One sentence… just one little sentence was enough to bring my whole happy world crashing down. I had been working at Stark Tower as a liaison between Pepper and the UN, when I was reassigned to ‘Bucky’ duty by Captain America himself. When Bucky first arrived, he was a little unstable and prone to panic attacks, all of which I was able to bring him down from using different methods. As my mission, so to speak, progressed; as did my relationship with Bucky.
At first the two of us were always together. I don’t know whether that was Steve’s plan from the beginning, putting two emotionally unstable individuals together or not, all I know is that it worked. I fell and I fell hard for Bucky. He was broken and damaged just as I was. I hadn’t grown up in the best of circumstances, hell I spent my childhood begging for food in the center of town, but after a kind old man took me in and put me through school and College; I made it my mission to help others.
Hence, I joined the UN, or the United Nations. I graduated top of my class and became a government liaison. That was many years ago, now. I’ve been a liaison for many different superheroes, starting with Reed Richards and then of course ending with Tony Stark. My job was simple, be the go between for both and keep the chaos to a minimum. Also, I was there to report on any and all tests and secrets.
Anyway, I’m getting off track. Like I said Bucky and I were constantly together, we spent every waking moment near each other. It was inevitable for me to fall for him. It happened about three weeks ago, Steve thought it would be a good idea for Bucky and I to take a day and go to Coney Island. Perhaps it might rekindle some of Bucky’s memories that hadn’t come back yet. So, we went and at first it was magical.
We were having a great time. That was until I said something I shouldn’t have. I was so stupid, I got caught up in the moment and in the spur of it I told him I loved him. His eyes, he looked at me like I had betrayed him. I froze. I didn’t know what to do. It was just like when I was a kid and my mother abandoned me. He didn’t say anything. Like he was avoiding my confession so I decided to take him back to Steve.
The rest of the way back to Avengers tower we rode in silence. My heart was breaking and I just wanted to get him back safely and then I would decide what I was going to do from there. When we arrived, after I climbed out of the cab he grabbed my hand and said, ‘I don’t need you anymore, today proves I can do just fine by myself.’ I froze in my footsteps as he releases my hand and walks into the tower. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was crushed. Tears stung my eyes but I wasn’t about to cry.
Flashbacks to my childhood filled my mind. Abusive words slung at me from every direction covered me making me lose all the confidence I had gained over the past few years. I was broken. I don’t remember how I got home or even how I didn’t end up dead in a ditch somewhere. All I remember was waking up the next morning and returning to my original job as Miss Potts assistant. I didn’t try to avoid him, I didn’t make things awkward, I was just being professional. Everything was fine. Even though the very sight of him made my heart hurt I had to be professional.
Then it happened. I saw him with another girl. He was smiling a smile I had never seen before. It crushed me. That was when I decided to leave. I put in my resignation letter with Miss Potts, packed my bags, sold my apartment, and headed back to Paris. I traded in my field work for a desk job. I didn’t want to get attached to anyone ever again.
“And that’s why I’m here.” I say as I look across the room to the Shrink my supervisors requested I go to. The middle-aged woman had her hair pulled tightly back in a bun, and she wore a gray pinstriped pants suit. This was the last place I wanted to be.
“(Name), I’ve read the reports you wrote about your time at the Avengers tower; It seems like you had many friends you could have turned too, so why did you leave without notifying anyone other than Miss Potts?” She asks as she pulls her glasses from her face.
“Miss Potts was my boss; it’s only fitting I tell her I was leaving.”
“And this Bucky individual you mentioned, you didn’t feel the need to tell him you were leaving?” She asks and my heart clenches.
“No ma’am, I figured it was best that I break off contact without delay. That is also why I decided to stay here in Paris. I’m finished with field work.”
“You do realize it’s your superiors who want me to clear you for the field do you not?”
“I do ma’am, but I wish to remain at my desk.”
“I understand your reasons, I will go through my notes and let them know what I think.”
“Thank you,” I say forcing my business smile.
“That is all the time we have for today, I will see you again next week at the same time.”
“Yes ma’am.” I say as I stand and grabbing my coat and purse head for the door. I was not happy. Leaving the therapists office, I step out into the cold winter air and let out a heavy sigh. I hated shrinks, I never believed they worked and I hated the fact that I was to tell a complete stranger about my tortured past. As the cold wind blows I take a deep breath and wince as the cold air fills my lungs. It burned but that was just proof that I was alive.
