it under a fake name after he left the army. He didn’t want SHIELD or HYDRA to know about it. Peggy was the only one to know, spent some summers here with us sometimes. It’s been here for almost sixty years”

“why didn’t you stay in Boston, stay here?” he sipped gently, staring at her as the fire crackled and reflected off her blue eyes. For once, he felt like Bucky.

“I met Steve just as grandfather was getting very sick. He told me to watch after Steve, and if I did, he would watch after me. I stayed for a few years before I decided to move to D.C. Peggy got me into SHIELD, having gone to Harvard for science. I started working in the labs and Steve and I grew closer and closer. I hate being alone. Steve always made sure I wasn’t”

"he is one of the best people to be friends with, even when he was young and dumb and fighting people back home in Brooklyn” he chuckled.

They sat in silence for a while. He watched her as she read The Great Gatsby. She mentioned it was a favorite of hers, that she basically worn it down with the amount of times she’s read it. He mentioned he’d hadn’t read a book or watched a movie since he went into the army and she jumped up, searching through the large stack of movies, grabbing Singin’ In the Rain and pressing play. He laughed as he watched, seeing her out of the corner of his eye singing along.

He awoke to complete darkness. The tv buzzed lightly, a small dim amount of light radiating from it. The fire crackled as it died down. Looking around, he saw the clock read 3 A.M. he looked over, seeing Frankie soundly asleep, leaning on his chest. At some point they shifted on the couch, his back pressed tightly against the arm rest, Frankie leaning over him, body rested perfectly in the nook of his arm, which was stretched around her shoulders.

The fluttering in his stomach began again. Not sure of what it was, he knew he couldn’t let anything happen. She’d be in too much danger if anything did, even if he wanted it too. scared to wake her, he just laid there, watching as her chest slowly rose and fell. The low light from the tv showing the fading bruises on her neck and wrist. The pain and guilt twisted inside him, still upset with himself that he could do that to her.

He’d been too comfortable. Though he was happy to have Bucky somewhat back, there were good things to having the solider in him too. he didn’t feel guilt when he was in solider mode. Fear, guilt, sorrow, lust. Those weren’t things an assassin could feel. He needed to get some aspects of the solider back before he went too far, before something bad happened.