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December 25, 1936 – Brooklyn, New York – Rogers/Barnes Residence
"You…you bought a tree?"
Bucky had insisted that he move in with Steve to help keep the other man afloat financially. They'd written Darcy to let her know, but had only received vague postcards in return. It didn't bother them much. They knew she was busy touring – they thought she was just touring Europe – and they wrote her small letters of encouragement every opportunity that they got.
Work at the docks had been steady. Bucky still picked up extra shifts at the steel factory, too, but the docks paid more. Steve got a few illustration gigs. It was enough money to keep them going and allow them to keep some set aside.
Bucky grinned and slung his hand around Steve's bony shoulders. "Figured we needed a tree. Darce always insisted on one."
"She's not here, Buck – "
"But, we're gonna take a picture anyway. Get it developed and send it t' her."
Steve rolled his eyes good-naturedly as he watched the brunet set the bulk of the camera on the coffee table and set the timer. He rushed back and had his arm around Steve in an instant before there was a soft snick, letting them know the picture had been taken.
Later, when it was developed, Steve would sit at the kitchen table and draw a mirror of the photo, including Darcy between him and Bucky.
June 6, 1938 – New York
It was a long car ride. Long enough to make Bucky's ass go numb, but he didn't complain. He'd jumped in the cab when Steve told him to and didn't question it as the punk kept rubbing his sweaty hands along the thighs of his pants.
When the car finally stopped, Steve tossed some money over the seat at the cab driver and scurried out, leaving Bucky in the dust. He scratched his head when he closed the car door and looked at the rundown little farmhouse.
"Isn't it perfect?" Steve asked, his eyes bright with excitement.
"For us," the blond said, rolling his eyes as he gestured towards the house. "For Darcy. This could be ours, Buck."
He looked at the house with new eyes then. The little house had potential. Bucky could fix it up, Darcy could sit on the wraparound porch with her coffee. A couple kids could play in the yard. He could see the appeal.
He chuckled. "Leave it to ya to be lookin' for a house."
"We keep savin' the way we do, it could be ours in the next few years."
April 12, 1941 – Brooklyn, New York
"I wanna get a will drawn up."
Steve looked over his cheese stake and cocked his head. "Why you wanna do that?"
Bucky shrugged, picking at his own sandwich halfheartedly. It had been on his mind more and more recently. He wanted to be prepared in case anything ever happened.
"You don't have much to leave me, ya know."
Bucky barked a laugh. "Like I'd leave ya anythin', ya punk." He shook his head. "I'd leave everythin' to Darcy. That way, you'd have it, too. But it's safer in her name, I think."
The blond nodded. "Do ya…do ya think it'd be a good idea to open a bank account and put it in your name? Maybe deposit the money I've been keepin' under the bed."
"That's a swell idea, Stevie."
"I'm known to have them on occasion."
May 25 1941 – Brooklyn, New York
"C'mon, punk. We got a game to go to."
Steve popped his head out of the bathroom, his hand shaking out the water in his hair as he eyed Bucky questioningly. "What?"
Bucky buckled the belt on his pants and gave him a crooked smile. Pulling two tickets from his pocket, he waved them in the air. "Bought us a couple o' tickets to go see the Dodgers. Figured we been working so hard that we deserved somethin' nice."
"But," Steve shook his head, "What about – "
"It's the super's job to replace the fridge, Stevie. This is somethin' just for us." Bucky tied his boots up and dusted some lint off his worn pants. "Now, get dressed so we can go. 'Less ya wanna be in your skivvies – "
Steve threw the towel at Bucky's face, unsurprised when the latter caught it with ease. "Yeah, yeah, I'm goin'."
"We got another one!"
Bucky nearly skidded out of the kitchen and banged his knee on the ramshackle coffee table as he lumbered into the living room. "Yeah – motherfuck – where's she at now, punk?"
"Language," the blond chided, flipping over the worn postcard. It had a dozen hula girls surrounding a man playing a ukulele on it. "Hawaii, I'd assume." He flipped it over and smiled at Darcy's loopy writing.
Wishing you were here! I'm learning something new every day.
Bucky whistled low. "Hawaii. Boy, can ya imagine her in a grass skirt and a coconut bra? She'd never leave the damned bungalow."
Steve couldn't even chide him as his own thoughts drifted to a half-naked Darcy.
They used to receive actual letters from her, but those stopped almost four years ago. Now they were lucky to get a postcard with her location so they knew she was at least safe. Spot had told them not to worry, that Darcy was still their girl and she was just trying to get an education and tour with one of the best ballet companies, but when she stopped coming home for breaks and things, it made everything harder.
"Plane tickets are expensive, Buck," Steve had reminded him as he tacked up another one of Darcy's postcards. "And we aren't really in a way to help pay. She'll come home; she always does."
But four years was an awful long time to wait for their girl.
"We should try to go see her for Christmas," Steve suggested, handing the postcard to the brunet. "Surprise her. I'm sure she'd love it."
"Ya think she'll still be in Hawaii?"
He shrugged. "She seems t' send somethin' each time she goes somewhere new."
Bucky thought about it for a moment. "And we'd get t' see Hawaii even if she's not."
A shock tore through her body, leaving her shuddering. Her bones felt like they were on fire, like she had no skin left. The electrodes attached to her temples buzzed faintly with resounding electricity and she wanted to curl up and cry. Her knees were raw from the stone floor and the chill was beginning to be too much, but she'd never give him the satisfaction.
"Sirena, I thought we discussed this, no?"
A sharp smack to her cheek had her seeing stars and she looked up at the small man angrily.
