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Small Gods: Spring Thaw – 10

Spring Thaw:  A Bucky Barnes Fanfic

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Character Pairing:  Bucky Barnes x F!Reader

Rating: E

Word Count:  1777

Warnings: mentions of PTSD

Synopsis: Bucky Barnes hates winter.  He always looks for the first signs of the ice thawing and new life growing.  When that desire for the end of winter brings to him the god of the spring thaw, he discovers a brand new reason to get through winter.


Chapter 10

Over the next year apart, Bucky was busy with a few major changes on top of his already very busy life.  All the things he usually filled his life with – the missions, the friends, the therapy, the volunteer work – all kept him just as busy as it always did, but he started considering what he really wanted for himself.

Bucky had started to realize that four different people had inhabited his body since he’d reached adulthood.  They were all related, but they were all so different that it was hard to think of them as the same person.  His therapist might have told him he was compartmentalizing.  It wasn’t that though.  Sometimes he wished he could compartmentalize like that and say he wasn’t to blame for what the Winter Soldier did.  It was more like there were these stages where his life was a certain way, and he expected certain things and he needed to come to terms both with letting go of who he was then and what he had thought he wanted.

First, there was the Bucky Barnes who went off to war.  Back then he’d thought he’d play the field and when he was ready, he’d find someone to settle down with.  He’d get a little place in Brooklyn that was maybe a little too small for the number of kids he planned to have.

Then there was the winter soldier.  Then what he wanted and what he expected were two different things.  He wanted to die.  He wanted to be put out of his misery and to never have to think about the things they’d forced him to do.  He expected that he’d just keep living the same nightmare of watching on from inside the prison of his body as he was made to murder again and again.

After that, it was the lost Bucky.  The Bucky that was having trouble existing in the world.  Who didn’t know peace, not even when he was asleep.  That Bucky only wanted to be left alone and expected to never know peace.

Yet, here he was.  Not completely free of the sins of his past, but feeling more like he belonged and had a place in the world.  He was in love – with a god no less – and he needed to figure out what this version of him wanted with his life.

He loved kids, he knew that, but he realized that having them was something that not only did he not need, but he didn’t want either.  His life was messy.  Shit – the whole world was messy.  The thought of him bringing kids into the world when he couldn’t guarantee that he could keep them safe, or even be there for them was not something he could do with a clear conscience.

However, he did love the mentoring he was doing and so he started looking into fostering kids.  He thought maybe he could provide a safe and loving home for kids who currently lacked one.

So that is how Bucky spent part of his time, looking into and starting the process of becoming a foster carer.

It wasn’t all he was doing though.  He knew that you were his person.  If his life was extended for decades or centuries due to the serum in his veins, or if he died tomorrow, he knew that there was no one he wanted to spend time with more.  If that time was limited to a few months a year, then he would hold on to those months and make them count, because it was precious to him and worth every second he had to wait to get to them.

He knew that meant there would be no house you shared.  There would be no pets he kept that would see you as anything other than a stranger.  If he ended up with any kids who lived with him for a long time, they would just know that once a year there was this woman he loved that they’d take a winter vacation with.  He’d be, for all intents and purposes, single for most of the year.  Then for a brief period, you’d be there sharing the time you had with him.

The more he thought about it, the more he realized that not only could he do it, that it might be better that way.  For almost all his life he felt that people defined him by who he was to other people.  Steve’s best friend, HYDRA’s fist, Sam’s sidekick.  He was never just himself.  Now maybe he could be just Bucky Barnes, and once a year, for a few months he’d get to share this person he was becoming with someone he loved.

There was one definition he wanted though.  He wanted to be your husband.  He knew that it might not be possible because there wasn’t exactly a record of your birth anywhere.  He also knew that being your husband wouldn’t follow tradition at all.  It wouldn’t magically mean you’d be around.  He still wanted it though.  He wanted to have the ring even if he had to wear it around his neck.  He wanted the ceremony, even if it was just for show and not legally binding.  He wanted to say ‘my wife is a literal goddess’ and when people asked if it was hard that you weren’t around he’d say ‘she’s my wife and she’s worth waiting for’.