Turning I decide to take the long way home and walk past Notre Dame. It was my favorite place in the whole world. When I was begging for food I used to go there. The Archbishop and Deacons used to slip me whatever food they could and then on extremely cold nights they would allow me to sleep inside the cathedral. It was the first act of kindness anyone had ever shown me. I smile at the people as I pass by them.
As the church comes into view I remember Philippe, the old man who took me in off the streets. He was a baker, every morning he would wake up early to start preparing the dough. I loved smelling the smell of bread baking. Bread baking was my favorite smell in the whole world. Although he passed away right after I graduated college he left his bakery in the hands of his workers.
Rounding the corner, I spot a familiar face and I smile as I rush over to the flower woman. “Bonjour Marie,” I call out to the redhead as I reach into my purse to pull out some money for her beautiful yellow Roses.
“Ah Bonjour (Name), Je ne vous ai pas vu depuis des années. Comment allez-vous?” (I haven’t seen you in years. How are you?) She replies a bright smile covering her withered face.
“J'ai eu un peu de malchance en amour mais à part ça je l'ai bien été.” (I've had a bit of bad luck in love but other than that I’ve been well.) I reply holding the blooming petals up to my nose.
“Eh bien, je ne vais pas édulcorer et dire que vous allez rencontrer quelqu'un savait. Est-ce que vous aimez cet homme?” (Well I’m not going to sugar coat it and say that you'll meet someone knew. Did you love this man?) She asks and I feel tears sting my eyes as I think of him.
“Oui je l'ai fait.” (Yes, I did.)
“L'amour fait mal. Voilà comment vous savez qu'il était réel.” (Love hurts. That's how you know it was real.) She replies and I nod.
“Eh bien, je serai hors tension. Merci Marie pour la belle rose.” (Well I'll be off. Thank you, Marie, for the lovely rose.) I say as I start to walk toward the bridge. She waves me off with a smile and I grip tightly to my little bouquet as I slowly walk across the Pont au Double bridge. I take one last glance toward the church and smile softly before I turn back and continue my walk home.
Walking into my apartment, I am greeted by the familiar face of a one Steve Rogers and I freeze in my footsteps. “Mr. Rogers? Um, what are you doing in my apartment?” I ask a knot welling up inside my throat.
“Pepper told me you resigned. I have to admit I was a little surprised that you didn’t say goodbye.” He says a sad smile covering his lips.
“I apologize; I admit I wasn’t thinking rationally when I left.” I reply as I close my door and setting my purse and roses down start to pull my coat off.
“Don’t apologize. I’m sure you had every reason to do what you did.” He says and I nod as I hang my coat on the hook and grab the roses.
“Um, would you like something to drink?” I ask as I walk past him to the kitchen to find a vase.
“Ah yes, a water would be nice.” He replies as he follows after me.
“Water it is.” I say as I set my roses down on the counter and grab a glass. Reaching into the fridge I grab a bottle of water and twisting the cap off pour it into the cup. Handing it too him I turn back and reach for a pair of scissors to cut the stems of my rose. “So how is everything?” I ask making small talk as I gently arrange the roses in an antique blue glass vase.
“Well the towers still standing if that’s what you mean.” He jokes and I chuckle.
“I guess that’s a good thing then.” I reply setting the vase on my kitchen table. “How long are you going to be in Paris?”
“A few days,” He replies and I nod.
“Are you alone, or did the rest of the team come?” I ask dreading his answer. I was not ready to see Bucky. I wanted to be alone.
“Tony, Natasha, Pepper, Sam and I came.” He says and I let out a sigh of relief that wasn’t visible on my face.
“You’ll have to tell them I said hi,” I comment smiling softly at him.
“I will, we’ll have to have dinner together.” He offers and I tense.
“I’ll have to check my schedule, but that would be nice.” I reply as I move from the kitchen to the front room. “Would you like to sit down?” I ask as I motion to the couch.
“Ah yeah sure,” He replies sitting down across from me.
“Is it just me or does it seem really awkward?” I ask smiling.
“So, it’s not just me.” He replies and I smile.
“There’s no need to be on your toes around me, please just be yourself.”
“Thank you. Sorry it’s just,” He pauses as he rubs his fingers along the smooth glass, “Been a hectic few weeks.”
“Again, I’m sorry I didn’t say anything about me leaving. I just needed,” I pause as I clasp my hands together. “I missed my home. I grew up in Paris you know?”
“I remember you saying something about it before. I got your address from the UN. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Although I am a little surprised to find you inside my apartment,” I giggle making him laugh before I continue, “It’s a nice surprise though, so thank you.”
“No problem. If I’m being honest, I missed you.” He says and I feel my heart lighten a bit.
