Hello my lovely darlings! This is the first in a new series I'll be working on =) I got so many great reviews for Age Play and people requesting a sequel and honestly, I loved the concept so much from the first story that I started playing around with these one-shots almost instantly ^.- I plan on tackling literally every character I can think of before its all said and done lol!
Okay, so this first one is pre-Avengers, set right in the middle of Captain America. I actually struggled a lot with this chapter because I was trying to get the dynamic between Steve and Bucky right. I loved their relationship in the movie and this is just a bit of a missing scene added in after the Hydra rescue mission. I hope everyone enjoys it!
Disclaimer: I own nothing =/
It takes just over four hours for the mob of army doctors to finish poking and prodding him long enough to declare him healthy and fit for active duty. They stamp his medical records, write a quick signature on the bottom of a few forms and release him into the camp to make way for a new round of sick, injured, or otherwise distressed soldiers. Bucky doesn't mind; he's never been the biggest fan of doctors or needles to begin with and after being strapped to a table in Hydra's base for the past he doesn't remember how long, he's had just about enough of physicians and experiments and everything medical, thank you very much. When he's finally given a clean bill of health, it's all he can do not to skip out of the tent.
The camp is busy and bustling trying to set up tents and shelters for the influx of displaced soldiers. The men who are not in the midst of constructing tents are trying to organize the new soldiers into said tents and it's all so frenzied and confusing it nearly makes his head spin. He glances down at the paper in his hand, just below the advisory paragraph telling him report back to medical immediately if he begins to feel any dizziness, headaches, nausea, etc, and finds his tent assignment. It's toward the back of the camp, tucked away in between two others and furnished with cots for immediate occupation.
Bucky's not too concerned about the cots; another pseudo side effect of being strapped to a table for so long means he's not too eager to lay down and be still for any length of time at the moment. But the tent is far enough away from the center of camp that, with any luck, will make it a bit quieter than some of the others nearby. And quiet is good, he could use a bit of quiet right now.
The sidings of the tent are still pulled back from when the cots had been brought in and even from a distance, Bucky can see that the tent is empty. Either his new bunkmates hadn't made it over there yet or they've been there and left to find something else to do. The combination of men that had been liberated from the Hydra base were a volatile mix and being in close quarters with one another probably wasn't such a great idea at the moment. Best to give everyone space and time to adjust.
Bucky rounds the entrance of the tent and comes to a stop when he notices a figure standing toward the back. Okay, apparently the tent wasn't nearly as empty as he originally thought. The man has his back to him, hands dug deep into his mud and ash smeared uniform. His shoulders are stiff and rigid like a spring waiting to snap and he's looking out into the camp carefully like he's waiting for something. Or someone. Bucky breaks into a smile.
"Should've known I'd run into you somewhere around here," he says as he takes another step into the tent, causing the other man to jump at his sudden presence.
Steve wheels around to face him, wide-eyed and a little startled. "Hey, you're back! I was waiting for you…uh, I mean, like, not in a weird way or anything but…you know, I wanted to make sure you were okay."
Bucky smiles and shakes his head a bit, which hurts but he ignores it. "'Fit as a fiddle', or whatever other kind of medical jargon you feel like using. See, even got a fancy stamp for a clean bill of health and everything." He holds up the paper in his hand as proof and flashes his friend an easy grin.
Steve nods like its confirmation of something but neither of them really seems to be sure of what. A brief silence falls, heavy and punctuated, and Steve shifts awkwardly for a second. He opens his mouth to say something, stops, closes it, opens it again, and finally gives up. Instead of words, he crosses the tent in three long strides and captures his best friend in a strong, desperate embrace. Bucky responds in kind and wraps his arms around Steve's back, squeezing back tightly.
"God…I thought you were dead," Steve breathes beside his ear, voice wavering just slightly from the waves of anxiety he's barely been keeping in check.
The change in height is a bit startling; Bucky is used to Steve's head barely clearing his shoulder, not being eye level with him. But he's standing in front of him now, all six feet plus, and it's a little hard to get used to the sudden growth spurt Steve has been subjected to in his absence. He just laughs softly and shakes his head. "And I thought you were still in Brooklyn. Guess we're both good at surprises."
The hug lasts for a few seconds longer before Bucky finally pulls away, keeping both hands on Steve's shoulders and taking a chance to really look at him for the first time since the Hydra base.
The man standing in front of him is completely different from the kid he left behind in Brooklyn. The man in front of him is tall and solid, built of layers upon layers of muscle like on of those old Greek statues they used to learn about back at the orphanage. The man in front of him is covered in soot and dirt and looks every bit like the soldier he always dreamed of being. The man in front of him is not Steve but at the same time completely Steve and the juxtaposition is enough to make his head spin all over again.
