Buffy's New Job - Part 2 - The Winter Soldier

Chapter 5

Chapter 5

When Buffy came to, she was being carried in Steve's arms into what looked like a dam. He looked down at her and smiled slightly. It didn't hide the worry in his eyes. "Hey. Welcome back."

"God…. I just lost major cool points cause I passed out, huh?" Buffy asked weakly.

"Not at all." Sam said, walking next to Steve. He was keeping pressure on both sides of her shoulder as they walked. "You lasted longer than I would have with two holes in my shoulder."

"Where are we?" Buffy looked around at the hallway they were walking down.

"No idea." Steve said. "Agent Hill saved us."

"GSW. She's lost at least a pint." Agent Hill was saying to someone in front of them.

"Maybe two." Sam said.

"Definitely closer to three." Buffy said.

"Let me take her." A man said, running up to them.

"She'll want to see him first." Agent Hill led them deeper into the bowels of the dam and pulled back a curtain of plastic strips to reveal Nick Fury laying in a hospital bed with Natasha Romanoff sitting next to him.

Fury looked up. "About damn time."

"Ok…. I know I've lost a lot of blood," Buffy said. "But am I actually seeing Fury alive and well?"

"Uh…." Steve blinked a few times. "Yes."

"Set her down and let me get to work. I think the bullet may have punctured something vital." The doctor said. Steve gently sat Buffy down in a chair and smoothed her hair away from her face as Sam stepped back and released her shoulder. She leaned against Steve to keep herself upright and took his hand with her free one. She held it tightly as the doctor gave her an anesthetic injection and began to work on her shoulder.

"What happened to you?" Steve asked Fury.

"Lacerated spinal column, cracked sternum, shattered collarbone, perforated liver, and one hell of a headache." Fury explained.

"Don't forget your collapsed lung." The doctor reminded.

"Let's not forget that. Otherwise, I'm good."

"Forgive me…. Blood loss and all…." Buffy said. "How did you survive? They cut you open. Your heart stopped. I'm a bit of an expert on death and you were definitely standing in your grave."

"Tetrodotoxin B. Slows the pulse to one beat a minute. Banner developed it for stress. Didn't work so great for him, but we found a use for it."

"Why all the secrecy?" Steve asked. "Why not just tell us?"

"Any attempt on the Director's life had to look successful." Agent Hill said.

"Can't kill you if you're already dead." Fury said. "Besides, I wasn't sure who to trust."

Buffy looked at Natasha. "Did you know the whole time?"

"Not the whole time." Natasha said. "They picked me up not long after I left you two at the mall."

"You've done some damage to this first wound and the second is as bad as I thought." The doctor said to Buffy. "I need to do some more serious work on your shoulder and you need blood."

"Go ahead." Fury said. "I'm not going anywhere."

"I'll come with you." Steve said, helping Buffy to her feet.

Steve stood behind Buffy who was sitting at a table with Natasha, Fury, and Agent Hill. Sam stood off to the side. Buffy had been given some new clothes that Natasha had gotten for her. Her shoulder had been patched up and she'd been given a small blood transfusion. But all in all, she was feeling better. Fury was explaining to them about what he'd learned about Alexander Pierce and the HYRDA movement within S.H.I.E.L.D. He was looking at a picture of his old friend.

"This man declined the Nobel Peace Prize. He said peace wasn't an achievement, it was a responsibility. See, it's stuff like this that gives me trust issues."

"We have to stop the launch." Buffy said.

"I don't think the Council's accepting my calls anymore." Fury opened up one of the briefcases on the table in front of him. Inside were large computer chips.

"What's that?" Sam asked.

"Once the helicarriers reach 3,000 feet," Hill said, turning a computer around to show them a screen with the plans for Project Insight. "They'll triangulate with Insight satellites, becoming fully weaponized."

"We need to breach those carriers and replace their targeting blades with our own." Fury said.

"One or two won't cut it. We need to link all three carriers for this to work, because if even one of those ships remains operational, a whole lot of people are going to die."

"We have to assume everyone aboard those carriers is HYDRA. We have to get past them, insert these server blades. And maybe, just maybe, we can salvage what's left…."

"We're not salvaging anything." Steve said. "We're not just taking down the carriers, Nick. We're taking down S.H.I.E.L.D."

"S.H.I.E.L.D. had nothing to do with this."