“I missed you too Steve.” I reply honestly as I smile at him.
We spent the next few hours talking and reminiscing about old times which was nice. I hadn’t lied, I had missed Steve. Truth be told I had missed them all, but I just wasn’t ready to see them. Steve was enough. As the hours passed I glanced up to the clock to see that it was almost nine and my eyes widen. “Oh my, I didn’t realize it was this late. Um do you know your way back? Should I call you a cab, or if you’d like I have a guest room?”
“Oh um, I think I can find my way back. It’s not that I don’t want to take you up on your offer but I just think, you know,”
“Right, It’s completely understandable.”
“Um how about lunch tomorrow?” He asks as he stands up and walks toward the door.
“Uh yeah, sure, why not? Um, my lunch breaks at one. There’s a little Bistro I like to frequent for lunch called La rose floraison. They have the most amazing food there.”
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow at one.” He says grabbing his coat and pulling it on.
“I’m looking forward to it. Goodnight Steve,” I say giving him a soft smile.
“Goodnight (Name),” He says returning my smile before he heads off down the hall. As soon as he heads down the stairs I close the door and let out the heavy sigh I had been holding all night long. I lean my back against the door as I slowly slide down the door onto the floor. What was I to do now? If Steve knew I was here, then it wouldn’t be long until the rest of the team knew. Not that Bucky would come even if he knew.
The recollection of his name sent a shiver down my spine. My heart tightens in my chest and I take a deep breath to keep from crying. I look over at the clock and watch as the time slowly ticks by. There was no way I was going to get any sleep tonight. Not with my mind full of the past. Clearing my throat, I push myself up off the floor and grabbing my cell phone head to my room. Sitting down on the bed I reach over and opening my nightstand drawer I take out my sleeping pills.
I set my alarm and plug in my cell phone before I twist the cap of my pills and pulling two out slip them in my mouth. I swallow them down dryly before I lay down on top of the blankets. It was definitely cold outside and it was slightly drafty in my little apartment but I didn’t care. I wanted the cold. I needed to feel numb. As I close my eyes I slowly slip into an all too familiar nightmare.
“What do you mean she’s gone?” Bucky yells out in confusion before running past his friend and up to her room. She couldn’t be gone. Why would she leave? His mind drifts back to the day they had gone to Coney Island and her sudden confession and his heart clenches. It was true that he had rejected her but it was for her own good. He couldn’t love her the way she deserved to be loved. Granted he had rejected her rather roughly but she had been acting just fine since then.
Throwing her bedroom door opened he found all her belongings gone. No trace of her was left. “(Name)!” He yells out as he runs throughout her entire floor in search of her. He feels his heart start to clench and its pace quickens. “No, no, no. (Name)!” He yells again his adrenaline kicking in. Unable to control his body he grabs the closest thing to him and throws it against the wall. He reaches for the next thing-
“Bucky calm down!” Steve yells as he reaches out and tries to restrain Bucky who is thrashing around wildly.
“Where is she Steve? Where did she go?” Bucky cries out pain lacing his voice.
“I don’t know Buck; all I know is she turned in her resignation and left. Even Pepper doesn’t know where she is.”
“It’s all my fault?” Bucky says his body stilling.
“What? Why? How is it your fault?” Steve asks confusion filling his voice.
“It just is okay,” Bucky snaps causing Steve to narrow his eyes at his friend.
“What exactly happened between the two of you Buck? I noticed she was acting strange but I didn’t think it had anything to do with you.”
“That day, the day you sent us to Coney Island; everything was perfect. She was beautiful with the sunlight in her hair and a happy smile on her lips. Then when we were about to get on the cyclone she told me,” He pauses as he narrows his eyebrows. “She told me she was in love with me.”
“Really? Buck that’s great.”
“I rejected her.” Bucky interjects making Steve stare wide eyed at his friend.
“What exactly did you say to her Bucky?” Steve inquires in a serious tone.
“I panicked. At first, I didn’t say anything. Right after that we climbed into a cab and came back here. Then when we got out of the cab I stopped her and,” He pauses as tears start to fill his eyes.
“And?” Steve presses his friend for more information.
“I told her that I didn’t need her anymore. That that day was a test that I passed and I could live normally without her.”
“Jesus Bucky, what were you thinking?” Steve chastises his friend as he runs a hand down his face.
“I wanted her to find someone else. Someone better than me. I’m broken and I’ve done a lot of bad in my life. I didn’t want to hurt her but I didn’t want to see her get hurt because of me either. My brain picked the easier of the two. I didn’t think she’d actually leave though. She acted normally after that day, I just figured she decided to stay friends.”
