Author's note: So this is the last chapter my darling readers. I'm happy to see that you all have enjoyed my story so much and I hope you'll tell me how you feel when you reach the end.
Now onto the last words.
"You sure I can't convince you to stay to plan it out?" Natasha is eyeing me from her couch, looking for cracks in my armor.
"No, I can do this. I, as you would say, have fucked things up enough myself, and I should be the one to fix it," I answer.
Her eyebrows shoot up. "I've never heard you curse before."
"It seemed fitting somehow."
She laughs, but her eyes shine with concern beyond her amusement. "True. Why the change of attitude though?"
"Last night…last night just wasn't the same." I run an agitated hand through my hair. "It wasn't the same and…" I trail off. The hollow smile he gave me last night floats to the surface of my mind.
"I get it," she says softly. "Go get him, tiger." She pokes my stomach.
I flash her my best confident grin though my stomach quivers and make for the stairs. An elevator ride right now would give me too much time to be stationary with my thoughts.
When I get to Thor's floor, I walk down the dark hall past the bathroom, past his bedroom. As I approach the living room I hear two voices. One definitely belongs to Thor, but the other I can't quite place. For some reason this slows me down and I end up gliding silently down the last portion of the hallway. I stop just short of its end, still partially hidden in the shadows.
Now I know who the second voice belongs to.
My heart speeds up. I thought they weren't going to see each other all weekend?
Wavering between continuing forward to interrupt them and leaving in defeat, I stare at the floor in dismay.
Thor's hollow smile floats to the front of my mind again.
Decision made, I flick my eyes up in time to see Sam lean forward and claim Thor's lips.
I inhale sharply, loudly, fixated on the display before me before turning away right as my body shuts down on me. My throat is horribly tight and my eyes sting.
As the first unwanted tears slip down my cheeks, blazing hot, I hear the telltale pop of their lips separating.
I bite my lip to squash a sob.
There's a rustle behind me. "Steve?" Thor questions, concern evident in his tone.
His voice seems to reanimate me and I'm able to respond as the tears flow freely. "Oh Thor, I'm sorry I interrupted you. I'll leave now." My voice is strained under the force of trying to hold back my pain.
I put one foot forward and the next thing I'm really aware of is standing in my bedroom, muscles taught as I try to hold in sobs that threaten to tear me in half, leaving me raw and exposed in my heartache. Tears stream down my neck.
A tentative knock sounds on my door. "Steve?" Natasha calls.
I turn to face her and she flinches, her whole body recoiling from me. My mouths upturns slightly.
I guess she doesn't do tears.
The image of Thor and Sam kissing assaults me suddenly and I have to swallow a sob.
"Oh Steve," she breathes, concern shining in her eyes.
I try to piece the remnants of myself back together. "Why are you here?" I croak, voice thick with tears.
"Jarvis told me you were distressed and I came to…check on you. What happened?"
I rock back on my heels and drown in the mental picture my mind pulls up. Tears still slip from the corners of my closed eyes.
When I open them to look at her again, her head is canted to the left, looking at something in my hallway. Before I even to get the chance to ask what she sees, Thor's large frame fills my doorway. Taking in my appearance, Thor's face seems to crumple and he nudges Natasha out of the way before crossing the space between us and engulfing me in his arms.
The contact, being so close to what I want, but can no longer have, breaks my last bit of strength and I lean into him heavily, sobs wracking my body harshly. He merely pulls me in closer and whispers calming platitudes into my hair. I cry harder, fisting my hands into his shirt.
Eventually the random patterns Thor draws into my back and the light scratch of his nails at my hairline, calms me and slows my tears until they only trickle out of my eyes in spurts every time I realize who's holding me.
Thor dislodges me from his body and walks over to lie on my bed half propped up on my headboard. "Come here," he instructs quietly. Against my better judgment I go to him and he places me flush against his body, my head on his chest. His free hand cards through my hair.
After laying in peace for a while he finally speaks. "Why are you so distraught my friend?" he asks. His voice is hushed as if someone will hear.