Bucky doesn't realize he's been staring for so long until Steve fidgets uncomfortably in front of him, shifting from one foot to the other and rocking back on his heels in a gesture that's so reminiscent of his old self that Bucky has to laugh. He's been given the body of a god and Steve still shifts around like an awkward teenager. Bucky finally lets out a low, appreciative whistle and shakes his head. "Jeez kid, what did they do to you?"
Steve shifts again but it's not as pronounced. "They uh…they made me Captain America," he says sheepishly with a small shrug.
"Yeah, you sort of filled me in on that earlier but we didn't really have the luxury of conversation while running for our lives," Bucky responds, walking around Steve in a slow circle and looking him up and down. "The last time I saw you, you were about 5'4 and 130 pounds soaking wet; now you look like you could bench press me and not even break a sweat."
Steve laughs and shakes his head. "I don't know about that. The serum just sort of…enhanced everything. Muscle mass, endurance, things like that."
Bucky raises an eyebrow in confusion at Steve's explanation. "Serum? What serum?
"The Super Soldier Serum," Steve says simply like it explains everything all in the title. It doesn't so he's forced to elaborate. "It's this new compound they're trying to introduce into the army to help the soldiers. It's supposed to make them stronger and faster almost instantly; cut down the time spent in training and get them onto the frontlines more quickly. Dr. Erskine was the one who first told me about it."
Bucky doesn't know who that is but he stays silent while Steve continues to explain.
"He told me they thought they had perfected the serum and that if it worked it would revolutionize the war efforts and-"
"Whoa, wait," Bucky holds a hand up, effectively cutting his friend off mid-sentence. "What do you mean "if it worked"? You mean they didn't know?"
"Well, no," Steve replies with a small shrug. "I mean they'd tested it before but it never worked, there was always some kind of problem. He told me they had worked everything out though and that it should be safe and-"
"'Should be safe'?!" Bucky nearly shouts in disbelief. "You mean they tested this stuff on you without knowing if it was safe or not?!"
"Bucky, it's not that bad. Listen-"
"Did someone put you up to it?" Bucky asks and Steve blinks in surprise.
"What? No, they-"
"Steve, seriously, if someone forced you to do that-"
"No one forced me to do anything-"
"Did they find out you were underage? Is that how they talked you into it? " Bucky asks suddenly, his voice dropping an octave to keep from shouting that kind of information to everyone in camp. It hadn't surprised him to see his underage friend eventually end up in the throes of the war; Steve was a tenacious sort, he wasn't about to let something like age keep him away from joining the army, but Bucky had a real problem with anyone who gave him shit for it. He'd protected Steve from time they were kids and he wasn't about to stop now, whether his friend was Captain America or not. "Did they threaten to discharge you if you didn't go through with it? Your ultimatum was either get dishonorably discharged or be a human guinea pig for the army?"
"No, Bucky, that's not it-"
"Steve, just tell me!"
"I volunteered!" Steve interjects sharply, looking angry, flustered, and defensive all that the same time. "I volunteered, okay?" He says again and Bucky feels a bit of his own anger abate slightly. Not completely but fractionally.
"Why?" He asks finally, his eyes locked with Steve's. "Why would you volunteer for something like that if it wasn't safe? You said they told you there had been problems with it in the past; what if it failed with you? Steve, what if it killed you?"
"I had to try," Steve responds defiantly, his voice still a bit defensive. "I had to do something. If there was even the slightest chance that it could work, that it could give our soldiers a better chance in this war…" His voice trails off and he shifts awkwardly again. "I wasn't really thinking about myself at the time. I wanted the serum to work but not for myself; I wanted it to work for everyone else who could benefit from it. And it did work, it did this," he gestures down toward himself in a surprised, almost self-conscious motion that makes it clear he's not at all used to the new body yet.
"The serum worked, Bucky," Steve goes on with a small laugh. "I mean, look at me; it did all of this. It fixed me."
Bucky sighs softly and shakes his head. "Kid, you weren't broken to begin with."
"Maybe not broken but defective," Steve counters, continuing on quickly before his friend can interject his own opinions into the matter. "The serum got rid of all my health problems. It got rid of the asthma and the anxiety and everything else that was keeping me out of the army-"
"Aside from you being sixteen, that is."
Steve waves one hand flippantly like the subject of his age is a non-issue. "The point is, if it did all this for me, imagine what it could do for everyone else. It could have helped our soldiers, made them stronger and faster on the battlefield and kept them safe. The casualties would have dropped by over half, we could have brought more soldiers home to their families. That's why I volunteered…it would have changed everything."
"What do you mean 'would have'?" Bucky asks, raising an eyebrow at Steve's sudden use of past tense.