"My name is Darcy Lewis," she spat, blood dripping down her chin from where he'd split her lip. "And you are nothing."
Zola sat back on his heels, looking down at her distastefully. "We will see. You're much harder to control than I anticipated."
"You'll never break me."
A sharp zap ricocheted through her skull and she ground her teeth.
"My dear, you're already broken. I'm trying to put you back together." He stepped back, almost across the room and it started all over again.
December 7, 1941 – New York City, New York
Steve turned his sketch sideways, wondering what on earth had gone wrong with the lines. He'd never had a problem with capturing anything on paper, but Darcy was on his mind more and more seeing as he and Bucky were going to be leaving in a week.
It took a lot of saving – and Steve picking up any illustrating jobs that came through for the local paper – but he and Bucky were able to pool together their money for two tickets to Hawaii. Another postcard hadn't made its way to them yet, so they assumed she was still holed up on the island.
"What's wrong, punk? Your paper wrinkled?"
Steve smiled down at his paper. "Nah. I think 'm just excited."
"Me, too, Stevie," Bucky smirked, wiping eraser shavings off his own paper. "I can't wait t' see her – what the – "
"We interrupt the scheduled programming to bring you urgent news from the White House."
"Buck – "
The whole classroom had gone silent and they were all staring at the small radio with dread. Bucky knew that the war had been getting worse, but it didn't really involve them, not yet.
"Hello, NBC. Hello? This is KTU Honolulu, Hawaii. I am speaking from the roof of the Advertiser Publishing Company Building. We have witnessed this morning the distant view – "
"Hawaii? Hawaii, Buck – "
"Shut yer trap!"
" – a brief battle of Pearl Harbor by enemy planes, undoubtedly Japanese. The city of Honolulu has also been attacked and considerable damage done."
Steve stopped breathing. Panic clawed at his throat. His hands shook so hard that he knocked his pencils off the table with a resounding clatter.
Darcy was in Hawaii - possibly Honolulu.
What if something happened? Was she okay?
"We cannot estimate just how much damage has been done, but it has been a very severe attack. The Navy and Army appear to have the air and the sea under control."
Bucky stood up and slid his hand across the table, clearing everything into a bag he was holding under the edge. "We're going home. Now."
December 8, 1941 – Brooklyn, New York – Rogers/Barnes Residence
"Did ya send a telegram?"
Bucky nodded, closing the door behind him and shrugging off his coat. "Damned furnace. It'd be great it they'd just replace the damned thing." He sighed, keeping his boots on for warmth and accepting the lukewarm cup of coffee that the blond offered him. "I sent it to Honolulu, the operator doesn't know when it'll get read, though. The lines have been down…"
"Maybe she's not there anymore. Maybe she moved on – "
"I'd like to believe that, but we gotta go with what we know, Steve. The last place she was in was Hawaii. Maybe…maybe she's somewhere safe. Maybe the army got to her in time."
Steve shuddered visibly. "Ya know what we gotta do, don't ya? Roosevelt declared that the US is part o' the war now."
"We gotta join the army."
"For Pearl Harbor."
December 20, 1941 – Brooklyn, New York – Goldie's Boxing Gym
"Hands up, punk. Block my hits."
Steve wheezed, keeping his guard in place as Bucky jabbed at him. Bucky swung his leg under his feet and he crumpled, staring up at the worn ceiling as he struggled for breath.
"Steve – "
"'m fine." He reached into his pocket and took out his inhaler, taking a few puffs before he got back on his feet. "Again."
Bucky shook his head. "Ya might be better with a gun – "
"There's no sense pushin' ya this hard."
Bucky swung again and stumbled in surprise when Steve blocked his hit. He doubled his blow and struck again, only being pushed back a few feet. Steve swung at him and connected squarely with his stubbled jaw, earning a grin.
"Maybe there's hope for ya yet, punk."
Steve squared his shoulders and put his fists back up. "Again."
December 24, 1941 – New York City, New York – US Induction Center
It was daunting.
Steve was terrified; Bucky was exhilarated.
"Now, soldiers, you all have seventeen minutes and thirty seconds to complete a two-mile run. Anyone that doesn't complete that will be disqualified."
It had been hell to do 31 pushups, but Steve had done it – wheezing his way through the final ten. He had struggled to do 43 sit-ups, having his inhaler practically plastered to his hand as he powered through it. But running two miles? Running?
He could sort of handle himself in hand-to-hand combat, enough to keep himself from getting beat up too much when he and Bucky went at it. He was quick enough to catch himself when he fell and knew when to retreat – not that he ever did – but running was a whole other obstacle that he and Bucky had severely neglected.
"Get some water and be ready in five minutes."
Steve stared after the man in uniform, a curse falling from his lips.
"Steve – "
"I can do this."
Bucky looked at him pitifully. "Can ya? Can ya? This isn't a walk down the block, punk. This is a full-on run. Ya have to run for two whole miles."
"I can do it. For…for Darcy."
"Stevie…" the brunet swallowed thickly. "Ya know that if ya don't make it in, I'm gonna. And I'm gonna beat the shit – "
" – outta everyone that could'a hurt her. She was our girl, Steve. She is our girl."
Steve floundered. He felt like a small fish in a big pond and he was drowning. The thought that Darcy had perished in Honolulu literally haunted his dreams. There'd been no postcards in the past weeks, no inkling that she was all right. Her name hadn't come up on the list of the causalities that was released, but that meant nothing; lots of people were unaccounted for. It made him angry and scared all at once and if he could only join the army, he could get to Pearl Harbor and search for her.
Bucky put his hand on Steve's shoulder and squeezed tightly. "If she's out there, I'll find her."
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