Till The End Of The Line

Chapter 4

Frankie woke up, looked around and realized she'd fallen asleep on Bucky's chest. Lightly lifting his arm, she snuck away, a few moans and grunts escaping his lips, allowed him to fall peacefully back into his sleep.

Looking through the pantry, she knew they wouldn't be able to last a couple more days with the slim amount of food they had. Changing out of her sweatpants and sweater, she threw on a pair of jeans, a long sleeve shirt and boots. Grabbing one of Bucky's sweatshirts, she plunged her skinny arms into the over-sized sleeve, pulling the hood over her head.

Grandfather has an old pick up stashed behind the cabin, Frankie praying it still ran. He kept it up to date, obsessing over it some summers when it wouldn't work for him. She'd sit on the bench with Peggy, watching him curse and kick the tire with his boot. The old door creaked when she opened it, the sun just barely showing over the woods around her. Trying to be as quite as she could without waking Bucky, she turned the key, holding her breath. It took a try or two, but it eventually started. Smiling at herself, foot down on the clutch, she drove off the property and down the only road in this part of the woods. Rusty at first, cringing at the sound of the clutch when she wasn't in the proper gear, she imagined her grandfather sitting in the seat next to her, yelling that she was going to ruin the truck.

Driving nearly 45 minutes away from the cabin, she stopped at a little truck stop on the main highway, if she continued she's slowly make her way to New York. Re-positioning the hood, bringing it a little lower now that she wasn't driving, she walked into the market, grabbing a hand basket and making her way down the aisle. Looking over toward the little cafe, she saw the weary, tired truck drivers filling up their coffee cups, grabbing something to eat or some more smokes.

A gentlemen made his way towards her, though she kept her head low she clenched onto the gun she had stashed in the large front pocket of the sweatshirt.

"anything I can help you find ma'am?" he asked, trying to peer under the hood. She looked up, sunglasses still on her face.

"I'm preparing for a little camping trip with my son, can you point me in the direction of your soups please"

She'd learned at an early age to lie when a stranger came up asking you about something. Grandfather said it was always better to be safe than sorry. That Hydra could be anyone and anywhere. She followed behind the man, who showed her directly to the canned section. Grabbing a bunch, she moved onto supplies. Bandages, gauze. To keep up with the camping story, she grabbed some marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars. Placing everything down on the counter, she continually checked around her to see if anyone had spotted her.

"have a lovely camping trip, hopefully this rain holds out for you" the guy smiled, handing her two bags filled to the top. Frankie smiled, still tucking her head low. "I threw in some advil for you, since it seems as if the light is bothering you a bit"

A little taken aback, Frankie gave him a weird look, then realized she was wearing sunglasses and had a hood pulled over her face. She nodded, thanking him and walking back to the old truck. She took a longer way home, making sure no one was following her.

Bucky woke up, as he stretched his legs out he called for Frankie. When he didn't receive an answer, he jumped off the couch searching the entire cabin. His mind instantly went to the worst possible situation. Had Hydra found them? Did they take Frankie? Why didn't he wake up? His gut wrenched and knotted at the idea of anything possibly happening to her. after frantically looking in and out of the cabin, he sat on the bed, gun in his hand ready for a fight.

He cleared his brain of any Bucky thoughts. He needed the asset at the moment. The cold blooded killer he used to be. He sat frozen on the bed, trying his best to push all thoughts out of his head, to focus on being the Winter Solider when they finally came back for him.

As hard as he tried though, he couldn't get Frankie out of his head. Barely two weeks together and yet she was one of the most important and stable things in his life. She didn't scurry away or hide from him like so many people did. She saw him as a human being, not a serial killer or a former Hydra asset. She treated him as if he was any other person and he thoroughly enjoyed being a normal human being again. Though still on the run, she gave him the normalcy he'd wanted for so long now.

Three hours had past since he'd waken. Still frozen on the bed, no noise but the sound of the rain slamming against the windows. Thunder clapped in the far distance, not yet close enough to the cabin. He heard a humming coming from outside the window, a noise he hadn't heard before. Catching his attention, he finally rose from the side of the bed, gun loaded with the safety off, he entered the living room.

Frankie nearly dropped both bags of food when she walked into the house, a shot passing her head and hitting the wall. Bucky dropped the gun, stunned he'd sent a bullet her way. Rushing to her, wrapping his arms around her tightly, he finally let out a sign of relief.