"It doesn't matter." Buffy said. "This is how it ends. If you wanted a different outcome, you shouldn't have put either of us on this mission. Especially me, given my history with this sort of thing. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s been compromised. Your words. HYDRA grew right under your nose and nobody noticed."

"Why do you think we're meeting in this cave? I noticed."

"How many paid the price before you did?" Steve asked.

Fury looked away. "Look, I didn't know about Barnes."

"Even if you had, would you have told me? Or would you have compartmentalized that too? S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA, it all goes."

"They're right." Agent Hill said.

Fury looked at her for a moment. She nodded and his attention directed to first Natasha, who sat back in agreement with Buffy and Steve, then to Sam. "Don't look at me." Sam said. "I do what they do, just slower."

"Well…." Fury sighed and sat back. "It looks like you and the Slayer are giving the orders now, Captain."

Buffy went looking for her boyfriend. He was still pretty shaken up about the whole Bucky-being-alive thing. She couldn't blame him. Finally, she found him on top of the dam looking out over the scenery. He was deep in thought and didn't hear her approach him. Walking up behind him, she wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his back.

He smiled slightly and took her hands in his. "How's your shoulder?"

"I don't know what that doctor gave me or exactly what he did to it, but it's feeling pretty great." Buffy said. Steve shifted her around him so he stood behind her and had one arm around her waist, the other around her shoulders. He rested his chin on top of her head but stayed quiet. Even though she knew the answer, she still asked, "What are you thinking about?"

Steve sighed. "Bucky."

"He's going to be there when this goes down."

"I know."

"A lot of people would say that he's not the guy you knew, that he can't be saved, that it would be crazy to even try." She shifted and looked up at him. "But he's your best friend. If there's even a slight chance that he's in there…. We have to save him."

Steve smiled slightly. "You are amazing, Buffy Summers."

"You're not so bad yourself, Steven Rogers."

He leaned down and kissed her. "We need to get suited up."

"We've got to head back to my little hideaway. My suit, scythe, and weapons are there. Your suit's there, too."

"Let's go." Steve released her, took her hand, and they headed out. After making sure they weren't followed, they disappeared down into the sewers and headed for Buffy's hideaway. They made sure the place was secure before locking themselves in. Buffy got to work collecting her suit and the pieces of weaponry that went with it. Steve watched her closely, not going for his uniform.

She glanced over at him, setting her scythe down on the desk. "Everything ok?"

"Yeah." He looked away for a moment. "I…."

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I just…."

Buffy moved over to him and placed her hand on his bicep. "What?"

Suddenly, he swept her up into his arms, kissing her deeply. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he pressed her up against the wall. He lifted her up and she wrapped her legs around his waist to steady herself. Steve came up for air and glanced at the bed, wondering if this was a bad idea. Before he could talk himself out of going through with it, Buffy pushed his jacket off his shoulders and went for the hem of his shirt. With the decision made, he moved over to the bed and laid her down gently, kissing her neck and jawline as he moved his fingers under the hemline of her shirt.

Afterwards, Steve held her half on top of him and ran his fingers up and down her back slowly. She smiled into his chest. "Not that I'm complaining, but what brought this on?"

Steve sighed. "Besides wanting you for months?" She chuckled slightly, surprised by his bluntness, and brushed her lips against his chest. It had been the same for her, but the next part of his speech surprised her even more. "You're so important to me, Buffy. You're the first person I met after they pulled me out of the ice that didn't want anything from me. You just saw someone who was lost and alone and you offered me your friendship and support because you could actually empathize with me on so many levels. These last two years with you have been incredible. And now…. Now, we're about to go on this dangerous mission and I don't know the outcome. I wanted to make sure you knew how I felt about you…. Just in case…. I…."

She reached up and placed her fingertips on his lips. "Hey, don't. We're both going to be fine."

He kissed her fingertips, but moved them away. "We can't know that, Buffy. I thought Bucky and I were both going to make it out together, but…."

"You did. You're both here. Now."

"He doesn't know who I am."

"Then we'll save him. We'll remind him who he is and we will get your best friend back. You are not alone in this."

He nodded. "Buffy, I l…."

"Shh." She pressed her fingers to his lips again. "Not yet. Tell me after we make it through this. We'll have something to look forward to. Something to really fight for."

