How Bucky got over his fear of Clint’s dog Lucky:
Okay, this has basically just become a series of headcannons that I should really probably write chronologically as a fic. HOWEVER (!!!), that’s not how my poor little dyslexic brain works. So, I’ll tag the rest of the posts that link to this one down bellow! Enjoy!
In hind sight, Clint probably should have given both of them some forewarning.
He knew that he, Bucky and Steve where the only ones left in the tower.
Tony was in chilli dealing with a potential AIM project; Nat was off on some super secret spy business that he has no doubt she told Bucky about, but considering Clint is like a five year old with secrets, he doesn’t know where she is; Wanda and vision are in Spain squishing a potential HYDRA resurgence; Sam’s away on a USO tour; Thor is… well, ruling a kingdom; and Bruce is in Berlin for a conference with Dr. Cho about the ethics of the regeneration cradle.
All in all, Clint needs a dog sitter and the last time Kate took him, she fucked off to LA and he was left to wallow alone for 5 weeks. So really Steve and Bucky are his only option with such little notice.
But of course forewarning is the favourite cousin of hindsight and all that jazz.
So he turns up at the door, with a month long overnight bag filled with dog stuff, a sack of kibble, a dog on a leash and the look of a man who knows he may possibly loose a close friend for this.
Clint’s not stupid. He knows just how much Bucky hates dogs and exactly why he hates them. But damn it he can’t just leave Lucky on his own!
When The door opens, Clint doesn’t even get the words out before Steve says “absolutely not, are you crazy?!” And Clint knows it’s a bad idea. Man does he know it’s a BAD fucking idea, but he makes a rather pathetic face and digs his heels in.
“Please? Seriously man I wouldn’t do it if I had anywhere else to send him.” Steve looks at him with the world most terrifyingly cool stare.
“Ever heard of a kennel?” He says
“They won’t take him with such little notice.” Clint answers
“What if I book him in?” Steve counters.
“Your not his owner, and it’s the hight of summer. Everyone in the city who can afford it has fucked off on a holiday and booked their dog into a kennel.” Clint knows… he’s already tried 17 different kennels in an attempt to stave off what is happening right now.
It’s Steve’s turn to look desperate, and Clint feels like the worlds biggest asshole for doing this to them, he really does.
“Clint, he really is terrified of them, I can’t just bring a dog into his home and expect him to be okay with it. Even if I already know that dog is the sweetest thing on the planet; it’s not fair to Bucky or Lucky.” Clint knows he has a point, but he can’t just abandon his boy. “Can’t you leave him at home and I can let myself into the apartment to feed him?”
“Dude he’s not a cat, the minute he gets board he’s gunna start braking shit.” Steve sighs, and Clint can tell he’s already formulating the damage control he’s going to have to do when Clint leaves. “If you need to blame this all on me man just do it. I’d rather he hated me then leave you.”
“He won’t leave Clint” Steve sighs, stepping aside to let him in the apartment. “That would be a healthier response. No, he’ll just shut down for weeks until it eventually gets too much and then he’ll have to go back to 2 days a week at therapy.”
Okay, Clint officially feels like the worst human being on the planet.
They get everything set up and Clint says his goodbyes to lucky and offers a few more apologies to Steve; who has stopped making eye contact with him as he presses order on a click and collect baby gate for the spare room.
“If this goes as bad as I think it’s going to go Barton, you’ll be lucky if he speaks to either of us ever again. This is a massive violation of trust” Steve sighed as he see’s him out. “And trust is everything to him…”
Clint doesn’t even get the last sorry out of his mouth before Steve closes the door. Yeah, he’s never rescuing this friendship (he does, but he’ll never be that lucky again.)
Steve was having such a good day until Barton arrived… intellectually he knows he can’t really blame Clint. Well, he can if he really tried hard enough, but it’s not in Steve’s nature to hold a grudge. Clint was desperate, and Lucky isn’t a bad dog.
He looks at Lucky, who has since lay in the direct path of a sun beam coming through the window from a brake in the clouds. Steve sighs and walks into the kitchen to get ready the cup of water and two super soldier dose Anxiety meds that he knows Bucky is going to need after hearing (or rather witnessing) the news.