"dude, what the hell.." Frankie yelled, pushing him off her and slamming the bags into his arms.

"I thought Hydra had gotten you when I was asleep. I thought they were back to get me" he frowned, saddened by her anger. Though she had every right to be angry, he just fired a warning shot at her. "where did you go?"

"we needed more food. I went to a little shop about 45 minutes south from here" she told him, removing his sweatshirt that now was soaked with rain.

"you should've let me go with you. I can't believe you went alone" he yelled, frustration now pouring from his entire body. "you could've seriously gotten hurt, or killed"

He continued to argue with her. Told her he didn't care she was training for combat or knew how to shoot a gun. She told him she was careful, no one saw her face or recognized her. They argued for a bit before she stormed into the bedroom, feeling like she was stuck in the cabin with Grandfather all over again. The only difference was Peggy wouldn't be coming into the room to talk to her. Tell her how much grandfather loved her and just wanted to protect her.

Laying on the bed, she stared at the ceiling as she listened to the rain hit the windows and the thunder clap. Lightening would brighten the dark room every so often, reflecting the water from the windows onto the ceiling. Though she was still annoyed at Bucky for treating her like she was a ten year old, she couldn't help but smile when she smelt his aroma that blanketed the bed so nicely. Closing her eyes, she'd managed to get in a quick nap before she heard a loud clash, a few screams coming from outside the door.

Grabbing the gun grandfather hid in the nightstand, cocking it back and releasing the safety she made her way to the living room. The lights were out, the news on the TV being the only thing casting a dim aurora over the room. Flipping the switch, she saw Bucky laying on the floor, the lamp shattered next to him.

He wasn't continually screaming like he normally did. It was the one scream after the noise, but he convulsed on the floor. Learning her lesson from last time, she stayed behind his head, brushing some of the hair away from his face. Sweat was beaded on his forehead, veins popping from his head down to his neck, his fist clenched. Calling his name gently, she just held him and waited. This one was longer than the others, she also noticed the arm he hated so much lay completely still. His eyes shot open, but Bucky wasn't there.

He flung up, looking at her. Standing slowly, Frankie following, they just stared at each other from across the room.

"James" she swallowed, unsure about what to do. The plates of his arm shifted, very minimal noise coming from them. She wanted to look at him, but couldn't take her eyes off his arm. She'd never actually saw it in action. He always tried hard not to use it that much. "Bucky, it's me. It's Francesca"

He moved quickly, punching the area that she once stood. She ducked, swiping his legs as he threw the punch and successfully getting him to the ground. Jumping on him, she tried her best to hold both his arms down.

"I know you're in there Buck, you aren't using your strength, I know you can easily push me off of you. come back to me Buck, it's me. It's your Frankie"

He blinked, coming too and stared at her. Laughing, he mentioned this was the second time he woke up and saw her on top of him. He apologized a million times, even though this time he hadn't hurt her. She mentioned how long this episode was, and he recalled the nightmare he so believed was true. The mouth guard pressed tightly against his teeth. Not being able to close his mouth fully around it. The metal straps that snapped down across both arms and ankles, holding him in position. The metal that clamped over his head, the sound of the machine when it began to re-scramble his brain. The words he used to say to make him snap into soldier mode. Frankie was nearly in tears as he described all the pain and torment.

"you know, I recognized Steve after I saw him on that bridge. He called my name and I could've sworn I knew him. I mentioned it, when I was taken back to the vault. They brushed me off like I didn't realize what they were doing to me. But I had no power. All this strength and abilities, I had no power to stop what they were doing. I sat there and took it, not wanted to go back into deep freeze and disappear for years again"

She nearly lost it. She'd been bottling up all her feelings for weeks now. But it finally hit her. She lost her home, her job, her best friend was out in the world somewhere searching for the very person sitting in front of her. For days she'd been pitying herself, making little comments that knew hurt and stung Bucky. When in reality, he was in the most pain, physical and emotional. A pain she would never understand. She should've been trying harder to help him, instead of making herself feel bad. She lunged at him, hugging him tightly. He pulled away, gently holding her cheek with the metal fingers of his left hand.

He felt something in him, when she called herself his. It snapped him back, just like Steve did once. He still didn't understand what was happening to him, but if it meant she could easily snap him back to reality and not hurt her, he was okay with it.