(A/N) This story is a bit of a companion piece to my two stories over in the Avengers section, The Winter Soldier and To Have and To Hold, though you certainly don't need to have read those to get this. This was just a little idea that blossomed out of several things that were said to have happened in the past in those stories

Warnings: This ficlet is unashamedly, unabashedly Bucky/Steve in its leanings. It starts off being one-sided, but ends up being more pre-slash. If that sort of thing bothers you, I advise you turn tail now. Other warnings would be some sexual content, struggling with sexual identity, homophobia, and thoughts of suicide. And for those of you still present, enjoy.

Lay Me to Sleep

As far as Bucky knew, he had been born on the streets. The sisters who ran the orphanage on Eight Street had told him he couldn't have been more than an hour old when he turned up on their doorstep: a tiny baby, still covered in blood and wrapped in a filthy rag. As he'd gotten older, and better able to handle himself, he sometimes wouldn't go back to the orphanage at night, somehow preferring the solitude of finding a place to curl up in an alley. On the streets, he belonged only to himself…but the orphanage was a reminder that he'd been abandoned…that no one wanted him…would ever want him.

That had changed when he'd met Steve Rodgers.

He'd met the kid after helping him out of a scrape in an alley, and though Steve was also ten, the same age as him, he looked more like he could have been only six with how scrawny he was. Apparently, he'd also been living in the orphanage on Eight for about a year now, so it wasn't that much of a surprise that Bucky hadn't met him before then, but after Steve came into his life, he started going back to the orphanage more often.

They were friends immediately, playing together, running the streets, playing tricks on the bullies. Bucky didn't range as far as he once did, having to slow down so that Steve could keep up with him, but he honestly didn't notice the difference. For once in his life, he was happy…happy to have a friend like Steve.

The only thing was that Steve still cried at night…cried for his mother, and Bucky couldn't bear to see him so unhappy, especially because the little runt made him so happy. So Bucky began to crawl into Steve's cot with him at night, just holding him close until he finally fell asleep. Steve always tried to act tough in front of others, but when night came, and the sharp, stinging ache of missing his mother claimed him, he would welcome Bucky under his ratty blanket, all barriers between them forgotten as his friend held him. Then, when Steve had once admitted to him that his mother used to sing him to sleep, Bucky had gone to one of the sisters and asked her to teach him a few lullabies. From then on, whenever they curled up together at night, Bucky would hold him close and sing softly to him.

Sleep my baby, at my breast,

'Tis a mother's arms round you.

Make yourself a snug, warm nest.

Feel my love forever new.

Harm will not meet you in sleep,

Hurt will always pass you by.

Child beloved, always you'll keep,

In sleep gentle, mother's breast nigh.

It was strange to anyone who witnessed it. Bucky had never considered himself a nice person and had never projected anything but a tough guy aura. He didn't know anything about family or love or kindness, but with Steve, that tenderness just came naturally. It came from a place so deep inside him, even he could barely understand it.

At sixteen, the boys were out on their own. The depression had hit the nation hard and work was tough to find. When it couldn't be found, they were living on the streets, which Bucky knew well how to do, insisting that Steve stay in school throughout it all. He was the one with the future ahead of him, after all. Bucky was just someone for him to come home to, whether home was a shack or under a bridge. Whatever came their way, they got through it together, and every night they curled up together for warmth, and though they were hardly little boys anymore, Bucky still sang Steve to sleep. Nothing about this seemed strange to either of them…until the first time Bucky got a date.

Stella was beautiful, a girl straight out of a magazine with blonde curls and sultry blue eyes. They went out on a few dates before she invited Bucky back to her place…and it wasn't until she had his shirt off that things began to get surreal for him.

No matter what this gorgeous girl tried, he just couldn't get up. He hadn't realized it until then, but somehow, holding anyone but Steve felt…wrong.

"Don'tcha like me?" Stella asked, her eyes bright with hurt and confusion.

"Course I do. I've just…never done this before," he mumbled, utterly incapable of explaining what was wrong. He thought he might know how to remedy the problem, but the idea both terrified and excited him at the same time. "Give…give it one more try," he said, kissing her before leaning back on her bed again.