Steve sighed and wrapped his arms around her tighter. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Probably be a lonely old man with no life." He chuckled and kissed her forehead. Buffy lifted up and kissed him. "We need to get dressed." He released her and she got up to start suiting up. She grabbed his suit and handed it to him as he sat up. As she started to slip on her suit, she noticed Steve just staring at his. "What's wrong?"

"I can't wear this." Steve stood up and grabbed his clothes, throwing them on. "I'll meet you at the rendezvous point."

"Where are you going?"

"To get a proper uniform." Steve kissed her before he rushed out.

Sam was looking around the rendezvous point in the woods, waiting for Buffy and Steve. Agent Hill was a few feet away waiting patiently. Finally, Buffy walked into the clearing in the woods and Sam whistled at her appearance. She was wearing her tight black, almost leather looking cat suit with silver trim and she was armed with throwing knives and a killer looking scythe. Her long blonde hair was up in a high, sleek ponytail. She looked like the superhero she was.

"Damn, girl." Sam said, walking around her in a circle. He touched the sharp blade on the top of the wicked looking scythe. "This thing is almost as big as you are."

"Kills strong bodies three ways." Buffy said. "Is Steve here, yet?"

"I thought you guys were together." Agent Hill said.

"We were. He said he had to go get a proper uniform and ran out while I was suiting up."

"He's not here yet." Sam said.

"What happened to his S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform?" Agent Hill asked.

"I didn't think it was appropriate anymore." Steve said, walking up. He was wearing his uniform from the War. "Because after today, S.H.I.E.L.D. won't exist."

Buffy cocked her head at him. "Did you steal that from your Smithsonian exhibit?"

Steve smirked. "Technically they took it from me. I'm just taking it back." He held out his arms. "What do you think?"

She walked around him, inspecting the suit and taking a moment to enjoy his physique. "Eh…. It's a little bulky." Buffy stopped in front of him and placed her hand on his chest. "But it'll do." He smiled slightly. "Are you ready to do this?" She asked seriously.

He gave her a somber look and she knew exactly what he was thinking about because she was thinking about it too. Bucky. Going up against HYDRA was bad enough, but knowing that his best friend would be there trying to kill him and the people he cared about was even worse. "Yeah." He nodded. "Let's go."

Buffy and Steve stood between Sam and Agent Hill outside the door of one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s control rooms. They'd managed to make it this far without being detected. Of course, they'd left a few passed out bodies lying about in some utility closets along the way, but so far so good. Agent Hill set off her signal jam and a moment later, the door opened and a man started down the barrel of two guns.

"Excuse us." Steve said politely. The man held up his hands in surrender and stepped back. They secured the room and Steve took over the PA system. "Attention all S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, this is Steve Rogers. You've heard a lot about my partner, Buffy Summers, and myself over the last few days. Some of you were even ordered to hunt us down. But I think it's time you know the truth. S.H.I.E.L.D. is not what we thought it was. It's been taken over by HYDRA. Alexander Pierce is their leader. The S.T.R.I.K.E. and Insight crew are HYDRA as well. I don't know how many more, but I know they're in the building. They could be standing right next to you. They almost have what they want. Absolute control. They shot Nick Fury. And it won't end there. If you launch those helicarriers today, HYDRA will be able to kill anyone that stands in their way. Unless we stop them. I know I'm asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it's a price I'm willing to pay. It's a price my partner is willing to pay. And if we're the only ones, then so be it. But we're willing to bet we're not." Steve looked at Buffy and she smiled at him, touching his arm in approval.

Before they walked out, Buffy stopped Steve and Sam and leaned down to say into the PA microphone. "And Riley Finn, if you're HYDRA, I'm going to find you and beat some sense into you before I tell your wife and let her beat on you some more." She stood up. "Ok, now we can go."

"Who's Riley Finn?" Sam asked her as they headed out.

"My ex. He's the one that suggested me for this job and if he's one of the bad guys, so help me…." She shook her head. "He better start thinking twice about it. This will be the second time I have to save his ass from a rotten government agency."

"Are you making it a habit to take down government agencies?"

"It seems like it, yeah."

Sam chuckled and looked at Steve. "So, did you write that speech down first or was it off the top of your head?"

"Top of my head." Steve said.

"You're a very eloquent man."

"Thank you."

"They're initiating launch." Agent Hill said in their earpieces.