"Bucky," my voice hitches, "All of them. I miss them," I say. I'm surprised at how easily the lie slides out of my mouth.
"Mmm," he responds.
Because he says nothing else I focus on his heartbeat beneath my ear.
When I wake up in the morning I'm alone and it makes my heart clench viciously. Sleep has done me no good. My body is heavy with lingering heartache and I bury my head in my pillows.
You can't stay here, my mind prompts gently.
Reluctantly, very reluctantly, I blink my puffy eyes, stretch, and get up. I linger a moment near the edge of my bed. The idea of seeing Thor this morning makes me want to recoil, to dive back into my bed, and never come out, but I know that's useless.
Vision blurry, I take a few steadying breathes.
More in control of myself now, I walk to my kitchen only to realize there is nothing there for me so I head down to get breakfast.
In the communal kitchen, as I'm fishing for orange juice, a warm hand settles over the back of my neck. I lean into it before realizing my mistake.
Standing to my full height, I look up to meet Thor's blue eyes. "How are you feeling this morning Steve?" His concern magnifies my pain and I wither under his gaze.
Using grabbing a cup as an excuse, I slide gracefully from underneath his hand and smile at him though my mind's eye pulls up images of him and Sam.
I can't be here.
"I'm much better. Thank you for last night," I say while pouring my juice.
Grabbing an apple I back away from him. "I'll see you later, okay?"
"Okay," I hear him say distantly.
The next few days I go through the motions of a routine. Get up, eat, train, eat, spend time with fellow Avengers, eat, train, shower, sleep. When I'm with the others though, this is when I try my hardest.
I try my best to be myself, to feel like myself, but occasionally they'll throw me odd looks at strange moments. Maybe my laugh is off, I don't know. The strangest part of this routine however is the menacing glares I receive from Tony wherever I go, but I just don't have the energy to figure out why.
But it's this routine, it's this semblance of normalcy that makes me feel...it makes me feel emotions beyond heartache.
Heartache I didn't know I was capable of until after he kissed Sam, until after he came to comfort me and I knew.
I'm in love with him.
I'm in love with him and it's awful.
I'm in love with him and he belongs to another.
I push my face further into the cushions in front of me before lifting myself off my couch.
Letting my feet carry me where they will, I wander until, strangely, I end up in Tony's lab as he tinkers with some object I can't even begin to be able to name. He doesn't even acknowledge my existence.
Minutes tick by and yet we've still said nothing. I can feel the air around us warping, tensing, until it's thick and charged.
Finally Tony speaks. "You don't deserve him."
"Excuse me?" I'm thrown by this statement.
"You heard me," he says while finally pulling his head up to look at me.
I can think of nothing to say in return with so I say nothing.
"Cat got your tongue?" he asks. There is an undercurrent of a snarl in his voice which baffles me.
Rounding his table with surprising speed, he comes up to crowd me.
"Do you know what irritates me the most about you Captain Self Righteous?" I involuntarily clench my jaw. "You flit around here pretending to be a goody goody by saving the world when secretly on the side you jerk people around by their loyalty to you." He's jabbing me in the chest with his pen now. "Is it fun for you, Captain? Is it fun, is it thrilling to know that at the end of the day, that despite everything, there will be someone there for you to fuck with when you realize that you're nothing more than ready made government goods?"
I snatch his wrist out of the air and hold on tight. "Do not accuse me of things that are not true Stark," I warn.
"Release me," he responds coolly, but the threat is there all the same.
We've locked eyes now, anger redoubling and feeding on anger until I can practically see a fire in his eyes. My muscles are tense expecting the moment where we tip and fall into the abyss clawing at each other in rage. Distantly, I can't even recognize what we're fighting about.
It seems we're trapped in our suspended state, my hand clamped around his wrist, both our bodies poised for a fight, rage burning in our eyes and then I see it. It's fleeting and if I had blinked I would have missed it, but it was there. Buried underneath his anger for me, concern lives, twisting and fighting to get purchase, to get a grip.