This time, when she put her lips on him he closed his eyes, imagination casting out for the person he was usually curled up with at this time of night. With both lust and fear clenched tightly together in his stomach, he began to fantasize…imagined it was Steve's lips on him…imagined the body between his legs was the familiar, scrawny form of his friend and not Stella's curvy figure. When she climbed on top of him, he pictured a completely different body riding him. He imagined the soft, blonde hair he ran his fingers through was shorter…that the full lips he kissed were a bit thinner and the fingers that dug into his arms were a little bit weaker.

"Bucky…Bucky…"

God, he could hear Steve's voice so clearly, it was frightening.

"Ste…Ste…ve…" he moaned, barely able to mask the name he was really calling.

He managed to finish that night, but he left Stella's feeling disgusted and horrified, and he and Stella never did see each other again.

XxX

"So how'd it go?"

Bucky stared at Steve for several minutes after entering their apartment. His salary was finally steady enough that they could afford this little place. He'd honestly been hoping Steve would be asleep already, but who was he kidding? Steve couldn't sleep without him…not really.

"It went fine," he said, throwing Steve one of his usual smirks, praying he wouldn't notice what was really on his mind. After what he'd just done, he felt like everyone could somehow see it on him…like he was…tainted.

"And…what happened?" Steve asked, knowing exactly what he'd been planning for.

"What do you think?" he replied, raising an eyebrow. "Bucky Barnes always gets what he wants."

"So…are you gonna see her again?" Steve continued to press, his eyes wide.

Bucky shrugged. "Maybe. She's a looker and all, but there're plenty of other fish in the sea. Don't wanna settle too quick, y'know. Were you waitin' up just to see how it went?"

Steve nodded, looking a bit sheepish before he began to sport a smirk of his own. "It's exciting, isn't it? You finally makin' good on all your talk about the dames bein' all over you."

"Yeah, well, I'm gettin' kinda tired, so the dames can take a hike right now. Ready to catch some shuteye?" he asked, slinging an arm around Steve's shoulders and leading the way from the small main area into the even smaller bedroom.

Tonight was different from all the nights that had come before it. As Steve curled up beside him, all Bucky could think about was the way he'd imagined his friend's body not an hour ago. Would he ever be able to look at him again…without that heady feeling of longing sweeping through his body…just like it was right now? Would he always be left wondering what it would be like to…to kiss him…to touch him the way he'd touched Stella? But…this was wrong…wasn't it? Steve was his best friend, his brother, and on top of that, they were both men. Wasn't it wrong to feel this way about him?

Fearing his own body's reactions to his very visceral thoughts, he didn't immediately lay down beside Steve. Instead, he sat beside him, settling for stroking his hair instead of holding him as he sang.

Oh Shenandoah,

I long to hear you,

Away you rolling river,

Oh Shenandoah,

I long to see you,

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh Shenandoah,

I love your daughter,

Away you rolling river,

For her I'd cross

Your rollin' water,

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

'Tis seven years,

I've been a rover,

Away you rolling river,

When I return,

I'll be your lover,

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

Bucky knew it the moment Steve was asleep, but he continued to sit where he was, afraid to get any closer. What had happened to them? All in one night, their completely innocent friendship had been defiled; he had defiled it…with his disgusting…perverted…

How can I go back…to the way things were just a few hours ago? How can I…?

He couldn't. He could never go back to a time when he didn't realize it. He could never unfeel the things he'd felt in Stella's bed nor unthink the things he'd thought. What he'd done tonight could never be undone.

"I'm sorry," he whispered as several tears dripped down his face. "I didn't mean to."

There was nothing he could do…nothing but protect his best friend from these feelings. Steve could never know how he'd so casually thrown away their friendship, their family…for this. No…he couldn't do that to him.

I'll protect you. I will always protect you…even if it's from me.

XxX

Normally, it was the sound of singing that put Steve to sleep, so he found it a little strange to be woken by the sound of Bucky's far-off voice.

Bucky wasn't in their bed, so Steve gathered a blanket around his shivering shoulders and went in search of him. Bucky had already been awake several hours longer than he should have been taking care of him, as he'd caught another damn cold. What was he doing up now? If he didn't get some sleep, he'd get sick himself, and that would be bad news…as he was due to head off to basic training in a few days. It was true. James Buchanan Barnes was in the army now.

Bucky wasn't all that hard to find. He was sitting out on the fire escape singing to himself, a bottle in his hand. Steve was about to tell him to come in out of the cold, but then he really started to hear the words his friend was singing.

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling
It's you, it's you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
And I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.

