Disclaimer: I own nothing.


"Some people won't sail the sea, 'cause they're safer on land,

To follow what's written.

But I'd follow you to the great unknown.

Off to a world we call our own."

Tightrope – Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman)

His metal hand clenched and unclenched, marveling at the way he could feel the stickiness of her blood between the shifting plates.

The room was silent around him, glass shattered underfoot from the complete and utter tantrum he had thrown when the doctor told him his worst fear. What he already knew was true.

James Buchanan Barnes was a soldier. He persevered when all seemed lost and fought for what he believed in.

And, Christ, he believed he could save her.

"What do you mean? No, she was breathin' – "

"You know as well as I do that she was dead on arrival, Sergeant – "

"No!" Bucky screamed, his metal fist smashing through the wall of the medbay and making the doctor cower. "Her heart was beating – just barely, but I felt it! What did you do? I swear to God, I will – "

A hand came down hard on his flesh shoulder and squeezed. "C'mon, jerk. Let's go…let's go see your girl."

The doctor blinked and managed to stutter out, "F-Family only."

"I am her goddamn family," he snarled. He took a threatening step forward and he could feel the wedding band clank against his dog tag. "Have been for two fuckin' hours."

"My a-apologies – "

"Shut yer trap."


The brunet blinked and saw Steve sidestep a chunk of glass, eyes watching him wearily.

"I made a statement," he said, letting out a sigh. "I gave them a description of the car so they can find it – "

"I'm going to kill whoever did this."

Steve swallowed. "You know she wouldn't want that."

"You don't get to tell me what she would or wouldn't want. Did you marry her? Did you stay with her when she had nightmares about what HYDRA did to her? Did you hold her in your arms when she lost your baby?"

"Buck." His voice was laced with anguish. "I didn't know – "

His answer was cold. "You don't know anything."

"I can…I can have Tony make up a room – "

"I'm going home. As soon as I finish making the arrangements."

The blond sighed. "You can't be alone."

"Yeah? Watch me."

The ring against his chest burned with every step he took away from the tower.

There was a time when he thought that he had lost the ability to love and be loved in return, but she had changed all that as soon as she had dropped – quite literally – into his lap.

"Nat! I need flour for cookies!"

The redhead stalked into the common room, a small, baggy shadow behind her. "JARVIS, please order as much flour as my myshka requires. You have access to her recipes."

"Right away, Agent Romanoff."

Bucky's eyes followed the small girl as he crouched further into the couch to avoid being seen. She was…certainly something.

She had mahogany curls that were piled high on top of her head, making her look taller than the five feet he knew she was. Big blue eyes took up most of her pale face, but he saw bright red lips and had to slide down further.

"There. You'll be able to bake cookies soon."

She stomped over to the couch and flopped onto it, landing in Bucky's lap. And nearly giving him a heart attack. And a hard on.

She was a hell of a lot curvier than that damned sweater she was wearing made her out to be. And having a lap-full of dame was something he was severely out of practice with.

"Well, hello, gorgeous," she purred, smiling a gapped-tooth smile at him. "You come here often?"

"Myshka, stop flirting with Yasha."

"Ooh, we both have sexy Russian nicknames?"

He snorted, barely allowing his hand to hold her waist. Was it really that small? He didn't want her to fall, after all.


The feisty brunette whined, "But mooooom."

"Now. Jane needs something calibrated." Natasha smiled, holding out her hand to help the girl up. "I'll teach you how to strangle someone with your thighs."

She giggled and wiggled her ass in his lap before batting her lashes at him. "Better watch yourself, gorgeous."

"But what a way to go," he quipped before he clamped his mouth shut.

"Ooh, I like you!"

"Likewise, doll."

He shook away the memory and fiddled with the worn key of their Brooklyn apartment. A rock settled in his gut as he pushed open the door.

Had it really only been a mere twenty-four hours since they'd shared their first kiss as a married couple? Only to have it snatched away…

Bucky cursed when he tripped over her worn, yellow Chuck Taylors, but managed to brush them away without throwing them out the window. She was always dropping her things wherever they fell and he would lovingly pick them up, but he had no such patience today. Or any day going forward.

He had made arrangements with Natalia's help, deciding upon cremation with a viewing scheduled for just a day away. And Steve, bless the punk's heart, had put out a statement with the local police to try to identify the car that had hit them.

The car that helped turn his life upside down.

"You look handsome, Sergeant Barnes."

