Trouble Finds Him
Chapter 9: The Crash
When they'd return from that mission they were happy. Another mission accomplished. Their victim captured and everyone returned safe and in one piece. Though they didn't tell anyone, Steve and Bucky were a bit tense. It'd been a very close call and since they'd been best of friends since before joining, they were counting their lucky stars that for some sheer amount of dumb luck, Steve had gotten to Bucky in time.
Or at least Steve was counting his lucky stars and thanking God for his friend's strength as he held on as long as he did. Bucky on the other hand kept sending odd glances to Harry when he thought no one would notice.
Harry didn't notice either until Howard pointed it out. Howard himself had been very pleased with Harry when he got back. Much less as Bucky kept making excused to take Harry's attention. Inviting him to training, planning, and outings.
Harry rejected most of the offers unless Bucky was with Steve, in which case Harry would for whatever reason agree. Most days though, Harry would once again be Howard's personal assistant/service monkey.
After another night of hanging out with the soldiers in Steve's squad and Bucky, Howard was waiting for Harry. As the wizard got ready for bed, Howard stayed quiet, arms crossed over his chest, and lips set in a firm frown.
"I think we should consider erasing Barnes' memory."
Harry stopped in changing into some night clothes and looked incredulously at Howard, "Pardon?"
"Are you blind to the attention he's been giving you recently? I think he suspects," Howard said seriously.
Harry frowned at the genius but didn't deny the accusation. Even after the whole scenario in the mess hall and then with the poisoned soldier, Bucky had never been very picky or nosy with Harry. He only requested his presence with little to no expectation of Harry actually getting the green light. After returning from the factory Bucky had come looking for him to make sure he was alive and alright. Once he was sure Harry was alright they only passed each others paths every so often. It was after the incident on the train that Bucky was popping in more and more in Harry's day to day life.
"Even if he does, I can't." Harry said as he finished changing.
"Why not? I've seen you do it plenty of times." Howard commented.
Taking a seat on his cot Harry sighed, "I don't think it'll be for the best interest."
Howard's frowned deepened, "And why is that?"
"I may have done it but the people who I've done it to are people I don't think I'll interact with anymore. I think I'll be interacting with Bucky, either on the field and off. Messing with someone's memory isn't easy and risky. I could slip and erase more than needed. And because we run with the same crowd it might raise more suspicion to me if Bucky suddenly has holes in his memory while others don't." Harry explained.
"So we'll play it off that he went a bit cuckoo because of the experiments done in the factory," Howard shrugged and waved it off.
Harry shook his head, "No. Look, I don't know if he saw anything or whatever, but I'm not going to mess with his memories. I'll just keep a low profile and nip anymore suspicions in the butt."
"That would be great if you actually knew how to keep a low profile!" Howard cried.
Harry gave him a look, "What's that supposed to me?"
"Have you not seen yourself Harry? You keep running into the line of fire since you got back. So much so that you go behind our backs. If you weren't so successful you'd be facing disciplinary actions." His eyes locked with Harry's in a heated stare as he said with accusation, "It's like you've got a death wish."
Harry kept eye contact, refusing to back down before sighing and looking away, "I don't..."
"Not very convincing." Howard stated in an empty tone.
Harry winced at that tone. It was Howard's disapproving tone and it always made him feel like a child. Standing up from the cot he ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up in all sorts of crazy directions, idly reminding him that it's been a long time since he's cut it and also another reminder that he wasn't really a soldier. All the other soldiers had buzz cuts and there he was with an untamable head of hair. Peggy had suggested he cut it but he refused. It was one of the reminds he had of his father. Like he couldn't imagine his eyes never being green, he could never imagine himself without the messy, long, untamable hair.
"You belong here..." Harry whispered after a moment of looking for words in his mind, "I don't." Before Howard could interrupt Harry with some sort of speech about how this was now his world, the wizard stopped him by raising a hand, silently asking for silence, "Let me finish. You were asked here by the army personally to come and help...help save people. Help your country...and you're doing it the way you know how. I'm coming to terms that this is now my world too. It's not just something that happens in an instant, Howard. It's a process. And fighting for this world is one of the things that's helping and I have to do it...in the way I know how."