The younger man frowns and shakes his head, looking at the dirt floor of the tent. "A Hydra spy managed to get into the lab and killed Erskine. He was the only one who knew the correct version of the serum and now the other scientists aren't sure if they can replicate it again. They took some samples of my blood but they're not sure if they can extract the code for the serum from it or not. I was the only success they ever had with the serum so there's a lot of unknown territory to deal with now."
Bucky sighs again and reaches out to ruffle Steve's hair away from his face. "Well, if the serum or whatever it is had to work on anyone I'm glad it worked on you," he says, and he means it; he was no stranger to Steve's long list of health problems and it really did make him happy to see the kid healthy and fit and strong like everyone else for once in his life. If anyone deserved a second chance at life, it was definitely Steve. "Though I still think you're a complete moron for volunteering to be a human test subject for something that could have killed you."
Steve laughs softly and shrugs. "Well someone had to do it. Besides, who else would have come to rescue your ass from the Hydra base?"
"Hey, watch it, hot shot," Bucky shoots back teasingly. "I'll have you know I was right in the middle of figuring out a brilliant escape plan before you came bursting in, guns blazing."
"Did that plan involve you being strapped to a table by Hydra minions?"
"Part of it did, yeah."
Steve laughs and Bucky finds himself joining him and then, for just that short moment, it feels like everything is right in the world. They're back together, fighting side by side like they always have, and it feels like nothing in the world could bring them down.
Bucky glances down at Steve's suit and frowns, all laughter disappearing almost instantly. "Is that a bullet hole?"
A finger jabs at a torn, jagged hole near Steve's side and the younger man winces just slightly. Bucky jerks back horrified. "That's a bullet hole! You got shot! Why didn't you say anything?!"
"Because it healed already."
"It healed. Another perk of the serum is that it helps your body to heal much faster than usual," Steve explains casually, poking at the tear in his suit curiously. "It was just a graze," he says after his rudimentary inspection reveals no blood or pierced organs or even broken skin. Nothing but a bruise and some slight tenderness around the area. "It was probably mostly healed by the time we made it back to camp."
Bucky blinks once, twice, three times before be finally regains the ability to speak. "You got shot…while we were in the Hydra base…and it's already healed."
"You didn't even notice it." It's not a question; Bucky doesn't even have it in him to add the upward inflection to the words.
"No, not really. I mean, I'm sure I did when it happened but I was too worried about getting you and the others out to really pay attention to it."
Bucky sighs and closes his eyes, counting to ten slowly while he tries to get a grip on the situation. His stubborn, hard-headed, ridiculously noble best friend has just become the world's first superhero and he doesn't even realize it.
"Bucky?" Steve's voice is hesitant and a bit unsure like he doesn't quite know what to say. "You alright?"
Another deep breath and finally a slight nod. Bucky opens his eyes again and looks at Steve evenly. "Yeah, Steve, I'm alright." He shakes his head again and chuckles softly. "Jeez, kid, what am I going to do with you?" The question is open-ended for a reason because honestly, neither of them knows the answer. "Okay, so you're Captain America, then."
"Yeah, that's what they told me," Steve replies with another small, self-conscious shrug.
"And what does being Captain America entail, exactly?"
"Oh, you know, the usual: symbol for peace and justice, protecting the liberty of the people, upholding the American dream."
"Sounds like a big job."
Steve looks unsure for the briefest of seconds before he lifts his chin a bit defiantly. "It is, but I think I can handle it. Someone has to, right?"
Bucky smirks and claps him on the shoulder. "If anyone can do it, its you kid. But that means I'm not letting you out of my sight ever. I'm already going to get an earful from Sister Constance once she finds out you managed get yourself over here regardless of military restrictions. Seriously, how did you manage to fake a birth certificate well enough to even get over here?"
"I'm good with a pen," Steve says simply.
"Touché," Bucky allows with a slight nod; he'd seen Steve's work enough times to know the younger man was a damn wizard when he got a pen in his hands. "Regardless, I'm keeping an eye on you whether you like it or not. You may have been turned into an American Hero and a symbol for truth and justice but that doesn't mean I'm about to let you go off alone and get yourself into a heap of trouble you can't get out of. I've always had your back, Steve, and that's not about to change now. Where you go, I go, right?"
Steve grins in return and nods. "Wouldn't have it any other way."
"'Atta' boy," Bucky smiles and pulls Steve into a one-armed hug. "Someone's gotta keep an eye on you after all, right?"
The younger man laughs and ducks his head as his friend ruffles his hair. "If that's what you want to call it. I'm still of the firm opinion that I was the one who saved your butt back there."
"Whatever helps you sleep at night, kiddo," Bucky says with a smirk, releasing Steve just enough for him to stand up but keeping a friendly arm around his shoulders. "Now let's go find the mess hall. I don't know about you but I'm starving."
Steve just smiles and nods, leading the way out into camp with his best friend by his side.
So there it is! Hope you guys liked it! The next chapter should be up soon! :D