“Buck, you may have wanted to keep her from getting hurt; but in reality, you hurt her more than anyone else ever could.” Steve shakes his head. He knows this isn’t going to help his friend but Bucky needed to know the truth.
“But why did she wait so long to leave then? Why didn’t she leave the next day?” Bucky asks his eyes full of curiosity and pain.
“Did something happen recently?”
“No,” Bucky shakes his head. “We have barely talked since that day.”
“I’m sorry Buck, but I think it’s safe to say that she’s not coming back.” Steve says blatantly and Bucky nods.
“It’s all my fault.”
“Come on Buck, let’s get you something to drink and maybe go for a run to clear your mind.”
“Please just leave me Steve. I wanna be alone.” Bucky replies his eyes growing cold.
“Are you sure?” Steve asks as he places a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” Bucky says his voice cracking. “Just leave me alone.”
Bucky stares at the building that held her apartment with mixed emotions. He wanted to rush up the stairs to her. Tell her he had been wrong and all he ever wanted was for her to come back but he couldn’t find the nerve. Gulping down a breath of air he stares up at the window Steve said was hers, his entire body crying out for him to run to her but he held himself back. The light was still on and at times he could see her silhouette against the curtains.
He wanted to see more. He wanted to hold her in his arms and tell her he was sorry. Steve had been up there for a while talking with her and he had said that she seemed a little awkward and nervous. Steve hadn’t mentioned that he was in town and that gave him the element of surprise. Steve had made a date with her to have lunch tomorrow and as a surprise he would be there instead of Steve.
There was no doubt she would be upset and a little betrayed but he needed to talk to her. He needed to see her, to tell her that the words he had told her had haunted his every waking moment. She would probably reject him but it was a chance he was willing to take. As the lights of her apartment turn off he takes a deep breath and turning heads back to his hotel room where he would sleep tonight for the upcoming battle tomorrow.
I stare at the blank screen before me. My mind wasn’t able to focus on anything work related at all. “(Name), I needed those files regarding the Wakandan royal family on my desk five minutes ago!” My boss Michael Ross yells out bringing me from my stupor.
“Oh!” I exclaim as I look down at the open file showing a picture of the young prince of Wakanda. “I’m sorry Mr. Ross, I have it right here.” I say as I quickly close the file and hand it over to him.
“What’s with you today? You were doing so well.” He asks his deep brown eyes filled with worry.
“Just didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.” I say straightening my back and putting my best businesslike face on.
“Okay, if you need an ear to listen to your troubles, my door’s always open.” He says with a quick wave before he started off back to his office. When his door closes, I let out a sigh of relief before I lean back against my chair my head falling back so I could stare at the ceiling. Damn Steve for showing up and causing my mind to be so muddled. Speaking of Steve. I look at the clock to see that it was almost time for me to go on my lunch break and contemplate sending him a message. I grab my phone only to realize that I had deleted his cell number when I came back to Paris.
“Just my luck.” I groan out as I toss my phone onto my desk and pinch the bridge of my nose. No turning back now. Pulling my cac-card from the reader I place it inside my wallet and standing up I grab my phone and shoving it back into my purse grab my coat. Rolling my shoulders, I slide my chair up to my desk and turning head for the elevator. I give Michael a quick wave signaling that I was leaving for lunch and he nodded.
He gives me a head nod in return as he is on his phone before I climb into the elevator and hit the lobby button. I watch the numbers slowly count down as I try to think about what I was walking into. I thought about somehow running away and hiding but now that they knew I was here that wouldn’t work. Letting out a heavy sigh I hail a cab. When one stops I quickly climb inside and telling him the address fold my hands over my lap and let out a heavy sigh.
It took no time at all to make it to the little café. I hand the cabbie the money I owed before I climb out of the cab and taking a deep breath I head inside. I smile softly as I am greeted by the familiar host who quickly leads me to a table where I could wait for Steve. I order a water as I pull my cell phone out of my purse and start to fiddle with it. A few seconds later I see someone walk up to me out of the corner of my eyes and thinking it to be Steve I fake a smile and look up only to stare wide eyed at the last person I ever wanted to see again. “Bucky…”
“Hey (Name), mind if I sit?” He asks his icy eyes pleading with me. My heart starts to race and my palms grow sweaty as he sits down across from me.
“I thought I was meeting Steve.” I say in disbelief as I stare across the table at him.
“Sorry about that, Steve asked you here for me.” Bucky replies as he leans his elbows on the table.
“Why?” I ask as my throat tries to close up.