Bucky puffed up his chest and beamed at the little dame sat beside him in the obnoxious limo that Stark had insisted on for his adopted daughter. The suit that Ms. Potts had chosen for him was pretty swanky and much more than he would've ever chosen for himself, but his girl, his wife, heartily approved.

"And you're beautiful, Mrs. Sergeant Barnes."

She laughed and threw her head back. "You're such a cheeseball."

"Your cheeseball."

Her little hand tangled in the hair at the back of his neck and pulled his lips against hers, proceeding to kiss him senseless.

"You're all mine, James Buchanan Barnes."

He jolted, slinging the knife that was strapped to his thigh towards a blur of red hair that had snuck into his peripheral vision.

"Knives so early?"

"Why are you here, Natalia? I don't need a baby sitter."

She slunk into the living room, watching him carefully. The air shifted in the room and it was charged with tension, making her wonder if she had made the right choice in her decision to check up on him.

"You lost her," she murmured as gently as possible. "It's okay to be hurting – "

"I'm not hurt. I'm fuckin' pissed. I'm pissed that some asshole crashed into one of the safest goddamn cars ever designed and killed my wife. My wife." His voice broke and he blinked angry tears away. His fist clenched as he grit his teeth. "I tried to protect her and I couldn't. I couldn't save the woman that saved me more times than I could ever count. And now? Now, she's in the fucking morgue. It should've been me!"

"And where would Steve be? Hm?"

"They would've had each other."

The redhead sighed. "She loved you. So very much. I didn't know that anyone was capable of loving another person as much as she loved you."

"Yeah and look what it got her." He collapsed onto the couch with his head in his hands, the angst oozing out of him. "Get out, Natalia. I don't have time for this."

"Ugh, Buck, right there!" His perfect little dame cried as her nails dug into his shoulders harshly.

His thrusts faltered for a moment at the painful pleasure that she induced before he redoubled his efforts, happily trying to pound her through the plush mattress that she had insisted on.

"Yeah? You like that, baby?" He asked huskily, not even a little bit out of breath. His metal hand clutched the headboard while his flesh one gripped her soft waist and held her against every thrust.

She looked so beautiful spread out beneath him, her curls wild against the stark white of the sheets. Beautiful red lips popped open and formed the perfect 'o' shape as the most delicate crease made its way between her eyebrows.

"Come for me, babydoll. Let me feel you come on my hard cock," he whispered as he dropped his head. He plastered her neck in wet kisses, sure to leave his mark for the next day as she bucked against him hard.

"Bucky!" She wailed, her voice breaking in the middle of his name as her warm cunt gushed against him.

"Goddammit!" He roared, shoving himself as deeply as he could and feeling his orgasm race down his spine.

He collapsed on top of her and felt her arms wrap around him tightly.

"I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too."

Bucky's hand went through the sliding glass door to their patio.

He loved his memories. He loved remembering the soft slide of her sweat soaked skin against his when he loved her so thoroughly that he reduced her to one-worded answers.

Fuck. He missed her.

Steve watched sullenly as the Widow glided into the lounge with her head held high, a sure sign that it had not gone well. And, damn it all, he couldn't keep the sad look from coming across his face.

"He threw a knife at me."

He groaned. "At least he didn't shoot you."

"The knife was closer," she deadpanned with a roll of her shoulder. A heaviness came to her eyes and she swallowed. "Tony's finalized the arrangement – "

"Pepper is, actually. Tony…blames himself. If he hadn't – "

"None of this is his fault. It was always a risk with our work."

A car accident was literally the most mundane tragedy that could've happened, but it did.

A split second and the happily married couple began preparing for a funeral instead of a honeymoon.

There had been so much blood.

"He's reverting to the Winter Soldier programming," the redhead continued, oblivious to his internal musings. "We can try to nip it in the bud, but I'm not sure it's possible. Either way," she shrugged, "This isn't going to end well."

Blue eyes stared up at her. "You think he'll be a risk?"

"I think he plans on following her."


"You're going to medical."

His girl whined pathetically from her residence knelt in front of the toilet. "Why?"

"You've been sick for almost a month!"

"Don't you yell at me, James Buchanan Barnes! It's all your fault!"

His eyes widened with indignation. He couldn't even get sick! The audacity! "You're on your own in the sickness department, sweetheart. I can't – "

"I'm pregnant, you idiot!"