"And you can. You have been helping, Harry! But going on every mission is insane!" Howard stressed his words, hoping Harry would understand his reasoning, "You can help save this world. But it's not solely on your shoulders, Hare! Help by helping me in the labs!"
"That's fine for you! You know what you're doing! You do things! I just follow you around like a puppy trained to fetch your slippers when your feet get cold! I want to be more than that!" Harry snapped.
"You want to be the hero...like you were in your world," Howard stated. Not in an accusing manner or with any bitter or ill feelings behind it like Harry thought he would. The genius was just stating facts and it was a true one that made Harry sigh and take his seat again.
"...Did your name ever define who you were?" Harry asked quietly.
"What do you mean?" Howard asked as he recrossed his arms over his chest.
"The name Stark. Did it ever...become more than..."he gestured to all of Howard, "This?"
"You just pointed to all of me," Howard commented. "Elaborate?"
Harry licked his lips as he tried to find the words to explain. He himself wasn't so sure why he kept running into battle like that. He knew he was doing more than he should and that it contradicted his initial feelings when he arrived. His first priority was to keep Howard safe. What was his priority now?
"I...do want to be the hero. It's the only choice I had of what I'm used to given the circumstances..." Harry said.
"What happened to plain ole Harry Potter?" Howard asked.
"He's got no power in this world," Harry answered. He continued before Howard could butt in, "I was treated lower than a second class citizen growing up by my own relatives. Dirt was higher than me in their eyes. Then when I found out what I was...it was a complete 180. I was suddenly in this magical place where I was a hero...everyone knew who I was and they loved me. I was only eleven so it went to my head a bit."
"You miss the glory days huh?" Howard asked as he listened and recorded all of this to memory.
"Not going to deny that," Harry nodded in confirmation, "But it was soon that I'd learn that that sort of fame wasn't all it was cracked up to be."
"How do you mean?"
"Things happened...things that made people uncomfortable and no one to blame and since I was the closest proxy I became the scapegoat. As I got older it just got more confusing...I was apparently power, but not the one in control of it. The name Harry Potter was a house hold name and everyone knew him. Everyone but me..." Harry crossed his arms, feeling a bit vulnerable as he continued to talk.
"You lost me, pal." Howard admitted.
"Everyone thought they knew who or what Harry Potter was or stood for. Some saw me as a savior, others a pawn, or hero, or a villain, or a pariah...as much as I wanted to be just plain ole Harry...he never existed."
"After the war people expected me to be...to be this great...something!" Harry fought to find the words. This was something he barely talked about with Hermione, Ron, or even Ginny. "But I didn't want to be a beacon of hope for the masses or some political figure who ran the shots. I was just the weapon not the one who aimed it."
"Harry..." Howard said in a tone that said it was enough and he didn't need to continue.
Harry shook his head and went on anyway, "I want to help people Howard. I don't want to have to make decisions about who to save and who can be left behind and hope they survive. I want to help but I get restless and I need to do things to feel like I'm actually helping. Fighting side by side with other soldiers, helping them carry the wounded or even the dead, helping the wounded get home in one piece and able to recover a hundred percent..."
Howard sighed and ran a hand through his hair, "Okay pal...I get it. I do and I'm sorry. But tone it down okay? Just a bit...for me. You're pushing it."
"You aren't going to hold me back or tie me down?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I don't think all of my money would be able to deal with the nosy morons of this place if I did that," he deadpanned. When he saw the look of confusion on Harry's face he shook his head and waved a dismissive hand, "Look...we're almost heading home okay? With the way Steve and his crew and you have been doing, we're zoning in fast on Schmidt. I hear they're gearing up Steve for that raid."
"I want to be there," Harry said with conviction. Bucky nearly fell to his death on trying to get their prisoner. Gods know what might happen on the mission for the actual guy?
"Gee, that's surprising," Howard deadpanned.
Harry made a face at the genius, "I'm serious."
"I know..." Howard replied with a sigh, "Fine...but properly geared, you're not going to split up, or do anything stupid. Understand?"
"Perfectly." Harry nodded.
"You are unintentionally lying to me, aren't you?" Howard stated more than asked as he began to get ready for sleep as well.
"Seems to be a plausible outcome with me," Harry agreed.
The raid happened after careful planning and in theory, everything was supposed to turn out fine. Go in, stop Schmidt and his war machines, Nazi's have one less weapon in their arsenal, soon stop Hitler, everyone goes home to celebrate.
