The silence that followed was numbing. My ears got hot and my eyes started to blur in vision.

"No, he didn't.", I said so softly that I wasn't sure if I even said it out loud. No one spoke. The silence. I wanted to scream, throw up, throw things. I wanted to snatch the whiskey glass out of Tony's hand and throw it through the god damn window. I wanted to punch him for not saying a sarcastic comment and I wanted to slap Steve for not making Bucky stay. I wanted to throw Wanda's phone across the room and Pepper's clipboard and destroy every stupid weird looking suit that Tony had displayed for unknown reason, but I didn't do anything.I just sat there. I was afraid if I spoke, my words would be followed by my dinner from last night.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Tony and as soon he touched me I instinctively stood up and decked him. I punched right across the face and his glasses flew off and hit the table. Everyone stood up and Sam started to charge towards us. Tony just put his hand up and the room stood still. Steve stood, "Gabe..please.", he started to stay and Tony interrupted.

"We didn't ask him to leave...", he started to say as he looked at me in the eyes. His voice was that of a father telling a child their puppy went to heaven,"He chose to go but not because he wanted to protect himself. He did it for you. If he stays, you are in extreme danger. He didn't care about himself, he doesn't. We can protect him, but we can't protect you with him here. These people can be taken care of, they will go away if Bucky goes away. We told them we wouldn't give you back to them. They said they would drop everything if Bucky left and if you handed over the information.", he said to me.

"Tony, they are lying

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"Tony, they are lying.", I said to him angrily.

"They may be. They may be bluffing, he didn't want to take that chance.", he said to me.

"Are you fucking kidding me?! From what I gathered, you guys are the most powerful people on the planet and you can't do anything!? I mean how can you not do something about this?! How can you just back down?!", I said to him nearly yelling. I was on the verge of tears out pure rage. This was the type of thing that would send Tony into a yelling match, but with me, he spoke softly. It threw me off.

"Gabe. They said they would kill your mother. Your sisters. They said they would kill you. They said if we got rid of him, they would leave you and your family alone and they would disappear. They would stop pursuing you.", he said to me with his hand on my shoulder again. I pulled away. I was appalled. I was so shocked that they didn't just track these people down and slaughter them all. It was so surreal.

"You believe this?!", I said laughing. I was laughing out of shock. "You believe them?! Am I in the twilight zone? This has to be a joke!!", I was screaming at this point. My throat was on fire and I had my fingers gripped so tightly in clumps of my own hair that I thought I was going to pull it all out.

"Gabe, it is not that easy. They asked for the info you had on them to be returned to them. We gave it back after making hard copies. They asked us to get rid of him and showed us information on you. A LOT of information. Everything from your grocery store trips to your preferred sandwich on your lunch break to the pumpkin spice latte you treat yourself too on payday. They know your friends, your coworkers families names, kids, socials. They showed us pictures of you getting your nails done for a party, buying beads at a craft store, giving a homeless guy a hotdog on Princeton Ave last week. They bugged your phone. Tracked your car. Got into your bedroom and took pictures of you sleeping. They are all over the place and unfortunately, we don't know how yet and that means we can't protect you. Their ultimatum was if Bucky goes, they back off. We insisted he stay, he left before we could argue.", he said to me.

"How do you know? I mean how do they know you are even telling them the truth?", asked him. I didn't even know why I was asking. I was so confused that I didn't even care.

"We...we staged his death. We sent them pictures. Video. It looks as if he was executed. They fell for it. We swept your place. Removed everything. We replaced your phone, your car. You can't keep working your job, but your bills are paid. Your coworkers and friends are safe. We have surveillance on everyone for their safety. Your lease is taken care of and you have a new place to live, off their grid. You will be protected twenty-four seven. You have nothing to worry about now.", he said to me as if telling me the menu choices at a restaurant. Only I had no choices.

I couldn't speak. I mean how could they guarantee this? They had all this info on me but yet they guarantee that I'll be safe, my family is safe. It was hard to believe. I paced in a circle a few times. My mind was on fire with anxiety and I didn't know what to say.

Steve stood up and started to talk. "What we need from you is where they are. We need to know where the compound is. You need to tell us exactly who these people are, down to their scars and the color of their eyes. You need to tell us every single detail, even the stuff you don't think is important. We need to know exactly where they are...so", he said as I interrupted him.

"So what?! So what?! What are you doing to do?!", I yelled at him.

Tony interrupted and this time he wasn't calm. "We're going to kill them." He said as he drank a glass of whiskey in one gulp. It wasn't even noon and he was already drinking.

"Kill them? Wow, and I thought you all were saints up until this very moment.", I said sarcastically.

Steve walked towards me and I walked towards the corner of the room. I looked out the massive window. The road winding down the hill had trees lining it's path and it looked extremely inviting.

"Listen..,"he whispered to me. "I know this is a lot to take in. We will not compromise anyone innocent.", he said to me.

"Well, thats a relief being you're going to slaughter people.", I said to him. "These people aren't good people, but they are still people. They are someones father, husband. The flowers in the compound trust them. They will take their own lives, kill their own children if they think their compound, their home, the people they trust are going to be in danger. It will be a Jim Jones situation all over again. I guarantee it, only they won't be using spiked Kool aid. They will use guns, bombs, fire..whatever they can and they have a lot of firepower. They will execute their own family to save their own faith. They will do it and they have a plan and if they got all that info on me, how do you know they don't have just as much info on you and your plans, huh? How do you know?", I said to him.

"Can you trust me? Do you trust me?", he asked me.

"No, I don't...but I trust Bucky. He wouldn't leave if he wasn't sure.", I said to him. I walked out. I couldn't stand there any longer and I felt sick. I went back the room I was sleeping in. I didn't know what else to do but cry. I laid on the bed and buried my head in the pillow Bucky slept on. I fell apart. I fell apart and he wasn't there to pick up the pieces as usual.

 I fell apart and he wasn't there to pick up the pieces as usual

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But I'll be brave I'll be brave I'll be brave

When the timing comes around I'll be brave yeah I'll be braveJust let me go nowLet me go now


Sea of Air-Portugal. The Man

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