“Because I wanted to see you.”
“Because I miss you.”
“Why?” I ask again not getting where he was going with this. Why did he miss me? He was the one who told me to go.
“Because…” He pauses his eyes finding mine as they fill with a silent plea.
“Sargent, I have a very busy schedule. I’m sorry but I need to get back. Tell Steve not to contact me again.” I say as I grab my purse and tossing down some money stand up and leave.
“(Name) wait.” Bucky calls out as he follows after me. I ignore him as I continue on down the street headed anywhere but there. “(Name)! Stop!” Bucky yells out angrily making me stop in my tracks and turn back to him. He gulps down a breath of air as he closes the distance between the two of us and before I have a chance to think crashes his lips against mine. At first I fight against him trying my hardest to push him away so I could keep my sanity but just like before I found I couldn’t.
I grip tighter to his coat as his hands cup both sides of my face holding my lips to his. Tears fill my eyes as I with one last surge of sanity push him away. As he stumbles away from me I feel my hand move on its own as it collides with the side of his face. “Why?”
“Why what?” HE asks making me try to choke back sobs.
“Why now? Why did you kiss me? What do you want from me Barnes?” I question as I try not to burst out in tears. “You told me to leave so I did. What more do you want? How much more will you hurt me?”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He says a pained expression filling his face. “I told you I didn’t need you cause I didn’t want to place you in danger. No matter what I do I will always have bad people after me and I didn’t want to put you through that. I couldn’t see you hurt.”
“Well you failed there, you hurt me more than anyone else ever could.”
“Then why did you stay after I told you to leave? Why did you take so long to leave?”
“Because I saw you.”
“You saw me what?”
“I saw you with another girl,” I answer and he cocks his head in confusion. “You wore a smile I never saw before. You looked happy with her and it broke my heart. I left because I knew you would never look at me like that. I couldn’t stay and watch the man I loved love someone else. I left to get over you. Why won’t you let me do that?”
“Because I love you (Name).” He replies taking me aback.
“You… you love me?” I ask as I start to take a few steps backwards away from him. “It’s not true, you don’t do that to someone you love.”
“It’s true (Name),” He answers as he clenches his jaw. “When I found out you were gone, I lost it. I went crazy. I wanted you to find someone else who was better that I am; but I never expected you to disappear. I never wanted that.”
“Then what did you expect me to do? Flaunt whoever I met in front of you? I couldn’t do that, no matter how upset I was.”
“The more I thought about it while I sat in your old apartment sulking,” He starts as he closes the distance between the two of us. “The more I realized how much I hate the thought of you being with someone else. It would kill me to have to stand by and watch you be happy with someone else no matter how much better they would be for you. I couldn’t do it. I realized then how much I love you (Name). I really and truly love you.”
“What am I supposed to say?” I ask tears silently falling from my eyes.
“Whatever you want. You can tell me to go to hell, to never see you again; hell, you can tell me to eat shit and die and I will.” He adds making me chuckle slightly at his words. “But if there is even the slightest bit of a chance that you can forgive me, and give me a second chance, the please tell me now.” I contemplate all the emotions and feelings running through my body as I stare up into his handsome face. I wanted nothing more than to tell him I loved him and that I wanted to be with him but what if it wasn’t enough. What if all this was, was just smoke and mirrors? It would probably kill me.
I take a deep breath fully intending to tell him no when I hear myself say, “I love you James Barnes.” He smiles and goes to hold me but I hold my had up stopping him in his tracks, “But I’m scared that this is all just…”
“It’s not what you think (Name) I really and truly love you. I will gladly spend the rest of my life proving it to you. If you’ll let me.” He says as his hands reach up to rest on my shoulders. I stare at him for a moment my eyes searching his for any hint that he might be untrue but there is none. Giving him a hopeful smile I wrap my arms around his waist and hold tight to him. “You better not be lying Barnes.” He kisses the top of my head as he gently smoothes my hair back.
“I promise (Name), I’ll always be here for you; and I’ll say it as much as I can. I love you.”
“I love you too James Buchanan Barnes.”
“I swear you are never allowed to leave the tower again.” Tony says as he sets a glass of whiskey down in front of you.
“Oh really? Why?” I ask a smile covering my lips as I hold tight to Bucky’s hand.
“Because Frosty here is annoying when he’s sulking. I almost tossed him back into Cryo to lighten the mood around here.”
“HEY!” Bucky argues making me laugh at the two of them as I look around at all our friends. Bucky grips tighter to my hand and I smile lovingly at him as I think to myself that I couldn’t be happier.