"Time to move." Steve led the way outside and they ran across a tarmac towards the helicarrier launch bays.

"Hey, Cap, how do we know the good guys from the bad guys?" Sam asked.

"If they're shooting at you, they're bad."

Sam activated his wings and grabbed Buffy around the waist. "Ready?" She nodded and they took off while Steve jumped down onto one of the helicarriers. Sam dropped Buffy onto the second helicarrier before flying off for the third. Buffy rolled to her feet and dodged the bullets whizzing past her. She knocked out anyone that got in her path as she headed for the door to the main console.

"Hey, Cap, I found those bad guys you were talking about." Sam said in her earpiece.

"You ok?" Steve's voice asked.

"I'm not dead yet."

"Try and stay that way." Buffy said.

"How are you doing, Buffy?" Steve asked.

"I'm making it." Buffy dodged out of the way of a grenade and slammed up against the side of a large container.

"How's your shoulder?"

"Whatever the good doc did to it, it's holding up nicely."

"Glad to hear it."

"Any sign of him yet?"

"Not yet."

"Falcon, status?" Agent Hill's voice said.

"Engaging." Sam said.

Buffy checked her surroundings and saw three guys with guns hunting for her. She turned and went the other way, pulling out her throwing knives. Aiming for their trigger arms, she threw the knives. The men cried out as they went down and Buffy knocked them each out before taking back her knives.

"Summers, what's your status?" Agent Hill asked.

"Almost there." Buffy said, heading for the door she was looking for.

"Eight minutes, Cap."

"Working on it." Steve said.

Before Buffy could make it to the door, Bucky appeared and blocked it. He advanced on her and she started to back up. "I've got company." Buffy said.

"Alpha lock." Steve confirmed that he had gotten his card into its place. "Buffy, I'm on my way."

"Falcon, where are you now?" Agent Hill asked.

"I had to take a detour." Sam said.

Buffy dodged out of the way of Bucky's metal arm. "Bucky, stop!" She yelled at him. "This isn't you!" He managed to grab her arm and throw her over some containers.

"I'm in!" Sam's voice sounded in her ear as she rolled to a stop. "Bravo lock."

"Two down, one to go." Agent Hill said. "Buffy, where are you?"

"I ran into a metal-armed snag." Buffy said, kicking out at Bucky's midsection.

She and Bucky exchanged brutal blows. A few times he tried to take her scythe off her back, but since his DNA didn't match hers or Steve's, it didn't budge. The third time he tried to take it, he instead grabbed it and used it to swing Buffy around and throw her painfully into a wall.

"Charlie carrier is 45 degrees off port bow." Agent Hill said. "Six minutes."

"Need some help here, guys." Buffy said, rolling away from Bucky.

"Hey, Sam, gonna need a ride!" Steve said.

"Rodger. Let me know when you're ready." Sam replied.

"I just did!"

"Guys, it would do me some good if you would hurry." Buffy said, ducking behind some containers. She stayed low behind the containers, sneaking around them to stay away from Bucky. She spotted Sam fly up with Steve and the two of them landed on the deck a few feet away from her hiding spot.

"You know, you're a lot heavier than you look." Sam was saying.

"I had a big breakfast." Steve replied. "Buffy, what's your location?"

Bucky appeared and kicked Steve off the side of the helicarrier. Sam activated his wings and went after him, but Bucky grabbed one of the wings and plucked him out of the air. Sam turned and shot at Bucky, causing Buffy to dive out of the way of the ricocheting bullets, but Bucky hid behind a mechanical rig. Sam started to fly after Steve again, but Bucky shot a grappling hook at him and pulled him out of the sky. He yanked the wing off and went after Sam.

Buffy tackled Bucky away from Sam, rolling with him and landing on top. He threw her off and she crashed through a pile of containers. Bucky went after Sam again, kicking him off the edge of the helicarrier, before turning back to Buffy. She made her way towards the door again, ducking and weaving through the containers and planes, knowing Sam had a parachute to save him.

"Steve! Are you ok?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah." Steve answered. "I'm still on the helicarrier. Where are you?"

"Still on the deck. Bucky's pretty pissed that I keep managing to get away from him."


"I'm grounded." Sam said. "The suit's down. Sorry, guys."

"Don't worry. We got it."

