A/N#1: Hey, everyone! As promised, here's the second story in the series, about Bucky and Steve. You don't really need to read the first story to understand this one, but eventually they will join the Avengers and I will be including stuff from these in there, so I do recommend you read them all. The next story will be about how Jane falls in love with outer space. I don't know when I'll finish it, as I'm trying to do obnoxious adult stuff, like find a job to pay for college, but I'd like to have it done in at least two weeks and no more than four. No promises though.
A/N#2: For those of you who are wondering why this is titled All Aboard, it's a reference to the "I'm with you 'til the end of the line" quote, as this is how they first met.
A/N#3: I do not own Bucky, Steve, Becca, or Mrs. Barnes. The rest are OCs.
James scowled and dragged his feet, hands in his pockets. He hated visiting the orphanage. Why did his mother insist on making him and his sister come along as she gave those dirty urchins perfectly good food and clothes? It was stupid and boring. He wished the dumb kids would just get adopted or something so he wouldn't have to see them again.
"Mrs. Barnes! It's so good to see you again! And you've brought James and Rebecca!"
James frowned and ducked his head at the sound of Mother Grace's voice, hoping she'd leave him alone. Tragically, she did not get the hint, leaning over and ruffling his hair.
"Hello, James. Why don't you take your sister to the yard and you can play with the other children while your mother and I talk?"
James wanted nothing of the sort, but he also didn't want to have to put up with her for one more moment, so reluctantly, he nodded his head and stepped away from his mother.
Grabbing Becca's hand, he led her to the tiny cramped space that passed as the orphanage yard. It was dingy and weed-ridden, but it was better than the dusty rooms indoors, so he supposed it would have to do.
"Go. Play," he ordered his little sister, pushing her towards a group of little girls her age who were playing with a doll that James recognized as one his mother had given the children last time. Becca, seemingly unbothered by the filth surrounding them, ran off to join them.
Now that he didn't have to worry about her whining that he wasn't playing with her, James turned and beelined toward the corner of the yard where a little tree stood. The tree was James' favorite part about visiting the orphanage, though that wasn't a very high bar to hit. While it seemed small and frail, James knew it had hidden strength. There'd been one day when he'd come over to see two older boys bending it horribly, and he'd feared they'd break it, but once he'd chased them off, he saw that the tree had simply sprung right back up and was as fine as ever. Another time a huge storm had come through the area, breaking a lot of things, but the tree still stood strong. James suspected that while it didn't look like much on the outside, it had firm roots below ground that wouldn't give, no matter what. All in all, James liked the little tree. It was certainly better company than all those grubby orphans, after all.
He leaned against the tiny tree and sighed as he closed his eyes. Soon his mother would be done handing out new toys, and James would be able to go home in peace.
"Give it back!"
The shrill cry pierced through his tranquility. He sat up, a scowl on his face. Stupid orphans. Couldn't they be quiet for just two minutes?
Peering around the tree, he saw the orphan girls and Becca glaring at an older boy who was holding the doll over his head and jeering at them. Becca's hands were balled into fists, and she took a step forward. James knew that she was two seconds away from slugging the boy in the stomach and started forward to stop her from getting herself in trouble, but before she could attack or James could reach her, a blur knocked the bully to the ground.
James froze and stared as the skinniest kid he'd ever seen in his life got thrown to the ground by the boy he'd tackled. The tiny newcomer looked like he hadn't had a proper meal in months, and despite giving off the impression that a strong gust of wind would blow him over, scrambled to his feet and raised his fists.
"Give them the doll back, Jacob!" he shouted.
"Or, what?" Jacob, the bully, sneered. "You gonna sneeze on me?"
While his back was turned, Becca jumped forward and punched him in his back. James knew from experience that her tiny fists could do a lot of damage, especially if she managed to land a hit in the right place.
And it looked like she had. Jacob bent over, gasping as he wrapped his arms around himself. Then he straightened up and took several steps back so that neither Steve nor Becca were behind him.
"Watch it, rich girl, or I'll break your pretty nose."
Becca bared her teeth. "Try it, and I'll bite you."
He glared for a moment, but then evidently decided that the other kid would be an easier target and turned to him instead.
"Why don't you mind your own business, Steve?" he growled.
"Why don't you act like a decent human being, Jacob?" the tiny boy, Steve apparently, retorted.
A look of rage on his face, Jacob stepped forward, but before he could try attacking any of the kids again, James darted over and got in his way.
"Hey," he said sharply. "Why don't you pick on someone your own size?"
Jacob, still holding his side where Becca had hit him, gave James a once over. James was just as tall as he was, and he was solidly built. It would be foolish for the bully to try and take all three of them on, and James could see it on his face that he knew that. Still, Jacob stared him in the eyes, looking for weakness, and James was determined not to show him any. He glared right back, and after several long moments, the other boy scoffed and turned away.
"Whatever," he muttered, throwing the doll down onto the ground. "You can have your stupid doll if it means that much to you. See if I care."
He limped off, and the kids mutely let him pass.
James turned to Becca and gave her a look. "You okay?" he asked quietly.
She nodded and blew a lock of hair out of her eyes. "Yeah."
"Mom's not going to be happy if she hears you were in a fight," he pointed out.
She gave him an annoyed look. "He started it."
"I know, but still, you know how she is."
Becca shrugged, obviously unconcerned. Sometimes, James wondered what it would take to get her to fear authority, but he always came to the conclusion that he didn't want to witness things getting bad enough for it to come to that.
James glanced over to see the other kid, Steve, handing the doll to one of the other little girls.
"Hey," he called. Steve glanced over in with a raised eyebrow. "You okay?" James asked, worried that being thrown around like that would harm the frail boy.