He has at least an hour and a half to figure out a plan before he hears the lock click and Bucky’s familiar footsteps in the hall.
Lucky perks up too, and before Steve can grab him and shut him in the spare room, the dog has bolted to the door to greet (nay, scare the ever loving Christ out of) Bucky.
Steve would have stopped to marvel at how fast Lucky was; had it not been for the terrified scream that omitted from his boyfriends throat when Lucky barked and reared up to lick Bucky’s face.
In one swift movement, Steve pulls Lucky back and off of Bucky; holding his collar in a vice like grip as he checked to see if Bucky was okay.
Bucky was okay, physically. Mentally though? Not so much. He had pinned himself into the corner between the wall and the door. His breathing was laboured and his eyes were huge and terrified. He looked like a frightened child. No, Steve thought, he looked like cornered prey.
“Bucky, baby it’s okay.” Steve tried to sooth. Bucky was shaking, but he looked like he was desperately trying to keep still. Bucky, who what the worlds deadliest assassin; who could be so still he looked dead if he needed too. Steve had never seen him this scared, and he’d been there for most of Bucky’s biggest breakdowns. “Buck it’s okay, It’s only Lucky, that’s all baby. It’s Clint’s Dog, that’s all.”
A pained sound came out of Bucky as he started using the heels of his boots to push himself further back into the corner. Lucky was pulling taut against his collar; obviously thinking he’d be let go in a second to continue his greeting. Steve pulled the dog further back and between his legs so that he could grip Luckys flanks between his calf’s. not enough to hurt the poor thing, just enough to keep him away from Bucky. Steve knows it isn’t Lucky’s fault, but Bucky looked so damn scared.
At this point Bucky seems to regain his voice. “Wha- what the fuck!?” His voice is two pitched higher than normal and he sounds like he’s ready to start screaming again if Lucky so much as twitches.
Of course that’s Lucky’s cue to start trying to wiggle out of Steve’s grip and crawl towards Bucky. He almost managed it too. Damn this dog was strong.
Bucky really did start screaming at that, and Steve suddenly gets hit with the realisation that this must have been what Bucky sounded like when he was tortured.
The thought broke his heart as Bucky started crying and screaming and shouting “ge- get it away from me! Please, I- I’m sorry, I’ll be good, jus- just please get it aw-away please!” All at the same time.
Steve knew Bucky was scared of dogs. Had seen him cross the street just to avoid them, but this was…
This was a whole other level of fear that Steve really wasn’t prepared for.
With as much strength as he dears, Steve hauls Lucky into the guest room, and closes the door on the poor animal. He then goes straight back to Bucky and gathering him up in his arms.
“Shhhhh baby it’s okay, it’s okay now, Lucky’s gone. The dogs gone doll, he’s gone.” Steve tried to sooth as Bucky sob-screamed against his chest. Bucky’s clinging too him and repeating the word sorry over and over; occasionally promising to be good, and other times whispering please. Steve’s heart brakes a little more with each uttered plea.
But just as he thinks Bucky’s beginning to calm down Lucky starts barking to be let out from the guest room and the cycle starts again. Bucky tries to claw out of Steve’s arms and put two bedroom doors between himself and the dog; instead of one. Steve holds onto him though and whispers promises that Lucky’s not getting to him, and Steve won’t let him out.
He lifts Bucky to his feet and tries to guide him to the couch, but it takes Steve another 10 minutes to convince Bucky to walk past the guest room door.
Bucky does eventually go past, but he does it at a run and makes a scared sound as he clings to Steve on the other side of the hall and won’t let go until Steve closes the living room door.
Steve gets him his meds and a glass of water before wetting a rag and sitting next to Bucky on the couch to clean his face.
Bucky had calmed down a bit now, his sobs easing to a soft hiccoughing; Tears still flowing but nowhere near as much as they had been before. He looked so vulnerable.
“Steve, why is there a- a do- dog in the house.” chokes out, a few fresh tears sliding down his cheeks. Steve whipped them away.