Steve wasn't really sure what compelled him, but he silently went to retrieve his sketchbook and settled himself on their crappy little couch, using the light from the streets below to sketch the now-strange figure of his best friend.

Bucky was hunched over the railing, occasionally bringing the bottle to his lips in between lines of his song. As the artist continued to work, though, he began to see what he hadn't at first: Bucky's face was wet with tears. He would have gone out to him…to see what was wrong…but he somehow felt this was a moment he wasn't meant to witness, so he simply watched over him in silence, struggling not to cough.

And if you come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For you will kneel and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

As Steve watched, he found his throat tightening and his chest aching terribly, not with sickness, but with pain…pain for his friend. It wasn't long before tears were dripping down his own face. This wasn't just a man singing a sad, drunk song. He was singing from an ache he was horribly familiar with…and he cried as if his heart were breaking. Why was Bucky crying? Did he have some girl he was leaving behind he hadn't told him about? Puzzling endlessly over the question, Steve cried himself to sleep, still listening to the sound of Bucky's heartbroken song.

When the newly-minted soldier reentered the apartment very early in the morning, he found Steve asleep on the couch, crouched rather protectively over his sketchpad. When he saw a picture of himself standing out on the fire escape, the paper slightly wrinkled with a trail of teardrops, Bucky nearly began to cry again, but he managed to shake it off. He disposed of his empty bottle and gently gathered Steve's scrawny figure in his arms, carrying him back to the bedroom with the sketchpad still cradled against his stomach.

XxX

When Bucky had decided to go off and die heroically in battle, he had to say being strapped to a table and experimented on was not what he'd had in mind. Death in the field would have been mostly quick, but this…this was lingering…humiliating…painful. In fact, it was exactly what he deserved. If he was going to use this war as an alternate means of suicide…just because he couldn't deal with his feelings for Steve anymore…then he certainly deserved to be killed on a lab table like a wretched little rat.

"You are different," a voice with a thick German accent drifted through his head, his mind dazed and unfocused under the influence of whatever drug the doctor was testing out today. "You have lasted longer than any of the other subjects. What makes you so special?"

Him? Nothing…nothing at all. In fact, he'd been wishing he was dead a long time before Dr. Arnim Zola had sunk his fangs into him. Why his body stubbornly continued living was beyond him.

Sometimes he was in the Nazi lab, other times the drugs and the torture sent him back to fever dreams of the past…back to his guilt over leaving Steve. How could he do something so selfish?

Selfish? Hah! And just what made him think he was so vital to Steve that it even was selfish to live him? Steve could handle himself…even if he might have trouble sleeping at first. If anything he'd done was selfish, it was staying with Steve as long as he had…risking him finding out what he was…and how he felt about him. Well…now he never would find out. Steve was finally safe from him. All he had to do now was die…and yet…

"Dr. Zola tells me you are different," a new voice muttered in his ear, cold as the lonely death awaiting him…but also burning with Hellfire. "Nearly two weeks of this, Amerikaner. How is it you still live? Who are you?"

"James Buchanan Barnes, Sergeant, three-two-five-five-seven, James Buchanan Barnes, Sergeant, three-two-five-five-seven," he repeated the phrase over and over again. It was the only thing he ever gave them.

"Of course, of course," the new voice chided. "This we know, James, but who are you? What is it that keeps you fighting long after you should have died? Is it this?"

Slowly, Bucky opened his eyes, looking up to see the voice's owner holding up his pocket watch. The only thing they hadn't taken from him. The place where he kept-

Letting out a scream of rage, Bucky struggled against his restraints, fighting tooth and nail to get the watch back.

"Ah, we have a winner," the man taunted, dangling the watch a little further away and inciting the sergeant's struggle to even more vicious heights. "What could be inside, I wonder? A sweetheart? Lover, perhaps?"

Then he actually opened it.

"My, my, my…but this is a man, Sergeant Barnes. Your brother? Or perhaps…he is your lover? Disgusting, Sergeant. How is it that filth like you should survive so long? You ought to be burning in a concentration camp somewhere…along with your pathetic little boyfriend."