This pulls some of my anger up short. Concern? Concern for what?
Sensing a change in my disposition Tony eyes me warily, anger boiling just under the surface. "Wha—"
"Steve! Tony!" Bruce's voice growls. "What the hell are you doing?" I release Tony.
Gingerly rubbing at his wrist and still following me with his eyes, he yells. "Damnit, Jarvis!"
"Sorry sir, but I did not want the situation to escalate further," Jarvis replies simply.
"We had it under control," Tony mutters.
Just as I'm about the say something Bruce speaks. "Steve, will you come with me?" Those it's phrased as a question it sounds suspiciously like a command.
Turning my back on Tony, I face Bruce and follow him out.
As I trail him down the hallway, Natasha falls in step with me, but says nothing. I didn't even realize she was here.
In Bruce's lab, he leans against one of his tables and crosses his arms. The look he fixes me with makes me feel weak and childlike.
"What the hell was that back there?" he asks pointedly. He doesn't even bother beating around the bush and I appreciate that.
"I don't know." And I really don't. The whole thing was strange.
Bruce scrubs a hand over his face. "You're better than that, you know? Starting a fight with Tony for no reason? That's reckless."
"I know," I respond. A blush creeps up the back of my neck.
"I hate that you've forced my hand," he says after a minute.
I look at him quizzically as Natasha shifts at the edge of my vision.
"I wasn't going to interfere, I really wasn't. I've known something was up with you, with Thor, for a while now, but I figured you two would sort it out. Natasha assured me you would. But now it seems you haven't and you won't unless someone intervenes, so here I am."
I still don't know exactly what he's getting at and I go to say as much until he holds up his hand. "No. I don't really want to hear what you have to say right now Steve. The point I'm going to make here is this and I'll only say it once, understand?"
"Good." Bruce takes a breath then continues. "Listen, I truly don't know what has happened between you and Thor, but whatever has happened in the last few days in particular has put both of you out of sorts. You wander around here like a specter and Thor is horribly quiet and that is downright eerie. Now, as I said, I don't care what went down, but Steve, you will fix it because things can't go on as they are. The disconnect between the two of you is bad for all of us here, but the real issue is in battle. If you two can't get your shit together we're so much weaker as a team. One of us could be killed."
It's hard to swallow past the lump in my throat and around the truth in Bruce's words.
"And Captain, if that isn't enough for you, though I'm sure it is, I'm telling you to fix this for your own personal safety in this tower." I arch an eyebrow and Bruce laughs. "I'm being serious. If you don't fix what's wrong between you and Thor soon, Tony is going to take matters into his own hands. He literally has been going on and on about all the ways he's going to make you fix it including strapping you down and seeing how much truth serum he can pump into you to make you talk." I cringe slightly because I know it's true. "Thor and him are good friends, you know," I know "and I'm just suggesting, commanding really, that you fix things before I and the others can't contain him any longer."
"So you see, too much is at stake and you're going to fix this. I know it's unfair that I'm laying this all on you, but Thor's constant silence this week has been making the Other Guy restless. It's almost like he wants to come out and comfort Thor, but I don't really want to see how that goes," Bruce says while laughing wryly.
He looks thoughtful for a moment and then looks at me again. "You got this Steve?"
"Yes," I say, and though it lacks some conviction, I know I have to get this done.
"Good, now scoot. I have to get back to work." He turns from me and gets right down to it.
Feeling unsettled by Bruce's spontaneous talk with me and loaded with the knowledge it provided, I head out as Tony walks in.
"Captain" he says icily.
"Tony," I say and I can't help but feel how right Bruce is. My Avenger teammates' safety aside, I know if I don't do something soon Tony is going to take it into his own hands and I can't see how that's going to end well.
Making my way to the elevator completely lost in thought, I almost don't notice Natasha slip into it with me. Though I expect her to say something she doesn't and we ride in silence. When the doors open on her floor she files out without a word or even a glance at me.