“Clint had nowhere else to take him baby, I’m really sorry. I tried to get him to find somewhere else, but he’d already tried everything.” Steve is trying really hard not to scare Bucky anymore than he already is. Bucky didn’t need to know just how mad he was with Clint right now.
“How lo-long is he go- gone.” Bucky asks.
“About a month” when Bucky looks distraught Steve adds “I really am sorry my love.” For good measure.
To his surprise Bucky doesn’t seem to close himself off and instead moves further into Steve’s space. He rests his ear over Steve’s heart, and Steve wraps in a hug again.
“I can’t do this.” Bucky whispered, fighting back what must have been his fourth or fifth wave of tears. “I can’t live in a house with that- that thing, not for a month. I just can’t.”
Steve breaths deeply against Bucky’s hair and has to seriously think for a moment before replying.
Eventually though he says. “I was going to say we use this to try and work on your fear, but now I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”
Bucky huffs a humourless laugh “I wasn’t joking when I said I was scared of dogs stevie. I’m not just a little scared of them. I’m a lot scared of them.”
“ I never thought you were lying baby. Not ever. But that wasn’t just being scared Bucky, that was full blown terror. I’ve known you all my life and I’ve never seen you like that.”
Steve strokes Bucky’s back soothingly, and Bucky burrows further into his chest. He can feel Bucky’s heartbeat bellow his and it’s still a little faster then he would like. Steve feels like he’s just tortured him and he hates it.
So he decides to commit to his next sentence. “ baby if you need me to take lucky out of here for this month then I’ll go. Equally, if you want to get away then I will book you the most luxurious stay in whatever hotel or spa you want.”
“What happened to facing my fears?” Bucky sits up slightly to look at him. “Aren’t we both always told we need to confront our trauma?”
“Yeah we are, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that you just scared the shit out of me, I might have asked you to stick it out. But sweetheart, I think this is a fear that you need to deal with way more slowly then this.”
Bucky makes a face. “So you think I should run away, or make you leave?”
Okay, not what Steve had expected.
“Buck you just said yourself, that you didn’t think you could live in a house with Lucky for a month.” Bucky sits up abruptly, dislodging Steve, and suddenly he looks mad.
Steve is very confused.
“Fuck you Rogers!” Bucky spits
Errrm, what? Steve blinks. “I’m sorry, come again?”
“I said fuck you!” Bucky stands up and starts pacing in front of the coffee table. “Your supposed to tell me to work on my fear, not let me run away.”
Steve gapes, sitting up and following Bucky’s pacing with keen, if a little confused, eyes.
“Your supposed to say, you can do this Buck. I believe in you, and all that motivational bullshit!” Bucky is beginning to sound a little hysterical.
“You are supposed to make me face my fear, because you love me and you want me to get better! You want me to be happy! You want me to be able to walk past a dog and not be terrified! You are supposed to want me to be able to coexist with a dog that I know, rationally, isn’t going to hurt me, because if you thought it was going to you wouldn’t have let it in the house.
“And I know this, I know my fear is holding me back from going to Clint’s when it’s his turn for movie night! I know it stops me from running with you and Sam through the dog park! Fuck I know it fucks me up and I- I wanna- Jesus I wanna scream it frustrates me so much! Because I know Lucky won’t hurt me, I know than normal everyday dogs won’t hurt me! I- I”
“Hey, hey, settle down!” Steve had gotten up pretty much as soon as ‘you’ had turned into ‘I’, suddenly realising Bucky wasn’t mad at him. He was mad at himself.
He places his hands on Bucky’s shoulders and stares at him in the eyes.
“You do not have to stay.” He says
“I know.” Bucky struggles, panting slightly. “But I think I need to.”
“Okay” Steve says.
So that’s how they end up going out to get the baby gate, that they immediately attached to the guest room door. Bucky staying on the other side of the hall as Steve gets ready to open the door to let Lucky see what was going on.
Bucky is close enough to the bedroom door that if it’s too much, he can escape, but far enough that he has to confront the dog face to face when the door opens.
“Okay, I’m going to open the door, and he’s probably going to jump at the gate.” Steve says. “Now, I made sure the gate is tall enough that he can’t get out, but when he jumps up I want you to tell him to get down, and then I want you to tell him to sit. Okay?”