That did it. Even the insinuation that this creature might harm Steve gave Bucky the strength he needed. The straps restraining his left arm snapped and his arm sprang out, reaching for the watch. The Nazi officer was faster than him, though, whipping out a knife and plunging it into his arm. With a cry, Bucky slumped back once again. He vaguely heard the officer snapping commands in German before several needles were plunged into his body. The last thing he was aware of before incoherency claimed him was the officer tossing his watch to Zola before turning to look at him with a horrifying kind of interest in his eyes.

The torture and experimentation only increased after that incident. He was incoherent most of the time, trapped somewhere between screaming agony and Steve's smile. At night, the time when the pain stopped for a measurable amount of time, Bucky caught himself singing to Steve…as if he were still with him…only the words started to get tangled up, mixing between hymns, love songs, and lullabies until he no longer knew what he was singing.

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,

Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;

Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my love, to thee,

Nearer, my love, to thee, nearer to thee.

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,

Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,

Still all my song shall be, nearer, my love, to thee,

Nearer, my love, to thee, nearer to thee.

Through all of this…through the pain and delusion…when Steve's face suddenly appeared to him through all of it…he thought, perhaps, he was finally being allowed to die. He had no idea how much worse it was about to get.

XxX

After Steve rescued them all from HYDRA's base, the ragtag band had camped only a few miles from the burnt out factory, needing to be certain that everyone was taken care of before heading out in the morning. Once a watch had been set up and any critically injured had been seen to, Steve rejoined Bucky, whom he hadn't had trouble getting to lie down after their insane escape from Schmidt. The two of them were lying off on their own, a little away from the others, curled up together as they'd done in the old days…despite what Bucky had been through and despite the fact that Steve was currently sporting his Captain America getup. Even though they fit together differently than they once had, even though Steve was now cradling him instead of the other way around, they were still the same two boys who had huddled together on a cot in an orphanage thirteen years ago.

"You sure you're all right?" Steve asked for what must have been the thousandth time. "Jones said you had some broken ribs before they took you into isolation, but…the medic just now said they're just fine."

"Were they broken? I can't remember too well," Bucky said softly. "Everything before Zola's kinda hazy. I remember the guys I was in a cell with…and I remember being sick, but…not much else. They…did things to me…in isolation…" he said, trailing off as he snuggled a little closer to Steve.

Steve knew better than to ask what kind of things. Bucky would talk about his experiences when he was ready. For now, he was just relieved his best friend was alive.

Bucky was happy to see Steve, too…for his part. Even though he'd gone off to war looking to die, he couldn't deny he was glad to be with Steve again. The war wasn't done yet; there would be other chances for him to give his life, and…was it really so wrong to want even one more day with Steve?

Yes, a voice in the back of his head persisted, nagging that he shouldn't be touching Steve this way, shouldn't dare to hold him…but he just couldn't help himself. After what he'd been through, he was weak…so weak. All he wanted was to hold his friend and pretend he wasn't carrying this horrible weight in his chest. Without Steve even having to say anything, Bucky began to sing to him…just like he used to. He couldn't help it; he needed the comfort of the familiar just as much as Steve did. It wasn't a song he'd ever sung to him before and he knew he'd hate himself for it in the morning, but for now…just this one night…he would allow himself this moment of comfort.

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all pass'd away.
Beautiful dreamer, king of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life's busy throng,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me.
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me.

That night, sleeping on the cold, hard ground, the two friends experienced the most peaceful sleep either of them had known in months.

XxX

The following months weren't any kind of easy, but not for the reasons a sane person might think. Bucky did his duty as a soldier, went on missions, always watched Steve's back, went through whatever Hell was asked of him…and actually found it easy. At first, he hardly noticed it, but as time went by, he realized that he healed faster than he once had, that he felt the need for sleep and food much less often than he used to; his aim was sharper. It was a strange combination of little things that were just somehow more than they had been. Could it be these things were a result of whatever Zola and Schmidt had done to him? He had no answer for that and he didn't care to tell anyone about it. If anything, these slight improvements just made it easier for him to watch Steve's back. No, it wasn't any of this that made his life nearly unbearable.

It was Agent Peggy Carter.

There was no one who deserved to fall in love more than Steve Rodgers. He was the gem the world hardly knew it had and any dame on the planet would be damn lucky to have him. This had been true even before the war, but no one except Bucky had seen that. Now everyone could see Steve for what he really was and their awe shone in their eyes…just as it always should have. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, Peggy was falling just as hard as everyone else, and Steve was falling for her, too.