Bucky was pretty sure his brain short-circuited. It had to be a joke. A cruel one –

"You got me pregnant," she whispered, tears clinging to her long lashes. "I'm…I'm so sorry. I know you didn't want kids and I trapped you!" She hiccupped a sob and tried to wipe her face. It made his chest hurt. "I love you. I'm so sorry…"

It took two full seconds for him to realize that HYDRA had lied when they said they had sterilized him. That he could have the houseful of kids that he had always wanted with the woman he loved.

And another two seconds had him jumping for joy, scooping his girl up into his arms and kissing her full on the mouth, ignoring the sick.

"I'm going to be a dad." His smile faded and he nearly dropped her. "Holy shit. I'm going to be a dad."

How the fuck could someone like him be a father to someone? He was the goddamn Winter Soldier! He had killed so many.

"We got this," she murmured, placing her hand on his cheek to grab his attention. "You think I'm not scared about being a mom? I'm scared shitless. But I'm pretty sure that's what parenting is."

He deflated. His girl was so smart.

"I love you."

Bucky woke up in a cold sweat, the sheets stuck to his legs. A swift kick had the comforter on the floor as he sat up and took a shuttering breath.

Finding out he was going to be a father was the second happiest day of his life, the first being when she agreed to be his wife.

They had tried to keep her pregnancy under wraps and it had worked until Barton blew it to Natalia and then they had two people fussing over his little dame.

And, hell, if Natalia wasn't helpful. She looked after her myshka like she was the most precious thing in the world and, truly, she was.

But then she lost the baby.

And the depression…it was the most awful thing that Bucky had ever experienced.

Seeing his girl that was always so bright and full of life nearly broken was so hard for him because no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't fix it. He couldn't replace the baby that they'd lost. And that's when she got her birth control upgraded by Betty Ross and swore off any sort of unprotected sex. She just didn't want to get hurt again.


Bucky woke to the sound of small whimpers coming from their bathroom. He waited for an answer before hefting himself out of the bed.

He wasn't prepared for the sight that awaited him.

"Something's wrong," she sobbed, wiping at the blood staining her thighs. Her sleep shirt was rucked up around her waist and red was staining her porcelain skin the way tears were staining her cheeks.

Bucky sprang into action. "JARVIS?"

"I will alert medical to come – "

"Tell 'em we're on our way," he barked out. He gingerly swept her into his arms and kissed her forehead. "It's okay, baby. I'm gonna get you help."

His fist went through the headboard at the memory.

It had been a little girl.

Layla Marie Barnes.

And her mother was buried right next to her. And Bucky would be beside them.

"Where is she?"


His blood ran cold. How in the hell had they been able to get her? They were so safe! The trackers, a modified taser…

"Went to grab lunch," Stark volunteered as he consulted the image of the map in front of him. His finger landed on the dot that was her favorite diner in Brooklyn before he dragged it downwards. "Her tracker was ripped out here and we lost connection about five minutes later. That's when JARVIS alerted us."

He clenched his jaw so tight that his teeth would've cracked if he hadn't had a bastardized version of the Super Solider serum running through his veins. He should've never left her in bed that morning. Never should have agreed to meet Steve at the gym.

"We'll get her back – "

Bucky shrugged off the blond's hand on his shoulder. "I'm headin' out. I'll have my com. Get Natalia to cover me."

"Buck, I can – "

"Stay here," he said gruffly, checking the blade in his waistband idly. "You're a man with a plan, after all."

"Is it true?" Steve asked, glancing at Natasha. "That Tony made her his sole heir?"

The redhead lay the white lilies down on the fresh mound of dirt, in front of the ornate headstone that Tony had commissioned to rest her ashes with an odd look on her face. "From what I gathered from Pepper, he signed it all away as soon as Barnes recovered her from HYDRA."

Steve shuddered, remembering how she had been gone for almost a week and the way his best friend has nearly torn the tower apart to find her.

And she had been found in the end. Dirty and terrified in a warehouse that Bucky had burnt to the ground with his girl in his arms. Not that Steve blamed him, not one bit.

"Have you seen him?" Natasha asked quietly.

"Not since the service. I think he wanted some time away."

"JARVIS ratted him out. He's planning a mission. Somewhere far away."

Steve sighed and looked down at her grave with a sad smile on his face. This girl had changed everything for Bucky. She helped him when he was isolated, helped him adjust and see the worth in himself and not the assassin that he had been forced to become.