Steve grinned. "Never better."
James crossed his arms and gave him a stern look. "You got thrown pretty hard."
"Eh, I've had worse. Besides, Jacob wouldn't have risked hurting me too bad. I just got off of bed rest, and if the nuns found out he put me right back, they'd switch him so hard his grandkids would have scars."
"Bed rest? What for?" The kid must have been pretty ill if it left him this skinny. That would explain Jacob's sneeze comment too.
"I got the cold. Hit me pretty hard." Steve shrugged. "It laid me up for a while, but I'm fine now. As fine as I ever am." He took a deep breath, then smiled brightly. "Anyway, I'm Steve. You must be the son of that rich lady who comes here with toys and food and stuff that I keep hearing about." He stepped forward and held out his hand.
James shook it. "Nice to meet you, Steve. I'm James."
Steve gave him a thoughtful look as he stepped back. "What's your last name?"
"No, that's no good. What's your middle name?"
James crossed his arms. "Why?"
"I already know three Jameses, and I'm sure you know a couple too. If you want people to know who you are when people are talking about you, you're going to need a nickname. So, middle name?"
James frowned, but then tilted his head to acknowledge the kid's point. "That makes sense, I guess, but my middle name is Buchanan, and I'd rather not go by that either."
Steve wrinkled his brow as he thought, before suddenly snapping as his face cleared. "I got it! What about Bucky?"
"Bucky," James repeated, trying it out. "Bucky Barnes… Yeah, I guess that would work."
Steve's face lit up. "Great! It's nice to meet you, Bucky!"
James, no Bucky, gave him a small smile. "Nice to meet you too. So, uh, have you been sick for the last few months? Because I'm sure I would have remembered seeing you before."
Steve grimaced, and Bucky regretted making his smile disappear. It was like the sun had gone behind the clouds. "Well, every time they thought I was getting better, I got sick all over again. So, yeah, I've been sick every time you came by, though the nuns always made sure to give me some of the soup your mom brought, so that I didn't miss out entirely." He shrugged uncomfortably. "I'm pretty used to it."
"I'm sorry," Bucky said lamely, not sure what to say. He'd never gotten sick that often himself.
"Eh, it's okay. I-"
"Rebecca Pearl Barnes!"
Even though she wasn't calling his name, Bucky still jumped at his mother's yell. He whipped around to see Becca had gone back to playing with the other girls. She looked up calmly at their mother as she stormed over from the building. Becca coolly handed the doll to one of the other girls and stood to meet her, stepping away from the others.
Reaching her daughter, Bucky's mom glared down at her. "What is this I hear about you punching one of the children?"
Becca gave a half-shrug. "He grabbed these girls' doll and wouldn't give it back to them."
Their mom let out a long breath and pinched the bridge of her nose, her other hand on her hip. "Rebecca-" she began, but was interrupted before she could get any farther.
"It's true, ma'am," Steve spoke up, walking up to them. "She was just trying to get it back for them. The one who took it is Jacob Hobbs, and he's always picking on the younger kids."
Bucky's mom looked over at him, took in his slender appearance, and softened. "I see. You must be Steve. I'm glad to see you're feeling better."
"Thank you, ma'am. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." He held out his hand and Bucky's mom shook with a tender smile on her face. Bucky couldn't remember the last time she'd looked at him that way, but whatever. At least he'd distracted her from being mad at Becca.
"I brought you something," she continued, digging into her bag for a moment. "Since you weren't able to receive any toys before. Here." She pulled out a little notebook and a set of pencils and handed it to Steve. It seemed pretty boring to Bucky, but Steve beamed as if he'd just been given the greatest gift in the world.
He took them and hugged them to his chest. "Thank you, ma'am," he said earnestly. "You don't know what this means to me."
"It's my pleasure. Now, if you'll excuse me, we must be off. Becca, James, come along."
She held out her hands, and Bucky and Becca stepped forward to take them.
"Goodbye, Steve. I hope you stay healthy," she said in farewell.
"Thanks for your help," Becca added, ignoring the annoyed look her mom gave her at the comment.
"See you soon." Bucky waved goodbye as they walked back into the orphanage, and as he turned away at last, he realized he was smiling. Maybe those orphan kids weren't all that bad after all. The little tree might just have to be demoted to his second favorite thing about the orphanage.
A/N#1: So, I saw a post about how this one writer relates every one of her characters to a specific color or season or thing from nature to tie her descriptions of them together, and I decided to try that with this series. Steve is a tree. Specifically, the little tree in this story. He's flexible and grounded. Plus, he gave that speech in the comics about how even when the whole world wants you to move, it's your job to plant yourself like a tree and say "No, you move." Go back and reread the paragraph where Bucky describes why he likes the little tree and you'll see how I was trying to relate them to each other. I don't think I really succeeded, and I'm not sure how much I'm actually going to use the whole nature-descriptions-thing for this series, but I've still decided to at least come up with something for everyone. For instance, Becca is fire. She can be warm and comforting if you treat her right, but she can also turn into a raging blaze that absolutely doesn't care what gets in her way. Man, do I love Becca. I'm trying to figure out if bringing her into the modern era with Steve and Bucky later is too convenient. She's just my favorite (right now), okay? Back to the description stuff, Bucky is a boulder. He has no hidden strength, everything is right there for you to see. He's solid and unmovable when he wants to be. Plus, he falls off of a mountain and loses a chunk of himself. Lol. I cracked myself up when I thought of that.
A/N#2: Dang it, I promised myself I wasn't going to write long author's notes anymore.
A/N#3: I hope you all enjoyed this story. Please leave a review as it's nice to know people are actually reading these things. Have a wonderful summer!