Bucky was happy to see Steve falling for someone; of course he was…but that didn't make it hurt any less. He was just as human as the next Joe and to watch Steve fall in love without him hurt; it hurt worse than anything he'd ever experienced in his twenty-five years. It was like walking around with a gaping wound in his chest…constantly bleeding…but he still didn't die. He just kept on living, bleeding out a little more each day.

As far as everyone else went, either he had become very adept at hiding his feelings or they were just too polite to say anything. He knew Steve didn't know; he was completely oblivious, but not everyone was as socially inept as his captain was. At some times, he felt almost certain that Peggy knew, but he never called her on it. After all, why did it matter? She had nothing to worry about. He was never going to get between them. No…he would never do that to Steve.

At this point, his only real worry was that he might go and off himself before the war could do it naturally. It would be so easy…to just stroll off into the forest some night and put a bullet in his mouth…but then, inevitably, he would see the look on Steve's face when he never returned from patrol…or when he found him lying in the dirt, clearly a victim of his own gun. A sight like that would eat away at him for the rest of his life. He couldn't do that to him, either. So he would just have to bear it…for as long as was necessary.

Then came the day the Howling Commandos were ordered to capture Arnim Zola, a mission Bucky looked forward to with no small amount of anticipation. The team reached the extraction point the night before and had to set up camp. Once that was done, though, Bucky wandered off on his own. He'd already scouted the area pretty thoroughly and hadn't found any danger, but he had found a nice clearing off and away from the commandos' campsite. As he settled himself on a nice fallen log, he noticed it was beginning to snow, and just then, his newly sharp hearing picked up the sound of soft footfalls in the snow. Looking up, he saw Steve heading toward him.

"What are you doin' out here?" his friend asked. "It's gonna get even colder with the snow. Morita's on watch. We should get some sleep."

"Yeah…can't say as I'd noticed the cold," he said, probably one of the only honest things he would say tonight. "Guess I just wanted some breathin' room."

"'Cuz you don't come by enough of that in the mountains," Steve teased, cracking a smile. Bucky returned the grin, but even he could feel how forced it was this time, and Steve didn't fail to notice. "Something wrong, Buck?"

"Nothin'…jut feeling a little nostalgic, I guess…remembering the old days. Remember that crappy little apartment we used to live in? And how we both barely fit on that bed?"

"Yeah," Steve said, smiling as he came to sit beside him. "Back when we barely had two quarters to rub together."

"We probably wouldn't both fit that bed anymore," Bucky said, feeling his throat tighten horribly as he spoke. "But I don't suppose it matters all that much now."

"What do you mean?"

"Well…you're probably gonna want to pick up with Agent Carter once all the fighting's done…and you'll want a place of your own…" God, he hadn't realized how much the thought stung until he'd said it out loud. Now he was really fighting the hitch in his throat.

"There…there's no guarantee of anything like that happening," Steve said, his face going slightly red as he looked away.

"Who're you kiddin', Rodgers? You're over the moon for that dame," he said, lightly punching his shoulder.

"Maybe…doesn't mean she feels the same, though."

"I'm gonna pretend that was a joke, 'cuz that's a load of bullshit."

"Y'know…she reminded me a lot of you when we first met…gutsy, didn't take crap from anyone."

Bucky wasn't quite sure if this should make him feel better or worse. He disguised the sob that escaped as a bark of laughter. "So what? You're gonna date your best friend minus the cock?"

"Bucky!" Steve protested, going an even more violent shade of red.

"Kidding, kidding," he placated, taking back the dangerous words before they could escalate any further. For several minutes after that, they were silent, just sitting together and watching the snow fall.

"Buck?" Steve started after a while. "Could…could you sing?"

Briefly, Bucky glanced at him. He hadn't asked him to do that in months.

"Why?"

"It's all right if you don't want to. I know it's childish, but…I guess I'm just feelin' a little nostalgic, too."

"It's fine," Bucky said, draping an arm around his childhood friend's shoulders and allowing the super soldier to rest his head against his shoulder. "What do you wanna hear?"

"Shenandoah," he answered, his voice soft as the snow neither of them could really feel.

Steve asked, so Bucky sang for him…sang even though his heart was breaking…sang with all the love and the sadness that was in him…both of which were needed for this song. Unlike all the times before, though, he sang the final verse of the song, resting his own head against Steve's as he finished.

Oh Shenandoah,

I'm bound to leave you.