Buffy made it to the door and yanked it open. Before she could run in, Bucky grabbed her scythe and hauled her back out. She twisted around and kicked him in the face. "Bucky, stop!"

"Why do you keep calling me that?" He asked.

Buffy looked at him, surprised that he was actually talking to her. "Because you're Bucky. You're Steve Rogers best friend." She took a few cautious steps toward him. "You don't want to do this. Steve told me about you. You're a good man."

Bucky shook his head and attacked again, but Buffy dodged left, shoving his head into a container. She kicked him in the ribs and sent him flying a few feet away before turning and running through the door, slamming it behind her. She ran for the console at the bottom of the ship.

"Steve, where are you now?"

"Almost to the console. I don't have the third card."

"I'm on my way." She checked over her shoulder, but Bucky wasn't behind her.

Just outside the door to the console, Steve was waiting for her. He caught her before she ran past him. "Are you ok?" He asked, checking the smaller bruises and cuts from Bucky's onslaught.

She hugged him tightly. "Yeah. He can't be too far behind. That door won't stop him."

"Let's get this over with." He turned and opened the door. They jogged down the stairs and Steve pulled Buffy to a stop. On the catwalk in front of them was Bucky. He must've come down from the deck and entered from the side. "People are gonna die, Buck. We can't let that happen." Bucky didn't move. "Please don't make me do this."

Steve pushed on Buffy's good shoulder and forced her to the ground before he threw his shield at Bucky. It bounced off Bucky's metal arm and Buffy caught it as she advanced. Bucky took out a handgun and shot at them, but the shield deflected the bullets. One managed to graze Steve's ribs and Buffy hit Bucky with the shield, sending him flying back.

Buffy tossed the shield up over her head and back to Steve as she dodged to one side of Bucky. He was now between Steve and Buffy as he pulled a knife. Looking between both of them, Bucky went after Steve first, but he managed to hold his position so Buffy couldn't get around him to the card deck. Whenever she tried, he would turn and lash out at her, sending her backwards. Steve realized it and tried to move the fight away, but Bucky was quick. Finally, Buffy saw and opening and rolled between Bucky's legs while he was going to kick Steve. She kicked Bucky in his back and sent him forward into Steve. Steve grabbed Bucky and pulled him a few steps away. Buffy made it to the card deck and hit the code to bring the deck down from its protective casing.

Suddenly she was grabbed away from the deck and thrown into Steve. They tumbled backwards and Steve had to catch Buffy before she fell off the catwalk. She hopped back up and landed right in front of Bucky. They exchanged quick blows while Steve dodged around them, leaping from one catwalk to the next, to grab the card from the deck. Bucky managed to use his knife on Buffy's back, but her "stretchy Kevlar" suit deflected most of the cut.

"I need the other card, Buffy!" Steve called.

Bucky turned on him, but Buffy grabbed his shoulders and fell backwards, using the momentum to roll Bucky above her and kicked him back. She popped to her feet and rushed over to Steve. Just as she pulled out the card, Bucky grabbed her scythe and swung her away. She flew over the railing of the catwalk and landed on her stomach below. The card fell out of her hand and slid almost to the end of the platform. Steve appeared above her, but was pulled back into the fight with Bucky.

Buffy got painfully to her feet and picked up the card. She heard Steve yell and looked up to see that Bucky had buried his knife in Steve's shoulder. Putting the card back in its holster, she jumped up and climbed back up to the console. Before Bucky could shove his knife in Steve again, Buffy jumped up onto his back, wrapped her legs around his neck, and flipped. Bucky was thrown back across the catwalk.

Buffy helped Steve to his feet. "Are you ok?"

Bucky tackled both Buffy and Steve off the catwalk and all three of them tumbled down past the platform to land on the glass dome below them. Bucky landed on top of Buffy and she kneed him in the groin. He curled in on himself and she threw him off her. His hand managed to grab the holster with the card in it and ripped it off her belt. Buffy kicked Bucky's arm, but he didn't release the holster. His metal arm came around and caught her behind the knees. Steve caught her before she fell and swung her around to kick Bucky in the face. He grabbed Bucky's neck and flipped him over his head.

Buffy grabbed his arm and went after the holster. Bucky went to hit her with his metal arm, but Steve grabbed it, stopping him. She slammed her elbow down on Bucky's arm, but he refused to drop it. Before she decided to break Bucky's arm, Steve suddenly hauled Bucky up and put him in a sleeper hold. As Bucky passed out, he dropped the holster.