Bucky frowns “why can’t you do it?” He asks in a scared voice.
Steve’s face softens when he answers. “Because when I had hold of Lucky before, the terrified part of your brain” he says softly “the part that remembers that hydra agents were the ones who set the dogs on you. That part of your brain thought I was going to do that to you.”
Bucky opens his mouth to protest, but Steve interrupts him.
“No, it’s okay, I think I know why.” He looks at Bucky, who is the picture of anxious confusion, and presses on.
“When those dogs were set on you, you were out of control. The agents that had the dogs gave the commands and the dogs listened to them. They decided when to hold the dogs collars and they decided when to let go.
“If you tell Lucky to sit instead of me…” he trails off. He wants Bucky to make the connection himself. It’s like his therapist always said ‘you can lead a horse to water, but it has to want to drink.’
“I have the control over what the dog does.” Bucky finishes Steve’s thought, realisation crossing his features.
“Exactly.” Steve smiles at him. “Lucky’s a good boy, he’ll do as he’s told.”
Bucky nods and braces himself, as Steve turns the handle and opens the door.
Immediately Lucky is up at the gate and yipping excitedly; his tail wagging so hard that his whole body bends from side to side in a funny little dance. Steve can’t help but smile and scritch behind Lucky’s ears.
“Hey puppy.” He says sweetly and Lucky hops around on his back legs so he can move towards Steve. “Alright, alright, settle down bubba.” He laughs.
Steve moves to the side, still looking at Lucky and takes his hand away. “Okay Buck, tell him what you want him to do.” He says, avoiding any command words that might undermine Bucky’s authority.
When Steve hears no sound from Bucky though, he looks around and immediately understands why.
Bucky is frozen, pressed back up against the wall, his eyes have that same wide scared look as before. Only this time their staring, unfocused at Lucky’s nose. No, not his nose, his mouth. He’s gone white as a sheet and Steve quickly realised Bucky isn’t here. Not mentally.
Bucky is having a flash back. One, by the look of it, that isn’t letting him go anytime soon.
Steve does what he needs too. He gently pushes Lucky back and closes the door slowly; kneels down next to Bucky and tells him what’s going on and that he’s safe; he slowly takes Bucky’s hands, letting him know what he’s doing; and helps Bucky regulate his breathing.
As Bucky comes back to himself, Steve takes him to the couch and lays him down gently, pulling the blanket over Bucky’s shoulders and smoothing out his rumpled hair.
“I’m sorry” Bucky whispers brokenly.
“What for my love?” Steve asks, keeping his voice low and reassuring.
“For not being able to do it.” A tear leaked out of Bucky’s eye, but Steve knows it’s most likely exhaustion rather then actual tears. Bucky looks whipped out.
“You don’t have to apologise for that. These things take time, and you’ll get there.”
Steve sits with him until he falls asleep and then gets up to start dinner.
As the month presses on they continue to try. After a gruelling first week Bucky can just about tell Lucky to get down, but still panics when Steve let’s him out so they can go for a walk.
By week 2 nothing much is different except that Alpine has graced them with her presence after spending all her time hiding from Lucky under Steve and Bucky’s bed. Bucky takes to carrying her around like a protection charm, petting her fur and telling her he’s scared too. Steve doesn’t get exasperated, in fact he’s glad Alpine is their to keep Bucky calm.
By weeks 3 and 4 Bucky has figured out that if he shuts the living room door while Steve is getting Lucky’s harness on. It makes him feel safer and while Steve recognises it’s not exactly progress, he does understand that this has to be at Bucky’s pace.
At the end of week 4 he gets a very frantic and apologetic call from Clint to tell him that the job he is on was bigger then expected and that he’s going to be at least two more months. When Steve tells Bucky at dinner he just nods. Later that night he finds Bucky crying into Alpines fur in the bedroom. The poor cat looks resigned to her damp state until Steve takes pity on her and pulls Bucky into his lap; letting the cat make a quiet escape.
By week 5 Bucky has steeled himself a bit and can now tell Lucky to get down and sit with only a little fear. He can also walk past the guest room door without having a minor heart attack too, so small wins Steve supposes.