Away you rolling river,

Oh Shenandoah,

I'll not deceive you.

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

For a while after the song had ended, the two of them just sat, leaning against each other, soaking in the last echoes of the notes from the curtain of snow falling around them. Steve was the first to stand.

"Thanks, Bucky. That was nice."

Suddenly, not even thinking about his actions, Bucky grabbed Steve's hand, stopping him from leaving. Somehow…after all these years…he suddenly didn't think he could live another minute without telling him how he felt.

"Steve, wait…I…"

"Yeah?"

"I…"

And as Steve looked down at him, he remembered all the reasons why he couldn't do this…why he couldn't force his own selfish desire on his friend…and why he had to let him go.

"Bucky?"

I'll protect you. I will always protect you.

"Can…can I sleep with you tonight?" he made himself ask instead…as if they were still orphans sharing a cot and not grown soldiers about to embark on a dangerous mission.

"Sure," he said, holding out his hand to him, as Bucky had done when they were kids. "Come on."

XxX

"Are you sure you wanna do this?" Jones asked Steve as the two of them stared into the narrow canyon between the mountain peaks. The rest of the commandos had headed back to London with their prisoner, but the two of them had an even more important mission.

"One hundred percent," Steve said, his face a mask of stone.

"Even if we do find the body…you might not like what you find," he warned his captain.

"I don't care," Steve said quietly. "I have to find him. I have to bring him home. I can't just leave him out here all alone. He's my family."

Wasting no more words, Gabe followed his captain out onto the search grid. Over the course of the day, the two soldiers traced every inch of ground that lay beneath where the HYDRA train had sped overhead the day before…the train Sergeant James Barnes had fallen from.

They searched…and they searched and searched, but they could find no trace of Bucky's body…no trace of any body…not even a sign that animals had got it. It was as if Bucky had simply vanished into thin air. Even so, Steve continued the search, pressing past where the train was known to have been back as far as where they'd camped the night before the extraction. When Steve moved on even past that, Gabe just stopped, knowing that Steve wasn't really searching anymore, but that he did still need to go on. He would come back when he was ready.

Steve went back to the clearing he and Bucky had sat in that last night. The fallen snow concealed the spot where they'd sat, but Steve found that log just the same. Collapsing to his knees in the snow as he pulled his helmet off, Steve rested his head against the snow-covered log and sobbed…sobbed for all the minutes he had dared not ever since Bucky had slipped through his fingers…cried as he had not since losing his mother…since the days Bucky had first sung to him to calm his sorrow and fear. Only Bucky wasn't here anymore. There was no one to calm the horrible, aching sadness that clawed at his heart.

No one would ever sing to him again.

How could you leave me? How could I just let you go like that?!

Steve Rodgers…Captain America…cried until he had no more tears left. Then, with his voice still shaking and the tears half-frozen on his face, he began to sing. He had never been a very good singer, usually preferring to leave it to Bucky…but he sang now…the last song Bucky had ever sung to him…and the last one he knew he would ever be able to hear…because he would never hear music after this moment.

Oh Shenandoah,

I long to hear you,

Away you rolling river,

Oh Shenandoah,

I long to see you,

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh Shenandoah,

I love your daughter,

Away you rolling river,

For her I'd cross

Your rollin' water,

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

'Tis seven years,

I've been a rover,

Away you rolling river,

When I return,

I'll be your lover,

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh Shenandoah,

I'm bound to leave you.

Away you rolling river,

Oh Shenandoah,

I'll not deceive you.

Away, I'm bound away

'Cross the wide Missouri.

"Goodbye…Bucky," he whispered, his still-tight throat barely allowing the farewell to escape. For several hours after that, he knelt, leaning against the log, and he didn't stir from the little chapel until he'd made a vow to see HYDRA burn, to see Schmidt fall…as Bucky had fallen.

So swearing, Steve used a handful of snow to clean the tears from his face. Then, leaving his helmet resting on the log, he made his way back to Gabe.

XxX

(A/N) Continued in The Winter Soldier. (Wow, sometimes the creativeness of my titles amaze even me. –shot-) I know the Forties were more of a jazz/swing era, but this was a lullaby story, so yeah. Songs used were Suo Gan, Shenandoah, Danny Boy, Nearer, my God, to Thee (sort of a mishmashed version of it anyway), and Beautiful Dreamer. Hope our boys weren't too OOC.