"One minute." Agent Hill said in their earpieces.

Buffy picked up the holster and she and Steve ran up the dome and headed for the platform. Steve threw her up and joined her just as a gunshot rang out. He cried out and crumpled. Buffy looked back to see that Bucky had shot him in the thigh. "Steve!"

"Go!" Steve waved her on, getting to his feet. Buffy ran over and started climbing. Steve was suddenly behind her, taking a bullet to his shoulder to protect Buffy from getting shot again. He pushed her upwards and she finally made it up to the catwalk.

"30 seconds, guys." Agent Hill said.

"Stand by." Steve said as Buffy pulled the card out of the holster and went over to the card deck. A shot rang out behind her and a searing pain ripped through her. Buffy looked down and realized that she'd been shot through the abdomen. She was really confused at first. Her suit should've deflected it or taken the brunt of it and left her with a bruise, but then she remembered that Bucky's knife had cut through it. He'd managed to shoot her where he'd cut the suit. "Damn, he's good." She said, staring at the blood on her hand from her stomach. The blood seeped through the front of her suit where the bullet had gone through her and torn through the suit fabric. He didn't have normal bullets, then.

Suddenly Steve was there, holding her up. He took the card from her and stuck it in the slot. "Charlie lock." He confirmed.

"Ok, Cap, Summers, get out of there." Agent Hill said.

"Fire now."

"But Steve…."

"Do it! Do it now!" Steve slid down with Buffy cradled in his lap. Blood poured out of her stomach and back from the gunshot. He held her tightly to him as the helicarriers began shooting at each other. The room around them began to shake and collapse. There was a scream from below and through the grating of the catwalk, they could see Bucky trapped beneath a fallen steel column.

"Help him." Buffy said, gritting her teeth against the pain. Steve looked torn. She placed her hand against his cheek. "Go. I'll be fine."

Steve shook his head. "I'm coming back for you."

"Don't worry about it. Give me a couple of minutes to catch my breath and I'll come help you."

He chuckled slightly. "Don't make me hold you to that." He leaned down and kissed her gently, rubbing his gloved thumb on her cheek.

"Go." Buffy kissed him again and pushed on him. He reluctantly got up and climbed down to Bucky. Just as he made it to the glass dome, the helicarrier barreled through the Triskelion. All around the room, more destruction rained down on top of them. Buffy was forced to roll off the catwalk or be crushed. She hit the platform with a scream, rolling to the edge.

Steve had managed to get Bucky out from under the steal column. "You know me!" He said. When Buffy screamed behind them, Steve looked over at her and Bucky took the opportunity to hit Steve in the face.

"No I don't!" Bucky yelled back. He didn't sound so sure.

"Bucky…. You've known me your whole life." Bucky hit Steve again, but he was weakened and confused. "Your name is James Buchanan Barnes."

"Shut up!" Bucky hit Steve again.

Steve took off his helmet and stood up straight. "I'm not gonna fight you." He dropped his shield and let it fall out of the helicarrier into the water below. "You're my friend."

Bucky screamed and tackled Steve. "You're my mission." He started to punch Steve in the face over and over. Buffy struggled to her feet. She couldn't let Bucky kill Steve.

"Then finish it." Steve said weakly. "Because I'm with you to the end of the line."

Bucky lowered his fist as he stared at Steve. Buffy finally stumbled over to them, holding her stomach. She shoved Bucky away and knelt down beside Steve. Bucky watched her as she gently touched Steve's broken face. Steve turned his face into Buffy's hand, kissing her palm as he passed out. She was sure she saw a flicker of emotion in Bucky's eyes, but a large support beam fell onto the glass and the entire dome around them fell off the ship. Buffy made a grab for Steve, but he was out of her reach too fast. To her utter surprise, she wasn't falling with Steve. Bucky had managed to grab her and was holding her as they dangled from the helicarrier by his metal arm.

Bucky looked at Buffy as she watched her boyfriend hit the water amongst the debris. He had to hold her tightly to him to keep her from falling. She was struggling to get away from him and go after Steve, screaming his name. "Hold on." He said. He let go of the helicarrier and they fell through the air. The water hurt when they hit, but Bucky kept his hold on her until they got to the surface. He made sure she was holding a floating piece of debris before swimming back down. She watched the surface of the water, waiting for him to appear again. When he did, he was carrying Steve. "Stay here." Bucky ordered her as he pulled Steve to the shore. After he made sure Steve was laying on the sand, Bucky came back for Buffy.