That meant the last thing that occupied his time while you were gone was researching possible wedding destinations and searching for rings.  He even bought a big stack of wedding magazines so that if you said yes you’d have a way to quickly research how you wanted to do this.  He knew he’d have to spend the following year organizing everything – from the venue to your dress to the food.  He was okay with that, but it was only fair you got to point him in the right direction.

He was so excited about your arrival that as soon as the snow began to fall his mood began to lift and he prepared for your trip.  When winter was well and truly in full swing and he had to shovel his walk just to get out of the house, he began carrying the ring he bought you in his pocket.  He wanted to be ready for when you showed up, and each day he went out hoping that today was the day you would appear.

It made winter drag on forever, but whereas in the past when winter dragged it was always because he was waiting for the pain to end, this time it was with the excitement of good things to come.

The day you arrived he felt different.  The air didn’t feel as cool when he got up.  It must have only been a degree or two warmer, but he could feel it and he felt hopeful.  So as he approached the fountain that was still frozen and saw you standing on the other side of it looking just as beautiful and bewitching as you always did.  A colorful bloom in a bed of snow.

Bucky ran to you, not caring that his footing wasn’t steady.  He could move through snow, he had more practice doing that than he’d care to admit.  He skidded up to you, and you threw yourself into his arms, nearly knocking him off balance the other way.

“Bucky!” You said, burying our face in his neck, your hot breath warming his skin right away.

“I missed you,” he whispered as he nuzzled at your cheek.

“I’m here now,” you said, caressing your gloved fingers over the back of his neck.

The two of you just stood holding each other for a while until you slowly pulled back.  “Let’s go somewhere warm and you can catch me up on everything I’ve missed,” you said as you caressed his cheek and looked up into his eyes.

“Just… in a minute,” Bucky said.  “I wanted to…”

“You’re all flustered,” you said.  “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.  I just… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who I am and who I want to be and what I want to do with my life,” Bucky said.  “I’ve been doing a lot of things.  I decided I was going to try to foster some kids.”

“It’s time, isn’t it?” you said sadly.  “You’re moving on?”

“No… no, no,” Bucky said, quickly.  “I just wanted you to know that I’ve thought about this and what it means.  This is what I want.  And I get the consequences and I’m okay with it.  I want it.”

“What are you talking about, Bucky?” You laughed.  “You’re not making any sense.”

Bucky dropped to his knee in the snow.  He could feel the cold wet soaking through the leg of his pants, but he didn’t care.  You covered your mouth with your hands as you looked down at him.  “Darlin’,” he said.  “I love you.  Every year the few months I get with you is my favorite part of the year.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out the box.  “I know we will never have what other people do, but that doesn’t mean what we have isn’t good.  I think it’s good, don’t you?”

You nodded as tears pricked your eyes.  “Yes.  It’s really good.”

“Will you marry me?” Bucky asked, popping the ring box open.

“Are you sure this is what you want, Bucky?”  You asked.

“More than anything,” he said.  “I promise, sweetheart.  I want to be your husband. I want you to be my wife, just as you are.”

You nodded and pulled your thick gloves off your finger.  He took the ring from the box and slid it on your finger.  It was a circle cut solitaire ring with filigree leaves that hugged the diamond.  “It’s perfect,” you said as you looked at it.

He got to his feet and watched as you admired the ring.  “I love it,” you said and looked up at him again.  “And I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said and pulled you against him and kissed you deeply.  You hummed softly and wrapped your arms around him, pressing your body close to his.

You pulled back and he opened his eyes and looked down at you.  Under his feet, the snow had begun to melt and the green of the grass had started to show.  Spring was here.  “Come on,” you said, tugging him closer to you.  “Let’s get in the warm.  It sounds like you have a lot to tell me this time and I can’t wait to hear all about it.”


// NEXT

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