Can You Hear Me?
Falcon and The Winter Soldier - New World Order (episode 1) coda
warnings: bucky has ptsd, nightmares, and is generally sad
Bucky glared, first at his pencil and then at the blank page of his notebook.
“This is stupid.”
His empty apartment didn’t answer.
It’s slightly less stupid than talking to yourself, a little voice in his head piped up.
“Right,” he grumbled.
He put the tip of the pencil to the paper and started to write.
Dear Steve, he began, but then he stopped. What was there to say? There was both not enough and far too much.
Leaning back against the wall, he stared out the window into the not-quite-dark of the city. He could hear the scratching claws of a dog walking in the apartment above him, and someone pacing three rooms to the left. There was a creak in one of the floorboards that was irritating; he turned up the tv so he didn’t have to listen anymore. He focused on the moving pictures enough to see what was playing; it was a repeat of an old world cup soccer match from a few years back. Much easier background noise than pacing feet and a sometimes creaking floorboard three rooms away. And who paces at–he glanced at the clock below the tv–3:27 in the morning anyway? This is the time for normal people to–
Write the damn letter, the voice in his head said. Much more sternly this time. You’ll feel a little better, and then maybe you can sleep.
Bucky sighed and tried again.
My shrink is upset that I’m not making “human connections” or some shit like that. This probably doesn’t actually count, since you’re...well, anyway, it probably doesn’t count, but this is the best I can do right now. The government is making me see a shrink so they can be sure that I’m “recovering from my trauma.”
And also because they want to be sure I’m not going to go nuts and start killing everyone in my path again.
That second part is valid, sure. I’d want to be sure of that, if I was them. But recovering? I was brainwashed to go against everything I believed in and used as a weapon to murder on command. Even to murder my best friend. Am I ever going to recover from that?
Bucky stopped when he realized he was squeezing his pencil tight enough to put dents in it. He relaxed his grip, counted to ten under his breath, and then kept going.
I mean, some days are better than others. I actually had a date last night. And that was… Well. I brought her flowers and she called me old fashioned, which, okay, she was right about that. But what else am I supposed to do? I haven’t had a date since the 40s, and this one was only because the guy I was having lunch with told this girl, “He wants to ask you out.” I was kind of on the spot, so when she agreed–without me even asking–I just went along. It was all very...fast. When it was over and I had to sit there thinking about it all I could think was, “I think I’d rather just have a good brawl, it would be easier.”
I didn’t, of course. Have a brawl, I mean.
Rescuing the kid with the rainbow shoes and the pride flag on his backpack from the two big guys looming over him hardly counted. It had been later that night. And that had just been a bonus, anyway. He had a bit of a soft spot for kids in alleys standing up for what’s right.
I just went on the date, and made up a reason why I was wearing gloves, and when she asked my age I said 106 without thinking. She laughed like it was a joke.
The date didn’t end well. To be honest she said something and I...well, I kind of just left. Maybe not the most gentlemanly thing to do, but hey, I’m recovering from trauma, right?
The bit of sky in the window was a slightly lighter shade of grey. On the tv, Australia was winning, 2-1. And here, on the floor of his apartment, Bucky was having a hard time telling the truth, even in a letter no one but him would ever read.
I had a nightmare tonight. I have nightmares almost every night. The things I did for HYDRA, the mindless obedience of the Asset. I murder in my sleep, and in the daylight I try to figure out how to be human again, to be Bucky, to be me without the burdens of everyone else screaming in my head. I’m… Well. I’m trying my best to be okay.
But it’s hard. It’s so fucking hard, Stevie.
It would be easier if I had someone to talk to who understood, someone who wasn’t Raynor. She’s my shrink. She was a soldier, so she’s not a complete idiot, but she never met the Winter Soldier, just Bucky Barnes. She doesn’t… She’s not…
She’s not you, Stevie. Why the fuck did you have to leave me here like this?
The pencil snapped in half in his fingers. He thumped his head against the wall behind him, took a breath that didn’t do anything at all to calm him, and tossed the broken pieces into the trash can. He pulled another from the box next to him; he went through a lot of pencils lately.
If only it was so easy to replace everything broken.
Most days he could be objective, say he was happy Steve could go out and get the girl.
But in the dark, at night, he could be honest.
“Why wasn’t it good enough to stay here with the boy?”
His voice sounded hollow in his ears. His mind tumbled the same thoughts over and over, but still he felt empty.
“You’re free.” Raynor said.
Bucky just looked at her. “To do what?”
He still didn’t know.
He didn’t talk to Raynor about Steve. Not about the important stuff, anyway. She knew the stuff everyone knew: best friends torn apart and reunited again and again, somehow always finding each other even in this upside-down century Bucky found himself in now. The daylight stuff.
But she didn’t know about the nights, the fumbling in the dark, the clinging to one another. She didn’t know about being helpless after just one soft kiss, about being completely lost.
He couldn’t figure out this decade, this century, let alone life without–
How could he possibly be expected to just...live?
He stared at his notebook for awhile, lost somewhere in his very long past. The soccer game was over, now the tv was showing, of all things, cricket, and it wasn’t loud enough to cover the pacing and the creaking board and he counted two hundred fourteen footsteps before he began to write again.
Here’s something I’ve never told anyone, Stevie. On nights like this, nights I wake up after a nightmare and can’t go back to sleep because I’m afraid of nightmares coming to life–I wish Shuri had taken more out of my head than just the trigger words. More than just the HYDRA programming. I wish she’d taken it all, all the Winter Soldier’s memories. I wish I could wake up and just be Bucky again, that cocky kid from Brooklyn with barely a care in the world. It’s only for a moment, only for a heartbeat or two–most of me knows if I lost all that I’d lose a lot of me in the process. And there are other days when
He couldn’t keep writing. He didn’t have the words to tell Steve, even the imaginary Steve who would never read this letter, that some days he just wanted to stay right here on the floor, up against the wall, and do nothing. That he didn’t want to face the world, his past, even his thoughts. He just wanted everything to stop. Not forever, just… Even just for a minute or two.
He wished there was somewhere he could go for a few minutes of quiet.
Or maybe Raynor was right. Maybe he needed something to keep him busy.
3 notes · View notes