During week 6 Bucky accidentally leaves the living room door open while Steve lets Lucky out for his walk. The dog scooby doo’s across the hard wood of the living room floor and does sprints around the coffee table, far too overexcited after being stuck in the same room a month. Lucky accidentally bowls Alpine over who skitters into the kitchen and up Bucky’s leg in an attempt to escape the mad hound.
Instead Lucky skids into the kitchen after her excitedly and uses Bucky as a leaning post to try and nip playfully at Alpines flanks, having obviously not realised she is not Liho.
The scream that leaves Bucky frightens Lucky who jumps a mile high when Bucky goes into a flat panic and collapses on the floor. Lucky had spent enough time around Clint to know what a panic attack looked like when Bucky starts to hyperventilate and tries to help him.
Steve finds Lucky lying on Bucky’s chest and trying to get Bucky to take his hands off of his face as Bucky cries and tries to escape.
… that set them back a bit.
Week 7 is tense. Bucky hasn’t really forgiven Steve for not checking the door before he let Lucky out, and Lucky is beginning to get board and therefore destructive, which isn’t helping his case.
By week 8 Steve wants to cry himself. He’s trying really hard not to get annoyed or distracted with Bucky, and it really doesn’t help that Alpine has taken to tormenting Lucky while the gate is closed. Steve’s therapist notices his change in moods. He explains the situation and she lets him rant out his frustration, just to let him be heard. He feels better after that, but it doesn’t stop him loosing his temper when Lucky starts howling at 3AM and Steve has to take he for a ass early walk because Bucky refused to calm down while the dog was awake.
Week 9 is a bit calmer. They make some progress. Bucky is able to tell Lucky to get down and sit again, and Alpine has gotten board of tormenting the dog. Steve decided to try and have Lucky in the living room on a lead for a little bit each night. Just until Bucky says no more but trying to slowly increase the time each round. It works pretty okay.
By week 10 they are up to about 20 minutes before Bucky taps out. Steve’s very proud of him.
Week 11 has Clint calling to extend Lucky’s stay again. Bucky doesn’t cry this time, but he doesn’t finish his dinner and is quiet of the rest of the night.
When they reach the 3 month mark Bucky manages to touch Lucky for the first time on his own without panicking.
Lucky had been in the living room for almost half an hour and Bucky has been sitting on the far end of the couch as usual. Steve hasn’t realised he’s loosened his grip on the lead, but Lucky had.
The dog crept forward carefully, seeming to have finally realised Bucky was scared of him, and sits down just a few feet from Bucky.
Bucky stares at the dog cautiously. And then to Steve’s utter shock, he slips off of the couch and sits on the floor; Alpine in his lap, ever the warrior cat she is.
Lucky lies down properly on the floor and lets his head fall between his paws, waiting Bucky out. And it works! After another 5 minutes of hesitation Bucky reaches out and pets him on the head. Its light and not really a pet, more of a awkward pat really, but Lucky looks very proud of himself as his tail wagged gently.
Bucky only pets him once before snatching his hand away and declaring himself done for the night, but it was their biggest brake through yet.
The next break through came around during week 14 when Steve comes back from a VA meeting to find Lucky on the living room floor with his head in Bucky’s lap. Bucky looks like he is a little scared to move but the fact that he’d let Lucky out without Steve, or a lead, was huge. Lucky stays in the living room that night, and when Steve takes him for a walk the next day Bucky puts Alpine in her little carry back pack and comes too.
Week 15 saw Sam return from USO and an offer to take Lucky, but surprisingly it was Bucky that says no. He started this and now he was going to finish it.
Week 16 and 17 had Lucky sleeping in the living room after Bucky drags his dog bed out of the guest room and tells Steve he felt bad because it was colder in the guest room (“I should know Steve it used to be my room!”).
By week 18 almost everyone but Clint is back and all of them have echoed Sams offer but when the last person (Bruce, Steve thinks) asks, Bucky bravely places a hand on Lucky’s back and says “Na, he’s growing on me.”
It’s Steve’s turn to cry.