Just as they go to close, a hand darts through the small space forcing the doors to open again and Natasha pops her head in to look at me. The look is thoroughly unnerving.
When she doesn't say anything for longer than I can endure under his gaze I prompt her. "What?"
She blinks, looks down, then back at me. Her eyes are intense. "He didn't kiss him back. He didn't kiss him back and he came right to you just because he thought you were upset. So please, just try. Just try one more time." She disappears into the dimness of her floor leaving me wide eyed and speechless.
The elevator raises a few more floors until it stops at mine and the doors open.
But I don't get off, because the blood is rushing in my ears and my heart is pounding.
He didn't kiss him back? He came to me?
Bruce's monologue rises to the surface of my mind. Fix it before Tony makes you fix it.
This is all incredibly overwhelming so I slide along the wall of the car until I'm sitting with my knees pulled to my chest.
All of the events of the day flash through my head; Tony and I, Bruce and his words, Natasha and hers. I don't even know what to think.
I let me head fall to my knees.
Inhale 1, 2, 3,4.
Picking my head up off my knees, I reach forward and press the button for Thor's floor with no plan in mind. I don't know what I'm going to say, not a damn clue, but something will come.
Whether what I say is a lie, the truth, or some tangled mess of the two remains to be seen, but I have to do something.
Just try one more time.
Natasha's words give me strength.
Arriving at my destination I pull myself from the ground and step onto his floor. The soft sounds of a guitar flow to greet me as I search for Thor and find him perched on the smaller couch with his back to me.
Mirroring the action Thor did to me only a few days ago, I splay my hand on the back on his neck. I feel his muscles twitch minutely as he leans into it just a fraction.
"Steve," he says without looking at me. I smile inwardly knowing he can tell it's me just through touch.
"Thor," I respond.
"Mmmm," he hums sending a spike of heat right to my gut. Wow.
This conversation is already off to a strange start and my reaction to his simple noise has thrown me off balance.
Shaking myself lightly, I let myself say the first thing that comes to mind. I have a goal, but there's no need to rush to it. "Would you like to go on a walk with me tonight? We haven't been out in a while." I squint. That certainly was not what I was expecting to say.
"Gladly," he responds while strumming lightly on his guitar. I guess I'm going to fix things later.
Unsure of what to say next, an uncharacteristic boldness comes over me and my thumb, practically independent of my mind, slides up and down the side of Thor's neck slowly. The gesture, the whole situation strikes me as intimate. What…?
I withdraw my hand.
"I'll see you later then," I say as I retreat.
"Okay," he replies absently. His attention seems far away.
Smiling, I leave his floor, but it falters slightly knowing I'll have to follow through later.
A stray hair falls into my line of vision and I toss my head to the side to remove it from my sight. I exhale sharply.
The ride to Thor's floor is going slowly, much too slowly for my taste and I'm impatient. I need to talk to him.
Finally, mercifully, the bell dings signaling my arrival at Thor's.
Stepping off the car, I walk with a purpose to find him resting on his couch while playing his guitar.
As I get closer to him, in the back of my mind I appreciate the melody he's crafting, but right now I can't let that be my focus.
Rounding the couch, I plant myself firmly in front of the large man and he stops playing almost instantly as if sensing my agitation.
"Thor," I say coolly.
So far I haven't even attempted to bring up what I know I need to say (whatever that'll even be), but I don't want to break the ease that has fallen between us.
I look to Thor through my periphery and see that he looks peaceful thereby giving me just one more reason and one more moment not to ruin things by trying to fix things between us.
Thor slows down until he stops leaving me standing a few steps in front of him. He's gazing at the stars thoughtfully.
"You miss him, don't you? You miss Loki." I wince as Thor's face turns from serene to pinched while he keeps his gaze on the sky.
"Ah, Thor, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought that up," I say quickly.
He doesn't respond.
"I'm sorry," I repeat more softly.
"Do not apologize. I hope that one day I will be able to think of Loki and not have it hurt me so much, but until that time, I should not shy away from his memory. Despite what he may say and did, he was, and still is, my brother and I love him dearly."