When does anything ever really go to plan? Especially when Harry Potter is around? Not that it was Harry's fault, but he always seems to get into trouble. He jumped in with Steve as the aircraft took off.
Together Harry and Steve tried to fight of Schmidt and his goons and recover the cube which seemed to be a huge source of energy the Ally's would rather have not fall into enemy hands.
When Steve tried to grab the cube it burned him and he only held on to it as much as he needed to before setting it down.
They were getting farther and father away from land and Steve realized with a heavy heart what he'd have to do. He looked over to Harry and with imploring eyes he said, "I'm so sorry..."
Harry had been tossed around as he tried to help by fighting off some of the soldiers too and making sure the blue cube was secure and away from Schmidt who had been trying to get to it once Steve and Harry made it all the way to the flight deck. So he was a bit out of it. Even as Steve talked to Peggy, Harry hearing something along the lines of dances and dates before he felt a rush in his stomach that was very familiar to him. He was descending and fast.
He had enough time to realize he was going to hit the water to do a bubble head charm as he grabbed on to something...anything, really and for a moment everything was loud before the cold hit him and the underwater silence overwhelmed him.
He saw a light and held it to him to help him see. It did little to keep the darkness away. It began at the corner of his eyes and then soon he lost full consciousness.
"Sir! We've found something!"
"What!?" Howard bark, his breath visible in the cold climate.
"It's the cube sir!" someone yelled back.
"Anything else!?" Howard demanded.
"Not yet, sir!"
"Then keep looking!" Howard ordered.
"Sir...we've got the cube. Should we report back to base?" someone behind him asked.
"We'll get back when we get back. Until we're low on supplies...we keep looking," Howard replies, his eyes set and his voice clear that there was no arguing with him.
The other nodded and went off to radio their location and find. Howard watched at their claw pulled the cube from the water and onto the ship where it would be stowed in a special container.
"Sir! We've found a body!" someone yelled from the lower deck.
Howard's blood ran cold and it had nothing to do with the temperature, "W-who...?" he asked in a barely audible voice before he cleared it and asked louder, "Who?!"
"Looks...looks like it might be a dark haired man!"
"BRING HIM UP!" Howard yelled as he nearly threw himself over the railing to watched the the crew worked with the claw to bring up the body. When they did, Howard all but ran toward it and sure enough, it was Harry.
"Harry!" Howard yelled and pushed his way to the wizard and checked his vitals.
"Sir...he's been in the Atlantic water for far longer than humanly possible to survive..." someone next to him said in a gentle, reasonable voice which Howard ignored.
Howard's mind race a million miles per minute and didn't snap out of it until someone said, "There's a pulse!"
"There's a pulse! Get the medic and notify land!" the man who spoke turned to Howard, "Sir, if you wish to save your friend, we need to act and fast."
Howard looked out towards the ocean, knowing Steve was still out there, but then looked down at Harry...cold and pale, seemingly dead and sighed. Nodding he said, "Help me move him. We'll try to help him as much here until we reach land."
The moment they reached land, Peggy was waiting for them with an ambulance and a few soldiers who took the cube to a secure facility while Howard and Peggy rushed Harry to a hospital. The hours were long before Harry's vitals stopped being alarming and he was labeled 'stable.' But Howard hadn't been there when he was switched rooms. As soon as the doctors took Harry behind the doors he couldn't follow and told him to wait, Howard headed back out on his boat to search for his other friend.
It's been a while since I've seen the movie so I was just drawing things from memory. This is fanfiction and the plot is going to be different than cannon and since I'm writing/updating this before I've seen Winter Solder, it's going to be different. I'm a movie fan, not comic. But I've got ideas for Bucky so hang tight.
We're done with the Captain America arc, next we'll be seeing Tony, I promise not to take as long with that arc to get to the point since it might be a fifty/fifty on people liking what I'm going to put next that'll allow Tony to know Harry while letting the Iron Man arc happen without Harry's interfering since I need Iron Man to be in the Avengers' arc.
This one will remain non-pairing or general. For you slash fans I do have a slash version on A03. You can find a link on my profile.
This is unbeta'd so excuse any mistakes you may find but after so long of not updating I wanted to get this out to you guys.