"Why are you doing this?" Buffy asked. He didn't answer her. When he got to the shore, he was gentle when he laid her down next to Steve. "Bucky…." She struggled to sit up. "Bucky, talk to me. Steve…."

"Don't come after me." Bucky said. He turned and walked away.

Buffy entertained the idea of going after him, but the adrenaline was wearing off and she realized that her entire body hurt. She was still bleeding pretty badly from her stomach. The newer gunshot wound on her shoulder had opened up at some point and was bleeding as well. Making sure Steve was still breathing, she laid her head down on his shoulder and passed out.

When she woke up, she was lying in a hospital bed. Sam was sitting in a chair next to her. It was a private room, so she was the only patient there. Sam saw her open her eyes and smiled.

"Hey, tough lady." He grabbed the hospital cup full of ice water and got the straw to her lips. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I was in a plane crash and I got shot during it." Buffy croaked. "How long have I been out?"

"Only about a day."

"Only." Buffy closed her eyes for a moment, not loving the bright lights. Sam dimmed them and she smiled gratefully. "Where's Steve?"

"Next door. He was really banged up. What happened up there?"

"It's a long story. One I will tell you when I feel like I'm not going to throw up."

"I'll get a doctor."

"No. It's ok. What happened with S.H.I.E.L.D.?"

"Well, Fury says they're under investigation, but there's nothing they can really do. There's a bunch of military guys out there guarding you and Steve. They want to question you both when you're better."

"Where's Natasha?"

"She's around. She came to check on you a few hours ago. I've been going back and forth between yours and Steve's rooms."

"How is he? Really?"

"He had some pretty bad damage to his face. He was shot in places that would've killed a normal human. So were you. But since you're both superheroes with crazy abilities, you didn't die. You came close, but you didn't bite it. You both were in surgery for a while after we found you."

"How did you find us?"

"Traced your earpieces with GPS. How did you guys end up there?"

"That's part of the long story." Buffy started to sit up, groaning slightly from the sudden pain in her abdomen.

"Whoa, what are you doing?"

"I need to see Steve."

"You need to rest. You may be Super Slayer and all, but you've still got some holes in you that need mending."

"Yeah? Well, they can mend after I see Steve. Help me up."

Sam sighed, but did as she asked. The IV unit had to come with them since she was hooked up to it. He put a pink robe around her shoulders and they walked out into the hallway. A man stood up and smiled. "Buffy."

"Riley." Buffy looked up at her friend. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to make sure you were all right." She narrowed her eyes at him and he smiled. "Buffy, I'm not HYDRA. I'm on your side."

She smiled slightly. "Good."

"You look…. Well…."

"Like I got shot and thrown out of a crashing helicarrier?"

"I was going to say good."

"You're a horrible liar."

Riley smiled. "Sam…." He glanced at the Sam helping Buffy. "My Sam says the same thing."

"Riley, can we talk more later? Right now I really need to see Steve."

"Yeah. I understand." Riley gently touched her cheek, leaning down to kiss the other one. "I'm really glad you're ok. Sam's been really worried about you."

"Thank you. Tell her I'll see her soon?"

"You got it."

Buffy let Sam lead her to the door beside her room and they walked in together. He looked like hell. There were stitches in a gash on his cheek, bruises all over his face, plenty of cuts, and he was paler than usual. The hospital gown looked just wrong on him. There was music playing from an iPhone on the table across the room. Buffy looked up at Sam questioningly.

Sam chuckled. "When I first met the Cap, I told him he needed to listen to Marvin Gay's 'Trouble Man'. He wrote it on his list."

Buffy smiled. "Steve's list. Xander helped him start that list."

"I thought I'd help him start working on it again."

"Good thinking."

"Come on, you need to sit down." Sam led her over to a chair on Steve's left side. He pulled it up to the bed and helped her to sit down.

Buffy took Steve's hand in hers and rubbed her thumb on the back of his hand. Sam walked over and settled into the chair on the right side of the room. After a while, Buffy lowered the railing on the bed and laid her head down next to Steve's shoulder, still holding his hand. She dozed for a little while, not wanting to fully fall asleep.