"I completely understand." Thor finally pulls his eyes from the sky to look at me. "Though our situations aren't identical, I hope that one day I can talk about Bucky and all of the others in a way that doesn't make my heart feel like it's breaking. It gets better though, it does. It may not be perfect for me right now, as you saw the other night, but it's better than it was. You'll find your peace with Loki."
Thor looks back to the sky. "I do hope that is the case," he murmurs.
"Your Midgardian stars are so faint," he says after a moment.
I look up to the sky with him and then laugh lightly. "That is not always the case. If you go out into the country you'll see millions of them shining brightly, but the city here blots them out. I remember when I was younger…younger?" I scrunch my nose, "I remember that before I was frozen that although this was a large city, you could still see so many stars. It's amazing what 70 years has done."
Thor chuckles and I shift my eyes from the stars to his face. Now I'm even more loathe to say anything after bringing up Loki and watching him look so serenely at the stars.
Thor looks down making eye contact with me and I realize that I've been staring.
Blushing, I go to turn my head away, but he grabs my chin between thumb and forefinger. The sense of déjà vu rocks me.
Locked in this position now, we stare at each other and I can scarcely breathe.
Time passes agonizingly slow and I'm teetering on the edge of pulling away when he slides his hand from my chin across my jaw and settles it at the back of my head, fingers tangled in my hair.
Using my head and another hand he places on my shoulder, he draws me in until I'm inches from his face.
Breath fanning over my cheeks, his gaze moves from my eyes to my lips and back. "May I?" he questions, voice husky.
Like every other time before, my voice abandons me when I need it the most. But rather than panic, this time I pick up my hands from my side, grip his waist, and pull him closer to me.
He takes this as a good enough response and closes the gap between us.
When our lips touch it's like lightning surges through my body and I whimper against his mouth. I have half a mind to know that I'll be embarrassed later, but right now I don't care.
Gripping the back of my head harder, he slides the hand on my shoulder down my side to the small of my back and presses. I have to suppress a groan.
This is so damn good. His lips are on mine and they're so warm and soft and yet slightly rough in a way I had no idea I would love so much.
I love him so much.
Too soon Thor goes to pull away and I flex my hands on his hips, making a little sound of protest in my throat. Smiling against my mouth, he indulges me by kissing me deeper for a moment yesyes before nipping my bottom lip and actually pulling away.
I'm left panting softly as he looks on fondly.
He ghosts his lips over mine.
"Natasha says you run too much and I'm inclined to agree," he whispers.
I laugh quietly and nuzzle into the hand he moved from the back of my head to my cheek. I press a kiss to his palm.
Wait…Natasha? My mind supplies slowly.
I open my mouth to ask, but he puts a finger on my lips while grinning.
Moving forward he kisses me. "Come. We must go." He flashes me one more smile before walking away leaving me staring after him until my brain catches up. I have to jog to join him.
On the walk back, which seems both intensely short and frighteningly long, I keep shooting Thor nervous glances. Despite the kisses, my mind won't stop circling the idea that this might be too good to be true and my stomach churns.
My anxiety only heightens when we enter the tower and we ride the elevator up surrounded by the silence that gripped us during our return.
The bell dings and the doors slide open.
The instant that both of my feet are firmly planted on his floor, he grabs me by the shirt and yanks me to him causing me to grunt in surprise as our lips connect. I go slack in his arms.
This time when he pulls away I'm dizzy and arousal is pooled in the pit of my stomach. He brushes his thumb over my jaw.
Suddenly, from above us we hear cheers and "HA! You owe me! Hand it over!"
Thor snorts softly and pulls me into another drugging kiss.
We'll deal with them tomorrow.
Author's Note: So that's it! This is all I have for you right now and I really hope you enjoyed it.
Don't fret though, I have some other ideas for one shots (or sequels) based on this story bouncing around my head and while I can't promise I'll post anything soon, I hope the ideas will flesh out and let me write them down eventually.
Thanks for sticking with me through this! :D