Finally, FINALLY (!!!) Clint returns. Beaten and a little shaken but no worse then usual. He comes to get Lucky straight after debrief and has to do a double take, then rub his eyes when he walks into the living room. Because in front of him lay Bucky, on his back, with Clint’s scruffy golden retriever stretched out next to him, softly licking Bucky’s nose and huffing a white cat tail out of his face.
And Bucky? Bucky was giggling like a giddy toddler at the dog. Sure he was staying on his side of the floor and Lucky wasn’t trying to sit on him like he did with Clint, but this was not what Steve had described on the phone.
Steve had described hours of trauma and crying and Lucky and Bucky both being miserable. This wasn’t that. If Clint didn’t know how to read his friend he would have said Bucky had never been afraid of Lucky.
“Errrr hi there?” Clint says, braking the peace. Lucky jerks upright and volts over Bucky and the cat to get to Clint. The movement makes Bucky flinch and Yelp, betraying some of the fear that he still had but he quickly calms down when it’s clear Lucky just wants to see his dad.
“Hi” Bucky says quietly, getting to his feet and trying his best to keep eye contact with Clint. It’s something everyone is used to. Bucky struggles to look anyone but Steve in the eyes most days, it’s just another one of those things HYDRA did to him.
“You’re not afraid of him.” Clint points out. Bucky smiles a little self consciously.
“Well, I am a little. Don’t really like it when he moves too fast, but… he’s a good dog once you get to know him.” Clint mercifully breaks the eye contact first, to give Bucky the excuse to look away without feeling bad.
“Yeah he is, aren’t you boy?” He says to Lucky. Lucky’s tail wags harder but he doesn’t make a sound like usual.
Huh, Clint supposes that what happens when you ask a cynophobe (that’s a fear of dogs, Clint looked it up) to watch your dog. Suddenly the best good boy in the world gets even better.
“Well I’ll take him home now. I recon you guys need a five hundred year nap and compensation payed in pizza by yours truly?” Bucky let’s out a little laugh at that and makes eye contact again.
“It’s been a trying few months, yeah.” He says
“Your telling me.” That was Steve, and jeez did Clint feel guilt eating him just looking at him. Steve looks like he hasn’t slept for a year. His hair is messy, his eyes look like he went ten rounds with a train and came out only barely victorious; his clothes were kinda skewed (Clint could see his shirt was buttoned wrong.). He looked like death warmed up.
“Man you look like hell.” Clint says
“Yeah, like your one to talk mister ‘band aids are my aesthetic.’” Steve yawns. “Please tell me you are back for the foreseeable.” He pleads
“Yeah I’m home. Thanks again for looking after Lucky, I promise next time I’ll take my chances with Kate.” Clint grins making his way to the hall to get Lucky’s stuff.
“That’s okay.” Bucky say passing him Lucky’s lead. The lead that Bucky had attached to Lucky himself. “I think I could probably handle looking after him now.”
The statement in itself is a huge step.
“Well, I’d rather you didn’t grow to hate me so…” Clint opened the door letting Lucky trot out first.
“I could never hate you Clint.” Bucky smiles wider then before. Steve looks at Bucky softly and then to Clint and shrugs.
“Well… good.” It’s only a little bit awkward for Clint. He didn’t really do talking about his feelings. “ night guys.” He says instead and closes the door behind him.
As soon as the door closes, the tension that had been in Bucky’s shoulders finally left for the first time in four months.
As much as Steve knows Bucky has come miles in his fear, he also knows some of it was a front.
Lying down with Lucky had been a big step and Clint didn’t know it but that was the first time Bucky had ever done that without steve in the room.
Bucky collapses into Steve’s side, burrowing under his arm and says “I still don’t like dogs.”
Steve chuckles and kisses his head “that’s fine doll, not everyone does. The important thing is you can manage your fear far better now then you could four months ago.”
“Yeah.” Bucky sighs. He’s silent for a moment And then “can we go to bed now, I’m really tired.”
“God yes, I need sleep.”
And with that they go to bed.
Authors note: wow, okay that was longer then it was meant to be. Sorry about that! Hope you enjoyed it my lovelies🥰
5 notes · View notes