She was roused when she heard Steve say, "On your left."

Sam chuckled. "Welcome back, Cap. I'll give you two some alone time."

Steve smiled and looked down at Buffy as Sam walked out of the room. "Hey beautiful."

Buffy smiled at him. "Hey handsome."

"I probably don't look it."

"I'll be the judge." She reached up with the hand not stuck with needles and gently stroked his cheek that wasn't sewn up. It was the shoulder that had been shot, so the action was painful, but she didn't care.

He closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation, before kissing her palm. "Thanks for saving me."

"I didn't."

He opened his eyes. "What?"

"Bucky did. He saved both of us."

"Did he say anything?"

"Well, he's very bossy." Steve snorted at that and smiled slightly. Buffy took that as an agreement. "He grabbed me before I fell out of the helicarrier with you and told me to hold on. Then he made sure you didn't drown and told me to stay while he took you to the shore. Not like I had much choice being shot and all. After he came back for me and left me with you on the shore, he said not to come after him. Then he disappeared."

Steve nodded. He squeezed her hand after a long time. "I'm glad you're ok."

"I'm glad you're ok."

He gave her hand another gentle squeeze and they were silent for a long moment. "So, we made it through." Steve said finally.

"So we did."

"Come here." Steve lifted his arm, moving the IV tubes out of the way. Buffy gingerly climbed into the hospital bed next to him, adjusting her own IV tubes, and settled down next to him. He wrapped his arm around her and kissed her forehead. "Buffy Summers, I love you."

She smiled. "I love you, too, Steve Rogers."

Steve, Sam, and Buffy stood by Nick Fury's grave a few weeks later. Buffy and Steve were completely healed from their wounds. Buffy had spoken to Riley not long ago. He had been offered a job with the CIA along with a group of former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Buffy and Steve had moved into a townhouse that Giles had bought them since their apartments no longer belonged to them. They'd belonged to S.H.I.E.L.D. and had been seized after the destruction of the agency. They'd broken in recently to gather their personal belongings and their clothes and were now in the middle of trying to furnish the apartment with the savings they'd managed to keep out of the government's hands.

"So," Nick Fury said, walking up to them. "You've experienced this sort of thing before."

Buffy smirked and gave a little shrug. "You get used to it after a while."

"We've been data mining HYDRA's files. Looks like a lot of rats didn't go down with the ship. I'm headed to Europe tonight. Wanted to ask if you two would come."

"There's something we gotta do first." Steve said.

Fury nodded and looked at Sam. "How about you, Wilson? Could use a man with your abilities."

Sam looked at Buffy and Steve for a moment before addressing Fury. "I'm more of a soldier than a spy."

"All right, then." Fury held out his free hand and shook Sam's, Steve's, and Buffy's hands in turn. "Anybody asks for me, tell them they can find me," He nodded at the grave. "Right here."

"You should be honored." Natasha said, walking up behind them as Fury left. "That's about as close as he gets to saying thank you."

Buffy and Steve walked over to meet her. "Not going with him?" Steve asked her.


"Not staying here, either?" Buffy asked.

"Nah. I blew all my covers. I gotta go figure out a new one."

"That could take a while."

"I'm counting on it." Natasha smiled and held out a file to Steve. "That thing you asked about, I called in a few favors from Kiev." As Steve flipped through the files, Natasha gave a wide grin. "Will you two do me a favor? Make sure you don't forget to send me an invitation to the wedding."

"I haven't proposed." Steve said.

Natasha looked between Buffy and Steve, smiling at their close proximity and obvious affection for each other. "Don't wait too long this time, Cap. Someone might come scoop her up if you wait two years again."

Steve glanced down at Buffy with a smile. "I'll keep that in mind."

Buffy laughed and hugged Natasha tightly. "You know what, Nat? As long as you don't send us to New Jersey for the honeymoon, it's a deal."

Natasha laughed. "Ok. I'll try to pick somewhere nice." She hugged Steve before turning and walking away. "Be careful, you two. You might not want to pull on that thread."

Steve opened the file again and looked down at the picture of a frozen Bucky attached to it. Sam walked up to them. "You guys are going after him."

"We don't listen very well." Buffy said.

"You don't have to come with us." Steve said.

"I know." Sam said. "When do we start?"

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