"He's not coming back," the blond hummed sadly.

"That's what Clint thought."

They were silent for a few moments before he spoke.

"I miss her."

And it was true. He missed the little spitfire that followed him around and forced him to taste test all the concoctions that she developed. The sweetheart that loved his best friend more than anything and, against all odds, cared about him, too.

"I know," Natasha said sadly, "Me, too."

Two months had passed and Bucky was constantly in and out of the tower. There had been chatter about someone taking out HYDRA bases and burning them for evidence, someone that had yet to be caught. But Steve knew.

He knew it was Bucky trying to keep his mind off of things.

The part that made him Bucky was slowly slipping away and he was becoming a hardened man after the loss of his wife.

It didn't help that the driver responsible still hadn't been caught.

"It's good to have you back, Buck," Steve said quietly when he walked into the lounge and noticed him drinking coffee out of one of her mugs. The mugs that no one had the heart to move yet. "I was starting to think you didn't like me anymore." It was a sad attempt at humor.

"I guess," was all he replied.

The blond sighed. "Do you…do you need help with anything? The apartment, her things – "

"I sold the apartment about a month ago. Natalia helped me with her things."

He didn't have an anchor anymore. Nothing to keep him tethered to New York, to anything.

"Why did you come back?"

It was a question that had been on the tip of his tongue. He had prepared himself for many different scenarios, but Bucky returning had not been one of them.

Bucky looked up from his hands that he held clasped in his lap. His eyes were bluer than he'd seen them before, more aware. "I had to say goodbye."

"Bucky – "

The brunet stood and gave his oldest friend a sad smile. "I'm not comin' back after this one. It's…it's the last of 'em. I want this to be buried with my girls." He held out a worn and beat up dog tag, proudly displaying his name. "You know how we used to dream about havin' a family and everything when we were kids?"

"I remember," Steve said around the lump in his throat.

"I almost got that. I had it right here," he clenched his fist tight and then let it go. "And then it was gone. I've lived a long time, punk. I'm tired."

Steve could respect that. He had led a much different life than that of his best friend. There had been multiple times when Steve wanted to set down the shield, but his heart wouldn't allow it. As long as people still needed his protection, he would be there.

They embraced tightly. It was a goodbye that they both needed, closure they both craved. Bucky trusted Steve to do right by his girls.

When Bucky pulled back, there was a tear that managed to slip down his cheek. "Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone."

"How can I?" Steve asked, wiping his own tears. "You're takin' all the stupid with you, jerk."

Bucky rigged it the way he was supposed to. The way that he had been taught when HYDRA still had him under their control. At this point, the destruction wasn't about taking HYDRA down anymore, but leaving a legacy of a world free from the organization that had caused him so much pain.

In the end, it hurt a lot more than he thought it would.

One second he was staring at nearly a dozen other men that were wetting themselves in terror and the next he was closing his eyes against the bright light that erupted in the facility.


The brunet blinked hard and struggled to focus on the beautiful scene in front of him. He was back in their Brooklyn apartment, in the nursery that they had spent hours decorating and outfitting with the safest baby stuff they could find.

"You with me?"

He grinned and stood up from the rocking chair he was in. "Yeah, baby. I'm with you."

She smiled back. "Good, because it is so your turn for diaper duty."

That stopped him short. "What?"

"Don't tell me you forgot about your daughter."

Bucky's eyes went to the small pink bassinet in the corner of the room and he nearly tripped over his feet to get to it. Inside, swaddled in a pink blanket with printed clouds all over it, was the most precious little baby he had ever seen. Pouty pink lips, porcelain skin, a tuft of raven hair atop her head.

"Layla," he breathed, his flesh hand coming out to touch the baby's cheek softly. When she cooed under his touch, he nearly melted. His gaze cut to his girl that had stood beside him. "She's here? She…we get to keep her?"

"Yeah," she sniffled. "She was here when I got here. Someone must've been watching her for us."

"Oh, Darcy, I've missed you so much."

Darcy smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck when he turned into her. "I've missed you, too, handsome. It's been a little lonely up here, but I've had our daughter to keep me company."

"Our daughter," he repeated in amazement. "Christ, she's beautiful."

"We've got the rest of our lives together."

"I think that'll be just fine, baby. Just fine."

James Buchanan Barnes was a soldier.

He did what was right no matter the cost.

In the end, it had cost him his life. But he gained to much more.

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